The Clockwork Yooyu
“Look at it!”
“What's wrong with it?”
“Why does it look all funny?”
“Careful, now. Don’t get too close.”
The murmurs follow us all the way down the street. It’s always the same; at every street there are always Neopians to point and laugh. They don’t even try to mutter quietly, to spare our feelings. They just blunder on, regardless.
With a sigh, I grab Boe’s hand and pull him down the road, trying to shield him from the sneers of the laughing crowd. Resentment bubbles up inside me.
What does it matter if Boe looks a little different? So what if he doesn’t look like all the other Yooyus? He’s my petpet, and I hate people’s eyes following him wherever we go.
At first I thought it was me, a big yellow Yurble in the city, when all were supposed to be living wild in Meridell. But no, it’s Boe they giggle at.
To be fair, he is rather... unusual. He’s yellow with shiny metal arms, big green eyes and... he explodes a lot. We’ve never known why — none of the doctors have any answers. He’s always been like that. Glowing red, then... KABOOM! It’s quite embarrassing, especially if we’re in the movies or at the shops. The amount of damage we’ve had to pay for... it’s a hard life. But we manage, and Boe trusts me more than anyone else in the world. Which is lucky, really, as I’m all he’s got.
“Aw, come on, Boe. Cheer up!” I smile winningly at him from over the dinner table, where he’s staring moodily into his spaghetti. “We’ve got big plans for tomorrow, just you wait! We’re going down to Mystery Island for a tan, then we’re going to redeem our Keys we’ve been holding on to. And then we can maybe head over to Krawk Island for some fun? Hey? How would you like that?”
“Boe,” I begin, looking stern as I hand him the bowl of peas, “tomorrow is going to be great. No one will be around —”
“I want to go to see the Altador Cup tomorrow,” he says clearly, looking up at me with his big, green eyes.
I drop my fork with a clatter onto a meatball. I hastily pick it up, looking away from him.
“But Boe, you know we can't...” I nervously smooth my untidy Yurble mane and stare down into my plate.
“Please.” His eyes fill with tears.
“We don’t like public places, yeah? We should just stay away; the whole of Neopia will be there...”
“Please. I really want to watch the Cup. I love Yooyuball.”
I feel my determination starting to fade away. What harm could it cause?
“Well... alright then. But if anything — you know — happens, we have to leave straight away.”
Please, please, please, don’t explode...
I can just picture the look on his face, standing in a crowd of millions and exploding, and everyone screaming, everyone yelling, everyone looking at him...
Oh, Boe, why can't you hate Yooyuball? Why must it be your passion? I’ve seen him playing in the backyard, running around with anything that will resemble a ball and throwing it at the fence (which I assume to be the goals), dodging imaginary opponents. I hear him yell at his ‘teammates’, I see him bowing at the trees, his forever loyal audience.
“Now, this is our seat here, and don’t go anywhere without telling me, and — oh, there they are!” I jump up and wave my arms enthusiastically as our team come strutting grandly onto the court.
“GO LOST DESERT! WOOO!”
Boe is beside himself with joy, bouncing up and down excitedly.
The other team trot into the court, accompanied by equal cheers and boos. By their purple and black uniforms and their horrible sneers, I know who they are — Team Darigan.
“BOOOOOOOOOO!” shouts an irate blue Techo standing next to me, making rude hand gestures to Darigan and their supporters.
Rolling my eyes, I sit back down on my seat and pick up my box of popcorn, waiting for the match to start.
“Excuse me?” Someone behind me pokes me in the back of the head. I turn around and glare at the culprit — a snobby looking Aisha.
“I can't see. Your mane is blocking my view of the field.”
“And what do you want me to do about that?”
“Go away.” I turn back around and hand the popcorn over to Boe. He doesn’t even notice — his eyes are glued to the game.
“Hem, hem,” comes a fake, girly cough from behind me.
Thoroughly irritated, I turn around once more and jut out my jaw at the Aisha.
“What is it now? Is my nose too big?”
She looks highly affronted.
“Well, I still can't see, you big brute, but that’s not my main concern. That Yooyu next to you, is he your petpet?”
I narrow my eyes.
“Clockworks aren’t allowed, you know.” She smiles, her voice as sweet as sugar-coated honey.
“You’ll be thrown out.”
“Look, we just want to watch the match, ok? So leave us alone,” I say irritably, throwing a piece of popcorn at her. I catch a glimpse of a dangerous expression on her face before I turn back around and focus once more on the game.
Minutes later I’m totally engrossed in watching the Yooyus fly across the court — and Lost Desert’s winning! Boe and I shout ourselves hoarse every time our team scores a goal, and boo so loudly when Darigan does that even the crazy blue Techo next to us looks impressed.
The Yooyus are passed from player to player so fast I lose track of them so often I have to look up at the score board to see who has it. Oh, it’s magnificent!
“Sir? You’re going to have to come with us.”
Disorientated and more than a little deaf, I look up into the face of a big, ugly Skeith. By his crisp, blue uniform I can tell that he’s a security guard, and I automatically move protectively closer to Boe.
“I’m sorry, sir, but Clockworks aren’t allowed.” He looks at Boe apologetically.
Furious, I spin around to glare at the snotty Aisha, who is smiling smugly at me.
“You!” I spit, livid. “Why couldn’t you just let us watch the game?”
“Clockworks aren’t allowed,” she repeats gloatingly, crossing her arms and leaning back in a self-satisfied way.
“They’re dangerous,” the security guard says awkwardly, scratching his head.
“I’m sorry, sir, but you’re going to have to leave. Now.”
I bare my teeth at the Aisha, before leaning over and grabbing one of Boe's stumpy little arms.
“C’mon, time to go,” I try to say cheerfully, but it comes out sounding flat.
“But... Lost Desert’s winning! Oh, can't we stay, please, just a little bit longer...”
I want to cry for him. No — I want to throw the box of popcorn at the Aisha — right in her pretty, sneering face!
“Now, Boe,” I say, gently pulling him out of his seat. He looks up at me with his big eyes — full of hurt and confusion. I can't look...
I hurry blindly down the steps in the middle of the chairs, all the time gripping his hand tightly.
We were almost at the end of the aisles when a loud whistle pierces through my head, making me gasp.
Is the game over?
The crowd erupts in surprise, everyone stands up to get a better look at the court.
A high voice squeaks over the loudspeakers.
“We’re sorry, ladies and gentlemen, for this inconvenience, but we have a problem. All of the Clockwork Yooyus have exploded, taking with them a large number of the other Yooyus. With ten minutes left of this game, it’s compulsory we have a Clockwork Yooyu. The game is canceled. No team wins.”
All around me fans scream and yell at the referee, their faces all various shades of purple. He looks quite terrified at such a threatening mob of angry Neopets. He holds out his hands in a gesture of apology, all the time shaking his head.
Ha! Serves them right! I think gleefully.
“C’mon, little one. We’re going home.” I shove my way through the crowds, snarling at anyone who gets too close.
“Can I play?”
*TWHACK!* I smack right into a big Grarrl who was too slow in moving out of my way. My head spinning, I look down at Boe.
“What? No! What are you talking about? We’re going home,” I mumble, rubbing my bruised nose tenderly.
“Can I play, please?”
“Leave it, Boe!” I snap, angry and aching.
“I can do it. They need a Clockwork.”
“Clockworks are discriminated against! They’re making a petition that will ban you from public places.”
“The game can go on.”
He glows a fiery, angry red. Oh, no, no, no, no, don’t explode, please, Boe!
Then, he slowly returns to him normal color. No ka-boom. No embarrassed running away. Nothing.
He looks at me defiantly.
“I can do this. Let me try.”
I close my eyes and take a deep breath.
“Well, no, I really don’t want you to, but —”
“Oh, thank you, thank you!” he babbles excitedly — I’ve never seen him so happy, and I know I’ve done the right thing.
“They might say no,” I caution him, not wanting him to get hurt. “It takes years of training to become an Altador Cup Yooyu.”
“They’ll take anyone. Regulations demand the use of a clockwork to every five other types during the game, otherwise no one wins.” He smiles, and I know this isn’t just a coincidence — he was meant to play in this Cup. “Cheer for me, yeah?”