The word flew furiously out of my mouth like a hurling firebolt. It was the only word I’d managed to say in the whole of the two minutes I’d been standing staring at my owner, who was supporting the stupid ball of fluff that nestled in her arms. I didn’t need to say any more, though. She knew just how I was feeling. She MUST have known how I was feeling. I mean, what would you think if you came into your nice little neohome one day after neoschool and your owner was nowhere to be seen? Okay, so you wander around for a bit, curious, and find a little note plastered to the fridge, a note that simply reads:
‘You’re in for a big surprise.’
Now, this has obviously been written by your owner. Your owner that has vanished into thin air. Your owner that has PROMISED you a Darigan Paint Brush for six months.
I’d tell you what you’d think. You’d think exactly the same as what I thought. That the big, tremulous moment that you’d been waiting half a year for was finally going to happen. That you were going to get presented with an elegant, shiny, glittery Darigan Paint Brush. I’m right, aren’t I? Yeah, well. Guess what. My owner came in later that day, and instead of that lovely paint brush in her arms, she carried a stinking, wailing, puny little baby Lupe cub.
‘His name’s Milo’ she remarked cheerfully as she nudged the door shut behind her. She hadn’t yet seen my face, of course. Right at that moment, it was probably somewhere between a startled, wide-mouthed gaping look, and one of impending rage.
After tackling the door, she turned around. That peaceful little smile that had been pasted on her face moments before was wiped away as quickly as a Symol digs a hole when she saw my expression.
And this was when I spurted out that one word that expressed my swirling emotions of rage, confusion and incredulity perfectly.
Caz just stared at my red-eyed glare fearfully, the young pup wriggling as she tightened her grip on it subconsciously.
‘I... I... Rhi, I thought you’d like a new little brother. You’ve been complaining for ages that there is never anything to do around here, that you would like something to spice up your life.’
‘I’VE BEEN HINTING THAT FOR AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT REASON,’ I spat at my owner venomously, not caring that my loud shouts had made the runt squeal and yelp. ‘A PAINT BRUSH, CAZ. I WANTED A PAINT BRUSH.’
‘Oh...’ Caz said softly, her expression changing as realization washed through her. I watched with vindictive pleasure as she began to feel guilty at misinterpreting my six month-long hinting.
‘Well, I’m sorry, Rhi. But I’ve adopted Milo now, and I guess he’s going to have to be your substitute for that paint brush, whether you like it or not.’
With that, my stupidly annoying owner dumped the little guy on my lap and virtually ran to the bathroom. I heard the loud click of the lock and the sound of a bath being run. She was going to be in there for a long time.
So there I was, crouching on our neohome floor, betrayed by my owner for some little crummy Lupe pet. I felt evilly angry at everything at this moment. I’m telling you this for a reason, ya know. I mean, if you knew how I felt at the time, you may think that what I did next wasn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be.
Caz had a bag of junk in the kitchen (where I was crouching with the infernal pup sat on me) that was set to go to the Money Tree the following evening. Peeking out of the top of that massive bag of junk was one of those not-so-fashionable potato sacks. Now, I’m not proud of what I did at that moment, but this is what happened.
I caught a glance of the sack, and then looked back at Milo. Gazed back at the sack, and back at the pup. The clogs in my somewhat large Scorchio brain began spinning rather fast, and I had this wonderful idea.
If I couldn’t eliminate the problem (the problem in this case being said Lupe that was at that time trying to chew on my wing), then why not just... hide it for a while? So, I furtively crept over to the sack of junk, grabbed the protruding potato sack, and stuffed the bleating baby Lupe right down inside it.
Okay, so once the first stage of my amazing plan had been completed, I now only needed a place to hide the little critter. Spontaneously, I thought of the best hiding place ever. I crept to my own Darigan-themed bedroom, and placed the sack right at the bottom of my Darigan chest of drawers. Mum would never find him there, I thought. Didn’t work out quite that way.
See, once I’d hidden the evidence, I hurried back to the kitchen and resumed my grumpy slouch on the floor. A series of scuffles and the sound of dirty water making its way through pipes told me that Caz was finally done with her bath, so I quickly re-arranged my features from slightly guilty to angelic. (Well, as angelic as a red Scorchio boy can be.)
Caz quickly hurried into the kitchen, also trying to clear her slightly guilty expression. She had left the little baby with a seething dragon-like neopet, after all. Once she’d entered the kitchen, her guilty look turned to one of slight panic. She’d scanned the room several times when she finally focussed her eyes right on me.
‘Where is he?’ she growled, her eyes narrowing dangerously.
Oh Balthazar. I hadn’t thought about a reply to that one.
Turns out I didn’t have to say anything. Whilst my owner and I stared at each other in enraged silence again, this time her furious and me cowering slightly, a little yap and a scuffle in the general direction of my bedroom told her all she needed to know.
‘HUMPH!’ she bellowed, sweeping around so quickly in her haste to leave the kitchen that her soaking wet hair showered me with droplets of sweet scented water. Just great.
She re-emerged a couple of minutes later holding the blue bundle in her arms once more.
‘Right, Rhinao. I’ve decided how to solve this little problem,’ she said, a cruel smile carving into her normally kind face.
‘You, my dear, are going to be sharing a room with your new baby brother from now on.’
‘No way,’ I said, staring stolidly at the Lupe pup, and willing him to magically turn purple and bristly and paint-brush like.
‘Try and stop me.’ Caz grinned.
And so that night, I found myself sharing my wonderfully comfortable Darigan style bed with Milo. Of course, I had yet another ingenious plan. If I couldn’t get rid of him myself, I’d convince him to leave of his own accord. Then everyone would be happy, right?
I waited, still as one of those old fashioned stone pets, on my bed, barely daring to breathe as Caz cracked open my door to check that the two of us were sleeping. She stared at us for a second, and through my slightly cracked-open eyes I could see a silly little smile playing on her face. It almost made me feel bad for what I was about to do. But who’d want a wimpy little Lupe in their family?
When I was sure that Caz had gone to sleep (and I was pretty sure; you can’t easily fake those giant thunder-like snores that rattled through the house), I gently rolled over on my bed, and commenced in quietly shaking the little Lupe into wakefulness.
‘Hey, Rhi,’ the sleepy critter said to me, stifling a yawn with his miniscule paw.
‘Heya, Milo, mate,’ I replied, feigning sweetness. ‘Hey, I’m sorry for earlier. I was just a bit worked up, you see.’
The pup nodded. ‘I get it; it's horrible Caz didn’t get the paint brush first for you.’
‘Yeah...’ I muttered, shaken by his empathy. ‘Well, I have an idea, how about the two of us go for a little trip? Brotherly bonding and all that.’
‘What, now?’ Milo replied excitedly. ‘Yeah, sure!’
He leapt up, eyes bright and ears perked up.
‘Jump on and hold tight,’ I told him, indicating my back. My wings were already spread and ready to go.
The little runt jumped, and I shot off into the air, and out through my open window. I was heading for the Haunted Woods.
I suppose you want to know my conniving plan, yeah? Well, I guess I’ll tell you, though it didn’t quite work out as it was intended. Caz had told me many tales of the wicked old witch that lived in the Haunted Woods. She’d told me the witch cooked pets in her big wide cauldron to make evil potions that she sold to Balthazar and Sloth. She’d also told me that the witch was so ugly, pets were blinded at first sight of her. I’d believed Caz, too. Until she explained to me the month before Milo came that this was all just made up faerie-tales.
Milo didn’t know that, though.
So, my plan was to tell him all the tales of the wicked witch Edna, and then explain to him that in order to enter our brave and mighty family, you must prove yourself by pranking the wicked old witch.
Then, Milo would quake in fear and run away from the woods as fast as his little paws would take him.
It was an ingenious plan, right? Well, I thought so too. But here’s what happened.
I’d taken Milo down to the patch of woods right next to the witch’s cabin, and told him the horror stories.
‘Right, Milo. Now you know all about the evil witch. I’ll tell you why I’ve brought you here,’ I said, mysteriously.
‘To be a part of our family, you must show braveness and daring. So, your task tonight is to knock on the old witch’s door and to run away again without being harmed!’
Okay, so now according to my master plan, he was supposed to flee, right? But instead of doing precisely what I’d thought out, the little Lupe, to my astonishment, did the exact opposite. In a flash, he’d turned on his tail and was quickly striding towards the witch’s cabin.
I watched, wide eyed in astonishment, as the Lupe got nearer and nearer to the evil hags hut.
He was going to do it; he was actually going to do it!
I covered my eyes with my claws, and prayed that he’d get out of this all right; I didn’t want him hurt, after all. Just completely frightened and shaken up.
And then suddenly, I heard it.
I yelled madly, and pulled my claws away from my eyes. Milo had knocked on the old witch’s door, and he was running away! What’s more, the little Lupe pup was actually grinning.
I felt a surge of pride for the little pup, which I tried unsuccessfully to stifle.
‘Are you okay?’ I yelled to him as he bounded towards me.
‘Yeah! I am, I... oh my gosh, that was so... My heart is pounding! That was amazing, Rhi. I can’t believe we did that!’
I suddenly found myself grinning; it was amazing. And I suddenly realised that for the first night in many I had actually had excitement and fun.
I cuffed the little Lupe over onto his back with one of my wings sheepishly. I guess I was going to have to give him a chance, after all.
I hope you all enjoyed this one! Any neomail feedback greatly appreciated. :)