Your Slimy Admirer
Rose the little red Zafara had never had a petpet before. She certainly saw them all the time; the little critters, always trailing behind their respective pets and smiling, squirming, bouncing, and gurgling, enraptured her, clenching their furry little paws or their scaly little claws around her wistful heart. Rose desperately wanted a petpet. She’d never had a petpet before.
Rose frequented Neopia Central daily, bright-eyed, with her favorite ribbon tied in her fur. She liked to sit by the water’s edge at the Rainbow Pool, dipping her feet in the liquid in hopes that perhaps some of the residual color would cling to her fur, making her special, unique, fancy. She would sit in the lobbies of the swankiest Neolodges watching the other pets until an employee would escort her out. But more than any other place in Neopia, Rose followed her lonely heart to the Petpet Shop.
What Rose the little red Zafara really wanted was a friend.
She didn’t have many Neopoints, so she would just prop her elbows on the counter, rest her chin in her paws, and smile wistfully the little petpets in their baskets. The charming Noil, the elegant Angelpuss, the googly-eyed Poppit, the silly slack-jawed Spardel—all of these petpets Rose held near to her heart.
Sometimes she brought a bit of food and fed them, which she did today. They smiled and garbled out their incomprehensible appreciation and Rose petted their heads and rubbed their bellies. The Warf she was petting let out a contented sigh, its paws high in the air over its exposed belly. Rose smiled down at the little petpet. How she wished she could give it a home.
The next day, her owner had some business to take care of in Faerieland. While her owner took off for the Employment Agency after telling Rose to be careful on her own and not talk to strangers, Rose ended up in the Faerie Petpet Shop, admiring the creatures as always. These were even more entrancing than the normal denizens of Neopia Central. These critters had more magical flair, more pinks and purples. Many of them sported beautiful wings, which they flicked lazily under Rose’s nose as if taunting her.
Rose sighed, nuzzling a nearby Harris. It said, “Prrrrt prrrrt,” a soft contented growl that melted Rose’s heart, and it closed its eyes.
“I’ll never be able to afford a friend,” Rose murmured, returning the Harris to its spot and eyeing the price tag. How could she save up more than 15,000 Neopoints? Her meager bank account barely held 500. She returned home with her owner that afternoon, her heart heavier than ever.
As if to pour salt in the wounds, the following day Rose’s owner took her to Altador. While her owner headed to Magical Marvels, Rose again found herself in the local petpet shop. These petpets were even more spectacular. Graceful, elegant—the perfect pictures of Altadorian perfection.
A blue Acara strutted by with a sharp-eyed Alabriss in tow. Rose felt a wave of envy churn her stomach. She looked away and retied the drooping ribbon atop her head. If only she had a companion who followed her with such loyalty.
She wandered through Neopia Central that night turning over the “if only”s in her head. If only she had the money; if only she had a friend.
She was on her way back to her Neohome, knowing her owner would start to worry if she returned home too late, when a dark presence fell across her path. Unnerved, Rose took a step back, scanning the semidarkness for the creature it belonged to. The moonlight behind the figure in front of her cast an elongated black shadow at her feet.
If only she had a petpet to protect her. Not a soul was around. She must have lost track of time. Rose knew to return home on time for fear of the Lava Ghoul or the Monocerous or something even worse that could come out at this hour of the night. Her owner had always told her to be careful at night—there are scary things that walk around Neopia at night, Rose—but it was advice heeded too late. Her deep immersion in her thoughts had kept her from realizing how late it was getting, and now she knew she was in trouble.
And the figure was inching closer, its shadow touching her paws and crawling up her legs as whatever it was drew nearer. She squeezed her eyes shut and scrunched up her arms to her chest, waiting for the worst.
Nothing happened. The soft guttural sound hung alone in the silent night air.
Slowly, Rose lowered her arms and opened her eyes. The moonlight struck the shiny surface of the thing in front of her, and for the first time she saw the thing itself, instead of its lengthened, frightening shadow.
“Rrrrrr,” it said, regarding her with huge, luminous eyes.
It was a small creature bearing a strong resemblance to a slug. The pale light of the moon illuminated a glistening trail of slime oozing on the path behind the creature. It was two shades of green, spotted, with a huge, gaping mouth smiling up at her. The eyes were enormous and unblinking. Unnerving.
“Hello,” Rose said in a shaky, tentative voice.
“Rrrrrr,” the creature said again, smiling even wider.
“Well, if you don’t mind, ah... I’m going to get going.” Rose sidestepped and started shuffling around the thing as if it carried a contagious disease, her movements slow and deliberate, her eyes fixed on the unblinking slug creature. “Got to... get home.”
The slug made a garbled sound in the back of its throat, the corners of its big smile drooping a little. It started to move toward her; Rose gave a soft “eek!” and turned and ran as fast as she could down the winding paths in the direction of home.
When she reached the Neohome, breathing heavily, Rose locked the door and went straight to her room. Still a bit shaken from the whole encounter with the creature in Neopia Central, she took to her nighttime grooming.
Running the brush through her fur to get the windblown tangles out, she gazed into the mirror and frowned. Her ribbon was gone.
She sighed, her eyes downcast, and placed the brush down on the bathroom counter. Her very favorite ribbon—gone. It must have fallen out when she was running away. The loss of the ribbon gave her more reason to dislike the slimy little creep that had crossed her path.
And what was the slimy little creep anyway?
Rose was the proud owner of a book containing information on every petpet known to Neopia. She picked it off the shelf, wondering if the slug that had accosted her was a kind of petpet. She knew its pages very well but had never seen the slimy lump in her book before.
She ended up discovering it in the Spooky Petpets section. She didn’t much care for the kinds of creatures that roamed the Haunted Woods—creepy Spyders and staring Meepits—so these pages had always remained untouched. But there it was—a perfect picture of the smiling green monster.
“Slorg,” Rose read aloud. She shuddered, closing the book to avoid its wide-eyed gaze. “Yuck.”
That night, she dreamed about Warfs and Snowbunnies and Alabriss and Kadoaties and, brushing just at the very edge of her consciousness, a little green Slorg smiling up at her.
In the morning, Rose brushed her fur and tidied herself up, ready to go out to Neopia Central again—this time in daylight. The only thing missing was her ribbon, and with a pang of slight irritation and disappointment, she was reminded of the events of last night. The encounter didn’t seem so scary now that the shining sun was hanging overhead.
“I’m going to the Petpet Shop! See you later!” Rose announced, heading out the door.
“Okay, be back by lunchtime, all right?” her owner called from the kitchen.
“Yeah, okay,” Rose replied, unlatching the door and stepping into the sun. Today would be a better day.
But as her eyes fell down the three steps that led to the entrance of her Neohome, Rose stopped in her tracks. There he was, the oozing little creature, plopped on the doorstep. He was smiling as always, but his mouth wasn’t hanging open. Instead, it was a thin upturned line, closed around a piece of light blue cloth fluttering in the morning breeze.
“My ribbon!” Rose gasped, an exclamation shortly followed by, “Ew, put it down! Put it down, you slimy monster!”
The Slorg seemed to understand, because it dropped the ribbon and shrank back from her biting words. For a moment, it looked very sad.
And for a moment, Rose wondered. If this was a Spooky Petpet, why wasn’t he in the Haunted Woods? Or had he had an owner? There was no nametag, no identification or signs of ownership. Had he been disowned?
Before Rose had much time to think about it, the Slorg had slid dejectedly into the bushes that lined their lawn. She shook her head, leaving the slime-covered ribbon on the ground in disgust. Having half a mind to call Neopian Pest Control, she headed for the Petpet Shop.
Her daily activities proceeded as usual. She admired the petpets, stroked them, talked to them. The Usul who managed the shop never minded Rose’s constant presence. She kept the petpets company and boosted their happiness until they could find real owners.
“Look!” the Usul said suddenly, after Rose had been there for about an hour. She was gesturing at the floor behind Rose.
Rose paused in her petting of a soft, wooly Babaa and looked. There, on the floor, was the Slorg, smiling again, and holding Rose’s ribbon in its mouth.
“It’s so cute,” the shopkeeper cooed, grinning down at the Slorg, seeming not to care about the slime trail it was leaving on her floor.
“No, it’s creepy,” said Rose. The Slorg seemed to have eyes only for her. “How did it even get in here? It’s been following me around.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful!” the Usul cried. “It’s so attached to you. I never knew you had a petpet of your own!”
A petpet of your own!
The words echoed in Rose’s ears. Not even the soft gurgles emitting from the Slorg could drown out the sentence running through her head over and over again. The Slorg dropped the precious ribbon on the floor and stared up at her expectantly.
Rose gazed into the big, honest eyes of the creature sitting before her. She looked past his thick coat of slime and into his little beating heart just for a moment and realized that this odd creature really could be a petpet of her own.
This oozing, smelly, slimy little thing could be her very own loyal companion. This Slorg could be her friend—a real friend. The kind money couldn’t buy. The kind that just fell into life as if out of the sky—the kind that just belonged there.
Rose grew up a little that day. As she knelt before the smiling Slorg and placed a tentative paw on its head, the sticky liquid coating the petpet made her shudder, but somehow that didn’t matter now. This Slorg was as lonely as she was—and looking for a friend. She picked up the slimy ribbon and tied it in its place atop her head.
“I guess you won’t leave me alone until I give you a chance, huh?”
The Slorg gurgled.
“All right.” Rose smiled a little. “Let’s go home.”
As they headed home, one leaving paw prints in the dirt and the other leaving behind a slime trail, the empty feeling in Rose’s heart disappeared. Under the strangest of circumstances, she had found a petpet just for her.
Never again would she have to wander Neopia endlessly pining for fancy petpets. She had found a friend in a different package, wrapped up in slime and thick green skin and wide-eyed affection.