The Perfect Petitioners Day
Caspus, a fluffy green Wocky, couldn’t help but be excited. It was the kind of day where everything seems perfect. The sun was shining enough to warm the land but not so much that it was horribly stinking hot and you just want to jump in an ice bath. The postman had done his rounds, as had the milkman, or should I say, milk woman, and there was nothing more to be done that day except to fill a glass to the brim with lemonade, pull up a chair in the shade and read a nice book.
But things are never as perfect as they seem.
Caspus sat down with his lemonade, having adorned it with one of those little umbrellas that keep the sun off your drink so that the ice doesn’t melt so fast and a nice slice of lemon balanced on the rim. The pages of his book ruffled in the slight, cooling and very pleasant breeze and Caspus was just thinking what a lovely and most perfect day it was when, as perfect things often do, everything went wrong.
You see, the problem with things being perfect is that there is no way for them to improve and therefore, the only way is back down to the imperfect again. When you’re on the top rug of a ladder to nowhere, the only thing you can do is hang there and call for help or slowly work your way back down again only to stand at the bottom of the ladder and miss the view from the top and wonder why you climbed a ladder to nowhere in the first place.
So, we were sitting down with Caspus and his book, Neopian Musicals. Suddenly and very, excruciatingly slowly, an orange Ixi ambled up to Caspus and asked him for some money. Completely bemused, Caspus couldn’t think of any reply except to give the poor decrepit Ixi a few neopoints, which he did.
Settling back down, Caspus picked up his book and slid the bookmark aside. He was just getting engrossed in the musical titled Singing in Outer Space when another approached him.
“Excuse me?” asked the leader of a small group consisting of Jetsams patterned in all shades of the rainbow, as they were painted that particular colour.
“Yes?” asked Caspus in a would-be friendly voice.
“Well, it’s just that we lost our owner at the market and we’re worried...”
“I haven’t seen any owners around her today, but if I see one I’ll be sure to let you know.”
“I think you misunderstood us. Our owner abandoned us at the pound.”
Caspus’ eyes widened. He had heard stories of the dangerous, rabid pets that were left in the pound because their owners couldn’t cope with them and he was afraid. These Jetsams had obviously escaped the pound. “What do you want?” he said rather sharply. To his surprise, the Jetsam who had spoken to him smiled in that mean sort of way that Jetsams do.
“I knew you’d understand! We would like some purple paint brushes if you have any in stock,” he said happily.
This was just too much for Caspus to take. “I don’t have any purple paint brushes and I am not a shop or a charity!” he said with more anger than he had been intending.
The Jetsams just looked at him as if he were a nice juicy steak. Getting slightly nervous now and afraid that his outburst had angered them, Caspus backed away slowly, mumbling about being sorry and that if he did have purple paint brushes, he would be more than happy to give them away to the troop of Jetsams, but that, unfortunately, he didn’t and would they please respect that.
The first Jetsam seemed to tire of the incoherent mumbling of Caspus. He held out his hand expectantly. “If you haven’t got paint brushes, then some money would be nice,” he said, almost spitting the words in his frustration.
A terrified Caspus deposited a few neopoints into the Jetsam’s hand. The Jetsam looked upon the money with obvious disdain and turned away in disgust. They left without further incident, their leader mumbling about Caspus’ stinginess.
Rather shaken up by the whole affair, Caspus sat back down on the soft, shady grass and leaned against the rough bark of the tree, whose branching branches provided for all those around it. Caspus wiped the beads of accumulated sweat from his head, heaved a mighty sigh and closed his eyes.
Caspus’ eyes flew open and he jumped to his feet, afraid that the pack of Jetsams had returned. It was not the Jetsams, however, but a baby Gelert who had requested his attention. Caspus relaxed but was still profoundly annoyed.
“What do you want?” he grumbled. The little Gelert’s eyes began to water and she backed away slowly. Caspus felt guilty and bent down to console the little Gelert.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “You startled me! What can I do for you?” he asked more gently. She smiled at him with one of those looks that can break even the surest of defences.
“I’d like a honey potion please!” she exclaimed, excitement and anticipation bloomed on her face. Caspus’ face, however, was the polar opposite of the baby Gelert.
“I... I don’t... have one,” he said, slightly bemused. What on Neopia was going on!
“You don’t?” she asked. The excited look she had worn was replaced by a sulky one complete with a pout that could be ridden to town. Caspus stood up thoughtfully.
“Are you sure you don’t have one?” asked the little, innocent baby Gelert. There was a subtle hint of a threat in her voice that foretold of impending and imminent doom if he did not have a honey potion. Caspus stood, lost in his own contemplations, and absently told her that he didn’t.
The moment the words were out of his mouth, he felt a sharp pain in his leg. He looked down to see the baby Gelert with an expression of mingled anger and hate, clamping her jaws firmly and painfully around his ankle. He yelped in pain and surprise and tried to shake her loose, but she only sank her wicked fangs in deeper, causing him to slump to the ground.
She leapt onto his chest and growled down at him from her vantage point. He was on the verge of chucking her off him but stayed his hand. She was, after all, a baby. An annoying, sulky, ankle biting baby Gelert who was obviously spoiled rotten.
He calmly explained to her that he just wanted to sit and read his book. She consented to get off him so that he could sit up but refused to go away and leave him in peace.
“I’m not a soup kitchen, you know!” he said, trying not to sound too exasperated. The twinge in his ankle made it harder to forgive her.
“You exist to help people and give them stuff. If you don’t have stuff to give, then what is the point of you being here!” cried the little Gelert, tears glistening in her huge eyes. She looked sulkier than ever and turned her back on him, strutting away with an annoyed flick to her long tail.
This time there was no chance for Caspus to sit down before he was again accosted. He was just thinking how odd the baby Gelert’s parting words had been when he heard a great clamouring. He turned to see a flood of pets storming towards him. He could have sworn they made a rushing sound like a waterfall as they reached and enveloped him, each and every one of them shouting, reaching, grabbing, pushing and tugging at Caspus’ clothes and person. They all made such a ruckus, confusing and disorientating the poor Caspus who had come to sit under a tree to enjoy a book about Neopian musicals and was asked for charity.
There were pets of all ages and colours and clothing and species and gender and strength and level and all of them seemed to demand the attention of Caspus who stood, completely lost and befuddled.
“I want some money!” cried one particularly fierce looking Draik carrying a banner depicting the shield design of Meridell.
“Give my sister some NeoCola TM!” shouted another, who appeared to have Neopox.
Another claimed that her owner was threatening to abandon her unless she brought home a Fire and Ice Blade.
It was so confusing for poor Caspus. He could only make out snippets of what they were shouting at him and his clothes were all ripped and hanging from him in shreds because of all the grasping and pushing and pulling of paws and claws vying for his attention. His ears were ringing and his fur was being pulled out in large, extremely painful chunks.
“QUIET!” he shouted. “QUIET! QUIET! QUIET! QUIET!...” He shouted until he was hoarse and still, the sea of pets did not hush. They only got louder as if they were competing to see who could be the loudest. One of the crowd lifted Caspus up onto his immense shoulders, away from the clutching paws and claws, so the crowd began assaulting him instead, trying, in vain, to reach the precious pet held above them.
Caspus saw, to his horror, that the crowd had grown and almost doubled in size. It was at this moment that utter panic took hold of him. He scratched at the eyes of the Lupe holding him, who dropped him heavily on the little ground space available. Wary of being trampled by the mob, Caspus quickly got to his feet and began to fight his way through the masses of pets.
The pets who couldn’t see him continued to shout to a spot where Caspus had once stood and so remained in place. The others, seeing Caspus approaching them, moved forward to press about him, holding out hands in appeal, beseeching him to give them various items or sums of money.
At last, Caspus reached the last few ranks of the crowd, many of which were unaware of his attempted escape. He plunged forward and finally broke free. He wasted no time in sprinting away. A few sprinted after him but grew tired and went back to the others.
Taking no chances, Caspus ran all the way down the path and out of the shopping area, halting only when he was sure that he was out of sight of the great tide of pets.
He turned to look back at the central shopping area. There, standing proudly was the tree that had given him shade, but also, the troublesome Jetsams, the baby Gelert and, finally, the immense crowd of petitioners.
Caspus laughed in a self-deprecating way, amused at his own idiocy. He had sat, unwitting fool that he was, under the Money Tree.