Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 143,141,548 Issue: 299 | 6th day of Swimming, Y9
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Smurdnunoc: Part One

by buddy33774


It was a sunny day in Neopia Central, not unlike many other a-day that had come before it. The sky was clear and blue, with only a hint of cloud here and there; large Eyries and Unis pulled carriages up and down the city’s yellow streets while various other species of Neopians rode beside them on bicycles. Pedestrians moseyed down the sidewalks on either side. It was, for all accounts, an average, normal day.

      And like any average, normal day, the mail was delivered as usual – notably, to a certain large, red-brick, seven-story apartment building which was inhabited by a certain memorable duo.

      Like all apartment buildings, mail wasn’t delivered directly to the tenants’ individual apartments; that would’ve taken far too long. Instead, there was a large row of mailboxes downstairs that made up one wall of the lobby. The mailchia simply had to go into the apartment’s lobby and drop each Neopian’s mail in his or her respective slot to deliver the mail, which saved time versus having to travel up the stairs and deliver it to each resident’s apartment individually.

      But today, when the yellow mailchia, donned in a blue hat and uniform and carrying a large, blue mail bag swung over his shoulder stuffed full with letters, walked into the lobby, he saw a resident who was too eagerly waiting for him – a certain red Lenny with a smile so wide, some geographers might’ve counted it as a valley.

      The Chia, eyeing the Lennert uneasily, turned and started sliding letters through the slots into the various residents’ mail boxes. As he moved down the wall from box to box, he tried his best to ignore the Lenny, who was simply standing there, grinning wildly, almost crazily, staring at the Chia with wide eyes, but not saying a word.

      Just as the yellow Chia reached a box marked “Hawkins ---” (the last name had been scratched out by some vandals) and went to slide the letters in, the Lenny (now standing not two steps away) intervened.

      “Oh, don’t worry about the mail box. Just hand the letters to me!”

      The mailchia sighed, turning the Lenny. “Look, I’ve been telling you this for the past week – I can’t hand the letters straight to you!”

      “But it’ll be faster!” the red Lenny argued.

      “And against the rules!” retorted the Chia adamantly.

      “But they’re my letters!” the Lenny whined feverishly.

      “Yes, and you can get them out of your mailbox after I put them in there!”

     “Hmmm...” The Lenny paused, appearing to be trying to think of some good response. “Well,” he finally conceded, “I guess that means that all I can do is– Look! A distraction!”

     The mailchia glanced behind him toward the door for just a second, and in that second the Lenny grabbed the letters out of the Chia’s paws and took off across the lobby towards the stairs.

     “Hey wait!” the mailchia shouted, taking a few steps towards the escaping Lenny. “You can’t do that! That’s against... Oh, forget it.” He stopped, throwing his paws in the air and sighing once more. “I’m getting too old for this stuff...” he muttered, shaking his head. It wasn’t worth it; he didn’t get paid enough to deal with this crap.

The apartment of a certain pair of roommates...

      This apartment was inhabited by two young bachelors – and such, reflected it. To the right of the front door was a small kitchenette. It sported a black and white checkered tile floor with brown wooden counters, brown wooden cabinets, and a few of the standard appliances one might find in a kitchen(ette).

      To the left of the door was what made for the living room of the apartment – a blue carpet and a plush blue couch with a low, brown, wooden coffee table placed in front of it; these made for the only forms of furniture in the living room, not that it would’ve mattered if the two had been able to afford more, since there was no room for it. And just beyond the living room were three doors – the left one led to Lennert’s room, the middle one led to a bathroom, and the right one led to Hawkins’ room.

      It was, all things considered, a homely, pleasant place; it wasn’t richly furnished, but then, the two pets who lived there weren’t rich, so it really only made sense.

      And it was this apartment that Lennert, the red Lenny who had just pulled of the heist of the century (stealing his own mail from a mailchia, the most difficult creature in all of Neopia to steal from), burst through the door into. He quickly slammed the door shut behind him, locking the chain-lock and turning to lean against the door, panting heavily as he tried to catch his breath. One wing clinched his chest while the other held a stack of (supposedly) very important envelopes.

      Hawkins, Lennert’s green Kyrii roommate and pad-partner, was sitting on the couch in the living room reading a magazine peacefully; he didn’t even bother to look up at Lennert’s entrance.

      Lennert, his breath more steady now, started walking across the living room towards the far side of the couch, flipping through the stack of letters as he went and tossing each letter he didn’t want on the floor carelessly. Suddenly, after tossing about four letters on the floor, he let out a loud, high-pitched (and rather girly) squeal. Inconsiderately tossing the rest of the letters on the floor, he rushed around the couch and up next to Hawkins, bouncing up and down in place.

      “It came!” he shouted in his gleeful excitement. “It came! It came, Hawkins! It came! It’s really really here because it came because it’s here because it came!”

      The green Kyrii looked up from his magazine, a blank look on his face. “...What?”

      “Remember that story I submitted to the Neopian Times a few weeks ago?” The Lenny was nearly shouting now, and speaking very quickly. “Well, I finally got a response! And here it is! It’s here! In my wings! Now!” Lennert paused, looking down nervously at the envelope he was holding. “Oh... I can’t do it!” He shoved the letter in Hawkins’ face. “Here, Hawkins, you do it!”

      Hawkins shook his head. Although the Kyrii would never tell his roommate, he already knew full-well what was inside. “Lennert, no – it’s your letter so you open it.”

      “Hawkins, please!” Lennert was near begging at this point, his eyes pleading. “I’m too nervous! I might rip it!”

      Hawkins looked at the Lenny pitifully for a moment, finally taking the letter from his wing with a sigh. “Alright, I’ll do it. But just don’t get your hopes up, okay Lennert?”

      “Just hurry up and open it already!” Lennert egged his friend, jumping from foot to foot in place in anticipation, as if the ground was made of hot coals.

      Hawkins, dreading what he knew was inside as much as Lennert was anticipating it, tore open the envelope at its top and pulled out the letter that was inside. He unfolded it and quickly read over it to himself silently. The whole time, Lennert was bouncing on the balls of his feet, very quickly coming unglued at the seams.

      Hawkins finished skimming over the letter (it merely confirmed what he already knew) and looked up at Lennert, shaking his head sadly. “Sorry, Lennert. Not this time.” He handed the letter and now-opened envelope back to the crestfallen Lenny.

      Lennert’s face was the picture of disappointment, with his eyes filled with rejection and his shoulders slumped. “Awww man!” He took the two items from Hawkins’ paw. “That’s the third time the Neopian Times has rejected my story! I just don’t understand what’s wrong!”

      Hawkins sighed; Lennert just didn’t get it. “Lennert, your story was about a puppyblew that couldn’t decide whether it wanted to go play outside or stay inside and take a nap!”

      “It was a character-driven story!” Lennert shouted back defensively.

      “Nothing happened in it!”

      “What about classic literature? Nothing ever happens in those stories!” Lennert pointed out. “Hawkins, my story was symbolism - the puppyblew’s choice represented the choices we all face in our own lives!”

      Hawkins stared back at his roommate, dumbfounded. “Lennert, that’s a bunch of crap and you know it!” he finally shouted back in frustration at his roommate’s ignorance and stubbornness.

      “Well, you know,” Lennert spoke, walking back around behind the couch, “you could be a little more helpful! I mean, you work at the Neopian Times – you have connections there!”

      “Lennert, I’m not going to try and get your story published for you,” Hawkins replied, shifting position so that he could turn around and look at his roommate while he talked. “If you want it published, you have to earn it like everyone else, without my help!”

      Lennert sighed, plopping down beside Hawkins and tossing the letter and envelope on the coffee table before them. “You just don’t get it, Hawkins...” Lennert began. “All my life, I’ve always wanted one thing–”


      “...Well, yeah, okay, that. But besides that, I’ve always wanted a trophy! Some kind of award to show that I’m special! Ya know, to show that I’m good at something!” Lennert gave another sigh as he stared off dreamily into space. “When I was a little Lenny, I was never very special. While all my classmates used to excel in math or writing or quantum physics, I was just average! Average, Hawkins! Average!”


      “So average!” Lennert began to tear up a bit here, giving a little sniffle as he continued. “And on the playground {sniffle}, all the other little kids, {sniff} they used to... to... they called me Lame Lennert!”

      Hawkins blinked. “...Wait, they made fun of you because you were normal?”

      “Too normal!” Lennert cried, eyes wide with near-hysterics. “I was so normal, I was abnormal!” He gave another couple of loud sniffs. “Hawkins, all my life, I’ve been an average, ordinary, everyday Lenny. All I want is to win one award before I die! Won’t you help me, Hawkins? Won’t you help me to be... non-normal?”

      Hawkins stared at his roommate for a second, then shook his head. “Lennert, trust me – you are anything but normal.” With that, Hawkins reached over, picked up his magazine off the coffee table, and went back to reading.

      Lennert continued staring off at the far wall, deep in thought, pondering deep issues like the meaning of life, what his purpose in life was, and just why his character-driven, symbolist story about a puppyblew had been rejected. After a minute or two, he happened to glance over and take interest in Hawkins’ reading material.

      “What’re you reading?” Lennert asked.

      “Oh, it’s just a music magazine article about the NAMMYs,” Hawkins replied without even bothering to look up. “Apparently, the nominations for this year’s awards just came out. Hey, did you know they have an award for ‘Best Island Album’? I didn’t know anyone really even listened to island music!”

      Lennert’s eyes went wide. “What?! Let me see that!” Without warning, he reached over and snatched the magazine out of Hawkins’ paws.

      Hawkins sighed, commenting sarcastically (and mostly to himself), “Sure, Lennert, you can read my magazine – it’s not like I was reading it or anything! Thanks so much for asking, by the way!”

      Lennert, ignoring his roommate’s comment, started scanning over the article Hawkins had just been reading. It had pictures of various celebrities with short little bios and bits of info under their pictures about the albums or songs they were nominated for. On one page was a listing of all the award categories and the musicians who were nominated in each category. And Lennert’s eye caught sight of just what Hawkins had been talking about – a listing for the nominations for ‘Best Island Album’. After a moment, he looked up at the Kyrii, a mischievous smile slowly creeping its way onto the Lenny’s face.

      Hawkins looked back at him, a bit unnerved at his roommate’s sudden sly smile. “...What is it?”

      Lennert’s grin widened. “I just got a brilliant idea!”

      Hawkins, suddenly fearful of his roommate, scooted further a little further down the couch away from him. “Lennert, what’re you talking about?”

      Lennert’s eyes flashed; a plan was definitely brewing in his mind. “Hawkins, you and I should start an island band!”

      The Kyrii could only manage to return a blank look; he wasn’t even sure how to respond to that. “...Huh?”

      “Think about it!” Lennert was getting more and more excited as he talked. “You never hear about island bands, and there aren’t that many of them out there! I bet there wouldn’t be hardly any competition for that award! If you and I started an island band, we could probably win that award no problem!”

      There was a short pause from Hawkins, and then, “So... you want to start an island band just so you can win some award?”

      “Hawkins, don’t look at it that way! Think of it as...” He paused. “Well, okay, you were pretty much right, actually.”

      “Lennert,” Hawkins began, “that would never work. First, we don’t know how to play any instruments. Second, we can’t write music. And third, we can’t have a band with just the two of us!”

      “So what?” Lennert argued firmly. “All island music is pretty much the same song, anyways! And the instruments are easy enough to play – I’ll sing, you can play the steel drums, and we’ll just find two other members to play the ukulele and... I dunno, some other random instrument. Like a tambourine or something!”

      “Oh yeah? And how are we going to find these other band members?”

      Lennert jumped up and started walking backwards towards his bedroom, facing Hawkins. “At the auditions tomorrow, of course!”

      At this, Hawkins, too, jumped up from his seat. “Auditions? What auditions?”

      Lennert grinned. “The auditions for our new bandmates! I’m gonna go make posters for it right now!” With that, Lennert turned and proceeded straight towards his room.

      “And just where do you plan to hold these auditions?” the Kyrii called out as Lennert walked into the bedroom.

      “I dunno, I’ll find some place!” Lennert shouted back, kicking the bedroom door shut behind him.

      Hawkins stood there for a few seconds, not sure what else to do. “...I’m not joining this band!” he shouted finally through the door. “It’s not happening! Ever! Never ever ever!”

      Oh, that’s what they all say...

To be continued...

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