Usuki Singing Stars #38: Jhoud's Bedtime Blues
"Good night, crib mobile!” Jhoud sighed. The baby Aisha was lying in his crib, staring up at the star mobile above him. “Good night pointy things! Good night crib!”
Cuddles unrolled his sleeping bag. “Jhoudums, are you talking!?! The snow Bruce gasped. “I have to get Auntie Lei!”
“I’m saying good night to all of my bedroom friends,” said Jhoud. “Mommy says that saying good night to everything will help me go to sleep.”
“Well Snaw said scary stories can help you scare yourself to sleep,” Cuddles remarked. He peered to Jhoud’s crib and smiled. “It’s s nice of your Mommy to let me stay for the night! Snaw said he’ll be back from the Plushie-con by tomorrow.”
Jhoud sat up. “Will I get a new teddy?” he asked.
“And lots of booties,” said Cuddles.
“The only thing I don’t like about being a baby pet is wearing booties and bonnets,” Jhoud insisted. “Cuddles Jr agrees completely!” Cuddles Jr was Jhoud’s most prized possession; a snow Bruce plushie. Auntie Lei named the plushie after Cuddles because it matched his species and colour.
“I bet Cuddles Jr will love getting booties!” Cuddles insisted.
Jhoud looked around his crib and frowned. ‘That’s funny,” he remarked. After crawling around his crib and peering under his pillow, Jhoud looked up at Cuddles and yelled, “I can’t find him anywhere!”
Cuddles rushed over to Jhoud’s toy box and rummaged through it. “He’s not in here, Captain Jhoudles,” he reported.
Jhoud tossed his pillow aside. “He’s still not here!”
“Well he has to be around here somewhere,” Cuddles insisted. “Did he say anything about going shopping or visiting any lands?”
“I’m afraid he hasn’t,” Jhoud insisted, shaking his head. “He said he was going to Faerieland next month, but not tonight!” Feeling frantic and worrisome, Jhoud’s eyes began to well up in tears as he shouted in his loudest voice, “MMMMMMMMOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMYYYYYYYYY!!!”
Before Cuddles could say a word, Lei burst into the room with a baby bottle in hand. “JHOUDUMS!” she cried.
Jhoud squirmed viciously as Lei picked him up. “Mommy, he’s missing! Cuddles Jr is missing! We have to find him!”
“Hush my Jhoudums,” Lei said soothing, rocking Jhoud in her arms. “There’s a good little baby-waby!” She frowned. “I’m sorry you lost your favourite plushie. Mommy can help you find it tomorrow, okay?”
“Why not tonight?” asked Cuddles.
“Because I need to get up extra early tomorrow to send a bag of donations to the Charity Corner,” Lei explained, setting Jhoud back in his crib. “Those old books and ugly sweaters will surely get me a lot of neat stuff!”
“Do you think the mean Granny lady took Cuddles Jr and gave her away?” Jhoud sniffled.
Lei shook her head and kissed Jhoud’s forehead. “Goodnight you two,” she said as she turned off the lights.
Jhoud sighed. Without Cuddles Jr to snuggle with, he found it very hard to fall asleep. For what felt like hours, Jhoud tossed and turned, constantly kicking off his blanket and punching his pillow. Whenever he saw an unfamiliar shadow, he would get up and look around his room frantically, as if expecting Cuddles Jr to appear out of his hiding spot. “Nothing,” Jhoud would grumble aloud, tucking himself in bed and forcing his eyes shut. No matter how many times he opened his eyes and looked around, nothing happened. Cuddles Jr was still missing.
The next morning, Jhoud felt like Neopia’s biggest sleepyhead. He struggled to keep his eyes open during breakfast, which meant Lei had to put him down for an early nap. After waking up refreshed, Jhoud was escorted to the living, where he crawled around the sofas and under the glass table. “Nothing,” he reported to Cuddles, who was playing with a set of alphabet blocks. “Cuddles Jr has been missing for a whole day and not a trace of him has been found!”
Cuddles looked at the blocks. “Do you know how to spell apple?” he asked.
Jhoud shook his head. “No, and that’s not important right now. What’s even more important is that Cuddles Jr has been kidnapped! It’s the only explanation!”
“But who would want to harm your plushie?” asked Cuddles.
“I bet it was Merc!” Jhoud insisted. He looked around for the Maraquan Lupe with narrowed eyed. “He’s the only one I bet has links to the Charity Corner,” he whispered to Cuddles. “I bet he made Mommy give away Cuddles Jr, and then the evil Granny lady sold him for a thousand neopoints! That way, she can buy a boat and sail to Terror Mountain to continue her evil schemes!”
“I never thought of it that way,” Cuddles gasped. “No wonder Snaw’s been wearing his lamp shade hat lately!”
“We have to make a plan and get our plushie back!” Jhoud insisted. “The fate of Neopia depends on us!”
“Depends on you how?” Merc smiled down at Jhoud, who hissed at him. “Aww, aren’t you the cutest little Aisha ever!”
“If he’s so cute, than you did you kidnap Cuddles Jr?” Cuddles wondered. He folded his arms across his chest and raised an eyebrow. "You know…sometimes…I don’t believe I know you...”
Merc laughed. “Good one Cuddles.” He patted Jhoud’s head. “So Cuddles Jr is missing? Do you want me to help you look for him?”
Jhoud shrugged. “It wouldn’t hurt to have a spy help us.” Cuddles agreed and joined Merc in searching the living room area for the missing plushie, Jhoud crawled around, barking orders and checking underneath the sofas. “Leave no cushion overturns and no cracker uneaten! Cuddles, you go look by Mommy’s book tower! Merc, go to the prickly plant!”
After searching the bookshelf, Cuddles sighed and reported, “No Cuddles Jr here, sergeant Jhoudles!”
“And I didn’t find anything by the cactus,” said Merc.
“Then I guess we have no choice, troops.” Jhoud’s lower lip quivered. “Cuddles Jr is gone…for good.”
“Are you sure you wouldn’t want to sleep with any of your other plushies?” asked Lei.
Jhoud kicked angrily. “I’d rather eat spinach!”
Lei smiled. “Good! You can eat that for dinner tomorrow!”
As soon as Lei turns off the lights and left the room, Jhoud sat up and turned to Cuddles. “Agent Cuddles, have you found our fallen spy?”
“Nope,” said Cuddles. “I found a button, though!”
Jhoud groaned. “But he has to be here! He just has to! If Cuddles Jr isn’t here at night, then whose going to scare all the monsters away? Who will join me on my nightly missions, stopping the bad guys and joining up with the Defenders of Neopia?”
“Sounds like you and Cuddles Jr are the best of friends,” said Cuddles.
“He’s been my friend ever since I saw him at the store,” Jhoud explained. “Mommy bought him for me because I said he looked just like my bestest friend in the whole world! I even named Cuddles Jr after my friend, too.”
“This friend you speak of sounds like a really great plushie.” Cuddles smiled. “And who knows? Maybe, someday, secret agent Cuddles Jr will return and play with you again?”
“He better,” Jhoud grumbled. Despite being worried sick, Jhoud closed his eyes and tried to fall asleep. A few times he had to kick his blanket off, feeling insufferable under the covers. One moment he felt so fussy he had to get up, burp, and then fell back asleep. After yet another insomniac moment, Jhoud sat up and crawled around his crib. This time, however, he found something odd: something white was peeking out from between his mattresses.
“How strange,” Jhoud thought aloud. He tried to reach for the white thing, but found his arm was too short. Feeling anxious, Jhoud threw his rattle at Cuddles and shouted, “Wake up!”
Cuddles sprang out of his sleeping bag immediately. “Is it Christmas?” he asked, bewildered.
Jhoud pointed to the white thing. “Pull that thing out before it eats my crib!”
Cuddles nodded and pulled the white thing out. He held it up to Jhoud. “Look Jhoudles, a snow Bruce plushie!”
“CUDDLES JR!!!!” Jhoud was so excited that, after Cuddles tossed the plushie at him, he jumped up and down and squeezed the toy the hardest he could. “Oh Cuddles Jr, I missed you soooooooooooooo much!”
“He must have gotten lost after you assigned him that mission to explore your mattresses,” Cuddles suggested.
“Well now he’s safe and sound,” said Jhoud. Suddenly feeling sleepy, he yawned and laid down, resting Cuddles Jr by his side.”
“Good night Jhoudums,” whispered Cuddles. He closed his eyes, too, and fell asleep.
“Good night…Jr…” Jhoud said sleepily. He gave the plushie a hug, making Cuddles Jr. squeak. “Tomorrow…now we sleep…” Jhoud yawned louder and settled down to a good night’s sleep, his favourite plushie resting by his side.