Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 81,443,838 Issue: 152 | 8th day of Hiding, Y6
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A Night at the No Vacancy Motel


by too_kule

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The boughs of the trees groaned under the wind's force, swaying hither and thither like a cheap toupee. Rain fell from the star-strewn sky, coming down in cascades like a Neopet who drank way too much NeoCola and hurried to the bathroom to... spit in the sink. Yes. That.

The weather was fierce that night, and seemed to exist solely for punishing the writer for his cheesy analogies.

Five figures sped through the darkness, hands over heads to stop the rain. They had been taking a casual walk through a forest bordering Neopia Central when night unexpectedly fell (as it often does in Neopia after fifteen hours of sunlight), and the rain began to fall (as it often does in Neopia when you call Adam a smelly-head).

The Draik, Tonu, Zafara, and Moehog sped through the undergrowth, accompanied by their owner, a teenager named TK.

Suddenly, as the thickets gave way to a rather large clearing, a tall sign came into their vision. Painted upon it in red was the word 'Motel'. In smaller, darker letters, were the words 'No Vacancy' were written.

"We're saved!" TK cried out, peering up at the scrubby sign. "Guys, this is an amazing stroke of luck! Lost in the middle of a strange forest, and we find the No Vacancy Motel!"

The starry Draik, a bespectacled one named JadePaw, coughed and piped up. "Er… TK? I actually don't believe it's called the 'No Vacancy Motel'. I think it's just a motel, and that sign above it means that it actually does have no vaca-"

TK, however, whose mind had gone blank after the first four-syllable word, sped ahead towards the motel. His Neopets, who remained in his wake, showed a bit more skepticism.

"Why is that dark smoke and the scent of roasted Spyders coming from that chimney?"

"What's up with all those broken windows?"

"Is that wall supposed to have to message 'I'M COMING BACK FOR YOU' painted in red?"

TK, however, seemed unperturbed. "We all know Spyders contain many essential nutrients and toxins. And who could deny the charm that broken windows and random threats add to a place like this? Come on in, now, the rain is freezing."

Hesitantly, the others followed their owner into the motel. Now, if you happened to find the outside of the motel endearing, then you'd undoubtedly think the same about the inner. The gaping holes in both the ceiling and floor perfectly accented the wilted and rotting potted plant in the corner. The water that had oozed through the ceiling and was dripping down the walls worked as well as any crown molding would, and the dung-brown wallpaper (which, in all likelihood, was not its original colour) added the finishing touch to such a room. In short, the motel lobby was disgusting, appalling, and fit for neither Neopet nor human residence.

"It's perfect!" TK proclaimed, gazing up at the walls with a grin. "I mean, just look at this wonderful 'putrid dung-pen' theme that the lobby has! Why, that infestation of rubber Moaches looks almost realistic!"

The clerk, a rather unkempt Yurble who seemed to have an expanding belly that matched his receding hairline, gave a nervous laugh. "Uh… hehe… yeah… rubber… you'll find that all the rooms in this 'ere motel contain that dung theme yer talkin' 'bout." He gazed down at the four Neopets, his face contorting into a horrid and intensely disturbing smile. "Are you 'lil ones enjoying yer stay?"

"No," EmeraldBlitz, the Darigan Zafara, replied.

"No," SilverEmerald, the Halloween Moehog, added.

"No," GoldenRhino, the baby Tonu, echoed, glaring at the clerk.

"Aaaw, aren't they so cute when they're fueled by utter contempt and jealousy of those pets on the street," TK said, not picking up on his pets' sudden desires to leap upon him. "It'll be just us four for the night, thanks," he added to the Yurble.

He shook his head. "No vacancies. That's what the sign said."

"Oh… sorry, it's so hard when your motel is named after the sign you put up when you have no room. Well, I guess if you don't h-"

The human was cut short, for at that very moment, a Wocky came tearing down from the staircase, screaming, "It's alive! It's alive!" She bolted through the motel's door, which seemed to have fallen off its hinges upon the quintet's entrance. The Yurble turned to them, and said, "One o' our customers had an urgent meetin'. I'll take you up to yer room if yer ready."

"Appointment?" Jade burst out. "What? That Wocky came screaming from her room; we just saw her!"

The Yurble scratched his backside, peered at her, scratched his backside once more, and said, "I'll be takin' you to yer room now."

***

"TK, there are funny stains all over the carpet, and that thing in the sink still hasn't stopped moving. Can we go home now?"

Remaining adamant, the owner shook his head. "Come on, guys. I think you four are too comfortable in your lower-middle-class lifestyle that you forget that there are those who are less fortunate than you. They're eating from the Soup Kitchen as we speak!"

"Lucky gits…" Silver muttered.

"One of these days, I'm going to take you camping, so you can roast marshmallows over an open fire like your ancestors did. Now," TK continued, "I'll just order room service and we'll have some food to munch on." He picked up the small, paper menu and began peering at the selection.

"As long as it's not made of roasted Mootix, I'm happy," GoldenRhino muttered.

"Oh… er… well, we all ate before leaving this morning, so room service isn't really necessary, right?" TK said, tossing the menu aside. "In fact, why don't we stay up talking and playing word-games as a family?"

His pets were suddenly asleep within the blink of eye.

***

The Halloween Moehog jerked awake, roused by a sudden sound. Not drawing a breath, he listened. From the ventilation, he could hear a loud rattling sound. Shrieks and moans were also circulating through the walls.

"Psst. JadePaw. JadePaw!"

Only half-conscious mumblings came from the Draik.

"JadePaw, are you awake? JadePaw? JADEPAW!"

The starry Draik suddenly awoke, staring around. "Silver, what is it? Are you okay?"

Silver nodded. "Yeah, I just wanted to ask whether or not you were awake."

The Draik blinked in the darkness. "You get more and more like TK everyday; it's scary." She slumped back down on her mattress with a symphony of the springs. After a moment, though, she rose again. The rattling had returned again, along with the moaning.

"Come on, I'm going to find out where it's coming from," Silver said, jumping from his bed. He strode over to the door, Jade bringing up the rear, leaving GoldenRhino, EmeraldBlitz, and a snoring TK in the room.

"Hey guys," TK said, greeting them in the hall.

Silver's eyes bulged. "TK! How could… you were just in the motel room! You were asleep!"

Their owner simply laughed. "A writer can change the state and position of his characters at any time during a story for convenience. You will also know I have an impossibly accurate knowledge of this motel, for I can tell you that the central ventilation is all connected in the basement. I also can take you there."

"TK, the hall's all dark. I can't see a thing."

TK snapped his fingers, and the halls were illuminated with a dim glow.

"What the…?"

TK strode off towards the basements with his two Neopets in his wake. After a moment, they had returned to the lobby, and passed through a door marked with 'Staff Only'. They went down a flight of stairs, and stopped right before a door. Pressing her ear to the door, Jade could tell that there was someone behind it.

"Okay," she whispered, "whoever is causing the trouble is behind this door. You ready, TK?"

TK paused, crossed his arms, and adopted a serious, musing look. "I want to write a book of short stories."

"You- we're… uh… what?" Jade stammered.

"A book of short stories, and every one of those stories will begin with, 'Once upon a time…'"

"TK, I believe there's a word beginning with 'cl-' for that," Silver said.

"Yes. Classic."

The Draik shook her head, and pushed open the door. Standing there, next to an open ventilation duct, was the Yurble who had given them their room. They gasped.

"Aha!" Silver shouted. "At long last, we find the answer to the mystery! The culprit was the motel clerk, the only suspect we had thought of! How… predictable."

"Yeah, it was me!" the Yurble cried. "I come to this 'ere ventilation thingy every night, an' make sounds an' toss rocks in ter scare you people from the motel, so we can get more vacancies an' more customers!"

"How convenient. A complete confession," Jade said, monotonously.

"You know, if you had just acted nice to the guests, they might even come back to this motel, which would give you even more Neopoints," Silver added.

"Er… no it wouldn't," the Yurble said.

TK scratched his head. "How does that work?"

The Yurble shrugged. "It just… does."

***

A throng of Defenders of Neopia had crowded around the motel, ready to take the motel clerk into custody, just as the sun was ready to peak up over the horizon.

"Curse you!" the Yurble shouted. "And I would've gotten away with it if it weren't for you meddling kids and your pesky dog!"

"What are you talking about?" GoldenRhino spat.

"I wouldn't put it past TK to drink from the toilet bowl, but that's as close as it gets," Blitz said.

The Yurble growled. "Fine! Then I would've gotten away with it if it weren't for you and your meddling children!"

Jade stared up, horrified. "Woooah, so you mean to tell me that TK is my father!?"

"Scary notion," TK added.

Judge Hog marched up to the five of them. "Good job. We've been tailing this Yurble for ages. He's been causing havoc in many motels and Neolodge branches all over. You will all receive commendations for your work."

"Hah, that's so cool!" TK exclaimed.

"GOT YOU! Haha! This whole ordeal has just been a set-up. We've been having an informant tail you since you checked in to the motel. This is actually part of 'reality' bit for the Neopian Times we've been setting up, and you've all fallen victim of our little prank. Boy, did we get you good."

"Wow! Really?"

"Actually, no. We're just really, really bad at our job." Judge Hog turned to the rest of the superheroes, all clad in spandex. "Defenders, we fly!" At that, the Defenders of Neopia all shot up into the sky with the Yurble in their clutches. TK, Jade, Silver, Blitz and GoldenRhino were all left to stare at them soar off.

TK tilted his gaze from the sky to his pets. "So, now what? I suppose we could always order that room servi-"

TK didn't regain consciousness until hours later.

And they all lived happily ever after. (Dig the classic ending!)

The End

Note: After several attempts at publication, TK gave up trying to do the short story book. Instead, he went on to professionally sing show tunes with a piece of asparagus up his nose. And to this day, his pets still deny relation to him.

 
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