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A Lonely Kiko


by mudkippikdum

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Nobody paid any attention to the lonely Kiko that wandered the streets of Neopia Central.

      Nobody stopped to greet him. Nobody stopped to ask who he was. Nobody stopped to find out why he was there.

      They were not even aware of his presence.

      As Kerru the Kiko explored, he saw a red Zafara struggling to carry an enormous tower of books. He could tell it was about to topple over. He could have made it to her in time and caught the books as they fell.

      Kerru did nothing.

      He saw a baby Wocky, crying and asking passing Neopians if they had seen his owner. Kerru remembered seeing a girl searching for a baby Wocky next to the art centre earlier that day. He could easily have told the Wocky where to find his owner.

      Kerru did nothing.

      And now Kerru saw a young blue Cybunny and her owner leaving the food shop, each of them beginning to work their way through a delicious-looking chocolate milkshake.

      Kerru only paused for a moment before making his way over to them and, without their knowing, he accompanied them on their way home.

      Watching them could turn out to be interesting, Kerru decided. After all, what else was there for him to do?

     * * * * *

      Dear Diary, wrote Kara in elaborate, curled letters. It was three days since the shopping trip, and Kara was experimenting with the new purple and blue faerie pen she had chosen. She hesitated, thoughtfully chewing the end of the pen as she searched for words to accurately express her excitement. Finding none, she simply set down a long string of exclamation marks, each slightly bigger than the last.

      The previous night, she had been writing in the sparkly pink notebook that was her diary after trying and failing to slide into sleep. She had heard a slight rustling noise that had stopped abruptly, as if something had not wanted to be discovered.

      Curious, Kara had pulled her bedroom door open a few centimetres, wide enough only for one eye to peep out.

      She had seen her owner, Kate, tiptoeing along the corridor, clutching a plain brown paper bag. Kara had squinted, trying to make out the shape of whatever was in the bag; when what it was had finally dawned on her it had been all she could do to prevent herself from leaping into the air with delight.

      The shape she had seen was clearly that of a magical paintbrush.

      Now, with only two nights separating her from her birthday, Kara knew that her days of being a blue Cybunny were almost over.

      Still not knowing quite how to put her discovery into words, she proceeded to illustrate the page with a beautiful drawing of a faerie Cybunny, making the delicate purple and blue wings especially detailed. This, she hoped, was how she would soon appear.

     * * * * *

      Kerru was perched on Kara’s uppermost shelf, amongst a variety of colouring books, watching the winged pet slowly take shape on the page. She wishes to be a faerie Cybunny, he realised. But she had only seen the bag the paintbrush was in. Had Kara told Kate she wanted to be painted faerie, or had she merely assumed that the paintbrush was of the colour she longed to be? Kerru was beginning to sense that something interesting was about to unfold...

      Kerru left Kara to her sketching, clambering down from the bookshelf and emerging from the room without a sound. Moving soundlessly was a skill he had mastered over many years of not wanting to be noticed. Remembering where Kate had hidden the paper bag the previous night, he crept down the corridor until he reached the old, worn wooden door at the end. He eased it open slowly, silently, and darted into the spare room.

      Kerru blinked, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. His gaze swept across the room and located the inconspicuous little cupboard he had seen Kate shove the paper bag into. Slipping over to it, he pulled open the cupboard door and peered into the bag, which was just where Kate had left it. He could not stop a wide grin from spreading across his face.

      Lurking within the plain brown paper bag was a vile, fetid, festering zombie paintbrush. It will be interesting how this turns out... mused Kerru. Very, very interesting.

     * * * * *

      On the morning of her birthday, Kara bounded down the stairs to find a small pile of neatly wrapped gifts on the dining room table.

      “Happy birthday!” Kate grinned from across the room.

      Kara grinned back in response and quickly began opening her presents; soon the room was littered with brightly coloured bits of ribbon and scraps of wrapping paper. Behind the packaging, she discovered three new Usukis, a beautiful set of colouring pencils and a notebook, with a pattern of seaweed-green and ocean-blue strands twisted together.

      “It’s for when you run out of space in your first notebook,” Kate explained.

      “Th-thank you!” Kara gasped, tracing the intricate pattern with one paw. But she knew that the best present was yet to come.

      “There’s one more...” teased Kate, holding something behind her back and smiling knowingly. “Want to go to the Rainbow Pool and try it out?”

      Kara’s eyes lit up and she bounced up and down on the spot, unable to contain her excitement.

      As she followed her owner out of the Neohome, she was not aware of another Neopet behind her.

     * * * * *

      The journey to the Rainbow Pool seemed to run in slow motion. A million thoughts raced through Kerru’s head. He forced them to slow down; tried to think through them logically.

      Kara was about to be painted a colour she would loathe. There was no question of that. Just a few minutes of watching her draw herself in her delicate faerie form would convince anyone of how much she would hate to become a sickly green, blank eyed zombie that was more likely to give passersby nightmares than cause them to admire her.

      How could her own owner not realise that? wondered Kerru. But it was not important; Kerru pushed that thought aside.

      For some reason, the thought of Kara being painted zombie made him unhappy – and sadness was not something Kerru had experienced for a long, long time. But as much as Kerru strained to understand why, the answer evaded him.

      All too soon, the Rainbow Pool was looming in front of him. Kara was already rushing towards the water, dazzlingly bright in the sunshine, as Kate produced the zombie paintbrush, its single eye swivelling around as if trying to locate its victim. The silly Cybunny isn’t even looking at the paintbrush, Kerru thought scathingly. But even as he thought it, a wave of sorrow threatened to overcome him.

      And suddenly, he remembered.

     * * * * *

      Three years ago, Kerru was a naïve, cheerful little green Kiko. It was a cool morning in the month of Awakening, cold, but not so cold as to be unpleasant. Kerru and his family were due to move to a newly built Neohome in Shenkuu that afternoon.

      Kerru meandered around Neopia Central, ensuring he enjoyed his last day there. He paid a visit to the chocolate factory and peered into the petpet shop, marvelling at the chaotic hordes of petpets inside. It was during an exploration of the marketplace that he realised he was late for the ship that would take him and his family to Shenkuu. Just as he had begun to make his way to the port, there was a blinding flash of light in front of his eyes and he shut them tightly.

      When he opened them, his flippers were gone.

      Or that was what he thought at first. He flexed his claws and could feel them moving. So why was he unable to see them?

      The answer must have been that somehow, inexplicably, he had become an invisible Kiko.

      Kerru suddenly remembered the ship he needed to board. He set off once more, forcing himself through the air so quickly that it was all he could do to avoid collisions.

      He was soon approaching the port where the ship was docked. It was a beautifully crafted vessel from Shenkuu; its blue and white sails flapped gently, like wings. To Kerru’s horror, just as he had caught sight of his owner and siblings on board the ship, it slowly but steadily began to move.

      It was leaving – without him.

      “Wait!” he shouted desperately. “Wait for me!”

      Either he was too far away for his voice to reach them, or it was lost in the crashing of waves against the low bank where the sea met the land. His family did not show any reaction to his cries, and the ship began to speed up, sailing out into the open ocean. Had he been the same green Kiko he had been that morning, it would not have been difficult for the passengers to spot him, hurtling towards them as if there was nothing in Neopia that would stop him. But he was not.

      “WAIT!” he shouted again, tears beginning to form in his eyes.

      It was no use. The ship was travelling rapidly away from him, far too fast for him to have a hope of catching up with it.

      He got one last glimpse of his owner’s look of anguish, and of the shocked faces of his brothers and sister, damp with tears to mirror his own, before the ship sailed too far away for him to make out anyone on board it.

      Kerru slowed to a halt, disbelievingly staring after the sea vessel that had taken everything from him in a matter of seconds. Then he collapsed hopelessly on the ground.

      How could this have happened?

      And what could he possibly do now?

     * * * * *

      A lonely Kiko wandered the streets of Neopia Central.

      Nobody stopped to greet him. Nobody stopped to ask who he was. Nobody stopped to find out why he was there.

      And that was how it had been ever since.

     * * * * *

      If Kerru were to act, he would have to be fast. Kate was advancing towards Kara, zombie paintbrush held up ready for use.

      Kara, in a way, was about to suffer the same fate as Kerru had – becoming a colour that some pets would love, but that would bring her nothing but loneliness.

      In that moment Kerru understood that he did not have to just impassively watch the struggles of others, behaving as if he did not exist, with only their suffering to relieve his boredom. He could change the coming events that he had merely regarded as fate. He could alter the dismal path that destiny had set for them, and make sure no one had to experience what he had.

      Because despite the pain and despair he had felt three years ago, it was not the end.

      Kerru sped past Kate towards Kara, invisible determination burning in his eyes.

      “Look at the colour you’re about to be painted!” he hissed in Kara’s ear – the first words he had spoken since the ship had left without him on that one, terrible day.

      Even as Kara stared, open-mouthed, in horror at the paintbrush she had believed to be faerie, Kerru knew this would not be the last time he would help someone in a time of need.

      “Y-you weren’t going paint me with that?” Kara gasped.

      “Why? Is there something wrong?” Kate frowned, confusion crossing her face.

      “Is there something wrong? It’s... it’s... ewwwww!”

      As the conversation went on, the invisible Kiko behind them smiled. Not because of something ‘interesting’, but because at last, he was happy.

     * * * * *

      Kara scowled as Kate finally began to realise her mistake.

      “I’m sorry,” she explained, being sure to hold the zombie paintbrush away from Kara. “I thought you’d like this colour, but I should’ve made sure it was okay with you first. We can sell this and get you a faerie paintbrush, if that’s what you’d prefer.”

      Kara’s face immediately lit up. It was then that she remembered the mysterious voice that had warned her of what had been about to happen to her. She turned around and, squinting into the sunlight, she thought she could make out the faint outline of a Kiko.

      Then she blinked, and it was gone.

The End

 
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