Stand behind yer sheriff Circulation: 174,878,201 Issue: 412 | 2nd day of Collecting, Y11
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The Greatest Story Never Told: Part One


by tanikagillam

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Sebastian leaned back in his chair, yawning and rubbing his eyes. It was well past midnight, so far past he didn’t even dare look at the clock. But it was finished, here at last, sitting so neatly in a pile on his desk. All the time they had spent writing it, correcting it, reading it, and it was done at last. He picked up the papers, lined them up neatly and tied a ribbon securely around the middle. He placed the bundle gently back on the desk, before yawning once more. He felt his eyelids slowly drooping down, and with a sigh he pushed back his chair, waddled over to his couch, collapsing on it and promptly falling asleep, knowing that their story would be waiting for them tomorrow, waiting to be taken to the Neopian Times, waiting to shower him –them- with riches, fame and... sleep...

     “It’s gone, Jaycee! I’ve looked everywhere. No, I mean everywhere. Not everywhere as in on the desk, under the desk— I mean everywhere as in everywhere! It’s not here! But how can it be gone? I put it there, I tied it with a ribbon, I put it there; where is it?!” Sebastian threw himself into his chair, his face in his hands.

     “But it can’t have just up and left, Seb. Paper can’t move by itself,” Jaycee pointed out reasonably, carefully opening drawers and rifling through them.

     “Oh, I knew this would happen. I knew it, Jayc! We were playing with fire the minute we left this house, all those months ago. Of course it can’t have left on its own. Someone’s stolen it!” The little Blue Blumaroo leapt to his feet in such a hurry he knocked over Jaycee and sent her sprawling on the carpet. “Oh, sorry...” He absently put out a paw to help her up. Once on her feet again, the Xweetok smoothed her fluffy pink mane and sighed.

     “Look, Seb, I know this is distressing, but you have to think about this, really think. Who would want to steal our story? Not that it’s not brilliant, of course,” she added with a smile. “And who even knew we were writing about what happened, apart from us and Will? And he wouldn’t take it.”

     “Sloth.” Sebastian nodded decisively.

     “Sloth?”

     “Uh-huh. He took it. I know he did.”

     “But Seb... didn’t that whole mess prove he’s not horrible?”

     “Well sure, if you look at it like that. But he couldn’t lose his reputation, he told us so, not now he’s so... so...”

     “So what?”

     “I don’t know, ok?!” Sebastian snapped, tired and grumpy. “But he took it, I’m positive. He can’t let the truth get out now, can’t you see? Our story would ruin him, he knew it would!”

     “Well, sure, I mean it does face some... ‘unknown qualities’ he has hidden away, but still, do you really think he’s going to go after us over a story? Oh, Seb, don’t look like that! Anyone would think you’re going to go chasing after him to get it- oh, no, you’re going to go after him, aren’t you?” Jaycee groaned. “Not again, Sebastian!”

     “Well, what should I do, Jayc? That story would have rocked Neopia! The Times was just the beginning, I –we- were going to hit Neovision next, not to mention-“

     “We’ll just write it again! Let Sloth have the ‘draft’! If we wrote it once, what's to stop us doing it again?”

     “Scared?”

     “Yes.”

     “You don’t have to come with me.”

     “I did last time.”

     They stood glaring at each other, Sebastian gritting his teeth and Jaycee scrunching up her nose.

     “Seb, you’re my best friend. But I won’t let you chase Sloth all over the Space Station again. Once was enough, thanks. Please, can't we just write it again?”

     Sebastian sighed and rubbed his eyes.

     “Yeah,” he said in a defeated voice. “Yeah.” He opened his mouth as if to add something, but closed it again with a loud snap.

     “Thank you.” Jaycee smiled. “Let’s get started then, hey?” She grabbed another chair and plonked herself down on it, pulling a pad of paper and two pens towards her. Picking one up, she neatly wrote the title on the top of the page.

     The Greatest Story Ever Told,

     By Sebastian and Jaycee

     “Right, now how did we start the last one?” she asked Sebastian as he slowly lowered himself onto his chair.

     ”Umm,” he screwed up his face in concentration. “I think we started with us finding the paintbrush — we were at the Gadgadsbogen Festival — when Jacko appeared and gave it to us.”

     “Yeah, and we were thinking of ways to spend the money, right.” Jaycee nodded, scribbling furiously, her hand flying across the page so fast the words were a blur of blue ink. “And we decided to buy the Neopian Times, hey? No, then we wanted to buy... oh, I don’t remember. What was the one we had again?”

     “Gee, this was all so long ago; the details are a bit fuzzy!” Sebastian laughed. “And to think it was so important to us once... Anyway, I think it was Pirate... no, that was Wills. It was Maraquan! No, that’s not right... Oh well, it was an expensive one anyway...”

* * * * *

5 months later...

     “I can't believe it’s done! Finally, finally!” Sebastian was ecstatic, jumping around the room happily. He looked over at Jaycee, who was curled up on the couch, her head resting on the arm and her eyes closed. She opened one to look at him, and smiled.

     “It sure is. First thing tomorrow we’ll submit it to the Times, yeah?” she yawned sleepily and closed her eye again.

     “I want to read it one more time before we do.” Sebastian grinned and grabbed the newly ribboned pile of papers, throwing himself onto his plush armchair and turning eagerly over to the first page..

***

     Everywhere they looked, all they saw were people dancing, laughing, twirling around and making their colored grass skirts swish around their ankles as they spun to the music. Jaycee was dancing with a purple Scorchio who Sebastian had never seen before, while he was standing by the food table, sipping his punch and refilling his plate. It was the one day of the year where there were no worries, just music and fruity punch. He smiled and sat on a soft coconut stool, watching the scene whirl by in a haze of colors. He didn’t even notice the figure striding purposefully towards him— Jaycee.

     “Well, hello there. Say, you never told me you could do the limbo.”

     “I didn’t? Oh well, must have slipped my mind.” She grabbed a glass and sat down on the grass. She looked up at him and smiled.

     “Having fun?” she asked.

     “Oh, yeah. I love—” He stopped short and looked past the mob of dancing Neopets. He was sure he had just seen the back of his own head! But that was impossible...

     “What is it?”

     “I just thought I saw... nothing.”

     He grinned at her and took another swig of punch.

     “I don’t know anyone here —except you, of course,” Jaycee sighed, “but everyone’s always so nice. Hey, who’s that?” She gestured at a blurred figure in the distance, slowly drawing nearer. Sebastian squinted to try and get a better look, but they were still too far away for him to make out who it was. Jaycee seemed to have the same idea, for she was also glaring into the distance with her head cocked to one side, like she did when she was confused. They were getting closer... Sebastian could almost make out who it was...

     *THUNK!*

     “Owwww!” he gasped, grabbing his head and falling off his stool.

     “Seb!”

     “Ohh, ow. Ow, ow, OW!” He rubbed his head to make the pain go away, his eyes screwed up and watering. “What...?”

     “Oh...” Jaycee whistled softly, reaching over him to pick something up off the ground. “Um, Seb? That was a coconut.” She held it up to prove her point, her lips pressed tightly together to stop her from smiling. “It must have fallen from the tree.” She looked up, and sure enough, right above them stood a brilliantly large tree, positively sagging with the weight of dozens of ripe coconuts.

     “Ughh...” he groaned, and, still clutching his throbbing head, he, too, looked up. Only it wasn’t the evil coconut tree that caught his attention, it was that unknown person they were staring at before. For he was now staring him right in the face.

     “Jacko!”

     The Phantom gave a nod of his head, and, smiling, handed Sebastian and Jaycee a paintbrush, before disappearing right before their eyes.

     Sebastian, who was still seeing stars from the coconut drama, simply stood blinking at the potential millions in his hand. Jaycee, however, had recovered from the shock and was now examining their precious treasure. At first she thought it was a Stone paintbrush, but on closer inspection of the drooping wooden handle and the frayed bristles, she realized it was in fact a Grey paintbrush. She squealed and, rather embarrassingly, jumped around in circles, causing several Neopets milling around to turn and stare at her, amused, until they saw the paintbrush, and their expressions were rapidly replaced by jealous scowls.

     Sebastian recovered his composure slightly, and was holding their prize delicately in his paws, a look of dumb idiocy on his face. He finally managed to find his voice, although it was a few octaves higher than normal.

     “Jaycee... Jayc, we’re rich!” He flashed her a smile so wide it looked almost painful.

     “Oh!” she squeaked, before abruptly sitting down hard on the floor.

     “We’re gonna sell this... and make millions, and split the cash, then go shopping, and buy...” He rambled on for a while, each suggestion more ludicrous than the last. (This included suggesting buying the Neopian Times).

     This went on for a while, until they had run out of ideas, sitting there on the soft grass, the rest of the festival forgotten in the blink of an eye. It was growing dark, the sun disappearing behind the trees, before they thought to go home, although Gadsgads carried on through the night. For it had only just occurred to Jaycee:

     “Seb, we have to go! We have to put our paintbrush somewhere safe! Mystery Island has all sorts, Ghost Lupes, ninjas, we should really—“

     She was abruptly cut off by the sudden appearance of yet another stranger right in front of them. Only, this figure didn’t look too—

     *Bzzzzt!*

     “Hehehehe...”

     A truly evil laugh echoed in their ears, as their beloved paintbrush was turned into a pile of sludge, oozing all over Jaycee’s lap, as she had been cradling it in her arms at the time.

     Then, with a flourish of his black cape, Dr Sloth vanished, leaving them with only their sludge, and his soft, evil laugh ringing in their ears.

     “No, no, no, no.” Sebastian leapt to his feet, his eyes flashing with rage. “This can't be happening!”

     Next to him, his best friend sat sniffling, but trying to look tough and indifferent.

     “I’m gonna get him. Oh, I am so going to get him.” Sebastian said in a quiet voice that was perhaps worse than him shouting, for he sounded deadly serious. “I’m going to find him, and turn him into a pile of sludge... a slight improvement to what he already is,” he added viciously, stomping on the ground with fury. Behind them, the festival still continued on; no one had even seemed to notice what had just happened. “Get up, Jaycee. We’re going to go and get us a Sloth.”

To be continued...

 
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