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The Adventures of Fanny in the Land of the Bizarre


by rielcz

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CHAPTER I: A LATE SPRING DAY’S PICKINGS

     “Stephen, I just found a Conkerberry!” shouted Fanny to her older brother as she placed it in her basket, next to her Super Juicy one.

     “How wonderful!” the Christmas Lenny replied. “I have only found yet another pile of dung.”

     The two had spent the better part of the morning at Meri Acres Farm, searching for an elusive Aquaberry. Fanny had wanted one since she was five and a half – half the age she was now.

     “Keep your eyes open!” called back the cloud Ixi, her voice cantabile.

     “I will, but I hope the berries don’t stare back at me!” He proudly displayed his newfound Eyeballberry.

     The siblings shared a laugh and continued their berry picking pursuits. Today was the day Fanny would find an Aquaberry. She breathed in and could taste hopeful anticipation in the dry, dusty air – an air just waiting to be filled with the joyful tribulation of finding a fruit of such precipitous precipitation.

     Hours passed. Gilbert the Gelert proprietor was nowhere to be seen… on their previous adventures in Pick Your Own, he would always hassle them after twenty searches; far too few, in Fanny’s opinion. Limit the number of berries, fine – assuming there were not enough berries to go around (but in that case, to young Fanny, better agricultural practices seemed like the solution to prevent a seeming tragedy of the commons). But why limit the number of searches? Was he trying to police loitering? Was he cantankerous and unsociable? Or was there mandatory social distancing in effect?

     Regardless, without the Gelert around, Fanny searched to her young heart’s content. “Stephan, I found a Voidberry!” Voidberries made excellent cobblers, so she recently learned. Perhaps she would one day learn to bake; her grandmother had given her a few lessons, but each time the end result was burning off her own eyebrows, which eventually caused her grandmother to stop giving her lessons.

     Stephan did not reply.

     The Ixi turned and saw her brother fast asleep under a big berry bush, the just-before-noon sun beating down on him.

     “Well, no matter,” Fanny said to herself with resolve. “I am still awake; I can find an Aquaberry on my own.”

     Fanny searched high and wide, far and near, width and length, and attempted to cross into one of several other multiverses, but none of her efforts produced her an Aquaberry.

     Glumly, she slumped down beside Stephan – still sleeping soundly. And then Fanny heard a voice.

     “You there,” it called. The voice was feminine and as silky as an air perturbation could be. “Do you know the Way?”

     Fanny looked down and saw a pink Turtum. This was odd; Turtums did not talk. Or perhaps she had only assumed this because she had never met a Turtum who could. Fanny made a note to herself to be wiser with logical induction in the future. “Excuse me, are you talking to me?”

     The Turtum nodded with frank annoyance. “With whom else would I be conferring?”

     The Ixi scrunched her face. “I do have a brother, you know.” She gestured over to him. “Though he is sleeping.”

     “Oh good,” replied the Turtum, “I thought he was dead. Nevertheless, do you know the Way?”

     “The Way?” Fanny repeated dumbly. The way to some place? Some religious precept? Or was this some sort of mind game, and, if so, had Fanny already lost?

     The Turtum sighed. “Considering your confused expression, you clearly do not. No matter, I will get there myself.”

     Ah, so it was a location. “How about I help you find it!” offered Fanny.

     “No,” the Petpet replied with curt decisiveness. “And do not follow me.”

     “Please! All I ask for in return is that you help me find an Aquaberry!” the Ixi pleaded. “It is what I wish for most dearly, toiling away in the hot spring sun!”

     “You would only get in the way.”

     “No I wouldn’t, I may be bigger than you but I am quite versatile—”

     “Enough,” barked the Turtum. Fanny was taken aback; she did not know Turtums could bark. “Your size matters not to me. Good day to you, Miss.”

     “And to you too,” replied the Ixi, cautiously. She watched the Turtum wobble away and disappear behind a bush on the other side of the berry row.

     Well, that was rather peculiar, thought Fanny. She looked over and noted her brother was still asleep. She shook him, and he snored, but remained in his land of dreams. Fanny frowned. Well, no matter, he could stay sleeping. Meanwhile, she would follow that Turtum.

     Gingerly, she approached the bush behind which she saw the Petpet disappear. “Hello?” she called into the bush, to no reply. Perhaps the bush only spoke bush, and she attempted to make the sound of rustling leaves. Still nothing.

     It was the Ixi’s turn to sigh; but then newfound resolve gripped her – resolve and curiosity. “Let us see the Way,” she commented. She pocketed her berries for sustenance during the journey and, leaving behind her empty basket, crawled inside the bush.

     Inside the bush were leaves and branches – typical bush scenery, the Ixi supposed. Nothing in here seemed to be the Way to anything. She frowned and turned around, expecting to exit the bush and return to the berry row from whence she came. Instead, she just found herself to still be in the bush. This was rather odd; had the bush grown bigger? No, it couldn’t be – that Gelert’s agricultural practices were too unsatisfactory for that.

     She continued moving, hoping that she would eventually exit the bush. “Wait…” trailed Fanny; with a start, she realized that she had grown bigger! That, or the leaves had gotten smaller.

     Going back no longer seemed like a viable option, given that “back” no longer seemed to exist as she had remembered it; she decided that she had managed to enter another multiverse after all! Nevertheless, because she could no longer go back – at least through the way she had come – Fanny reasoned her only logical action was to instead go forward, further into the brush. However, it seemed as though being in a bush was much like being surrounded by water, or being in space – entirely directionless. She was bound to get lost in here; no wonder that Turtum asked for directions.

     The Ixi started crawling in the direction opposite that which had made her grow larger (or the leaves smaller). Indeed, the leaves had started growing larger (or she smaller). This seemed to indicate she was headed in the correct direction. But, she wanted to be quite sure.

     She made minuscule adjustments, moving about the bush until she found the direction in which the leaves seemed to be growing the fastest. Indeed, Fanny reasoned, where the rate of change was greatest should be the most direct path out of the bush and hopefully to the Way.

     Fanny continued her traversal along this path, talking to herself as she did so; she had become quite adept at having a dual personality, and enjoyed having articulate conversations with her. At one point, she had considered this duality an imaginary friend, but at the ripe wise age of the first double digit (at least in octal) she had realized it had been herself all along.

     “Hello Fanny,” she said.

     “Hello Fanny,” she replied.

     “Remember when I used to call you Sarah?”

     “That was easier to keep track of our differences then, yes.”

     “But we are not different, we are the same individual.”

     “Quite right you are, Fanny. Thank you for addressing me now by my proper name, which also happens to be your name.”

     “Indeed, Fanny.”

     The two shared a giggle.

     “It appears as though you must be approaching the end,” started Fanny.

     “On what basis do you conjecture this?”

     “You are now smaller than the leaves – should you shrink any more, there will be nothing left of you!”

     This caused Fanny to tarry. Nothing left of her? She certainly hoped that would not be the case; if there was nothing left of her, how could she find an Aquaberry?

     “Duly noted, Fanny,” she replied. “What a wonderfully astute observation!”

     “Why thank you. Oh, look ahead, I see the exit! Let us dash toward it, shall we?”

     “Let’s!”

     CHAPTER II: ASK ME Y

     The two ran to and seemingly safely exited on the other side of the bush. Unfortunately, Fanny was now smaller than the grass blades that grew; this would not do. She must have been the size of a Petpetpet; she had no frame of reference for this!

     “Hello!” she called out into the wilderness. “Is anyone there?”

     “Hello!” the wilderness called back – or, rather, something in the wilderness. Fanny waved as she saw a trio of Petpetpets approach her: a Blechy, a Cooty, and a Draphly. Fanny noted that she was roughly their size – she grinned to herself at her ability to accurately gauge her own height.

     The Draphly, the one who had just greeted her, gasped. “You’re a Neopet!” he buzzed. “A rather miniscule one, too. And you just came from that bush! What are you doing here?” he stated curiously.

     “What you doin’ here?” repeated the Blechy with a drawl of wariness and suspicion.

     “What’re you doing here?” reiterated the Cooty with bubbly excitement.

     “All of what you said is true,” Fanny responded with a slight bow. “I am Fanny, from the Kingdom of Meridell.”

     The Draphly’s eyes widened with even greater curiosity, which Fanny was not sure was possible. “Where is the Kingdom of Meridell?”

     “Can I eat it?” inquired the Cooty with a cheeriness that slightly perturbed Fanny.

     The Ixi frowned. She clearly was very far in space and/or time from her homeworld. “It’s northeast of the Kingdom of Brightvale,” she said almost dismissively; she was not sure she could adequately point out her home Kingdom on a multiversal map, and was not willing to make the attempt if asked. “I am here to find the Way,” she added in a tone of voice that attempted to match the Draphly’s curiosity, the Blechy’s caution, and the Cooty’s friendliness; she was not sure whether she succeeded, especially considering they just stared warily at her in response.

     “You, going to the Way?” asked the Draphly in curious disbelief, breaking the tension. “But you’re so young!”

      “Yes me,” she said, crossing her arms about herself. “And you shouldn’t be so dismissive of the capabilities of the young,” she opined matter-of-factly.

     At this, the Petpetpets shrugged. “Fair enough,” they said in chorus.

     The Neopet smiled. “Who are you? What do you do?”

     “We Y-Trio,” said the Blechy, narrowing his eyes at her. “We band, played futuristic classic electronica music for Princess.”

     “Fascinating!” agreed Fanny. She was not one for classic futurism, let alone within a sphere of electronic-driven beats; but, as a fellow lover of music, she believed she could appreciate the artform if given the chance to listen.

     “Really,” replied the Cooty enthusiastically, “you’ve never heard of us? We’re quite famous ‘round these parts. How many music CDs do you even own?” She tilted her head, expectantly… teasingly.

     “Er…” Fanny trailed. Though CDs existed in her world, they were not common – she wasn’t even sure if anything existed which could play back the optically burned music. “I suppose 0. Or the square root of negative one, or zero divided by zero, depending on convention.” She curtsied apologetically.

     “Bah!” exclaimed the Blechy dismissively. “You no music authority! No talking!”

     The Ixi frowned and decided that perhaps she could not appreciate their genre of music after all. “Anyway,” she continued neutrally, “wherefrom did the name ‘Y-Trio’ stem?”

     “All our names begin with Y,” the Cooty informed with a giggle. “Silly thing.”

     Fanny tilted her head. “Well, what are your names?” she inquired.

     “Draphly,” said the Draphly with great curiosity.

     “Blechy,” stated the Blechy, gingerly.

     “And Cooty,” bubbled the Cooty.

     Fanny frowned. “None of your names start with Y.”

     “Yuppers they do,” rebutted Cooty with a wink.

     Fanny was not one for confrontation, so she smiled sweetly and conjectured, “Your names start with B through D inclusive.”

     “B through D inclusive?” muttered Blechy.

     “It’s a good idea, if you ask me,” opined the Ixi, still smiling, “to be inclusive.”

     Draphly shook his body. “I apologize, young miss,” the Petpetpet argued, “but our names start with Y.”

     Fanny frowned from exasperation. “No they—”

     “It depends,” he continued, “from which side of our names you start.”

     The Ixi blinked, and now frowned with contemplation. This certainly was a strange and topsy-turvy world after all. “I suppose you are correct,” conceded the Neopet, much to the relief of her new companions. “When is your next gig?”

     “Like Blechy said,” began Cooty, her grin now a neutral expression, “we were banned from playing in the court of Princess. She attempted to arrest us, and we narrowly escaped. We’ve been on the run ever since.”

     “That does sound very serious,” Fanny said empathetically. “With what were you convicted?”

     “Gettin’ secret info,” Blechy stated with a vicious smile. “Best not tell to you.”

     Fanny agreed that she should not possess such info, lest she be sentenced as well.

     “Anyway,” Draphly interjected, changing the subject. “You say you want to reach the Way. With what have you been convicted?”

     Convicted? Fanny thought about this. “I suppose I have a deep conviction to find the Way. Why, I am not entirely sure; I saw a Turtum pass through stating she was on her way to the Way, and I believe it to be my best chance of returning back to my regular world and finding an Aquaberry.”

     The Petpetpets frowned, as though this was a contrived or otherwise flimsy narrative. “Well… OK,” started Cooty with a small smile. “So long as you know what you’re getting into, especially with the Turtum.”

     “Oh, I have no clue,” Fanny started with a sheepish grin. “But… adventure?”

     This promise of adventure seemed to strike a chord with the Petpetpets, and they nodded vigorously at the word’s mention. “Fair ‘nogh!” agreed Blechy. “It two miles this way,” he added, pointing his tail in a direction.

     Fanny was taken aback. “Two miles is rather far,” she stated, “especially being as small as we would seem to be.”

     “But it will be less distance if you get larger!” responded Cooty, clapping her antennae excitedly.

     The Ixi furrowed her brow. “No it won’t! Two miles is two miles, regardless of the observer’s size.”

     “I disagree,” argued Draphly. “If two miles is, say, thirty-two-hundred paces, then two miles will be sixteen-hundred paces if I am twice as large. Sixteen is less than thirty-two. Ergo, less distance. Q.E.D.”

     Fanny crossed her hooves about her chest. “Whilst that is correct, you are factoring in the observer’s size! It is true that it takes less time for a larger creature to cross the same amount of distance as a smaller creature – but the distance is still the same!” She gesticulated wildly.

     “Pace is a distance, ya’?” stated Blechy, defending his fellow bandmate.

     “It is, but…” Fanny sighed and flailed with exasperation. “But alright, you’re right that I should seek to grow larger if I am to get to the Way faster,” she conceded.

     “Yay being right!” happily chanted Cooty. “Yay being right!”

     “Yay,” Fanny replied, flatly. “Alright, I will now take my leave.”

     “Oh, before you go,” inquired Draphly, “do you have anything to eat? One hungers, being on the run.”

     “Hmm…” Fanny searched herself and found her berries; she gave one to each. “Here you go. They are a little bruised, but if you’re hungry enough I’m sure they will taste just fine.” The Y-Trio ate their offerings greedily.

     “Thank you so much!” the Petpetpets said in chorus.

     Fanny chuckled. “You’re welcome, you backwards lot! Farewell!” The Ixi started to depart from them.

     “Farewell, Fanny!” said Draphly, with great curiosity.

     “Bye Fanny,” repeated Blechy, with great suspicion.

     “See ya’, Fan!” reiterated Cooty with a girlish giggle.

     Fanny gave a quick smile and brief wave before walking in the direction the Blechy had pointed to her.

     CHAPTER III: THE CYODRAKE’S GRIN

     Shortly into her journey, Fanny came across a Cyodrake. It towered over her, staring down at her with its lone eye. “You seem… out of place,” the Petpet started smoothly, grinning widely.

     “And where is this place?” Fanny inquired. Though she figured she should be afraid, the Ixi did not run; she did not sense villainy about the Petpet. Rather, the opposite.

     “Then that confirms it,” continued the Cyodrake with a chuckle, “if you are not even sure where you are, then you MUST be out of place.”

     “Yes, I believe I am from a parallel multiverse. How could you tell I was in a place different from my own?” the Ixi inquired.

     The Cyodrake arched its back.

     Fanny frowned pensively… and then her face lit as she understood. “Ah, it was a hunch!”

     The Petpet’s grin grew wider.

     “Here I thought it was because I am a Neopet, and you are a Petpet, yet you are larger than I,” Fanny replied. The Petpet tilted its head, unable to understand. “To me, at least,” added the Ixi in response, “that is atypical.”

     The Cyodrake raised its eyebrow, though Fanny could not read its expression. “That you find this atypical,” she responded, her eye ablaze with wisdom, “is, to me, in and of itself atypical.”

     “Then we are in agreement that this is a rather atypical day,” Fanny concluded. “Again, though, where are we?” she asked curiously.

     “You are in a bizarre land of utmost surrealism,” the Petpet continued. “At least, it must seem bizarre and surreal to you. To me it seems rather normal. But that’s just me.” She placed a claw proudly across her chest.

     Fanny frowned… and then she grinned. A land of bizarre and surreal – she had a whole new world to herself to explore. Adventure! Yet, she did want to get back to Meri Acres and Stephan; she did have an Aquaberry to find, after all. “Perhaps you can help me get to the Way?”

     The Cyodrake switched its tail with great curiosity. “I can help you get there, but it would take less time if you were larger.”

     “But it would be the same distance regardless of my size, correct?” asked Fanny, hesitantly.

     “But of course,” said the Cyodrake. “To think otherwise would be hogwash.”

     The Ixi breathed a sigh of relief. “Finally, someone who makes good sense.”

     “Why thank you for noticing,” blushed the Petpet. “It’s lavender.”

     Fanny smiled up at her.

     “Anyway, I know a house nearby – you can enter it and grow larger. If alright with you, you can ride on my back and I will take you there.”

     “That sounds excellent to me!” said Fanny ecstatically as the Petpet lowered herself, and the Ixi climbed on her back. And then the two were off.

     “So, tell me about yourself,” started the Cyodrake; she was apparently one for idle conversation.

     “Well, I should start with my name. I am Fanny,” Fanny replied. “I am a third of thirty-three. I have one brother, Stephan, and a pet Puppyblew named Max. I like reading, writing, poetry, arithmetic, and music.”

     “What are your thoughts on classic futurism?” asked the Petpet, her eye sparkling.

     “I think it is an acquired taste.” Fanny hoped that answer sounded astute and as though she knew quite what she was talking about. “Especially in regards to electronica.”

     “Oh, I entirely agree,” said the Cyodrake. “And, I also enjoy poetry! How about you recite me ‘The Hungry Storyteller’s Lament’, subtitled ‘Inspired By STC 538’, by Diana Asellus?”

     Fanny frowned. “I’ve never heard of it,” she admitted.

     The Cyodrake gasped. “That’s a classic around these parts! You at least have heard of the great Diana Asellus, or Dianasellus for short?”

     The Neopet sadly shook her head. Moreover, she was not certain how removing one letter and syllable made for a particularly condensed name – Dianasellus was still a mouthful – and she may have instead proposed “DNA” if not for fear of upsetting the Cyodrake.

     “Huh,” stated the Petpet, baffled. “Alright, how about ‘Our World Anew’ by Melantonia Olivia Vasilyevich?”

     Fanny grinned. She knew this poem by heart.

     “O top was I once on the earth,

     I towered o’er my foe.

     And from the ashes I gave birth

     To flowers and the snow.

     A bounty large was ripe to pick,

     The harvester was I.

     Yet enmity had made me sick,

     And I was fit to die.

     And yet when asked, ‘Why are you here?’

     I grimaced and stood straight;

     Said ‘I am not one made for fear,

     Because I am top rate.’

     Conviction held me hard and fast

     And though I tried to calm,

     I learned that power does not last

     And I am but its qualm.

     So next you look out o’er the fields

     And think, ‘o what a view!’

     Be mindful it was fought with shields

     And swords – our world anew.”

     The Cyodrake blinked. “I don’t think that poem was recited quite right.”

     Panic gripped Fanny. “Really, it was not? But I recited it correctly during NeoSchool only yesterday, I swear!”

     “Quick, what’s twice ten?” asked the Cyodrake.

     “Four,” said Fanny.

     The Cyodrake shook her head. “That is only correct in base 2, m’dear.”

     The Ixi became defensive at this. “Perhaps I usually answer in base 2.”

     The Petpet thought about this. “Well, do you?”

     “No, not usually,” Fanny winced. “Something must be wrong with this multiverse – or else me, today.” She pouted. And then, with growing excitement, she said, “But wait, I can ask Fanny!”

     “Aren’t you Fanny?” inquired the Petpet.

     “Yes!” responded the Neopet with a grin.

     The Cyodrake nodded slowly and thought that perhaps she was wrong about this peculiar Ixi, and that the Neopet would not find this world quite as bizarre as first the Petpet had assumed.

     “Fanny, are you there?” the Neopet asked herself.

     Silence.

     “Oh dear, perhaps having entered this multiverse I am no longer Fanny. Perhaps I am one of my NeoSchoolmates… Gregory, Mariam, or – ugh – Susan.” She spat the last word out. Nobody wanted to be the dimwitted Susan, not even Susan herself. Certainly not Fanny.

     “I see,” said the Cyodrake. “Well, you introduced yourself as Fanny to me, so Fanny you shall be, at least to me.”

     “But what if I’m not Fanny?” the Ixi grimaced, her eyes pleading for knowledge.

     “Do you feel like a Fanny?”

     “A smaller one, but otherwise yes.”

     “Then embrace the fact that you are, albeit a smaller version than to what you are accustomed, Fanny.” The Petpet turned back and grinned at her, showing its rows of pointy teeth.

     After a moment’s hesitation, Fanny smiled back. “I will accept that I am me, and me is Fanny.”

     “Good,” finished the Cyodrake. “And remember, on your journey to the Way – that I am your helper and I want the best for you, Fanny. It’s a strange world out there – it’s a strange world anywhere.” The two exchanged a quick smile and moment of understanding. “Anyway,” finished the Petpet, “we are here.”

     Fanny looked over and saw a house. It was a rather insignificant house, or at least it would be to the Ixi if she had not previously been told it was in fact of remarkable significance, because it was the place where she could become regular-sized. The house was rather dilapidated. Fanny surmised that had the house been a shoelace, it would have been frayed; or had it been a musical sub-subgenre, it would have been futuristic classic electronica.

     The Ixi jumped off the Cyodrake and then looked over to the house once more. “So, I will enter that house, and then I will be normal size again?” Fanny wanted confirmation.

     “It’s not quite that simple. There is something you will need from there.”

     “What do I—” she returned her gaze to her travelling companion, only to see that the Petpet had disappeared – but not entirely. One of her horns floated severed in the air… Hm. Fanny realized she needed to find something like a horn. “Thank you, dear Cyodrake!” she said before she skipped off toward the house.

     To be continued…

 
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