Groceries and a Haunted Eve
The Acara shivered as a chill wind swept down the street. Leaves rustled, alive, then dead again. All that could be heard was her footsteps on the sidewalk.
The bag of groceries crackled in her clutches. She had forgotten it was there. The Acara glanced to the left and right, then straight ahead. All she wanted to do was get home, put the food away, and curl up in her welcoming bed.
“Keep walking,” she whispered to herself. “It’s just a normal night.”
But it wasn’t.
Off in the distance, she heard a Werelupe howl. It echoed down the street, a chorus of clamor chasing each sound before it. The Acara stopped, her blue fur on edge.
Snap. The Acara’s ears swiveled towards the noise. She glanced behind her, afraid. There had been stories of children getting lost on nights like this. They went out with friends and never returned. But it wasn’t the myths that sent shivers down her spine.
Earlier that day she had been walking towards Neopia Central, when out jumped a crazed Lupe. “Beware!” he had shouted, waving his arms around. “Tonight is the night when restless ghosts awaken!” And just as swiftly as he had appeared, he was gone.
The Acara had cast it aside. There were many Neopians who would try and scare you just for fun. But still... ever since that Lupe had come, she had been hearing sounds. Branches would rattle, toenails would clack on the sidewalk behind her. Every time she would whirl around, hoping to catch the culprit. Every time there would be no one there.
She shook her head, and turned back towards her destination. She would be home in a matter of minutes. To pass the time, the Acara started to count houses.
“One. Two. Three -Oh look, Mr. Gregor’s house,” she said. Mr. Gregor was an ancient Gnorbu, rumored to be older than Faerieland. When he did hobble out of his house, the kindly Neopian would wave to everyone passing by. Even with all his years, the Gnorbu still had a smile that warmed a Neopet’s heart. When his green, furry face split open wide with a welcoming grin, anyone walking past would automatically raise their own paw and wave back.
Tonight, however, there was no green Gnorbu sitting on the porch. The moon cast the house’s shadow towards her, perpetually stretching its intangible fingers to capture her. The roof stared evilly at her through shuttered eyes, and the house beams cried out under the weight. The Acara’s ears were filled with the cries for freedom, echoing from the wood itself.
She tore her gaze away from the haunted mansion, focusing on the street again. Maybe counting houses wasn’t the best idea. But what to do?
Click. There it goes again! The Acara spun quickly. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of something pale. It was gone in an instant, but she was sure of it this time. Something was following her.
She started walking faster, her heart beating as quickly as her steps. The moonlight seemed to dim as a cloud passed over her. The Acara was alone, chased by an invisible enemy.
She seriously considered dropping the groceries and running, but then this entire trip would have been worthless. The Acara bravely continued, her nails tightening their grip on the brown paper bag. There was no chance she’d drop them now. Intently focused on the package in her arms, her fears were pushed to the corner of her mind.
Thump. The Acara heard it, but this time she kept walking. The enemy would remain invisible whether she looked for it or not.
However, something else started to bother the Acara. Something about the groceries. They were starting to get lighter-
“Oh no!” the Acara cried out, looking into the bag. What was once nearly filled with edible items was now barely half that. She looked at the bottom of the bag and groaned. A corner had been torn off, and items were being jostled through it with each step she took.
The Acara fell to her knees, picking up the red apple that had most recently escaped. Items must have been falling for the last mile she’d walked. She sighed heavily. Retracing her steps would be just as scary as the actual trip, because now she’d be walking towards the creature. But without the groceries, all this was for nothing.
She turned around, purposefully keeping her gaze on the ground. No glances of ghosts would distract her. It was best just to keep focused on the task at hand, and forget about any ghouls wandering about.
With her only thought about putting one foot in front of the other, the Acara preceded. Her eyes scanned the ground like a robot, her head swiveling stiffly. A can of freshly tinned carrots here, some organic broccoli there. It was like a marathon game of Revel Roundup, only with groceries. She made it all the way down the street, then turned onto the previous one. That’s when she stopped dead in her tracks.
There was absolutely nothing there.
The Acara expected the pavement to be littered with food, based on how much had fallen out on the last street alone. She looked inside the now somewhat-full bag. She still hadn’t recovered all the items, so where were they?
Weighing her choices heavily in her mind, the Acara decided to make her way back home. A few missing groceries were nothing worth another hour out on a spooky night. The tree branches still reached to embrace her, and the wind had yet to cease calling her name.
Eve... it whispered. Come to ussss....
But Eve turned her head away from the voice. She had never liked to be out at night, much less a night with a full moon. She looked up at the malevolent orb, casting shadowy spells on the earth from high above. Its face was full with a wicked, glowing grin.
“What are you smiling at?” she shouted at it. “You should hide your scarred face, pocked with marks of age!”
The moon, ashamed, pulled a blanket of clouds between her and itself. Its face, and its light, was hidden.
Eve, now without the guidance of the moon, turned back towards home. But something on the ground caught her eye.
“My groceries!” she exclaimed. On the ground in front of her sat another brown paper bag. And in the bottom, her missing items.
The blue Acara picked them up, cradling both paper bags with her arms. She didn’t care how they’d ended up in another paper bag. All she wanted was to get home, and quickly.
Luckily, home was close. She travelled through the dark, apologizing to the moon and asking for its light again. But the moon remained hidden, guarding its hideous face from prying eyes. Finally, after what seemed like an hour, Eve arrived at her house.
Fumbling with the door knob, she put the groceries away in the kitchen. After that was done, she stumbled to her bed and fell asleep.
The wind wouldn’t stop howling. “Eve, come with us. Eve...” She ran down the streets, unsure of her surroundings. Nothing was familiar. Turn after turn, but she didn’t recognize anything. Suddenly, he jumped out in front of her.
He was a ghost Hissi. Speaking like the wind, he whispered to her. “Why? I help you, and not even a thank you in return?” The Hissi approached her, claws outstretched, an ill-intending gleam in his red eyes.
Somewhere in Neopia Central, on a dark, spooky night, in a normal house with normal groceries in the kitchen, a blue Acara awoke screaming.
The next morning, Mr. Gregor hobbled out of his house. He was about to sit down in his rocking chair when he saw a small piece of paper in the street.
“That’s funny,” he told himself. “The wind must have blown it here.”
The green Gnorbu made his way out to the sheet of paper. He picked it up, and starting scanning the paper for a name. It read:
Thank you for helping me with my groceries. I would have never retrieved them all without your help. Because of you, I was able to make it home before midnight. Again, I offer my thanks.
At the bottom of the page, the page was torn in the form of letters. It was as if someone had carved a reply into the paper with his or her claw. There were two words.