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The Lone Howler

by kindheartedfairy



      Brian woke up immediately. What had that been? A howl? Had it really been there? Was he imagining things?


      The White Pteri shook his head. He wasn't imagining things. A Lupe was really out there, in the forest.

      There were many stories about that forest, but each told of how the forest was eternally haunted. There were tales of ghosts, real ghosts, not the Ghost-painted Neopets, that had all died lost in that forest, tales of how Neopians had disappeared. It was said that when some of the evil creatures in the Haunted Woods ran out of room, they moved to that thick forest. Ever since the tales had spread, few young Neopians ever dared to enter the "Forest of Darkness".


      The next day at school, everyone was talking about the howls that they had heard last night.

      Brian looked around for his friend. There she was, putting books in her locker and taking some out as though nothing was going on. Of course, Brian thought. Rebecca would never listen to the rumors about the "Forest of Darkness". She even refused to call it that. She insisted there was nothing scary in the forest. He ran up to her.

      "Everyone's just talking on and on about there being werelupes in that forest. Everyone knows werelupes don't exist," Rebecca complained, not even looking at Brian. She turned around to look at the clock. "Good. It's time for class. They can't possibly have illogical fiction there."

      Just then, the bell rang, and Brian and Rebecca hurried to class.

      But Rebecca's statement was not true. The Forest of Darkness and the creature inhabiting it would be the first thing discussed.

      "Now, class," Ms. Brown began, "today we will learn about the- yes, Grace?" she asked as the Faerie Aisha raised her hand.

      "Ms. Brown, what is there to know about werelupes? I think there's a pack of them in the Forest of Darkness," Grace stated.

      This started a number of students to begin talking.

      "Yeah, that's what I heard too."

      "There isn't a werelupe pack, there's a hungry plains Lupe who got lost."

      "I wonder how it survived without the ghosts getting him."

      "He's a werelupe, Mike! That's how he survived! I'll bet the ghosts fear him just because he ate their bodies!" Grace replied in a way that made anyone who heard it think it was obvious.

      "Class, settle down." Mrs. Brown instructed. "Werelupes? Does this have anything to do with what everyone heard last night? I wonder what the rest of the class thinks. Rebecca?"

      Rebecca had raised her hand. "Mrs. Brown, I think that werelupes are nonexistent, and the howl has a perfectly logical and normal explanation," the Yellow Poogle said. "And that the so-called 'Forest of Darkness' has absolutely no scary, frightening, fear-causing, or evil things in it."

      "Thank you for sharing that, Rebecca. Now, as I was saying, today we will learn about the…"

      As Mrs. Brown continued about the history of Meridell and its wars and the monsters that attacked it, how it was discovered, and anything else Rebecca might already know or want to know about Meridell, Grace passed Brian a note.

      "You and Rebecca meet me outside the school at the end of the day. I have a little something for you," he whispered, reading aloud. He silently slipped the note to Rebecca. She read it silently and nodded.

      But knowing Grace and her dares, it was not going to be a gift she had for them.

      It would be a challenge they had to accept, even if they didn't want to. Brian guessed it had something to do with the Forest of Darkness.

      When school ended, a crowd of Neopets waiting near the door rushed through the exit. Brian and Rebecca slowly followed them.

      "We don't want to do whatever Grace wants us to, so let's sneak away before she comes to wait at the door," Brian said.

      "And then what do we do the next day? Hope she'll have forgotten?" Rebecca asked.

      "Um, yes," Brian replied without being very sure. Grace wasn't the kind of Neopian who forgot things like her challenges or dares in less than a day.

      "And if she hasn't?"

      "We'll do this again."

      "And again, and again, and again, and again…" Rebecca chanted.

      "No, by the time that day comes, they'll have figured out what it is, and Grace can't send us into the Forest of Darkness."

      "Trying to sneak away so I can't tell you to do what I want you to do?" Grace said from behind them just as they left the school.

      Brian jumped, startled. He turned around to see Grace and a few of her friends.

      Rebecca had once been a friend of Grace. But soon Rebecca had used her brain to figure out that the puzzles and games of the mind Grace was giving to her were only given to her, and were in reality the Faerie Aisha's homework. Rebecca had then angrily put down the wrong answers and written "I am a cheater" on her homework, and written "Rebecca Poogle doing Grace Aisha's homework because she was tricked" in the space that should have had just "Grace Aisha" written on it. And then Rebecca had left Grace's circle of friends forever.

      "Here's what you two have to do," Grace said. "You have to go into the Forest of Darkness and find what makes all those howling noises."

      "And if we don't?" Rebecca asked.

      "Then you, Rebecca, will have to do my homework for the rest of the year. And you, Brian, will carry all of my things for me! Got it?" Grace said.

      "But you should be doing that yourself!" Brian protested.

      "Well, Brian Pteri, I can't afford to break a nail! I'm too fragile and beautiful!" Grace replied. "And I have to put my make-up on instead of learn, and my parents and teachers won't help me, and my friends are too busy cleaning my room after our daily parties! Besides, then we," she pointed to her friends, "we will tell everyone that you're scared of what you say is nothing, Rebecca!"

      Brian sighed, but his friend was not afraid at all.

      "Fine! I accept! And so does Brian!" Rebecca shouted. "We'll show you that there's nothing scary in the so-called Forest of Darkness!"

      "Go tonight!" Grace called as Rebecca stormed off to her Neohome.


      That night, Brian walked towards the front door to his Neohome. His owner stopped him. "Where, are you going, Brian?" the girl asked.

      "Well, I'm going to, um, I'm going out for a walk!" he told her. It wasn't a lie, he silently told himself. After all, he was going to be walking-towards the scariest place in all of this town! Suddenly, the White Pteri backed away from the door. Did he really have to go?

      Then he spotted a familiar Yellow Poogle walking past. Rebecca opened the door in front of her friend. "C'mon, Brian! Let's go!" she whispered, pulling him by the wing outside. "Grace and her friends are already there!"

      "Actually, Sam," Brian called as Rebecca pulled him out, "we're going to investigate the howling noises in the Forest of Darkness!" He hoped his owner would stop him from going, but most of the owners did not believe the Neopets' stories about the forest.

      "Okay, Brian! But just be home by 10:00:00pm, NST!" his owner called.

      Brian reluctantly walked with Rebecca to the forest, where, as Rebecca had said, Grace and all of her friends waited.

      "We see you going in now!" one of Grace's friends teased.

      "Let's see you come out!" said another.

      Rebecca nodded, and ignoring them, half-pulled half-dragged the not-so-white-anymore Pteri into the forest.

      "It's dark in here," Brian said once he had started walking with his Poogle friend.

      "Of course!" Rebecca replied. "It's almost sunset."

      Brian stopped. They saw a pair of green eyes looking back at them from the shadows. A small Green Lupe pup hopped into the light.

      He looked like a small ball of forest green fur. He was only walking on three of his legs. "My paw hurts," he said unhappily.

      "You're the one who's been howling?" Brian asked as Rebecca rushed over to tend to his injured paw.

      "It started to hurt when I fell off a small ledge," he explained. "And I couldn't find my way out after my owner left me in here." He began to cry. "I miss him!"

      "Derek?" Rebecca asked. "He said he lost a little Green Lupe in this forest. He lives next door to me. Howler?"

      The Lupe nodded.

      Brian leaned back against the nearest tree and breathed a sigh of relief. There was no Neopet in this perfectly safe forest but a lonely Howler.

The End

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