The Dangers of Delivering a Pizza: A Puzzling Story
Foreverh0mes was a great help in the writing of this story! Enjoy!
"You want WHAT, sir?" Sir MushroomStump asked, astounded.
"I want an extra large triple-decker meat-lover's pizza block with extra meat-lover and meatballs on top," the Grarrl repeated. "And hold the crust, too."
Exasperated, Sir MushroomStump scribbled down the order on a piece of paper and gave it to one of the chefs. The chef’s eyes widened as he read it, but he did not complain. He shakily walked back into the kitchen.
"Next, " Sir MushroomStump called wearily. A happy yellow Chia walked up to the counter.
"Hi! Hi," she chimed in a singsong voice. "I'd like a cheese-and-pineapple pizza, please!"
Relieved for a down simple order, Sir MushroomStump wrote this. "And your address?" he asked.
"I live on 6583 Skull Lane in the Haunted Woods," the Chia replied.
"Haunted Woods?" Sir MushroomStump gawked. "It may be a while before it arrives. Is that ok?"
"Sure, sure!" the Chia sang happily. "It's all worth it for a good pizza! The Haunted Foods Shop only sells pizza with extra slime!"
The odd Chia skipped away.
"She's a bit upbeat for someone who lives in the Haunted Woods," thought Sir MushroomStump. "Oh well. It will take a while to deliver, though. This may be a good practice run for the rookies.”
Sir Oregano "MushroomStump" Marinara the green Blumaroo owned the legendary Pizzaroo. The MushroomStump part came from the Blumaroo's love for mushrooms - but his favorite part was the stump. Luckily this was the only part of a mushroom that could not be put on a pizza, so Sir MushroomStump could easily eat his fill.
However complicated the order, Sir MushroomStump never tired of making pizza. His shop was famous for filling even the most bizarre of requests.
Out loud, Sir MushroomStump bellowed, “NACHO! NECTARINE! ORZENSKI!"
A yellow JubJub, a red Eyrie, and a green Nimmo immediately appeared in the hallway. The Nimmo and the Eyrie both clutched mops and the JubJub, who did not have any hands, was pushing the janitor’s cart with his head. The Blumaroo could see the excitement in all of their faces, and he thought this the perfect time for their first-ever job as pizza-delivery pets.
"I want you to deliver a pizza to... Um... what was that address again.... here it is! On 6583 Skull Lane in the Haunted Woods! What a place for your first delivery! Well, off you go!" stated Sir MushroomStump.
"The-the-the H-HAUNTED WOODS?" stuttered Nectarine.
”DUN DUNN DUUNNNN!” Orzenski laughed. "Come on, guys, let's go!”
The pals set off in the direction of the Haunted Woods.
Ten Minutes Later...
"Are we THERE yet?"
"Are we there... Now?"
And so it went on until they arrived.
"Well, this is it ! Looks scary.... didn't Sir MushroomStump said this Chia was... cheerful?” Nacho said.
"You knock," said Nectarine.
“How? I do not have any hands!" pointed out Nacho in an annoyed voice.
"Ok, well, you knock, 'Zenski!" Nectarine told him.
So Orzenski knocked on the door of faded oak. The door was opened by... nothing?
"That's weird." Nacho shivered.
"We've got your pizza!" shouted Nectarine to the seemingly empty house.
The only reply was the creak of the wood under their feet.
"Do you think...” began Nectarine in a suggestive voice, "...she has not gotten home from Pizzaroo yet? She might've stopped by to run some errands on the way home and got caught up?"
"Maybe,” shrugged Orzenski. "Or maybe NOT,” he added in his "I'm making up a scary possibility to freak you out" voice.
“Oh, stop it, Orzenski," Nacho scoffed. "We'll just bring the pizza into the kitchen and leave it on the counter. She can just pay us later."
”Good idea." Nectarine shuddered. "This place is freaking me out."
"You're such a baby, Nectarine." Orzenski groaned.
They walked over the floor boards that groaned under their weight. The slightest sound caused Nectarine to jump fifty feet into the air - which was actually possible for a pet with wings.
They came to what appeared to be the kitchen door.
"Nobody seems to be at home,” Nacho observed after looking through a rusty keyhole.
"Now what's this?” Orzenski asked curiously. He was eye-level with a sort of dry-erase board. Next to it hung a pen on a string. "SOLVE THE PUZZLE" read a sign in bold print.
"It's some inspirational poster," Nectarine said casually.
"No, it's a crossword puzzle! " Orzenski argued.
Nacho shrugged and tried the door.
"It’s rusted shut! " he exclaimed.
"Yo, Nectarine, give me a boost!" Nacho asked as he tried to hop high enough to read the puzzle.
"Um, sure," replied the Eyrie and lifted the JubJub until he could see the writing on the board.
"Ah, a simple thing, really," he said in his genius voice. "This is just ‘Meowclops’ all scrambled up."
Nectarine set the JubJub back down on the floor and wrote 'MEOWCLOPS' in large letters on the board.
The house began to rumble and shake.
Cried Orzenski, "What kind of house does this Chia LIVE in?"
The door's handle turned and made a squeaking high-pitched noise that indicated it had been too long since it was oiled. The door flew open and a deep voice bellowed, "VERY GOOD. THAT IS CORRECT."
"Um, maybe it’s just their voice mail?" Nacho suggested hopefully.
"I hope," Nectarine squeaked, frightened.
The rookies proceeded cautiously into the large kitchen. Orzenski hurriedly set the pizza box down on a dusty counter. They were just turning to leave when Orzenski stopped.
"Wait... that cannot be right," he said, walking in long strides back to the counter. He ran a slender finger over the grey surface and his eyes grew wide.
"This counter’s covered in dust," he said in a small voice. "Nobody’s been in here for a very long time."
"H- How is that p-possible?" Nectarine stuttered.
"Nacho?" Nectarine asked, turning around. "Do you have a genius answer to this?"
Nacho was staring open-mouthed out the window.
"What is it?" the Eyrie asked. Orzenski followed his gaze and gasped.
"T-That house..." he cried, but his voice faltered. He pointed at the house across the street. "Look at the address...!"
Nectarine squinted to see the number on the bright red door. "It's..." Now it was Nectarine’s that voice failed her. "...6583."
"If that's the Chia 's house, " Nacho asked, "then where are we?"
They looked at each other and rushed out of the kitchen to the front door. Except, the front door was not there - just an empty wall. The pizza delivery-pets ran frantically around the house, but they seemed to be going in circles . They could not find the kitchen again, either.
"Hey, look!" Orzenski said, stopping to pick up a piece of paper. It was yellowed and the ink on it was fading, but it was still legible. It was very long and torn at the edges, as if it had been handled over and over again. Along the sides were math problems and messy handwriting. The text seemed to be a puzzle of some sort, not unlike the one Nacho had solved minutes before. On the answer space was a large question mark. Somehow it made the Nimmo feel sad.
"Ooh, is that another puzzle?" Nacho asked eagerly.
"Yeah, and I think it might be our key to getting out of here!" Orzenski nodded. He set the paper down in front of the JubJub, who then picked it up with his feet, sat down, and began to read.
"Well?" Nectarine asked after a while. The JubJub looked confused.
"It's very long and rambly, but cleverly composed," he replied. "I've never seen anything like it."
"But you can solve it, right?" Orzenski asked.
"Right, Nacho? Nacho?" There was panic in Nectarine’s voice.
"...Well, no." Nacho sighed in defeat. "Besides its being so complicated, the ink is so faded that I can barely make out anything. One letter can make a world of difference."
"Let me see that!" Nectarine snatched the fragile paper.
"Nectarine, you cannot even solve a Faerie Crossword in less than five hours!" Orzenski said flatly. "You cannot solve this!"
A light came into the Eyrie’s eyes and she carefully tore the paper into four pieces. Her partners gasped, astonished.
"Nectarine!" Nacho cried. "If I had enough time, I might've solved it eventually! Now we have no hope! Why did you do that?"
Nectarine did not answer. She flipped and rearranged over the four pieces and smiled triumphantly. "57.5," she declared.
"What?" asked Orzenski.
"57.5 Zombie Chombies," Nectarine repeated. "It was simple: all you had to do was tear up the puzzle and rearrange it to get a math problem. And do not tell me that 23.3 plus 34.2 is not 57.5 - I got a 'D' in math and even I know that."
"I... I..." stammered Nacho.
"A puzzle..." Ozenski realized. "A puzzle only the simple-minded could solve..."
Another tremor shook the house suddenly. This one did not stop as quickly as the previous. When the shaking was over, the friends felt like somebody had just played tennis with their brains. They tried to steady themselves, but Nacho immediately fell back down in a faint when he saw the ghost that stood before them.
"I... am Eliv Thade..." the ghost, who resembled a Kacheek, croaked.
"E - Eliv Thade?" Ozenski cried. "I've heard of you! You're the evil genius who died in madness after being stumped over a puzzle!"
"A puzzle..." Eliv Thade said in a raspy voice. "A puzzle... which has become my life goal to solve, this mere child... which solved part of..."
"WHAT?" Ozenski Nectarine and cried together. "Nectarine... just solved the very same puzzle that led you to your death?"
"Indeed..." Eliv Thade nodded. "But then, not so. Only part of it. Because there were seven puzzles, and they all fit together. I had solved three, now I have four. Why do you say 'death'? Why do you say 'evil'? I never died."
"Do not lie to me!" Ozenski fumed. "Everyone knows you died a hundred years ago!"
"For this smart Neopet," Eliv Thade looked at Nectarine, "there is another, not so smart." He looked at Ozenski. "There is such a thing as a Ghost Paint Brush. Once upon a time a puzzle led me to the Rainbow Pool. I was standing there when it happened."
"When what happened?" asked Nectarine.
"It... I was looking around, searching for the clue, when a human walked by, carrying a Ghost Paint Brush. He tripped, and we all – human, paint brush, and myself – fell into the Rainbow Pool. I was painted this against my will!"
"Oh..." Orzenski's face flushed, embarrassed. "But... but you're evil, that's for sure! Your name is an anagram of Evil Death!"
"Evil? Evil?" Eliv Thade asked, confused. "Evil? No! It is 'Live' - Live Ethad. That was – no, is! - my name."
"He... Live Ethad?" Nectarine asked.
"That is correct. My sister's name is Death Ethad and she's painted rainbow. What a joke!" Eliv chuckled.
Nacho, who had regained consciousness, went over and grinned at Ethad. "I knew it! I knew it! Everyone said you were evil, but it just did not add up. I knew it - you're just a peaceful puzzle- lover!"
Eliv Thade laughed and nodded.
"So, Mr. Thade," Nectarine asked timidly. "We'd love to stay and chat, but we have to be going. Could you show us to your front door – literally?"
Eliv nodded and suddenly the front door appeared before them.
"Remember, any time you need a pizza..." Nectarine called as they walked down the sidewalk.
"Thank you! And anytime you're stuck on a puzzle." Eliv waved.
It was a long journey back to Pizzaroo, and the sun was setting when they returned.
"Mr. MushroomStump!" they called excitedly upon entering.
"Yes? How was your first job?" the Blumaroo asked.
They blurted out their story in full. Sir MushroomStump’s expression did not change at all, even when they told of their meeting the legendary Eliv Thade - excuse me, Live Ethad.
"Yes, yes, sounds exciting," he said casually. "But did you deliver the pizza to that Chia?”
Nacho, Nectarine, and Orzenski looked at each other and slapped their foreheads.