Chet Flash wuz here Circulation: 81,826,882 Issue: 157 | 10th day of Gathering, Y6
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Time and Again

by barbcat00


9:14 p.m., 31st day of the month of hiding
A cramped Neohome on Mystery Island

"No. You're crazy. Just be quiet and go to bed. I won't hear anymore of it. Ever." Lights clicked and a small room was plunged into darkness.

--- 8:49 am, 1st day of the month of gathering
The Neopian Pound front room

Harsh lights lit up the faces of pets and owners alike making them seem surreal and almost plastic with their forced smiles.

"Are you sure you want to abandon T--"




"Certain?. It will cost you 250 NP."

"Yes, yes. Just get rid of him. I can't take it anymore."

"Please reconsider."

But the owner had already departed, leaving only a small bag of coins sitting in his place beside the newly abandoned pet. Neither moved, but together created a frozen tableau that would have persisted but for the line of other owners pressing from behind and eagerly waiting to rid themselves of their own charges.


8:56 am, 1st day of the month of gathering
The Neopian Pound kennels

Metal doors screeched loudly with complaint as the authoritative hand of Dr. Death drew them back so as to permit his entry and that of the blue Nimmo at his side. The habitual frown that graced the aged Techo's face was etched more deeply into his features than normal. Even the dewy light that filtered its way through the windows did little to temper the appearance of his mood.

     A heavy sigh morphed into a string of tired words, "Here's another one. Try to make him comfortable." He produced a small blue card from his coat pocket.

     With that, Dr. Death turned on his heels and strode out, forcing another round of loud complaints from the doors as he passed in the reverse direction.

     The Nimmo just blinked and took in his new surroundings calmly. Finally he nodded ever so slightly, "Not the place I would have chosen. But I guess it must serve. Good day, young master. Which of these is to be my new refuge?" His voice had a deep soothing quality that massaged the air with its vibrations.

     The yellow Lupe at the end of the long room had risen when the pair entered and was currently regarding the new resident with a sad but curious gaze. He was so much older than the others who were abandoned here and so much more accepting. Something about that was unsettling. He looked into the Nimmo's eyes and saw age and a profound sense of peace, so deep was the feeling that he merely stood and let it wash over him, hungrily lapping up every mote of the tranquillity he could into his own soul. There seemed to be an infinite supply.

     While the Lupe stared into his eyes he waited, then had to break the spell with words. "How about this one?" The Nimmo swung open one of the cell doors nearby and stepped inside. Gracefully his hand made a sweeping gesture to encompass the room and he turned to face his mute companion. "Yes, this will do quite well. Thank you." He smiled genuinely. "I believe you have the key?"

     The Lupe nodded dumbly and grabbed the key from its stand, fumbling with it as he turned it in its slot and heard the firm click that announced the cell's new occupant was now locked inside. He stared through the bars. The old Nimmo was already sitting on the bed, his back straight and his legs folded neatly in front of him. With his eyes closed it was obvious he was meditating.

     The Lupe started to move away. "Thank you again, young master." The voice reached right through him. But the Nimmo hadn't even opened his eyes. He seemed to be pluming the secret depths of the universe in his thoughts.

     "You're uh.. you're welcome I guess." He paused then quickly returned back to the door and looked in, leaning his front paws against it. "Who are you?" The words seemed too brusque to encompass the real questions he felt inside; something about this pet was different.

     The response was a slow smile that crept across the Nimmo's face. No other movement betrayed the seated statue to be alive save the gentle rise and fall of his chest with the controlled rhythm of his breathing.

     "Open your paw." It almost seemed impossible those words could have come from the still creature on the other side of the door. Surely his mouth hadn't moved beyond the disconcerting smile on his lips.

     "My what? Huh?" He'd expected something more profound and the short phrase caught him off guard.

     There was no further response so the Lupe opened his paw and realized he'd been clutching the blue namecard Dr. Death had given him earlier. He'd forgotten all about it. Unfolding the creased paper he scanned over the contents.

Name: Turquoise_mystic
Species: Nimmo
Colour: Blue
Level: 13
Strength: 15
Defense: 46
Likes: Reading
When meeting friends: Would smile sweetly

     He looked back up and was about to say something when the creaking of the main doors announced the return of Dr. Death with more new tenants. The Lupe was obliged to go.


3:27 p.m., 4th day of the month of hiding
Cell 14B in the Neopian Pound kennels

"Dude, that old geezer's so weird. All he does is sit there. You think maybe he's sick or something? That's why they always bring him back after adopting him? I'll bet he's crazy. Gone kooky."


10:48 p.m., 6th day of the months of gathering
The Neopian Pound kennels

It was an unseasonably cool night. A dry chill coursed through the windows and tormented the yellow Lupe out of his sleep. The single, thin blanket wadded across his form tugged at him, urging him from dreams more pleasant than reality.

     Stubbornly he rolled over, trying to fight the waking world. But his previous state was shattered. Full consciousness would not brook a return to slumber. He tossed repeatedly, angrily, then gave up and absorbed his attention with the shadowed patterns on the ceiling. Thoughts crawled their way across his mind as he blankly stared upwards. Turquoise_mystic was not the first of these thoughts but he was the most prevalent. Images of the Nimmo danced repeating patterns through his thoughts. Always he was sitting straight backed and immobile, but he was more than an image. There was a feeling behind the representations that radiated an impression both impossible to identify yet impossible to ignore.

     The Lupe sat up abruptly and rested his elbows on his knees. His eyes followed a path down the hall to where Turquoise_mystic sat on his own bed. He studied him through the darkness, his mind making up all the details his eyes could not relay. Somehow he was trying to see through an intangible air of mystique. Maybe if he would move to attend an insignificant itch or reposition himself, or even just blink it might dispel the unnatural feel he had gathered about himself. But it was not to be. Thus far he'd moved only to eat sparingly; he even seemed to sleep in his meditative posture.

     Minutes passed in this manner with time counted in the soft snores of all the transitory pets inhabiting the beds along the walls. The yellow Lupe was no longer sure of the boundary between what he saw and what his mind told him he saw. As his eyelids began to droop and his head nod, a light seemed to emanate from the cell down the hall. Small luminous spheres sprang up around him like magic dust. But by the time he forced the pressing drowse from his senses the fae lights were gone, no evidence of their brief existence was left save the ghostly echo their glow left before the Lupe's eyes.


11:04 am, 7th day of the month of gathering
The Neopian Pound kennels

Voices drifted through the bars of the rows and rows of cells. A fresh lot of pets had just gone out to display and a new lot had just come in from up front. The cycle never ended. In one area only was there any silence. An invisible, mute fog hung heavily in the air and in the center sat the unmoving Turquoise_mystic. A slight breeze from the window above rustled his robe but beyond that there was no movement and no sound.

     Eventually the Lupe gathered his courage enough to approach the Nimmo in conversation again. He padded slowly over to the cell and lifted up on his hind legs to lean more comfortably on the bars and look in.

     "Greetings, young master. What troubles you?" Once again Turquoise_mystic hadn't even bothered to open his eyes.

     "Who are you?" The phrase sounded more rude and impetuous than he'd intended.

     "You know that already." His voice was calm and almost patronizing.

     "That's not what I mean."

     "Then ask what you mean. One suffers far less confusion that way." The comment was delivered with a crooked bit of grin.

     He sought for the right words, frustration knotting his brow. "What are you doing here? Why are you here?"

     "I am here as a warning."

     "Of what?"

     "The future."

     "What about it?"

     "Are you sure you wish to know?"


     "I have warned others, but they did not open their eyes and mind enough to see."

     "About what?"

     "The future, it shall come, but it will never stop."

     The Lupe tilted his head to show his confusion.

     "The ninth day of the ninth month. It will never end. The day will repeat itself forever and time beyond will cease to be."

     The Lupe blinked. From off to the right a quiet snicker blossomed into full throated laugh. A Kougra was wiping tears from his eyes while trying ineffectually to control himself.

     "He sits all quiet and important like and that's what he's got? 'I am a warning. Time beyond will cease to be'..." the Kougra mocked with his paws up beside his face trying to be scary, "...I am crazy is more like it."

     "What?" Somehow the Lupe didn't understand. There had to be more to it than that.

     "09/09 don't you see? The ninth day of the ninth month. We're supposed to repeat that day over and over just because the numbers match. Oh boy... who says you can't get good entertainment anymore?" The Kougra returned to his laughing and rolled over on his bed to gossip the news with his neighbor.

     "That can't be right. That's not possible."

     Turquoise_mystic snapped his eyes open and shifted his head, staring straight at the yellow Lupe leaning on his door. "No, it's not. But it will happen anyway."

     Slowly, as if reverting to his natural position the Nimmo's eyes closed and his head turned to blankly face the wall until it was impossible to tell he'd even moved before. "I have warned others and now I have warned you. Prepare yourself as you see fit, young master. It is not far."


10:33 p.m., 7th day of the month of gathering
The Neopian Pound kennels

The Lupe hadn't been able to get Turquoise_mystic's words out of his mind all day. What he said was impossible, but he said it with such conviction. This must have been what drove his owner to abandon him and why no one will adopt him now. Already the other pets through the cells were whispering and tittering to each other, casting secret glances at the pet they all consider mad. But wasn't he?


6:32 p.m., 8th day of the month of hiding
The Neopian Pound kennels

"Thank you, young master. Please set it on the table."

     The yellow Lupe placed a bowl of vegetable soup on the small table beside the bed and watched the liquid roll back and forth gently. Each gentle undulation urged him back to the safety of the other side of the door, to conventionality. But his feet wouldn't take him.

     "So nice of the Soup Faerie. I do so like soup. Don't you? There's something wholesome and peaceful about it, so simple, so universal."

     Silence wrapped its firm arms around the Lupe, squeezing any intention for speech from him, leaving him a mute observer to the Nimmo's still grace.

     "I am not crazy as you would define it, young master. My revelation does not come from the blankness of space."

     Still the Lupe could fashion no reply, but the Nimmo did not seem to notice.

     "I visited the Island Mystic. I learn from him. That is what you wanted to know, isn't it, young master?"

     A mixture of a shrug and a grudging nod greeted that comment.

     "It's getting cold."

     The Lupe looked down to him confused.

     "The soup. You haven't finished delivering suppers."

     He blinked then smiled faintly and backed out of the cell somehow embarrassed to have been caught remiss.

     "Have a good evening, young master. I enjoyed the chat."


11:59 p.m., 8th day of the month of gathering
The Neopian Pound kennels.

It was late. He'd finished his midnight patrol early, the soft snores of sleeping pets and the quiet rustle of leaves outside were his only companions. The pale light from his small candle lit the way back to his bed. Nothing waited for him there save some old blankets and a worn pillow. As he reached to pull back a blanket the clock outside on the bank began to chime the passage of another day and greet a new one with clear sounds that rang out through the warm night.


The Lupe listened, he loved to hear the music of the chimes.


He let the sound of each bell ring through him as he strained to see the clock face with his mind's eye.


The blanket dropped from his paw and fell with the next chime.


A thought came to him. Turquoise_mystic, would he be all right? He turned and picked up his candle carefully. It illuminated a small circle of space, sucking the darkness into itself and overwhelming it.


The Lupe moved forward, over to the cell.


As he walked the familiar statuesque form of the meditating Nimmo emerged from the shadows. He let out a sigh. Somehow he'd feared the self styled shaman might go more mad.

As he approached Turquoise_mystic slowly turned his head, his eyes shinning like stars as they met those of his young keeper.


A sleek grin crept across his features and was highlighted by the luminescent candle.


The image was so disconcerting in the eerie dark that the Lupe backed up abruptly and dropped his candle.


When he recovered himself and looked back it was as if the pet on the other side of the door had never moved.


He shook his head and hesitantly returned to his bed. As he crawled in and settled under the blankets he permitted himself one last look down the hall towards the sleeping Turquoise_mystic.


12:00 p.m., 9th day of the month of gathering
The Neopian Pound kennels.

Suddenly a shiver ran up his spine and he was overwhelmed by a sweeping sense of déjà vu.

...and another day passes.

The End

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