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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 29th day of Gathering, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 102 > Short Stories > Card Shark

Card Shark

by karateetee

Hands deep in the center kangaroo-pocket of my sweater, I gritted my teeth and squinted my eyes against the icy rain droplets falling down on my face. The weather was actually lovely, or would have been if I had been home in front of a cosy brick fireplace with a cup of piping hot Borovan. But no, I was out mucking through the sloshy streets of Neopia Central on my way to the game room with one of my pets. Where was Meg anyway? Ah, I thought as I spotted him a few feet ahead. All I could see was a light blue blur through the curtain of pouring rain that obstructed my vision. I bet he doesn't feel this like I do, what with that wonderfully thick coat of his.

     I quickened my pace to walk beside Megilar, and he looked up at me and winked. My envy of his fur evaporated faster than a puddle in the Lost Desert when I saw that his cloud-bedecked coat was matted down with water. I guess he's not so warm after all, I amended. Sighing, I unravelled the long scarf I wore and wound it around Meg's neck as we walked. He looked up at me again, this time smiling gratefully. My neck was now very chilly, but I wanted him to have at least that.

     It wasn't much longer until the tall white building that housed the game room loomed up ahead. I snorted, thinking about how the name "game room" deceived one into thinking it was a room, rather than many rooms and confusing hallways in which one could easily get lost. Luckily, Meg knew the way to where we were going, which insured that we would not wind up wandering around the labyrinth building for a few hours searching for our desired game as we often did. The game was Cheat!, and it was located somewhere on the third floor, Puzzles. Realizing this, I was immensely grateful for Meg's presence, as the Puzzle floor was the most difficult to navigate, so as to live up to its name.

     We entered the building in a hasty fashion to get out of the rain as quickly as possible. An Usul at a desk in front of a large confusing map looked up from the magazine she was reading and went to hide it as we walked past, before realizing we knew where we wanted to go. Meg stopped for a moment and shook out his coat, compounding my problem of already being soaked through and through. He grinned apologetically. "Sorry."

     "Don't worry about it," I muttered gruffly, continuing to walk towards the stairwell. He followed and we began to climb the three winding flights up to the third floor. We were both silent the entire way, the icy rain having dampened our cheery moods the moment it began to fall on us as we were on our way to play Cheat!. Just as my legs began to ache, we arrived at a landing whose door had a large puzzle piece painted upon it. I was very relieved that we weren't going all the way to the fourth floor for action games.

     I opened the door to see a red Cybunny sitting down on the floor with a jigsaw puzzle in front of her. "Hmmmm," was all she ever said, just as she did then. We walked past her, our feet treading quietly on the soft yellow carpeting. Everything on this floor was yellow, not just the carpet. The walls, carpet, and decor were all varying buttery shades. There were even yellow vases with yellow flowers. It was enough to drive a person mad. But at least there were no blinking red, dice-shaped lights hanging above us, like on the Luck/Chance floor.

     Nearly half an hour passed by my reckoning -- though it could just as surely been many hours or only a few minutes -- before we came to the right door. My head was spinning from trying to remember all the lefts and rights we had taken on the way. Meg nudged the swinging door open to a green-lit chamber. It would have been perfectly unspectacular had this place not been seemingly too large to fit in the building. But then, I had reasoned on my first visit to the Cheat! room. This is Neopia, after all. What a place!

     Meg mumbled a few hellos and how-do-you-dos to what I guessed to be regulars to the Cheat! room. I knew that Meg was one as well, so I thought nothing of it. We sat down at the soda bar to wait for a game to open up, and I ordered two Neocolas for us. I watched as a very talented pink Lenny confidently whirled through her game against Princess Fernypoo, 00 Hog, and Spectre. I snorted a few times as she made mistakes, causing Meg to gain interest in the game as well.

     "Come on!" I groaned quietly as the Lenny let 00 Hog lay down three twos without calling his bluff. Her hand was quite visible to me, and I saw that she had three twos. "You know he's cheating!" I was sickened to see the Moehog in a tux grinning like he just pulled one over on her.

     I was surprised to hear Meg laugh softly next to me. Looking over at him with a raised eyebrow, I shrugged. "What?" I asked, wondering what he was laughing at, getting a strange feeling that it was me. Meg merely lapped up a few tonguefuls of Neocola from the dish he was drinking it out of.

     "Well," he whispered, pointing to the Lenny's game. "She has those three twos left. She could have called 00 Hog's bluff, but it's Spectre's turn next. He'll go, and then she can put down her three twos and win. If she had called on 00 Hog, Spectre would have had the choice of the first card, and as you can see, he's got two cards left. He could have put 'em both down as whatever he liked -- if they're not the same, that is -- and walked off with the prize." Meg lapped up more Neocola.

     "Oh," I said, watching the Lenny's strategy as it came to life. Spectre put down two "threes" and was called on by the Lenny. She flipped the cards, revealing an eight and a Jack, so the grumbling Spectre had to take the pile. The Lenny then placed down her three twos and won the game. "I see now," I told Meg. I continued watching as a gold trophy, a golden battlecard, and a sack of Neopoints dropped onto the table in front of the Lenny, causing the cards she had just laid down to flutter off the table and disappear. As she stood from her chair, Fernypoo, 00 Hog, Spectre, and all the cards also disappeared.

     "C'mon," Meg grunted, setting down his half empty dish of Neocola and hopping down from his stool. "Our turn to play." He pointed at the now empty table. He trotted up to it, and Chuffer Bob, Brucey B, and Kalora appeared in the chairs, a fan of cards in each of their paws, flippers, and hooves, and another small stack in front of the player's chair. Meg watched as I slowly approached the table, gesturing for me to have the main seat with his slightly damp paw.

     "No," I said, shaking my head at him. I patted my hand on the brown leather seat of the chair as the opponents stared impatiently. "This game's yours, Card Shark."

The End

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