Quiggles Don't Eat Cream
Also by sattvik
It was a fine sunny morning in Meridell. Though a bit cool, it did promise to be a bright, warm afternoon. BigPigWig the Sketch Moehog and his best friend, Persepheus the Orange Kougra, were looking over a new catalog of clothes. Feep the Feepit was nibbling a wedge of his favorite vegan cheese, while Prometheus the Gruslen was batting around an indestructible petpet ball. I, TwoCoo, and my friend Sattvik--the owners--were, well, owning.
"Ooh," said BigPigWig, very excited. "Look at the new Moehog Poet costumes! I know I have a copy of Moehog Poetry here somewhere." He ran back and forth across his substantial bookshelves, and eventually found the volume. He cracked the book and began to read.
The Moehog, When Tormented by Skeith
A Cold Winter’s sun shines on Terror Mount.
Alone shivers she; her bristles are quite frozen.
Cruel Skeith hath more than young hog can count
Pointless chores for my young Moehog chosen!
Alas, rest not you, my dear Moehog!
Your fate is Skeith’s tasks just to flog!
"Wait," interrupted Persepheus. "Do you smell something?"
"No," answered BigPigWig. "What would I smell? Oh, Wumpy!"
"Your smelly sludgy is right over there, BigPigWig," I said. "He's playing with Prometheus and Feep. I think he's behind the Petpet pipe maze."
"I can't smell him," BigPigWig said fearfully.
"Feep," said Feep the Feepit, and pointed to the front door, which had been left ajar, just a crack....
"Oh, BigPigWig," Persepheus said. "Wumpy's dripped through a crack again! And he's so hard to spot since you painted him sketch!"
"You should have been here when he was snow in the winter," BigPigWig mumbled.
"Okay, let's go," I said. We all, owners, pets, and petpets alike, trudged out to follow the trail of sketch-tinged sludge.
We didn't have to go far, though. Barely had we reached the garden when we heard a loud crashing noise. Running round the Neohome, we saw the potting bench lying on its side. Amidst the dirt and crockery, sat a miserable looking green Quiggle. And the poor thing was covered with spots.
"Oh, you've got Neezles!" Prometheus cried.
Wumpy pointed at the Quiggle, obviously proud that he'd found something hiding under the potting bench.
"Don't worry," I said to the unfortunate Quiggle. "A Neezles jab should fix you right up, and they're not even expensive."
"Wumpy! That's not food!" BigPigWig called, as he tried to wrestle a shard of cookie-brown coloured pottery out of Wumpy's mouth. Wumpy's eyes glowed purple as he clamped down on the thing that much harder. A loud cracking sound came from the part of Wumpy where he usually has a mouth, and Wumpy looked like a well-pleased little mound of living sludge.
"Feep," said Feep, and he picked up a real cookie from the dirt. It was a piece of dirty, broken, and half-nibbled cream cookie. Feep offered it to Wumpy, who smiled but kept his mouth tightly shut. Then the helpful little Feepit turned about and gave it to Prometheus, who happily sank his little petpet fangs into it.
"That's all dirty," Persepheus scolded. "You petpets shouldn't be eating that."
"Better that than crockery," I muttered, as some more grinding and cracking noises came from inside of Wumpy.
"That's mine," the poor Quiggle cried. He looked so hurt that I immediately forgot about the petpets.
"Yours? Oh, but no wonder you have Neezles," I cried.
"Quiggles are allergic to cream," Sattvik said gravely.
"I'm not a Quiggle," the Quiggle stammered. "My name is Precious Angel and I'm a Baby Draik and Cream Cookie is my favorite food!"
Sattvik and I looked at each other.
"We had better find your owner," I sighed.
"This is all my fault," Precious Angel sniffed. "I just wanted to know what that lab ray was really like. Everyone talks about it so much, I just had to experience it."
"Oh no," I moaned.
"Well, you know now what it's like," Sattvik sighed.
"Please don't tell my owner," Precious Angel sobbed. "He'll never forgive me. None of my shiny Draik weapons will work. All the other Baby Draiks will laugh at me."
"Wait a second," Sattvik cried, and ran back into the house. A moment later he reappeared with a piece of paper, which happened to be a strangely ugly shade of pink.
"FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE," Sattvik read out. "QUIGGLES TO BE FREED FROM SCOURGE OF NEEZLES."
"Oh, that." I rolled my eyes.
"Brilliant scientist...." Sattvik frowned. "I can't read this name, it looks like a bunch of scribbling. Brilliant scientist announces cure for Quiggle susceptibility to Neezles! Since the dawn of history, the Quiggle has been known to contract Neezles from the eating of Ice Cream, and other creamy foods. But I, the brilliant scientist... what's-his-name, have made a breakthrough and cure!"
"One," I said, "that crazy scientist sends out these sorts of announcements all the time, and they hardly ever amount to anything. And two, that scientist with his secret laboratory is what got this poor Quiggle--I mean, poor Baby Draik, into trouble in the first place!
"The only thing that will help Precious Angel is a Draik Morphing Potion and a Baby Paint Brush."
"Well, have you got a Draik Morphing Potion?"
I shrugged. Who has Draik Morphing Potions lying around?
"I think I might have a Neezles Jab, though."
Precious Angel howled, and clutched her green amphibious backside as if she really were being jabbed. Then she began to cry again.
"I have a copy of the Quiggle Food Guide!" BigPigWig said cheerfully. "Quiggles eat flies and health food! And I have Quiggle Workout, and Quiggle Coifs, and even Quiggle Poetry! Do you want some of them?" His bristly little tail bobbed up and down with enthusiasm.
Moehogs, you may have heard, are known for always wanting to help. However, they are not known for always saying the right thing at the right time. Let's just say that Precious Angel did not look pleased with this offer of free books.
"Come on," Sattvik insisted. "Let's see about that cure. Haven't you always wanted to visit the mad scientist? Plus, I bet we can make this into a story for the Neopian Times!"
I was about to object, but Precious Angel looked up at me with her big Quiggle eyes, and I sighed.
"Okay, BigPigWig and Persepheus. Pick up your petpets, and let's see if we can find this mad scientist and his wonderful lab. And Precious Angel, you can come along to, if you feel up to it."
Persepheus picked up Prometheus, and Precious Angel gingerly reached out to Feep, who practically jumped into her hand. BigPigWig grabbed for Wumpy, who, being a Sludgy and all, immediately turned into a gooey mess that drips through the hand, or hoof, in this case. I suppose Wumpy wanted to stay there in the garden and taste all the different broken pots, just in case one of them turned out to be a cookie. I held my nose, and did what I knew I had to do, which was to shovel this messy petpet onto the Moehog's head. Believe me, it looks pretty funny when you see a Moehog with a blob of sludge caked up into his hair, but I think BigWigPig actually enjoys the muddy sensation. I, on the other hand, went straight inside to wash my hands.
Together, we scrounged up a map to the secret laboratory. The pieces of that map are expensive, but not nearly as much as a Draik Morphing potion. Soon, we found ourselves landing on a remote and rocky island and heading for a secret fortress.
"Knock," said Sattvik.
"You knock," I said. Persepheus surprised me, though, by walking right on in. He’s brave like that!
The place was a mess. It looked like child's toy box, except that the child would have been fifty feet high and with a fondness for things that whir and light up. Our neopets huddled in the corner, their knees chattering so loudly that it annoyed us. They stared at a strange ray, which we had no intention of letting our brave pets get near. Near it stood that even stranger yellow Scorchio, his main claim to strangeness being his lab coat, his bizarre orange and yellow eyes, which seem to spin in their sockets, and his really tacky wig.
"Don't fret," said the celebrated scientist, looking proudly at his infamous ray. "Most of the time that does nothing anyhow!"
Wanting to change the subject, I nudged Sattvik, who politely asked, "So we hear you have made a breakthrough in the realm of Quiggle health?"
"Ah, yes!" he began, nodding his head. "The press release! You are here from the Times! Excellent!"
"That's right," I lied. "The Neopian Times really wants to hear about this discovery. It's about Quiggles, and cream, I take it?"
"Ice Cream!" screamed the scientist. "Do you like ice cream!"
"Most people and pets do," I replied, meekly.
"But not the Quiggle!"
"Well, I think that they may like it, but they can't eat it without getting Neezles."
"Exactly! And do you know why?"
I was fairly sure I did know, but I shook my head no. The scientist rubbed his paws together gleefully. He paused a few moments for effect. I wasn't affected, but the pets looked even more frightened. Finally, he spoke.
"Ice creams are made of cream, sugar, and flavours, and cream contains the key substance, which is the glycoprotein MUC1. Now this glycoprotein is normally quite healthy, and actually binds to certain bacteria, and thus promotes health. It keeps the doctor away, so to speak."
The so-called mad doctor's eyes spun a bit here, or at least they appeared to. You know, I think it might just have been horribly ugly eyeglasses. Anyhow, he went on about cream.
"Cream, known to most of us as harmless and sweet, contains a substance that stimulates a violent reaction inside the Quiggle. I have just recently isolated this strange glycoprotein. The immune system of the Quiggle recognizes this glycoprotein as an intruder, and triggers a flood of anti-cream antigens, producing bright red bumps in places like the cheeks, the stomach, and the fingers, and of course, the toes. I theorize that the Quiggle developed this sensitivity after years of refusing to eat the delicious cream because they all thought it was too fattening! As if the normal diet of flies is not rich in fat. When ice cream was brought to Neopia it was too late for the species."
"Now the Quiggle," (and here he paused a bit to make a strange face, that is, a stranger than usual face), "eats flies. Yes, flies. The fly is considered the normal healthy diet of the Quiggle. Now you know the fly is quite nutritious, full of fat--yes fat--and protein as they are mostly little muscles, yes, little disgusting fly muscles. Are you following me? Are you following me?"
He paused long enough for us to assure him that yes, we were following him, and that we were transfixed by the thought of little fly muscles.
"Ah, good. Yes, little muscles. And DISEASE! Yes, the fly is not a clean insect. It is not known for its cleanliness, you know. It is known for its BACTERIA! Its VIRUSES! The fly is known for ILLNESS! ILLNESS and DISEASE!"
As he said this, he leaned forward towards us so far that I thought he might fall out of his chair. I suppose he meant to emphasize the importance of his point, but instead I simply wanted to push him back upright again.
"The Quiggle, though, thrives on these flies! Their immune systems have evolved to defeat all this vile viruses and baneful bacteria. All that uck has no effect on the healthy Quiggle! None! The fly cannot harm them! You follow? Good, good!"
About this time I noticed BigPigWig and Persepheus were starting to look bored. I suppose they were hoping to hear something about Moehogs or Kougras. They seemed to be inching toward that horrible lab ray. I was about to shoo them back, when the scientist began to scream again.
"So this, normal, healthy, disease inhibiting glycoprotein is shunned by the Quiggle! It makes the Quiggle sick! They do not digest it, their overactive immune system sees it as a toxin, yes, a toxin, not a harmless, disease inhibiting glycoprotein, and then... then... you know what then?"
"It gives the Quiggle Neezles?" I squeaked.
"PRECISELY!" the scientist screeched so loudly that BigPigWig and Persepheus ran out the door. Oh dear, I thought. They'll get lost without that stupid map.
"Now... the Kau."
Kau? How did we get to Kau? I looked around for a Kau, but only saw me, Sattvik, and the scientist, and that nasty mutant Kookith who follows him around, a Kookith that seemed to be trying to talk to a pile of ash...
"Kau milk contains lactose. You have heard of lactose?"
"Yes," Sattvik told him. "Everyone has heard of lactose. Lactose is a sugar found in Kau milk and most other milks. Some people naturally make an enzyme to digest it, but many people cannot digest it. However yogurt and cheese contain less lactose, and so are better tolerated."
"My, we have a smart owner. So smart." I was afraid the scientist would have some sort of attack. "But I bet you did not know that the poor Quiggle lacks the enzyme necessary to break down MUC1, much as the smart owner lacks the enzyme necessary to digest lactose? And that presence of MUC1 in the Quiggle digestive system triggers an attack, a surge of neurotransmitters, and a flurry of electropulses that stun the Quiggle brain! Did you know this?"
"Uh, no," said Sattvik, meekly.
"Of course you did not know it! And do you know why you did not know it?"
He leapt out of his chair, and began to jump up and down. Of course I knew the answer to this question.
"Because you just discovered it," I said matter of factly. He looked surprised. But really, we were only here to write this article for the Neopian Times because we'd read that press release about a major discovery concerning Quiggle biology.
Sattvik was rapidly taking notes. "So the brain activity triggers antigen release, which gives the Quiggle Neezles? Do you mean to say that Quiggles are allergic to cream?"
I looked over at Sattvik, and he looked back at me and blinked. Allergic to cream? All that and our story was going to be "Quiggles are allergic to cream?"
"I have the answer!" he cried, jumping up and down on his left foot. "The answer, the answer, I have it! It I have!"
"Really?" I asked, carefully. I was hoping it didn't involve his ray gun.
"It is here, right here, on this bench!"
He was pointing to a lab bench, piled high with papers, which were piled with books, which were in turn piled with beakers, and test tubes, and boxes with wires sticking out of them. He continued to hop up and down and point, so I very cautiously stood up and walked around the bench.
"Um," I said. "That bottle there, looks like a Darigan Draik morphing potion. And it's just lying around on that bench. I suppose that's the answer? You'd better set it upright; it might leak."
"That! This?" He grabbed the potion in his paw, and threw it up into the air. I stood horror struck--or maybe hypnotized by the scientist's eyes--until I realized that Sattvik had walked up behind me and grabbed the purple flask as it flew through the air.
"Junk! Junk! Worthless magic potions, inefficient and smelly! Outdated, unscientific, and hard to store as well!"
"Oh, right," I responded, trying to think quickly. "I should have known better than to mistake that ugly old flask for THE ANSWER. Er, what is the answer?"
"The cure! The cure! Right here on my bench!" I strained to see what he was pointing at. Was it the clock that was running backwards? Was it the seven-foot high headless Count Von Roo plushie? Was it the big brown flowerpot full of dirt?
All of a sudden there was a horrible crash, and the bench tipped over, and clock, plushie, books, papers, beakers, boxes, test tubes and flowerpot all came sliding onto the floor. I gaped horrorstruck. But it only got worse when I realized what was standing on the floor, right where the bench used to be.
"Kookith!" said Wumpy, grinning and pointing right at the Mutant Kookith in his lab coat. But when Wumpy said "Kookith," it sounded something like a cross between "Cookie" and "Grr." For its part, the Kookith reached out a little hand to Wumpy, and the two petpets shook hands happily. Then Wumpy picked up a broken piece of flowerpot, and passed it to the Kookith, who put it into its own mouth and chomped.
"Oh, no," I moaned.
"SMASHED!" the mad Scorchio screamed. "All destroyed! All gone! The horrible Sludgy has smashed my device! And I will never be able to reconstruct it! Never!"
"Don't say that," I squeaked. "A genius like you... Oh, never mind."
"RUN!" Sattvik shouted. I grabbed for Wumpy, who once again, literally slid through my fingers. His eyeballs glowed purple at me, just as they dropped free and bounced onto the ground. And all of a sudden, a nasty blast of Scorchio fire breath whizzed by me.
"RUN!" Sattvik shouted again, now near the door.
"Oh, Wumpy." I was starting to cry, but I ran for the door. By the time I made it out, Precious Angel was already guzzling the Draik Morphing potion.
"We can't go," BigPigWig said. "We can't abandon my Sludgy!"
"You have the worst behaved Sludgy in all of Neopia," Sattvik said, a bit harshly.
"That's because he's smart," BigPigWig howled, and made a horrible noise something like grunting. Persepheus wrapped a comforting arm around BigPigWig.
But at that moment, the door of the fortress swung open, and there stood the Kookith. He was smiling broadly, and holding something in his arms. Something black, and powdery. From the pile of ash, two little eyes looked up at me, and glowed a pale shade of lavender. They were Wumpy’s eyes. Wumpy’s eyes, pale and frightened.
“You burnt Wumpy!” Persepheus gasped.
“It was that petpet ray!” BigPigWig cried.
“No, the Scorchio blasted him,” Persepheus answered.
“Or maybe both!” BigPigWig sobbed.
And before I could take all that in, a Scorchio head with wild hair and strange eyes stuck itself out the door.
"The Pile of Ash is a very well-behaved petpet!" he chuckled. "I will fix the cure machine, and all is forgiven, but only when I read about my splendid discovery in the Neopian Times! And maybe not even then, unless it’s the special 350th anniversary issue! " And with that, the door of the fortress slammed shut, leaving me, Sattvik, three pets and three petpets, all by ourselves.
EPILOGUE: When Precious Angel's owner saw that she was a Darigan Draik, he jumped up and down and kissed her, and praised her for being so smart as to think of using the Secret Laboratory Ray. The names have been withheld to protect the mostly innocent. TwoCoo wrote most of this story, based on an idea by Sattvik. We hope you liked our story, and we wish the Neopian Times a happy 350th anniversary!