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Bedtime Reading

by moriwen


A yellow Pteri and a blue Eyrie were in their bedroom, in their pajamas. The Pteri was deep in her book, her feet propped up on the head of her bed, barely avoiding knocking over her lamp. The Eyrie, on the other hand, was not doing anything nearly so productive. He wasn't playing with his large collection of plushies, he wasn't coloring his Maraquan Coloring Book, and he wasn't brushing his beak. What he was doing was fidgeting. First he carefully sharpened all his crayons, and arranged them in rainbow order. Then he looked up at his older sister. "Quijj, read to me."

     "That's nice," the Pteri replied absently, turning the page.

     The Eyrie looked dejected, and proceeded to climb onto his bed, hang upside down from the bedframe, and scratch his ear with his hind foot several times. Then he tried again. "Quijj, I want you to read to me."

     Quijj still didn't look up from her book. "David, I'm reading!"

     Annoyed, David started jumping up and down on his bed and trying to touch the ceiling. Then he started throwing plushies at his sister, and chanting her name. "Quijj! Quijj! Quijj! Read to me!"

     "All right, fine." The yellow Pteri put down her book (Gelert on Treasure Island) and looked at her little brother in exasperation. "I'll read one story to you."

     David was delighted. "Look at the book I found, Quijj! Even you haven't read this one before!"

     Quijj pushed her feathers out of her eyes and inspected the volume. It was a battered, leather-bound tome, and it read "Fairy Tales of Neopia" along the spine. "Aren't you a bit old for this, David? Why don't you go read your Gallant Gallions comics?"

     "I like this book. Read it to me. You promised!"

     Resignedly, the Pteri opened the book and leafed through it. "'The Gorgeous Gallion'. 'Sleeping Snowager'. David, this is just a collection of stories you've read before."

     "Not the last one!" David flapped his wings in exasperation. "I've never seen anything like it before."

     "All right, all right. 'The Hero of Jelly World.' Jelly World?"

     "Just read it!"

     And Quijj began:

     "Prince Neop of Neopia was a red Shoyru--"

     "I hate Shoyrus," interrupted David. "They're floppy and their claws hurt."

     "Do you want me to read or not?" snapped Quijj. Then, looking at her brother's pleading face, she yielded, closed the book, and extemporized. "Prince Neop of Neopia was a blue Eyrie. He liked Neocrackers and Brucicles, and he had a collection of plushies. His favorite was his battered old Blue Bruce plushie, even though it had been mended three times."

     "Just like me."

     "Yes, just like you. Will you lie still, David?" Quijj opened the book and proceeded.

     "He lived with his parents, the king and queen, in a mansion in Faerieland. He didn't have any brothers or sisters, so he had a big room all to himself. One whole wall was made of stained glass in beautiful patterns, and when the light shone through it it looked like liquid jewels. But with no siblings, things were lonely sometimes. He used to play with the faeries, and they all gave him faerie gifts, so he was handsome, and strong, and brilliant. But when all the faeries turned to stone, Neop became bored and decided to go exploring. He didn't even tell his parents, just threw his crown and some bread and cheese in an old potato sack and left.

     "Prince Neop wandered through all the lands of Neopia. He saw the caves of Moltara and the farthest depths of Maraqua. He traveled for seven days and seven nights, and finally collapsed, exhausted. When he awoke from a sound sleep, he found himself in a strange land where everything was made of... jelly?

     "Neop was delighted, and ran and bounced on giant hills of jelly. When he was tired, he slept on a soft Strawberry Jelly. When he was hungry, he ate whatever he wanted. It was a beautiful place, and he was happy there. There were hundreds of kinds of jelly--the tastiest, Neop thought, was a purplish one which he called Purplum jelly.

     "There weren't any houses or people in Jelly World, as far as Neop could see, but the landscape was beautiful. Some of it was rolling hills, and some was wide plains. At night, one tall mountain gave off a soft green glow, so Neop never had to be scared of the dark.

     "Neop missed his parents from time to time. Whenever he thought of his mother, he would go eat some of the healthier jellies--peanut butter or kiwi instead of chocolate. But mostly he just had fun bouncing.

     "Quickly, Neop learned about all the different kinds of jelly. After the first time, he didn't bounce on stone jellies or fire jellies--that hurt! And he just stayed away from one lump of jelly--it was the smelliest jelly Neop had ever encountered. High up in the mountains of Jelly World, some of the jelly was even frozen. It was chilly, but refreshing after eating too much cheese jelly. There were lakes in Jelly World too, Neop learned when he fell into one--but lakes filled with trifle!

     "Happily, Neop bounced along for, well, who knows how long, leaving mounds of squished jelly behind him.

     "Then one day, things changed in Jelly World."

     Quijj broke off. "David, this is a ridiculous story. A whole world made of jelly? You're too old for tall tales like that."

     "Just read it," mumbled the Eyrie, curled up on his bed. So she did:

     "The jelly started to move. Giant blobs of it started to slide across the slippery slopes of Jelly World. And Neop had to flee from Jelly World.

     "Alas, he could not find the way out! He had to grab bites of jelly to eat as he ran from looming Fish Jellies which threatened to crush him. Neop was terrified!

     "But eventually, he noticed something. If he ran far enough north, he came back to the same hill of Thornberry Jelly where he had started! If he ran far enough east, he also returned to the same place!

     "Now Neop, who had gone to school and was something of a mathematician, knew that this meant that Jelly World was a torus. A torus is a fancy word for a doughnut, you see. So Neop decided that Jelly World was really a giant jelly doughnut! And at once the solution occurred to him: he had to eat his way to the center of the doughnut.

     "At once Neop began wolfing the jelly. His tongue curled with the sweet taste and his stomach hurt, but still he valiantly ate. Finally, he reached the center of the doughnut--

     "Suddenly, Neop sneezed and woke up. He wasn't in any Jelly World; he was asleep in the Deserted Fairground. And he was cold, and lonely. He ran straight home to his parents, who were very glad to see him. Neop never ran away again, and he never dreamed about a world made of jelly."

     Quijj closed the book and looked over at her brother. He was fast asleep in his bed, dreaming about a world all of jelly where he could eat all he liked. She smiled, and went back to her book.

The End

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