The Shy Coconut
Deep within the lands of Neopia, rests a little village called the Haunted Woods. Many people venture there to seek knowledge from the Brain Tree. There used to be a lovely fairground for these tourists to visit. There was a ferris wheel that was so tall, you could see the entire woods. The games were great, throwing beanbags at milk bottles, tossing rings into cups, and more. One Halloween, several years ago, a dark haze covered the fairgrounds. People thought it was a gimmick to celebrate the spooky holiday. It wasn’t.
Things changed that night. The fairgrounds are nearly deserted now. A stray Neopian or two venture in and play a game of chance. The ferris wheel fell and now is spun sideways on the ground. The prizes are dangerous and make the players regret their visit. The fun games have been rigged and are nearly impossible to win. Our story is about one of these games in particular. The Coconut Shy.
I could tell you all about AC, the coconut JubJub, and his life before our tale, but I would bore you. His life was just like every other ‘average’ neopet out there. Instead, I will start you where things changed drastically for him. The day he was zapped.
AC’s owner has been granted access to a special laboratory. The experiments here were usually not painful and also had great success rates. AC has been going once a day for a nearly a month now. It was always the same. His owner would take him inside the “Ray Room” and leave. Moments later, a Scorchio would walk in. His hair was always wild and his eyes had a mesmerizing touch to them. AC would only need to take one look into the eyes of that scientist and he would fall into a calm, peaceful sleep. He would awake hours later in a different state. Sometimes stronger, sometimes weaker. Sometimes he would even wake-up a different gender. That upset him. He would fight the scientist in the battledome until he was male again. One day, everything changed.
AC went through the process like he had many times before but when he awoke, he was someone else. His eyes fluttered open. They felt wider than before and he could see more clearly. His sense of smell was heightened as well. He inhaled deeply and smelled a very strong fruity aroma. He wanted to know what it was so he tried to sit up. He couldn’t. Something was wrong with his body. It felt... solid. AC started to panic. Since he couldn’t sit up, he rolled off the table and landed on his feet. Next to him was a shiny metal desk that showed his reflection. Or at least it should have... At first, AC thought someone painted a picture on it. A picture of a coconut with eyes. That was until those eyes blinked at him. It only took another second before AC realized that it was his reflection. He was a coconut.
The next couple of days went by in a blur. AC’s owner was very upset. She argued with the Scorchio for nearly an hour, then left. She left AC at the laboratory. The scientist came in to talk to him about how sorry he was, and a place called the pound. AC barely heard any of it. He was brought to another facility the next day. He was still in a state of shock. People walked by his door and looked in at him like he was in a zoo. The third day an ugly Quiggle came in.
Right from the start AC didn’t like him. He was jumpy and kept looking over his shoulder. He had a huge wart on the left side of his face that was almost as big as his buggy looking eyes. He gave AC smile and a wink and left the room. He came back shortly after and took AC with him. They traveled in silence. A few hours later, when the shock finally wore off, AC realized he was in the Deserted Fairgrounds.
The Quiggle, Leeroy, was a Carnie. He manned the Coconut Shy stand. Coconut Shy is a game where the player throws an old tennis ball at a coconut in an attempt to knock it down. What AC soon learned was that the game was rigged. The coconuts were hollowed out and nailed down. Then they were filled with heavy rocks and sealed back up. The second day, Leeroy told AC why he was there.
“Now I’m not one fer havin’ a pet,” he said grimly. “I only brought ye here to do a job. I want you to sit outside my stand and wait fer customers. If ye see one, sing them this song; ‘Come one, come all, let’s play a game. Coconut Shy is its name. Throw the ball into the sky. Try your luck and win a prize.’ Do this every time ye see a customer. If ye don’t, I’ll hollow ye out like the rest.”
AC started his ‘job’ right then. It was actually really easy since there was a serious lack of customers. In fact, for the first two days, no one came. On the third day, a young girl came. She wasn’t a neopet so AC assumed she was someone’s owner. He quickly started the song. She waited patiently until he finished then smiled and went inside. AC watched her.
“Hi,” she said to Leeroy. “I was walking past when your lovely coconut invited me in for a game.” She handed him a handful of neopoints and he handed her a stack of tennis balls. She turned toward the door and looked straight at AC. “Would you like to throw for me?” she asked gently. AC thought about how the coconuts were prepared and shook his head. The girl looked from AC to the coconuts. “Well, you can keep the money but I’m not going to play,” dhe said and walked out the door. Leeroy laughed and put her neopoints in his pocket.
The next day the girl returned, this time with a large bag of neopoints. AC sang the song for her again. She smiled again and went inside. She put the bag full of neopoints on the counter. AC had never seen so much money in one place. “I’d like to play, but if I win, I want your coconut JubJub,” she said. “If I lose, you can keep this bag and all the neopoints inside.
Leeroy looked at the bag greedily. “Fine.” He laughed. “All you have to do is knock a coconut down.” AC knew it was impossible but still held onto a bit of hope.
“Just knock a coconut down and I can have your coconut JubJub?” she asked and held out her hand to the Quiggle.
“Yes, deal,” said Leeroy with a hint of a smile. He handed her the tennis balls but she ignored them.
She turned toward AC. “I’m sorry for this,” she said. AC was confused but before he could say anything, she pushed him over, hard on the floor.
AC sat up and looked at Leeroy. The Quiggle’s face was turning red. “That- That doesn’t count!” he exclaimed.
The girl reached down and helped AC up. “I knocked down a coconut. I won.” She looked at AC. “Come with me,” she said and grabbed the neopoints off of the counter.
“Fine!” yelled Leeroy. “Take him! I don’t want him anyhow!”
AC followed the girl away from the stand. He didn’t even look back. They rounded the corner and stopped.
“I’m Tracey,” the girl said kindly. “And I’d like to take you home with me, if that is okay. If you want to stay, you can. If you want to go somewhere else, you can.”
AC stared at her. ‘She’s giving me a choice?’ AC thought. All his life, people made decisions for him. He knew he didn’t want to stay here. He thought for a moment and realized he had nowhere else to go. That didn’t matter, though; there was only one place he wanted to be.
“I’d like to come home with you,” he said shyly.
“I thought so,” Tracey said with a smile. She scooped AC up and they walked home together.