Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 194,263,314 Issue: 754 | 21st day of Collecting, Y18
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The Neovian Misadventure of Will and Biggs: Part Two

by general_grievious__


      The wind from the door breezed through Biggs skull. He huffed a short exasperated sigh and climbed down from the small, creaky stoop. He gingerly placed the bouquet against the door, turned around, and left the thorny thicket. He wandered slowly around the park until the sun fell away and the glittering specks of starts littered the sky. The old feathered Buzz had whispered of a shelter nearby, along with a chastisement of his dear friend Will. Biggs’ mind raced with worry. “Will he forgive me this time? Perhaps the old Buzz is right about it all.” Eventually he shuffled out of the park and into a plaza. Huddled Neopians wrapped in blankets sat outside a crowded hall. Above the doorway was a simple sign depicting a bowl of soup. His stomach commanding his feet, Biggs went in. A heavy, dirty laundry musk hung in the air, undermined only by an overpowering scent of potatoes. A small counter by the door had a large pot with an even larger Skeith behind it. A few scraggly Neopians stood before him with empty bowls. Wooden spoon in hand the Skeith pointed at the first.

      “Jeannie Beetleburg-get out. You-give me your bowl. Charlie -still diving for pearls?”

      “They’re all gone-fished up.” Groaned a Poogle with scraggly, muddy ears.

      “Gimmie your bowl-You!” the Skeith pointed his spoon at Biggs. “Who are you?”

      “Uh! Biggs…I can pay…I can…”

      “Do you have a home?” snapped the Skeith.

      Biggs’ heart sank as he muttered, “N-no…”

      “Then you can’t pay” The burly Skeith ducked down for a moment returning with a fresh, clean, bowl in hand.

      “Jeannie! I said get!” His heavy arm brandished a spoon at a covered Cybunny to his right. He ladled some soup into a bowl. He held it out to the tense little Buzz, “Biggs-Come get it.”

      Biggs hesitated a moment then stuttered, “Please-let me pay…” He said as he looked up at the mighty green Skeith.

      “Fine-I’ll get the old crone to collect from ya! But take this now ‘fore I drop it!” Biggs scurried up to the counter and took the bowl.

      “Susan! I see you went back-” the large Skeith waved his spoon at the door. Biggs turned around and found a barren, round table flanked with stools far in a corner. He took a seat and quickly drank from his bowl. The other tables were lively with chatter, sad tales, broken hearts, and lost homes. He looked into his bland bowl “I don’t belong here…” He thought. “These Neopians are far worse off than me…” He set his bowl down and rested his head on his claw.

      “Biggs!” a shrill familiar cackle rattled him.

      “Ah! Huh!?” He looked up, and found the old ruffled Darigan Buzz peering down at him.

      “Impoverished are you?” Her purple thorny mandible sneered.

      “No no! I can pay! Here-I want to pay!” he looked up at her bright red eyes as he fumbled with his jacket.

      “No one pays here.”

      “Then.” He tapped his claws on the table, “Then I’ll leave.” He got up and was pushed down.

      “Stay put and eat.” She pulled a violet clasp out and took a seat gingerly next to him.

      Gnarled old claws put five coins out on the table as Biggs buried his face in his claws. Biggs cried, “Oh Fyora! No!”

      “Where’s Will?” her voice graveled like a rake on cobbles.

      “Home.” He croaked.

      She growled, “You’re too nice-Too good to put up with a brat Lutari like that!”

      “You don’t know him!” he sniffed . “I didn’t show up-again…” He pushed her coins away with one claw while keeping the other on his face.

      “How much do you have?” the old voice rasped.

      “Two hundred.”

      “Then you better take this back.” Violet claws slid the coins along the tabletop towards him once more. He sighed and sunk his stitched head down to the table.

      “Did you leave anything there?” She leaned in, a heavy aroma of lavender wafted off of her.

      “Yes. I won’t worry about it. I-I just need to talk to him. Give him a real apology, maybe a-a-another gift.” Biggs mumbled to the table.

      She grunted and leaned in, “What kind of gift?”

      “A Flatfruit Fizz…If he’ll even…” He buried his head under his claws and went silent.

      The stool next to him scraped away and the scent of Lavender faded. Biggs sat still awhile until he was comfortable with the sense that she was gone. He wiped away at his eyes then downed the rest of his cold soup. The once bustling hall was now quiet with a few lonely souls here and there. He picked up his bowl and stacked it with the others at the doorway, then stepped out into the cold evening. He shuffled around the plaza until his feet dragged him back to that round thicket hidden away in the public park. He peeked through the thorns and saw that his flowers were still there. He clutched at his cravat and heaved a sigh. He wandered the park once more then strolled out along the river that snaked through town. On a street corner across the river and down away from that fateful theater he sat on a small curb. The large, dark, plate glass windows behind him read “Sufir’s Sweets and Sodas Open every day at 10 AM-6 PM” He pulled out a scrap of paper that read “Copperkettle 876 Bark St. 11AM-8PM,” he sighed and put his head into his claws. The quiet rush of the river rang in his head as the pit in his stomach grew deeper. He got up, put his claws to the sides of his head, and moved into the alley between Sufir’s and what appeared to be an apartment complex. He took off his coat and laid it up against an empty crate. He curled up against it and closed his eyes. The chill wasn’t so bothersome as the rough cobbles and splintered wood. He managed to quell his meddlesome thoughts and worries enough to drift into sleep. A screech of a Meowclops and a clattering of cans awoke him. A dim orange sky hung overhead, spotted with streaks of grey.

      “Vermin!” echoed a low familiar growl through the alley. Biggs shot upright, brushed the splinters off his face, and put on his jacket.


      “Will!?” Biggs called out.

      The low familiar jeering was interrupted by a rasping gasp followed by loud blundering footsteps. Biggs jumped to his feet and ran deeper into the alley.

      “Will!” he called out again as he came to a stop in the empty alley. Another clattering of barrels sounded to the north. Biggs ran towards the ruckus until he found the barrels rolling out of an adjoining alleyway, they rolled askew with their grains spilling every which way. Among them a large hunchbacked figure struggled to get to their feet. Biggs slowly inched his way into the alley-blinking the sleep away from his eyes. As he crept closer he recognized the familiar tailcoat edged with a fringe of amaranth.

      “Will?!” Biggs whispered. Long , ragged ears pricked up and the creature turned to face him. Wild yellow eyes shone bright under a familiar brow, now much more prominent, a gnarled nose twitched above a frightened maw with far too many pointed teeth.

      “Agh!” Will cried as he scrambled to gain his footing on the many spilled grains of rice. Biggs’ heart jumped into his throat.

      “Will!” he reached out a small claw towards him. Will violently turned his twisted face away, slipped down to his massive claws on the rice and scampered away on all fours. Biggs ran after him, “Will! Will! Please Will!”

      “What more do you want to do to me?” Will sobbed as he bounded around a corner.

      “Do?” Biggs gasped, his feet sore from the pursuit. ”Will! Please!” He coughed. “You know I’ll catch you!”

      “Threats! Threats! You do all of this and still you threaten me!? What worse could you do? Ahhh!” A dead end stopped the twisted creature, a cold brick wall reached high overhead. Will shuffled himself tightly into a corner and pulled one of his two long bushy tails over his head. Biggs’ heart sank.

      “Will-what happened?” Biggs took a step forward. Will twitched and shoved himself hard against the wall.

      “Don’t play coy!” he choked.

      “I-I don’t-”

      “You poisoned me! “he snarled ,“The bouquet-the-drink…an entire ruse!”

      “Drink? I only got you the flowers!” Biggs stepped forward again and reached out to Will’s back.

      Will sniveled and peeked at him, his cheeks matted down with wet, before hiding away again. “How come you recognize me then?”

      “No one else has that suit and voice.” Biggs put a claw to his back. “Your looks aren’t completely lost on you either!” A small muffled sob came out from under Will’s enormous tails.

      “I…I’m sorry Biggs I’m sorry…”

      “No! I’m the… Well- okay! But I am too. You had every right to be upset. But you should try to listen at least!”

      Gnarled, bushy tails curled up and around the hulking body huddled in the corner. In silence they stood until Will shuddered. “If not you then who? What am I going to do?”

      “Well-lets go home and-”

      “There isn’t one! It broke-I awoke in a pile of rubble-like…this.” He pulled his tail off his face and twirled it in his gnarled claws. “I…We. We’re ruined.” Will stifled a sob.

      Biggs crossed his arms. “No,” he paused, “Ahem. As I was trying to tell you earlier- Copperkettle gave me the job. If we save my pay, we should be able to get a place within days.”

      Will’s bottom lip quivered, “What should I do though?! I shan’t be seen like this.”

      “Oh come now! It’s not that bad!” Biggs smiled.

      “I can’t walk right! I have to put one of my paws on the filthy ground if I want to get around anywhere!”

      “I’ll get you a cane for the time being.” Biggs piped.

      “Look at the size of these things!” Will brandished his claws, “How am I to do anything!? Much less hold a cane!”

      “I’ll get one made for you.” The little Buzz put his claws on his hips.

      Will looked at Biggs and bit his lower lip “You’re too sweet…Too sweet for a wretched monster like me.” Biggs smiled at him.

      “You’re not the least bit monstrous.”

      “Hah!Hah!” He unfurled himself from the corner, his head low as his back arched tall over his ears. “Don’t be ridiculous! How would you know? You’re far from looking like something so hideous!”

      “Ridiculous, is it? While napping in Faerieland some air Faeries buried me and were too horrified by my erm, state of undeath, to apologize once I awoke! They screamed bloody murder as they fled from me! I had clouds in every nook and cranny! Besides, only the most fragile sheltered Neopians would think that of you.”

      “I thought that happened in Meridell.”

      “Meridell and Faerieland, when it still had clouds of course.”

      Will chuckled, “Hah! What fools!” he paused and shuffled his feet. “Though I don’t have that to worry about.”

      Biggs pulled at a pocket watch and frowned. “I have to get to work in an hour.” Will’s shoulders seized up.

      “I’ll erm-stay here…”

      “What about the caravan? We could meet there-In fact I’ll walk you there.” Biggs put out a pale green claw.

      “No! I’ll be seen!” Will exclaimed. Biggs frowned at him.

      “No one is going to know or care Will. Between Sloth and Boochi no one bats an eye at these things.”

      “I don’t care! I don’t want to be seen!”

      “The baker will probably come out here sometime, see the mess, and want you to clean it up! Or worse -pay for it!”

      Will growled and wiped away at his eyes. After a moment of glaring at the floor he asked, “Do you think Copperkettle did this?”

      Biggs snapped his head towards him, “What!? Why would he? I don’t think he even knows you!”

      “He’s a potioner too isn’t he!? Maybe he didn’t want our act getting in the way of his work!”

      “Will that’s insane! –He likes my work and that’s it! If that were true-wouldn’t he just get rid of you entirely?”

      Will sniffed, “I suppose.”

      “Come on, you can lean on me.” Will grimaced and hesitated before putting a giant claw on Biggs’ shoulder.

      To be continued…

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