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Clean Up In Aisle 5

by acexofxspades


Last Saturday started out like any other. The sun was shining, the Beekadoodles were chirping, and I had spent most of the afternoon reading. Just another normal day in Neopia. Or so I thought. I was up in my room, working out the finer points of my latest practical joke. Not many Wockies are pranksters by nature, but I consider myself to be unique. It was a little before 5:00 when I heard my owner come in the front door. I waited a few moments, and then heard her call to me from downstairs.



     "Come down here, would ya?"

     Sighing, I put my blueprints away and got up from my desk. I'd have to finish this later. Down the stairs I went, through the hall and into the kitchen where my owner, Ace, was looking into our empty cupboards. She turned as I came in.

     "We're out of food," she said.

     "Yeah, I kind of noticed," I replied dryly.

     "Well, do you want to come to the store with me? You could pick some stuff out."

     "Sure," I said with a shrug. "I need to get some more glue and another whoopee cushion anyway."

     Ace raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms over the front of her yellow Marbleman T-shirt. "Should I even ask?"

     "Its probably best if you don't."

     She sighed and ran a hand through her brown hair, which was streaked with a shade of blue that matched her eyes. "As long as you don't hurt anyone. Or glue me to my chair again."

     "I won't," I promised.

     She reached into a cookie jar, pulled out a bag of Neopoints, and stuffed it into the pocket of her blue jeans. "Ready to go?"

     I nodded, and went to the front door. My thick red fur kept me warm, but I knew Ace got cold easily. "Wind is picking up," I commented.

     She grabbed her Sticks N Stones jacket off the coat racket by the door and we left.

      * * *

      The ferry ride to reach Neopia Central didn't take long. On the way to the main shops we passed a park where a petpet training class was being held, led by a speckled Lenny with a well-trained spotted Harris by her side. I paused for a moment to watch.

     "Now," the Lenny said in a voice loud enough for all fifteen or so pets to hear, "lets start out with the sit and stay commands that we learned last week."

     The words "sit" and "stay" were issued by all the Neopets as they walked away from their petpets. Unfortunately, only a few listened. The rest followed after their owners, and were lead back to their starting places for another try.

     "Chaos, hurry up!" my owner called from up ahead. "I want to get there before the store closes!"

     I tore my eyes away from a blue Poogle praising his pet rock for a job well done, and jogged to catch up, sighing wistfully. Ace was still a relative newbie, so we had to stay on a budget, which left enough for food, a home, and a few luxuries, like the occasional concert. Not enough for a petpet. 'Some day,' I told myself silently as I followed Ace into the main shops plaza.

      We went into the burger shaped Neopian Fresh Foods, which is actually more like half shop, half fast food joint. See, it does have food stocked on shelves like a regular grocery store, but there is a grill behind the cash register counter, where you can order burgers and other freshly made items. Ace checked her watch.

     "Alright. We split up to get stuff and meet back at the chocolate milk display in fifteen minutes, okay? We can get dinner at Hubert's afterwards."

     I nodded and headed off to the produce section for tomatoes. I picked out a few ripe tomatoes, a bunch of grapes, and three bananas, and had picked up some sausages when I caught a glimpse of a dark blue something out of the corner of my eye. When I turned around, there was nothing there. Must've been my imagination, I thought, and went on to get some coco Neocrunch. But as I reached the cereal aisle, once again I saw something, a quick, darting something.

     Frowning, I turned around, but for a second time there was nothing to be seen. Now what… my thoughts were cut off by a resounding CRASH from an aisle to my left. I hurried in the direction from which the sound had come, and turned the corner to find my owner sprawled in the middle of the aisle surrounded by numerous cans of Neocola, out cold. Dropping the items I had been carrying, I ran over to her, my heart pounding in my chest.

     "Ace! Speak to me!"

     Moving her head slightly, she groaned. "Five more minutes, mom! I don't wanna go to Economics!"

     Only slightly relieved that she could at least speak, I continued to shake her gently. "Ace, wake up. Come on, get up!"

     Opening her eyes and wincing, she sat up gingerly. "Oww. What happened?"

     By now a crowd of humans and pets had gathered around us. Most looked worried or sympathetic. Except for one. "I was hoping that you could tell me," said a very sour looking yellow Chia in an apron embossed with the words 'I *heart* food'. "Do you have any idea how long it takes to make an exact replica of the faerie city out of cans?" he demanded. "My masterpiece is ruined!"

     Glaring, Ace got to her feet. "Thanks for your concern," she muttered.

     "Are you okay?" I asked, still worried. "Did the cans fall on you?"

     "I think so. I heard them start to fall, and when I turned around to look... But I'll be alright." She stretched her arm and grimaced. "Eventually."

     "So you didn't knock these over?" asked the Chia, still suspicious.

     "No. My sense of humor doesn't extend to destroying other people's property."

     Scowling, the Chia went back to the front counter, telling a stock clerk to take care of the mess on his way. "And someone will have to pay for the damage!" he called over his shoulder. The crowd dispersed, and Ace put a hand to her head. "I need to sit down. Think you can finish up the shopping on your own?"

     "Sure," I replied, looking at her the darkening spot on her cheekbone. There would be a colorful bruise there tomorrow. My owner turned and went out to sit at one of the tables in front of the store. Picking up the things she had dropped, and mentally ran over a list of things I still needed to get. 'Let's see… Fruit, water, coffee… So I need cereal and maybe some lasagne. And a packet of cheese and onion crisps.' I was going back to the cereal aisle when I caught another flash of dark blue zipping by on the edge of my vision.

      I stopped dead in my tracks. Something was definitely following me. Slowly, I set down my basket of items and straightened up. I waited a moment, not moving at all, then quickly turned around to find… nothing.

     Frowning, I walked down the aisle, and turned into the next, spying yet another gleam of blue. I jogged swiftly past the shelves, and turned, back to my starting place. And there, smack dab in the middle of the aisle, with his head in my basket, was an Anubis. Eating my sausages. Quietly, I crept closer, trying not to scare him. The Anubis, however, took no notice of me, and continued munching. As I gathered him in my arms, he wagged his tail, and started to lick my face.

     "Now where did you come from, little guy?" I asked him softly.

      "Ah - HA!" came a triumphant voice. "I knew it!" The yellow Chia with the apron came marching up to me, his hands on his hips. "The petpet shop reported a missing Anubis a few days ago, and ever since we've been finding all sorts of things chewed up and knocked over." He glowered at the Anubis, who was still wagging his tail happily in my arms. "Now we can get rid of this pest. For good."

     I didn't like the sound of that.

     "Hold on. Maybe I can take him." And I walked away, leaving the Chia no choice but to follow me.

     I found Ace sitting on a bench in front of the shop, watching the sun sink beneath the horizon. After I finished explaining, she looked at me. "Let me get this straight. You want me to open our home to the creature that nearly gave me a concussion?"

     "Umm… Yeah, that's about the size of it." I gave her a pleading look.


     "Chaos, we don't have the money for this. Petpets are expensive, and the shop will want compensation of some sort. We can't just take him with out paying. That wouldn't be right."

     Someone behind me cleared their throat. I jumped. I had forgotten the shopkeeper was there. "If you take that thing away, and promise to never bring near my store again, I'll pay for him."

     "Really?" I asked, astonished that he would offer. Maybe this guy wasn't so bad after all.

     He looked slightly embarrassed as he nodded. As I thanked him profusely, he started to turn red. "Better for me anyway. I make more money when people aren't afraid they'll be knocked out by falling soda cans or buy half eaten meats. And you still have to pay for those damaged cans," he said gruffly.

     I turned back to Ace. "So?" I asked hopefully.

     She sighed and ran a hand through her hair. "Do you have a name for him?"

     Smiling, I looked at the petpet, asleep in my arms. I guess causing so much trouble must have worn him out. "Pan," I said decisively.

     "Just Pan?"

     "Short for Pandemonium."

     Ace laughed.


The End

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