Now with 50% more useless text Circulation: 185,375,380 Issue: 494 | 13th day of Hunting, Y13
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How Not to Go About Catching a Meepit


by cowdogdusty

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“Hey, Tai, how do you catch a petpet?”

     Taiari finished chewing the bite of purplum and cheese sandwich she’d been eating and glanced down at her younger brother, Emtock. He stared up at her with puppy-Gelert eyes: the kind of eyes that only babies of any Neopian species are able to pull off. She put down her sandwich and scooted her chair back from the table. “I don’t know that you’re supposed to catch petpets, Em. If you want one so bad, go ask Mom to buy you one.”

     “But she won’t,” he whined. “She’s too broke.”

     Taiari then shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe go find out their natural habitat and get a net.”

     The young Eyrie’s eyes sparkled with delight. “That’s not too bad of an idea! Thanks, Tai!” He grinned at her and then scurried off, leaving Taiari to wonder at what Em was going on about now.

     “Little troublemaker,” she said with a grin. She couldn’t help the smile; she knew she was a bad influence on him. With a contented sigh, she scooted her chair back up to the table and finished off her lunch.

     -

     The Haunted Woods were a special sort of terrifyingly horrible place. All the trees seemed to have faces: scary faces, mocking faces, laughing faces. Their branches reached out as if they wanted to wrap themselves around an unsuspecting traveler and pull them into their wide-open mouths. The air was cool, but even as Emtock walked through the forest, he couldn’t help but break out into a sweat. There was something unnerving about this place. Everything—from the shadows to the trees to the wandering path to the wind that didn’t whistle, but moaned instead— was meant to incite terror in the hearts of unsuspecting Neopians.

     If it hadn’t been important to him, he would have been at home, begging for Taiari to take him to the beach to play or to The Golden Dubloon to eat. But he had to catch his prize, his petpet, his Meepit. With a petpet catching net clamped in his beak and some tin cans of petpet food in his backpack, he was ready to go Meepit hunting.

     He just wished they lived somewhere more welcoming. Like Faerieland.

     Emtock shuddered as he became surrounded by fog. It dampened his fur and feathers and he involuntarily shook out his wings. He wondered how anyplace could become so creepy. It couldn’t be natural. “Of course,” he said to himself, “it’s haunted. That’s why.”

     But that got him into wondering about why the Haunted Woods were, in fact, haunted. Had they always been haunted? Was there a reason they were haunted? If they hadn’t always been haunted, what had they been called before that? The Woods? This line of thinking continued on until a tree root he didn’t see caught one of his paws and he fell, tumbling and tumbling and tumbling until he landed sprawled out on his stomach.

     The net had come out of his beak when he’d fallen and once he stood up, he turned around to look where it had fallen. All he saw were damp piles of leaves and scattered rocks. No petpet catching net. It wasn’t there. He walked back to where he had tripped, looking from one side of the path to the other, thinking that the net couldn’t have landed far from where he’d tripped.

     He was just about to take another step when something at his feet caught his eye. He swiped his paw down in an arch and pulled up a long chord that had been strung from one side of the path to the other, tied on either side around the trees. He hadn’t been tripped by a root. He’d been tripped by this.

     “Well, that wasn’t nice!” he called out to the trees. A gust of wind blew around him causing the leaves to shake and make noises like the trees were laughing at him and his misfortune. “It’s not funny,” he mumbled to himself as he went back to searching for his net.

     But he couldn’t find it.

     He took a heavy seat on the leaf-covered ground and crossed his arms, his tail flicking back and forth in annoyance. For a minute he contemplated returning home and giving up his quest to find and capture a Meepit. However, the more he thought about giving up, the more he disliked the idea. What would any hero be if they gave up when the villains seemed like they were going to win? he thought to himself. What sad, horrible place would Neopia be if every pet quit the moment things were getting too hard?

     With a confident grin and renewed hope, he sprang to his feet. “I won’t give up so easily!” he called to the haunted trees, wondering if they had ears to go along with their eyes and mouths so they could hear him. “I’m going to catch a Meepit and I’m not leaving the Haunted Woods until I do!”

     His voice filled the sudden silence as the wind died down and the trees stopped laughing at him. He wasn’t afraid. Nope, not at all. This would be a walk in the park with or without his net. He swung the backpack off his bag and pulled out a few cans of petpet food. Strategically placing them in a trail to the bottom of a tree, he smiled at his ingenious plan.

     Soon he would have a lovely Meepit for a petpet. His friends would be so jealous! Already in his mind he was bragging to his cousin about the cool, new petpet he had gotten all by himself. Checking over his cans of petpet food one last time, he climbed up the tree to a branch situated right over the last can. As soon as the Meepit approached, he would jump down and snatch it into his bag.

     Getting as comfortable as possible on a haunted tree limb, he laid down on his stomach with his paws dangling down and waited for the Meepit to appear.

     -

     The Meepits watched the oh-so-clever (hah!) Eyrie as his eyes began to flicker close and he fell asleep on the branch. With the petpet catching net in order, the leader of the Meepits pointed onward for his followers to gather up the cans of petpet food and bring them back to Headquarters. Then, with a blink of his large, round eyes, he scurried off to find some rope...

     -

     “Em? Hey, Em, wake up.”

     Emtock woke up, but he didn’t open his eyes. He knew he should have never fallen asleep on the couch, it made his entire body feel sore.

     “Come on, Em,” Taiari continued, laughing. “I promise I won’t tell any of your friends about this if you wake up right now.”

     Confused by what Taiari meant, he opened his eyes and looked face-to-face with Taiari. Or, at least, an upside-down Taiari. “What...?” Emtock blinked, noticing that he wasn’t in his home, asleep on the couch. He was still in the Haunted Woods. And he definitely wasn’t on a couch. He was hanging upside-down in the petpet net he’d lost that was tied securely to the branch he’d fallen asleep on.

     Taiari smiled at him. “Let me help you down.”

     He hissed, annoyed. “Did you do this to me, Tai?”

     “No, of course not! I came here to rescue you. I’m the one who’s supposed to go on adventures, not you, silly. But that’s what you get when you try and catch a Meepit. They’ll use all of your tactics straight back on you.” With a lot of effort and perspiration on Taiari’s part, finally Emtock was free of the net. He looked at it with disgust with he was finally free, but was glad that they at least hadn’t stuffed him in his tiny bag. That would have been even more uncomfortable.

     Taiari beckoned Emtock to start back down the path, towards home. As they walked, Emtock asked, “How’d you know I was here trying to catch a Meepit?”

     “You adore Meepits, Em. It’s not like it’s a secret. And your questions at lunch weren’t exactly subtle.” She laughed and ruffled him on the head playfully. “Let’s hurry home, Mom has a surprise for you.”

      -

     Emtock and Taiari walked through the doors of their Krawk Island home. Although disheartened that he wasn’t walking through the door with a Meepit in his bag, he was still glad to be home. He put down his empty bag on a hook by the door and then joined Taiari in the kitchen where their mom was waiting for them, a wrapped present on the table.

     “I’m glad you’re both back!” she said, getting up from her seat on the other side of the table. “It looks like you went on a little adventure.”

     Emtock glanced at his mud-caked fur and the leaves stuck to his paws. “It’s a long story...”

     “Well, Taiari told me that you wanted a petpet, is that right?”

     Emtock’s eyes widened and he looked up at the box on the table. “Yes! I do want a petpet!”

     His mom smiled and pushed the gift-wrapped box forward. “Go on, open it.”

     He hurried to the box, tearing off the wrapped paper with his claws, and then carefully lifting the lift, breath held in. The lid slid off and he looked down into the box.

     It was not a Meepit.

     Instead of a furry, pink Meepit staring up at him with big eyes, it was a slimy, green Greeble. His excited smile faltered as his mom clapped her hands together and in an excited voice said, “So, what are you going to name him?”

     Emtock picked up the Greeble and placed him on the table. “Meepit,” he said with a sigh. “I think I’ll call him Meepit.”

     -

     As Emtock’s mom and Taiari began cleaning up the wrapping paper and Emtock and his new Greeble, Meepit, had a staring contest, the Meepits in their Headquarters congratulated each other on another’s day good work. They were a step closer on their plan for Neopian world domination...

The End

 
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