It All Started With a Love of Moss
Once upon a time there was a young Blumaroo named Bagirmis. Bagirmis loved terrariums because she loved moss. Her windowsill was lined with glass jars of various sizes, shapes, and colors. Every jar had a small pat of moss in it which she cared for daily. She spent hours every day spraying her moss terrariums with her mister, sprinkling tiny bits of fertilizer, and polishing the glass jars. She loved the smell of damp earth in her room, and when the sun came streaming through her window on cold winter mornings, the light would filter through the terrarium jars on her windowsill and paint her ceiling and walls in splashes of color. Sometimes, if the light was angled just right, her bedroom wall would be bathed in a spectacular double rainbow.
One day, Bagirmis was wandering down the aisles of a convenience store while her owner, Charm, was running errands. Bagirmis wasn’t looking for anything in particular, but when she turned the corner at the end of aisle 8, she saw it. A brilliant, crystal clear fish bowl. Carefully, Bagirmis eased the glass bowl off the shelf. Her two arms could barely encircle the bowl. She shuffled slowly to the front of the store to find Charm.
“What’ve you got there, ‘Mis?” Charm asked when she saw Bagirmis.
“Can we buy it? Please?” Bagirmis asked. “I want it for my terrarium collection.”
“Missy, you don’t really need another terrarium, do you?” Charm asked. “I don’t think you have any more room on that windowsill of yours!”
Bagirmis thought for a moment. “I promise I’ll do something different with it.”
“Not just moss?”
Bagirmis shook her head. “It’ll be legendary. You’ll see. Can I please have it?”
Charm gave in. She never could say no to Bagirmis anyway.
When Bagirmis got home, she went immediately to the backyard and looked for the perfect piece of moss to go in her new glass fish bowl. She finally found a piece big enough to cover the entire bottom of the bowl, and was decorating it with bits of twigs and tiny plants. She even scooped out a little area for a miniature pond.
“Not just moss, right, ‘Mis?” Charm asked, peeking at Bagirmis’s handiwork.
“Don’t worry,” Bagirmis said.
When Charm went off to fix them an afternoon snack, Bagirmis watered her terrarium and brought it inside.
Two days later, Bagirmis discovered five tiny Petpetpets living in her terrarium. Some Petpetpet eggs must’ve been in the soil she had lined the fish bowl with. Intrigued Bagirmis spent the whole day watching the petpetpets. There was a Mootix, two Pinchits, and two Larnikins. Bagirmis thought they were adorable, though not very smart. They seemed to just wander about the terrarium aimlessly.
One of the Larnikins was standing by a flower that had recently blossomed on one of the tiny plants Bagirmis had collected on the first day.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if that Larnikin started collecting pollen from the flower? Bagirmis thought to herself.
Just as the thought came to her, the Larnikin started doing just that! It reared up on its hind legs and stretched out its front legs to shake the flower petals. As pollen floated down, the Larnikin collected it in handfuls in its spare arms. Pretty soon, all of its hands were full, and it looked around quizzically.
Quick as a flash, Bagirmis bounced over to her desk and rummaged around in the drawers. In a few seconds she found what she was looking for and ran back to her terrarium. The other week, while digging around in the backyard, she had found a small piece of tanbark that had been hollowed out. It would be perfect to store something in. She placed the bark into the terrarium gently, trying not to scare the Petpetpets. The Larnikin seemed to understand what Bagirmis wanted, and quickly deposited all of its pollen into the hole in the bark, and then hurried back to the flower to collect more.
Fascinating, Bagirmis thought, turning her attention to a Pinchit. Now you should collect little pieces of wood!
As soon as she had finished the thought, the Pinchit turned to a stick that had been placed in the terrarium by Bagirmis, and sliced at it with its pincers. Little splinters of wood fell all around him, and he gathered them up and placed them on his shell. When he couldn’t balance any more splinters, the Pinchit trundled off towards the tanbark storage.
Excited at this new development in her terrarium, Bagirmis called Charm up to see.
“Well, ‘Mis, it’s a regular little habitat, isn’t it?” Charm said. “It’s definitely not just moss!”
“I call it a Habitarium,” Bagirmis said proudly.
“Where did you find all these Petpetpets?” Charm wondered. “They’re mighty hard to come by, usually.”
“There must’ve been some eggs in the original soil and moss I collected,” Bagirmis explained. “A few days ago, the Mootix built a little nest and started laying more eggs!”
“Well, then,” Charm said, “I guess your Habitarium will last quite a long time!”
Bagirmis nodded excitedly, and then went back to observing her beloved Petpetpets.
Soon, Bagirmis discovered that along with the three species of Petpetpets, there were also three types of Petpetpets. There were soldier types which protected the Habitarium from pests which occasionally invaded the fish bowl (where they came from, Bagirmis didn’t know, but she assumed they somehow got into the house when she left the windows open), there were workers which gathered resources like the Larnikin and Pinchit that she had met at first, and there were nesters which laid more Petpetpet eggs. The nesters were her favorite, because she loved to watch the little eggs growing ever so slowly until suddenly they were ready to hatch. She always asked the nesters to please wait for her to come back from school before hatching any of their new eggs.
Pretty soon, Bagirmis became really good at knowing which of the three types each new Petpetpet was. Some just seemed ready to jump out of the nest and go on a collecting spree, and these were going to be workers. Some tumbled out of their nests and would playfully jump on their mother-nester’s back, pretending to attack, and these would be soldiers. But day after day, Bagirmis waited, and none of the Petpetpet eggs hatched to become new nesters. This worried Bagirmis, since the other Larnikin and Pinchit that had originally been in her Habitarium had turned out to be soldiers, and her Mootix was the only nester in the fish bowl.
Bagirmis continued watching her little Petpetpets. Every day she would mist all of her terrariums, and sprinkle them with fertilizer. She would carefully clean all of the glass of all her terrariums. And then she would settle down with her Habitarium. She polished the glass fish bowl until it shone. She always made sure the tiny pond she had made was full of fresh water for her Petpetpets. She checked on the tiny plants with the tiny flowers, and occasionally replanted more.
Charm liked to bring Bagirmis little decorative items for her Habitarium. Once it was a Grarrl tooth that the Tooth Faerie had dropped in Neopia Central. Another time, it was an old torn Scratchcard (Charm had scratched it, but hadn’t won anything). Bagirmis taught her workers how to build little houses for the Petpetpets to sleep in at night. The Petpetpets seemed content with their life in the Habitarium, and Bagirmis forgot about her worries.
At the end of the week, on Friday, Bagirmis came home from school one day and ran up to her room to check on her Habitarium. She looked for her little lone nester, which had been acting despondent the day before. But the nester wasn’t on her nest. And she wasn’t in any of the little houses that the workers had built. Bagirmis quickly scanned the entire Habitarium for anything different. At first, nothing seemed amiss. But then she saw it.
In a tight corner between a house and the edge of the pond was a tiny white crystal. At first, Bagirmis thought it was a tiny jewelry bead, and thought Charm had brought something new to decorate the fish bowl. But then she noticed that the white crystal was in the shape of a Mootix. Then she knew. Her nester Mootix had secreted a hard white shell for itself, and then gone into the forever-sleep of death.
Bagirmis sat in front of her Habitarium for a long time without saying anything. Then she slowly reached into the fish bowl and drew out the white crystal. She knew she would keep it forever to remind her of all the memories and fun times she had with her Petpetpets and the Habitarium. But she knew now, that without a nester, eventually all her Petpetpets would die and become white crystals. Nothing could last forever.
Bagirmis put the white crystal carefully on her desk, and then lifted up the Habitarium.
“What are you doing, ‘Mis?” Charm asked, when she saw Bagirmis lugging her Habitarium into the backyard.
Charm followed Bagirmis outside and watched as Bagirmis gingerly picked up each Petpetpet. She lifted the Petpetpet up close to her face and whispered a few words to it, and then nestled it gently in the tufts of moss at her feet. Bagirmis did this for each of her Petpetpets from the oldest Larnikin to the youngest Mootix that had just been hatched yesterday.
When all the Petpetpets had been released, Bagirmis sat back and called out to them, “Go, and be free! Be happy!”
Charm came over and hugged Bagirmis tight as they watched the beloved Petpetpets disperse to start their new lives in the wild.