Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 185,943,697 Issue: 502 | 8th day of Swimming, Y13
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The Life Changing Eviction


by neeraline

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It had happened on a pretty cold winter’s day, rain pounding down in thick sleets onto the roof of my neohome. I’d heard the doorbell’s annoying ring from the backroom where I’d been playing the piano for NirrahLaw, my Bori. A song by Liszt, it had been her favourite piece. I’d looked up from the keys and met Nirrah’s eyes. Besides the fact that we’d hardly ever get visitors, I’d wondered who’d dare come out in that rain. Shrugging, I’d gotten up and walked through the house and entered the front room. I could see the dark outline of a rather large figure through the glass of the door. The figure seemed to be pacing, probably trying to keep warm.

     I opened the door slowly and peeked out. I had to squint to make out the figure because a howling wind was almost literally slapping my face. The figure turned around at the sound of the door opening. I gasped when I saw who it was, The Tax Beast. I realised I hadn’t been able to tell before because he was wearing a size XXXL cowboy leather duster. It actually looked pretty cool but that was irrelevant right now; I had more pressing matters.

     Without having anything else to do, I opened the door and silently invited him –it– in. Without further ado, the Tax Beast walked –or rather crawled, into my house, eyes sweeping in every detail. I gestured towards the sitting room and offered him refreshments, which were declined by a sharp shake of his head. He sat down on a couch and waited. I chose a seat opposite his and sat down.

     Movement out of the corner of my eye caught my attention. Looking at Nirrah standing in the doorway, I could see the fear in her eyes. We’d all been told stories about the Tax Beast. I saw the question in her eyes, the question I was running through my own head; what is going on? Since I had no answer, I shrugged slightly to her. A sad little smile crossed her lips and she nodded as she trotted away, presumably to her room. I turned back to the Beast and swallowed. I knew that this could not be good.

     “So, um, what... what can I do for you?” I asked him, my nerves obvious not only from my voice but most probably from my expression. I tried to take on a bold composure. It didn’t really work; all it probably did was make me look even more nervous.

     The Tax Beast met my eyes and I saw the hardness in his. He was not a compassionate soul.

     “It has come to the bank's attention that you have not paid the sufficient amount of funds required by your rent.” Straight down to business, I noticed. There were no "Hi, how are you"s or even an "I’m sorry to tell you this, but..." This was probably the worst guy sent to break news in Neopia.

     “Oh.” That was all I could say. I had known this, but I hadn’t thought it was bad enough to have a guy sent to my house. I thought back to when I’d last paid rent and realisation set in. I was weeks behind. At least 12 000 neopoints worth. In my world, that was a lot. I didn’t have the time to travel to Neopia Central to play those games. The beast continued.

     “In retaliation to your actions, the bank has decided to evict you, and in turn your neopet, from your home. We have notified Neopian officials that you will need a place to stay until you are able to find another home. They will come to pick you up in the morning.”

     Blunt. Very blunt. I sat in my chair stunned and almost didn’t realise that the Tax Beast was leaving. I jumped up and caught him before he opened the door.

     “But wait! Tomorrow morning? That’s not enough time to pack! Can’t I have had a few more weeks’ notice?” After I said it, I realised that was stupid. If I’d had more time I could have avoided this situation altogether.

     “This is the bank's decision. It would not be worth arguing.” I noticed the Beast was turning red. Oh, not good. There used to be a game called ‘Angry Tax Beast’. When it was angry, the beast was red. I decided against arguing more. I did not want to face the Angry Tax Beast.

     “Oh... okay, well you, um, can tell the, er, officials that we’ll be ready.”

     The Beast nodded and left my house, braving the harsh winds and heavy rain. I walked back to the sitting room and sat down. Staring at nothing, I sat and thought about what I had to do next. Pack up? Definitely. Tell NirrahLaw? Most certainly. But Fight against the system? Heck no, I would have to take what I could get. My thoughts tumbled through my head. What was I going to do?

     I don’t know how long I sat there for. But I soon realised that Nirrah was sitting in the doorway, her Ombat, Meela, in her arms. Concern across Nirrah’s features alarmed me and I went over to her. “What is it? What’s wrong?” Instantly I knew. She has heard what was happening and understood the ramifications. She might be young, but she was old for her age. I drew her into my arms, taking comfort from her warmth.

     “Mummy? What are we going to do?” she whispered into my neck. I squeezed my eyes shut, desperately wanting to cry but knew that I had to be the strong one. I pulled away and looked Nirrah levelly in the eye, my gaze never wavering.

     “We are going to pack our things, go with the people and take what we can get. No looking back. No complaints.” I knew she wouldn’t do either of those things, but it had to be said, more for me then her.

     So we packed our things and were waiting outside when the Officials came. We went with them quietly and said nothing during the trip to the boarding house we would be staying at. The weeks following went in a blur, and after they happened I couldn’t remember them.

     I’d met with work placement people every few days and I honestly only listened half-heartedly. Those people tried, they really did, but I didn’t. The only good parts of my day had been when I was with NirrahLaw.

***

     Now, a year later, Nirrah and I stood outside our old home and watched with reminiscent smiles. After a few months of living in the boarding house, I had begun a career as concert pianist with Jazzmosis. With the wages that came from being in a band, Nirrah and I were able to move into a home of our own again. We had our own keep and Nirrah went to a good school in Tyrannia. I had eventually gone solo and we now live in a large home on Snowy Mountain. Though I hadn’t thought so then, the day the Tax Beast came to kick me out was probably the best moment in my life, and I most certainly did not regret leaving quietly. Now, because of the bank, I had a great life. All was well.

The End

 
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