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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 9th day of Eating, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 122 > Short Stories > Grey

Grey

by christinetran

I stumbled through the snow half-blindingly, trying to catch up with my Neopets as they bounded daintily across the snow like a feather; I was miles behind... struggling to breathe through the cold, frosty air. It wasn't necessarily my fault that I was so slow, it was kind of hard to shuffle through the snow thrown at me from Gennee, my Lupe, as he pawed through the white stuff. Not to mention that I was buried under hundreds of Eyrie sweaters and neck-wraps so I wouldn't catch a cold atop the mountain.

     After pushing through a rather large heap of the not-so-feathery-but-hard-as-ice flakes, I finally saw the familiar shape of a red candy cane tacked next to a house encrusted by ice. Puffs of smoke pumped rhythmically out of it's chimney and floated into the air, through the windows you could see a large Christmas tree decorated near a fireplace, and it also had it's very own long line of Neopians eagerly awaiting their turn to receive their Celebrating prizes.

     "Oh bother," I muttered. "I knew we should've came earlier." I continued to trudge through the snow towards my skunk Lupe, occasionally glancing up as he jumped joyously about, causing snow to rain down upon me as I got closer. The moment I was a few inches from his springy body, he plopped down onto the snow with his tongue lolled out, snorting as flakes fell into his nostrils. Nearby, Tiger flexed the muscles of his spotted Eyrie wings as he dropped on the ground. After doing his after-flying cool offs, he casually extended his rather sharp claws, which created a soft scratching noise when they came in contact with the frozen ground.

     "It's about 35 to 37 degrees Fahrenheit, CT," Tiger murmured after he withdrew his claws back in. "It's a good thing that we came here this late. Earlier we would've been frozen before we reached the summit of Terror Mountain."

     I nodded with acknowledgement towards the spotted Eyrie to signal that I heard what he had just said, and that I would reply except I was too cold to talk. After rubbing my hands together vigorously for some time, I gave Gennee a nudge with my boots, accompanied with the words, "Up and Adam, Gennee," and started to approach the Advent Calendar line, which, unfortunately, became longer. Tiger, who was still standing in the same pose after he landed, followed behind, flicking his perfectly polished and pruned wings every now and then.

     I took my cold place in line and busied myself with counting the Neopians who were before me. I stopped after I reached one-hundred thirty-eight. Shuffling my weight from foot to foot, I jumped a little just so I could feel the nerves come to life within my frozen toes. Gennee, who surprisingly still was full of life, bounded out and between the lines, yapping every now and then to express his gratitude of being alive in this cold, forbidden place.

     "Hush, Gengenee," I said, using his full name.

     "Sorry, CT, I'm just so happy that the Advent Calendar finally opened!" Genee whooped and continued jumping about.

     "It opened yesterday. You just didn't come along with CT to collect the prize, either that or you were too ignorant to read the news which any sensible Neopian would do," Tiger said, brushing a flake of snow that fell onto his shoulder.

     Gennee stopped dead in his once joyous tracks. "Well, it's not my fault that you're a nerd, you nerd."

     "Ha! It's better than being you any day," Tiger snorted.

     Gennee growled and tensed his muscles, readying himself to attack. I instinctively stepped in between the two to stop anything else from happening. Tiger huffed haughtily behind me while Gennee just gave a short growl, then stalked off. I glared down at Tiger, who put on an innocent expression while he carefully scanned his wings for any fleck of dust that happened to fall onto them.

     "I'm going to do some quests for misses Taelia, alright CT," Gennee said after he walked a few feet away. He said those words with surprising fondness, since just a few moments before he was ready to tear his older brother in half. I guess Gennee has always been like that, someone who is able to change his moods in a split second. With a quick bound, I watched Gennee disappear behind the large heap of snow that I plowed through during my walk here.

     "CT," Tiger nudged me with his beak. "The line's moving."

     I nodded, shifted my weight to my other foot, and tousled the flop of hair gob on his head.

***

"I still think that the Advent Calendar prize wasn't as good as last years," Tiger murmured as he carefully poked the seasonal Kiko balloon. "I mean, what's the use of a balloon besides popping it out of anger."

     "Well, I know that Hopper is going to like it," I said as I juggled the bag of three hundred NP and the Christmas Uni plushie in my hands. I huffed heavily as I proceeded up the trail towards the top of the mountain. Even though I've been to Terror Mountain countless times, I still haven't gotten used to climbing the trail up there. I rounded a sharp corner, Tiger just a few paw-steps behind me, and bumped into something that was going my way extremely fast.

    "Oof!" I cried as I fell on the floor, dropping everything that I was carrying. Tiger just simply stepped out of my way as I fell on the snow that was, thankfully, incredibly soft. It took a few minutes for me to be able to remember who and where I was while I slowly rubbed the back of my head in pain. I blinked a few times and sat up as my memory started to come back to me. When my memory finally came shooting back at me... it was almost as fast as the bottle that hit the back of my head.

    A loud yelp escaped out of my mouth as I quickly massaged the place where I was hit. I blinked a few times to get rid of the Pterii that were still flying around my head, and staggeringly tried to stand up. After quite a few tries, I was finally able to support myself on my knees. Tiger just stood idly by, staring behind me.

    "Why did ya do that for..." I muttered softly, still rubbing the back of my head

    "Do what," Tiger murmured and continued staring into the space behind me.

    "Hit me with a bottle..." I tried to stand on my feet once again. This time, I was actually able to support myself with both legs, but they were still shaky. I looked up at Tiger, who was a blur of orange and black spots since my vision was still imperfect.

    "I didn't hit you... she did," Tiger said after a long pause and jerked his head towards my way.

    At first I didn't understand Tiger, but as my head started to stop spinning around, I realized that there was some sort of... presence, behind me. I slowly lowered my hand from massaging the back of my head, and told myself to turn around. But of course, I was too scared too. Images of Vira and Darkness Faeries clouded my mind, paralyzing me with thoughts of what will happen to me if I met one of them.

    "Oh dear..." I whispered and glanced over at Tiger, who was still staring at the thing behind me. "Tiger... what is it?" I asked since I was too chicken to look behind.

    "It's her..." he said in a strange hypnotic voice.

    "Who?" I asked.

    "Master..." he whispered back and started to trot towards the thing behind me.

    Questions started to pop into my mind when Tiger muttered the word Master. I thought that I was his master... well... not exactly, but I was the closest thing to a master that he could get. I was his owner, so the whole 'master' thing sort of made me confused. I turned around to see who his so called master was, forgetting my fear of Darkness Faeries and Vira, and a flash of bright light stung my eyes the moment I looked behind me. I quickly used my hands to shield myself and waited patiently for the light to dim or disappear like most lights eventually do. But the light didn't, and for some odd reason, I knew that it won't. I didn't know how I knew that... but it was almost like this feeling that told me that this light was constant... that it won't wax or wane even in the deepest darks of the night.

    "Tiger!" I screamed into the light after what seemed like a lifetime passed by. I still couldn't see him, but I knew that he was somewhere in there. I screamed his name again, this time louder, but he didn't answer back, nothing answered back. Panic started to grow inside me when I realized that I could be losing Tiger, and I forced my legs to obey the panic and stepped forward. The moment my legs came in contact with the light, a blinding flash sort of flew out of it and pushed me back with a sort of energy shock. I admit, I knew that something was going to hold me back, but I was extremely surprised to find out that something did actually hold me back. But I wasn't ready to give up. I took in a deep breath and proceeded to step forward once again when something that came from the huge light flew smack into my body.

    I lay sprawling on the ground, a few feet away from the mysterious light. My head was throbbing as if a hammer was pounding against it continuously. I blinked slowly at first to get rid of the Pteris that appeared in my mind again. But not all the Pterii disappeared... there was one Pteri left... well... it looked like a Pteri. I blinked again a few more times and realized that the small flying object in front of me was grey... and it had wings. I used my elbows to push myself into a sitting position so I would be able to see the flying object closer. The moment I was a few inches from it's face, the little thing stopped flying and sort of hovered in mid-air, staring back at me.

    The moment it's eyes met my gaze, years of pain plowed into me unexpectedly. It was at that moment that I knew it was a Faerie... but it wasn't just any Faerie. This Faerie experienced grief and regret beyond imagination, and she had walked the paths of sorrow more than once. It was as if she lost someone... someone very dear to her, and spent her entire life looking for it, and it consumed her entire soul until she forgot what she was looking for... but wandered aimlessly around... hoping to find a clue that will help her remember. Her heart still ached for that one memory that will turn everything right, and because of that, she dropped into a pitch of blackness that held what she yearned the most just out of arms reach. She suddenly changed into the thing that all Faeries fear the most. She turned into a Grey Faerie... Faeries who were doomed to spend the rest of their lives grieving mindlessly over things that they would never find.

    I continued staring into the Grey Faerie's eyes, unable to let go of her gaze. I tried really hard to look away, but I couldn't... I didn't want to. Finally, the Grey Faerie turned away from me and gazed into the light. The moment her eyes left my eyes, I inhaled a deep breath of air. It didn't occur to me until later on that I stopped breathing while staring at the Faerie. After breathing a few breaths, I looked up and realized that the Grey Faerie disappeared.

    "Ack..." I murmured softly and started rub my eyes, which I didn't blink for what seemed like a lifetime. After I finished rubbing my eyes, I felt like I forgot something... something that I wasn't supposed to forget. The unending light in front of me continued to glow uncontrollably, and seemed to be trying to tell me that I was forgetting something. Something that was very... very dear to me. Small black dots started to form in front of me after I rubbed my eyes too hard. The dots sort of pulled at my mind... trying to make me remember something... or someone... someone who was dotted.

    "TIGER!" I screamed out loud. The name just sort of flew into me, and I quickly jumped up and rushed towards the light, getting myself ready for anything that will hold me back. But I didn't need to get ready for any impact that will stop me in my tracks. The moment I said Tiger's name, the light started to dim and fade. It became smaller and smaller, until I was finally able to catch a glimpse of a pile of orangish fur lying on the snow.

    "Tiger!" I said again and rushed towards the pile laying on the snow. I knelt down next to him, my hand resting on his deadly cold fur. "Tiger..." I said more softly and started to shake him. But the pile of fur didn't move; it just lay there immobile. I shook it again, this time more desperately. After a few moments, a soft cough flew out of Tiger's beak as he started to regain his consciousness. His eyes slowly blinked open, and he turned his head to look up at me. I grinned, reaching out my arms to cradle him in my arms. Surprisingly, he didn't object, but hugged me back.

    "What happened..." Tiger murmured after he was released from my embrace and stared questioningly at me with eyes that felt like they forgot something very important.

    "It's kind of funny," I answered back, getting myself ready for a long explanation."Do you remember we were walking towards Terror Mountain, right? And then as I rounded this corner, I bumped into something, something that made me fall on the ground. When I got up from the ground, you continued to stare behind me, and we exchanged a few words. Then you started to walk behind me and I asked you what you were doing, and you said that you had to... that you had to..." I stopped in mid-sentence as my mind desperately tried to grasp onto what happened. But it was useless, I couldn't seem to remember anything that happened afterwards. I forced my mind to recollect what happened just a few moments ago... but I couldn't. The memory was still fresh in my mind... but for some odd reason... when I tried to put it into words... it runs away from me.

    "Continue," Tiger finally said.

    I stared at Tiger for the longest time. I opened my mouth again, but it just slipped out of my memory once more. It was the strangest and most peculiar thing I had ever experienced before. It was almost as if it didn't want to let anyone know what happened today, right here atop the bend that leads to Terror Mountain. It was as if this was some sort of warning... warning me that if I told anyone, something bad will happen.

    "I dunno... but it feels sort of... funny..." I finally said.

    "What do you mean funny?" Tiger said back.

    "No... it doesn't feel funny... it feels like..." I groped desperately in my mind for the right word while Tiger stared inquiringly at me.

    "Feels like what?" Tiger asked.

    "It feels like... it feels sort of... sort of... grey... ish," I replied back.

    Tiger just simply stared at me as if I was crazy.

    I stared back at Tiger for a minute, then a laugh flew out of me. Patting Tiger affectionately on the head, I mindlessly picked up the items I dropped on the ground and continued my way towards Taelia's igloo. Tiger just simply followed behind, flicking his perfect wings every second to test the air.

    As I walked along, something kept on tugging at my mind. I wouldn't really care about it, since I don't listen to my brain anyhow, but the thing tugging at my mind was relevant. I don't know how it was relevant to me, but it scared me somehow. For as I picked up the Christmas Uni plushie off the ground, I noticed something greyish buried underneath the snow beside it. It had wings... and I think I saw an arm or leg... but that wasn't what was tugging at my mind. When I bent down to take a closer look at it, it's eyes blinked... and it disappeared.

The End

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