101 Ways to Annoy a Uni
"This is stupid."
"Shut up and read," McCloud muttered. "The faster you finish reading this, the faster we get to go outside."
"But... but what is this?" Rushishi objected, flopping the cover of the book he was reading back over his Blumaroo hand. Something about their owner, Almedha, wanting them to spend more time reading and getting smarter and less time playing games. For some reason. "101 Ways to Annoy a Uni?" McCloud was glad he was an Eyrie if someone out there was publishing books like this...
Was there a book out there entitled 101 Ways to Annoy a Blumaroo? It might be worth checking out...
"It's educational," McCloud said with a smile.
"Why couldn't I read what you're reading?"
"Yeah, 'cause..." McCloud paused to look at the cover of his book. "Get a Job is totally riveting." He paused again, blinking into the distance for a moment. He looked back toward Rushishi and rested his chin on the book cover. "You don't think Almedha is hinting at something, do you?"
Rushishi snorted and opened his book again. "Some of these things would annoy anyone. Look at this." Rushishi pointed at a paragraph and started reading. "Take this first one. Glue a Uni's tail to the wall/door/bed frame/couch/etc. Unis are very vain creatures and will be ultimately annoyed by the thought they might have to give their tails a trim."
McCloud laughed. "That would annoy me!"
"And you aren't a Uni, are you?" Rushishi asked with a grin. He tapped the paragraph and then read on. "I can't believe Almedha gave me this book to read. Doesn't she know I'm the master of the subtle prank?" He was so busy reading that he didn't notice McCloud rolling his eyes. "I could have written this book better."
"Ru!" McCloud objected again. "Be quiet and read. Now, I have to read about the Faerie Employment agency and—"
"But isn't annoying Unis more fun?"
"It might be if we knew one we could play tricks on..." McCloud muttered.
"But we do!" Rushishi pointed out with an evil grin that made McCloud somewhat nervous.
McCloud hesitated a moment and then said, "No."
"Come on!" Rushishi said, still grinning, mind thinking. Annoying a Uni, there were maybe 101 ways to do that. But annoying a Uni who was also a teacher? There were probably a couple of thousand ways to do that. McCloud wasn't sure, since that was a lot of numbers. But the Uni they knew was a math teacher, so maybe they could ask him!
Wouldn't that be annoying...? McCloud would have to add that to the list.
"Epsilonic?" McCloud asked skeptically. Their new house-mate. "Look, I'm usually all for tricks and pranks, but annoying someone who is twice as big as you are and sleeps in the room next door to yours... seems like a terrible idea." He went back to reading about how to get a job. Almedha didn't know what she'd done. Rushishi needed to Get a Job more than anyone.
"Not to mention that Anna would... um... I'm not sure what she would do."
McCloud would be lucky if Rushishi just forgot about it. McCloud was sort of afraid of Anna, after all. There was nothing particularly scary about her, of course, but Anna had a little bit of a temper and he didn't like to make her mad. She had this way of... adopting a sort of "mom" persona and sending them to their rooms. Not that they had to do what she said... but they kind of did.
"Here's a good chapter about Uni shoes," Rushishi commented. "We should do this one."
McCloud sighed, but was curious anyway. "What?"
"Casting Uni shoes out of lemon-flavored jelly. They look like those exclusive Uni-shoes they used to make necklaces out of. You can get Jelly anywhere." McCloud narrowed one eye at Rushishi and considered maybe taking Rushishi's own lemon-flavored Jelly tail to make the Uni shoes. He quickly abandoned that idea.
"Epsilonic is Tyrannian," McCloud pointed out. "His shoes aren't exactly a normal size. Have you seen them? They're huge. They're bigger than my head."
Rushishi was apparently not listening. "This is a great idea. Let's do it!"
"No!" McCloud objected. "No, I'm not making a jelly Uni-shoe and—no! It's stupid."
Rushishi just grinned.
McCloud should have known that Rushishi wouldn't just drop it. Once he got something into that silly Jelly head of his, it kind of stuck in there. McCloud had to admit that he felt pretty silly. Here he was, standing in the halls of Neoschool outside of Eps' door, holding a platter with a lemon jelly Uni-shoe. Rushishi mouthed counting to three and then threw open the door. "Epsy!" he shouted.
Epsilonic looked up from his spot at the chalkboard, studying some kind of equation very intensely. He quickly looked back at it. "Hello, Ru, McCloud."
"We brought something for you," Rushishi said, nudging McCloud in the shoulder.
McCloud glared at him, trying to tell him with the look on his face that this was the last place he wanted to be doing the last thing he wanted to do. When McCloud didn't step forward to offer their jelly shoe, Rushishi kicked him in the leg.
McCloud pranced away and ended up right in front of Epsilonic. Eps turned his green eyes down on their platter, the shoe, and then McCloud. He looked up at Rushishi. "I thought you didn't eat jelly. Especially not lemon jelly," he said. "And I don't eat jelly, either, actually."
"Oh yeah," Rushishi muttered.
Well, that worked great.
McCloud silently thanked Eps for being smarter than Rushishi and then offered, "Um, actually, it's... it's Jelly Day." He cringed as he went on, "Um, you know, a random theme day. So. It's the day where you give jelly to your friends. You can... um, give it to one of your friends if you don't want it."
"Oh," Eps said, nodding, but obviously unconvinced. "Thanks..."
"You're welcome!" McCloud piped, depositing the jelly on his desk and heading out as fast as his feet could carry him. Rushishi came shortly after him, carefully closing the door so that Eps could turn his full attention back on his chalkboard. "You moron!" McCloud rasped at Rushishi.
"Hey," Rushishi muttered. "So that didn't work. We'll try something else!" With that statement, he pulled his book out from inside his coat and flipped through it.
"Oh, for the love of Fyora," McCloud muttered, slamming his head into the nearest available wall.
"That was a dumb trick anyway," Rushishi pointed out. He flipped through the first few pages. "How about number 70?" he asked.
"What, were the first 69 too dumb?" McCloud deadpanned.
Rushishi effectively ignored him and went on to read exactly what number 70 said. "As said before, Unis are very vain creatures—"
"How many times could anyone possibly say that?" McCloud wondered. After Rushishi stared at him for a moment, he opened his mouth to speak, apparently to say that Unis were very vain creatures as many times as McCloud could stand to hear it. "Stop!" McCloud said preemptively.
Rushishi grinned and looked back at his book. McCloud was really beginning to hate books. Or maybe just that one.
"Do you think Eps cares about the state of his mane?" Rushishi asked. McCloud didn't know, but he cared about the state of his. He looked down at the ruff of fur around his neck and preened it momentarily. Rushishi watched him and then said, "I'll take that as a yes."
"You don't mess with a man's mane," McCloud warned. "It's serious business." He looked at Rushishi critically for a moment and then decided, "It's something a Jelly Blumaroo wouldn't know anything about."
"Come on," Rushishi pouted. "I'd know. It's like... my coat or something. My coat is serious business."
"Not even close to the same," McCloud said, turning his beak up. "You're bald, except for those two little stringy strands of Jelly poking off your head that you call hairs."
Rushishi removed his top hat and felt his head to make sure they were still there. "Anyway, let's swap out his shampoo for sludge."
"These are more pranks. Not really ways to annoy a Uni," McCloud said. "Annoying is asking 'why?' to everything someone says or—"
"Or filling a shampoo bottle with sludge," Rushishi suggested.
"Or!" McCloud announced. "Constantly dragging one's brother into schemes to annoy a roommate." He turned tail on Rushishi and went through the halls of the Neoschool until he came to the doors, when Rushishi caught up with him.
"How about number 71?" Rushishi asked, and then read aloud, "'If you really want to annoy a Uni, ask them to pull a cart for a special occasion. Nothing is more annoying to a Uni.'"
"Why isn't that number 101?" McCloud wondered. "I mean, if that's really the most annoying thing you can do..."
"Your birthday is soon, right?" Rushishi asked.
"Next month..." McCloud answered.
Rushishi shook his head. "Too far out. And I might be busy with different things on that day..."
"Like my birthday," McCloud pointed out. "Too busy celebrating my birthday to annoy Eps, I hope."
"72!" Rushishi announced.
"I have a great idea," McCloud interrupted.
"Why don't we ask Eps ways to annoy him?"
Rushishi stared at McCloud and, for a moment, McCloud wasn't sure whether Rushishi was going to proclaim it a great idea and bound inside or whack him over the head with his book. Unfortunately for McCloud, it was the latter. And, unfortunately for Rushishi, McCloud was prepared for it.
Before Rushishi's 101 Ways to Annoy a Uni could make contact with his head, McCloud ducked the blow and jumped into the air, spreading his wings, before Rushishi could return with a back-swing. McCloud flapped his wings in a figure-eight motion, hovering high over Rushishi's head.
"Not fair!" Rushishi objected.
McCloud laughed and soared around his head in circles. "What is it, Ru? Am I annoying you?"
"Let's just say it wasn't successful and leave it at that," Rushishi grumbled.
McCloud turned to the nearest wall and rested his head against it, closing his eyes against the headache he knew was coming. A week and a half. Sixteen pranks. Every last one aimed at Eps. Every last one a miserable failure. McCloud could have told anyone that Eps was smarter than Rushishi, but Rushishi didn't believe it. He was going to get him, and he kept insisting this over and over.
"This isn't going to work."
"It will," Rushishi insisted. "Eps can't be that smart."
"Maybe you're just that dumb. Did you ever think of that?" So far, almost 20 attempts at annoying Eps and all he had been was amused. Well, McCloud was annoyed. So annoyed he was going to just... he didn't know. Go hide in his closet or fly away forever. Anything to get away from Rushishi and this phase he was going through.
Rushishi effectively ignored McCloud's last comment, and then said, "I think we need something simpler. Something more... subtle."
"Subtle." McCloud snorted. Rushishi wouldn't know "subtle" if it slapped him in the face. Just as McCloud was enjoying not only the irony but the image of that thought, Rushishi was speaking again.
"Subtle. Back to the beginning." Rushishi opened the front cover and read, "Number 1. Glue a Uni's tail to a wall—"
But before he could continue, McCloud turned on him, shouting, "Then we're done!" before he knew what he was saying. Did he just agree to help Rushishi glue Epsilonic's tail to something?
Rushishi seemed to be considering his options and then finally agreed. "All right. Last one. This one's going to work."
"Like the last seventeen or whatever were going to?" McCloud asked. All things considered, their track record at least indicated that Eps would be none the worse-for-wear after this. He probably thought they were insane was all. McCloud sighed. He never thought he would be lumped together with Rushishi this way.
"Yes," Rushishi answered, "only better."
McCloud failed to see how this try would be any better than waxing his floor (turned out that Eps had outrageously great footing and thanked them for going to the trouble), gluing the bristles of his hairbrush together (McCloud had a sneaking suspicion that Eps actually never brushed his mane and found out he was right... and somehow Eps managed to have fabulous hair anyway), or rigging a Yooyu-in-the-box to spit confetti at his face (seemed that Eps had just gotten some kind of teacher's award and considered it a "congratulations" from them... thanked them again). But it was the last time. McCloud could hold it together for just one more try. Just one more...
They had it all planned out. Mostly. They were going with Anna to visit Eps at Neoschool again. They would go along, Rushishi with a jar of glue. Beyond that, they didn't plan much. Rushishi said there wasn't much to plan and McCloud agreed. There was the wall, and there was the glue. Anna was blind and Eps would have his back turned, so... What else could they possibly need?
"Hi, Eps!" Anna said cheerily, opening the door and walking in. She was holding a plate of rice and cauliflower that was for Eps since he would be here at school grading papers into the night. McCloud couldn't figure out why someone would actually want to work at a school, but... well, different sets for different pets?
McCloud didn't know how this would go, but he thought of about a million ways it could go wrong on the walk here. Rushishi, apparently, hadn't had any of these thoughts. He was almost bouncing up and down in excitement. McCloud wouldn't have been surprised (or particularly upset) if he dropped the jar of glue. The jig would have been up. That just might have made McCloud's day. And, since this was the last prank they were going to try, he would be safe.
At least until Almedha found another brilliant book to give Rushishi.
"Evening, Anna," Eps said with a smile, not looking up. "Thanks for bringing dinner. Hi, McCloud."
McCloud nodded hello and watched everything go on quietly. "It's nothing," Anna said, putting the plate down on the table while McCloud watched Rushishi move around the desk until he was behind Eps. He carefully reached one hand... plucked up one strand of tail... McCloud cringed.
But nothing happened. Eps took a bite of cauliflower, and Rushishi picked up a handful of hair, starting to paint glue on it. McCloud watched, slightly open-beaked. This was actually going to work? Oh, no. Oh, no; oh, no; oh, no. McCloud's heart started beating faster, echoing in his ears. He could just see the aftermath of this happening in slow motion! Eps might just flail around trying to see what his tail was stuck in. Math books flying everywhere. Ru bounding down the sidewalk outside and away, laughing maniacally like some kind of Jelly-Blumaroo Hubrid Nox.
A moment later, Rushishi was affixing Eps' tail to the wall. The entire thing. And somehow Eps hadn't noticed. "Oh... by all the rocks in Tyrannia..." McCloud groaned as Rushishi wandered away innocently from the tail sticking on the wall. He was grinning like a Barlow and now Eps had noticed.
"What's wrong?" he asked, looking from McCloud to Rushishi.
"What?" Anna asked.
"What in Neopia—?" Eps wondered, turning and looking at his tail which had somehow firmly stuck to the wall behind him when he tried to move. "What did you do to my tail?"
Rushishi was bolting out of the room, and McCloud, for a second, didn't know what to do. Eps was turning toward them, opening his mouth to yell. Anna was trying to figure out what had happened, but as soon as she did—he was in big trouble. Really, really big trouble.
So he followed Rushishi. As usual. "You'd think I'd learn!" McCloud wailed, almost loudly enough to drown out Eps bellowing their names. Before they could reach the door outside, McCloud cringed at Anna's screeching:
"We are in so much trouble!" McCloud shouted.
"I know!" Rushishi exulted, pumping his fist into the air.
Bed without supper. In retrospect, it could have been worse. Anna could have tossed them into the Haunted Woods for the night. McCloud would've come back a ghost, a vampire, or a zombie. He was just sure of it. He sighed and rolled over onto his back on his pillow and turned his eyes to Rushishi, lounging in his drawer of the Hissi dresser. Still flipping through that dumb book and desperately avoiding finishing it.
McCloud whipped around and looked up at him. "You said we were done," he reminded.
Rushishi sighed. "I know."
"So finish it," he said.
"But..." Rushishi pouted. "It's way too much fun!"
"We're in our room. No supper! I'm hungry and this is your fault!" McCloud said, bounding up and turning to the last page for him. "Just read it. Read it now. You said it was the last time." Rushishi looked at him with a smirk. Alright, McCloud thought. Two could play this game... "You know," McCloud muttered, looking at Rushishi's floppy Blumaroo tail. "Lemon Jelly is starting to look very good right now."
"You wouldn't," Rushishi scoffed.
McCloud nudged his tail to the side. "Smells good, too."
"Alright! Alright!" Rushishi sighed and looked down at the page. "You don't have to resort to threats like that."
"Apparently I do," McCloud muttered, rethinking his strategy. Lemon Jelly did sound pretty good right now. Not that he would have eaten all of Rushishi... maybe just an ear. Or a nibble off his tail. Ew...
A moment later, 101 Ways to Annoy a Uni disappeared in a puff of yellow smoke. McCloud sighed in relief. So that was that. No more attempts at making poor Eps' life miserable. He'd had to clip his tail as it was. The book should have been called 101 Ways to Make Your Brother Wonder if You're an Agent of Sloth.
Now that it was done, though, maybe they could pursue other interests. Read other books. Maybe they could both go get a job or something instead.
Now that was an idea!
"Thanks," McCloud said with a small smile.
Rushishi just wiggled his fingers where the book had been only a moment before. Then he grinned at McCloud... "I'm getting smarter!"