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The Story of a Plushie

by reiqua


My name is Meta... or it used to be. I haven't had a name for a long time now.

     Would you listen while I tell you my story? People never tend to stay long...

     When I was made, I was a blue Grundo plushie. Just a simple plushie. Most people don't think much of Grundos, especially not in such a boring colour as blue. But I didn't mind. Grundos are a pretty good shape. And blue's a pretty nice colour. In fact, blue is a lot of 'pets' favourite colour. So it's a pretty good colour for a plushie.

     There's a very nice Usul who works at the plushie palace. She was very kind. She said as she put me in the shop window that I'd sell quickly. And she was right. I hadn't been sitting in the window for very long when an electric Eyrie came along. As she passed the window, she looked straight at me. She stopped. "Anna," she called to her owner, "Anna, look at that Grundo! Isn't it cute?"

     Anna stopped too. "It is pretty cute," she agreed.

     There was a pause. Then, "Can I have it please, Anna?"

     Anna considered for a moment. "You know this will come out of our mara paint brush fund, don't you?"

     The Eyrie didn't hesitate. "I know, but that's okay, isn't it?"

     The owner looked mock stern. "You'll have to play an extra game of 'Fashion Fever' to make up for it."

     There followed a squeal of excitement and a clatter of talons. The Eyrie scrambled inside and grabbed me off my shelf. She was hugging me, even before Anna was in the door.

     In due time, I was paid for. I found out that my new owner's name was Torrina. She gave me the name "Meta". She was very friendly. She would play with me every day. We went everywhere together. Until That Day.

     That Day started out a day like any other. Torrina woke up. She put on her gown and slippers. She gave me a big hug. Then we went down to breakfast. Torrina ate toast. I just watched. But then, Anna had an important announcement for us. Today, we were going to Tyrannia. That was a special treat! Anna had some shopping to do. But she said we could come with. We were allowed to play wherever we wanted to.

     As soon as breakfast was cleared up, we set out for Tyrannia. I'd never been there before. Torrina had, but it was a long time ago. The moment Anna disappeared into the furniture shop, we were off. Torrina grabbed my hand and ran. I didn't even know what was happening. A quick tour of the jungle. A quick tour of the village. I would've liked to stop for a bit. But Torrina had other things on her mind. She ran right to the plateau. Then finally, she slowed to a stop. Tired, hot, and with a big grin on her face. "Here we are," she said between pants. I was puzzled. I was in full sun. I was sweltering. And I'd just been whirled through at least a dozen places. Now I had been deposited on the cracked earth in a place I knew nothing about. I wasn't sharing her excitement.

     Torrina must have noticed my puzzlement. "This is where all the action is!" she explained. "This place is why I love Tyrannia."

     I still didn't get it. The baking hot earth was burning me. "This place would be hot enough to fry an egg," I thought. Torrina must've heard my thoughts. She grabbed my hand and was off again.

     A much shorter distance covered, we arrived in front of a yellow, spongy wall. "The omelette!" Torrina exclaimed proudly. It took me a while to process. I couldn't see any omelette. A Lupe with enormous teeth stood in front of us. He didn't look like an omelette to me. But Torrina walked right up to the spongey wall and took some of it off. The wall was omelette! I was astonished. I lay on the baking ground trying to grasp the magnitude of this thing. I couldn't. After a while, Torrina finished her omelette. I was still just lying there. But Torrina was ready to move on.

     "Come on, Meta," she said. "There's something I want to show you." I knew that cheeky grin. I was worried. I wondered briefly if Anna would approve. But I didn't have long for such ponderings. Torrina grabbed my arm and we were on the move again.

     When we slowed to a stop I had a chance to look around. My fears were well founded. I was staring into the mouth of a lair. It was dark, and it was scary. I looked at Torrina in horror. She didn't expect me to go in there, did she? She did. She knew I had always been a big softie. I was a plushie, after all. I think she just wanted to see me scared.

     Into the cave we went. But not at breakneck speed this time. Slowly. One foot in front of the other. Torrina loved this sort of thing.

     It was cool in the cave. Cold even. But I was in no mood to appreciate the change. At every moment, I expected something to jump out from the shadows. I told you I was a softie. Torrina advanced until we found an old rope, hanging through a hole in the ceiling. It was rotting. I was sure it would never support her weight. But she climbed anyway. I heard the fibres in the rope creaking. I could hardly bear it. Of course, falling to the cave floor wouldn't hurt me. There are some up sides to being a plushie. But I was scared for Torrina.

     We made it. Torrina looked a bit shaken. It was nothing to what I was feeling though. Slowly, Torrina advanced towards a pitch black gap in the cave wall. The rock around it was jagged. I hoped against hope that we weren't going in there. But I knew better. I knew Torrina better than that.

     Torrina stepped through the darkened portal. And she took me with her. I was overwhelmed by the air. It was warm, it was moist, and it smelled! Bad breath mixed with something rotten. Then my eyes began to take in my surroundings. The cavern was large. And so was the thing that inhabited it. I saw a great mass of leathery wings. I was terrified. And petrified. Torrina and I just stood there. I thought the beast must notice us, but it didn't. It was occupied with something on the farther side of the cavern. I caught a glimpse of a dark faerie. She was cowering behind a rock. The beast extended its long beak, searching. That was too much for Torrina. Seeing a faerie – a dark faerie – rendered powerless by this terrible beast. She ran. But in her mad rush, I slipped out of her grasp.

     The scrabbling noise as Torrina bounded over the rocks felt deafening in the large cavern. The beast heard the noise. It turned slowly. Too late to catch a glimpse of Torrina fleeing. But not too late to see me. It advanced slowly across the cavern. I wanted to run, but I couldn't. When your legs have nothing in them but stuffing, it can be rather difficult to act on the impulse to run.

     I lay helplessly and watched it approach. The eyes were cold and hard. The beak was sharp. The size enormous. The posture threatening.

     Then came the scream. That scream was like nothing I've ever heard before ... And nothing I've ever heard since. It was as though someone had taken the foul smell of the beast's breath and converted it to sound. The cacophony resounded through the chamber long after the beast had finished it's cry.

     I couldn't run. And I couldn't hide. So I was resigned. This thing would probably destroy me.

     But perhaps the beast had never seen a plushie before. Perhaps it was used to everything running from it's scream. I could discern nothing in those incomprehensible eyes. But the body language showed immense confusion. For a few seconds. After all, it was the size of a house, and I was the size of, well, a plushie. It came towards me and it's beak opened. The teeth were enormous, sharp, and foul. I don't really know what I felt at that moment.

     Then, a thick cloud obscured everything. It seemed purple for a moment. Then it grew so thick, it blotted out all traces of light and everything went black. My first thought was that this must be what the smell looked like, so close to the beast's mouth. But I soon realised otherwise. The smell was gone. In fact, the beast was gone. It seemed confused. I could only hear faintly through the thick cloud. But what I heard was not a beast closing in menacingly. It was a helpless beast. A beast in trouble. A disoriented, flailing beast. Then, I experienced the beast's flailing helplessness through another sensation. Pain. I don't know if it was tooth or talon, but my stuffing decorated the rocks around me. Meanwhile, the cloud began to clear. Purple bands of cloud were encircling the beast. It backed away to the farther end of the cavern. And the cloud followed it.

     Standing in the centre of the cavern was the faerie. Her hands glowed with dark nebulae. She sent one last bolt of magic after the beast, then walked briskly to the entrance. She gathered up me and my stuffing and walked out. In the bright sunlight, she laid me on a rock.

     Dark faeries have a reputation with toys. We fear them. And with good reason. This dark faerie had a stern face. I was not encouraged. The phrase "out of the frying pan, into the fire" came to mind.

     She gently pushed the stuffing back into the rift in my tummy. Then, between her fingers, there appeared another orb of magic. I think I was afraid, but I wasn't sure what to fear. Then, suddenly, the orb disappeared. "Done," she said. "You're fixed now." I could barely believe it. She fixed me?! Dark faeries don't do that to toys ... I looked a question at her.

     Her face softened, she seemed somewhat friendly, and maybe even a bit vulnerable. "You saved my life back there," she said softly. "The least I can do is to help you in return."

     She turned to leave. Then, just as quickly, turned back. "I've given you something else," she smiled. "A blessing. You'll find out soon enough." Then the smile was gone. She shook her shoulders and turned coldly away. Almost as though she couldn't comprehend why she was being kind. Especially not to a toy. "Honestly, talking to a plushie," she scoffed. Then she flew off without a backwards glance.

     I lay on my rock outside the lair of the beast. The sun sank lower in the sky. Was there anything different about me? What was this blessing? I could discern nothing. Then, as the light started to falter, I noticed that there was still light where I was. The rock was lit with a faint blue. And I realised ... I was the light. I was glowing. I wasn't sure what that meant for the long term. In the short term, it meant I wasn't in darkness. And it meant that when Anna and Torrina came looking for me, they found me. I was so happy. Apart from the fact that I was glowing, life was going to be normal again. That Day, that horrible day, was over.

     When Torrina saw me, she ran to me. She had a great big smile on her face. But Anna screamed "No!" She grabbed Torrina's tail and stopped her. "Torrina! Listen to me! Do you see those sparkles? Do you know what that means?"

     Torrina looked. She did see the sparkles. But she didn't seem to know what it meant any more than I did.

     Anna explained, "Sparkles only appear on Magical Plushies." That still meant nothing to Torrina – or me. "And a magical plushie is different to a normal plushie. Any 'pet who plays with it will change. They'll turn into whatever sort of 'pet the plushie is!"

     For a brief moment, I was ecstatic! What a valuable blessing the dark faerie had given me! Now I thought of it, I had actually heard of magical plushies. They must be very special. I had brief visions of being treated like a queen. Of being the most important plushie this side of the summer sea. But then, I noticed Anna and Torrina. Something was wrong. They were still standing some distance off. Their brows were creased, they were deep in contemplation. Eventually, they walked towards me. Anna picked me up at arms length. A bit like how you'd touch a piece of rubbish that smelled really bad. Then she put me into the bag that was her inventory. Everything was dark.

     The bag lurched. Anna must've started walking. Through the canvass of the bag, I heard Torrina's muffled voice. "I wouldn't want to be a blue Grundo anyway. They're so slimy."

     That hurt.

     When we got home, Anna deposited her inventory bag on the kitchen counter. I stayed in there. Torrina wasn't allowed to play with me. I wasn't allowed to play with her.

     After a few days Anna took me out. I went straight into her shop. I had a price tag on me saying "99,999 NP". No-one really knew what I was worth. The Shop Wiz wasn't much help. You see, Magical Blue Grundo Plushies don't really exist. Well. I exist. But TNT doesn't support my existence. So, I was rather hard to price. And this presented another problem too. No-one wants to buy an item that doesn't exist. No-one searches for an item that doesn't exist. And when they stumble across an item that doesn't exist, they think it's a hoax. That was my life. A hoax. I stayed in the shop for a long time. I think Anna sometimes put up ads on the shop boards. But no-one took any notice. "Hoax," they said. In the shop, one day followed another. One day followed another. One day followed another.

     Then something changed. Anna took me off the shelf and put me in her inventory again. I had no idea what to make of this. Nothing had happened to me for so long. I wasn't in the inventory for long. I don't know exactly what happened. All I remember is a confused swirl of black and colours. Then I was on the money tree.

     Being on the Money Tree was not fun. People would walk past, look at me, and laugh. "Hoax," said some. "Glitch," said others. But no-one took me off the tree. An Old Rotten Left Shoe was also on the tree. No-one wanted it either. We worked our way right up to the top of the tree together. I felt a real connection to that shoe. No-one wanted us. Then a Lupe came along and took the shoe. "Better clear up some space on the tree," he said. But he left me. I took to counting Old Rotten Left Shoes. Just as a way to mark time.

     One gloomy day, I had just counted my 53,739th Old Rotten Left Shoe. A ghost swooped down. This was not surprising. Ghosts steal from the tree, or donate to the tree often. But this ghost was unusual in one way. He was unusual because for some reason, he stole me. He cackled gleefully at his crime. Maybe if he knew that I was 53,739 times less popular than an Old Rotten Left Shoe, he wouldn't have been so delighted. And away he flew.

     Eventually, my ghost tired of his trophy (that's me). And he decided to dispose of it. As luck would have it, he was flying over Faerieland at the time. Otherwise, I might've fallen to my end. (We were a long way up.) I came to rest on a tiny cloud on the outskirts of Faerieland. It was soft and comfortable. But I was lonely. People would visit me from time to time, but I think they found me boring. They never stayed long.

     I never really knew what was going on in Neopia. I couldn't see very far beyond my cloud. After a while people stopped visiting me. I later found out that it had something to do with the faeries turning to stone ...? From my perspective, it didn't make much difference. Just less people were visiting me. The thing that did make a difference was when Faerieland fell.

     You've probably never experienced being on a cloud that is plummeting like a cannon ball. You probably don't want to. I can tell you it's not fun. My cannon-ball-cloud fell into a tree. Unsurprisingly, the cloud dissolved into thin air. Meanwhile, I was stuck in the tree. It wasn't comfortable. I was hanging by the seat of my pants. I wished fervently that no-one would see me looking so silly. I should stop wishing for things.

     You probably know me as The Discarded Magical Blue Grundo Plushie of Prosperity. Or TDMBGPOP for short. You probably come and talk to me every day. You probably say "Oi" or "Hey you." Most of them do. But here's a suggestion. Next time you come and talk to me, maybe say something worth hearing. Maybe you could make a remark about the weather. Or you could tell me why the faeries turned to stone. I'd love to know.

     Until tomorrow,

     - Meta

The End

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