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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 21st day of Eating, Yr 26
The Neopian Times Week 62 > Short Stories > Say Cheese!

Say Cheese!

by scriptfox

Stonrot was known throughout Meridell as a Techo that was foolish, stubborn, and prone to wild ideas. In short, his wife and son were objects of sympathy as they suffered through one crazy mess after another. One of the more famous ones happened on the heels of his idea to become rich by buying commodities.

     A stranger might assume that since he was pursuing a fortune in commodities, that Stonrot knew about them. They would be wrong. The only thing that Stonrot knew about commodities was that they were sold in the local town square. That market day saw him there, eagerly peering at all the produce and telling everyone how he was about to make his fortune in commodities. He got lots of laughs, but not many took him seriously. It was just his luck that the Poogle that did take him seriously had ideas of his own.

     "Hello, there, friend. I hear you're interested in commodities."

     "Interested? Oh you could call it that. I'm sort of the expert on commodities around here."

     "I see. Well, then, might I interest you in a load of them?"

     "Oh, possibly, possibly. What have you got?"

     "Here they are- watch out for the wagon tongue there! Oh, dear, my apologies about that."

     "Ahhhh.... never mind. Where's these commodities...?"

     It was getting late in the day when Fenrot, Stonrot's wife, looked out the window. "Goodness gracious! Here comes your father, and he's got a wagonload of something!"

     "Eh, he does?" Pebrot, Stonrot's son, poked his head up to see. "Yeah, he does. Wonder what pop got himself now."

     "I don't know, but with his wild talk this morning there's no telling. He had a hundred Neopoints, too. Mark my words, it's trouble!"

     "When is it not?" Pebrot muttered under his breath as they went out to see what had happened.

     "I've cornered the cheese market!" Stonrot crowed as he hopped down from the wagon. "A hundred Neopoints, and I've got more cheese than anyone could shake a stick at!"

     His wife and son stared into the wagon. Stonrot was right. It was piled high with cheeses of all colours. Large wheels of cheese of almost every type were present. "Well!" Fenrot exclaimed. "At least we'll have cheese for supper tonight!"

     "For supper? Woman, I bought these to SELL!"

     "But... can't we have a little taste?"

     Stonrot's face contorted in a scowl. "Taste? Yeah, of success. Hey, I like that, a taste of success. Son, grab that top cheese there, we'll have it for supper tonight."

     "Right-o dad!"

     The taste proved to be quite an event. Stonrot hacked through the wax covering of the cheese and served out portions to everyone. All three Techos took a bite simultaneously. All three of them choked and grabbed for bread, grapes, even lemons- anything to kill the acrid taste of spoiled cheese. Once she recovered the power of speech, Fenrot let her husband know exactly what he could do with his cheeses. He argued back, of course, but she'd learned a few things in the course of their marriage that could come under the heading of survival instincts.

     In the end, he didn't throw them away, but they sat in his shed, looking quite pretty in their hard shells. Every now and then he'd go kick a couple as he tried to decide how to make money off them. One day, a particularly violent kick sent the stack tumbling, and one of the cheeses rolled out of the open door. Stonrot immediately ran after it, shouting and waving his arms.

     Stonrot had almost caught up with his cheese when it hit a hole and flipped over. His toe immediately came into contact with the cheese and he wound up skidding nose first into the dirt. Shaking his head, he looked up as he heard raucous laughter.

     "Hey, neighbour! What's with the rolling cheese? Going to start some sort of new contest?"

     Stonrot gritted his teeth as Tyngor, a purple Eyrie from next door, burst out laughing again. "Actually, yes. I'm going to have folks roll cheeses down the hill out here, see and..."

     "And what?"

     "And... well if they do it fast enough, they get to keep the cheese!"

     "Hah! Who'd want a cheese that's been rolled in the dirt?"

     "But they're coated! Look at that baby!" he patted the cheese. "Solid wax coating half an inch thick, hard as a rock and perfect protection against anything!"

     "Yeah, I guess so. I still don't believe it. It sounds even nuttier than your usual get rich schemes."

     "Oh, I'll make money all right, I'll..."

     "Eh? You'll what?"

     "I'll charge people! Yeah, see, you put up so many Neopoints to roll the cheese, and if you roll it down to the bottom of the hill by the time I, er..."

     Tyngor was beginning to look interested. "By the time you what?"

     "By the time my egg timing glass runs out, you get to keep it!"

     "Hmm. I wonder if that idea is wacky enough to work. Nah, probably not."

     "Oh it'll work! I'll even let you be my first customer!"

     "Huh? Me?"

     "Yes, you! For a flat fee of ten Neopoints, you get your pick of any of these cheeses. Big, little, all of them nice and round and just waiting to speed down that hill!"

     Stonrot had a glib tongue, and before Tyngor knew what had happened, he found himself at the top of the hill clutching a particularly large wheel of honey cheese, with Stonrot at the bottom holding up the timer.

     "OK, start rolling... NOW!" and Stonrot flipped the timing glass over.

     Tyngor knocked the cheese and fluttered downhill after it, trying to keep it upright and away from the potholes that dotted Stonrot's poorly repaired drive. He was doing pretty good until he hit a low branch. By the time he got the cheese upright again, Stonrot was regretfully shaking his head.

     "You're all out, I'm afraid. Better luck next time."

     "But I can do better than that! That branch was just bad luck!"

     "Well for another ten points..."

     The second time Tyngor managed to dodge the branch, but a couple of potholes had him swerving off the path. By the time he reached the bottom, Stonrot simply held up the finished egg timer.

     "But, but, but..."

     "Sorry, Tyngor, but I've got another customer. Your go, Grelpstey."

     Tyngor sighed with disappointment as he watched the newcomer roll a spicy juppie cheese downhill. His only comfort was that Grelpstey didn't have any better luck. By this time, there were plenty of willing contestants, and there was a small crowd of Neopets watching and cheering them on as well.

     The day ended with over three hundred Neopoints in Stonrot's pocket, and seven cheeses given to lucky winners. He lost no time in crowing about it to his wife and son. They were surprised, but still sceptical. Bitter experience had taught them that disaster usually loomed behind Stonrot's every temporary success. In this case, the disaster started in seven different households of Meridell's countryside that night as seven families discovered what they had won.

     The next morning dawned bright and clear. Stonrot stepped outside his front door to find a huge crowd clustered at the foot of the hill.

     He pointed to it triumphantly. "What did I tell you! I've got so many customers that they'll never all have time to roll a cheese!"

     Pebrot and Fenrot stared at the crowd. "I don't know, dad," Pebrot replied. "They don't look exactly right. Are you sure.."

     He might as well have saved his breath. Stonrot had trotted downhill towards the gathered mob.

     "Good morning, all of you fine people!" He called. "Who wants to be the first to roll a prime cheese today? Ten Neopoints will get you a chance to win a premium, top of the line..."

     "Ah, don't give me that guff!" growled a bulky Draik as he stepped out of the crowd. "I got one of those cheeses at my house. The thing's off! It's sourer than a tax collector's puss, and more acrid than lye soap! I paid ten good Neopoints to you, and it ain't worth even rolling down the blasted hill in the first place!"

     Stonrot's jaw dropped. "Sir! Are you saying that my cheeses are anything less than astonishing?"

     "No, I'm not. I'm saying they're Stonrot bad! You've pilfered money from us and the only astonishing thing is how bad your product is!"

     Stonrot sighed dramatically and raised his arms in a helpless gesture. "I suppose there's always a sorehead in every crowd. How about you, Youngstong? Weren't you ready to roll a cheese yesterday when we had to quit?"

     The red Skeith shifted a bit nervously. "I changed my mind," he growled. "I saw some of those cheeses after they opened them. They're like you, Stonrot- they rot!" Stonrot began to look alarmed. "But wait a minute here!"

     "Wait nothing!" the offended Draik roared at him. "You're lucky, Stonrot, I'm not wanting my money back- but I don't want your cheese either!"

     Stonrot's jaw dropped in amazement. "Huh?"

     "Here!" With that, Stonrot's dissatisfied customer threw a large hunk of rotten cheese at him. It was a perfect shot as it landed directly in Stonrot's open mouth.

"Thbbptt puttt bbchttt!!!" he cried.

     A roar of laughter went up from the crowd. "Got him!" someone yelled. "C'mon, guys, let's give him ours too!" More moldy chunks of cheese flew through the air, many of them landing on their target.

     Tyngor reared up at the edge of the crowd and snapped his wings to get everyone's attention. "Hey!" he bellowed. "What are we doing messing about with just those few chunks? We've got lots more in that shed waiting for us! Come on!"

     A roar of approval came from the mob as it surged uphill towards Stonrot's storage shed. Someone who had acute hearing might have heard Stonrot's despairing cry of "Noooo!" as he saw his profits being ripped from their precious storage and hacked to pieces. Then again, no one was paying attention to what he was saying, anyway. Everyone had decided that cheese throwing was much more fun than cheese rolling, and the initial wave of cheese slices descended mercilessly upon poor Stonrot. He slipped, skidded, and finally wound up flat as the pelted cheeses began to form stinking layers on top of him.

     In the end, only one thing saved him from total destruction. The huge cloud of stink was not confined to him alone. It clung to the hands of those that threw it as well, and it began to spread. After a few minutes, everyone broke apart, coughing and choking from the acrid fumes. The cries subsided and the mob dispersed. Of course, the fact that they'd run out of cheeses might have played a part in it, too.

     Fenrot and Pebrot had watched the whole thing from the front steps. Well, Pebrot had watched it all, at least. Fenrot had covered her eyes when the shed had been broken open.

     "Is it safe now?" she quavered.

     "Yeah, mom, relax. Everyone's gone home, looks like. Poor dad got creamed, though. Or would that be cheesed?"

     Fenrot looked downhill at the huge mess that littered the drive, and the pile of moldy cheese which marked where her husband had last been seen. "Oh dear, oh dear." She made to start downhill and then stopped. "He is OK, isn't he?" she quavered.

     "Should be. Yeah, look--see?"

     Fenrot looked at the base of the pile where her son was pointing and heaved a sigh of relief. It was moving and splitting apart as Stonrot struggled to free himself from his moldy entombment. "Thank the good faeries! At least that wild idea is over with now!"

     "Oh, I don't know," Pebrot remarked thoughtfully. "Actually it wasn't a bad idea, it was just the cheeses that were bad. If you had good cheeses, it'd go over great. Of course, they'd cost more, too, so you'd need to charge more than just ten Neopoints"

     Fenrot stared at her son in horror as he began mumbling to himself. "Pebrot! What are you saying?"

     "...probably have to take a slice out to show everyone they were good, too. Huh? Oh, just thinking. It might work at that!"

     "No! Please, tell me you aren't going to do this, too! My nerves can't take any more of this!"

     "Oh don't worry, mom. I can't right now. I'll wait until the stink from this mess dies down..."

     Stonrot was trudging uphill and the waves of rotten fumes hit his small family. Both of them choked and gasped.

     "...I think that'll take a long time, though!" Pebrot finally wheezed.

The End

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