A Night at the Kadoatery
Sky rubbed her nose as the green Gelert handed her a tissue.
“Just a mild case of Sneezles,” the doctor explained. “This cookie should cure your symptoms within the hour.”
The blue Kacheek took a large bite out of the cookie and sighed in relief. “Much better,” she purred. Sky suddenly formed her face into a grimace. “Ah-choo!”
“The sneezing should stop in a few minutes too,” the doctor said, tightening his face mask.
“Can we go yet?” Flo, a Maraquan Ixi grumbled, nodding toward the door.
“In a second,” said their human owner impatiently as she fumbled through her bag. “Where did I put my wallet…?”
The Baby Bori hopped onto the examination table next to her older sister. “Feeling alright?” she asked distractedly, straining to snatch a jar of lollipops from the doctor’s desk while his back was turned.
Sky grinned evilly. “I’m fine Heather,” she said, sweeping her long blue tail into the Bori’s face.
“Whoa!” Heather exclaimed as she lost her balance, toppling to the floor with a dull thud. “Hey!”
“Let’s get going,” I said, checking my watch. “It’s almost eleven.”
“Alright, alright,” said the human, shoving her wallet back into her pocket. “We need to get going. It’s pretty far to walk from Neopia Central to Faerieland, and the taxis to Faerieland stop running at midnight, don’t they?”
“I’m not walking through the Haunted Woods after dark again,” Sky mumbled, shooting Flo a dirty look. The Maraquan Ixi widened her eyes and sarcastically threw her fin to her chest, as if saying, Who, me? Sky rolled her eyes and hopped off the examination table.
My owner, my three sisters, and I trudged out the door, the doctor waving at us as we left. It was a chilly night, and the five of us shivered as my owner began to write a Neomail to the taxi company.
“Why don’t we go somewhere to warm up while we wait?” I suggested, noticing my four sisters hugging their cloaks around themselves. “There are some buildings across the street that are still open. The lights are still on in there,” I noted, pointing across the street to a small building that was shaped like a box. A large Kadoatie statue was sitting on the roof contentedly.
“It’s called the Kadoatery,” Sky said. “I’ve read about it before. People drop off their Kadoaties when they go on vacation, and there was something about people coming in to feed them.”
“Ooh! I wanna see Kadoaties!” Heather exclaimed, tugging on my owner’s sleeve. “Thea! Can we go in?”
“Yeah...okay,” my owner said absently, still focused on Neomail.
“Let’s be quick,” Flo said. “The announcement yesterday said that Neopia is going to be down sometime tonight. We’ll want to be home when that happens.”
“Oh, right,” I said. “Good call. But don’t worry. The taxi should be here soon, right Thea?”
“Yeah...right,” Thea replied distractedly.
“Come on! We’ll be quick. Let’s go!”
“Huh?” Sky broke in. “What did you say about an announcement?”
“The one on Neovision last night. On the news channel.”
“I didn’t hear it.”
“I’m pretty sure you were busy with that karaoke machine Thea bought you for your birthday.”
“At least you guys got to hear my singing.”
“Are you kidding me? We put the Neovision on full blast, but we could barely hear it. We were all wearing earplugs.”
“Shut up, Flo.”
“Let’s go already!” Heather butted in.
The door opened silently when Sky gave it a push. Immediately, the four of us shoved our fingers in our ears - the sound of a chalkboard with a thousand fingernails scraping at it rang through the air.
“What is that?” Sky yelled over the noise, paws still covering her blue ears.
We found out as soon as we stepped inside: Kadoaties.
“Here,” Flo said, “I still have some spare earplugs in my pocket.” Sky blushed furiously as they were passed around.
“That’s better,” I sighed. The earplugs blocked out most of the sound, turning the Kadoaties’ persistent mewing into a dull, tolerable buzz. We were able to examine our surroundings.
One Kadoatie sat in each of the twenty cages, a variety of colors filling the room. A caramel colored petpet with chocolate brown spots sniffed my paw as I approached her cage. To his right, a pink one the color of cotton candy wailed determinedly, his face scrunched up.
Some of the Kadoaties were sitting in their cages quietly, calmly taking a nap or enjoying a snack. The rest were wailing loudly, banging the sides of their cages desperately.
“I think they’re hungry!” Heather shouted loudly.
Sky walked over to the nearest crying Kadoatie and swung her bag over her shoulder, pulling out of Sutek Muffin from underneath a mess of books and crumpled papers. The pink Kadoatie stopped wailing and sniffed the muffin when Sky held it through the bars of his cage.
When the petpet took a small bite of the treat, we all released breaths we hadn’t realized we’d been holding.
Suddenly, the Kadoatie let out a great wail. He nudged Sky’s hand away from him and began to cry, twice as loud as before.
"Oh Fyora,” Sky muttered. “I made it worse!”
Everyone ran over to the petpet. “What did I do?” Sky asked.
The front door of the building slammed open suddenly. “The Neomail wasn’t sending,” my owner said nonchalantly. “I’ll try again in a little - what in Neopia is that awful sound?” she yelled as she stepped inside, her hands clamped over her ears.
“Kadoaties,” I informed her.
“What?” she yelled back.
“Here,” Flo fished another pair of earplugs from her pocket and tossed them to her. “These’ll help.”
She quickly stuffed them in her ears. “That’s better,” she said with relief. “What is going on in here?”
“Do you know anything about Kadoaties?” Sky asked her quickly.
“Not really,” Thea said, an eyebrow raised. “They cry a lot. When they’re hungry, at least. They don’t like the dark. And they’re picky eaters.”
“Uh oh.” The four of us turned back to the pink Kadoatie, who was still bawling loudly.
“Well, that would explain that,” Sky said.
“How can we make them stop crying?” Heather asked.
“Maybe if we can find something they like, they’ll stop!” I offered.
“He wants a Mega Manoroot Sandwich,” Thea said suddenly, gazing toward the pink petpet with squinted eyes.
“You speak Kadoatie?” Sky asked, puzzled.
“No,” Thea said, matching Sky’s confused look. “I read the sign.”
We all looked to where she was pointing. A sign was directly above the Kadoatie’s cage. “How’d we miss that?” Sky wondered.
“Destructo-Kad is very sad,” I read aloud.
“Hey! That rhymes!” cried Heather.
I ignored her. “You should give it Mega Manoroot Sandwich,” I finished with a sigh. “So he won’t stop crying until we he gets one?”
“Glad we cleared that up. Can we go home now? I’m tired,” Flo mumbled.
“It’s getting pretty late,” Thea agreed. “I’ll try Neomailing for a taxi again. We can’t stay here forever.”
“Let’s at least try to feed some before we leave!” I said. “I don’t want to leave them like this!” I glanced back at the sign above Destructo-Kad’s cage. “Where can we get a Mega Manoroot Sandwich?” I asked, digging some coins from my bag. “I have some change.”
“Do you happen to have 800k on you?” Thea asked absently as she began writing out the Neomail.
“I told you they were picky. They’ll only eat rare foods. Feeding them can get pretty expensive.”
I sighed. “Okay, there goes that idea.”
Thea frowned. “The Neomail still won’t send.”
“Want me to give it a shot?” Sky asked, pulling out a pen.
“No, it’s okay,” Thea replied. “It’s probably just lag or - ” She suddenly froze mid-sentence, a surprised expression on her face.
“Thea?” Sky said concernedly. “What’s wrong?”
The human’s form shimmered before she vanished with a little *poof*.
“What the heck?” Sky said, staring at the spot where our owner stood only a second ago.
Flo and Heather, who had been examining the Kadoaties, suddenly looked up.
“Huh? Where’d she go?” Heather asked, tilting her head to the side.
“The announcement!” I remembered. “Do you think...the downtime.…?”
“Maybe,” answered Sky, wringing her paws together nervously. “Don’t humans have to leave Neopia during downtime?”
“Then she won’t be able to come back until it’s over!” cried Heather.
“Well, how long is the downtime going to last?” I asked.
“I’m not sure,” Flo said, shooting Sky a glare. “I couldn’t hear the announcement very well.”
“How are we going to get home?” Heather wondered with a glance at the clock on the wall. “We can’t Neomail for a taxi during the downtime.”
“They pass through all the time, though,” Sky said, walking toward the door. “I bet if we wait outside for a bit, we’ll be able to hail one down. Come on.” She gave the door a slight push. Then another. “What the heck...! It won’t open!”
Then the four of us were pushing at the door together, attempting to use our combined strength. It wasn’t long before we all backed away, breathing heavily.
“No point,” I said, panting. “It must be stuck. There’s not much we can do.”
“Maybe there’s another way out,” Sky offered with a glance around the room. “Like a back door or something. Let’s look around.”
It didn’t take long to determine that there was no other exit in the small building. We were truly trapped.
“Seriously? That’s the only exit?” Flo chided, looking around a final time. “Isn’t that, like, a safety hazard?”
“We won’t be able to get help until the downtime’s up,” Sky remarked, swinging her bag over her shoulder and tossing it on the ground. “It looks like we’ll be stuck here for a bit. We should probably try to get some rest in the meantime.”
“With this racket?” Flo said, nodding toward the Kadoaties. “That’s not happening.”
“It’s not that bad once you get used to it,” I said with a shrug, feebly attempting to remain optimistic.
As if in cruel response, every light in the building suddenly cut out, one by one. The Kadoaties began to cry and scream at the top of their lungs as the darkness swallowed the room. It was unbearable to hear, even with the earplugs in.
“Agh!” Sky groaned, blue paws covering her ears. “What’s going on?” she yelled.
“Didn’t Thea say something about Kadoaties not liking the dark?” I yelled back.
“Then turn on the lights!” Heather suggested.
The four of us moved along the walls. “There’s no lightswitch!” I shouted back after a minute.
Sky suddenly removed her paws from her ears and reached into her bag, face twisted in agony from the noise. She rummaged through her bag before pulling out a flashlight. “Here! It’s pretty strong, hopefully...There!” She switched on the flashlight, and all of us recoiled from the sudden light.
“Ow!” Flo hissed, shielding her eyes. “Cut that out! It’s too bright.”
“But listen,” I said. “They’ve calmed down.” And they had. The petpets had stopped crying themselves hoarse and were now lying in their cages quietly, apparently deciding that a nice nap in the sudden light was better than screaming. We all sighed in relief.
“Glad that’s over,” I said, relaxing my shoulders. “Now what?”
“Let’s go to bed. We’ll figure everything out in the morning.” Sky said, rubbing her eyes with a sigh.
“But I can’t sleep with the lights on,” Heather complained with a pout.
“Well it’s either the light or this,” Sky said, switching off the flashlight. Immediately, high pitched cries rang throughout the room as twenty petpets began to wail in a dissonant symphony of agonizing screams. All of us reflexively covered our ears.
“Okay!” Heather yelled above the noise. “Point taken.” Sky switched the light back on, and we all sighed in relief as the petpets quieted one by one.
“Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t think I’ll be getting much rest tonight. Anyone wanna play Cheat?” Flo offered, pulling a deck of cards out of the pocket of her cloak.
“Sure, why not?” I said with a slight smile at Flo’s laid-back attitude. “I’m not tired anyway.”
The Maraquan Ixi gave the cards a quick shuffle, which resulted in them flying toward the ceiling and promptly scattering all over the room. I plucked a four of neggs from my fur.
“Change of plans,” the Maraquan Ixi said with an awkward laugh as she rubbed the back of her neck. “Who wants to play Pick Up 52?”
“I’m good, thanks,” mumbled Sky, who had lay down on the floor, one paw thrown over her eyes dramatically.
“Fine, I’ll play by myself.”
“I’ll help you out,” I sighed.
The two of us crawled along on our knees, scavenging for the strewn cards. “Well, at least they’re shuffled now,” I joked lightly.
“Yeah,” Flo muttered with a small smile as she gratefully took the stack I held out to her. She bunched all the cards up into one pile and began to flick through it. “I’m missing a card,” she informed us after a minute.
“Well, which one?” Heather asked.
“I dunno, let me - Wait, it doesn’t matter. Just help me find it.”
“But how can we help you find it if we don’t know which card to look for?” the Baby Bori said innocently, a small frown on her face.
“Forget it,” Flo grumbled as she continued to search.
“Ah! Found it,” I exclaimed, spotting the lone card sticking out from beneath one of the cages. The pink Kadoatie inside regarded me uninterestedly as I fished an ace of spades from under his cage and flicked it expertly toward my sister.
“Are you sure you only lost one card?” I called. “I think there’s another one down here.”
“No, I recounted. I should have them all now,” the Maraquan Ixi replied.
“Then what’s this…?” I asked, talking more to myself than my sisters as I hesitantly stretched my arm out to reach further under the cage. With a small yelp, I recoiled, drawing my paw back in surprise.
My sisters were next to me in a second. “What’s wrong, Milly?” Sky asked concernedly.
“I dunno...I felt something. Like fur,” I explained.
“Fur?” asked Heather with a frown. “What was it?”
“I’m not sure,” I said, leaning down to peer under the cage once more. “I can’t see anything. I think I scared it.”
“I think it scared you more,” chuckled Flo. “You screamed like Heather that day she tried using Air Magic to get the cookie jar down from the top of the fridge.” She turned to the Baby Bori. “I didn’t realize the jar was bigger than you until we found you trapped under it, scooting around the room and running into walls.”
“Shut up,” Heather grumbled. “If we can’t make it out of here, that’s not how I want to be remembered - as the pet that officially earned the title of ‘Defeated By Cookie Jar’.”
Suddenly, two bright green eyes were regarding my warm brown ones - wide, unsure, and afraid. A minute later, a tiny head shyly poked out, regarding me curiously with a fixed stare.
“It’s a Juma!” I exclaimed softly.
“Ah...choo!” rang out a monstrous sneeze from behind me, shattering the brief silence.
The petpet’s eyes widened, and, quicker than mine could follow, the little Juma scurried back under the cage.
“Sky!” I chided. “You scared him away again!”
“Sorry!” the Kacheek sniffed. “I couldn’t help it.”
I backed away from the cages slightly, opening my arms slowly. “Come on out,” I called coaxingly. “It’s okay.”
We all listened keenly, holding our breaths as scuffles and slow thumps sounded from beneath the cage. A pale yellow snout popped out and sniffed the air lightly, perhaps checking for a scent of danger. Apparently it smelled okay, because two familiar green eyes appeared soon after, followed by a pair of bright orange ears. The petpet slowly wiggled the rest of his body out from under the cage, settling down in front of me. I held my hand out hesitantly, receiving an affectionate nuzzle in reply. I stroked the Juma’s head, smiling broadly.
“What’s he doing here?” Sky asked. The rest of us responded with synchronized shrugs.
“Maybe he’s just lost,” Heather suggested.
“If he came all the way from Shenkuu,” said Flo, “then yes. He’s really, really lost.”
“I wonder how long he’s been here,” I said. “Sky, do you still have that muffin? Maybe he’s hungry.”
Sky swung her bag over her shoulder and produced the smashed up Sutek Muffin. She broke a small piece off and held it out to the petpet hesitantly. The Juma sniffed at the treat. Chewing a small bite slowly, he licked his lips gratefully before nuzzling Sky’s paw expectantly. The blue Kacheek let out a sigh. “At least this petpet isn’t picky,” she said with relief as she broke off another piece.
“...something like that. It’ll probably go through in a bit, don’t worry,” came a voice from behind us.
“Thea!” the three of us exclaimed in surprise. “You’re back!”
The human looked around, eyebrows knit together. “When did you guys go over there? And why are the lights out? They stopped crying, too. Am I missing something?”
“The downtime,” Sky explained. “You’ve been gone for a bit.”
“Why are you guys still here, then? You could have just went outside and hailed a taxi home, you know.”
“We know!” exclaimed Heather. “But the door is stuck! We’ve been trapped here!”
“Really? Well let’s see if I can…” Thea pulled on the handle, giving us a confused look as the door slid open with ease. “Wow. That is the most un-stuck ‘stuck’ door I’ve seen.”
“Wait...what?” wondered Heather.
“Uh, guys? I think we might have missed that,” Sky said, pointing a blue paw toward the cheerful letters to the right of the door handle that spelled the word “pull” vertically.
I rubbed my forehead. “Why do we have such an unfortunate inability to read signs?” I pondered aloud.
“Alright, come on. Let’s get going,” Thea said impatiently.
“What’s the rush?” muttered Sky. “It’s almost one in the morning. Taxis stopped running a while ago.”
“The taxis run all night, actually,” said Flo with a devious grin.
“You told us they stopped at midnight,” Heather said accusingly.
“Yeah, I might have,” smirked Flo. “I enjoyed walking through the Haunted Woods with you guys so much that I was hoping we would take a nice little trip down memory lane. You guys are complete wimps. But it’s a long walk, and I’m tired. So let’s just go home.”
“I’ll be angry with you later,” Sky grumbled. “For now, I want to go to bed.”
“Come on then,” said the human, nodding to the door she still held ajar.
“Wait! What about this little guy?” I cried, gesturing to the Juma that was now snoozing contentedly at my feet.
“Oh yeah! We found a Juma hiding out beneath one of the cages,” Sky supplied.
“Can he come with us?” I pleaded.
“I don’t see why not,” my owner said with a small smile.
As if he understood, the little petpet’s eyes opened,
“Something’s wrong,” Sky muttered as the Juma began to approach me. “Is he limping?”
Indeed, there was something off about the petpet’s gait. He walked slowly, as if each step took effort. His back right leg hung limp, and he dragged it along as he moved.
“I have an idea,” the human said suddenly. She motioned for us to follow her and stepped outside, letting the door swing shut behind her.
I scooped up the little petpet, and my sisters and I followed, all four of us equally confused as we left the snoozing Kadoaties behind.
The city of Neopia Central, once bustling with life and brightened by the shop lights of numerous stores and restaurants, was pitch black and silent during this solemn hour of the morning. I lost count of the twinkling stars as I followed my owner through the Neopian Plaza and back to the main area, the silent petpet warm in my arms to counter the cold night. A lone flickering streetlamp illuminated our breaths as they faded into mist.
“Glad we left when we did. The flashlight just died,” said Sky with a laugh.
“Here we are!” Thea chimed cheerfully. The rest of us looked around in surprise.
“Here?” Flo asked, eyeing the rainbow, which shone brightly despite the lack of light, as it flowed into the gently swaying pool.
“Well, not quite here,” answered the human cryptically, an amused smile on her face. She walked over to the shimmering puddle instead, the different colors dancing under the light of the stars. “Sky, could you hand me the inventory?”
“The...oh, yeah. Sure,” she replied, an eyebrow raised by my owner’s odd choice of words. Though we were used to her using strange terms by now, it can still be off-putting. The blue Kacheek swung the bag over her shoulder and held it out. “Here.”
The human rummaged through the bag, eyes narrowed in concentration and tongue between her teeth. We watched in surprise as her arm stretched further into the small backpack until her shoulder was nearly submerged.
“It’s bigger on the inside,” Sky explained.
“Aha!” The human cried, startling the Juma in my arms from a nap. “Here it is.” She withdrew her arm from the bag, revealing a Faerie Petpet Paintbrush held delicately in her fingers. She handed the bag back to Sky, who slung it over her shoulder without a word.
“I got this at the Trading Post this morning,” Thea explained. “I was planning to auction it off later today. Good thing Sky got sick and I had to take her to the hospital instead, huh?” she finished with a smirk.
The human dipped the paintbrush lightly in the rainbow colored water of the puddle, and we watched, mesmerized, as the colors turned to pale pinks, pastel yellows, and baby blues, swirling together yet never mixing. We waiting as the colors rippled across the water delicately, filling the edges of the puddle. Something had changed - the cool, crisp air was filled with a calmness. I breathed in a faint scent that surfaced the thought of reading your favorite book under the shade of a tree on a sunny day.
After a nod from Thea, I held the petpet gently toward the water and lowered him in. He recoiled at first, but once the warm water touched his legs, he relaxed, allowing the water to submerge him fully. After a moment, his head popped up again, the oranges and reds of his fur fading into a pleasant magenta.
I lifted him gently out of the puddle as the water faded back into an array of colors. The petpet sniffed his new wings curiously, gave them a few hesitant flaps, and with some effort, he lifted himself out of my arms and raised himself to my eye level. Panting happily, he fluttered around my head and briefly nuzzled my cheek as if saying, Thanks!
“He’ll need a name,” Thea noted with a nod toward the petpet fluttering above my head as we began to walk around the main area, looking for a taxi to hail down. “Milly, since he seems to have taken quite a liking to you already, would you care to do the honors?”
I smiled. “I think Ace is a fitting name. Glad we played that game of Pick Up 52,” I said with a wink toward Flo.
She grumbled. “It’s an underappreciated game.”
Ace gave an excited circle around my head before lowering himself back into my arms. “Tired?” I asked him, noting his heavy breaths. He licked my face in reply.
“He’ll need more practice,” Thea noted.
“I know. But for now, let’s head home.”