A Story in Which the Title Was Eaten by a Lupe
Also by esperonza14
Mr. Pumpkin the pumpkin looked up. It was a mistake, as it turned out, because he saw a poster about Mr. Coconut. Mr. Pumpkin sighed.
He had once been famous. The Halloween party he went to on a given year determined which party got the most press, which one merited everyone saying “you had to be there!” to everyone who wasn’t there.
And now... now Mr. Coconut was popular. Because of a silly caption contest. All Mr. Coconut ever did was say “GOOD NIGHT!” and now... he had stolen Mr. Pumpkin’s fame.
Mr. Pumpkin had one friend. Mr. Lupe was a blue Lupe, and he was a very good friend to Mr. Pumpkin. Mr. Pumpkin thought about his Lupe friend, and how he was grateful that he was not a Chia, on his way home.
Mr. Lupe had several friends. The only one he saw every day, however, was Mr. Pumpkin. This was presumably because they shared a house. It was hard not to notice Mr. Pumpkin becoming increasingly more depressed ever since that infernal Mr. Coconut started showing up everywhere. He spent more time inside. He was starting to smell like most pumpkins smell after sitting on the porch for a couple months.
He looked like one, too.
One day Mr. Lupe noticed Mr. Pumpkin sitting by the street in front of their house. This in itself was an odd occurrence. It was then that Mr. Lupe realized it was garbage day.
So Mr. Lupe made pumpkin pie. It was a little out of season, with it being April, but pumpkin pie was good all year round, he reasoned. He ate it after dinner the next day, and went to bed in the house in which he was now alone with a full stomach.
Mr. Kougra the red Kougra sat up. He winced. He apparently had a pounding headache at the back of his skull.
Wait, no. He didn’t. He felt... fitter than a fiddle? Surely that wasn’t right. He’d fallen down from a 20-feet-high branch on the tree he was next to! He glanced up. The branch was still there, but barely. It was hanging on a twig.
He scampered out of the way. He tried to, anyway. His paws weren’t working. He glanced down. His paws were gone.
All of his body was gone, for that matter. He was a ghost.
The branch fell down, as he suspected it would, and fell right through his ghostly form.
Cool, he thought. I’m a ghost!
And thus Mr. Kougra became Mr. Ghost.
Now, he thought, why am I a ghost?
He looked around for a sign, not finding anything. Perhaps I simply fell. It wasn’t likely, as he was a trained hunting Kougra, but it was possible. Pushed? his brain offered. That was more likely.
It was unlikely, however, that he was pushed by the nesting Weewoos in the tree. He’d have to investigate.
He started to clamber up the tree, much as he would have done as a Kougra, and then realized he could simply float up. Being a ghost is awesome.
Mr. Grundo waited until the ghost was halfway up the tree, and then jumped off of the branch he’d been sitting on. He landed with barely a sound, and raced through the forest. He was thankful that he was green, as he blended in perfectly with his surroundings. He ran and ran and ran until he heard a faint chuckle.
He halted. Dirt flew out from under his feet.
“Who’s there?” he asked boldly. The maddening chortle stopped.
“Look down!” a small voice said. Mr. Grundo looked down. “Now look left!” Mr. Grundo kept his head down and looked left.
He saw a coconut. It looked like Mr. Coconut, except it was nowhere near as angry. This coconut looked serene.
“Hi there,” the coconut said. “I’m Sir Coconut. Who are you and why are you running through the forest like this?”
Mr. Grundo stared at the coconut uncomfortably. “I’m Mr. Grundo,” he said finally.
“Mr. Grundo...,” Sir Coconut mused quietly. “You wouldn’t happen to know a Mr. Coconut, would you?”
“I raised him.”
“Oh, really? What luck I have!” the coconut said. “Could you please give him this box for me?”
“Sure.” Mr. Grundo picked up the small black box next to Sir Coconut and started to walk.
“My good sir!” the coconut called out. Mr. Grundo ignored him and was soon out of earshot.
Mr. Grundo set down two things on the desk. The first was the little box from Sir Coconut, and the second was a green amulet. The amulet was dropped into a cloth bag and tied. He put it aside.
Mr. Grundo distinctly remembered Sir Coconut asking him to give the box to Mr. Coconut... but surely there wasn’t any harm in seeing what was in it, right? Right. He gingerly lifted the lid.
It was a hat. A hat. As if a coconut could wear a hat!
Mr. Grundo put on the hat and ambled over to the mirror. It was a very jaunty hat. He liked it.
He whistled an equally jaunty tune as he fetched the bag with the amulet and once again headed out. He got to his destination in no time, still whistling the jaunty tune, and entered the building. He nodded to the pink Aisha at the front desk, who looked alarmed, and went up the stairs. He stopped in front of door #8. He knocked.
The eyehole opened. A large red eye glared at him from it. Mr. Grundo stopped whistling then.
“You got the amulet?” the eye’s voice asked.
“Yes,” Mr. Grundo replied calmly.
“Send it through the mail slot,” the voice said.
Mr. Grundo looked at the mail slot on the door. Why did he have to give the amulet to the suspicious voice?
“I rather think I won’t,” Mr. Grundo said.
The eyehole slammed shut. The door opened. A large red Grarrl towered over him.
“Then I’ll just take it, and you can leave without your money,” he said.
This didn’t seem fair to Mr. Grundo, but accepting money for it seemed wrong. The Grarrl hovered threateningly.
“You know what?” Mr. Grundo said. “You can have it. I don’t want money from someone like you.”
The Grarrl snatched the cloth bag and stormed back into the room. Mr. Grundo resumed his jaunty whistling, walked down the stairs, nodded once more at the pink Aisha, and left.
Sir Coconut rolled across the forest floor. He was a very happy coconut at the moment, despite rolling onto twigs and rocks and other hard objects. He rolled through something white.
He stopped rolling, and shifted himself to look at the white thing. It was a ghost.
“Good morning,” Mr. Ghost said pleasantly.
“Good morning,” Sir Coconut replied. “I’m Sir Coconut.”
“I’m Mr. Ghost. May I assist you in getting somewhere?”
“You may,” Sir Coconut said, “but I doubt you’d be able to pick anything up.”
“Oh. Yes.” Mr. Ghost frowned. “I hadn’t thought of that.”
“Thank you for the offer, though,” the coconut said.
“I’m sorry I can’t act upon it,” the ghost said.
“It’s quite all right. I make do for myself nicely.”
“Yes, I suppose so.”
“Where are you headed?” Sir Coconut asked.
“Nowhere, really. Just trying to find something I lost before I was a ghost. Where are you in such a hurry to get to?”
“My brother’s place,” Sir Coconut said. “What is it you lost?”
“An amulet. It was very dear to me,” Mr. Ghost said.
“Well, I do hope you find it,” Sir Coconut said, thinking that he knew where it was and also that the ghost wouldn’t be able to pick it up. “I’d help you look but I really must be going.”
“Oh, no worries! There are more important things in life than a stranger’s amulet.”
Yes, the coconut thought as he rolled. Such as lowering the city’s crime rate.
Mr. Grundo went into his house, and instinctively turned to lock the door. He internally chastised himself for being so paranoid.
He shrugged out of his jacket and set his hat down on the table. He hummed as he made himself dinner.
“Why am I humming?” he muttered abruptly. He served himself the pasta and sat down. He thought over the day’s events. His expression turned into one of horror.
“I... I turned down money. What was I thinking?!” he whispered to himself. He suddenly no longer had an appetite. “I’m a criminal, that’s what I do.”
He squeezed his eyes shut, hoping that somehow he was imagining the whole day. After some long moments, he opened his eyes and landed his gaze on the hat.
That darn hat.
Mr. Grundo got up from his seat, grabbed the hat (but didn’t put it on), and marched outside. Someone else could deal with the infernal thing. Mr. Grundo spotted a yellow Bori sitting on the bench outside the pharmacy, watching the passersby as he ate a soft pretzel.
Mr. Grundo crossed the street. “Here,” he said to the Bori, “have a hat.”
He didn’t give the Bori time to say anything before he stalked back to his own house.
Mr. Lupe sat at his kitchen table, deck of cards in the middle. He tapped his fingers as he waited for his friend to arrive.
Mr. Bori let himself in and sat down across from Mr. Lupe. Mr. Lupe noticed that Mr. Bori had acquired himself a jaunty hat.
“Nice hat,” Mr. Lupe said to his friend as he shuffled the cards.
“Thank you,” Mr. Bori replied. “A complete stranger just walked up and gave it to me yesterday. This is the first time I’ve worn it.” He set the hat down on the empty chair next to him.
“How nice of him.”
“Yes, I thought so.”
They played their weekly card game for a while. Mr. Lupe was unusually silent. Mr. Bori was observant.
“Are you all right?” Mr. Bori asked as he won another hand. “Where’s Mr. Pumpkin?”
Mr. Lupe sighed. “It was a delicious pie,” he muttered.
“Oh,” Mr. Bori said after a moment. “Oh dear. I didn’t know.”
“I’m sorry for your loss.”
“My stomach would not agree with you.”
Mr. Bori let him win the next hand. This did not cheer up Mr. Lupe.
This continued for another hour, before Mr. Bori decided it was time to leave. He’d stayed longer than he usually did.
“I do hope your spirits improve soon,” Mr. Bori said to Mr. Lupe as he put on his jacket. He was about to also put on his hat before he handed it to Mr. Lupe. “Have a hat. Be happy.”
Mr. Lupe stared at Mr. Bori’s retreating figure in confusion. He looked down at the hat in his hands.
It was a very nice hat.
Mr. Lupe rather liked the way the hat looked on him. He wore it almost constantly, only taking it off to shower and sleep. His mood considerably improved over the next few days.
It was at a peak a week later, after he had first gotten the hat. Mr. Bori was coming over for their card game. Mr. Lupe was whistling a jaunty tune as he cleared off his table.
“You seem happy,” Mr. Bori said as Mr. Lupe tossed a wrapper into his rubbish bin.
“I am,” Mr. Lupe said as he turned around to face his friend. His jaw dropped.
Mr. Bori was no longer a yellow Bori. He was a yellow Chia.
“You... you’re a Chia,” Mr. Lupe said, stating the obvious.
“Dr. Sloth’s associates paid me a lovely visit yesterday evening,” he said. He sighed.
“Does that mean you’re now Mr. Chia?”
“No thank you. I don’t particularly like being a Chia. I’m saving up for a potion to make myself a Bori again.”
Mr. Lupe nodded. He took his hat off and began the game. During the two hours his primal Lupe instincts kept kicking in.
Chia... Chia... CHIA CHIA CHIA, his brain chanted. CHIIIIAAAAAA.
Mr. Bori won, as he always did. Mr. Lupe congratulated him, as he always did. Mr. Bori thanked him, as he always did.
Mr. Bori put on his jacket. Mr. Lupe fought with his brain. He did not need to turn his friend into Chia soup. Mr. Bori noticed Mr. Lupe’s discomfort.
“If it would help, I’ll refrain from coming over until I’m a Bori again,” he said.
Mr. Lupe just nodded. It would be for the best. Chia soup had no place in his kitchen.
There was a sense of disappointment in the air. It was almost palpable. Mr. Grundo kept his head down. He studied the tiles on the floor.
The box next to him shifted. Mr. Coconut must not be comfortable.
At the other end of the long room there sat Dr. Sloth. He appeared to be quite at ease, although it was from him that the disappointment radiated off of.
“You failed to bring me the money,” Dr. Sloth said. He was not accusing. He was simply stating a fact.
Mr. Grundo raised his head a fraction.
“It was quite a large sum of money, too,” Sloth continued. “Did you manage to get the amulet at all?”
“Yes, I did.”
“Then what, pray tell, happened?”
“I... well...,” Mr. Grundo stuttered. What am I supposed to tell him? That a magic hat convinced me to not take the money? “I’m not quite sure.”
“You’re not sure. How interesting.”
The box containing Mr. Coconut shifted again. Mr. Grundo placed a hand on it to steady it.
“Would that be Mr. Coconut?” Sloth asked offhandedly.
“Do let him out.”
Mr. Grundo placed the box on the floor, lifted the lid, and sat Mr. Coconut on the chair.
“GOOD NIGHT!” Mr. Coconut wailed.
“Good night, indeed,” Sloth murmured. “Very well. Mr. Grundo, you and your pet coconut shall work in the reception department.”
Mr. Grundo’s shoulders slumped. Reception! That was a desk job! He had a desk job! That wasn’t very exciting.
“You will report to the department master first thing the morning,” Sloth said. “I will arrange for someone to bring a uniform to your home.”
Mr. Grundo’s shoulders slumped even more. A uniform! It was all too much.
Mr. Coconut, as always, looked appropriately angry.
Despite having not seen his friend for two weeks, Mr. Lupe was in considerably high spirits. He whistled a jaunty tune, wearing his jaunty hat, as he hiked through the forest. He noticed an abnormally large rock in the bush and decided to get a closer look. He reached out to touch it.
It wasn’t a rock at all. It was a coconut.
The coconut whipped around as soon as the paw touched him, eyes wild and alert. Mr. Lupe froze.
“I know you’re not a statue,” Sir Coconut said. “You can relax.”
Mr. Lupe sighed with relief and resumed a normal pose. “Thank you.”
“You have my hat!” Sir Coconut exclaimed with surprise. “How did you get my hat?”
“I don’t know anything about it being yours, but a friend of mine gave it to me. It’s a very jaunty hat,” Mr. Lupe said.
“It is a very jaunty hat,” Sir Coconut agreed. “I made it myself.”
“Did you now?” Mr. Lupe asked. He did not say this in a sarcastic tone, as one might expect, but rather with a sense of actual curiosity.
“Yes,” the coconut said. “This friend of yours... is he a Grundo?”
“No, he’s a Bori. Well, he was. He’s a Chia now,” Mr. Lupe said, deflating slightly.
“Do you know how he obtained it?”
“Some random stranger gave it to him on the street.”
Sir Coconut frowned. “Oh well.”
“Why, do you want it back?” Mr. Lupe asked.
“No, no,” Sir Coconut said. “It was just... a gift of my own, that’s all. I am disheartened to learn that the Grundo it was specifically made for no longer wanted it.”
“That is a very sad event,” Mr. Lupe agreed.
“So what brings you to the forest today?”
“Hiking. I’ve only recently taken it up.”
“Are you enjoying it so far?”
“Yes! And to think I never did like the outdoors much up until a few weeks ago!”
Sir Coconut became quite alarmed. “Has anything else changed recently?”
Mr. Lupe did not find this an odd question. He probably should have. “Er, let’s see. Hiking... oh, I’ve found myself very happy lately as well, even though I don’t have much cause to be. A friend of mine is gone forever, and another friend of mine is avoiding me until he’s no longer a Chia. Also I stubbed my toe on my bathroom door this morning and-”
“Yes, thank you,” Sir Coconut said hurriedly. “Take off the hat for a moment, please.”
Mr. Lupe took off the jaunty hat and held it tightly in his paws.
“How are you?” the coconut said pleasantly after a moment’s pause.
“Miserable,” the Lupe said. “My closest friends are out of reach for the moment, and also I stubbed my toe before breakfast this morning. I am rather hungry, as well.” There was a pause. “Hey, you’re a coconut!”
“Yes, I am, thank you for noticing.”
“Coconuts are delicious,” Mr. Lupe said.
Mr. Lupe resumed his hiking after his snack. He was wearing his jaunty hat. He was not whistling a jaunty tune, and he was not happy.
He did not know why he was hiking. He didn’t like being outside.
He turned around and went home. He was thoroughly miserable when he reached his front door, and was wishing that he had not made pumpkin pie all those weeks ago.
He removed his boots, his jacket, and his hat. He walked into the kitchen. He drank a glass of water and stared out of the window dejectedly.
He sighed. It was quiet around here without Mr. Pumpkin. Mr. Lupe thought about getting a petpet as he wandered into the living room.
Mr. Bori was sitting on his couch, still a Chia. Mr. Lupe stopped in the doorway.
“Sorry,” Mr. Bori said. “I’ll leave soon, I just wanted to see how you were doing.”
“I’m doing fine,” Mr. Lupe lied. “How is your saving coming along?”
“Not well.” Mr. Bori scowled. “I just had enough this morning and was on the way to the magic shop when Sloth’s associates took away twenty percent of my funds.”
“Ouch.” Mr. Lupe winced.
“Yeah,” Mr. Bori agreed. He sighed. “It’ll probably be another week or so before I have enough again. I just feel like smacking Sloth silly.”
“Head to the arcade,” Mr. Lupe suggested. “Play some Splat a Sloth.”
“That is a fine idea,” Mr. Bori said. “I’ll go do that. I’m glad you’re doing all right.”
“Yeah,” Mr. Lupe said as Mr. Bori left. “Me too.”
Mr. Grundo signed another form. He sighed. He hated forms.
Mr. Coconut was wailing at everyone who walked by. Mr. Grundo was wearing earplugs, but even those couldn’t completely drown out the noise the darn coconut was making.
A blue Xweetok walked up to his desk. The Xweetok had its paws over its ears, no doubt trying to block out Mr. Coconut’s screams.
Mr. Grundo put Mr. Coconut in his box. The noise stopped. The earplugs were removed.
“Yes?” Mr. Grundo said. He tried to say this politely.
“Could you please point me in the direction of Frank Sloth?” the Xweetok asked.
“No. But I can give you a visitor’s badge.”
The Xweetok thought for a moment. “Okay,” it agreed.
Mr. Coconut shuffled in his box.
“Just sign in here,” Mr. Grundo said, handing the Xweetok the log book and a pen. Mr. Xweetok, Mr. Grundo noted. Nobody ever had first names anymore.
“Thank you,” Mr. Xweetok said, and wandered off.
Mr. Grundo let Mr. Coconut out. The coconut took a few minutes to start his howling up again.
This is a fate crueler than I deserve, Mr. Grundo thought. It’s a fate crueler than the Pant Devil deserves!
The earplugs went back in.
Mr. Lupe stepped into the night. He put on his hat, fastened his coat, and began walking.
He had a lot of time to think while walking home from work. He was currently pondering the hat. It was silly to think that a hat could have such power – power to make him happy. He thought it anyway, and then thought about the coconut. Could a coconut really make a hat?
He supposed that if a hat could make him so delighted, then, sure. A coconut could make a hat.
Why did the hat stop working, then? Had the coconut done magic on it and he simply hadn’t noticed?
Mr. Lupe shook his head wildly, trying to rid his brain of these thoughts. It was a futile attempt.
The coconut must have done something to the hat to make it stop working.
His brain lit a light bulb.
The coconut was directly connected to the hat. The coconut became a snack, and so therefore the hat’s power drained away.
Mr. Lupe slouched his shoulders, feeling guilty.
He was also rather hungry.
And so life went on.
Mr. Bori was no longer a Chia and resumed his weekly card games with Mr. Lupe, who never ate pumpkin pie again, but who had acquired a Doglefox. Mr. Grundo kept companies that manufactured earplugs in business. Mr. Coconut wailed and wailed and wailed and kept tourism rates high. The very jaunty hat was stuffed into a closet, never to be worn again. And Mr. Ghost... well, he watched his amulet go from auction to collection to auction to collection.
Oh well. He had his entire afterlife to watch it.