There are ants in my Lucky Green Boots Circulation: 193,602,738 Issue: 701 | 2nd day of Collecting, Y17
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To Succeed is to Fail: Chapter Two


by rielcz

--------

      Fear me not.

      Hmm, I rather enjoy those three words. They provoke feelings of intense emotion at rather opposite extremes.

      I am telling you not to fear me. You, listener, should take comfort in the idea that "me", as an entity, will not harm you. I am here merely to entertain you, to provide you with a convoluted, yet surreal tale.

      But at the same time, by me telling you not to fear me, you understand I am quite capable of inciting fear in any particular individual -- you find me dangerous.

      In short, by me telling you not to fear me, I both resolve any prior fear and create a totally new, different sense of fear in you.

      Much like the situation that Judy finds herself in presently.

      But we shan't venture into the story quite yet.

      First, as to further increase your understanding of the unfolding events, I will tell you another tale.

      Much like myself, the following short really has no significance yet; however, I could not possibly provide a clear and accurate end to my story had this section not be placed here.

***

      Aside I -- To Destroy is to Conquer

      "Help! Somebody please help!" The hapless cries of an unseen individual ring out through the air, contempt and fright present in each one of her quivering words.

      Alas, it is too late. The entire group has ransacked her home, stolen her food and money, and destroyed all possible hope of a better future for her and her family.

      Shame.

      The hordes of assailants continue on through the little Haunted Woods village.

      The members laugh. They delight in the distress and misfortune of others. They take satisfaction in the lives they've ruined.

      An Aisha inspects the loot. "A marvelous haul," he tells his master, the leader of the group.

      This leader nods. "Well done." He starts to giggle maniacally, taking a giant brush and painting an even larger "X" over the buildings. It is his recognizable figure.

      It is his trademark.

      A Usul declares to the rest of the group that any further destruction of the little town would not be worth their while; taking this into consideration, the league continues toward the next place on their map: Neovia.

      They go rampant. One breaks into the crumpet store, stealing and eating and wrecking.

      Another finds her way into the little lamp emporium, breaking glass and thrashing brass, stealing shades and custom-mades.

      Another enters the clock tower, choosing to take the little arm that rings the bell.

      Though the giant metal bowl fails to peal, the town folk certainly will not be quiet tonight.

      More screaming.

      One particular Neopet breaks the lock of a little home south of town square. A little green Ixi inside screams her head off as three or four of the tens of individuals storm into her house, chasing after the fleeing Gelert or the frantic Skeith.

      They take books, knickknacks, and other items they deem valuable or desirable.

      As is customary after an attack, the leader of the legion paints a large letter "X" on the wall. He goes away, laughing, while the other troops follow.

      Upon their finish of this home, the horde moves on to the next, ready to destroy someone else's life.

      "Someone please, stop them!" another panicked voice yells out.

      But this time there's someone to answer the call.

      As the little Ixi, dreams and heart broken by the recent ordeal, stares at the mysterious individual floating mid-air, she suddenly gets a new aspiration.

      But that's another story.

      "Who are you?" a Kyrii from the thieving club asks gruffly.

      "My name is not important," the figure states as the members of the ransacking league look at her.

      "Do you honestly think you can stop us?" a Korbat replies.

      There is darkness.

      There is light.

      There is darkness.

***

      Interesting little piece, is it not?

      Perhaps you've guessed what happened in that scene, and how it relates to the story.

      Or perhaps you have not; if this is the case, listen on.

      Though I personally encourage you not to.

      If you succeed in your juvenile attempts to complete my retelling of this narrative, you can't imagine the ways the thoughts and ideas expressed here will make you fail...

***

      Part the Second -- Explanations Revealed

      Judy was in shock. "Wha... huh?" she stammered. She really had no response.

      This Bruce here -- and everyone else in the room -- wanted to be brought into the realm of the living.

      And, somehow, Judy was going to help them do it.

      "Every year," the zombie in front of the Acara said, "we've sent a loose invitation flying through the air in the hopes a living Neopet finds it and chooses to attend -- this has been going on for tens of years now. Every year we hope to find one, but every year just we zombies show up." He paused. "Until this year."

      Judy wasn't sure how she should respond to the situation.

      "Why?" she responded. "Do you want us living members here so you can feast on our brains or something?"

      The Bruce looked disgusted. "No, nothing like that," he responded.

      "And why just throw out one invitation, not knowing where it could end up? If you want people to attend, why not go to the town square and announce, 'Come to this party! There'll be zombies at it! Look, I'm one of them!?" She was really angry now, and her voice quivered slightly.

      Frankly, she just wanted to get out of this situation alive and in one piece.

      "Look," the Bruce now raised his voice at her. "Calm down. We're only--"

      "You're only going to crack me open and destroy me and eat me?"

      "SHUT UP!" he roared at her. Immediately, he backed down.

      To put his thought pattern in the paraphrased idea of a popular aphorism; "It it best not to bite the hand that may feed you."

      "I'm sorry," he said to her, softly.

      Judy tried to maintain her composure, but his yelling had really fractured her emotional wall. "Just answer my questions," she responded, her voice cracking near the end.

      "Well," Fredrick began, "the entire affair can be attributed to a witch's curse--"

      This immediately sparked the Acara's interest. "What kind of curse?" she interrupted, confidence returning to her voice.

      "A curse that turned us all into zombies," Jakie said, stepping forward.

      Judy was quite relieved to see her friend from earlier, and, momentarily, all of her worries seemed to dissipate. "Hi Jakie!" she said emphatically, now totally unconcerned with her question.

      "Hello, fair Judy," he responded. "Anyway, to continue, the witch went all crazy, and, in a great flash, turned us all into the disfigured creatures you see before you."

      "You mean, you're all not really dead?" Judy asked. This whole "zombie" label was beginning to get out of hand.

      Glancing around the room, they all seemed to be dead.

      The Acara noted a Korbat whose skin was peeling a bit here and there, had an eye patch, and a tail slightly broken and misshapen.

      In the opposite direction, a Blumaroo had gray and peeling skin, a bone protruding from his arm, and any spring in his tail had long since diminished.

      In contrast to them both, Judy saw a young Kyrii with regular colored skin and seemingly without ailments -- there was just a few small torn patches of fur here and there.

      Jakie thought about her reply. "We're all dead, to the extent that any member of the living dead can be at rest. There are many Neopians, when they pass, who are perfectly content with living life as a ghost, or not even coming back at all, but the witch's curse made us go straight from living to zombie -- no 'death' medium in between."

      Judy seemed to be able to comprehend this. "Alright," she said.

      "And of course," added a Usul, though Judy was still far too distraught to take great note of her, "rate of decay varies inversely with Brownian motion--"

      "About your second question," Fredrick continued, interrupting the member's jargon, "as per the curse, we are confined only to the regions of the dead. We lurk in the shadows, in the forests, in the areas the living would not dare venture into. Though, of course, if one from the living comes to us..." he trailed with a sly smile.

      The Acara was content with, though a touch perturbed by, this answer. "And about the invitation?" Judy inquired.

      "Also as per the regulation of the curse, we seem only to be allowed one letter per year," he continued. "Our first year into the curse, we tried sending more envelopes, but when they hit light the paper disintegrated into nothing. Only the first letter we sent remained intact."

      "And you sent out these invitations as you wanted someone to come and 'set you free'?"

      "Of the curse, yes," the Bruce responded.

      "And I'm the first live Neopet here in years?"

      "Yes."

      A silence fell over the room.

      "And why did I get it?"

      "Luck of the draw."

      An even more awkward silence replaced the other silence.

      Somebody coughed; to Judy, it sounded as though, muffled behind it, were the words "Brownian motion".

      Fredrick smiled sheepishly. "So will you help us, then?"

      Slowly, Judy grinned. "Of course I'll help you zombies." She glanced at Jakie. "I'll help you defeat this curse, and I can't wait to see you all happy and alive again!"

***

      "I sense a disturbance," an unknown figure said, staring into a small ball, as she rocked back and forth in her mahogany chair.

      Something big was about to happen.

      She was content with her little secret being found all those years ago -- that would cause no real damage -- but this could undo years of work.

      Hurriedly, she put on her coat and grabbed some supplies. Saying a quick "bye" to her Ghostkerchief, she ran out the door.

      There was someone she needed to track down...

      To be continued…

 
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