ALISTAR ALWAYS WANTED to be in a rock band. Ever since he got his first guitar
when he was seven he knew that the world of rock 'n roll was the place for him.
The little green Kyrii grew up on a steady diet of Sticks 'n Stones, The Myncis,
and, in later years, Brucey B and the B Street Band and Lenny Featherstein.
Rock music was his life. So it came as no surprise to his friends and family
when he got up one day and said "I'm starting a rock band and there's nothing
you can do about it." Nobody really intended to do anything about it, in fact
they encouraged him, but Alistar figured it would be smart to start his rock
'n roll career off on the right foot.
So he left home and got a studio apartment in
downtown Neopia Central (as is fitting for a budding musician) and immediately
began to look for eager candidates to join his band. Then he looked for just
plain old ordinary candidates. Then he looked for desperate candidates. Later
he tried begging to passers by in the streets, but quickly decided that was
a bad idea. A few of them begged back.
At this rate, he thought, it'll take
years to get a band going. So, dejectedly, Alistar stepped into a nearby
coffee bar. Later on he would wonder what compelled him to go into that little
coffee shop. He hated coffee.
There is a convenient little word invented to
describe an occasion where some freak coincidence finds some random person and
starts a chain of events that leads, by chance, to some highly unlikely but
nevertheless magnificent outcome that changes that person's life completely.
The word is 'fate'.
"May, we've got an order for a Decaf Double Frappe-Mocha
Cappuccino with Extra Whipped Cream at table 3. And Table 5 needs another bowl
of Crispies. Step on it, girl! We don't have all day!"
"Yessir," said the Usul quickly, with a snap
of a salute for emphasis.
Ridiculous, she thought, as she filled
up a mug. I've been working at the Java Joint for two months now, and all I've
got to show for it are a few measly Neopoints and fifty-seven different ways
to say coffee. Isn't there anyone in all of Neopia that just wants coffee? Plain
old ordinary coffee, anyone? No, let's tack on a big name and five extra Neopoints
Hah! She poured some Crispies into a bowl, and then, as an afterthought,
poured herself a bowl. She had no idea as to what they were made of, but one
thing was for sure, they were deeeeelicious. She munched on one thoughtfully
and delivered the coffee and Crispies to their respective tables.
As she returned to her own Crispies, a looming
figure approached the bar and took one of the stools. May looked up. "Hi, can
I... help... you...?"
"Just a cup of coffee, please."
The voice was not entirely unpleasant. In fact,
if May were to take an educated guess, she would have found it to be about 99%
pleasant. But lurking in the remaining 1% was something sinister and dark that
completely offset the balance.
"Just... coffee?" May asked. Her eyes remained
fixed on the figure in front of her, but curiosity replaced her nervousness.
"You don't want to purchase any of our ridiculous commercial blends?"
"No thank you. Just coffee."
There was that 1% again.
May was glad to have an excuse to turn away from
the patron seated at the bar. She eventually found the regular coffee. It was
stuffed over in the corner behind the Chocolate Fudge Caffeine Blitz.
"Cream and sugar?" she asked.
"No. I like it dark."
Dark. The way the word was said made echoes in
May's head. She considered dumping the steaming beverage on herself to keep
"Would you like Crispies with that?"
"No, I'm fine."
May went back to her eating. She tried not to
look at the person she just served.
May was not a prejudiced Usul. She, in fact,
considered herself quite open and accepting, even of Skeiths, who tended to
eat not only the Crispies but the bowls they were served in as well. She tried
not to make judgements about others based on first impressions.
But the Dark Faerie who had just ordered the
Java Joint's first cup of plain coffee was almost more than she could take.
Alistar opened the door to the Java Joint. He
was greeted by the sounds of a rather mellow bass guitar and poetry that tended
towards words like 'groovy' and made one think of bongos. He took a stool at
the bar, put his head down, and sighed.
"Hi, can I help you?"
Alistar looked up to see a young Usul eating
"Oh, no, umm... I was just..." Alistar stammered.
Then he noticed the sign at the bar. NO LOITERING.
"I'll have a coffee, I think. Yes, coffee is
The Usul raised an eyebrow. "Plain coffee?"
"Yes. Plain coffee is definitely good." The Usul
waitress shook her head. "It's just one of those nights, I guess."
She poured a cup. "Cream and sugar?"
"Oh, yes, lots of cream and sugar." Alistar turned
around and listened to the poet on-stage. He was a yellow Shoyru with a pair
of clip on sunglasses and an impressive flying V bass guitar. He might have
been reciting poetry, but Alistar couldn't seem to find any sort of rhythm to
"Who's that up on stage?" he asked the waitress.
"Oh, him? That's Flick Carson. He's sort of our
resident poet. He fancies himself the greatest bass guitar player in all of
Neopia, but I wouldn't go that far. Not to say that he hasn't got any talent,
"Really..." he said, watching the performer intently.
Alistar absentmindedly took the proffered bowl.
"You okay there, mister? Looks to me like you're
having a rough time?"
Alistar turned to the waitress. "Yeah, guess
"You new in town?"
"How'd you know?"
The waitress grinned. "I've seen a lot of faces.
Pretty much everyone in Neopia Central stops here at least once for a nice cuppa.
So watcha doin' around these parts, if you don't mind my asking?"
"Well... it's kinda silly..."
"Aw, come off it. This is a coffee shop. Everyone's
got a story."
"Okay. I'm... ah... trying to start a rock band."
"Really?" the waitress said.
The guitar stopped. A few customers hazarded
a clap or two. One brave soul plunked a small coin of indeterminate denomination
into Flick's open guitar case. Flick took a few bows and made his way slowly
to the bar.
"Hiya May. Usual, if you please."
"Sure thing Flick. 'Scuse me a moment," she got
up to fetch yet another cup.
Alistar shifted uneasily in his seat. He turned
to Flick, opened his mouth, and then closed it again. He scratched his head,
then tried one more time to say something.
He couldn't say anything.
Wonderful. I'm sitting not even five inches
away from a potential band member and I have absolutely no idea what to say.
Alistar shook his head clear. C'mon Alistar, get a grip! Just say something.
He turned to the Shoyru one last time and said...
"One Flick Carson special, coming up."
"Thanks again, May. Nobody makes 'em like you
"No problem." She turned to Alistar. "How about
yours? Everything okay?"
Alistar smiled. "Oh, yeah, everything's great"
"Great. So you're starting a band, eh? If you
need a bass guitar, Flick here's your man. Whaddaya say, Flick? Care to join
"Hah!" laughed Flick. "No mere mortal band can
contain my eternal greatness!"
"He'll think about it," translated May. "So what's
your name stranger?"
"Nice to meet you." She extended her paw. Alistar
took it and "I'm May. Not for nothing, but I think starting a band is a great
idea. Neopia Central needs some new sound. I might actually join up. I did some
singing in college."
"You have a degree in music?"
"Nope. Business. Graduated top in my class at
"What are you doing serving coffee when you've
got a business degree from NU?"
"First law of business, my friend. Everyone starts
at the bottom."
"Between you and me, I don't think I can take
this job much longer. It gets to you. I think a change of scenery is just what
I need. So how about it?"
Alistar shrugged. "Sure thing. You'll need to
audition first, though. Here." He handed her his card. "Sunday at 12:00... all
right for you?"
"Fine by me. If the singing thing doesn't work
out, I could always do the accounting."
"Great. See you then."
May turned to Flick and put her paws on her hips.
"And what about you, Mr. Eternal Greatness? Think you could possibly humble
yourself enough to show up this Sunday? I'd feel a lot better if I weren't doing
Flick leaned back in his chair and folded his
arms. "Hmph. If you insist, then I guess I'll have to go along for the ride."
May waved her paw dismissively. "Come off it.
You know you want the job just as much as I do. I seem to recall someone last
week saying something along the lines of 'May, these solo gigs just aren't cutting
it, I could really do with finding a band right now'..."
"All right, all right, you don't have to rub
it in. I'll be there."
May smiled. "Looks like you're pretty much set,
"Seems so. Now all I need is a drummer."
Alistar got up from the bar. "I'll see you two
on Sunday, then." He started to walk to the door.
"Hey, wait," May called after him. "You forgot
"Huh?" Alistar turned around. "Oh, don't bother.
Can't stand coffee. Horrible stuff. Stunts your growth, you know."
"Really? That would explain a lot, wouldn't it,
"Don't even go there."
Alistar walked out into the night, and May began
to close up shop. Flick packed up his guitar and said good night.
The Dark Faerie finished her coffee and tossed
the empty cardboard cup expertly over her shoulder and into the trash. It hit
the bottom with a satisfying plunk.
She rose ominously from her chair and stepped
out the door. The streets were empty.
"Well, well," she said, her words disappearing
into the darkness of the night, "a garage band, is it? Do I ever have a surprise
for you, my little friends."
She stretched her wings and, with a single, powerful
flap, soared off into the black night sky.
To be continued...