He was falling.
The world was spinning. It was like he was spiralling down a vast dark vortex, but something was wrong with his eyes, and he could see colours dancing in his peripheral vision. Rushing air filled his ears and his mind until he could think of nothing else. But it wasn't the falling that scared him most, even though he was absolutely terrified of how fast he was accelerating.
He was afraid of what would happen once he hit the ground.
The skunk Xweetok sat up startled. His fur was damp with cold sweat. By the light of Kreludor outside his window, his clock glowed like another moon. It was 11:38.
Qnaya had been having another nightmare. He was nervous. When he was anxious, his dreams became nightmares.
The small flower seed Qnaya had planted in the front yard hadn't grown yet, even though it had been over two weeks. The small package of seeds said that the plant should begin to sprout after the fifth or sixth day. The package of seeds had a drawing with painstakingly close attention to the way the petals changed from a sky blue to a deep indigo the further away from the centre it went. The package only contained five seeds, so Qnaya had only planted one. He didn't want to give up and plant another. He wanted to have a magnificent flower with a diameter larger than his head in the front yard, but there was only a bare patch of earth every time he checked.
Qnaya sighed and rolled over.
He was tired.
He was so tired.
His eyes closed.
Water was everywhere.
Rushing, pouring, spraying, hammering water. It was heavy. It was suffocatingly heavy.
Qnaya flailed his arms and legs, but he couldn't tell what direction he was swimming. He could've been sending himself deeper and deeper and deeper...
Qnaya's paws touched something solid. It felt like metal. Icy, hard, solid, impenetrable metal. He ran his paws along the metal, struggling to find an opening before his lungs gave up.
There was no opening. There was only metal.
He could no longer think.
He could no longer breathe.
Qnaya sat up again, gasping. He glanced at his clock. It was 11:56. He moaned, covering his eyes with his paws. He had been so afraid. So terribly afraid.
Qnaya ran his paw through his mane of fur. Silver moonlight trickled down the wall and onto the floor like liquid. He stood up to look out his window. The rows and rows of neohomes looked exactly like how they always did. Most of the windows were dark, but some had a yellow luminescence that glowed from Neopia the same way the stars shone in the sky.
Swaying back and forth slightly, Qnaya thought about his flower again. He wasn't sure exactly why he wanted it to grow so urgently. Yes, it was a very nice looking flower, but there were nice looking flowers in the neighbour's yard across the street. There were nice looking flowers all over Neopia.
Qnaya stumbled back to his bed. He crawled under the covers and curled up so his entire body was beneath the blankets. There were nice looking flowers all over Neopia; he shouldn't feel upset just because one seed couldn't grow.
There were nice looking flowers all over Neopia...
All over Neopia...
Qnaya stirred the pot of soup slowly. It was chicken noodle, and his owner and sister were away, so he had all the soup to himself without feeling guilty. Qnaya had taken all five cans of chicken noodle soup that were in the house. The skunk Xweetok sipped a little from the spoon to make sure it was warm enough. It was pleasantly hot.
Qnaya slowly poured the soup into a large bowl on the counter, filling the entire thing to the brim. He placed the pot into the sink, and sat down at the dining room table, alone. Qnaya then ate the soup.
It took him the better part of thirty minutes, but he finished. Qnaya leaned back in his chair, feeling content and sick at the same time. He had eaten enough soup for five people. He was happy, but nauseated.
A snarl behind Qnaya made him jump. He spun around to see a Gruslen and Sandan looking very upset. Qnaya had completely forgotten about his and his sister's Petpets. They became very upset whenever they felt they had missed out on something, especially if that something was food. Sai was gouging claw marks into the ground while Luna gazed up at Qnaya with wide dark eyes.
Qnaya backed away. He had seen his Gruslen angry too many times to count, but rarely did he see Sai angry with HIM. Sai growled and tackled Qnaya, scratching him fervently. Qnaya cried out in pain, pleading with Luna to stop Sai, but Luna remained where she was with her enormous, sad, hungry eyes.
He was being attacked by his Gruslen and all he could do was wonder why.
For the third time that night, Qnaya's eyes opened and he sat up in his bed, gasping and shaking. A low purr from the foot of his bed startled him.
Sai gingerly walked forward and nuzzled Qnaya's shivering arm. Qnaya flinched back in alarm. Sai gazed upon his owner with concern. He licked Qnaya's paw, making an unusually comforting sound.
His Gruslen had noticed he was having a bad dream. Sai was trying to soothe him. Smiling in relief, Qnaya scratched Sai's head. His Gruslen purred louder.
He wasn't sure how long he was sitting there, but eventually, his eyelids began to droop. Qnaya lie back down and with an uneasy sigh fell back asleep. Sai curled up next to his owner, and also began to drift off.
Qnaya awoke at the crack of dawn. He sat up, yawning, and confused as to why it was so early. The sun wasn't even up yet, and here he was awake.
Qnaya stood up, still staring out his window. His movements had woken up Sai, whose bleary eyes looked slightly resentful. Sai leapt onto the windowsill to see what Qnaya was staring at. The houses looked the same as last night. Most of them were dark, but a few had lights on.
The voice of his owner came from behind his door. Xaea opened it and walked in his room excitedly. "Qnaya! I have something to tell you! Wow." She rocked back on her heels, startled. "You're awake already."
"What is it?"
"Quick, we need to show you something!" Xaea darted down the stairs. Qnaya followed her.
"When she woke up this morning, Akeelyla had decided to check on your flow-"
"It's growing?!" he said. He ran ahead of her, into the front yard. A green Xweetok was touching the mound of dirt where his flower would grow. Qnaya shoved his sister's paw aside and excitedly searched the ground for a light green sprout. His face fell.
"It's not... there's nothing there!" Qnaya cried. He looked up at his owner, angry. "Why would you tell me to come out here if my flower isn't growing yet?"
"It is," Akeelyla snapped. She shifted some of the dirt aside, revealing the tiniest speck of green Qnaya had ever seen. With trembling paws, he moved some of the dirt away from the small green plant. It was nearly two centimetres tall, and a miniscule leaf was growing off the side of the tiny stalk.
"See Qnaya? It was growing. You just buried it too deep and it couldn't reach the surface yet."
Qnaya's face turned into a wide grin. He hugged his owner. Xaea leaned away from him, startled.
"Oh, nothing. It's just you don't genuinely hug me very often and I'm a little surprised," she said with a shrug.
Qnaya turned to his sister. The green Xweetok crossed her arms and looked at him smugly. "Well? Are you going to thank me?"
Qnaya sighed. "Thanks," he muttered without looking at her. He smiled at his plant. It would take approximately two more weeks, but then he would have his flower.
There were nice looking flowers all over Neopia, but this one?
This flower was his.
The rest of that day passed in a haze of sunshine. His flower was growing. Nothing in Neopia could dampen Qnaya's mood.
At 9:54 Qnaya felt unusually drowsy. While his owner was reading a book and his sister was grooming Luna's fur, he stumbled upstairs to his room. He stared around his familiar, messy room with apprehension. Sai glanced up from his sprawled position on his Petpet bed at Qnaya. Sai sat up and jumped on the windowsill, staring at the neohomes. Just about all of them had their lights on. Qnaya rubbed Sai's back, still thinking about his plant.
"Yeah?" He turned around. Akeelyla was standing in his doorway, looking at the floor disgusted.
"You really need to clean your room."
"Thanks." Qnaya shut the door in her face.
"Hey, I wasn't finished yet!"
"If all you're going to do is tell me to cle-"
Akeelyla opened the door again, flustered. "Look, I could hear you walking around last night and I know you were having bad dreams." Luna peered around Akeelyla at Sai.
"So," Akeelyla said, rolling her eyes, "your flower is growing."
"I know that. Is that all you had to tell me? I've been thinking about that all day."
"Just think about it a little longer. You were having nightmares because you were worried. Your plant is growing."
"Akeelyla, I know that. I'm not stupid," Qnaya said. "Go away, I'm tired."
"Fine," she snapped, slamming the door.
Qnaya turned out his light, fuming. Of course he knew his plant was growing. He crawled into his bed. The familiar feeling of anxiety came over him, even though he had seen the plant. What if it was too weak to grow? What if it was going to die soon?
His eyes shot open. Qnaya groaned and glanced at his clock again. 10:00.
Qnaya closed his eyes. His plant was going to grow... His flower was going to live... He wasn't going to feel worried. He was fine. His flower was fine. Qnaya's tensed body began to relax.
That night, he had no nightmares.