Molly - Back to The Box: Part Seven
The hammer was very heavy as Bernard picked it up. “I thought this thing was supposed to weigh less than a meepit!” he muttered, heaving it up over his shoulder.
“It does. Clearly you are weaker than you imagined yourself to be. Now hurry up and give the button a whack; there are others in line, you know!” snapped the grubby Mynci impatiently.
Bernard stepped towards the large, red button that was dented in many places from the hammer. He took a deep breath and shuffled his feet a little. This was it. This might be his only chance to win Molly back, assuming it was her in the box. The box that the Mynci was going to give away in less than half an hour to whoever did the best hit.
'And that best hit is going to have to be me,' thought Bernard. 'Who else would be willing to give Molly back to me?'
“Bernard, hurry up!” came a voice from behind Bernard, breaking his chain of thought.
'Oh right, Albert is probably better than me at this thing, I suppose. But it isn't fair to leave everything up to him...'
With this last thought, Bernard gave the red button his hardest hit possible with the hammer. The Mynci looked slightly surprised.
“You hit better than I thought. Not a very good hit all the same, but still, it was better than I thought possible from the likes of you!”
“Well?” demanded Bernard.
“You score twenty nine out of one hundred. You win a Squishy Brain Wrap!”
Bernard's heart sank as the Mynci passed him an incredibly squishy brain wrap. Twenty nine was certainly not a bad score, but it would be nowhere near good enough to win Molly back. Some lucky neopets had managed hits almost up to ninety!
“Don't worry, Bernard, I will do my best. If that isn't good enough we can always buy her from the new owner!” said Albert in the most positive voice he could manage.
“Well, let's hope you do win, Albert! Good luck!” said Bernard, with the same forced cheeriness. He passed the hammer over to Albert, who grabbed it and heaved it over his shoulder in a similar manner to what Bernard had done.
“Agh!” he exclaimed. “I see your point about this not weighing less than a meepit! It must weigh the same as about fifty!”
“HURRY UP!” someone from the long line behind Bernard and Albert shouted. “We want a turn too, you know!”
“Just get on with it!” someone else yelled.
“We don't have until Christmas!”
“Here goes!” said Albert, and slammed the hammer onto the red button as hard as possible.
Molly was wide awake, staring around her with her wide, yellow eye. Being in a box, she was not actually staring at much. She wasn't registering what she was looking at either, because she was too busy listening to what was going on around her.
Sounds of people cheering and booing were the loudest, but people talking, yelling, crying and simply talking could all be heard too. Because all these sounds were going on at once it was a bit hard for Molly to hear or understand any particular one. It was impossible for her to hear the one voice she really wanted to hear – the voice of her beloved owner Bernard. Little did she know that at this moment Bernard and his friend Albert were standing in the noisy crowd, waiting to hear the results.
“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!” yelled the all too familiar voice of the Test Your Strength Mynci. Some of the crowd went silent and started to gather round – though of course Molly did not see this, being inside the box still.
“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!!” shouted the Mynci again. This time the rest of the crowd heard and went almost completely silent, gathering around the Mynci excitedly. The only sound now was the occasionally cry from a young neopet, and some old lady coughing.
“Time is up!” said the Mynci dramatically, so loud that Molly guessed he was standing right next to her box. “Now is that moment you have all been waiting for so patiently!”
'My Sloth, he is good at lying,' thought Molly.
“The results are in, and I have with me a list of the top five hitters. The best of you will receive an amazing prize – one which you all know full well its name – a FAERIE MEOWCLOPS!”
At this there rose a loud cheer from the crowd and Molly flinched. How loud could they get?
“'Who is this lucky neopet?' you all ask!” continued the Mynci, enjoying keeping the crowd in suspense. “Who is this amazingly strong neopet who has managed to not only pick up the mallet and hit the red button, but has also managed to hit it harder than anyone else? Well, I will tell you!”
There was dead silence in the crowd now, not even the babies were crying. The toddlers and other young neopets weren't crying either. The old lady coughed once, but silenced further coughs on the glare of those around her.
“The WINNER!” shouted the Mynci, almost deafening Molly, “is Mr. James the starry Draik!”
In the crowd, the hearts of almost everyone sank. Most of all was Bernard's, followed closely by Albert's.
“I am so sorry, Bernard!” said Albert, feeling guilty. “I will buy her back for you. This is my fault.”
“It's not your fault, Albert,” said Bernard. “I will buy Molly back myself; she is my meowclops after all.”
“This amazingly strong neopet,” continued the Mynci after a moment's pause while the crowd cheered, sobbed, and had their hearts sink, “managed the AMAZING score of ninety-nine! He was the first of two neopets to get it and so if you will step up here, Mr. James, you will receive your prize!”
Most of the crowd went silent, except for the poor old lady who was having another coughing fit. Everyone wanted to see this amazing Draik who had won the prize they all wanted so badly.
Nobody appeared; no starry Draik stepped out of the crowd. Everyone looked at those around them, but there appeared to be no starry Draik in sight. From his position standing on a very high chair, the Mynci could not see a starry Draik either. He sighed, wishing the Draik would appear. He didn't want to have to pay for a stamp to post the meowclops. Thankfully, an idea struck him.
“If Mr. James does not appear within the next minute, the prize will go to the other strong neopet who scored ninety nine!” he shouted.
Only one neopet's heart rose at this, because he was the other one to score ninety nine. The Mynci looked at a watch he was wearing.
“The minute starts now! Perhaps one of you who happens to be a friend of this Mr. James will be kind enough to drop him a neomail? Oh look, only forty five seconds to go now. I hope one of you did neomail him – think how disappointed he will be if he doesn't get this amazing prize and finds out he was supposed to! Only thirty seconds left, did anyone neomail him? Anyone at all? Honestly, does this Mr. James have no friends at all? Or are you all too jealous of him now? Fifteen seconds, let's hope this Mr. James is very fast, because he is about to miss out!”
While the Mynci rambled, the crowd looked around them, mostly curiously to see if the elusive Mr. James would appear. He didn't and the Mynci was forced to recheck the list for the name of the other neopet who had scored ninety-nine.
“And the winner, who is hopefully in the crowd among us so I don't have to find out who came third, is a Mr. Albert the orange Grundo!”
'Orange Grundo,' thought Molly. 'If only that had been Bernard. I wonder what this new guy will be like? Perhaps I can escape him – maybe he even lives on Kreludor. That would make things a lot easier!'
“Would you care to step this way and claim your prize?” asked the Mynci, peering around. “I see a few orange Grundos in the crowd; I hope one of them is you Mr. Albert!”
Although Molly could not see this, an orange Grundo stepped out of the crowd, who parted rather reluctantly to let him through. He stood beside the Mynci, who stepped off his chair. The Mynci briefly shook the Grundo's hand before grabbing the box Molly was in. “Your prize,” he said, sounding rather annoyed. “How amazing that you would win. Glad you actually bothered to play now, eh? And now you can find out that I really did have a faerie meowclops!”
The crowd started to depart, the Mynci wandered off somewhere and Molly felt the box she was in being carried away. She also felt it stop again a few seconds later.
“Here you are, Bernard,” came the voice of Mr. Albert. “Open the box and see if it's Molly!”