I dedicate this to Melanie and Sylvia :) And the pie, because pies are people too! Thanks!!!
I wake up slowly, the misty light that filters through the festival decorations making me see sunspots. I blink them away and rub my eyes, stretching. What am I doing here?
Faerie Festival, Amery. Yeah, that was right...
Then I remember the rest. Or at least, as much as I am able to. What happened?
Zombie had been getting a picture with a fire faerie, right? And then...
I remember that flash of light, dimly, because I’d blacked out before I could see anything else. It was so fast, as if someone had clubbed me in the back of my head, except painless.
I slowly get up rubbing my fur and shivering off the slight dew that I’d gathered from the ground. And then I realize that...
...all the faeries are covered in stone.
I gape around disbelievingly, rubbing my eyes again. What?
I didn’t know sunspots could make you see things...
I open my eyes again.
I start to hyperventilate. This nightmare is getting a little out of hand. I back up a few steps before feeling something cold lightly touch the fur on my back. I whirl around, terror increased as I recognize the figure behind me.
I stare, veins to icicles, eyes to snowballs, fingertips frozen.
“Zombie?” I repeat, calling the white Kougra by name. I stare in silent fear, simply refusing to believe my own eyes as I stare at Zombie and the fire faerie, hugging each other, encased in stone. Completely petrified. I am too, at the moment.
I think, this isn’t happening. It’s too... unbelievable.
I almost relax at the thought. You’re dreaming, Amery, just a silly little Acara dream. No worries. I trail my finger on the corner of his ear, feeling the cold, gritty touch of the stone. It’s not a dream. No matter how much my brain flukes and fails to comprehend, I know it’s not a dream, somewhere in the back of my mind.
It’s world shatteringly real.
I shake the stone figure, and then turn to the fire faerie, doing the same. “Wake up! This isn’t funny! This isn’t...” I sob, tears blurring my vision, confused and scared as reality sets in. I collapse in shock to the ground, staring up at the gleeful statues.
Breathe, Amery. I think this to myself, slowly closing my eyes and taking in the oxygen. I try not to think about Zombie, at least. Thinking about him makes my heart stop. It seems illogical for someone that important in my life to simply be gone.
I I gaze around, taking in the presence of the other figures around me, trapped mid-laugh, mid-twirl, mid-fall, mid-blink. It all happened in a second. No sparkles, no creeping stone. Just... happened.
The Faerie Festival had gone terribly wrong.
I wished desperately to turn back time and stop myself from coming. It was a stupid thought, but well meant at least. I feel as if I hadn't come, if I hadn't SEEN any of this, that it would just go away.
Just because you don’t see something, doesn’t mean it's not there, Amery.
Zomb had convinced me to come, breaking through my half-heartedness with his shining smile, telling me how amazed the faeries would be by my new coating of purple. “You look great!” he’d said. I’d blushed, secretly enthralled by his response. My owner had saved up for months, just in time for my birthday to get me my favorite color. Now I wish that I hadn't been so easily won over, that I'd convinced him otherwise. But, knowing Zombie, he could make me do anything, from entering the Beauty Contest to going to the NC mall. I am shy; he isn't at all. But they say opposites attract, right?
So we’d gone. Together, of course, he’d been my best friend since we’d just been created; our owners had known each other beforehand. He is my sole confider, my cane to lean on, my up when I am down.
And he’s gone.
I stare at him, stare at his smiling features and the crinkled edges around his eyes. The other Neopians that had been here must have woken up earlier than me and left, to tell others no doubt, leaving me alone. Zombie’d been the only one in contact with a faerie when it happened, I guess... everything in contact with them had turned to stone. I notice this as I look around at the petrified objects ranging from a finely petaled rose to a newly baked pie, which I- weirdly enough- feel more acutely sorry for.
I swallow the rock that sprouts in my throat, forcing it to settle in my stomach where it lands with a sharp, painful thud. I stand up, searching the premise for any life, a tingle running up my spine at the thought of all those frozen. I was all alone in a crowded place. I wipe my nose and shake off the tears that had already begun their trip down my nose.
“I’m sorry, Zombie.” A whisper. One that rebounds on all the motionless, graceful forms of the faeries to be whispered right back.
I touch his stone paw, softly, hesitantly, whispering in a determined voice. “I’ll set you free, Zomb. I promise.”
I walk a few steps backwards, watching the stone figure hesitantly, wondering if I should leave. And then, not seeing where I am going, I trip over a warm lump at my feet. I rub my head, which had hit the ground, gingerly and look at what I'd tripped over.
A blue Ixi is breathing steadily under my foot, eyes closed, apparently still unconscious. He’s dressed almost raggedly, brown from head to toe with a little brown, bulging sack in his curled fist. Out of curiosity, which Acaras have as a trait, I poke it quickly, hearing a metallic sound of movement. The Ixi’s face scrunches slightly and he pulls his hand away. Carefully, I take my foot off before I poke him gently. "Hello?" I say, cocking my head. He doesn't wake up; rather, he rolls over and waves me away. Strange...
I stare curiously at him for a few seconds, wondering why he hasn't awoken like the others. I pat his head softly, eyebrows raised in speculation before I look away. Then, curiosity getting the better of me again, I walk away as if to leave. But once I’m sure I’m out of his sight, I hide behind a statue... er, faerie, and watch the Ixi as he quickly gets up, dusting off the place where I’d fallen.
So he’d been faking!
I watch his steps as he tip toes toward the frozen Fyora, reaching out to touch her stony necklace. “Too bad...” he mutters, averting his gaze. Thief! I think, almost coming out of my hiding spot to stop him. He’d already begun to stuff other objects away. But then, I hear voices coming from the right side of myself. The thief stops mid-grab, perking his ears to listen, eyes widening.
I shake my head, remembering my task at hand. Whoever was coming would take care of that thief. I don't have time to worry about stray neopets, or Ixi in this case. I have to focus on other things.
I have a job to do.
I’m coming, Zombie.