Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 114,248,913 Issue: 228 | 17th day of Awakening, Y8
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Offline - Hiding From the Meepits: Part Two

by lightninglover34


The station loomed up into my sights. I took the curves of the hallways in stride, never breaking my pace. I finally stopped at the massive clock, dominating the room that was usually packed full of Neopians, trying to get to wherever they wanted to go.

     It was 11:52. Almost lunchtime. A sandwich, and a milkshake, and…no! I had to keep going. There would be time for food later on. I rubbed my growling stomach ruefully, reminding myself that this was donut night at home. Mom was bringing home a bag of them tonight. I could almost taste the sugar…

     But if I didn't succeed, Mom wouldn't ever bring home any donuts. And there would never be another donut night, because it was a family time. Without my family, it would be just me. But, I pondered, there weren't any people here to make the donuts, either. So I couldn't enjoy them! If only for donuts and the love I had for my family, I had to make sure they were kept safe.

     With that dreadfully heroic thought still echoing through my mind, I scanned the timetable sprawling across my head. My heart sank in numb disbelief. Each and every space was blank. The ferry was offline, just like everyone else.

     Well, of course it was, I reasoned. After all, the operators were offline, hiding from the Meepits, and there weren't any passengers - except for me. I was in very real danger. But I was the only one left.

     I glanced down at the address I had hastily scribbled down only moments before. 777748 Market Street. Just my luck - the very end of the road. I picked up a discarded map from the front desk and searched for the shortest possible distance to my destination.

     I meandered out the double doors into the street. Turning the piece of greasy paper this way and that, I kept my eyes fixed on the map. And once again, I bashed into a wall. I rubbed my tender nose - hey, yours would be tender, too, if you had squished your sniffer twice in one day!

     I stared up at the massive building I had so neatly collided with and mentally patted myself on the back and kicked myself at the same time. Market Street wasn't a cul-de-sac, and so it intersected with or branched off to other streets. The station was only about three meters away from this building. Again, just my luck.

     The sprawling sign above me declared, MEEPITS_WILL_RULE - MEEPITS FOR CHEEP!

     Supposing that perhaps this user wasn't that well-versed in the art of spelling, I swallowed hard and pushed open the door.

     It was eerily quiet. No cute little bell above the door, no adorable arrangement of the wares, no decals in the windows…no windows, for that matter. And apparently there was no shopkeeper, either.

     The inside of the store was lit only by a tiny bulb, swaying dangerously above my head. From what I could see, this room was even smaller than my bedroom. But as I stepped further into the establishment, I heard a tinny sound that sent chills up and down my spine. Like nails on a blackboard, this sound went on and on, climbing higher and higher as I discovered the corner of a door, set way back, behind a set of rotting wooden bookshelves. I yanked on the shelves, willing them to part from the wall; but I guess I wasn't that important to them, because they didn't budge.

     I fumed silently for a moment, and then thanked the staff for creating Unis so that they have hooves! I turned so that my back was to the shelves, hoped hard, and kicked with all my might.

     In a shower of splinters and Vernaxes, the decaying fibers gave way and revealed the door in all its…pink splendor. A pink door? Well, more of a salmon color, really, but we can have an art lesson later. I pressed my ear up against the hard, smooth door and nodded with grim satisfaction. Now this was a clue.

     I swung open the door and stepped through. It appeared that I was in a chamber that seemed to stretch on forever. I was standing on a roped-off platform, about five feet square, with a small circular hole in one corner. I spread my weight evenly out across, reaching towards the hole, not knowing how strong my foothold was. It would be disastrous to break through, and fall into the teeming mass of Meepits.

     Let me clue you in. The sound I heard through the door was…yup, you guessed it. Meep. And lots of it. And leading hundreds of meters down into the pulsing crowd of pink evil was a ladder. Thin, made of rope, and prob'ly weak, but at least it would get me somewhere. Despite the fact that the Meepits stretched as far as the eye could see, my eyes were incredibly sharp - due to all the carrots, I eat, you understand. If you feed a Uni a carrot…well, we'll eat it! As I said my eyes were sharp. And this is how I came to notice the staircase at the back of the room.

     What? Yes, of course I said staircase. And it had a door at the top. I climbed down the ladder, swaying dangerously over the squeaking heads and gnashing teeth. Closing my eyes, casting a death grip on the ladder, and counting to twenty, I reminded myself why I was doing this and continued my descent. But about halfway down, I realized I had forgotten to think about how I would get past the Meepits. I gripped the rope even tighter - and thought of a plan.

     I scurried down further, so I was about five feet above the beasts, and started to sway. All over. My legs flew loose as I whipped back and forth, carving a wide arc through the air, and bringing the perilous pendulum ever closer to the tiny hatch on the far wall. As I got nearer to the edge of the crowd, I kicked harder, creating more momentum, counted to three, and let go.

     With a scream loud enough to wake the dead, I plummeted down and out. And wouldn't you know it - I ploughed through the door. Landing on my nose again. As I rubbed my abused face, I glanced out the door and saw that the Meepits weren't paying attention to me any more. Good. I propped the fragments of the door up against the frame where it had stood only moments before, and set to work finding more clues.

     The door guarded an office. Something that you would usually find at the back of a store. A desk, a chair, a swinging light bulb just like the one at the front of the store, and a small safe, usually used for keeping one's lunch in. But the desk was of utmost importance just now. I discovered that the drawers of the aforementioned desk were locked tight. So I kicked them and the desk collapsed.

     I picked out a piece of paper - more like parchment, judging from the texture and look of it. In blue ink, a blotchy hand penned a memo to someone handled "Emmaus". Despite the fact that it's never polite to read someone else's mail, I deduced that this was a mystery, so hang manners.


     "Go to the second location. Do not come back for any reason. We are discovered.


     Well, I had absolutely no idea who Emmaus or Gors were, aside from Gors being some guy from NeoQuest, but I knew that I had little time. If these people were switching locations, there wasn't a moment to lose, so I sifted through the desk, trying frantically to see if anything was still there.

     The parchment had been covering a book - a very old one, with a leather cover and a title spelled out in bronze engraved letters.

     "The Art of Hypnotism," I read aloud, and blew the dust off the aged cover. I sat amidst the rubble of the desk and began to read.

     "The art of hypnotism has been practiced through the ages on all manner of living creatures. It is possible to cause an enemy or opponent to fall into a sort of waking slumber; while in this state, they are completely vulnerable to any attack, even from themselves.

     "In history, alchemists and magicians would practice this on small creatures, usually kept as pets. One alchemist, known as Harug Lupus, enslaved a race of such pets, intending them to do his bidding. They were intelligent enough for such a feat, but were eternally under his control due to lack of knowledge on the subject of hypnotism. Lupus had no idea how to use them.

     "He abandoned the idea entirely, but the race, known as the Meepits, could be brought out by a single spell. Absurdly enough, that spell is written on the back of the original copy of the Hypnotic Scroll, currently kept in the Lost Desert. Strong light brings out the spell, written in the serum of a Neggitus Injection.

     "Today, anyone can be hypnotized or brought out by common methods used today - a swinging object, a soothing voice, and counting to three. When under command, they can simply be ordered to do anything, and they'll do it."

     I stared blankly at the words. They made no sense to me. But the Meepits had finally been released, and there was no telling what they could do now. I picked up the parchment and gazed at it again, touching it gently with my hooves. Something wasn't quite right about this, though I knew it wouldn't take much to find out.

     I brought my nose closer and sniffed suspiciously. The smell of sand assailed my nostrils, and I sneezed uncontrollably. Wait a minute…sand? I turned the memo over to discover archaic writing on the other side. The Hypnotic Scroll!

     I held the inky side up the pendulous light bulb, waiting for something to appear. As soon as it did, I whipped it away from the heat and stared at it.

     "Waken now from slumber deep,

     Lest you miss something in your sleep

     So think again, breathe again

     Finally be free again."

     Well, the rhyming wasn't that great, but who cared? I committed it to memory and headed for the ruined door. But wait a minute…all was quiet. Far too quiet. I should be hearing the meeping of hundreds of thousands of Meepits…all was still. I moved the barricade ever so slightly and peered out.

     The colossal cavern was empty.

To be continued...

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Other Episodes

» Offline - Hiding From the Meepits: Part One
» Offline - Hiding From the Meepits: Part Three

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