The Mystery Shop
I lie back on the snowy hill, inhaling a deep breath of
piney air. The sun was straight above me, and the light filled my eyes. Despite
the cold, it was quite peaceful listening to the gentle sway of the trees and
feeling the mountain air on my face.
My Neopets and I were on our way up Terror Mountain
and we had just paused for a break. Okay… I was the one taking the break. My
Wockies, Cali and Wiseguy were throwing snowballs at each other. The coldness
of the snow was seeping through my Eyrie Sweater so I slowly sat up. My eyes
took a moment to adjust, as they were filled with white light.
I saw Cali and Wiseguy a good thirty feet away.
I stood up and they raced over to me. Cali looked like a fireball coming at
me, mainly because she had been painted Fire a few weeks ago.
"Yay! Sam's up! Sam's up!" she shouted, tugging
on my arm. "Can we go now."
"Sure," I said, wiping snow off the seat of
my pants. Cali zoomed up ahead, and Wiseguy hung back a bit. Since he was a
glowing Wocky, the snow under him turned bright green until he moved to a different
"I see the top!" Cali shouted a few minutes
later. I was glad that we were almost up to the mountaintop, as I was sure my
face was as red as an Everlasting Apple. I rubbed my gloved hands together and
stepped up to the top of the mountain.
"Wow," Cali breathed and Wiseguy grinned. The
mountaintop was dotted with little shops here and there. A group of Cybunnies
was burrowing into the snow, and a crowd had gathered over the edge, watching
"Cliffhanger!" Wiseguy shouted, thrusting his
paw towards to edge of the mountaintop. "It's where a Tuskaninny gives you a
sentence with a blank for each letter, and you have to guess the letters and
figure out the message," I was struggling to comprehend what Wiseguy was saying,
because he was talking like zaps coming from a Bzzt Blaster on rapid fire. "And
if you don't solve the message, the Tuskaninny falls off the mountain!"
I looked at my Wocky in disbelief, "He falls
off the mountain?"
"Yeah!" Wiseguy exclaimed. "Pretty funny, huh?"
"Funny for who?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.
Wiseguy's face fell, but only for a moment because
Cali was calling him over to a snowdrift.
"Look at this," Cali said. She jumped off the
drift and slid down on her belly. She landed with a thud face first in
"Terror Mountain is so cool," she said, "I don't
see why we never came here before."
"Because it's f-freezing," my teeth started
to chatter as a powerful gust of wind blew.
As Cali kept sliding down the snowdrift, Wiseguy
was scanning the area. "Hey, what's that?" He stared at a shack that was sitting
on top of a small hill.
"It looks like it's closed," said Cali, getting
up and brushing herself off.
"Let's check it out anyway."
I had to agree with Cali, the place did look
like it was closed, but you know the old saying: curiosity killed the Wocky,
or in this case, curiosity killed the Wockies, because both Cali and Wiseguy
raced up there. I followed them, eager to get out of the cold. Maybe the building
was a shop where you could buy a hot cup of Borovan. Yeah, anything warm sounded
good right now.
As we got closer, I could see that this was
no ordinary shop. It didn't have any windows but it had a long gray chimney.
A plank hung above the door with a question mark sign painted on it. Oh, yeah,
this place looked real promising. The thoughts of ordering anything warm
left my head like a needle popping a bubble.
We got to the front door and Cali knocked on
it twice. She pushed it open with her front paws and we stepped inside.
A red Ixi was sitting at a table. She stood
up and said, "Hello, all. Welcome to Tarla's Shop of Mystery."
"Are you Tarla?" Cali wondered aloud.
"Yes I am. How can I help you?"
I looked around. The only thing in this place
was a table, chair and a few sacks sitting on the floor. I immediately regretted
climbing up here because there was nothing to see.
"Would you like to purchase a mystery sack?"
Tarla asked, since none of us had said anything.
"A what?" I inquired.
"I sell mystery sacks." She acknowledged the
pile of sacks sitting by her table. "One thousand three hundred Neopoints a
piece. Would you be interested in buying one?"
"What exactly are in them?"
"Anything. You could get something really valuable,
or just a cheap Toy Sailboat."
I started to say no, but Cali and Wiseguy tugged
at my sleeves and started to beg for one. I thought the idea was completely
ridiculous, but I told my Wockies, "It's either one of these sacks or a scratch
card each. I'm not buying both, so you'll have to choose one."
Without any hesitation, Cali and Wiseguy chimed,
"The sack." So I paid Tarla the Neopoints as Cali snatched up a sack with a
leather string tied around it. And that was pretty much it.
As we started down, a group of heavily dressed
Kacheeks was making their way up to the Mystery Shop.
"Don't get your hopes up," one Kacheek was saying,
"All I got last time was a Red Kazoo."
"Great," I mumbled, "Looks like we just blew
one thousand three hundred Neopoints."
"Let's open it!" Cali shrieked and she started
to untie the string.
"Wait, wait, wait," I said, "Why don't we open
it before we take the ferry home? Then we'll have something look forward to."
I could tell Cali and Wiseguy really wanted to open the sack now, but they reluctantly
agreed with me.
"Great," I said cheerily, "Why don't we get
some lunch? I could eat a Skeith…"
We bought some Crystal Tacos at the Snow Food
Shop and ate them on a bench outside. Afterwards, we started down Terror Mountain,
with me carrying our mystery sack. I noticed that the more we started down,
the heavier and heavier the sack was getting.
I started to wonder what could be inside the
sack. My anticipation was swelling, and I was probably more curious than my
Neopets. As we arrived at the bottom of Terror Mountain, we entered Happy Valley.
We had already visited all of the attractions here, and Cali and Wiseguy were
As the three of us waited for the two o'clock
ferry back to Meridell, Wiseguy asked,
"Can we open the bag now?"
"Okay, I suppose so." I handed it to him and
Cali peered over his shoulder. Wiseguy hastily untied the string and threw the
bag open. His face went from excited to horrified faster than a light switch
going from on to off.
"Whasamatter?" Cali asked. Wiseguy showed her
what was in the bag and she gasped.
"What?" I said about to burst from anticipation.
"There's nothing in here…" Wiseguy mumbled.
"Huh?" I asked. I took a step closer and said,
"But… I could feel something in there, the bag was so heavy…"
Cali snatched the bag from Wiseguy and said,
"Look, Sam, there's really nothing in here. She turned the bag upside down and
shook it to prove her point.
Something heavy hit my foot. "Ouch!" I mumbled
as pain raced up my ankle. Cali and Wiseguy stared at me, perplexed.
"Something fell on my foot…" I said slowly,
rubbing my foot where the object struck.
"Impossible!" said Wiseguy. "We didn't see anything."
I sat down and pulled off my Wellington Boot.
My sock became damp as I set my foot down in the snow and rubbed it some more.
I put my other hand behind me and touched something smooth. Yelping, I stood
up fast and said, "What was that?"
Seeing my wild eyes and puzzled features Wiseguy
asked slowly, "Do you… do you feel okay?"
I slowly bent down and felt around for the item.
It had a handle. I pulled off my gloves and ran my fingers over the sleek wooden
surface. The object was heavy, but there was one thing that struck me as odd:
None of us could see it.
"There's nothing there," Cali said.
"Yes, there is," A growing excitement rose in
my chest, "Feel it." So Cali and Wiseguy reached for my hands, expecting to
touch them, but they hit the item instead. They both jumped back with identical
expressions on their faces.
"I think I know what this is…" I said, "but
I need to find someone who has one…" Now it was my turn to take off and I made
my way through the crowds. I checked to see what every Neopet was carrying until
I found a Kyrii holding a Snow Paint Brush.
"Excuse me," I said to the Kyrii, "may I see
that for a moment?"
She seemed very afraid to let me see the paintbrush
and I couldn't blame her. An item like that cost around five hundred thousand
Neopoints. She reluctantly handed it to me and I compared the brush to our invisible
item. Their shapes matched perfectly.
"Hey, thanks!" I called, returning her paintbrush
and running back to Cali and Wiseguy, who had been trying to keep up with me.
"You'll never guess what this is," I said, holding the item at arms length.
"What?" Cali panted.
"An Invisible Paint Brush."
Cali and Wiseguy's jaws dropped to the ground.
Then their eyes bugged like Slorg's eyes.
"No way!" Wiseguy yelled. "Holy Mint
Chocolate Chia Pop! What do we do with it?"
"I want it!" Cali declared. "I want to paint
"Hold it," I said, "I spent three hundred thousand
Neopoints for a Fire Wocky Morphing Potion, and now you want to be invisible?"
Cali frowned, "No, I guess not."
"And Wockies can't be painted invisible anyway,"
Wiseguy said matter-of-factly, sticking his tongue out at his sister. I didn't
have time to respond because the ferry pulled up and we paid and boarded.
Nobody said anything on the way back to Meridell.
Cali and Wiseguy were excited about the Invisible Paint Brush and I was thinking
about what to do with it.
Unfortunately, I must have dozed off to sleep
because the gentle bump of the ferry hitting land woke me up. I reached for
the sack at my feet but it wasn't there. Horrified, I check all around me. Then
I turned to Cali and Wiseguy,
"Did you see the--?"
"Gotcha." Wiseguy produced the bag from behind
his back. I rolled my eyes and smirked. We hopped off of the ferry and started
towards Scenic Drive.
"Hey, I know," I said. "Why don't we sell the
paint brush and buy something we all could enjoy?"
"Like what?" Cali asked.
Wiseguy's eyes sparkled, "I know the perfect
The week after that, the Invisible Paint Brush sold and the fifty thousand
Neopoints was used towards a vacation in Tyrannia. I was a lot happier because
it was much warmer and I didn't have to wear three layers of clothes.
Cali, Wiseguy and I were at the Tyrannian Plateau,
finishing up some omelettes when I said, "Well, we can thank Tarla's Mystery
Shop for this vacation."
"That was quite a shop, huh?" Cali added.
"Why don't we give the Wheel of Monotony a spin?"
said Wiseguy, and he got that glint in his eye again. "I hear you can win a
Tyrannian Paint Brush from it…"