Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 175,202,438 Issue: 368 | 14th day of Storing, Y10
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Finding Frieda

by majikel


The story goes like this. You see, my very best friend, Piper, gave Frieda to me. The day Piper moved to Mystery Island was one of the worst days of my life. She handed me this green Wocky plushie, told me, “Don’t forget to write,” and then boarded the ferry.

     It’s been almost a full year. I haven’t seen Piper since then, but we write at least two or three times a month. The day after Piper left, I had written her my first letter, telling her that I named the plushie Frieda.

     She wrote back soon after. Piper is a very simple red Kougra, and the only thing she wrote in her letter was, “Dear Chelsie, why Frieda? Love, Piper.” It was written all on one line, on a ripped sheet of paper.

     Sometimes Piper’s simplicity gets on my nerves, but I’ve never told her that. Why should I? I like her just the way she is. I wrote her a long, lengthy letter about how I used to have a great aunt named Frieda and she was a blue Wocky. The last sentence read, “I know this plushie is green, but it just seems to fit her really well.”

     Now, here I am, in Neopia Central, with a missing Frieda. The worst part is, Piper is coming back for her first visit in less than a week. She’s going to question about the Wocky plushie when she doesn’t see her. I just know it.

     * * *

     “Chelsie!” my sister, Olivia, yelled down the hall to my bedroom. Startled, I jerked up my head and hit it on the bottom of my bed. I was looking down there to see if Frieda had fallen.

     “What?” I called back. Olivia, a short rainbow Usul, could really be annoying when she wanted to. I crawled out from under the bed so old toys didn’t muffle Olivia’s response. However, Olivia didn’t respond. I sighed and dusted myself off. It was really dirty under there. I’d have to remind my owner later to sweep.

     I marched across the hall, two doors down, to Olivia’s room, where the Jazzmosis blasted through Olivia’s small speakers. With my blue Kougra paws clamped tightly over my ears, I walked into the room and found the Usul singing along and dancing with her Jazzmosis Nimmo plushie.

     When she saw me enter, her cheeks immediately turned cherry red, and she threw the plushie onto her bed with a hard force. Angrily, she raced over to her speakers, turned them down, then yelled, “Why don’t you learn to knock!?”

     I dropped my paws and rolled my eyes. “You wouldn’t have heard me anyway!” I answered, being equally as loud as she was. “I came to ask if you knew where Kathy was.” Kathy, our owner, was usually at home, cleaning. She gets into a lot of cleaning frenzies.

     “She went out,” Olivia answered, straightening up her collection of Jazzmosis plushies. They all sat neatly in a row on the end of her bed, in order of her favorite to least.

     “Out where?” I asked, exasperated. “Out in the shop?” Our small shop, Just Your Friendly Corner Needs, was connected to our house in Neopia Central. Kathy ran it herself, and sometimes us pets helped her out if we wanted some extra spending cash.

     “Nope.” Olivia twirled around once and wandered over to her “makeup counter,” where she kept all her mirrors, blush, lipstick, and other items she bought from the grooming parlor. She picked up a blue Eyeshadow in one hand and a yellowish color in the other. “Which do you think looks better on me?” she asked, holding each of them up close to her face. “Midnight or gold?”

     I rolled my eyes up to the ceiling, sighed, and answered, “Gold. It matches your fur better. Now, will you tell me where Kathy went?”

     “She went shopping for food,” Olivia said, staring at herself in the mirror and puckering up her lips as she carefully put on some spearmint lip balm. “Marco was complaining that we didn’t have anything good to eat – again.”

     Our brother, Marco, is a shadow Lupe. He’s always hungry, but he must have a high metabolism, because if he didn’t, I’m sure he’d be twice the size of a Skeith by now.

     I sighed. “Will you go find her for me? I need to ask her if she knows where Frieda is. She went missing.” I flopped over backwards on Olivia’s bed, accidentally squishing a few of her plushies.

     Olivia jammed the lip balm back into a drawer and whipped around, facing me. “Why do I have to go find her, Chelsie? Why can’t you for once? When are you going to get over this childish fear of yours and go outside? You were never like this when Piper lived here! You guys always played outside and weren’t afraid of anything, but now your some scaredy-Kougra who’s always bossy!” Olivia let out a huge breath of air and stormed out of the room.

     I sat up. She’s right, I thought. I am a scaredy-Kougra. I did remember all the times Piper and I enjoyed the “great outdoors.” Memories came flooding back: our trips to Kiko Lake for a day of swimming, slurping down smoothies until we got brain freezes, trying to snatch up items at the Money Tree... the list seemed to never end. Why was I so scared now?

      Slowly, I walked back to my bedroom, thinking it over. My fear of outside didn’t start until after Piper left. What had happened? I had just stopped leaving the house. Piper was always so brave, craving adventure... I had just been the follower.

     I wanted to dive under the covers of my bed and sleep for a few hours, but there was a bright yellow piece of paper on my desk. It hadn’t been there before. Cautiously, I walked up to it and picked it up.

     Looking for Frieda, are you? Don’t worry, Chelsie; she’s safe. You’re just going to have to find her. Look for the next clue... I’ll give you a hint: it’s in the kitchen.

     I didn’t recognize the handwriting. Or maybe I did, just a little. It looked sort of familiar, but not really. I wasn’t thinking about that anyway. The only thing that ran through my mind, in flashing “red alert!” lights, was: Someone stole Frieda!

     I ran to the kitchen, and I almost tripped over Olivia, who was returning to her room. She gave me a nasty glare and kept walking. I opened my mouth to talk, but no words came out, so I shook my head and kept going.

     Marco was in the kitchen, rummaging through the cupboards. “Isn’t there anything to eat around here?” he muttered, knocking over a can of my black cherry tea. “Oops.”

     “Be careful!” I scolded, snatching the can up. “Don’t spill it all. It’s for when I get headaches.” I sighed, and then remembered. “Marco!” I yelled, startling him. Before he could say anything, I yelped, “Did you steal Frieda?”

     The Lupe gave me a confused look. “Frieda?” he asked, trying to figure out where he had heard the name before. “Oh, you mean your Kougra plushie?”

     “Wocky plushie, Marco! Did you take her?”

     He shook his head no, and that’s when I spotted the clue, in the fruit basket, stuck to an organic peach. I rushed over and read it out loud.

     Good job finding your first clue. I’m going to warn you right now: I’m making this easy for you, Chelsie. All you have to do is follow the simple clues. Ready for your first real one? “Scaredy Acara.”

     “Scaredy Acara,” I repeated, immediately recognizing the name of a book. “The next clue must be at the book shop!” I realized. Quickly, I stuffed the two notes in my pocket and scrambled for the front door.

     “Olivia!” I yelled up. “Tell Kathy I’ve gone out! I’ll be back in a while!” I could hear Olivia’s surprised response, but I ignored it and ran out the door.

     * * *

     It was a beautiful day outside. The sun was shining brightly, and there were lots of people out and about. I stood frozen on the porch steps, not able to move even a fraction of an inch. What was I doing out here? I was scared silly!

     Frieda. I could picture the green Wocky plushie in my mind. What will Piper think when she comes, and finds the gift she gave me gone? She’ll think I won’t care, and that’s not true! With great force, I made my way down the steps. When I reached the bottom, I tried to encourage myself. See, Chelsie? That wasn’t so hard now, was it? You can do it.

     Although we were right on the outskirts of Neopia Central, the walk to the book shop seemed to take forever. I was extremely cautions – being startled at everything from a flying Pteri overhead to a Buzzer flying around the flowers.

     At last, I stood in front of the book shop. What waited for me inside? Another clue? Frieda? A hungry Skeith, waiting to gobble me up? I pushed the thoughts out of my head as I pushed the door open. Other than the Nimmo shopkeeper and his books, the small building was empty. I easily found the shelf where Scaredy Acara was located, and pulled it out.

     I slowly fanned through the pages, holding my breath in case any dusty germs tried to attack me. Wedged inside the center page sat a bright yellow note. It was folded, so I opened it up, setting the book back on the shelf.

     So, you made it outside! I have to admit, I’m proud of you, Chelsie. I’m sure you’re eager to find your plushie, so enough with the small talk. Here’s your next clue: I’m small, green, and if you slurp me down too fast, I’ll give you a brain freeze.

     I reread the clue three times before I finally came up with something. “My favorite smoothie is small and green,” I whispered to myself. I jammed that note into my pocket along with the other two and hurried out of the shop, giving the blue Nimmo a polite nod.

     Quickly, I entered the chilly Fresh Smoothies and hurried straight towards the counter. “One small original kiwi smoothie, please,” I ordered, tapping my fingers on the counter impatiently. Who had stolen Frieda? I just couldn’t figure it out. And how did they know kiwi was my favorite flavor?

     The red Tuskaninny handed me the drink in record time, giving me a curious look. When I glanced at the plastic cup, I figured out why. Taped to it was another bright yellow note. I yanked it off and unfolded it.

     You’ve come this far, so why don’t you take a little break and relax? Enjoy your smoothie. It’s already been paid for. Here’s your next clue: I live in a happy place, and I’m a great toy. I have little arrows with sharp edges that come with me in my box.

     I had to ponder this one. I did as the note said – I started sipping my smoothie. I wasn’t enjoying it, though, and I certainly wasn’t relaxing. I stood there, at the counter, staring at the note and trying not to give myself a brain freeze. The Tuskaninny had looked over my shoulder, reading it as I did. It was the first time he spoke up.

     “The toy shop,” he said. “Right across from next door. It’s a happy place, isn’t it?” Giving him a relieved look, I thanked him thoroughly and bolted out of the shop.

     A petite pink Lupe greeted me joyfully when I stepped into the toy shop. I tried to casually walk up to her, but I couldn’t help but hurry. “Do you have something that comes in a box and has pointy sharp arrows?” I blurted out.

     After a pause, the Lupe answered, “You mean a Bori dart game?” I shrugged and she led me over to it. “This is it.” Another customer came in just then, and she left to go talk to the Uni.

     Carefully, I searched around the box. This had to be it! But where was the clue? I gently lifted the lid, and was presented with a now-familiar bright yellow note. My hands were shaking uncontrollably as I unfolded it.

     I know you probably feel as though you’ve run all over Neopia Central by now. Truth is, you haven’t! There’s still the plaza. Oops, I just gave away an extra hint. Here’s your next clue: This was where I came from, before the factory, where I was made. They sell lots of me here. Love, Frieda.

     “Love, Frieda!?” I gasped. “She’s not alive!” I calmed myself down, and it wasn’t hard to figure out that “Frieda” meant the plushie shop. It was a longer trip, but I made it there safe and sound. Although, someone’s petpet Warf did bark at me and make me run for my life.

     * * *

     Inside the Plushie Palace, I ran smack into an island Kougra. “Oops!” I said quickly. “Sorry!” The Kougra didn’t say anything, but just smiled at me. I gave her a funny look and tried to move past her.

     She blocked my way, still wearing a silly old smile. A familiar silly old smile. I studied her face, hard, but I’d never met an island Kougra before. After a full minute or so, she dropped the smile, gave an exasperated huff, and looked up at the ceiling. “Chelsie!” she moaned.

     Startled, I stared at her. She knew my name, and her voice – “Piper?” I asked in amazement.

     Piper rolled her eyes and crossed her arms, a true Piper-thing. “Took you long enough!” she laughed. “You didn’t know it was me?”

     “No, I mean – you’re not supposed to come until next week! And Frieda –” I stopped. Piper held up the green Wocky plushie.

     “This Frieda?” she questioned. “Chelsie, you seriously didn’t know it was me? I set this whole thing up. After everything Olivia told me about how much you’d changed since I left, I figured it was time to bring back the old Chelsie. At least, a little bit of her.”

     I continued to stare at my best friend with wide eyes. Piper dropped Frieda on the ground and we both enveloped each other in the biggest hug I’ve ever received in my entire life. She was back, and so was I.

The End

Hoped you enjoyed this, because I enjoyed writing it! Many thanks to pixie_29. You're a great friend!

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