The Search for Arnold
With her huggy tight in her arms, Jamie ran down the beach and into the ocean.
“Vacation!” she yelled loud enough for her owner, Melissa, to hear.
She splashed into the water just as a wave hit her, and her petpet, Arnold, squirmed out of her reach and scampered back up the beach toward Melissa. Melissa reached out and caught the huggy before he got a chance to run away.
“Jamie,” she called to the speckled Zafara, “be careful with your petpet! You begged me for weeks to be able to take him with us to Mystery Island, and you’d better take care of him while you’re here.”
Jamie rolled her eyes, but did go back up the beach to get her petpet. She loved her little Arnold.
“I’ll be careful with him, Melissa, don’t worry! Besides, he’s smart enough to know to come back to me, right?”
Melissa smiled at her Jamie. “Just keep your eye on him. Now, go back down to the water and play! It is vacation time, isn’t it?”
Jamie squealed, and almost made another run down to the water. First, though, she knew she needed to find somewhere to put Arnold. It took almost an hour, but she was able to make him a nice sand castle (or for him, a sand prison) with high walls to keep him safe while she went into the water.
When she was happy with the results, she put him inside and then ran down the beach to play with another family of neopets that had come for a vacation, too. She figured even if she wasn’t paying attention the whole time, Melissa would be able to see if he was okay, too.
It was a beautiful day on Mystery Island, and Jamie made several new friends while swimming and playing tag in the sand. After several hours of play, the sun set and she knew it was time to go back to the hotel for the night.
When she went back to her sand castle, though, Arnold was gone. The tide had come in and washed out an entire wall of the castle. She felt a flutter of panic, but thought maybe her owner had grabbed him, like she had earlier. Jamie ran over to Melissa, only to find that she had been asleep on a beach towel the whole time.
“Are you sure you haven’t seen Arnold?” she asked, tears starting to come.
“No, Jamie, I haven’t. I told you to keep an eye on him. We’ll look for him tomorrow.”
Jamie spent all night tossing and turning. Where could her huggy be? She imagined all sorts of things happening to him. Maybe the Monocerous got to him! Or perhaps that Mystery Island chef was going to cook him up in a stew! Worst of all, though, was the most likely. She pictured him sitting in the cold somewhere, lonely and scared without her.
Jamie got out of bed and went to the window, looking out over the moon-clad island. Instead of admiring the beauty, she couldn’t help but think of all the good times she’d had with Arnold. The first day they got him, he had sniffed around the whole house, and she’d followed behind him the whole time! When he’d explored enough he came and snuggled into her lap while she read a book. He loved to play with his toys with her, and he was always good company when she was sad or scared. Now he needed her, and she could only wait until the sun rose to go find him.
At the first sign of light Jamie ran into her owner’s room and jumped on the bed.
“Melissa, it’s morning! Can we please, please, please go look for Arnold now?”
After her owner got up (with a lot of grumbling) the two left to go explore the island and see if they could find the missing petpet.
The first place she had to check was, of course, the Kitchen Quest place. Much to Jamie’s relief, the Flotsam said he hadn’t seen a missing huggy around, and even if he did, “they are not a delicacy” so she didn’t have to worry about that anymore. She checked Techo Mountain next, but the Kougra there hadn’t seen Arnold, either. She suggested talking to the Tombola Man, who saw almost everyone on the island, so Melissa took her there next.
After a free tombola spin (Melissa was excited to get a codestone out of it) they asked the Tombola man if he’d seen a huggy around.
“Well,” he said, re-arranging the prize shelf, “I didn’t see any huggy on its own. But I did see a mischievous looking Blumaroo with one. He said that he was taking him to the island cooking pot to see what he could make with it.”
“The cooking pot!” cried Jamie. “Are you sure? Why would he bring Arnold there?”
“Don’t ask me,” said the Tombola Man. “Jhuidah and I don’t get along, so I haven’t been there in ages. Good luck to you!”
Once they had left, Jamie started to cry. “Poor Arnold! He’s going to get turned to stew after all. I feel so awful for letting him out of my sight. What am I going to do?”
Melissa took the sad Zafara into a tight hug. “It’ll be okay, Jamie. We’ll get him back, just wait and see. I’m not sure what that Blumaroo has in mind, but we’ll get your Arnold, don’t worry.”
“Thanks,” Jamie said, wiping her eyes. “Let’s go get my huggy back!”
The two practically ran to the cooking pot, pushing past tourists and other vacationers as they went. The whole time Jamie’s heart was pounding. Arnold just had to be okay. She wouldn’t be able to face herself if he wasn’t.
When they arrived, they found the Blumaroo talking with Jhuidah. In one hand he held a Cool Purple Teddy Bear. In the other hand was...
“Arnold!” Jamie ran over to the Blumaroo. “That’s my huggy you have. Please give him back to me.”
The Blumaroo laughed and tightened his hold on the petpet. “Nice try. Don’t you know it’s finders keepers here in Neopia? I found the little runt running down the beach yesterday, so he’s mine. I’m going to drop him in the pot, turn him into a Huggy Bear, and sell him for lots of neopoints.”
Jamie wanted to cry again, but she knew she couldn’t. She had neglected to take care of her petpet once, but she wasn’t going to do it again.
“No you are not. Arnold is my petpet, and I want him back right now. I don’t care where you found him; I love him, and he’s going to come home with me.”
The Blumaroo laughed again, then turned back to Jhuidah. “So, can I drop the stuff in now and get my huggy bear?”
Jhuidah looked between the two pets, thinking. Then she turned to Jamie. “Can you prove that this petpet is yours?”
Jamie nodded. “Oh yes, my owner has pictures of the two of us together, and I know he’ll come to me if this Blumaroo will just let go of him. I love him so much, Jhuidah, can you please help me get him back?”
“That’s not fair!” said the Blumaroo. “I found him, so he’s my petpet now!”
The faerie looked at both of the pets again. “Why don’t we put him down, and see who he goes to? If this Zafara is right, she should really get the huggy back. Wouldn’t you want the same thing in her place?”
“Whatever,” said the Blumaroo. Glaring at Jamie, he put the huggy down. With his feet barely on the ground, Arnold bounded into Jamie’s outstretched arms, and she held him tight in a fierce hug.
“Arnold, I missed you so much! I’m so glad you’re safe.” She smiled at Jhuidah. “Thanks for helping me out.”
Jhuidah smiled and shooed her away. Before Jamie left, though, she shook the Blumaroo’s hand. “Thanks for giving him back. Don’t worry, one day you will have your own petpet, and you’ll know just how I feel.”
The Blumaroo just glared at her and walked away.
Now a complete family again, Melissa, Jamie and Arnold walked back to the hotel together. Jamie was never so excited to go home from a vacation, because this time, she realized how important it was that everyone come home together.