A Yurble stole my cinnamon roll! Circulation: 94,333,932 Issue: 184 | 1st day of Eating, Y7
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Cafeteria Chaos: Part One


by shadih_temporary

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It wasn't very unusual to hear several hundred gags emerging from the cafeteria around 12:30 PM. That was when the oldest pets in the school were served. They were served last. And by then, the younger pets had devoured all the fresh and edible food. All the cold and nasty food was left behind for the elders. That's just how it was, unfortunately. And it was to stay that way: boring and disgusting.

      But then, this one day, everything changed.

     ***

      "Now, who can tell me the name of the pet who founded Neopia Central?" Mrs. Green, a brown Wocky who always wore a rather stunning green jacket, spoke.

      The many students seated in the desks placed around Mrs. Green's classroom simply looked at one another, sort of hinting with a facial expression that they had no clue in the world. Mrs. Green closed her eyes and laughed softly. She opened her eyes again and stared at the class, smiling, and her hands on her hips.

      "Yea, you don't know the answer, do ya?" Mrs. Green grinned.

      "No," said the class in unison.

      "Well," Mrs. Green began, "That is what you are here for. Welcome to Early Neopian History! Here we will learn about all sorts of super fun things! Such as the ever-famous battle between Meridell and the Darigan Citadel, some of our early rulers, how Neopia has changed and advanced over the years, etcetera, etcetera!"

      The students paid no attention to Mrs. Green's enthusiastic speech. They were all too busy watching the clock hung up on the wall above their history teacher's desk, eagerly awaiting 12:30 PM. Because at that time, all the students in that particular school put down their paper and pencil, arose from their seats, met up with their friends, and marched to the cafeteria. That's right, it was lunchtime! Or, it would be soon.

      "Now, class, we shall begin our assignment for the day," said Mrs. Green. "Pull out the textbooks I assigned you and turn to page 32."

      A few students walking around in the hallway outside stopped at Mrs. Green's door and stared in wonder as several loud moans and groans could be heard inside.

      "We have to do work?!" cried one student.

      "But it's the first day of school!" cried another.

      As the bickering and fighting went on, a small trio of friends sat in the back of the classroom, communicating with one another in a way. Jean, a Blue Wocky, removed a purple, ballpoint pen from her backpack and unfolded the note placed on her desk. It was from her friends, Gav and Ave, who were sitting right next to her.

      Jean and her friends always communicated through notes in a classroom, no matter how close together they were, or if the teacher allowed them to chit-chat. They thought it only to be courteous not to talk, but to use paper and pen instead, as not to give their instructor a migraine.

      Once she was done replying to the note, Jean placed the top back on her pen and folded the note three times. She flung it over her shoulder so that it landed on Ave's desk. Ave was a blue Eyrie who could be so full of himself sometimes, always preening and admiring his face, but he was still a really nice guy. And then there was Gav, the blue Lenny. Gav was what you would call a scaredy-cat, seeing as how even the slightest drop of a pin could scare the feathers off of him. Jean had no problem hanging out with two males, even though she was female.

      Suddenly, to everyone but Mrs. Green's delight, the bell rang, signaling that it was time for lunch. The 27 students in Mrs. Green's Early Neopian History class slammed their textbooks shut and hopped out of their desks. Mrs. Green sighed and dropped her textbook, letting it land on the tiled floor with a loud THUD! The door to Mrs. Green's classroom swung open, and the students raced out of the room. All but Jean, Gav, and Ave, that is.

      They didn't eat lunch.

      Jean slowly climbed out of her desk after setting her purple pen down and strode over to Mrs. Green, who was bent down and picking up the textbook she dropped.

      "Um… Mrs. Green…?" Jean said.

      Mrs. Green took the textbook off of the poorly swept tile and arose from her kneeling position. She set the book on her desk and studied Jean for a moment. Mrs. Green smiled and pointed at Jean. "Don't tell me. Your name is… Jenny?"

      Jean laughed. "Nah. Guess again?"

      "Judie? Jessie? Man… I know it starts with a 'J'!" Mrs. Green laughed, as well. "Okay, I give up."

      "Jean."

      "Ah, I knew it!"

      "Um, anyways… Mrs. Green, I was wondering if my friends and I could sit in your classroom while the other kids pig out on the nasty cafeteria food?"

      Gav and Ave waved to Mrs. Green.

      "You're not going to eat?" Mrs. Green seemed rather shocked.

      "Um… no," Jean arched an eyebrow. "Are you crazy? I'd rather not eat food that's still alive and breathing."

      Mrs. Green chuckled. "Witty. Okay, you can stay. I'll stay, too. I don't eat lunch, either."

      Jean smiled. "Thanks!"

      She skipped across the room and plopped into her desk.

      "Oh, Jean!" Mrs. Green called to the Wocky as soon as she sat down. "I forgot, I need you to go down to the teacher's lounge and get me a newspaper. If you don't mind."

      "Oh, no ma'am, I don't mind," Jean said, getting out of her seat. Gav and Ave lay their heads on the cold top of the desk.

      "Only problem is, I don't know where the teacher's lounge is…" Jean placed her hands behind her back.

      "Oh, it's quite easy to get there," Mrs. Green smiled from behind her own desk. "You do know where the cafeteria is, no?"

      "Yes."

      "Well, simply cut through the cafeteria, and you'll find yourself in a long, narrow hallway. Alas, the door right in front of you, Room 255, is the Teacher's Lounge."

      "Oh, I see. Be right back!"

      Jean spun around and walked casually out of the classroom. She shut Mrs. Green's door behind her, and then started down the hallway and towards the cafeteria. As she neared the cafeteria, the sounds of pets screaming and hollering rang in her ears.

      "Man, school cafeterias are always the same," Jean rolled her eyes. "And there's no way to get it through these kids' heads that you don't have to yell at the top of your lungs to talk to someone sitting right next you."

      Finally, Jean reached the end of the hallway, but only to find that the doors to the cafeteria were shut tight. "Holy Kau! The doors are closed and I could hear the screaming loudly and clearly all the way down the hall!" Jean exclaimed, flabbergasted. "Do I dare open them…?"

      She gulped, and finally brought up enough courage to lift her arm and place it on the handle of the cafeteria door. Jean inhaled and pushed forward, causing the door to swing open. The Wocky was greeted with what sounded just like the Battle for Meridell. Pets hollered to their friends as loudly as they possibly could. Food and eating utensils flew through the air as the overly hyperactive pets darted around the cafeteria and gossiped.

      Jean grimaced at the sight of the activities occurring. She then remembered what she had come to the cafeteria for, and took to scanning the large room with her eyes, searching for the doors that lead into the narrow hallway she needed to get to. Finally, she located it. The double doors were right across the room from Jean, but it was nearly impossible to see them due to the fact that a group of about 50 million pets stood in front of the doors, talking their teeth off.

      "Ugh, there's no way I can walk through all those pets," Jean spoke to herself.

      Instead of attempting the insane feat, Jean turned to her right and walked towards the kitchen. Hardly anyone was standing there. When Jean reached the door to the kitchen, she started to head towards the double doors, but this time from a different angle. Unfortunately, she failed. There was just no way she was getting through those pets.

      "Gosh, the cafeteria is not an insane asylum! It's a cafeteria!" Jean screamed as loudly as she possibly could. Still, no one heard her.

      Jean spun around, enraged, and marched into the kitchen. She didn't care if it was off limits to students. She just wanted to get someone,anyone, out there to monitor those crazy pets! Jean stomped past the ovens and the stoves and arrived at the very back of the kitchen to find two rather fat pets talking to one another.

      One was a Yellow Elephante, and the other was a Blue Bruce. They were both lunch ladies.

      "Um, excuse me…" Jean said, softly. She had all of a sudden lost her want to yell and scream at the women for not watching the pets in the cafeteria. Jean was shy like that. She could tell herself that she is going to yell at someone a million times, and she would always, always lose the courage to do so right before she is supposed to do it.

      "And then I says to her… do ya wanna know what I says to her? I says to her, "Girl, yo' shoes be ugly!" And then she says to me… do ya wanna know what she says to me? She says…"

      The large, Yellow Elephante seemed to be chattering away as the equally large, Blue Bruce leaned on the white counter beside her and stared off into space, pretending to listen. The Elephante suddenly ceased the talking and turned to look at me. The Bruce seemed rather pleased with the fact that the Elephante had shut up.

      "Yea?" said the Elephante.

      "Um… hi," Jean put on a fake smile. "Did you know that the kids in the cafeteria are acting as if they're caged beasts in a zoo?"

      The Elephante rolled her eyes. "Baby, there ain't nothing you or I can do 'bout 'dose children out there. So, just take yo' little behind outta 'dis off-limits kitchen and go eat ya slop."

      She slammed her fist on the counter, totally smashing an orange that had been placed there for some reason. Jean stared at the Elephante, rather shocked. After a moment's silence, she finally managed to utter some words. "Um… okay. See ya."

      Jean turned around, and began to walk away. But then, she decided to ask the lunch ladies if they could at least walk out with her and guide her through the cafeteria. Jean spun around on her foot so that she could face the Elephante and Bruce.

      But when she turned around, the lunch ladies… were gone. The same, exact spot where the lunch ladies had once stood was now empty. All that remained was the counter the fat Bruce had been leaning on.

      "What the…?" Jean blinked in shock. "Hello?! Is there anyone back here?"

      There came no answer. The lunch ladies had literally vanished into thin air! Or… had they?

      "Gee, I hope I didn't just make those lunch ladies up," Jean continued to stare at the counter.

      She thought long and hard about the two fat women she had just spoken to, and then noticed the now squashed orange. "Oh! I couldn't have been imagining things! There's the orange that the Elephante smashed!"

      Small furrows appeared in Jean's eyes as she examined the counter. A sudden flickering light caught her attention. Jean lifted her head to stare at the ceiling. A large, flickering, fluorescent light was what had caught Jean's eyes. But as that Wocky looked at the light, she noticed something rather odd right next to it. It was one of the ceiling tiles. Yet, this tile wasn't like the rest. It wasn't in place, and a small crack leading up into the ceiling was shown, as if someone had pushed the tile to the side, climbed into the ceiling, and didn't put the tile back correctly.

      But, that's not what astonished Jean. As she was staring at the tile skeptically, it fidgeted a little. Jean gasped slightly at the site of a squirming tile. The tile slid over to the right a bit, and was now back in its original place. Jean blinked twice, gaping with wide eyes at the tile. She suddenly turned and darted out of the eerily quiet kitchen.

     ***

      Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, far, far away, a tall and dark figure watched Jean on a large screen. He chuckled to himself, smiling evilly.

      "It's working…" the figure muttered.

     ***

      "Actually, I, myself, used to go kau-tipping at night. But that was when I was young and foolish, you know? Oh! And did I tell you about the…"

      Mrs. Green ceased her talking when Jean turned the handle to the classroom door and entered the room, a brand new issue of the Neopian Times clutched in her hands.

      "Hi Jean," the three pets in the classroom greeted Jean as one.

      "Oooh, thanks for getting me my newspaper, Jean," Mrs. Green smiled and extended her hand. Jean smiled back and placed the newspaper in Mrs. Green's palm, nodding and walking to her desk in the back of the room.

      "You took long enough," Ave scoffed.

      "Yeah, what were you doing that made you take so long?" Gav questioned Jean.

      Jean looked at the two and inhaled. "If you've seen the cafeteria, you'll know why I took so flipping long. It's like a zoo in there! It's nearly impossible to get to the other side of the gym without your tail being ripped off or something!"

      "Mm hmm… sure," Ave grinned. "Jean was probably out throwing eggs at some kid's bike or something,"

      Jean laughed and sort of punched Ave on the arm. She didn't intend to hurt the Eyrie. It was but a playful punch. Mrs. Green unfolded her newspaper and took to reading the editorial section, immediately. She sat down in her desk, removed a pair of reading glasses from a scarlet-coloured case, and put them on.

      Jean lay her head down on her desk and stared off into space, thinking about the two mysterious cafeteria workers she had met earlier on. Why did those women try to shoo Jean out of the kitchen so quickly? Was it because the kitchen was off-limits? If so, why was the kitchen off-limits? Where did the lunch ladies go? Did they really vanish into thin air? And what was with the odd ceiling tile in the kitchen? All the questions and more raced through Jean's head.

      Suddenly, a small, folded piece of paper landed on the desk in front of Jean. Jean raised her head and picked up the note, examining it. She looked to her left at Gav and Ave, who motioned for Jean to read the note. Jean turned back to the note and unfolded it.

      "i know u r lying. wat really happened when u went to go get mrs. brown's newspaper??"

      Jean read the note aloud, but very silently. It was Ave who wrote it, obviously. Gav never used improper spelling in grammar when he wrote something, even if it was private and only for his eyes. Ave, on the other hand, never used proper grammar when he wrote notes. But with anything else, it seemed as if Ave had sets of dictionaries and thesauruses at the ready as he wrote them! Jean took the purple, ballpoint pen that she always used off of her desk and removed the top. She then wrote her reply to the note:

      "I'll tell you after school. Meet me at my house. ~`Jean"

     ***

      Ding dong!

      The sudden ring of a doorbell caused Jean to hop up and roll off the side of her bed, dropping the rather interesting book she was completely lost in. Jean lifted herself off of her polished, wooden floor, and departed from her room. The doorbell was rung several hundred more times as Jean walked down the stairs leading to the first floor. It was Ave and Gav at the door, without a doubt.

      Jean stepped off of the bottom step of her flight of stairs, and trudged over to the front door. As soon as Jean pulled the door open, Gav and Ave burst inside of her home and kicked the door shut, behind them.

      "Okay, we're here!" Ave exclaimed.

      "Thanks for pointing that out…" Jean eyed the Eyrie.

      "Cut the small talk," Gav snapped. "Tell us exactly what happened! You're looking at two really curious pets here!"

      "Okay, okay!" Jean cried. "Follow,"

      Jean took Gav and Ave up the stairs and into her bedroom. She shut the door behind her and sat in the rolling chair that always stood in front of her desk. Gav and Ave sat on the bed, looking around at Jean's rather messy room.

      "Okay, I'll just go ahead and tell you flat out what happened," Jean spun around in the chair very slowly, moving herself with her feet.

      "Well…?" Gav began messing with a tag on Jean's bed covers.

      "Okay… please, please, PLEASE don't think of me as crazy as I tell you this," Jean stopped spinning. "But… okay, when I got into the lunchroom, it was PACKED. That part was true. And because of that, I couldn't get through the cafeteria. So I went into the kitchen to tell a cafeteria worker that they needed someone out there, monitoring the rowdy students. I met two employees, and one tried to get me out of the kitchen as quickly as possible. So, I turned around, starting to leave. But, I turned around to face the two lunch ladies again, and they were gone! They had disappeared without a trace! And I know I didn't make them up, because an orange that one of the workers smashed with her hand was sitting right in front of me on the counter. When I saw that they had vanished, I was like, "Whoa! What the heck?", and started looking around for them. All I saw was a ceiling tile being moved by someone… or something… on the other side of it. And… that's about it,"

      Gav and Ave sat silently on the bed, frozen in place. They were staring wide-eyed in awe at Jean. Jean stared back at them, and slowly inched her face closer and closer towards them. Suddenly, she thrust both of her paws forward, clapping them very loudly in Gav and Ave's face. The two suddenly snapped out of their trances and shook their heads.

      Finally, Ave spoke. "Well… that was… fairly…"

      "Interesting," Gav finished Ave's sentence.

      Ave put on a fake smile. "Why, thanks you Gav,"

      "Whoo hoo, I'm sure it was," Jean rolled her eyes. "Now, you guys believe me, don't you?"

      Ave shrugged. "I dunno about GAV here…"

      Gav smiled.

      "…but, I believe you, Jean," Ave decided to finish his sentence. "Why wouldn't I? I mean, I don't necessarily think that the lunch ladies all of a sudden went "POOF!" and disappeared in a puff of purple smoke or something. Maybe they just ran out of the room very quickly and silently as you turned around,"

      "Maybe…" Jean stared at the floor. "But what about that weird ceiling tile?"

      Gav lifted his wing. "I believe I can explain the idea of the haunted ceiling tile. You see, our poorly kept school has a serious Barbat problem. I'm 99 percent sure that what made the ceiling tile move was but a wild Barbat,"

      "And the other 1 percent?" Jean looked up from the floor and stared into Gav's eyes. "Remember, the tile didn't just move. It was pushed back into place. I doubt a Barbat would know exactly how a ceiling tile was supposed to be when it's in its proper place."

      "I doubt that, too," Gav nodded. "BUT… remember, it could have been an accident. Possibly, the Barbat bumped into the ceiling tile while flying around in the pitch black dark, and it was pushed back into place,"

      "Why are you so sure it's a Barbat?" Jean arched an eyebrow.

      "I'm not," Gav replied, eying Jean.

      Jean crossed her arms, and stared long and hard at Gav from behind her chair. After a while, Ave stepped in and waved his paw up and down in Jean's face. "Neopia to Jean!" he cried.

      Jean shook her head, and got out of her chair. She sat down on the bed next to Gav. "It wasn't a Barbat,"

      "Whatever," Gav rolled his eyes.

      Ave collapsed on the bed.

To be continued…

 
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