A Terrible Story, That Happened to Me
My name is Lnking, but you say it Inking, because if you squeeze up your eyes a bit, the L looks like an I. I am a Lupe, and I go to neoschool in Room Three with my teacher Mrs Harvey and I chewed the pincers off my Deluxe Pinchit Plushie because they were so soft and tasty, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love him. And I am going to tell you a story about what happened to me and my brother.
I have never had an owner, ever. Well, my brother Hemlones said we must have had an owner because otherwise we wouldn’t have even been made, and somebody had to have put the L instead of an I at the start of my name, and so we must have had one, sometime. But I don’t remember them at all, and even though Hemlones says he remembers our owner because she had yellow hair, I know he used to say that she had brown hair, and this means he’s lying, which means that secretly he doesn’t remember our owner either. Sometimes not having an owner can be a bit hard, especially when we both started going to neoschool, where we had to sit and wait outside lots of adult’s Meetings on uncomfortable seats while they talked in very loud voices. We had to squish our ears down very hard to try and block the words out, but it didn’t always work.
A couple of times, we heard some very rude words that made us giggle.
But luckily we have our friend Veels to look after us, and he’s very good at Meetings and Twisting Their Legs, which I think usually means he just gets what he wanted at the start. I’m not that sure why he has to twist people’s legs to do it, though, because that sounds a bit sore. I’m sure Mrs Harvey wouldn’t let any leg-twisting happen in Room 3, because we have an Always Be Kind Policy taped on the wall. But maybe it’s okay for adults to do it.
Anyway, Veels is the one who looks after us. We live with him in his house, which isn’t really his house, but he says it’s okay, because as long we don’t make a big mess or make too much noise nobody will ever know. Even though we do make a big mess sometimes, especially when me and Hemlones tried to make a cake but couldn’t get the flour to stay in the bowl so that it was like snowstorm in the kitchen and we gave up on the cake and played Terror Mountain Snowbeasts. Since then, Veels says we aren’t allowed to cook in the kitchen, and that he will bring us yummy food when he comes home from work, anything we like. Tigerbuggle Jacket Potatoes and Peanut Butter Bones are my favorite, and Hemlones likes Sugar Coated Lupe Treats. Veels can always fit them in his big jacket, because he has lots of pockets on the inside which is where he keeps all his goodies, even though sometimes they can get a little squished, because he keeps all sorts of things in there. He never carries shopping bags.
He’s a good friend, Veels. Even though sometimes he stays out late into the night-time at the Poogle Races and me and Hemlones have to curl up like tiny turdles on the sofa, because we don’t have a proper bed, but Veels says we’re no bigger than cushions anyway, so we don’t need one. I wouldn’t mind a real bed, because I know that other pets at school have them. Some even have their own rooms, so that they don’t get a brother kicking them in the face while they’re trying to sleep, or stealing their Deluxe Pinchit Plushie, which I think sounds like a very good idea. I asked Veels for one once, but he just said that we didn’t have enough neopoints at the moment, and maybe when his next Big Deal came through.
I’m not very sure what Veels’ Big Deals actually are, but he seems to do a lot of them. It usually involves big boxes of items arriving to our house in the night time, where me and Hemlones pretend to be asleep. Sometimes very mean pets bring the boxes, especially this one Kougra with big purple wings and squinty-glinty eyes. When he comes to the house, I have to squeeze my Deluxe Pinchit Plushie very tight, so he doesn’t get scared, and sometimes Hemlones comes in for a squeeze as well. Veels always gives the pets big bags of neopoints for the boxes, and then a few nights later, some other pet will come and give him a bigger bag of neopoints to take them away. It all seems a bit silly really, because night time is the time for sleeping. But I’m not going to say anything to him, because after the Big Deals we always get the most delicious breakfast in the morning. And because if you say something to an adult about something that you weren’t supposed to know about, they usually get quite mad. And I don’t want to stop the delicious breakfasts.
But one morning, after Veels had dropped me and Hemlones off at school, and we’d hung our bags in the cloak bay and were sitting down for Creative Writing, which is my best subject, and I was starting this story about this strong hero Lupe called Inking (but really spelt with an I, not an L) who was the best fighter in all the Defenders of Neopia, Mrs Harvey came and tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to come into her office. And Hemlones giggled from behind his paw, which was quite mean of him, until Mrs Harvey asked him to come too. And we had to walk behind her in front of the whole class, while they all went ‘Ooooo’ like silly ghosts and I tucked my tail and wished for my Deluxe Pinchit Plushie because I was a little bit scared. We went into Mrs Harvey’s office, where everything is shiny like you just tipped water on it and rubbed it around. Even the chairs. And when we sat down on them, they made this squeaky, rubbery noise that sounded like we just did something very rude, which made Hemlones laugh very loudly. I gave a little giggle, but it came out a bit wobbly, because I was still scared that I might be in trouble, which would be bad, because I always did my best to be a Good Boy.
“Boys,” said Mrs Harvey, placing her shiny uni hooves on her desk. “I have some news, about your guardian, Veels.”
We stayed as silent as miamice, because I didn’t really understand what she meant, and I know Hemlones didn’t either.
“Sometimes, people do things that other people don’t like-”
“Like when I pulled Nireel’s ears because he put red paint on my picture!” said Hemlones, like he was helping, but I didn’t think this was really what Mrs Harvey meant. Her eyes kept going left-right-left-right like there were things to see on either side of her, even though there were just the same walls that had been there every day. I even had a little peek around the side of her desk, and there was nothing special there.
“Yes, a bit like that, Hemlones,” she said. “But when adults do things that other adults don’t like, then they have to go to Time Out for a little while, just like we do in Room Three.”
“For five minutes too?” I asked, because it was torture to go into Time Out for five minutes. It had only happened to me once, because I had taken Poppy’s Earth Faerie Eraser – just to borrow – but had forgot to ask her first, and had to sit in the corner for five whole minutes while fat hot tears sneaked out. I could understand why adults used time out too.
“A bit longer than that,” Mrs Havery said, and we gasped at the same time, and I looked at Hemlones to see his mouth in a big ‘O’ shape, which would have been funny if we weren’t talking about such a terrible thing.
“The thing is, boys, Veels has gone into Time Out. For a little while anyway.” She started to talk very fast like all the words were pushing in line to get out of her mouth. “But I made contact with this program, who offers pets like you nice homes, with owners. I know you don’t have one already, so it might be like a special adventure, right, boys?”
I wanted to say I just wanted to go home to Veels, and didn’t really want an owner, because Veels still bought us delicious breakfasts and even though we didn’t have a bed, we weren’t that much bigger than cushions anyway and that my Deluxe Pinchit Plushie was at home, and he would be all scared and lonely without me and so I couldn’t possibly leave with an owner.
And I opened my mouth to let it out, but my throat suddenly felt all tight like Hemlones was pretending to strangle me when we played Battledome, even though he was sitting all the way over on the other shiny seat. And then I felt prickly tears pushing at my eyes, so I shut them very tight so that they would be trapped inside and Mrs Harvey wouldn’t see. But then a big, snuffly noise pushed past the words in my throat and came tumbling out my mouth I saw through the little gap in my eyelids that Mrs Harvey’s eyes were looking quite red and wobbly, and her bottom lip jiggling up and down like it was a bit broken.
Hemlones didn’t cry, because he never cries, but when I looked over I saw that he had the corner of his bandanna in his mouth that he’s had since he was a tiny baby, and he used to chew and chew when we were little, but I haven’t seen him do it for a long time.
Mrs Harvey took a deep breath that sounded like she was trying to suck in the whole room, so I gripped a little harder on the shiny, squeaky chair so she didn’t suck me in, and then she said.
“I’ve arranged to have someone pick you up, boys. She’s a nice girl, and really there’s no other option. I’m sorry about Veels, but I think you’ll have a very nice time with her. She makes a lot of neopoints, and can afford lovely things for you.”
“Veels made lots of neopoints too,” Hemlones said angrily, and crossed his arms across his chest and I made a tiny gasping noise because talking in a mean voice was against our Always Be Kind Policy, and it was especially bad if you talked in a mean voice to Mrs Harvey. I was scared he might be put in Time Out for five minutes, or even longer, like Veels, and then I’d be all on my own, but Mrs Harvey must not have heard him because she just did the silly left-right-left-right thing with her eyes again, even though there was nothing to see.
“I have to get back to class, boys. You’re welcome to stay here if you don’t want to come back right away. Your owner will come to class after school; her name is Jess.”
Hemlones went right back to class, but I stayed in Mrs Harvey’s office. I stayed through lunch time, through reading time, and through art class. I curled up like a tiny cushion on the chair and hugged my chest and pretended that my Deluxe Pinchit Plushie who I love even though he has chewed pincers was squeezed in here with me. I think I had a little nap, which was a bit embarrassing because napping is for little babies and not Big Boys, but I was definitely awake when the bell for hometime went. I curled up very, very small so that my nose touched and tickled my tail, and squeezed my eyes closed and pretended I was playing hide and seek, which is my favorite game, and sometimes I make enough neopoints to buy my own peanut butter bone on the way home. And I imagined and imagined with all my might, even when I heard Mrs Harvey come in.
“Inking?” she said in a little voice that sounded like she’d done something bad. “Someone’s hear to meet you, Sweetie.”
And I looked up because I didn’t want to be rude, and saw Hemlones holding tight to Mrs Harvey’s hoof with his bandanna in his mouth and his tail tucked and he looked very sad, and very small.
Behind him was a girl with brown hair and freckles.
She had a big mouth and a pointy chin.
She was wearing a red T-shirt with a big word I couldn’t read on it.
And blue jeans.
And sneakers, and I could see a little big of her white socks peeking just over the top.
“This is Jess, honey,” Mrs Harvey said, and came to get me off the chair.
Jess walked quickly out of neoschool.
We had to run after her.
I thought we would go home straight away, but we didn’t. We marched into Neopia Central and I felt a tiny bit of excitement because we might be going to get treats, because I had missed lunch and my tummy was quite rumbly. I think she must have noticed, because she did slow down a bit and give us both a blue donut each, even though I really don’t like the colour blue, and would have preferred a lemon sprinkle donut, but I didn’t say anything because Jess didn’t really seem like the kind or owner who would like to be told that she had bought the wrong thing. Hemlones didn’t notice this, though.
“Do you have any Sugar Coated Lupe Treats?” he asked.
“No,” said Jess, and then she turned away and started walking very fast again. I hadn’t even finished my doughnut, and so I had to eat it while I was running, which gave me a sore tummy and I know gave Hemlones a sore tummy too, but we didn’t stop for quite a while, until I was ready to curl up into a little ball and have a little cry because it was so sore.
We stopped in the middle of all these other Neopians, who had lots of pets with them. There were quite a few big pets, with big fancy clothes. Lots of them looked like they had cost a lot of neopoints. There were some other pets who were our age, being carried by their owners, either asleep or with big cute smiles on their faces. I did wonder if we’d come here to play with them, but I didn’t really feel like playing because of my sore tummy, and I just wanted to go home. Suddenly Jess grabbed me and Hemlones and called:
“Two baby Lupes Up For Trade! Two well-named baby Lupes! One comes with clothes!”
She was holding us in our armpits so that our legs dangled and it was quite uncomfortable, especially with a sore tummy and I whimpered to be put down. Hemlones wriggled next to me, and I noticed his little tail was tucked and shivering.
I didn’t know what Jess meant, but it was obvious that the other owners did, because suddenly there was a big crowd of people around us.
“Electric Lupe?!” someone called. “Electric Lupe for the one with clothes?”
“I’ve got a very-well-named basic Cybunny, September trade?”
A big man came striding up to us, leading a faerie Gnorbu on a rope.
“This guy?” he said, giving the rope a tug, “this guy for the one without clothes?” And he grabbed at my ears and tried to take me from Jess. And I looked at the Gnorbu’s tired, sad face and the man’s rough grabby fingers and I couldn’t imagine why Jess would want to give me to him, so I cried and whimpered, but Jess still held me tight.
“What’s its name?” she asked.
“Pixie22,” he replied.
But she stopped because my sore tummy had suddenly got so sore, and my armpits were so uncomfortable and I was so scared of the big, grabby man and I didn’t know what was going on that I burst into tears and yelped and yelped. And beside me, I heard Hemlones start yelping too and the man took a step back.
“What, are they sick? Drop me a mail when you’ve cured them.”
Jess made an angry snarly noise, and walked quickly out of the group of pets and owners with me and Hemlones under her arms, with fat hot tears still dribbling down our noses.
Jess’s house was small and cold. She already had two other pets, a skunk Draik called cutie_cutie123 and a robot Usul with no outside, so you could see all its wires sparking, and all its cogs turning. They were both very quiet, and sat very still, and didn’t even look up when we came in. Jess put us on the floor, and went into another room and slammed the door, which I know meant Don’t Come In. I cuddled up to Hemlones on the floor, and he wrapped his arms around me and we shook like little leaves and I wished and wished for my Deluxe Pinchit Plushie.
After a little while, the Draik called cutie_cutie123 looked up.
“Are you well-named?”
I didn’t know what he meant, so I stayed quiet.
He sighed, and rolled his eyes.
“What are your names?”
“Inking and Hemlones,” Hemlones said.
Cutie_cutie123’s eyes went quite round. “Inking? As in, RW?”
Again, we didn’t know what he meant, so we stayed quiet. He sighed again, and went back to staring straight ahead with the robot Usul.
It stayed like that for the whole night.
We didn’t go to neoschool in the morning.
We tried to tell Jess that Mrs Harvey would call the roll, and we wouldn’t be there, but she just scoffed and picked us up under our armpits and we left the house together with cutie_cutie123 and the robot Usul.
And to my horror, we went back to that horrible group of pets and owners all shouting and grabbing. Jess hadn’t even started shouting when someone came running up to us with a very sad looking Ixi with red eyes dragging its feet along behind her.
“WN? Is your Draik well-named? Interested in my Ixi?”
“BN,” Jess replied, and the Ixi and its owner trailed off.
The day was even more confusing than the last. There were so many people, all shouting at the same time, holding their pets up for other people to see. Some people had many, many pets with them; other people only had one. Some of the pets looked sad, but most just looked tired like they needed a good long sleep.
A young girl with whippy black hair came up to us with a strawberry Poogle, and I felt my mouth make that little ‘O’ shape when Jess handed over the robot Usul to the girl, and took the strawberry Poogle from her. And the Usul just wandered away from us after her whippy black hair, and didn’t come back.
I didn’t understand at all, but I was very scared. This time, I didn’t cry, though. I just curled up in a little ball and wished and wished for my Deluxe Pinchit Plushie and my sofa bed and Veels.
Suddenly, there was a chorus of yelling, and I opened my eyes.
Coming through the crowd towards us was a dark figure running very fast. On its way people were shouting, “Are you WN? And offers-to-beat?” But it wasn’t looking around.
Behind them was the Chia Police.
I know this because last month Chia Police Constable Peanut came to talk to us about crossing the road safely, and we all had to line up and hold hands and look both ways.
And normally I would have looked at the Chia Police to see if Chia Police Constable Peanut was with them, but this time I didn’t.
Because the pet in front of them, running very fast, was Veels.
He galloped up to Jess, who stammered that she would accept him for Hemlones, which didn’t seem to make much sense at all, and I don’t think Veels understood either, because he just wrinkled his top lip at her and pulled me and Hemlones away in his big blue hands, before he took off again. Being carried by Veels was different to being carried by Jess, because he didn’t hold me under my armpits, he bundled me against his jacket and held me there tight, so I felt warm and safe. Behind him I could hear the flop flop of the Chia Police, and I thought that he must have crossed a lot of roads without looking for them to want to catch up to him so badly. Which was a bit silly, because you did only have to look left-right-left.
We ran for hours and hours, and eventually the flop flop behind us became harder and harder to hear, until it was completely quiet. Veels slowed down, and I could feel his big chest going up down up down very fast as he took big noisy breaths.
Finally, he said: “Let's go home, right, kids?”
And I nodded, and I think Hemlones would have nodded too, but he had fallen asleep under Veels’s other arm.
The next day, Veels had to go in for a VERY loud Meeting with Mrs Harvey, and I think he must have done quite a bit Twisting Their Legs, because he came out looking tired but with a big smile on his face.
Mrs Harvey was muttering something about the ‘evading the law’, but Veels just waved his hand at her. Mrs Harvey glared at him, and roughly took our hands to lead us into class. I blew Veels a goodbye kiss, and Hemlones waved.
“Mrs Harvey?” I asked, just before we had got to Room Three. I could hear the class being noisy inside, and I knew Hemlones wanted very badly to join in the games, but I had to ask Mrs Harvey a quick question, and you couldn’t ask it in front of the whole class.
“That horrible Jess won't come to get us again, right?”
I thought she might tell me off for using a bad word, because I hadn’t meant to, it had just slipped out. But her bottom lip just went a little wiggly, and she said:
“No, dear, no, she won't. I didn’t realize she was into that trading business. You wont have to go back there.”
“So Veels is coming to get us, right? He’s not in Time Out anymore?”
She muttered something that may have been ‘he should be’, but I couldn’t quite hear. Then she looked at me again, and patted my head gently and said.
“Yes, dear. He’ll be at the gate after school.”
I slept well that night.
But not so well that I missed the squinty-glinty eyed Kougra come to the door with a big box of items.