Cloudy with a Chance of OH FYORA THE SKY'S FALLING!
So there’s a lot of things in this world that I’m not proud of. I once thought Food Club was a place you go to share treasured recipes. I pulled the Lever of Doom one thousand times. I ate at Grundos Café…and liked it. But of all the embarrassing and, to be perfectly frank, concerning things that I have done over the years, I believe that nothing will ever top the incident that my friends have taken to calling “The Miamouse Incident.”
Now before I get too much into the thick of things, I want to clear something up straight away. I am not an idiot! I did my time at Neoschool, I got a degree in…well, it’s not important right now, but needless to say, I graduated from Brightvale University at the – in the midst of my class! I was certainly in there. And they don’t let just anybody graduate from there! Look at Xand…well, look at it this way. If I was a fool, I doubt I’d even have made it out of Neoschool, and that’s something that even the rock-brainest of us can understand.
So we’ve established that I’m not a fool. There’s one other thing I think is important to clarify before we meander on into the depths of this story, and that’s the fact that this happened after Faerieland fell. We all know where we were when we heard that Faerieland fell, yes, but I happened to be living near Meridell at the time, and I could actually see the flames on the horizon, and I swear I could see individual little fireballs raining down some fifty-odd miles away. So while I appreciate that all Neopians “felt” Faerieland fall, I just want to clarify that I literally felt Faerieland fall, so I think I have a right to a bit more paranoia, or at least a bit more sensitivity when it comes to things falling out of the sky. It’s not too much to ask.
There’s the backstory…let’s get into it, I guess.
It was about two years ago, or “the 5th of Gathering, Y17 and ought” as my friends like to recall it. Fyora knows I don’t remember the exact date, but stories always sound better with a real day behind them, don’t you think? All I know is that I was fresh out of university and the leaves were just starting to turn orange. They made Brightvale look absolutely stunning, like something out of one of the books they insist on printing there. For miles around, all one could see were these orange trees, rolling over hills, dipping into valleys, springing up like so many ginger-headed Fredericks!
You’d get that if you knew Frederick.
Anyway, the point is that it was autumn. Or fall, whichever. Summer was over. And there were a few of us strolling down Brightvale’s high street, just enjoying the last dregs of a vacation before we had to go our separate ways across Neopia. A bit apropos, you know, the dying of the leaves and the dying of university friendships. Though I don’t suppose they were dying, just changing. Although the trees aren’t dying either, merely entering hibernation…
No, right, this is why they tell me to leave it to them. So it was the 5th of Gathering, Y17 and ought! And there were several of us walking down the street and suddenly we get to feeling peckish like we could eat a snack of some kind. Of course, the high street is far out of our price range, so one of us – don’t remember who – got this idea that we should go down Crumbler’s Lane for something. Now, I don’t know if you know Crumbler’s Lane, but it’s got a reputation as the sort of place where you don’t let your Snorkle wander around at night, if you know what I mean. There’s some cheap eats there, and you don’t ask questions. Students loved it; cheap as cheops and not untasty if you didn’t think about it.
So we go down the street and Marcos says, “Well, why don’t we go into Madam Mamamouse’s?” I kid you not, that’s the name of the place. It’s a mouthful coming out of the mouth and just about the same going back in. I’d had it once before and regretted it for approximately forty hours afterward. While some vendors on Crumbler’s Lane get a bad rap, I daresay Madam Mamamouse should’ve got a rap across the knuckles for those pies she served.
But while I was thinking all this and more, Frederick of course goes, “Confoundedly capital! I crave a crumb of crumble.” Fyora take the Meerca, but he’s just ridiculous. Can’t take him anywhere without a pun or a limerick or a litter of stationery or whatever. But once Frederick says so, the whole group says so, and we ended up inside Madam Mamamouse’s before you could say boo.
Now Madam Mamamouse is a Tuskaninny, and she is old. I know you’re probably thinking to yourself, Hurr hurr, I bet she’s just Eldery. I am going to stop you right there, because this Tuskaninny was pure red. She is just the most decrepit, ancient-looking thing you have ever laid eyes. I mean, if you didn’t know any better, you’d swear she’d been mummified and given up to Coltzan! The first time I ever walked in, no lie, I saw her corpsified body behind the counter, walked right back out, rang the Defenders of Neopia, and cried myself to sleep because it was the first dead body I’d ever seen. It was only the next morning when I went back to see what happened that Madam Mamamouse herself told me that she wasn’t dead, and hadn’t been for nearly <95 years. So just keep that image in your head, alright?
So we’re inside in this cramped tomb of a pie shop, and Marcos just goes up to the counter and shouts out for “five meat pies” whatever the Devil that means, and we hear this sarcophogal groan from somewhere in the kitchen. That could have been the ovens, Madam Mamamouse herself, or some poor unfortunate soul that was getting ready to be made into five meat pies, but the next thing we know, Madam M. herself comes shuffling out to the counter on her frail flippers and asks us, “How many now, dearie?”
There were clearly five of us (at least, that’s how I’m telling it today), and I’m sure she wasn’t as blind as that, since she gave a perfect eyewitness description of me to the Defender who questioned her. The only assumption I could make was that she was sizing one of us up for dinner and wanted to know how many we thought we could spare.
Luckily, Marcos was quicker than that and stated very clearly, “Five Miamouse Pies please. And,” he added with a wink, “are those real Miamouse?” Winking at Madam Mamamouse is the same sort of act as winking at the Snowager: you know that the familiarity is ultimately meaningless, but you kind of hope that it’ll be just enough to let you walk out with all your limbs. Marcos always thought himself something of a catch, pun not intended, so maybe he thought that his flirting with Madam M. was somehow effective. I don’t know, at least it brought the rest of us some modicum of joy from being in there.
Oh, right, Marcos is a Jetsam. So that’s why the catch thing wasn’t a…okay, look, this would be a lot easier if it wasn’t just me that you knew.
So! He asks for Miamouse Pie and Madam Mamamouse just kind of laughs for some reason and goes back into the dark depths of the kitchen – the place isn’t lit at all, by the way, other than the light coming in through the front windows – and we hear some sort of chopping and slicing and some other sounds I don’t want to remember, and then she comes back with five lumps of greasy dough and dumps them on the counter. And then, I swear, she asks us for ten of some coin that hasn’t been minted in over a century. It certainly wasn’t neopoints, and it sounded like it might have had something to do with Dr. Sloth, but all I know is we threw ten points on the counter, grabbed those doughballs and ran out laughing.
The things tasted about as good as you’d expect, meaning they tasted like grease, dough, and meat. Can’t say if it was Miamouse or not, but there was certainly something of the rodent family about it. Just so you know, this isn’t to do with the so-called Miamouse Incident. This Miamouse incident is entirely incidental. It is, rather, an antecedent that takes place preveniently. Hopefully it doesn’t set a precedent. And now, without sounding too prescient, I say it’s time to move things along.
Crumbler’s Lane ends with a sort of cul-de-sac, where there’s several shops all in a little circle and then nothing but forest beyond that. We didn’t want to eat and walk, so we figured we’d pop into the forest and find a few nice rocks or something to sit on. It’s a thing people do, you know, just sit on rocks and eat. At university, it is, at any rate. So we go off the road and into the woods and just start walking, no trail, no nothing, just wandering into that verdant, orange wilderness with – no, hold on, verdant means green. Should’ve just said lush. But wait, doesn’t that mean it’s growing a lot, like a jungle? It was dying – as I said, it was autumn – so it couldn’t be lush. I guess it was just orange, then.
The idea, at any rate, is that we get into the forest with our meat pies and we look around for a bit and finally find a place to rest under a few trees that I want to call oak, but they could well have been yew or else willow. Very similar trees, you know. I took a botany course once. The point is, however, that we’re under these trees, eating our pies, and we get to philosophizing. You know how it is, when you’re eating a spot with your friends and the talk turns towards debate. It’s a natural occurrence, especially at university, and none of us were too terribly upset about it!
Alfie, he’s the Kacheek, bit of a rich one, he starts up right away about how none of us would have to eat Miamouse Pie if only there were more suppliers willing to ship from Neopia Central out to Brightvale. And Marcos comes right back, of course, and does his whole bit about how there’s more folk in Central willing to pay higher prices than Brightvale can afford and so naturally the supply follows the points. Alfie starts getting into the ethics of the situation – “you should make it so they have to ship one to Brightvale for every two to Central, you should put a tax on local shipments”, I’m sure you know the sort. Before too long, every one of us is involved in one way or another in a discussion of whether or not the faeries should step in and help sort out our economy.
“But what about the Hidden Tower?” Jerome asked us at one point. Jerome’s…well, he’s an Elephante. That’s about all there is to him. “What can you say about a group that won’t budge prices regardless of external pressures. Trading post is already selling faerie queen dolls for almost half of what Fyora is offering. Does she slash prices? No! Not even when she’s the one controlling production! What use is a group like that going to be to us, eh?”
Alfie took it up from there with “But you’re missing out on a key factor: the prestige! You buy direct from the Tower, that’s something right there. Badge of honor, wear it with pride. That’s the sort of pride that costs an extra million or so points, Jer, and no mistake. You’ve made the cardinal error of bringing goods to a service fight.” Alfie’s big on inane pithisisms like that.
Of course, I couldn’t let something like that go, though! I made a moving speech about the need for a more global Neopian society, one that wasn’t separated by color, species, or even whether or not one was a faerie or pet. Naturally, my good points were missed by all, and they quickly moved on to whether or not petpetpets should have a say in things. I won’t get into it now, but they completely missed the point of my argument.
Anyway, we were going on about things like that when someone, I forget who, brought up Faerieland’s fall. We were all in the area at the time it happened, and we all went quiet at the mention. Frederick had known someone who was actually hit by a piece of debris, and he was especially silent. After a respectful amount of time, someone – again, I forget who – asked whether anything else could fall. It was an innocuous question, and not in the least bit naïve! Whoever asked it, I feel as though they were thinking in the right direction.
The rest of us, unfortunately, were not so forward-thinking. I regret to admit that the question was met with derisive laughter and not a little bit of meat pie spitting. “What’s left to fall!” they shouted. “Faerieland was the only thing up there!” they shouted. “Why are you being so stupid, Ambr- you!” they shouted. Whoever it was that asked that question got a right telling-to, and we all felt a little bad afterwards.
The point stuck in our minds, though, and soon, I admit, imagination got the better of all of us. The orange leaves above covered the sky and began looking much like the fiery horizon of Faerieland’s doom. Every rustle became a tremor of the earth as another chunk of the cloud city fell. All around, I looked at faces that betrayed both horror and woe. They spoke of inconsequential things like what to do next and whether we were all done eating, but I knew that their banal banter belied their basest bewilderment; they thought, as I, that something ill was afoot. We jested about another Faerieland happening, but we all knew, deep down, that there were plenty more clouds in the sky. Indeed, why wouldn’t the Faeries have built more than one city? It defied common sense.
And it was then, as we were all wrapping up our meat pies and pretending to be okay. It was then that it happened. At first, you couldn’t say that it was more than a light rustle. I looked up into the trees and saw the branches move, first one and then the other. It was irregular and confusing, like branches that are about to be struck by flaming debris. Then, in a moment of abject terror, I felt something strike my head, and I let out, no lie, a shriek. Not a yell or a shout or anything that you might recognize but an honest-to-Fyora shriek like a banshee in a horror story or something. Everyone else in the clearing leaps back from me as I sit there, yowling like a Meowclops with its tail grabbed.
Now the next parts have been related to me many, many times by people I once considered to be my friends, so I can’t vouch for its authenticity. I would tell you my version of events, but as it stands, I have no real memory of the incident barring a few major plot points. So here it is. After the first strike, I apparently leapt to my feet, threw the remainder of my dough on the ground and shouted, word-for-word, “Oh my great Grarrl, it’s the end of the world!” The rest of the group, as far as they knew, had just finished eating a delightful little snack and were ready to wander back into town, so they couldn’t fathom what had just happened.
“This is it! You all laughed and said no, but here it is!” I apparently shouted next. What I do know is that several more things struck my shoulders at that point, and the branches above began rustling to such an extent that leaves began falling from their twigs. To me, this took the form of the sky actually peeling away from itself and drifting down to the ground. “No! Nooo! Fyora, no, not like this!”
Whether or not I dove to the ground in a fetal position at this point, I can neither confirm nor deny, but I do begrudgingly admit that I remember feebly whispering, “Alfie, look after my mother. She always liked you,” with tears running down my face. Several more projectiles hit my face at that point, rendering me incommunicable due to tears and the belief that the world was ending.
“Ambrose!” they shouted. “Ambrose, what’s wrong!” How was I to know that they did not view the world as I did? Here I was, in a doomsday state of mind, and all of a sudden, the sky rains down on me and falls apart in front of my eyes! Any sane Usul would’ve done the same. I began crawling, they say, heaving myself forward paw after paw, digging the ground up and dragging my drooling face through the grass.
“Run…” I begged from the ground. “Run for your lives…For Fyora’s sake, leave me…”
I won’t say much more other than that the scene carried on in that vein for several more minutes, and eventually I did realize that the world was not, in fact, ending. After my so-called “friends” picked me up and assured me that everything was okay, they pointed up into the branches where several Miamice had gathered, throwing acorns down at me while I munched on something that might once have been a friend of theirs. Turns out, acorns are heavier than I thought.
And that’s that, the story of the Miamouse Incident. Like I said, not proud of it, but it happened. And if you want a word of advice, and people listening to stories always do, let me just say this: just don’t go to Crumbler’s Lane. It’s really bad.
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