Messenger: The Trouble With Selkets - Part Two
I now knew two things for a fact. One, that if I lost even one Selket, Mom would throw Pecan out, since Pecan had been the one who'd freed all the Selkets in the first place. Two, I knew that I had a very small chance of even finding one of those Selkets. I wouldn’t have been surprised if half of them were roaming Neopia Central by now.
Luckily, I had some help. Midnight, Star, and Bluecloud would all be searching for the Selkets with me. Lila, Dad, and Mom were too busy, and Rooli had mysteriously disappeared before I could ask him if he would help.
Bluecloud and her family had some experience with finding Selkets, as they had come from the Lost Desert, where Selkets roamed galore. Unfortunately, they were better at squashing them than catching them live. I set out several traps, sprinkling trails of food along the floor for them. And the Warf in Overnight Room A, Zero, was quite happy to help us track the Selkets down, but after we found him munching on a couple of Mootixes we took him off the case.
I kept Pecan securely locked in his cage in my room. I wouldn’t put it past him to eat one of those Selkets, or cause some more mayhem that would make Mom even angrier. He didn’t like that much, but that couldn’t be helped. I put some plushies and treats in the cage to make him happy, and I even let him sleep with one of my blankets. But even so, whenever I walked past his cage I had to look into those big, woeful eyes, begging me to let him out of the cage.
And I wasn’t excused from my other duties, either: running errands for Mom, feeding and washing the petpets, and my least favorite, going over the entire house with a broom, a feather duster, and a mop. It was hard to believe how filthy the petpets made the house; it seemed that one day I mopped the floors so well that you could look at your reflection in it, and then the next it looked as if a whole stampede of muddy Snorkles had just come through (which had probably actually happened). Because of my many chores, I barely had enough time to go Selket hunting.
The mysterious Aisha woke up soon after the whole catastrophe. She graciously accepted the refund Mom gave her but seemed in a big hurry to leave. She told Mom to deliver the Selkets to her in Sakhmet when we found them, and Mom gave me that look. I would be going on another Messenger trip.
“This really works out quite well,” said Midnight happily, soon after the Aisha (who hadn’t even given us her name or address) had left. However, no one seemed to notice this, as we were all too busy looking for Selkets, caring for sick or injured petpets, or painting Disco Petpet Bowls to care about our mysterious visitor.
“And why is that?” I grumbled, lugging an empty Selket trap down the hallway.
“Haven’t you guessed?” Midnight asked. “That was going to be our birthday present to you. We were going to take you to Sakhmet with us, since you’ve been so kind to us here in Neopia Central. And so that you can see us off, you know, when we leave.”
Oh. I had forgotten about that. Well, what had I expected? That Bluecloud and her family would stay here forever? No. But still, the thought of them leaving left me with a strange feeling in my stomach. Undoubtedly I would never see them again after this.
“Oh yeah,” I mumbled. “Well, I have no idea how to find the Selkets’ owner, anyways. Do you know him?” Midnight shook her head. “We’ll find him, Emma. Don’t worry.”
“It’s all very suspicious, this,” I said, kneeling down and peering into one of the Selket traps I had rigged outside my bedroom. It was untouched. I sighed and inserted another bit of bread into the trap, hoping that the Selkets would turn up soon. So far, we had found a grand total of seven. That is, we had SEEN seven. We had only caught three. Three out of twelve, and it had been six days since my birthday. “She walks in, dumps a dozen Selkets all over the house, then walks right out without even telling us her name or address. Providing we find all of these Selkets by the next century, I doubt we’re going to be able to find their owner,” I huffed.
“Sakhmet’s a big place,” Midnight agreed. “Oh well, it’s not like Selkets are scarce. She can always just go and buy some new ones or find some herself. They’re pretty inexpensive.”
“Hey! I caught one! I caught one!” Bluecloud shouted, dashing past us with one of the Selket traps. I grabbed a glass jar from the kitchen table and ran after Bluecloud. She promptly collided into a wall and the trap flew out of her grasp, flying backward and whacking my face. I lunged for the Selket with the jar. The tiny bug looked up at me with glittering, evil red eyes and glared at the jar. I slipped my hand underneath the jar and lifted the Selket. It hissed menacingly and nipped at my hand. It didn’t hurt much, only a tiny pinch, but I nearly dropped the jar anyway. The Selket looked at me smugly, if a bug can look smug. I placed the jar upside-down on the floor and reached for a cage sitting on Lila’s desk.
“Smug bug on a rug,” said Bluecloud, peering down at the Selket with mild interest.
“Yep,” I said, sitting down on a chair and looking down at my wound. I could barely see it, it was so tiny. I grabbed a tissue from Aunt Lila’s desk (chances are if you’re looking for something, it’ll be on Aunt Lila’s desk. Tissues, newspapers, jump ropes, spanners, you name it, she has it) and pressed it to my hand--my mom had said it was a good idea to 'apply pressure to wounds'. I shouldn’t have been worried; in fact, I wasn’t, not that much. It looked like an innocent enough wound, aside from the fact that I was beginning to feel dizzy.
Midnight wandered in from the hall, toting Star and the Selket trap Bluecloud had dropped. She put Star down on Bluecloud’s lap and proceeded to fiddle with one of the wires on the trap. I watched her fingers with fascination, feeling my vision go black around the edges.
“What’s the matter with you?” Auntie Lila snapped, watching me lean back against her desk and close my eyes. She tapped her pen against her cheek impatiently, something that she does when she’s thinking very hard. “Emma, do you know where I put my Dark Red Lipstick?” she asked, opening and closing various drawers and rummaging through the many papers stacked on the desk.
“What’s it look like?” asked Bluecloud, poking the glass jar. The Selket hissed angrily and snapped at her. She yawned and turned away, beginning to fiddle anxiously with her cast. Star looked at it with new interest and immediately been gnawing on the cast, which Bluecloud didn’t mind a bit.
“It’s got a black plastic handle, and the cap has my name on it in pen,” Lila answered, looking flustered.
I tilted my chair back and leaned my head back. My hand was beginning to throb quite unpleasantly, and my head was hurting.
“Oh. Does it, by any chance, look like a stick of charcoal?” Bluecloud prodded the jar again.
“Why yes, I suppose it does. Why?” Lila shoved a whole pile of papers off the desk with her arm, only to find a pair of key chains and a pile of chicken bones under the mess. I stared on, unfazed by the fact that I was now covered with paper and other assorted objects. I wouldn’t have been surprised if one of the Selkets made a nest in there.
“Oh. That’s what I thought it was.” Bluecloud yawned and watched the Selket out of the corner of her eye.
“Wait a minute. . .does this have anything to do with the unpleasant smell of burning cosmetics coming from the kitchen last night?”
“See, I was trying to bake some cookies. . .but the darn recipe book was written in Tyrannian, so I just threw some charcoal in the fireplace and put the cookies in. Only the cookies got all burned up, and the darn recipe book was still Tyrannian.”
Normally I would’ve said something like ‘the recipe book was plain Neopian, it was just upside-down’ or ‘you don’t cook cookies in a fireplace, especially our fake fireplace with a cardboard fire’, but just now I didn’t quite have the energy. I slipped from my chair and landed with a thud on the ground, but I didn’t care. My vision was getting blacker by the second, and my hand was still hurting a lot.
“Bluecloud! That was my SPECIAL lipstick! I got it from a very SPECIAL place from a SPECIAL person at a SPECIAL time! It’s irreplaceable!”
“Actually, I think it’s 183 neopoints,” said Bluecloud, but Lila ignored her. So did I. Actually, I could barely hear them. I could barely see too, and I was feeling pleasantly warm and sleepy.
“I don’t care how much it was! All I care about is that you get me that lipstick back--right now!” Lila was absolutely fuming by now. Bluecloud nodded, strolled over to the fireplace (Star still hanging onto Bluecloud’s cast by her teeth), and rummaged around in the ashes, coming up with a pile of black goop, which she unceremoniously dumped on Lila’s desk. Aunt Lila was speechless with shock.
“There,” said Bluecloud. “Now you’ve got some nice black lipstick, which, I might add, is 192 neopoints. Therefore, you have just gained a profit of nine neopoints.”
“Help,” I tried to say, but no words came out when I moved my mouth. Or maybe they did. I closed my eyes, then opened them again, but surprisingly, my vision didn’t improve by much.
“Hey,” said Bluecloud, noticing me for the first time. “Looks like you’re on the floor, eh?”
You think? I thought.
She poked me on the shoulder, concern beginning to form on her face. “Really, Emma, are you okay? Emma? Do you hear me? Emma?”
And, with my own name ringing in my mind, the black swallowed me, and I fell into unconsciousness.
To be continued...