The Courage to Save A Life
Kacey the purple Kougra ran home from Neoschool, backpack
swinging in one hand. Her little Slorg, Swifty, slid alongside her, basking in
the bright sunshine of Neopia Central. Everyone was happy; life was good.
She burst through the door of her pretty wooden
Neohome, setting her backpack on the table. "Mom, can I go to Terror Mountain
Her owner, Adriana, came in from the kitchen,
blond hair tied back in a low ponytail. "Sure!" she said brightly. "I'll give
you some money to spend, as long as you bring me back a slushie or a Chia Pop."
Kacey took the NP and put it in the pocket of
her warm jacket as she pulled it from the closet. "Bye, Mom!" she said, giving
Adriana a quick hug before running out the door. "Love you!"
Outside, a dark thundercloud loomed ominously
over the horizon, seemingly warning of trouble to come. Kacey didn't even notice;
she was only focused on reaching her best friend's house as soon as possible.
When she finally got there, an orange Lupe answered the door. "Hey, Kacey!"
she said. "Ready to go?"
"Of course!" replied Kacey, and after a quick
goodbye to Hanna's owner, Kelsey, they set off to catch the next hot-air balloon
to Terror Mountain, chatting excitedly. As they boarded the basket of the gigantic
balloon, Kacey felt a sting of nervousness about being high above solid ground
in a tiny basket crammed with Neopets and their owners.
As the great vehicle started to rise, the Kougra
shuddered. Hanna noticed. "You okay?"
"Um, it's just that I've never been this high
off the ground before," said Kacey, clinging to the rail that surrounded the
"Just don't look down," Hanna advised her. "Pretend
you're on a boat."
"I'm scared of boats!" Kacey said, her voice
becoming shrill with fear. "Haven't you seen all the reports in the news about
them sinking and all the people drowning?"
Hanna raised an eyebrow. "Okay, then pretend
we're on solid ground, inside a wheelbarrow in Meridell, having a picnic."
Slowly, Kacey's panic disappeared, as she envisioned
herself sitting in a wheelbarrow, eating delicious Kougra Cakes and listening
to the wind blow a melody through the trees, the soft sound of…
"Hey, we're here! Wake up!" Hanna's voice tore
her out of her imaginary picnic and back into the hot air balloon basket, which
was now sitting solidly on top of the mountain. Carefully, the two pets climbed
out of the basket, snow crunching noisily under their boots.
"What do you want to do first?" asked Hanna.
"I say we hit the ski slopes."
"How about the Super Happy Icy Fun Snow Shop,"
Kacey suggested. She had always stayed away from downhill sports like skiing
and snowboarding; there were so many accidents in the news that she thought
it was way too dangerous. She preferred building snowmen and visiting the shops.
"Or maybe we could go play Cliffhanger."
"Sure, but I'm not leaving this place until
I get you down that slope on a pair of skis," replied Hanna. "Come on, let's
go now; there's no one in line at the rental place."
Before Kacey could protest, Hanna was dragging
her at a run toward the ski rental booth, where a bored-looking Mynci waited
to serve them. "Listen, Hanna, I really don't think this is such a good idea,"
Kacey said, before Hanna had a chance to rent their skis. "It's really dangerous."
"Don't be silly, I've done it tons of times,
and nothing's ever happened to me," replied Hanna. "Come on, I'll go first and
show you how."
"Well, as long as you think it's safe," Kacey
said reluctantly, but Hanna barely heard her, as she was busy ordering two pairs
Kacey watched her friend enviously. Hanna was
everything she wanted to be; fearless, skillful, brave…almost what you could
call perfect. Everyone at Neoschool loved her, while Kacey was just another
face in the crowd, someone that nobody paid any attention to. Hanna was so great
and wonderful, and Kacey was what? A scaredy-Kougra, that's all.
Hanna, returning with two sets of skis, interrupted
her thoughts. She showed Kacey how to fasten the bindings and how to steer,
and then, with a quick reassurance, she headed off to the ski lift. Kacey wondered
how Hanna could stand sitting on that tiny bench, with no seatbelt, legs and
skis dangling toward the ground, far below. When Hanna's bench on the ski lift
finally reached the top, all Kacey could see of her friend was a tiny orange
She was afraid for Hanna, even though she knew
the Lupe was a good skier and there was little danger. Still, she was high up,
and so far away from the safe ground where Kacey stood. She couldn't tear her
eyes away as Hanna pushed off and began weaving her way down the slope.
Soon Kacey relaxed, seeing the ease with which
Hanna avoided the other skiers and trees dotting the slope, and she began cheering
for her friend. Hanna, seeming to hear Kacey's yells, grinned and sped up, making
a close circle around a large pine.
And that's when disaster struck. A snowboarder,
skiing to the side of Hanna, veered left. Hanna turned right. They collided,
hard. One of Hanna's skis caught in the bindings of the snowboard, sending the
yellow Techo riding it skidding face-first into a mound of snow. Hanna flew
into the air, slashing her neck on a ski and landing hard on a patch of ice.
She slid down the slope, her limp body picking up speed like a dead weight.
Kacey, strengthened by her panic, raced up the
slope, clawing for footholds. "Somebody get help!" she screamed, hardly aware
that it was her own voice. "Hanna!"
The Lupe had come to rest in a slight indent
in the snow. She was breathing. Unconscious, but breathing. Behind tear-blurred
eyes, Kacey saw paramedics from the Neopian Hospital rushing up the slope. Without
so much as a glance at Kacey, they loaded Hanna into a stretcher and carried
Kacey sat miserably on the train to Neopia Central.
She wished it would move faster; Hanna would be at the hospital by now. The
Kougra's mind was moving slowly, clouded with shock. She closed her eyes and
thought over and over, "Please let Hanna be okay." She had to be okay, she was
brave and strong and she could do anything. She had to be okay.
"Where's Hanna?" Kacey asked frantically. Most
of Hanna's friends from school were sitting in the emergency waiting room, some
crying, some white with shock.
"In the exam room," said the blue Aisha who
her question had been directed at. Her name was Abby, Kacey thought, but she
wasn't quite sure. It didn't matter; all that mattered was Hanna. "We aren't
allowed to go…" She trailed off, because Kacey had already run through the steel
"Hanna, is she alright?" she screamed at the
nearest doctor, grabbing him by the shoulder. "Where is she? I have to see her!"
Wordlessly, the doctor steered her to a hospital
bed containing an orange Lupe. Hanna. She looked horrible. Her eyes were open,
but they were glassy and unfocused, as if all her concentration was focused
on staying alive. Each breath she took was ragged and strained, and blood showed
through thick bandages taped onto the cuts all over her. Kelsey stood on one
side of the bed, crying loudly, and Adriana was silent on the other. Upon seeing
her pet, Kacey's owner curved one arm around her and drew her close, communicating
without words her shared sorrow and hope.
"Is she going to be alright?" asked Kacey in
a small voice, seeing for the first time the reality of the danger Hanna was
Adriana wasn't one to lie to her pet. "Maybe,
maybe not," she replied. "All we can do is hope."
Kacey sighed. She wished more than anything
that it could have been her, not Hanna, lying in the hospital bed; if she had
offered to go first, none of this would have happened. Silently, she cursed
her lack of courage, knowing that that was what had caused the accident. Hanna
was suffering -in danger of dying!- and it was all her fault.
"I think we should leave them alone," Kelsey
whispered to Adriana, who nodded and quietly left. Kelsey looked back tearfully,
and followed her out of the room.
Now that Kacey was alone, there was an unbearable
silence, the only noise being the whirr of the machinery. She had to fill the
lonely quiet, so she talked, hoping Hanna could hear her.
"You have to get better, I know you can do it.
You can do anything; you're the bravest pet I've ever seen. Please don't give
up; you can't just leave us all. What would Kelsey do without you? Nothing will
ever be the same without you. You can't give up, you have to fight, I know you
can do it. Please don't give up. Oh, Hanna, I'm so sorry…"
Tears streamed down her face, landing on Hanna's
paw. The Lupe's glassy eyes blinked. "Kacey…I'm sorry…" she said, almost inaudibly.
Kacey wiped away her tears. "You're going to
be fine, they won't let anything happen to you!" she said, with a determination
she'd never had before. "You'll be fine!"
A single tear rolled down Hanna's pale face.
"I'm so sorry…can't fight anymore. Please…take care of Kelsey for me. I'll…I'll
miss you…" She gasped for breath, coughing and choking. Doctors hurried to put
her on a stretcher, and the last thing Kacey saw of her best friend were her
bright blue eyes, dulled by pain, that said one last thing: I'm sorry.
Kacey sat miserably in her Neoschool classroom,
not listening to the lecture her overly cheerful teacher was giving about the
stock market. How could she be so cheerful? Kacey thought vaguely. How could
anyone be happy when my whole world could fall apart?
The door opened, and a Buzz came in to give
a note to the teacher. Still smiling, she read it carefully. "Kacey, you need
to go to the office for a bit," she said, the smile twisting into a grotesque
Kacey got up, all the color draining from her
face. "No…" she breathed, knowing what was about to come. "No, this can't be
happening…" Numbly, she exited the classroom, hardly feeling everyone's eyes
The halls were empty and silent, and felt like
a prison. Inside her was a strange mix of sadness and anger, and loneliness.
She knew what news awaited her in the office, and she made her steps as small
as possible, so that she could still hope for Hanna to be alive. She knew in
her heart, though, that her best friend was gone. Forever.
Shaking with dread, she opened the door and
entered the office. The principal smiled, a forced smile, and directed her to
a small room off to the side. "Your owner is waiting for you in there," he said,
without any sign of concern or compassion. Now she shook even more, and every
instinct in her body told her not to go in that room. She turned tail and ran.
Out the door of the office, out of the school,
all the way to her favorite tree overlooking the harbor. She leaned against
the tree, a big pine, and cried her heart out. All this time she had been completely
unaware of the figure following her, waiting for her to stop running. For now,
the shadowed figure stepped into a shadow made by a rocky outcropping. She looked
with great sorrow on the pitiful little Kougra, so sad. For nothing, nothing
"Don't cry," the figure said softly. "It's okay,
Kacey lifted her tear-streaked face. "No, nothing's
okay. How could anything be okay?"
"No, it is okay. Stop crying, look at me!" The
figure stepped out of the shadow and shook out her bright orange fur. "I told
you it was okay!" said Hanna, unable to keep herself from laughing. "It really
"Hanna!" Kacey jumped up and hugged her friend
tightly. All of the emotions that had been coiled up inside of her dissolved,
leaving her with only happy tears. "Oh, Hanna, you're alright! When they called
me up to the office, I thought you were…"
Hanna nodded, extracting herself from Kacey's
hug. "I almost did, I almost gave up. There were so many times when my heart
almost stopped beating, but I did it, I stayed alive for Kelsey, and Adriana,
but mostly for you. What you said to me, that saved me. Really, it did. Thank
Epilogue: Kacey whizzed down the ski slope, Hanna right beside her. That nearly
fatal experience on the mountain seemed like such a long time ago, or something
they'd read in a story.
Hanna had finally succeeded in teaching Kacey
to ski, and now the two families shared a cabin in Terror Mountain, where Hanna
and Kacey stayed on overnight ski trips. Kacey's fear of hot-air balloons, as
well as skiing, completely disappeared, although she always made sure that she
and Hanna wore the safety equipment that would protect them from another accident.
Hanna was very happy to be healthy again, and
very grateful to Kacey for those inspiring words, the words that saved her life.
Kacey, however, refused to take any credit, saying that Hanna's strength and
love for her family would have pulled her though. Everyone was happy. Once again,
life was good.
Author's Note: Thanks a million to corkey_shadow for being my editor :}