The Rainbow's End
“Goooooooood morning, Monday!”
Zed leapt out of his bed and immediately tossed back the curtains. Fresh sunlight poured into his room in an array of colours through his stained-glass window. A plumed Petpet sang into the crisp morning. Everything seemed basked in light.
The Rainbow Lupe scampered out the door and into the grass of outside, damp with condensation. He nuzzled a sweet-smelling flower, covering his nose with a gentle yellow dusting of pollen. He wagged his tail happily and ran out into the Marketplace.
“Hello!” called Zed to anyone passing by. He beamed at any sour face, immediately brightening the mood of the one wearing the scowl.
Zed had been told he was cheerful and optimistic. This was true. Every now and then he’d be told he smiled too much. This wasn’t true. In Zed’s world, there was no such thing as smiling too much.
He approached a shop, owned by a friend of his. He placed his paws on the counter and greeted, “Hello, Mary!”
Mary, the red Cybunny who owned the shop, replied with a giggle, “Good morning, Zed. What is it you’d like today?”
“I was hoping you had some Welsh rarebit in stock today.”
Mary checked her shelves. “I might,” she said, shuffling through the items that occupied her store space. After a few minutes, she turned around and said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I must have sold the last of it.”
This news was a smidgen upsetting to Zed, but it didn’t lessen his spirits much. Still with that ridiculously infectious grin plastered to his face, he asked, “Do you know anyone who might be selling it at as low prices as you? Of course, I doubt anyone will be able to rival your satisfying prices.”
Mary said good-naturedly, “Flattery will get you nowhere, Zed. About the rarebit... I think if you head north, there’s someone who rarely gets visitors and who sells things at decent prices. Do you need any assistance getting there? I’d be happy to help.”
“No thank you,” said Zed, waving a paw. “I should be able to get there on my own.”
As the Lupe stood, Mary called, “See you later then!”
Zed skipped off, his unrelenting cheeriness staying beside him. He looked about and muttered to himself, “Oh my. There sure are a lot of shops around here. I wonder if I should’ve asked Mary who ran the shop, or what the outside looks like, or at least which species of Neopet he or she is!”
Still, he was happy. He turned it into a game: find the shop. But with no evidence of this shop, the game became quite difficult.
It was the morning, meaning the sun should be rising and the day getting gradually brighter. But was it just him, or was it getting darker outside?
Zed turned his head and inspected the area with a tinge of worry. He didn’t recognize where he was. Everything seemed dull and dreary... grey, even. Either way, thought Zed, I should keep going. The shop I’m looking for has to be around here somewhere!
“Hey... watch where you’re going...”
Zed looked down to see a smaller-than-normal Kyrii standing blankly under Zed’s paw. If the Kyrii hadn’t made that feeble noise, Zed might have stepped on him. “Oh, my apologies,” said the Lupe. “I didn’t see you there.”
The Kyrii sighed, brushing his grey, matted fur downwards. “Nobody ever does,” he mumbled.
There was a droopy, sad look to the Kyrii’s pinkish eyes—a look that made Zed’s heart sag. Still, he looked on the positive side. Here’s someone I can talk to, so I’m not alone. And maybe he can help me find the place Mary was talking about.
“Are there any stores around here, by any chance?” asked Zed. He searched about. Everything was immersed in dull colour, if there was any colour at all. The trees hung lazily and bore no leaves. The melancholy landscape made Zed stand out like an unwanted blemish.
The Kyrii answered his question by saying, “There are few, if any, stores located around these parts. Almost no one ever comes here, so you’ll have to look closely for a shop in business.”
“Oh, okay.” Zed nodded, stepping carefully around the Kyrii. “Thank you!”
The Kyrii made no response.
The Lupe’s eagerness was shaken a little at the sight of the depressed Neopet. Still he kept a positive attitude, although being in a landscape such as this made it hard.
Zed had never ever seen such a pessimistic place. It was as if someone had taken a Grey Paintbrush and coated this place with it. Zed wanted to find the shop and leave as soon as possible.
As Zed walked on, he cocked his head at the sad little Weewoos huddled together in trees. They made him feel anxiously uncomfortable. He was used to gleaming smiles all the time, not this! As he continued to stare, he suddenly walked face-first into something hard.
It was a door. A broken “Open” sign hung loosely. The grey bricks that made up the tiny building were chipped and battered.
It was a shop.
Delightedly, Zed pushed open the door and sniffed the interior. It smelled of dust and age. As he trotted up to the counter, a grey Cybunny wheezed and said dully, “Hello, how...” (He coughed) “...may I help you?”
Zed’s grin faded. The Cybunny did not look well. “A friend of mine told me about here,” he said. “I’m looking for...”
The Cybunny interrupted, “Ah, was it Mary? From...” He coughed again.
“Mary, yes. You know her?”
“Yes,” said the Cybunny, nodding grimly, although Zed suspected there was nothing grim about knowing her. “She is my sister. My name is Manfred.”
“Nice to meet you, Manfred,” said Zed. “Well, Mary told me I could come here. You have something I might want?”
Manfred coughed into his paws. “What might that be?”
“Welsh rarebit. Do you have any in stock?”
“I believe so.” Manfred shuffled about and returned with a slice of Welsh rarebit. It seemed to be rid of its hues. “This is what you are looking for, no?”
The Lupe decided to chance it. “Yes,” he said finally. “Thank you, sir.”
He paid for the rarebit and left. Oh, how horrid he felt! Here he was, happy and carefree in his own home, when there was a patch of area hidden from his fellow Neopians where the inhabitants found no enjoyment! A cold pit formed in his gut—something that had never happened before—as Zed trudged home, finding little pleasure in the grand scheme of things.
The next day, Zed lay on his bed, eyes accompanied by dark circles. His once bright fur was filled with dust.
Someone knocked at the door.
“Who is it?” the Lupe called half-heartedly.
“It’s me, Mary,” said the voice on the other side of the door. “May I come in?”
“Sure... I guess.”
Mary tentatively opened the door. “Are you alright? You don’t look well.”
“I’m... just a little tired, that’s all. No need to worry about me.”
Mary sat down on the end of the bed, concerned. “I didn’t see you at all after our encounter yesterday morning. Did you find the place okay? I guess I should’ve been more specific with the location...”
“You didn’t tell me your brother was the shop owner. Nor did you tell me he was grey.”
“I’m sorry, I... I thought you knew.”
Lazily, Zed waved a paw. “Nah, it’s alright. Really.”
Mary shifted. “So, you’re, um... you’re feeling okay? I mean, you’re always so happy, I thought you could visit Manfred without...”
Zed’s eyes glanced towards the Cybunny. “No, I’m not depressed at all. I’m just thinking of a way to get enough Neopoints to buy Rainbow Paintbrushes for all of them.”