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The Search for Snowflake: Part Three


by buddy33774

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When we last left our favorite green Kyrii (a Kyrii commonly known as "Hawkins"), he had just fallen into an underground river and was being gently swept away by the current to a calm, peaceful place of happiness.

      As in, a calm, peaceful place of happiness for those who consider rapids and jagged rocks "calm", "peaceful", and/or "happy". Not that there're many of those people left, mind you - many of them are dead, mostly from tragic accidents involving rapids and jagged rocks.

      So this is where we now find Hawkins - flowing down an underground river towards rapids and jagged rocks. Which, as is usually the case, were neither "calm", "peaceful", nor "happy".

      "Oh crap!" Hawkins shouted over the roar, flopping wildly as he tried to keep himself above the surface of the ever-increasing current of the river. "I have a feeling that the fact that the river is speeding up isn't a good sign!"

      Hawkins, trying his best to stay afloat in the now swiftly-flowing river, managed to catch a sight of what was just down stream of him - a huge set of jagged rocks and accompanying rapids.

      "Awww, man!" Hawkins cried. "This is really not a good sign! Oh, I'd like to say that I'm surprised I'm gonna die this way, but to be honest, I'm really not! And who the heck am I talking to?!"

      In spite of Hawkins' pathetic flailing and attempts to tread water, it was all in vain. The strong current kept sucking the green Kyrii under, throwing him back up, then sucking him back under again as it dragged him ever closer towards the ominous rocks ahead. Hawkins tried to shout out, but that too was futile - every time he'd try to cry out, water would rush back into his lungs, choking him.

      It looked like this was it. This was how Hawkins the Kyrii would die. A horrible death smashed to death against rocks and rapids in an underground river. Oh, horrid death! Oh, terrible! Oh how gruesome! How-

      But just then, Hawkins felt someone grab on to his arms! With an agonizing effort, Hawkins felt himself get pulled from the suction of the river and its current and up onto dry land.

      Coughing and sputtering up water from his lungs, the soaked Kyrii lay there for a moment, gasping for air. After a minute, still hacking up the last bits of water, Hawkins glanced up to see who it was that had saved him - a certain red Lenny that Hawkins knew all too well: Lennert!

      "Le-Lennert?!" Hawkins cried out in surprise, still on his paws and knees as he hacked up another lungful of water.

      Yes, silly - Lennert! The one and only! That oh-so loveable, often odd, always amicable Lenny and roommate of Hawkins!

      Lennert let loose one of his signature grins. "Hiya, Hawkins! Funny we should meet like this, huh?"

      Hawkins gave another hacking cough before slowly staggering to his feet. "Lennert, what are you doing here?"

      The red Lenny gave a shrug. "I'm not really sure, to be honest. I guess maybe I should start from the beginning…"

      "Yeah, you should."

      The Lenny blinked. "Yeah, I know… That's what I said… You see, I was just about to start reminiscing when you, ya know, butted in…"

      Hawkins nodded. "Oh! Alright then - go ahead."

      An awkward pause ensued between the two. "…You done yapping?" the Lenny finally asked.

      Hawkins' eyes shifted side to side, confused. "Umm… yes?"

      Lennert nodded. "Okay, then! Now, like I was saying…"

Neopia Central

      It was the most glorious of days in Neopia Central - especially for a certain red Lenny named Lennert as he swaggered down the yellow streets of the city, past buildings, shops, and apartments of all varieties. He had been given a great new job at the Neopian Times - and an awesome press pass to wear around his neck!

      And so, now, under a cloud-less sky, Lennert strutted happily, content and high-spirited as any Lenny could be, showing off his new press pass to every and all pets that passed him by.

      Lennert grabbed one random passing blue Bruce and pulled him off to the side. "Hiya! Wanna see my new press pass? It's all laminated and it hangs around my neck!"

      The blue Bruce glanced down at the pass, then up at the Lenny, unsure what to think. "Umm, please leave me alone, crazy Lenny…" he muttered, before turning and hurrying off down the street as quickly as possible.

      Lennert, oblivious to the Bruce's fear, continued down the sidewalk, the soles of his feet still as light as always (or, at least they would've been light had he been wearing shoes). He was jolly! He was merry! He was on top of the world! He wa--

      Suddenly, Lennert fell into a hole and disappeared.

      A moment later, two Kacheeks, one orange, one brown, though both dressed in orange reflective construction vests and hard hats, approached the hole.

      "Hmm…" the orange one mused aloud, examining the hole. "Ya know, in retrospect, maybe it wasn't such a great idea to cover up this construction hole with leaves and sticks. It seems as if that would actually cause more pets to fall down it, seeing as how they can't see it and all." He looked up at his partner. "Do you think it might help if instead of just trying to cover up the holes so that no one can see them, we put up big warning signs around them?"

      The brown Kacheek thought for a moment, then shrugged. "Meh - I fail to see the logic in that. Besides, that seems more like a union thing, anyways. Let them handle it."

      The first Kacheek returned the shrug. "Eh, whatever. Wanna go get some more lunch?"

Back in the Catacombs…

      Lennert nodded. "So, that's pretty much it - I fell down the hole, then wandered around for a while until I heard you screaming and rescued you! And now, I'm here telling you the story about it all! The end!"

      Hawkins shook his head. "Lennert, that's…"

      "Ironic? Cool? Lucky? Umm… Ironic?"

      Hawkins shrugged carelessly. "Whatever."

      Lennert smiled. "So, Hawkins, what're you doing here, huh?"

      Hawkins took a deep breath, turning and starting off down a nearby tunnel to who-knew-where. "C'mon Lennert, let's go - I'll explain on the way." As they started off down the passageway, the Kyrii glanced over and noticed the laminated press pass hanging around Lennert's neck. "Hey, where'd that come from?" Hawkins asked, pointing at the I.D.

      "Oh, this?" Lennert held up the pass, examining it as if he'd just noticed it hanging there. "I dunno! I can't really remember! Ah well - I probably found it on the ground somewhere or something."

     ***

      Underground tunnels tend to be very dark. Pitch black, in fact. And such was this particular tunnel Hawkins and Lennert - the dubious duo, the rowdy roommates - now traversed. With no light to see by, the two had to find their way via the guide of the wall. And yet, as hard as Hawkins tried to concentrate on not running into anything, the other member of the group was making it difficult…

      "So anyways, that was the time I found green fungus growing on my foot!" Lennert ended, finally finished with his story. "Hey Hawkins, you wanna hear about the time when I found green fungus growing on my foot?"

      Hawkins stopped, spinning around and facing where he thought Lennert stood (though, of course, he couldn't see him in the darkness). "Lennert, you just told that story! And like I said back when you asked the first time - No! I told you I didn't want to hear it the first time you asked! I continued telling you I didn't want to hear it ever twenty seconds while you were telling it! And I'm telling you again now - I don't want to hear about the green fungus you found growing on your foot!"

      There was a momentary pause in the darkness. "So…" Lennert finally replied. "Just to clarify - that's a no?"

      "Gah!" Hawkins threw his arms up in the air (an act that couldn't be seen) and turned back around (an act that, again, couldn't be seen), only to notice something off in the distance - a dim ray of light! "Lennert, Look! Light! Come on, let's go!" And with that, he took off down the tunnel towards the light.

      As the two ran further down the passageway, the light grew brighter and brighter. Closer and closer they came to the light until finally, the pair burst out into a large, open chamber.

      All around the cavern, lights were strung up - on the walls, on the roof, and on the floor all along the edge of the wall. For however pitch dark the preceding tunnel was, this room was exactly the opposite.

      And located on the other end of the chamber was a pair of large, heavy wooden double-doors - wide enough to take up almost the entire wall and tall enough to nearly reach the ceiling.

      Hawkins began to approach the doors, slowly inching towards it, eyes wide and mouth agape in awe and wonder. Step after step he took towards it, moving slowly, carefully. Could it be? Was this is? Was this the office of the Snowflake? Might he have found it after all? Maybe…

      As he grew closer, the Kyrii noticed a plaque set into the wall just to the right of the doors. It was a golden bronze with black lettering - lettering which read:

     Snowflake

     Editor-in-Chief, Neopian Times

      "Lennert…" Hawkins muttered, eyes glued to the plaque as he read it over and over again, lest it be a mirage and disappear. "Lennert, we did it! We did it, Lennert! We finally found it! We finally found Snowflake!" He turned to his partner, grinning ear-to-ear. "We made it!"

      Lennert nodded, giving a quiet, proud grin. "Hawkins," he replied, putting his wing on his roommate's shoulder and looking him straight in the eye. "I just want you to know that no matter what happens when you step through those doors… I have no idea what's going on here."

      Hawkins blinked. "…Thanks, Lennert…" He turned back to have two large, looming doors before him. The Kyrii took a deep breath, rolled his neck once to crack the bones and loosen the muscles, and pushed open the door…

      …To find himself standing in an office. A large, spacious office for sure, but an office all the same. The walls were covered, not in fancy wallpaper or coated in a brilliant shade of paint, but in copies of old issues of the Neopian Times. The same for the floor - instead of plush carpeting, the ground beneath Hawkins was covered in the old stories of Child_dragon and Al_the_Chia. And they weren't glued down, either; more, old 'Times issues had simply been spread around like the papers of an animal's cage.

      The office was far from neat and tidy, too. Random quills and bottles of ink (some empty, some with dried ink lying next to it where it had spilled out) lay scatted around. A black couch sat against one wall, with a few bookcases standing on the opposite wall. In the far left corner was a silver staircase twisting upwards into the ceiling in a tight circle. And against that same wall, opposite the large doors Hawkins had just entered through, sat a large brown desk. And behind that, a large black, leather chair with its back turned towards the Kyrii.

      Snowflake!

      Another deep breath and Hawkins took a few steps towards the desk. The papers under his feet crinkled with each step he took. Step by step, the Kyrii inched closer to the desk. The blood was pulsing in his ears. With each step he forced his legs to take, he brought himself just a little bit closer to his goal.

      His breath grew ragged and fast. His eyes wide with anticipation. Hawkins stepped slowly, carefully around the side of the desk. He was so close to the chair now!

      And then, he was there - Hawkins was finally standing behind the large, leather seat. And sitting in that seat was Snowflake, the Editor of the Neopian Times. All he had to do was reach out and touch it.

      He grabbed ahold of the leather back, and spun it around--

      --To find nothing but an envelope - a simple, white envelope. The type one might mail a letter in. Just sitting there on the seat, propped up against the backrest.

      Hawkins bent down and quickly snatched up the envelope, feverishly tearing it open and pulling out the enclosed letter, which read:

      Dear Hawkins,

      Greetings! I'm sure you've made quite a journey here to find me. And I bet you were really excited to finally meet me. However, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but at the moment I'm away on important Neopian Times business.

      Of course, I wouldn't want to make your whole trip here a big waste of time! Enclosed with this letter is the form allowing for Issue two-hundred's publication. Please tell Brintle that, in the future, he should stop being a wimp and actually do something on his own. Following the rules is good, but honestly - this rule is just plain stupid. And so is any moron who follows it to the letter. I hired him to do a job - please let him know I expect him to grow a spine and do it properly.

      To get back up to the surface, simply take the stairway in the corner of my office - it'll lead you directly up to the street above. Take care and safe travels in the future, Hawkins!

      Most sincerely,

      Snowflake, Editor-in-Chief, Neopian Times

      Hawkins turned the letter over and found, stapled to the back of it, a form with Snowflake's signature at the bottom. Looking up, a quiet, proud smile spread across the Kyrii's face - Snowflake! She had mentioned him by name! The Editor of the Neopian Times knew him, a simple, unimportant green Kyrii! And yet, suddenly, he was important enough to be mentioned - no matter how briefly - in a letter from Snowflake! The most he could offer in response was a silent smile of pride.

      Hawkins glanced over at Lennert on the other side of the room. The Lenny was sitting down on the ground, cross-legged, calmly reading a newspaper he'd picked up from the floor. The Kyrii shook his head, sighing - he'd never understand.

      "Lennert," Hawkins called out. "Come on - let's get out of here." And he started for the stairs.

     ***

Brintle's Office

      Brintle sat at his desk, staring down disdainfully at the bowl of salad sitting before him. He glanced up at a green Usul who was standing in front of him, rubbing her arms and shuffling from side-to-side nervously.

      "You call this a salad?!" Brintle shouted, motioning to the bowl of green lettuce before him. "This isn't a salad - where's the toss?! It's obvious that this salad was not tossed! I sense no tossing here! I asked for a tossed salad! And when I say 'tossed', I mean tossed - not 'chucked', not 'slung' and not 'twirled', tossed!" Brintle picked up the bowl of un-tossed salad and tossed (Oh come on! Like I could've used any other word!) it to the Usul, who just barely managed to catch it. "Get out!" the white Blumaroo shouted, pointing to the door, infuriated. "And don't come back until you learn to toss salads properly!"

      The Usul turned and scurried out of the room, sobbing pitifully. As she burst through the doorway, she just missed running into Hawkins and Lennert as she turned hurried down the hallway in tears. Hawkins watched her as she rounded the corner, then turned and entered Brintle's office, striding right up to the Assistant Editor's desk and slapping the signed form right on top.

      "There!" Hawkins said, smiling proudly. "Mission complete, sir!" The Kyrii stopped himself, thinking about what he'd just said. "…Did I really just say that? Wow, I'm really getting too into this…"

      Brintle looked down at the paper, nodding. "Very good, Hawkeeners!!" He looked up at the two, frowning. "Hey, where's that other guy? That green Pteri… thing?"

      "Umm… Yeah…" Hawkins began, rubbing the back of his head nervously. "See, he was sorta… captured by the cannibalistic pets who live in the Catacombs…"

      Brintle nodded understandingly, then gave a shrug. "Ah well - it was bound to happen sooner or later, I guess. Frankly, I think he had it coming." Brintle gave a sigh as he moved the signed form off to the side, looking Hawkins straight in the eye. "However, I'm afraid we may have a problem, Hoysers. You see, while you were gone, I hired a replacement to take your place." The A.E. motioned towards Lennert, who was standing just off to the side leaning against a bookcase.

      Hawkins glanced over at Lennert, his brow furled and his mouth agape in a type of surprised confusion. "…What?!" He turned back to Brintle. "But, that doesn't make any sense! I was only gone for five hours! And anyways, I was out doing something you told me to do!"

      Brintle gave another weak shrug in response. "What can I do? I mean, he's really amazing - he's made such great changes to this place in the short time he's been here!"

      "Like what?!"

      "Like… He picked up the pen I dropped on the floor! I know you wouldn't have done that, would you Hookins? No, you wouldn't have! But Lennert did!"

      'Hookins' rolled his eyes. "Oh yeah, you get his name right…"

      "But look, I think I've got a solution to this!" Brintle continued, not catching Hawkins' last comment. "We'll just see which of you is the better writer! Whichever one has written the better piece will get the job!" He turned to Lennert. "Okay, Lennert, let's see the article you wrote."

      Lennert nodded. "Yes."

      Brintle blinked. "…What? No, your article! The one you were supposed to write as a food critic? Critiquing all the local restaurants and the food they served?"

      A pause.

      "…I was supposed to write an article?"

      The Blumaroo sighed, putting his face in his paws. "Lennert, why did you think I sent you to all those restaurants and paid for you to eat there?"

      The Lenny shrugged. "I dunno - you gave me a job and let me eat at places for free. I wasn't gonna question it."

      Brintle shook his head sadly. "Lennert, I'm afraid we can't have anyone working here who doesn't know what they're doing--"

      "Then what're you doing here?" Hawkins piped in.

      "What? I'm sorry, I didn't catch that."

      Hawkins shook his head. "Nothing."

      Brintle nodded, turning back to the Lenny. "Anyways, as I was saying - I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to let you go."

      Lennert continued to stare back blankly without response.

      "…That means I'm firing you…"

      Lennert blinked.

      "...That means you don't work here anymore."

      "Aww!" A dejected look appeared on the Lenny's face. He sighed. "Ah well." And with that, turned and shuffled towards the office door.

      "Ahem!" Brintle stood up from his seat, reaching out with his paw, palm up. "Your press pass, please."

      Lennert stood with his back to the Blumroo for a few seconds. Finally, he turned back towards him, squinting, with a deep fire of determination burning in the Lenny's eyes. "You want it? You'll have to pry it from my cold, dead wings," he replied calmly yet sternly, ready for a fight.

      Brintle reached under his desk and pulled out two large, gleaming swords. He held them, one in each paw, at the ready, prepared to hop over the desk and cut Lennert to bits at any second. "How do you wanna do this?" he asked steadily, a glint flashing in his eye and a smirk crawling across his face.

      The two pets stood there, solid and tense as statues, eyes locked onto those of the other, with poor Hawkins standing between them, caught in the middle of the stupidest stand-off in history - over a simple press pass. The Kyrii glanced from Lennert to Brintle, finally putting his face in his paws and sighing exasperatedly. "I'm never gonna make it home in time for dinner at this rate…"

Back in the Catacombs…

      It was time for the ceremony to begin.

      A few scattered campfires burned about the cavern - just enough to give the residents light. All of the crazy pets of the Catacombs - about 25 or so - were gathered around in a big circle in the middle of the large chamber; each of them held a lit, flaming torch. In the middle of the circle stood a large, wooden pole surrounded by a huge mound of dried branches, sticks, and other random pieces of wood; tied to the pole was a certain green Pteri.

      The blue Draik stood on the top of the pile of wood next to the Pteri, waving his claws in the air and trying to get everyone's attention. "Okay, people! Now, when I tell you to, we're going to light the wood on fire and burn the Pteri!"

      "Excuse me!" called out a blue Shoyru from the group. "Umm, yeah, when're we going to be eating his flesh?"

      The Draik sighed. "We aren't eating his flesh - we're simply burning him alive and taking pleasure in his slow, incredibly painful demise. Honestly, people, it's not that complicated!" He shook his head sadly. "Anyways, go ahead and put on your party hats!"

      "Hey, do I get a party hat?" the certain green Pteri asked, straining to look over at the Draik with his wings tied behind him.

      "You're the sacrificial Pteri," the Draik replied. "You don't get a party hat."

      "Aww… Why not?"

      The Draik shrugged. "It's against the rules."

      No party hats for sacrificial Pteris? Some rules just don't make any sense…

The End

 
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» The Search for Snowflake: Part One
» The Search for Snowflake: Part Two



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