"Come on, now, Mr. Rotter. I'll never be able to sew your arm back on if you don't stop hiding in the cellar."
The zombie peered up at the Plushie Gnorbu as he loomed over the cellar door and shuddered, inching further back into the shadows.
"Come on, now. I've repaired you hundreds of times. There's no use in stalling," Mr. Shatley scolded, shaking a finger, or rather, shaking his finger at him, as Mr. Shatley was holding Mr. Rotter's arm.
The zombie let out a groan of protest and continued his pitifully slow slink to the back of the cellar.
The Gnorbu gave a heavy sigh and tucked the arm back into his briefcase. "So be it."
At that very moment, Mr. Shatley detected a noise that seemed to be coming from the front of his house. Listening closer, it sounded as if somebody had climbed up onto his porch and was moving to open the front door.
"Hmm. This can't be right," he muttered to himself. Shatley abruptly slammed the cellar door shut and moved to the front of the house to investigate. As he had suspected, by the time he arrived, the front door was wide open and there were fading footsteps sounding from inside of the house. Deciding that it would be best not to follow directly behind the mystery intruders, the Gnorbu tip-toed to one of the open windows on the right side of the house and gently slipped inside.
Lucky for Shatley, a few previous encounters with paranoia had led him to set up some tricky hiding places around the house. The one in the room he had crawled in to consisted of a dresser with a hoard of plushies stacked on top. The dresser had no doors and no back, meaning the Plushie Gnorbu could kneel inside and poke his head out between the other plushies, blending in perfectly.
This was exactly what the Gnorbu did, and in under a minute he could hear the footsteps of the intruders drawing closer. He watched as two shady individuals passed by the door, then leaned backwards for a double-take. In the light coming from the window behind him, he could see that the two were wearing dark Neovian coats and carrying long staffs with metal prongs at the end.
"Ugh...creepy toys. Just what this place needed," one of them shuddered.
"Never mind that room," the second interjected. "Come on, I think I heard a bump upstairs."
The last words spoken by the intruder filled Shatley with a sense of dread. Whatever they were looking for, clearly they intended for it to be moving. The only creatures around these parts who were alive enough to be moving were zombies, and that meant that Shatley's zombie friends were in danger.
Hastily he moved out from behind the dresser and followed the intruders up the stairs. Had his hooves not been made out of fabric and stuffing, his movement might have drawn their attention, but luckily for him he reached the top of the staircase undetected. For a brief moment he lingered there, not quite sure which door the two had gone through. Then he heard a cry coming from the far right and dashed after it.
The zombie hunters had cornered one of his zombie friends, and they were closing in on her with their menacing metal instruments. Far too slow to run away from them, she could only moan and blink her giant glassy eyes in confusion.
"Don't worry, Mrs. Blight, I'll save you from these ruffians!" Mr. Shatley called out to her. Before the zombie hunters even had a chance to react to his presence, the Gnorbu had dashed across the rug, grabbed Mrs. Blight around the middle, and whisked her off towards the wardrobe in the opposite corner of the room. He swung the door to the wardrobe open and pushed the zombie inside, slamming it shut so hard that it locked itself. When he turned back to face the intruders, they were staring back at him with wide eyes.
"You're not a zombie!"
"That's very observant of you," Shatley replied.
"That can't be right...the boss said the only inhabitants of this part of Neopia were the undead!"
"Well, it looks like there's one individual that they didn't account for," the Gnorbu answered.
"What in Neopia are you supposed to be, anyhow?" the zombie hunter continued incredulously, eyeing the Gnorbu's briefcase. "A doctor?"
"I consider myself to be somewhat of a doctor of the undead," Shatley explained. "It's my humble duty to keep the residents of this house stitched up and safe. And I don't care who you two might be, I won't let you harm any of my zombie friends."
"Friends?" asked the zombie hunter, wrinkling his nose in disgust. "How can you care for these putrid monsters? They can't even talk."
"If I wanted to make conversation, I wouldn't live out here in the middle of nowhere," the Gnorbu pointed out.
"That's it! I've had enough of this sass. I have a job to do. Now stay out of my way!" With that, the zombie hunter lifted Mr. Shatley up by his ears and tossed him out of the window.
Being a plushie, Shatley bounced harmlessly off of the ground and landed in a patch of dirt. "Well, I've got to admit," he began, rising to his hooves and dusting off his coat, "I've had a lot of ridiculous things happen to me before, but I've never been kicked out of my own house." The Gnorbu went to retrieve his hat and glasses, which had flown into a nearby bush, and then walked around the house to enter the front door.
Not surprisingly, the zombie hunter reached the door first, and with a snarl he slammed it shut.
Unfazed, the Gnorbu traveled to the window that he'd climbed in earlier, only to find that that, too, had been locked. "This presents a problem," Shatley mumbled. "Luckily, I still have my briefcase with me." Carefully, he set the briefcase down on the ground and retrieved four large magnets from a pouch on the inside. "I had hoped I'd never have to use these again," Shatley sighed. "But I intend to see to it that no zombie is harmed at the hands of those fiends." Without hesitation, the Gnorbu pulled a pair of scissors out of his pocket and cut the stitches just below his left palm. He then slid one of the magnets into place and re-stitched the opening, sealing the magnet inside of his hand. He repeated the same procedure for his opposite palm, then for both of his bottom hooves. When he'd finished, the Gnorbu shut his briefcase and carried it back to the side and the house. With little effort the plushie climbed up the metal pipe that ran up the side of the house and crawled into one of the remaining open windows on the second floor. Once both hooves were touching the floor, he stopped and listened for any hints as to which room the zombie hunters were in. Several seconds later, he could hear the sound of one of his sewing machines rattling away at the air.
This was another one of Shatley's tricks. The room where he kept his collection of sewing machines had been completely rigged with traps. There were crisscrossing threads spread out throughout the entire room, and depending on which colored thread was pulled, a different machine in the room would be activated, some of which were even capable of setting off traps of their own.
By the time the Gnorbu had arrived to the sewing room, the two intruders had already been rather spooked. All he had to do was slip inside quickly and pull a teal string, and the two were buried under a pile of yarn.
Once they were down, Shatley could see the object of their pursuit: another one of the zombies, huddled in the corner with his hands over his eyes. The Gnorbu kindly lifted the zombie up and slipped him into one of the empty fabric drawers to the left. "There you are, Mr. Crumples. Safe and sound," he whispered, closing the drawer and locking it tight. When he turned around to address the zombie hunters, both were shaking their heads.
"I just don't understand what you see in them. Aren't you worried that they'll eat your brain?"
"My brain is made out of polyester. I don't think it's quite what they're looking for," the Gnorbu replied.
"How did you get back in here, anyways?! I closed all the doors and windows!"
"All but one," the Gnorbu smirked. "But it doesn't really matter. It's a bit rude to ask how someone got into their own house, now isn't it?" As Mr. Shatley held out his hand to scold the two, the magnetic pull from the magnet caused the metal staff to slip from the closest one's grip. "Oh, whoops. Forgot about that."
"...Let go of my staff!" the zombie hunter cried out indignantly.
"Believe me, if I could I would," Mr. Shatley replied, struggling against the magnetic pull.
The zombie hunter aggressively struggled to regain control of his weapon, all the while causing Shatley's arm to twist and flail along with him.
"If you're not careful, I'm the one that's going to be needing new stitches," he plainly interjected.
"Enough of this nonsense!" screeched the zombie hunter, seizing the plushie by his scruffy head of yarn hair, "If you come back one more time, I'll take out every stitch in your body!"
"Now, that wouldn't be very polite at all," Shatley replied.
Without a word, the zombie hunter turned and marched him out of the sewing room and down the stairs, quite literally kicking him out of the door.
Shatley skidded forward on his backside and then flopped forward, his chin hitting the dirt with a loud thump. "Truth be told," the Gnorbu said, straightening his glasses, "That really irks me." He went to retrieve his briefcase, only to realize that the zombie hunter's device was still stuck tight to his hands. "This is a curious predicament," he mused. "Something tells me that those two are about to regret letting me borrow this." Shatley abruptly turned around, raised the metal staff, and smashed straight through the front door with it.
Before the zombie hunter could even make sense of what was happening, sparks of electricity shot from the staff and zapped him in the knees. Jumping and hollering in surprise, he started running circles around the room, knocking down everything in his path.
The second zombie hunter appeared at the top of the stairs with an incredulous look on her face. She rushed down the stairs in an attempt to end the madness, only to get hit with another stray bolt that caused her to fire her staff in surprise. The blast created a hole in the wall large enough to fit Turmaculus's foot through. In a panicked attempt to escape from the house, both of the zombie hunters dashed for the opening...and then abruptly tripped and fell on top of the rotting cellar door outside. The cellar door gave in under their weight and both of them went crashing into the darkness.
Shatley raised an eyebrow and walked calmly over to the ruined cellar to peer inside.
There were the two zombie hunters, lying face down on the stone floor...and there was Mr. Rotter, still safe and sound in the exact spot that Shatley had left him.
"Euuueegh?" Mr. Rotter groaned, blinking up at him with confusion.
"You're right, Mr. Rotter," Shatley answered plainly. "That was the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen." The Gnorbu tossed aside the metal staff and walked down the wooden steps to join his friend. "Do you see what I go through to protect you zombies from danger? And it's all because I care. Now, will you please let me sew your arm back on?"
"Euuuhhhhhgh," Mr. Rotter sighed, holding out his left stump for the Gnorbu doctor.
"That's better," Mr. Shatley said with a faint smile. "Now everything can go back to normal again. I feel like we've learned an important lesson today," he continued, pausing a moment to contemplate this thought more deeply, "...but I haven't a clue what it is."
And Mr. Shatley supposed that it didn't really matter, because after that everything did return to normal, and the zombie hunters were never seen again.