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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 6th day of Eating, Yr 22
The Neopian Times Week 61 > New Series > The Baby-sitter: Part One

The Baby-sitter: Part One

by jenjen26785

Balancing a pencil on the end of a hole-puncher had become an art form for Angel. She had mastered it. It started off as being a simple way of passing the fifteen minutes in between watching the electronic air freshener go off, but it had gradually engrossed her. She could keep it balancing there for a full half-hour provided no one came in and there weren't any sudden breezes whipping through the office. Once she had mastered one pencil, she went onto two, four, still more until there was a very obscure-looking pyramid of HB pencils being balanced on one single hole-puncher. The finishing touch came in the form of a minuscule red and white flag made from a fruit cocktail she had found in the back cupboard (it had been there since New Year's Eve...urgh.). For three whole minutes she sat back and admired her little creation before KeirothMohaki the watchman came in for some coffee and consequently knocked it down.

     Then she started to wonder if there was a World Championship Pencil-Balancing competition. WOF Tack Down. An annual competition where office workers with way too much time on their hands can meet and show off their skills; like who can fire the most staples onto the ceiling, and who can do the Bunbury Times daily crossword in the shortest space of time, and who can write the wittiest message possible to leave on one of those scrolling screensavers for your co-workers. Because she had been playing this game so long, she must be a world champion by now.

     She had mastered it.

     She was the champion of pencil-balancing.

     She was so bored.

     Luckily for Angel, her boredom wasn't going to last much longer. It was an unbearably hot day. A day on which she would much rather be taking a refreshing dip in Kiko Lake which wasn't too far from Bunbury Acres, or catching the cool and gentle zephyrs at the top of Terror Mountain...for the love of Aunty Maureen, she'd rather be chucking Tigermice out of ~The*Eyrie*Oak~ than be here! At least then she'd be doing something productive.

     NSPA HQ was no place for a lady...well, it was no place for anyone to be at this particular moment in time. Think about it. An underground lair insulated with several metres of solid steel. A boiling hot day. And one of the rookies had just thrown a Frisbee into the ventilation shaft, which had caused the air conditioning unit to explode quite spectacularly. Needless to say, she had finished the class early and had to wait until Angle8285 returned before she could finish her shift. Sometimes being a recruitment officer and one of the best spies in a world-renowned secret organisation wasn't all it cracked up to be.

     Angel was just dozing off again when the door of her office was thrown violently open and in stormed a very small, Wocky-tailed fuzzball wearing a jester's hat and a very foul expression.

     "Twist? What're you doin' here?" yawned Angel, bleary-eyed. "I thought you were goin' ta Faerieland wit' yer brother."

     "Yep. So did I." The Checkered Acara frowned. "Y'see we were about to leave when Mam dropped by unexpectedly and gave Shout2185 this bundle which - surprise surprise - contained Jitterbug. And we're already all set to go now, Angel, and we cannot very well take Jitterbug on the rides with us, so we were wondering if you could look after her just for a few hours while we're gone. Oh thanks, sis, you're a star. I've left all her toys and clean nappies and food in the basket with her, and here's a bit of cash you can spend. See ya later. I'll bring back souvenirs. Byeeeeee!!"

     All this was said in one breath, and Angel barely had time to blink before her sister had dumped a fairly large basket on the table, left 5,000 NP 'just in case' and departed with the speed and velocity of a cheetah.

     "Uh...bye..." murmured Angel sleepily before rounding her attention onto the basket. "Jitterbug? What's a Jitterbug?" She lifted one talon to inspect the contents of the hamper...and came beak-to-face with two huge blue eyes and a cute button nose, whose owner's mouth was currently stretched into a wide and enthusiastic grin. Angel jumped back, startled, before taking out her specs and adjusting them back onto her beak. She smiled.

     "Oh. That's a Jitterbug."

     She had forgotten about Twist's family's anomalous naming habits. Twist - and I quote - 'came from a long line of very respectable 2185s' on her mother's side, and so she and all of her sibling had their ended their names with the numbers 2185. Therefore it only seemed fair that a certain part of the name should be representative of their father...unfortunately, their father was a stern old Wocky named Da_Funky_Chicken. As a result, the many children of Ruth2185 and Da_Funky_Chicken were all given very odd names. There was Jive2185, the really cool Fire Acara that all the girls liked; Pogo2185 was the oldest girl - a Skunk punk with way too many piercings and a bad attitude problem; then there were the twins, Twist2185 and Shout2185, who were painted Checkered and Disco and were just plain nuts...there were many, many others, of course. But the newest addition to the family was baby Jitterbug2185.

     Baby Jitterbug clambered out the basket and toddled across the desk, paws outstretched, stuttering baby words like 'Birdie!' and 'Gah!'

     "Aw, aren't you precious!" squealed Angel, the maternal side of her finally surfacing. "Did nasty big sister Twist leave you here to go play on roller coasters?"

     She tickled the Acara, who giggled madly. "So cute!" she said, more to herself than to Jitterbug, as she leaned out the window and looked around. "I hope Twist isn't too long. Well, you're just a baby. What could possibly go wrong?"

"Famous last words," a high and teasing voice resonated from near the door. Angel turned, and her face brightened as she saw Blue Aisha leaning casually against the doorframe.

     "Heyo Saf!" said Angel, grinning. "What're you doing here? Your shift isn't until three."

     "I passed Twist on the way up. Said you were looking bored. I thought you might want some company."

     "Well, I might've done if you'd arrived a few minutes ago. Twist has just dropped off Jitterbug."

     "Jitterbug? I haven't seen her since she was knee-high to a grasshopper! Where is the little tyke?"

     "Just over there. You can go and say hi, if you like," Angel hummed, marking something off on a notepad in a bid to look professional.

     "Over where?"

     "Just there on the table. In the basket."

     "Uh...you sure?"

     "Yes." The 'yes' was drawn out and a mixture between sarcasm and suspicion - "Why shouldn't she be?"

     "Because...she isn't here."

     "What?!"

     "Angel, are you sure the heat hasn't gone to your head? I've heard of people hallucinating in the desert, and that isn't too far flung from here, so..."

     "SAF! I haven't been seeing things! Twist dropped Jitterbug off here - now where is she..."

     There was a tinkle of smashed glass that radiated from somewhere in the archives of the NSPA workstations, and an insane giggling ensued.

     "Oh no."

     "How'd she get past you?"

     "I dunno!"

     "You were standing right in the doorway!"

     "So were you!"

     "Don't try and turn this around!"

     The two panicked Neopets sprinted down the metal steps, desperately searching for the pint-sized Acara.

     "Can you see her?"

     "Nope, not a sign...oh wait, there she is."

     "Where? Oh my gosh, how on Neopia did she get all the way up there?"

     Jitterbug had, indeed, taken a little walk...all the way along the metal banister, across what looked like the wooden border of a poster and was currently balancing rather athletically on the rims of a large variety of chemicals on the top shelf. She did a little dance on the bottles, knocking an added two bottles off the shelf, and laughed maniacally.

     The bottles sizzled and smoked, and burned a gaping hole in the steel floor before either of them could say 'corrosive'.

     "Jitterbug, honey? Will you come down now? It's not safe for you up there," Angel called, anxiously.

     "How on earth did the midget get past us? We were right beside the door!"

     "I have no idea..."

     Jitterbug blinked and gave them one of those I'm-quite-aware-that-you're-turning-your-attention-to-me-but-I'm-ignoring-you-anyway looks before turning her back and leaping casually off the shelf. Angel's reaction was instantaneous. With a yelp of fright she took to the air with tremendous speed in hope of cutting Jitterbug off before she really got hurt.

     Fortunately for Jitterbug, she bounced off a large mould of florescent blue rubber that had been setting on the table, was flung three feet into the air and landed gently on a strategically placed pillow on Dauphin's desk.

     Unfortunately for Angel, she didn't.

     In fact, she missed Jitterbug altogether and - in an attempt to steady herself - smashed into Xx_Rockhound_xX's private chemical stash, in which she was currently trapped, trying not to shift her wings as to knock over any chemicals.

     Within a few seconds another high-pitched ring of glass and a screech from Angel told Saf that she certainly hadn't succeeded in that. The Eyriess whipped by her, pink flames emanating from her tail, and leaped, headfirst, into a vat of all-purpose liquid antidote.

     Saf stifled a laugh as he held Jitterbug at arm's length and watched Angel clamber out of the antidote soaked to the bone, looking not unlike a drowned rat, with a sliver of rose-coloured smoke still snaking from her tail tip.

     "Don't...say...anything," she growled, making her way back towards the office.

     "Wasn't going to. Really." Saf continued to snicker under her breath. "Ugh. What's that smell?"

     Angel breathed in deeply, and gagged. An absolutely foul stench had smacked her in the nose...er...beak. It was like someone had taken a ton of fertiliser, sailed it through the sewers and then sprayed it with some of that perfume she had found Twist wearing once. It was vile! She choked and grabbed her beak to muffle the stink, until her gaze fell onto Jitterbug, who was looking as guilty as could be.

     "Oh great," she muttered, "Saf, will you change her nappy?"

     "WHAT?!" exclaimed Saf as if he were shocked and insulted that she would ever suggest such a crude and vile thing. "I'm not touching that! That's gross!"

     "Oh well, if you're gonna be like that..."

     Saf groaned in an exhaustive manner. "Look, if you're gonna complain, I'll do it. Anything to stop that smell - I can't stand it any longer! Sheesh." And with that she marched the Baby Acara into Angel's office, armed with three towels and a makeshift gas mask.

     Angel grinned triumphantly. Suddenly, a thin shaft of light pierced the relative darkness of the room. Angel turned to see a Green Gelert walking slowly out of a nearby room. He was quite tall and thin, wearing small frameless glasses and a white lab coat. He looked a lot like the Gelert Doctor from the hospital, but not as laid-back and focused. Rocky specialised in chemistry and did often help the team of Doctor Gelerts (yes, all the doctors are Green Gelerts - did you really think the same Gelert did a 24-7 shift?), but his real love was for mechanics.

     "Hey Rocky! Didn't know you were working extra shifts."

     The Green Gelert looked around nervously, his eyes racing in their sockets like toddlers on a sugar high. "There's no one else here, is there?"

     "Just me, Saf and Twist's little sister."

     "Good." Rocky pressed the button, which started up the coffee machine. "I'm in the middle of a technological breakthrough, and I don't won't anyone to mess it up. If it works, our spy gadgets will be ten times more efficient." The coffee machine spluttered and slurped, and Rocky took a long swig from the cup.

     "You all right? You look like you haven't slept in days."

     "Three days, five hours and twenty three minutes, but who's counting?"

     "Rocky, that's way too long. You've got to have at least some sleep. Take a kip in my office. Please?"

     Rockhound sighed and slumped against the wall. "I suppose a few hours won't interrupt my research too much." He stumbled back towards the lab and shut the heavily armoured metal door. He then whipped his head round and smiled weakly. "Want to know what I've been working on?"

     "Sure. Go ahead."

     "Using spy gadgets used to be a real pain. The most effective weapons are way too big to take into missions, and compressing them to a smaller size requires amazing skill and can risk losing the destructive effect of the weapons. Well, not anymore! Not when you can shrink the weapon and just de-shrink it when you've finished! It's still in the planning stage, so there's still a bit to go yet."

     "Sounds good, Rocky," mumbled the Eyriess, uninterested.

     "Does it? I sure hope this one works." They rounded into the foyer outside the office. "Anyway, there is a point to me telling you this...ah yes. I've got a load of really powerful but sensitive equipment stocked in my lab, and if doesn't take much to set them off, so please don't go in there. It's too dangerous."

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

The Baby-sitter: Part Two

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