The Mug: Part One
It all began in the month of celebrating, of course, because
anything less ironic would render our story uninteresting. Year 4 had been a long
year, and hopes were high that Year 5 would come quickly, as only three weeks
remained until its start. It seemed like any other day in Neopia -- the faeries
were busy drifting from cloud to cloud as they handed out quests, baby Grarrls
were hatching in Tyrannia as hopeful pets threw money at them -- but residents
of Terror Mountain knew better. Rumor had been circulating that tickets to the
hugely popular Jazzmosis concert were being given out at Happy Valley's hot spot
-- the advent calendar -- and packs of cultured Neopians with a wealth of celebratory
spirit were dashing to claim their prizes.
Or at least, such was the attitude of
a shivering blue Lenny as she plodded through snow banks and eagerly peeled
open the door marked "10".
"Squawk! Squawk! What? Where's the ticket?
Squawk!" She angrily pulled out a cheap looking mug with 800 Neopoints stuffed
inside. "Squawk! I've been cheated!" Stuffing the Neopoints in her feathers,
she threw the plastic mug into the powdery snow and flitted off in a cold huff,
not even noticing the Jazzmosis ticket that fluttered to the ground in her tracks.
The forgotten mug landed forcefully on
the snowy terrain, rolling awkwardly along the ground until the resistance of
its bulky handle overcame its speed and it laid to rest on a snowy path just
meters away from where it had landed. The snow falling from the sky melted,
slowly dripping down the handle as the mug lay in the midst of a silent blizzard.
The scene was blissful, albeit lonely -- tranquil, perhaps. But all good things
must come to an end.
"WHAT in Fyora's name is this ugly thing?"
the strange-looking creature said under his breath. "Man, I've never seen anything
so tacky in my entire life. It looks like something you would find at those
lunatics' igloo sale! In fact… hey, these ARE those lunatics, right here on
this mug! How come I'M not on any mug?" He looked at his blue watch. "Oh, snowballs!
I'm late for work again… better take this litter off the ground. Maybe I can
make some money off it in my shop."
With that, the blue thing picked up the
mug, pulled his scarf tightly around his neck, and scurried into the Snow Wars
Once inside, he pulled out a card and,
standing on his toes, swiped it hastily in a slit high up on the icy wall. Suddenly
a massive door swung open, revealing a room filled with impatient people armed
with icy snowballs. The scarf-clad creature ran inside and hurriedly threw the
mug into a locker, barely acknowledging the line of people waiting behind an
icy barrier as he cried, "Sorry, sorry I'm late! Won't happen again!" As the
locker door swung shut, he ran to pick up his first snowball of the day.
Twelve hours later, a disgruntled-looking
blue creature weakly opened the locker door. "I can't stand it anymore," he
said to himself. "No respect, I tell you; they're all just after that trophy,
and they beat me every time. And when they don't beat me, they just keep going
at it, over and over, until my little blue fingers are about to fall off…"
Suddenly seeing the mug, he breathed a
deep sigh. "I completely forgot about this thing… gosh, pets these days, they'll
throw just about anything on the ground." He picked it up and trudged up the
mountain, dangling its handle from one finger.
It was dark out by the time he reached
the peak, and very cold. The Scarf, as mocking pets tended to call him, opened
an icy door in a crevice of the mountain and entered what appeared to be a small
shop, placing the mug on a high-up shelf in the corner. "Hey Tom," he said to
his shopkeeper, "What's this thing worth… 100 Neopoints, maybe?" He thought
about it for a moment. "Oh I don't care; if nobody buys it, it can just rot
here forever I guess." He walked back to the door and closed it behind him.
Tom was a familiar seeming creature, probably
because he looked just like the thousands of other pink Aishas that wander Neopia
every day, although there was a certain air of masculinity about him that is
often lacking in others of his breed. He cast a glance at the mug, making sure
that the "100 NP" price tag was properly displayed in front of it, and returned
to reading his copy of The Neopian Times.
The shop was chilly; so cold, in fact,
that Tom could see his breath as he chuckled at the comics adorning the front
page of the paper. He glanced at the door as it swung open, and before returning
to the Times he shouted "Welcome!" to the green Poogle that sauntered into the
The Poogle stepped around the store so
lightly that Tom forgot she was even there. Finally locating what she was looking
for, she groped up at the high shelf where the mug sat and reached around carefully,
barely noticing the mug as she pulled down the green stocking for which she
had been searching.
"This will be all, thanks," she said,
carefully placing a pawful of Neopoints on the counter as she strolled out with
the stocking in her mouth.
Tom folded up his Neopian Times, put the
money in the shop till, and looked at the giant clock in the corner. With a
resounding dong the clock began to chime, and Tom, smiling, switched off a light
and put a sign on the door that read "CLOSED." Tom waited for the twelfth chime,
and shrugging he said to himself, "Another long day, over at last. See you tomorrow,
shop." He closed the door behind himself and left.
It was a long night, and it would be the
first of many for the overpriced mug. It was the only item on its high shelf,
as the green stocking that once accompanied it had just been purchased. Although
the sky was starry, the shop was as dark as a shadow Usul, and the cold Terror
Mountain air seeped through the cracks under the door, chilling the shop further
as the night progressed. As the days passed, the lone mug would witness all
kinds of strange items come and go -- eggs wearing lipstick, miniature trees
with mouths, dancing slushies, white chocolate asparagus -- before it ever saw
the Scarf again.
But when the strange blue creature finally
came back, he brought with him a sackful of what he called "treasures."
"Tom, these are some of the most sellable
items in Neopia!" he exclaimed to his shopkeeper. "Everyone wants one! They're
all the rage! Price them appropriately, you pink disgrace -- HIGH!" He looked
around the shop at the clutter that had been building up since he last came.
"What on Neopia? Hasn't this junk sold yet?" With a sweeping motion, he brushed
the mug off its high shelf, along with five keyrings, seven palm fans, a strange
yellow growth, and roughly a dozen half-eaten berries. "Donate this!" he commanded
as he watched the junk clatter to the ground. "And make sure those dubloons
are on the shelves TODAY!"
The angry Scarf stormed out of the shop,
leaving Tom to put the shiny coins on the shelves. "That cheapskate -- these
are all just one-dubloon coins! The REAL money is in the twenty-dublooners!
If only I was in charge around here, we'd be raking in the dough…" Tom continued
to mutter to himself as he finished shelving the "treasures" and picked the
fallen items up from the floor, throwing them hurriedly into a brown paper bag.
When the clock at last chimed twelve, as
it did every night, Tom reached for the paper bag, changed the door sign to
"CLOSED," and locked the door behind himself. The night air was exhilarating,
as the winter was beginning to blossom into spring, which is a rejuvenating
season even on the ever-snowy Terror Mountain.
Stepping carefully onto a small sailboat,
Tom commanded, "Neopia Central, please" to the driver, and placed the bag under
his seat. The items clattered as the undulating waves lifted the boat through
the nighttime seas, but it seemed to take only seconds for Tom and his junk
to reach their destination.
The items continued to bang against one
another as Tom trotted through Neopia Central, occasionally greeting a late
night passer-by. Finally, he dropped the bag onto the ground under an enormous
tree, spilling its contents everywhere. With no more than a "And good riddance!"
to the fallen junk, he walked away to catch the next boat home.
The mug, being rounder than the other items,
rolled away from them, stopping once again only when its bulky handle prevented
it from going any further. It no longer seemed to be nighttime, although it
must have been after midnight; rather, the sun was shining and the mug lay under
the gentle, cool shade of the colossal tree. There were thousands upon thousands
of other unwanted items under the tree: spiny volcanic rocks, small golden sacks
with numbers embroidered on them, melting snowballs, shiny jars of olives, headless
dolls, old smelly boots, cheap looking sandals… but the mug had little time
to become acclimated with its surroundings, as it was quickly grabbed by a small
blue Blumaroo who hopped off with it as fast as its little legs could carry
"Yes, yes, yes! It's not a pile of dung
and it doesn't have that confounded Ticky Tacky guy on it, or whatever his name
is! Because it's MINE! ALL MINE!" He held it above his head and cackled like
a maniac, then turned and darted across the marketplace.
He hopped and hopped, holding the mug in
his mouth to allow himself to travel more swiftly. Finally he reached a small
patch of trees, and he snuggled down under a rather small pine, sheltering the
mug under his body as he began to doze off.
When he awoke, he glanced at the sun and
whispered to the mug, "Yesss… yes, it is time." His voice grew louder, "It is
the best time of the day! We must be going; the line gets rather long as the
day goes on." He was speaking quite loudly now, and his voice was growing yet
louder: "I hope it is Negg flavored, or Potato and Leek, or Chokato, or who
knows, maybe something new!" He was chanting now, and yelling out, crying to
the world, "We must be going! We must! I am hungry! HERE I COME!"
To be continued...