Strangeness in the Air
Nutterberry ran a blackened hand through his greasy hair. Why did he get a job here, of all darned places? Did Cog even need help with her togs? The Chia was getting impatient.
Not only was he exhausted from taking care of his baby JubJub sister all afternoon, but he was completely inexperienced at polishing brass buckles, adjusting gear spectacles, or tying the laces on time traveler Peophin boots (that finicky waterproof brand!).
Right now, he was staring down at a series of clockwork springs and spinning wheels that were inside of a compass bracelet, trying to fix the cheap thing. But, of course, he had no idea what he was doing. If Nutterberry recalled correctly, wasn't it he who had broken it in the first place?
"Cog must be out of her mind for hiring me. She doesn't even need my help, anyway. No one actually gets things from here anymore!" Nutterberry grumbled to himself, poking an unusual spiral-thingy with a screw. It popped out and hit him in the eye.
"Ouch!" Nutterberry cried, dropping the screw and caressing his eye. But in doing so, he bumped the bracelet and knocked it onto the ground, where it shattered into a million fragments.
"Nutterberry, what have you done!" Cog cried from on the other side of the shop. She dropped the elegant gear top hats she was stacking and ran to inspect the damage. But clearly the compass bracelet was shattered beyond repair. Nutterberry couldn't help feeling a pang of remorse, for after all, Cog probably didn't get enough money anyway. Just imagine the replacement bills...
"I'm really sorry... I'll pay for it!" Nutterberry offered. But Cog shook her head grimly. "No, that item was irreplaceable. We won't get a new shipment of compass bracelets until Y14... Just don't bother," she said, grabbing a mini broom and dusting pan to clean it up.
Nutterberry sighed. He hadn't meant to cause so much trouble when he applied for this job- really, he hadn't. But it was only the second working week, and he'd already spilled iced borovan all over a brass gear belt, popped two of the strings on an elegant punk guitar (yes, Cog actually sold those), and destroyed several other objects.
Nutterberry knew that it would be better off for Cog- and the customers- if he just quit altogether. In fact, it would probably be better off for everybody- except his family.
Nutterberry, Kejolica, Buggybloo, Amsurito, Ivoreine, Bloo, Chilladillo, Salamander Sam, and Zu all depended on him to get a job. That was a lot of lives that depended on him, including his owner, siblings, and all four family petpets.
So, as much as Nutterberry hated it, he worked at Cog's Togs in hot and sweaty Moltara, where no one ever did anything. It was a sad place to work, but it was someplace.
Nutterberry would often get dizzy from the heat- Moltara was a very, very hot place. Today it was 130 degrees, which was a lot warmed than his home in Shenkuu, which was a breezy 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
But right now, he was very dizzy in a way that he couldn't explain. The wheels in his brain were turning clockwise, and he could feel his heartbeat pumping rhythmically. It was all in tune to the remains of the broken compass bracelet on the floor. Something strange was happening...
FLASH! BOOM! CRACK!
Nutterberry found himself lying in the middle of a swirling sky, where clocks were dancing all around him, bending and stretching like bubblegum when you pull it out of your mouth.
And then he saw an elegant red Wocky with a... pointy moustache? How peculiar! Nutterberry turned to the Wocky and asked, "What is going on here?"
"Ah, my son, you are amidst a great thundering of time. I am SalvadorDali the Wocky, as you might've guessed, and I am here to inform you that you have broken one of the most important rules of time itself," the peculiar Wocky said.
Nutterberry knew not how to respond to that. He cocked his head. SalvadorDali smiled understandingly. "Of course you're speechless. This is all out of your realm of comfort. But, by breaking the compass bracelet, you opened up a hole in the fabric of time and fell through it. By the laws of time, you were carried to Y63, where things have changes drastically. Relax, and try to blend in with your surroundings..."
With what Nutterberry could only call a sonic boom, he was dropped onto a hard ground in an explosion of stars. He opened his eyes hazily and saw a regular-looking sky and regular-looking Neopians strolling by.
"That was weird... but it probably didn't happen," he said to himself, standing up and dusting himself off.
"Whoa, look, Mommy! It's a Neanderthal!" A young Mynci tugged on his mother's sleeve and pointed at Nutterberry. Nutterberry raised his eyebrows. "What?" he asked confusedly.
"No, no, no, sweetie, that's a Chia. It's an expired neopet, way from back in Y37. They're often confused with Neanderthals, though, because of how each are so old."
Nutterberry's jaw fell open. How could this happen? What was going on? He stared blankly at the two Myncies just strolling by. This was bizarre...
"Now they're just one of those limited edition fellows, I suppose. After all, there were only a few survivors of the Great Chia Massacre in Y42. You know, Dr. Sloth's last plot before he died? Have you hit the books lately, Afarnammes?" And with that, they strolled away.
But Nutterberry just stood there, awestruck. Great Chia Massacre? Dr. Sloth dead? How could this be? He rushed to the nearest store, hoping against all odds that someone could clarify all of this for him.
But as he entered what used to be that Petpet Supplies store, he got questioning stares from random bystanders. They whispered fearfully amongst each other, and pointed.
"Hey, what's going on?" He tapped an elderly Blumaroo on the shoulder. She looked friendly enough, with her pink Greeble and nice old lady dress on.
But when the Blumaroo turned around, all feeling exited Nutterberry's body. He knew that wrinkled face. He stared into surprised and confused eyes. "Um, N-Nutterberry?" she asked eventually.
"Buggybloo, is that seriously you, man? Why are you wearing a dress? You're a... boy..." But even as he said it, Nutterberry felt dumb.
"Uh, Nutterberry? I got my gender changed in the lab ray. And my old petpet, Bloo, was changed to a pink Greeble in the Petpet Lab Ray," said Buggybloo... or what used to be Buggybloo.
"Nutterberry, how did you get here?" A person was standing next to Buggybloo that Nutterberry had hardly noticed. It was a blue JubJub. It was... Kejolica?
"Oh, man, oh, man, this really is the future. Kejolica, how do you even remember me? You were just a baby..." Nutterberry was scared now. He had held his baby sister just that morning and played with her, but now, by mid-afternoon, she was... older than him?
"Wow, Nut. Way to not notice me." Nutterberry would've recognize that voice anywhere. It was his older sister, Ivoreine the cloud Koi. But now, to Nutterberry's horror, she was... MUTANT!
"Yuck!" he cried, and backed into a nearby person. "Ow," she said, but her gaze immediately softened. "N-Nutterberry?" It was Amsurito! A wrinkly old woman that used to be a regular girl. Nutterberry gasped.
"What are you doing here? We thought you were captured and massacred by Dr. Sloth," Ivoreine said.
Avoiding her mutant eyes, Nutterberry said, "I, uh... there were some technical difficulties..."
"Nutterberry, are you okay?" Nutterberry awoke to find himself still in Cog's Togs, lying in a puddle of grease on the rusty floor of the store. "Tog, you saved him!" Ivoreine was standing over him.
"It's Cog. You know, as in Cog's Togs," Cog said, annoyed.
"Really?" Ivoreine cried. "Who knew!"
"Ivoreine, you're not a mutant!" Nutterberry cried.
Ivoreine made a weird face. "Um, obviously. Mutants are gross," she said with a toss of her elegant fins.
Cog smiled. "Hey, Nutterberry, your sister's kind of cute," she said. Ivoreine blushed.
"Wait, so it was all a dream- the clocks and everything?" Nutterberry exclaimed.
Cog extended a sweaty hand to help him up. "If you're talking about the compass bracelet, it's going to be fine. Wow, you must've gotten really worked up about it. You started... hallucinating, I think," she said wondrously.
"Yeah, I guess," Nutterberry said. He could still remember the horror of meeting his futuristic family. He shuddered.
"Yeah, well, obviously. He was probably suffering from the sweltering heat," Ivoreine cried.
"Hey, Cog, can I go home now?" Nutterberry asked.
Cog nodded. "Sure, I think you should stay in bed for a few days, anyway. You seem kind of pale to me," she said.
Nutterberry nodded distractedly. "Yeah, whatever. I just kind of want to see my family again."