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The Day I Taught at Neoschool

by cosmicfire918


"TK, check out what I drew in art class today!" Blynn679, my red Zafara, tore through the door of our Neohome, Green Backpack in one paw and a slightly crumpled piece of paper in the other.

     Setting my copy of Feed Koi (which I was reading for reference…don't ask, it's a long story) down on the table next to my Small Super Lemon Grape Smoothie, I turned to my bouncing bundle of hyperactive joy. "Okay, let's see," I said, taking the paper from Blynn's outstretched paw. It was a rough pencil sketch of…some sort of…well, I couldn't really make out WHAT it was, but I decided to give it my best shot. "Wow Blynn, that's a great drawing of an Elephante and a Walking Carpet in a rainstorm at night!" I praised, hoping I had guessed right.

     She gave me a funny look. "TK, it's supposed to be an abstract representation of Jeran's battle with Lord Kass and subsequent fall from the edge of Darigan Citadel," she explained.

     I sat back in my chair, dazed. "Oh." When I signed my pets up for art class at Neoschool, I was hoping they would come back with inspiring paintings of Kreludan moonscapes, murals depicting Meridellian jousting tournaments, or at least a little crayon drawing of a Sludgy. In other words, something that I could identify by looking at it. Instead, they had been bringing home works with titles like "Blumaroo Falling Down a Staircase," "Fifty Studies of an Ant Eaten Ham," and "Ketchup in the Breeze." And believe me, the actual artwork was weirder than the titles (I STILL can't figure out how swirls of glittery chartreuse paint against splotches of purple could represent ketchup, even though Blynn tried to explain it to me twice before giving up). "Did you guys study the life and art of Pablo de'Kiko today or somethin'?"

     "No, it was free art day. I decided to do an abstract work."

     I decided an abrupt change of subject was in order. "So, where are your brothers?" I asked my red Zafara before taking another sip of my smoothie.

     "I ran home, and they're taking their time," Blynn explained.

     As I swallowed another tangy sip of my smoothie and finished up the chapter on how to prepare Maraquan meals for when your Koi feels a longing for their native home, there was a soft knock on the door (which, like the rest of the house, was made of dried bamboo-it really sticks out in Neopia Central, let me tell you). I looked up and saw Dark_breed_Hyren, my blue Grundo, and ArPharazonTheGolden, my Faerie Draik, standing in the doorway.

     "We're home," Hyren announced calmly, adjusting his glasses. "I'm sorry we took so long. Pharazon and I were discussing the specs for this new Battledome weapon I made up in art class."

     I got up and ran to them, relieved that one of my pets had finally brought home something…well, coherent. "Cool, I wanna see!" I said.

     Hyren produced a rolled-up blueprint from his Utility Backpack and handed it to me. I unrolled it to reveal complicated schematics for what looked like a huge laser. "Whoa, sweet! Better not let Dr. Sloth get to this one, eh Hyren?"

     Hyren nodded, and pointed to the various notes he had made. "I also devised a new fuel source for it. It runs on…borovan."

     "Borovan?" I asked, incredulously.

     "Yep, borovan."

     I patted Hyren's head, between his antennae, which were sticking up happily. "I…think we should keep this in the Safety Deposit Box," I said uneasily. Hyren's technology ideas are pretty much unrivaled by anything in the Virtupets Space Station, and I know if Dr. Sloth manages to get any of the little Grundo's blueprints in his vile clutches, then we'd all be doomed. So, I keep them in our Safety Deposit Box, one of the few places in Neopia I know is safe from evil villains.

     "Okay, I'll go do that," Hyren said, turning around and running towards the National Neopian Bank.

     "And what did you make in art class, Pharazon?" I asked my youngest pet. He's very sensitive and very timid, but he always tries his best to be brave, and has big dreams of becoming a Brightvalian knight.

     He smiled sweetly and reached into his Hasee Backpack. I closed my eyes and hoped it wasn't something weird… When I opened them, there in his turquoise claw laid a tiny clay replica of an Illusen Faerie Doll, nestled in several tissues. My heart caught in my throat. "Oh Pharazon, it's beautiful!" I sighed.

     "What's beautiful?" Blynn asked. I stepped aside to let her see. "Wow, so that's what you were working so hard on in the corner today, Pharazon!" Blynn said with a smile.

     "Let's put this on the shelf," I said, walking into the bedroom with Pharazon. We carefully placed the figurine on our dresser.

     "Hyren's back!" Blynn shouted from the other room. "And he's got something!"

     I came back out front and saw Hyren, who had just run onto the lawn. He may not look like it, but he's incredibly athletic, and he wasn't even panting from his trip to the National Neopian. Sure enough, he was holding a Neomail envelope. "A white Weewoo dropped this onto my head as I was exiting the bank," he explained, handing the envelope to me.

     I checked the address. "Hm, it says it's from you guys' Neoschool," I commented. All three pets froze.

     I eyed them curiously, but then opened the Neomail and started to read it. "None of you are in trouble…" I said, noting that my pets' names weren't mentioned anywhere in the message. The three of them suffered a long, tortured silence while I read the letter thoroughly. "Interesting," I commented, finishing it.

     "Tell us what it says!" all three of them shouted.

     "Okay guys," I said, holding the Neomail aloft with a flourish like a storyteller in the Deep Catacombs. "'Dear cosmicfire918, our resident art teacher, Mr. Lupid, has just informed us that he has come down with a sudden case of NeoFlu and will need to stay home tomorrow to recuperate. As you were the only owner we could reach who checked 'art' on the 'owner's area of expertise' section of the Neoschool application forms, we implore you to teach the art class at the Neopia Central 5th District Neoschool tomorrow, the 10th day of the Month of Storing. Please respond promptly, and have a nice day. Signed, Mr. Gregor Skeithly, Principal.'"

     "Aww, poor Mr. Lupid!" Blynn said sympathetically.

     "Wow, that sounds like an awesome idea!" Pharazon said. "I would love for you to teach our art class!"

     "R-really?" I managed to say. "I dunno…I don't think I'd be a very good teacher…"

     "Please do not doubt your abilities," Hyren said, placing his hand on my arm. "I believe you would do a wonderful job."

     I grinned enthusiastically. "Okay. I'll do it." Once we were inside, I grabbed a sheet of paper and a pencil from the bookshelf, and wrote "Dear Principal Skeithly, I would love to teach art class tomorrow. See you in the morning. Sincerely, cosmicfire918." I folded the paper twice and threw it out the window. A white Weewoo picked it up and flew away with it.


     I was awoken from my dream of being a Kreludan fighter pilot by a rough shaking. "Wake up, TK! We have to go to school!" Blynn shouted in my ear.

     "Ow, ow, I'm awake…" I mumbled, sitting up. My pets were assembled by the side of my bed, ready for school. "I really slept in, huh?" They nodded.

     "If we hurry, we won't be late," Pharazon said.

     I nodded and grabbed a Pink Sprinkle Doughnut on the way out of our house. It was a cold, windy autumn day, and the sky was cloudless, but the air was filled with a myriad of yellow-orange leaves gently cascading down from the towering old trees of Neopia Central. Blynn and I quickly made a game of trying to step on all of the leaves in our path to see which ones made the loudest crunch, and Hyren and Pharazon walked ahead of us. My cheeks and nose were soon numb with the cold that the sharp wind brought, but I didn't mind.

     Soon, we could see the large brick building that was the Neopia Central 5th District Neoschool. Pets were flocking to the steps by the dozen, some of them stopping to say good-bye to their owners before disappearing into the large double doors at the top of the steps.

     "Well, you guys head to your first class, and I'll talk to Mr. Skeithly," I said.

     "Bye, TK!" Hyren said, running up the steps and slipping into a door that was about to close. It wasn't that he was too lazy to open the door; it was a game for him to try and be quick enough to get through without it closing on him. Tests his speed, he says.

     "Byeee!" Blynn shouted as she ran to join some of her friends, who were talking happily.

     "Byebye, TK," Pharazon said, giving me a big hug. I patted his head. "I'll see you in art class!" He ran into the school.

     The first class bell rang, and all of the owners turned around and started to walk home, but I stood in front of the school, trying to muster the courage to talk to the principal. "Well," I told myself, "it's not like you have to apologize for Blynn blowing up the science lab…although you know that's going to happen eventually." I opened a door, took a deep breath in, and strode into the Neoschool.

     The hallways were eerily empty, but I could see teachers talking to their students into the window of each door I passed. My rubber-soled sandals made tiny squeaking noises with each step I took on the polished linoleum floors. Thankfully, I remembered where the principal's office was from open house night, and managed to make it there without incident (although I almost slipped on some spilled Neocola next to the cafeteria…). I opened the door, and a bored-looking yellow Kacheek wearing horn-rimmed glasses stared at me from over the top of a stack of papers. Beside her desk was a door with "Principal Skeithly" written on it in bold black lettering. "Uh…hi," I said, giving her a little wave. She continued to give me a curious look. "Um…I'm the substitute art teacher," I explained.

     "Oh, right," she drawled. "Please step into Mr. Skeithly's office." She resumed filing her papers.

     I nodded, even though I knew she couldn't see me, and tried to open the door as quietly as I could. CREEEEEEEEEEEEEEAK! I cringed. So much for that plan.

     "Don't worry about it, I've been meaning to get that thing oiled," a gruff voice said. Sitting at a desk with a calendar, a cup full of pens and pencils, and one of those Lenny desk toys where the Lenny dunks its beak in the cup of water over and over, was a portly Disco Skeith, glaring at me like I had just announced an attack on Meridell.

     If you're guessing that the feeling I was experiencing at the moment was intimidation, you'd be right. I gulped. "H-h-hi, P-principal S-s-skeithly," I managed to stutter.

     "You're cosmicfire918, right?" he asked. I nodded. "We met at your pets' open house night, remember?" I nodded again. "That Hyren of yours is one smart Magic Cookie. Just make sure Sloth never gets his hands on any of those weapon schematics the boy's always drawing," he added with a laugh. I laughed too, but it was nervous and obviously forced. Skeithly didn't seem to notice. He got up from his chair, leaned over his desk, and shook my hand. The guy had a grip that could crush an apple, and I felt my hand swell and numb as he vigorously pumped it up and down. When he let go, it fell limply to my side, a pulsing shade of red-violet. I tried to ignore the pain. "Well, I'm glad to see you could make it. The kids need their cultural education, y'know? And I'm sure Lupid would have approved of your…er…unconventional choice of clothing…" he added with a barely-concealed snort.

     I looked down. I was wearing a red-and-black plaid jacket, a purple-and-green tie-dyed t-shirt, and khaki cargo shorts. What was wrong with teaching class in that? Besides, Skeithly didn't exactly look the part of a school principal with that neon paisley pattern… I decided not to say anything, though. "So…what do I need to do?" I asked Skeithly, trying my best not to stutter again.

     "Well, not many owners signed their pets up for art class this term, so you'll only have to teach one class, after lunch," the Skeith explained. "Mr. Lupid gave me this sheet of detailed instructions to give to you, so you should look it over thoroughly before class starts." He pulled a paper from his drawer and handed it to me. I took it, folded it up, and put it in my pocket. "Well, get going!" he said. "I expect everything to go well!"

     "Okay…" I said, walking out the door, past the Kacheek secretary, and back into the hallway. "Now, if I remember correctly, the art classroom is that way…" I said to myself, turning to the left and walking down the hallway until I saw a door where splotches of paint were splattered on the inside of the window. On the wall next to the door hung an intricately crafted wooden sign with the words "Beginning Art" carved into them. On the left border of the sign was painted a menacing-looking Dr. Sloth, and on the right border, a Space Faerie with Neopia in her hands-literally. "Wow, that looks awesome," I said aloud.

     "Ain't it?" a gravelly voice from behind me agreed.

     I turned around in surprise to see a grizzled blue Kougra with a pushbroom standing in back of me. "Mr. Lupid painted that fer his first art class at this school," he explained. "You must be the substitute. I'm the janitor, Mr. Zuff. Good luck in there, kid" the Kougra said before continuing down the hallway with his sweeping.

     I blinked and hoped teaching the class wouldn't be THAT hard. As I opened the door, I was immediately drawn to all of the color in the room. Besides the walls, ceiling, floor, and even the desks being almost covered in paint of every color, on the walls were several bold abstract pieces in bright shades of red, blue, and yellow. Taking a closer look, I saw that all of them had the name "F. Lupid" in the corner. I was impressed. Not only did the guy let his students throw paint anywhere they wanted, but he brought his own art to class to inspire them.

     Mr. Lupid's desk fit right in with the rest of the classroom. It, too, was splattered with paint, and had all sorts of art materials on it. Open paint cans, stacks of colored pencils, and scattered pastels littered the top, and corners of colored construction paper and loops of string were sticking out of the drawers. The whiteboard had the color wheel skillfully drawn on it, alongside some stick-figure doodles that some of the students had undoubtedly created. I sat down in Mr. Lupid's red desk chair (it had wheels on it! Whee!), took the paper out of my pocket, and unfolded it. The only text on it was "Hey there, you substitute! Here's the lesson plan: 1) Teach the kids your own style of art. 2) Have fun! Thanks, man!" I stared at the paper. Teach the kids my own style of art? I was expecting something a little more…structured. I felt lost, but then I got an idea…

     The after-lunch bell rang. I finished up the bowl of Mixed Fruit Noodles I had gotten from the cafeteria right before my class came in. There were about 20 pets, of mixed species and colors, looking very enthusiastic. All of them took their seats, talking excitedly amongst themselves.

     Suddenly, a huge Mutant Grundo in the back row spoke up. "Hey! Mr. Lupid doesn't look like Mr. Lupid today!" he said in a deep, thick voice.

     The green Aisha sitting next to him elbowed him in his muscular arm. "Pro, you idiot! That's not Mr. Lupid! That's a SUBSTITUTE!" she hissed.

     I restrained a chuckle and got out my seating chart. "Miss…erm…Inamiko is right," I said, looking at the green Aisha. "I'm your substitute art teacher, cosmicfire918. You can call me TK for short, though." Inamiko sat back in her chair, smiling smugly.

     A green Yurble raised his paw. "Yes, um…" I checked the seating chart again, "Furu_kun?"

     "How can TK be a nickname for cosmicfire918?" the Yurble asked, stumped.

     I scratched my head, equally baffled. "I dunno, it just is," I finally admitted after a few seconds of thought. "Anyway-"

     I was interrupted again by a red Buzz shooting his hand up in the air. "TK, aren't you going to take roll?" he asked with a grin.

     I stopped. "Oh, okay…" Mr. Lupid hadn't said anything about roll call in the instructions, but I figured he must have forgotten. I looked around for a class list.

     "Just use the seating chart," the Buzz, whom I quickly identified as TheRedMage100, said, still grinning.

     "Okay…" I decided to start from the upper-left side of the classroom. "Toushou_Daimos?"

     "Here, but…" the red Shoyru trailed off.

     "But what?" I asked.

     "…Mr. Lupid doesn't take roll," Daimos said.

     I glared at Red, who started laughing uncontrollably. Everyone in the class glared at him, and Blynn, who was sitting in back of him, hit him on the head with a ruler. "That wasn't nice!" she yelled.

     "Hey, no violence in the classroom!" I said. "I'll just give Mister Red here a little detention." I wrote his name on a detention slip, walked over to his desk, and handed it to him. He looked a bit disappointed to have been punished, but he didn't say anything.

     "Anyway…today, I'm going to teach you how to make a comic strip!" I announced.

     Everyone started talking excitedly. "You mean like the ones we read in the Neopian Times?" a yellow Gelert named BrianThe1st asked.

     "The very same," I said. "In fact, when you're done with your comic strip, you can submit it to the Neopian Times if you like."

     There were cheers from most of the pets, and a "I'm gonna draw one that'll make Snowflake faint!" from Red. Everyone glared at him again.

     "And make sure they're NEOPIAN TIMES QUALITY," I added, directing the last three words at the red Buzz. He grumbled and sank down in his chair.

     I turned to the whiteboard. "First, you need a good plot for your comic." I wrote "Write Plot" in blue marker on the whiteboard.

     A blue Techo in the front row stuck his hand in the air and waved it. "Yes, DarkQuarkmeister?"

     "Why are you using blue marker?" Quark asked.

     "Um…because…I like the color blue," I said.

     "But Mr. Lupid always uses red marker," a green Grundo named Eat_Sleep_Repeat said.

     "Well…I'm not Mr. Lupid, am I?"

     "…You aren't?" Pro asked, starting to drool. Inamiko elbowed him again.

     "Okay, okay, back to the lesson!" I said, shaking my head in an ill attempt to drive away my exasperation. "First, I want all of you to write a simple script for your comic. Show them to me when you're done."

     Inamiko raised her paw. "TK, is it okay if I help Pro with his comic? He can't really…write well," she explained. I nodded-I knew Mr. Lupid placed them together for a reason.

     For the next ten minutes, all I could hear was the scribbling of pens and pencils on paper. Even Red appeared to be working hard, earnestly writing, then erasing, then writing some more. I figured he was the kind of pet who just acted up to get attention.

     The first one to finish was Hyren. He handed me a neatly written script about a pet who failed one of Jhudora's quests, with a funny pun at the end. I laughed and handed it back to him. "Great job," I said. "Now let's wait until the others have finished."

     One by one, the other pets presented their scripts to me, and I OKed them. Red, surprisingly, had written a witty comic about a Neopet with an Uggatrip, and there wasn't anything unacceptable in it at all. Pro had written a comic about him smashing Dr. Sloth into the ground, and Inamiko had written one about reprimanding Pro for smashing Dr. Sloth into the ground.

     Once all of the pets were finished, I turned to the board. "Now, it's time to draw your comic," I said, writing "Draw Comic" on the board beneath "Write Plot." "I would prefer that you use pencil so you can erase any mistakes." Inamiko raised her paw again, but I said "Yes, you can help Pro draw, too," before she could say anything.

     I was surprised at how well everyone's work came out. I guessed Mr. Lupid had been teaching them more than how to create "abstract representations." When they were done drawing, I explained to them how to go over the pencil in black ink and then color it in. Then, as I was admiring their work, the class bell rang. To my great surprise, everyone in the class let out an audible groan. "Yeah, I'm sorry you guys have to leave too," I said. "Well, it was fun teaching you all to make comics. You can Neomail me if you want!" The students were slowly filing out of the classroom, dragging their backpacks behind them.

     "Bye…" Pro said, waving dolefully.

     "Well, I guess we'll see you after school," Hyren said. Pharazon nodded, and Blynn ran up to me and gave me another hug before hurrying to her next class.

     After the pets left, I tidied up the classroom, then sat down to write a report for Mr. Lupid. "Dear Mr. Lupid," I wrote, "your class was a joy to work with. They really appreciate art. Just make sure to keep an eye on TheRedMage100. Sincerely, cosmicfire918." I folded the paper and placed it on his desk, then walked to the door. I was about to turn the handle when it was swung open, and suddenly Principal Skeithly was towering above me, looking around the classroom.

     "Cosmicfire918!" he bellowed, swinging his head left and right.

     "Y-yes…?" I stammered, looking up at him. He seemed big when he was sitting at his desk, but when he was standing up, he was humongous!

     He looked down. "Oh, there you are!" The Skeith took a small sack out of his pocket and handed it to me. I opened it to see a bunch of 500-Neopoint coins. "I trust the students behaved themselves," he continued.

     "W-wait, what's this?" I asked, staring at the NP in disbelief.

     "It's your pay!" He gave me a hearty slap on the back, causing me to reel forward and then fall on the carpeted floor. "If we're ever short a teacher, I'll be sure to give you a call!" Skeithly turned back around and walked down the hall, chuckling jovially.

     Lying on the floor, clutching my NP, I realized being a Neoschool teacher was hard work.

The End

Note from the Author: I am NOT too_kule! We just happen to have the same nickname.

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