Beyond the Pages: Part One
"I wish I could be in the Neopian Times," Sharllette said to herself, reading the latest issue with a wistful smile planted on her face.
Her brother, Jurgis, happened to be walking by just then and heard her. "Don't count on it, sis. Mom said she has a hard time writing with characters from real life."
Sharllette looked up, startled at his sudden arrival. "Oh, hi Jurgis." She smiled then went back to looking at the Times. "I was just thinking about how great it would be if we could see ourselves in the newspaper. I'm sure Mom could do it if she tried hard enough."
The Eyrie had a sudden thought. "Wait, how many people read the paper?"
"Uh..." Sharllette turned back to the front page. "Well, it says the circulation is over a hundred million, but--"
"A HUNDRED MILLION!" Jurgis exclaimed. Wow, with that number, if he got into the newspaper he'd be famous! "We have to write something for the paper!" he shouted, then dashed over to the couch his sister was on. "How do we start?"
The Xweetok leaned away from Jurgis as he grabbed the paper from her. "Well, maybe we should ask Mom about that - if you're sure you want to."
"Yes!" he replied, not missing a beat.
Sharllette smiled at her brother's enthusiasm. For as long as she could remember, she was the only one who got excited over these sort of things. Jurgis was always so preoccupied with wanting to find adventures and things, usually trying to get their mom to let him go to the Lost City of Geraptiku to check out some tomb there.
"Okay then, I'll go ask her," Sharllette said, getting up to go to their mom's room.
Jurgis nodded and waited, thinking about how awesome it would be when he got his name in the paper. He wondered what the story would be about... Ah, well, Sharllette would figure that out. She was the creative one after all.
After ten minutes of waiting, in which time Jurgis had gone and read one of his mom's stories and a few comics, Sharllette came back into the room holding a single Neopoint. "Mom said that every time she got in the newspaper she threw a Neopoint into the Wishing Well for good luck," she said, showing Jurgis the small coin. "I think we should try the same thing!"
Jurgis raised an eyebrow. "How could the Wishing Well help us get better at writing?"
"Dunno, but it's worth a shot, right?" Sharllette pointed to the paper in his paws. "And didn't you hear? The Wishing Well has decided to stay awake all day today. That means it might grant wishes almost immediately."
Jurgis frowned slightly then sighed. "Well, anything to get in the Neopian Times, I guess."
~ ~ ~
Sharllette practically squealed in excitement as they reached the Wishing Well. "You know, I've been thinking. Since we're allowed to make - what was it - four wishes a day here, we could get three more wishes!"
"Yeah, I guess so," Jurgis murmured, not really paying attention.
"Maybe I could wish up that White Weewoo Xiandras has been wanting. That'd be nice. And it would go well with us getting into the paper, don't you think?" Sharllette grinned up the electric blue Eyrie.
"Yeah, I guess it would... Hey look, the crowd's thinned out! We can get to the Well." Jurgis dragged Sharllette over to the stone side and gazed down into it. "Wow," he said, voice echoing. "That's deep." deep... deep... eep...
Sharllette giggled. "Well, I guess we just throw the coin in, right?" She held it out over the well, ready to drop it. But Jurgis stopped her.
"Wait!" he said. "Don't you think you should make a wish first?"
"Oh, yeah." Sharllette thought a moment before saying, "I wish we were in the Neopian Times." and dropped the Neopoint. They heard it clanking against the sides for a few seconds, then the sound slowly faded.
Jurgis waited another moment before turning to his sister. "'I wish we were in the Neopian Times'? Don't you mean, 'I wish we could get in'?"
The starry Xweetok paused. "Oh, yeah. Oops. Well, I'm sure the Well knows what we mean."
On the way back home, Jurgis had this weird feeling that they'd done something wrong back there. He kept glancing back and fidgeting uncomfortably. Sharllette took notice. "What's wrong, big bro? Aren't you excited to write something for the paper?"
"Yes," he replied. "but, do you feel like we did something wrong back there? Like, there's this odd feeling that I should go back and check. I also feel like I'm being watched," he added, suddenly very uncomfortable.
Sharllette stopped walking and frowned. "Actually, yeah. But I thought that was just nerves or something. You think we should go back?"
Jurgis nodded. "Better safe than sorry."
When they reached the Well again, it was completely deserted. Sharllette watched as a bunch of leaves blew by like a tumbleweed; something felt wrong.
"Wow, I didn't know crowds cleared out so fast," Jurgis commented as they moved closer to the Wishing Well. 'What now?' they both thought.
Sharllette was the first to say anything. "Hey, look!" She pointed at the ground nearby. "Someone dropped a newspaper." Having felt a bit awkward with the silence, she went over and picked it up.
"Well, it makes sense that they'd drop it in that crowd," Jurgis said, still staring warily into the Well. "Just leave it. We have one at home."
"But, Jurgis," Sharllette said, staring at the paper, "this one looks different."
The Eyrie looked up. "Different how?"
She just gestured for him to come over, so he complied. "What is it?" he asked, gazing at the seemingly normal paper.
"It doesn't say anything," she replied, holding it up to him. "See? It's just gibberish."
"Yeah, and that's not all. The issue number says 579. Today's issue is supposed to be 575, isn't it?" She turned a few more pages, only to find the same things: gibberish and weird, meaningless pictures.
Jurgis shrugged and was just turning away - thinking it must've been a typo - when he heard Sharllette gasp. He turned back. "What is it?"
"Jurgis, check this out," she whispered, looking thoroughly shocked.
Jurgis frowned and came over. "What could--what the huh??" He felt his jaw drop to his feet. "W-what's a picture of us doing in the Neopian Times?"
The two just stared at the incredible drawing of themselves. It showed them somewhere in the Ice Caves, stepping through some kind of portal floating in midair. The rest of the page was completely blank except for a title at the top: "Beyond the Pages".
"Wow..." Sharllette breathed. "Hey, maybe this is the Wishing Well's way of telling us that we'll get into the Neopian Times!"
Jurgis didn't think so. Staring at that picture felt odd. Kind of like staring at his Alabriss while it was sleeping; immobile yet somehow shifting. (Meaning breathing.) "Um, Sharllette? Does that picture look like it's moving to you?"
"Sharllette?" Jurgis looked at his sister. She was staring wide-eyed at the paper, not even blinking. "Sharllette, I said do you think it looks--"
"Yes... It is moving," she said, and then dropped the paper as if she'd been burned. Jurgis noticed everything else seemed to get darker as the newspaper started glowing with an eerie blue light, and the two Neopets began backing away from it.
"What the..." Jurgis stopped moving to watch as the apparently magical newspaper ripped itself open and what looked like a small tornado came out of it. First leaves and stray bits of paper began pulling themselves in, then the wind picked up.
"Jurgis..!" Sharllette tugged on his arm, obviously scared. But the Eyrie was too interested in this strange object, at least until he started being dragged across the ground. He yelped and turned around, running in the opposite direction. Sharllette, being much lighter than he, had a harder time keeping away from the growing vortex. "Jurgis, I'm slipping!!" she shouted, her feet not getting any traction on the grass. Jurgis stopped running to grab her, but as he reached out, the wind became even stronger and he fell forward too. He watched as the vortex swallowed his sister, then he was taken up by the thing himself. When that was done, the vortex vanished back into the paper.
~ ~ ~
"Oohh, my head," Sharllette moaned, pushing herself into a sitting position. She felt like she'd just been hit by a Yooyuball - and then trampled by the players. Not good
The Xweetok shook her head and blinked, staring at the world around around her. Which she found to be just a great expanse of white. "What..." She stood up, frowning at the papery crinkle sound the ground made as she rose.
"Uuhhhoohh..." Another moan caused Sharllette to turn around and find Jurgis pushing himself up like she had been. "Ow. What happened?" he muttered, then spotted her. "Sharllette! Where are we?" He jumped up and looked around, eyes widening at the strange nothingness.
Sharllette shrugged, unknowingly masking her nervousness. "I don't know. But this ground seems to be made of paper." she added, stomping her foot on the ground.
"Paper...?" Jurgis frowned. 'Paper... Newspaper...' "Oh... oh no!"
"What?" Sharllette asked.
Jurgis swallowed and gazed intently at his sister. "When you wished for us to be in the Neopian Times, I think that's what the Wishing Well did; it put us in the paper - LITERALLY."
To be continued...