The Wheel of Misfortune
Chamila’s eyes turn left and right, and left again. Not looking down, she falls to the ground. She had taken a dare from her brother; to go into the Deserted Fairgrounds, spin the Wheel of Misfortune, and come back. Unscathed. Chamila fears that won’t be the case, but scrambles to her feet and wanders through.
‘Why must it be at the very end of the fairgrounds?’ she thinks, terrified. She spins around, sure that she had heard a noise behind her. Nothing. Nothing but what had always been there.
“Why did I listen to him?” she whispers aloud. The sound of her own voice scares her, and she leaps into the air, then shivers, and continues walking on. ‘I’d better get something good from this...’ Chamila ponders.
First, the Zafara passes a pretty blue Aisha, dressed in gypsy clothing. “Hello, child!” she calls out. “May I interest you in a chance to win fabulous prizes? Only 100 neopoints to play in the cork gun gallery!”
The Zafara shakes her now-pale blue head in reply. She brought only 100 neopoints with her, and those are for one thing. Spinning the Wheel of Misfortune.
The second thing she passes is a turquoise colored Grundo, surrounded by chairs and tables and... well, lots of furniture. She peeks into the tent for a few moments, wondering if there was somewhere she can sit down for a while. The Grundo’s red eyes never leave her as she walks around the furniture. She finally finds something that looks remotely comfortable: a mutant couch. She sits in it with a sigh. She lets her surroundings slip away from her as she thinks of her older brother, and her younger sister. She also thinks of her owner, and her best friend. She thinks of her petpet; of her toys, of good food, of a sunny day, and starts to drift away from the dark lonesomeness that she cannot escape.
Then, Chamila hears the tapping of feet on the cold stone ground. “Ahem..?” The blue Zafara looks up. It’s the shopkeeper. “Are you going to buy this?” he says roughly.
“Um... no...” she manages.
He scowls. “Then get outta’ here!” Chamila gets up nervously and exits the tent. She hopes the wheel is close.
Next, she passes a small pirate Lupe, so small, he looks about Chamila’s size. However, he’s much older than she is. “Hey, you! You wanna be a millionaire? You can be; only 250 neopoints will buy you a chance at 5,755,600 neopoints. Isn’t that a lot? You want it? Play a game of bagatelle, why don’t ya?”
Chamila slows her walk, and directs herself in his direction. “Well, sir, that sounds really nice, sir...” she mumbles as loud as she can. “But I don’t have 250...”
The Lupe scowls. “Then what’re you still doing here? Scram!” Chamila runs past that booth quickly, and finds herself at a booth with several horrifying coconuts all over it. Chamila doesn’t even stop to converse with the owner of this stand; she just hurries past it.
Then, she sees a Bruce standing beside a stand. The stand has a sign in front of it that reads: ‘Food’. The Zafara peeks over, but quickly wishes she hadn’t. Slime, eyeballs, spiders, and tongues are all presented to look as edible as they can. All the hard work does not pay off. Everything still looks quite inedible. However...
Chamila glances one last time, and sees one of her favorite candies: a toffee classic. A growl of her stomach makes her realize how hungry she is; she hasn’t eaten since breakfast, and it is almost dinner time. Her mouth starts to water; but the price tag: 446 neopoints, and her promise to her brother keep her from buying the delicious treat.
‘But,’ she says to herself. ‘If I win some neopoints at the wheel, I’ll buy some toffee.’ Reluctantly, she leaves the stand, and wanders on.
Next, she walks past the ‘Test Your Strength’ machine. Chamila knows that she couldn’t win anything from that. Her brother would love to try, though. He likes pretending that he’s big and strong whilst he keeps up his training, hoping someday to be a battler. It, too, costs 100 neopoints.
‘It’s a good thing I only brought this much with me...’ Chamila thinks. ‘Or else I might be tempted to buy something...’
She finally reaches her destination: The Wheel of Misfortune. A decently tall, shadowy figure runs the wheel. She can’t make out exactly what he is, but he looks mostly like a Gelert. He is holding a cane and has a top hat on; one that looks like it’s seen better days.
“Hello...” he growls in a menacing but oddly friendly manner. “And what might you be doing here?”
Chamila is nearly paralyzed in fear, but forces herself to speak. “I-I’m here to spin the wheel,” she says with more courage than she feels.
“Yes, yes. The wheel is very popular,” the Gelert murmurs, his yellow eyes searching her. “All you have to do is give me 100 neopoints...”
Chamila takes out a bag of neopoints and outstretches it, timidly, to the shadow of a Neopet. He snatches it, but gently, and shakes the bag. He smiles when he hears the jingle. The Zafara can make out a dark silhouette; a silhouette of sharp, pointed fangs.
She takes a deep breath, and struggles to swallow her fear. She can’t.
“Now, all you have to do is pull the lever.” He motions towards a lever. It is made of bones. Chamila reaches out to pull it, but takes one last glance towards the Gelert. The moonlight hits him full on, and the small, shivering Zafara is shocked at what she sees.
He is a Gelert; a red one. However, he is young; so much younger than anyone else in the Deserted Fairgrounds. ‘Why,’ Chamila gasps inwardly. ‘He looks about my age!’ She says nothing, though. She stares at him a bit longer, then faces the wheel once more.
‘C’mon, Chamila. Pull the lever. Pull it. You can do it. It isn’t Virtupets Science or anything like that.’ Her hand reaches out to touch the lever. She feels it underneath her palm, and instantly, a rush of coldness runs through her veins. She closes her eyes.
‘Chamila, pull the lever.’ She takes a deep breath. She throws away all her fear. She puts all of her strength into that one movement. And pulls.
The wheel starts turning. It spins faster and faster. Chamila chances another look at the Gelert. But when she turns around, he is nowhere to be seen.
‘Where is he? How did he disappear? I should have heard him...’
She feels a cold chill trickle down her spine. ‘Something is wrong here...’ But she says nothing. She does nothing but watch the wheel turn. It keeps turning, and turning. The prizes seem to all flood together in a fusion of color. She thinks of what she could win. As she singles out each prize, she discovers that the odds of winning something good are not in her favor.
The first picture shows the Pant Devil. ‘I’m not carrying anything... But if I get him, it’s a waste of 100 neopoints.’ The second section bares a red word, painted on there recently. Pox. ‘I suppose that means I would get sick...’ The third section holds a picture of a present box. ‘That’d be good. I mean, I don’t think a present would be bad...’ The next is a picture of a petpet. ‘Uhh... I already have a petpet. But my brother doesn’t. If I get that, I can give him the petpet.’
On the following section is scrawled: -NP. ‘I guess this is the same case as the Pant Devil thing...’ The next is a picture of a pile of sludge. Chamila doesn’t even have to think about that. However, the second-to-last one she doesn’t understand. ‘It’s a picture of something that is broken... does that mean it would break one of my items, if I had one..?’ The last section was the one that Chamila liked the best: +NP was written on it. Chamila knows that if she gets that one, she can go get that candy she wants. She smiles.
The wheel starts to slow. Finally, it halts. On ‘+NP’. Chamila can hardly believe her luck! She wonders how on Neopia she’ll get the neopoints when she hears a voice behind her. “Congratulations.” It’s the Gelert. He smiles a bit, and hands her a bag of 500 neopoints. Chamila beams, and skips off with her neopoints. But she looks back for a moment. She notices something she didn’t before: the Gelert looks as if he hasn’t eaten in days.
Chamila frowns a bit, then faces the food booth. An idea pops into her head. She runs to the Bruce and purchases a toffee classic, then wanders back towards the Wheel of Misfortune. The Gelert is standing there. He sighs, then realizes someone else is there. He looks up. “Did you forget something?” he asks kindly.
“N-no... I just wanted to-- I mean, it looked like you could-- what I’m trying to say is...” Chamila decides to quit trying to let her words explain and thrusts the piece of candy into his paws. She glances up at him for a moment, then runs off with the remainder of her neopoints; to go tell her brother what happened.
The Gelert smiles as she runs off. No one is ever kind in the Deserted Fairgrounds. But this Zafara made his job all worthwhile. He waits for the next customer, and dreams of what life must be like; outside of the Fairgrounds, outside of the Woods, and into this ‘Neopia Central’ he has heard so much about.
Written after I read the Neopedia article on the Wheel of Misfortune. ^^ In again!! Yay!