Clumsy Claudia and the Great Negg Hunt: Part Three
Also written by autbum
Dumbfounded, Claudia picked up the shiny blue object and scrutinized it studiously. It was remarkably heavy, thus confirming that it was definitely not a Negg. Could it be? It couldn’t... Claudia thought, lost in a tangled web of contradiction. She was sure it was what she thought it was, but she felt completely unable to believe it. This discovery would be so fantastically juxtaposed against her normally horrible luck. She tucked it under her arm, nestled softly in her jacket to protect it, and ran towards the award ceremony to show Helen. If it was what she thought it was, then it really wasn’t every day that people made such a find! Gusts of wind blew past her face, whipping her hair into her eyes, but none of that bothered her. What-ifs were too busy running circles in her mind. She got to the auditorium sooner than she expected and wasted no time entering.
Claudia burst through the doors of the auditorium where the awards ceremony was taking place. Jenna was placed on a pedestal—literally speaking—and was about to receive her first place medal. She wore a complacent smile on her face as smugly as someone else might wear a diamond necklace. Her face contorted pricelessly upon Claudia’s dramatic entrance; this was her moment of fame, and who was Claudia to take that away from her? A tendril of smoke seemed to come out of her slightly flared nostrils, and her clenched fists turned chalk-white. Her eyes widened in shock and surprise as she recognized the object tucked under Claudia’s arm discreetly. It wasn’t... Was it?
“CLAUDIA HAS A DRAIK EGG!!” Spike shouted dumbly, his crown falling off of his most likely hollow head.
All eyes turned towards Claudia, who flushed a deep crimson color; she hated being the center of attention. Biting her lip, she tried to ignore all the gawks and stares. She walked through the awestruck crowd quietly, searching desperately for that one face she wanted to see: Helen’s. Finally, her eyes met Helen’s. Wordlessly, Helen rose and walked swiftly over to Claudia.
“Claudia... is that?” asked Helen in a hushed tone.
“Yes, I think it is...” Claudia interrupted softly.
“Where did you find it?” Helen murmured, incredulous.
“I tripped over it on my way back. Can we keep it, plea—” Claudia began to ask, but Helen cut her off quickly.
“Let’s talk about this outside. Let’s get out of here!” Helen said shortly, pulling Claudia by the hand quickly towards the exit.
Confused, Claudia allowed herself to be dragged away from the crowd. All eyes were still planted firmly on her, gaped mouths wide open in complete surprise. Even Jenna had looked thunderstruck! Claudia marveled to herself, a small twinge of pride flaring.
“Sorry. I didn’t want to have to drag you out of there like that, but I was worried that people might crowd around you or get rowdy. I didn’t want to lose you or that egg in there,” said Helen once they had cleared the premises. “Now, where exactly did you find that egg?”
“I told you already. After I found my jacket, I...” said Claudia, pausing and turning slightly red with embarrassment. “I tripped over it on my way to the awards ceremony. It was off the path a little; I took a different way back.”
Claudia jumped up and down enthusiastically, bouncing like the world was made of jelly. “Can we please keep it? I’ve always wanted a brother or sister, and I think having a Draik as a brother or sister would stop Jenna from picking on me so much,” replied Claudia. Her last sentence came in one giant gust of air; she had been holding her breath.
“Well...” Helen began to say, weighing her words carefully because she didn’t want Claudia to get excited prematurely. After a slight pause, which felt like an eternity to Claudia, Helen resumed speaking. “I guess that we can keep it. I have been thinking about adding a new member to the family...” Helen trailed off with a smile, waiting for Claudia’s imminent outburst.
“OH WOW! YESSS!!” Claudia exclaimed, her voice filled with unmistakable joy. Claudia, now a future big sister, walked happily at Helen’s side back to their NeoHome, reveling in a contented silence. Once at home, Claudia wasted no time at all setting up a make-shift nest for her new brother or sister. She fluffed the bedding of craft feathers and old pillows and hummed as she did so, her mind racing with thoughts of future outings with her new Draik sibling.
However, deep in a cave in Meridell, other Neopets did not share Claudia’s happiness.
Jenna was pacing back and forth, so angry that she was about to boil. “She stole my thunder! I was just about to be given that trophy while everyone was watching! And then there comes Clumsy Claudia with that... that... that Blue Draik Egg!” spat Jenna angrily. “But because of her, I’m sure only like four people saw me accept the trophy. Even the Negg Faerie barely looked at me when she handed it over! No one will remember me for this; they’ll only remember her.” Her last word had so much venom in it that the Blue Draik Egg seemed to quiver with fear.
Even over her loud voice echoing harshly against the cave walls, she could hear Spike and Nick whispering frantically in hushed tones. She cringed visibly when she overheard Spike mention something blue, knowing instantly what they were both talking about.
“Are you two even listening to me?” Jenna snarled, whirling around to face Spike and Nick. Each looked back at her sheepishly. They were obviously not listening to her; rather, they were deep in conversation about Claudia’s luck in finding the egg.
“Seriously? You guys too? I can’t believe it!” Jenna scoffed. She stopped pacing and glared at the two, who blushed and recoiled under her furious gaze. Clearly annoyed, she sat down between them to break up their conversation after emitting a disapproving sigh.
“Something has to be done, and you better believe we are going to do it. Trust me, she will not be remembered after this...” Jenna said deviously, allowing her voice to trail off ominously. She had reduced her voice to a whisper for dramatic effect—even though they were clearly secluded.
Spike looked at her and cocked his head almost imperceptibly. Jenna covered her face with her hands and shook her head, as if unable to believe that someone could be that stupid.
“Look. Here’s what we’ll do,” said Jenna with a malevolent half-smile. Her face twisted cruelly, rendering her normally ethereal beauty somehow demonic. “Under the cover of night, we’ll sneak over to Claudia’s house. You guys will wait near her window, and I’ll go in myself to get the egg. You have to be completely, completely silent. She can’t know it was us. After we get the egg, we run—fast,” added Jenna. She quickly made eye contact with Nick, who looked back at her glassily. He absorbed absolutely nothing.
She paused again theatrically, and then she continued. “We lie low a few days, and then I’ll make a big deal out of finding the egg on the ground. After that, I’ll be the talk of the entire school. No one will remember Claudia—not even her friends!”
After her long speech and subsequent evil cackling, Nick looked at her dumbly. “Huh?” he asked.
“Ugh, we’re going to steal the egg, hide out for a while, and then pretend to find it. We’ll look like the heroes; got it now?” Jenna asked impatiently. She made a quick mental note to reevaluate her friendship with these two incorrigible buffoons.
“Yeah, got it now, dummy?” Spike sneered at Nick. His sub-par retort indicated to Jenna that he too had been confused by her convoluted plan.
“I see we have quite a lot of work set out for us,” murmured Jenna to herself. “Okay, boys, let’s take it from the top.”
Claudia had finally managed to fall into a light slumber, still ecstatic about her future sibling. For hours, she had tossed and turned in loose sleep, waking up every few minutes to plan upcoming holidays and outings with her little brother or sister. At last, she snored peacefully, her defenses down in a blissful rest.
BAM! Suddenly, a loud sound resounded through her room. Confused, Claudia awoke to see broken glass coating her floor and a flash of well-maintained, dazzlingly red hair—unmistakably the luxurious locks of Jenna. Frantically, her eyes cast to her dresser, where she had left the egg lovingly in its nest. The sinking feeling in her stomach confirmed her worst fear; the egg was gone.
Hot tears welled up in Claudia’s eyes. She could barely see; she was so blinded by her mingled tears and anger that she just sat upright in bed, utterly stunned. Her throat felt as if it had caved in on itself; her breath came out in short, ragged gasps. Tears streamed down her cheeks, past her red eyes and quivering mouth. She didn’t understand what had just happened... She didn’t understand how someone could DO this!
At last, she got off of her bed. Her legs wobbled unstably under her weight, and she felt dizzy. Taking in deep breaths of air that tasted all too stale and unfulfilling, she finally calmed herself down enough to walk. Trembling, she stumbled to Helen’s room, haggard with sleep and sadness.
She pounded on Helen’s bedroom door. “WAKE UP!!!” shouted Claudia, her sadness evident in her uneven voice. “THE EGG! IT’S GONE!”...
To be continued...