Brainstorm: Part Two
I was lying in bed, still on the edges of dreamland where everything is happy and filled with gumdrops and swirly colors, when I realized I was cold. Not just cold: wet. My clothes were sopping with water.
Ugh, Holly! I scolded myself, remembering the rain from the night before. How could you have gone to bed last night in your street clothes?
But as I started to wake up, I realized that I wasn't wet because I had left my street clothes on. In fact, I could feel that I was wearing my pajamas, the damp satin sticking to my scales uncomfortably. And then I felt the drops of water falling from above me, landing with light thumps on my body.
"Oh, Fyora," I groaned, keeping my eyes screwed tight in denial. Not a leak. Please, anything but a leak. I can't deal with hiring someone to fix my roof when I have a story to write!
Of course, I eventually realized that lying in bed in drenched pajamas, pretending that there wasn't a problem, was completely counter intuitive. So I opened my eyes and looked upward, expecting to see an ugly grey stain on my ceiling where water was seeping through.
But there wasn't a leak.
I stared and blinked. And blinked again.
My first thought was that I had somehow acquired a Rainy Day Cloud from the NC Mall. Because that's exactly what it looked like: hovering over my bed, about four feet above my head, was a dark grey blob of cloud. And this cloud was most definitely a storm cloud. Besides its lovely nasty-weather charcoal grey color, it was crackling with little spurts of yellow and pink lightning, crawling around it like lemonade-colored electric tendrils. And, of course, it was raining. Small, cold drops of clear water that fell onto my face.
"Who would give me a Rainy Day Cloud?" I muttered, a little angry. I thrust my sopping bed sheets aside and slipped out of bed. As I assumed, the cloud moved with me, maintaining its four foot distance above my head, even as I crossed my bedroom floor to my closet.
I opened the wide double doors of the wardrobe, looking at my reflection in the mirror inside. I looked groggy and cold, little goosebumps pimpling my camouflage scales. Not attractive.
"Okay," I murmured, scanning the neatly-organized drawers for what I was looking for. I found it shoved away in my sock drawer: my Remove Item Remote. All closets were stocked with these little devices nowadays, courtesy of Virtupets teaming up with the NC Mall. And since the Rainy Day Cloud was an NC Mall trinket, I knew they could be removed easily with the little device.
I fiddled with the knob and tapped the small screen. The remote used some sort of sensor technology to keep tabs on the contents of my closet as well as what I already had one. I scrolled past clothes, making my way to trinkets so I could remove the cloud.
But as I read the screen, I frowned. "This can't be right," I said, rechecking the device with a few more taps of my Draik talons. But even after searching three more times, the remote still said that I wasn't wearing a Rainy Day Cloud, or any trinket for that matter. The only thing it noted that I was wearing were my pajamas which, it pointed out in a little red notice on the corner of the screen, were sopping wet and probably should be ironed.
Confused and not just a bit frustrated, I tossed the remote back in my sock drawer before it could get too wet and glared up at the cloud floating above me. Nothing made sense. Why did I have this storm cloud floating above me in the first place? And why couldn't I get it off? At the rate it was pouring, I was certain I had water seeping into my brain.
I blinked. Storm cloud. Brain. Brainstorm.
"Oh no," I groaned.
And that was when I realized I needed to go talk to Lily.
* * *
When she opened the door to her neohome, the light pink Chomby raised a carefully plucked eyebrow and tilted her head to the right. "Oh, Holly-wolly, I don't think raincloud is quite your shade. And neither is yellow."
"Hardy har, Lily," I said. With the cloud still hovering above my head, I had put on my only rain jacket, a horrendously bright yellow shiny thing I had gotten from my mother on my birthday a few years back, along with a waxy hat and a pair of black galoshes. "I originally tried an umbrella, but this stupid cloud just reformed underneath it."
Lily stepped out onto her porch, sizing up the cloud with a critical artist eye. She herself was dressed in an odd ensemble: a long dress with fringe, a pair of black winged glasses which were clearly fake since I knew she had perfect vision, and a pair of hiking boots. But I never really commented on her choice of clothes because they were mostly influenced by whatever part she was playing in whichever show she was in at the time. In fact, I was surprised her color hadn't changed since the last time I had seen her as well. Today she was still the light pink of a royalgirl Chomby, but only a month ago she had been checkered, and a bit before then she had endured the eye-soreness of disco for a good six weeks.
"Is it some sort of NC Mall glitch?" she asked. "Because if so, you should swing by the mall and lodge a formal complaint, girl."
I shook my head wearily. "Lily, this isn't a Rainy Day Cloud."
"Well, I guess not, seeing as it's real water falling on top of you," she said, waving her hand beneath the cloud to catch some droplets on her skin.
"What do you mean?"
She smiled and glanced over the cloud once more. "Remember last year when I was in that play, the one when I was painted Maraquan and had all those fake jewels and stuff? Blinging in the Rain?"
I chuckled despite myself. Lily had been in a lot of shows, but that one had been pretty memorable—especially since she had her fair share of troubles adapting to fins. "Yeah, I do. What about it?"
"For the rain effect, the tech crew bought a whole bunch of those NC mall clouds. And even though it looked like rain, it really wasn't raining at all. It was just a high-tech illusion." She pointed at the cloud hovering over my head. "That thing isn't an illusion. That thing is the real deal. So how did you get it? It's kind of cool in a my-life-is-so-stormy kind of way. Sounds like it could be in a movie, or maybe a book." With that, she paused. "Speaking of which, shouldn't you be working on your story instead of playing around with a cool trinket like this?"
"That's the problem," I moaned, massaging my damp face with my hands. "This isn't a trinket. At least, not one I can remove. I was out trying to get into character last night, just like you suggested, when I ran into a dark faerie and... well, she offered to help me brainstorm."
Lily gave a short laugh, bright white teeth peering out from behind her glossy lips. "Oh, those dark faeries and their love of puns. It's adorable."
"It's not adorable!" I cried, raising my hand in protest. But apparently moving so suddenly wasn't a good idea because the cloud shuddered and zapped my wrist in reflex. I jerked my arm back down, cradling my stinging hand while listening to the crackling of lightning above me. "Lily, how am I supposed to write like this? The piece is due tomorrow night, and I have nothing!"
"Well," Lily said, taking a moment to consider the cloud, tapping her cheek in thought, "Your dark faerie friend seems to be a bit mischievous, but not evil."
"You didn't meet her," I said darkly. The cloud rumbled in protest, and I winced at the deep sound of thunder rippling through my eardrums.
Lily winked at me. "Mischievous," she repeated. "So maybe she really is trying to help you, in a crazy faerie kind of way. Maybe this cloud is supposed to help you write somehow. Have you actually tried writing today?"
I had been so frazzled upon waking up, and then the whole ordeal of finding something to wear and then going to see Lily, that I hadn't. "No..." I admitted sheepishly.
"See?" she said smugly. She waved her finger at me. "Don't knock your faerie friend and her crazy little brainstorm 'til you try some writing, girl."
I rolled my eyes. "Fine. You win. I'll try to get some writing done like this. But if this stupid cloud is what stops me from getting into Neopia's Best Stories—"
Suddenly the cloud sent a bolt of lightning down, and I flinched as the jolt ran through my skull, making me teeth chatter. I could smell my singed hair burning.
Lily laughed again before heading back inside her neohome. "And here's another tip, Holly-wolly: Don't insult the cloud."
* * *
I didn't want to ruin my writing desk—the antique wooden piece had been a gift from my father—so instead I took a fresh notebook and a few pens and pencils and made my way to my front porch. As I sat on the steps and looked around at the neighborhood, at the bright sun shining and the flowers and the grass, I was all too aware of the gloomy cloud hanging over my head like some sort of creative signpost for grey pets.
I set the notebook on my lap and pressed the tip of the pencil against the first page. "Nigel Caruso weaved his way through the darkened streets of Neopia Central," I began to write, but stopped abruptly. The page was already drenched, and the pencil refused to write on the dampened sheet. In fact, all it did was leave little pulpy dents where I pressed.
"Ugh!" I groaned, switching to a blue pen, but the results this time were even worse: the pen only managed to a few words before the continued onslaught of rain made the ink bleed, leaving me with a soggy piece of blue-tinged paper.
I ripped the page out and tossed it to the corner of the porch, glaring up at the cloud above my head.
Above my head. Hmm, that's an idea...
I stretched my arm out and set the notebook down on the porch a few feet away. Just as I thought, the rain no longer splattered the pages. Instead, the cloud remained directly above my head, sprinkling me instead of the page.
I bit my lip. "But how am I supposed to write with the page over there?"
I spent the next few minutes twisting around, lying on my stomach on my porch, trying to write with my arm completely outstretched and my head craned backwards to prevent drops from falling onto the page. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a neighbor who had been taking his Doglefox for a walk stop and stare at me in confusion before hurrying on his way.
"I look ridiculous," I grumbled, and the sad truth was, my plan wasn't even working. Even though the sheet managed to stay dry for the most part, I couldn't exactly see where I was writing, so my sentences sloped oddly on the page, straying from the neat blue lines. Not to mention I was uncomfortable and had only managed a few horrid lines about Nigel walking. Walking! Who cared if my main character was walking or not? There's nothing interesting about that! Nothing interesting or inspiring or heart-wrenching or even slightly hinting to a moral!
"Moral! That's it!" I suddenly shouted, wondering why I hadn't though of it before. I glanced upward at the cloud, and then ran off my porch onto my front lawn, staring up at the blue sky and shouting to the heavens. "Moral! That's what it is! You wanted me to learn some sort of moral!" I spun around wildly, wondering if the dark faerie would appear. "Let me guess: You can't ask for inspiration, you have to work for it? Or um... Don't listen to crazy actress friends? Don't mess with dark faeries?" I was grasping at straws, but I felt like I had stumbled onto something. Didn't all short stories with faeries have some sort of moral to it?
Thankfully, after running around like a fool for a bit, I heard it: the same tinny chuckle. A second later, the tiny dark faerie had appeared, balancing delicately on my snout.
"Oh, silly willy Holly-wolly," she said with a little wink of her green eyes. "You must be in a pretty bad writing funk if you think I did this to you for a silly little moral."
And that was when my heart sank.
To be continued...