The most fantastic thing in the universe! Circulation: 97,878,627 Issue: 186 | 15th day of Eating, Y7
Home | Archives Articles | Editorial | Short Stories | Comics | New Series | Continued Series
 

Hooked On A Snarhook: Part One


by imogenweasley

--------

The salty air washed over Erals slowly, sweet-smelling on this otherwise dank island. He drank it in rapidly, like a jug of water in the Lost Desert. This was just one of the many perks of Krawk Island, an island with a bad reputation but, in his opinion, a good heart.

     With a sigh the dark-brown Kyrii got to his feet and started to walk back up the beach, wiping the sandwich crumbs from his face. Lunch breaks were all very good, but the thing he truly loved about the Island, the entire reason he'd moved here, was Little Nippers, and he was due back in five minutes.

     Little Nippers; at first he'd been unsure about taking a job so far away. Ever since he had first seen a Weewoo, resting on the tree branch outside his window, and heard its gentle calls, he had wanted to work with Petpets; that was definite. But to move to Krawk Island, one of the most dangerous places on Neopia? That had been a big step.

     But it wasn't a step he regretted now, he realized as he came up to the squat building. He'd loved working with the Pirate Petpets; seeing them be brought in from the many hunters who scoured the island and its surrounding seas; watching their initial fear fade as Erals fed them, stroked their coats, acclimatized them to their new lives; and then watching them leaving, in the hands of grateful, loving Pets.

     He loved his work.

***

     As he ducked through the low doorway, still smiling contentedly, he saw a huge Grundo stood before the counter. He wore a baggy white shirt, huge boots- the usual attire of Pirates. This was no ordinary Pirate, though, and Erals smiled as the dominating figure turned to greet him. This was Polao, one of the regular hunters, and today he had three cages with him.

     "What did you bring with you this time, Polao?" Erals asked with curiosity looking at the cages.

     "Arr, today was a good day for the hunt. I got a Krawkadon, a Krikket and this cheap Snarhook."

     "Good!" said Erals taking the cages to the back of the store with him. Then he settled them on the floor and started looking for food for the Petpets. He distributed it in three plates and put them on the floor next to the cages. "There you are!" he said happily, opening the cages. The Petpets literary jumped out of their cages and started eating rapidly. Erals knew they hated to be confined to such small spaces.

     The Krawkadon was the first to finish its food. Erals picked up the plate and he was about to go and wash it when he saw the Krawkadon pushed the Snarhook, it falling to the floor helplessly. The cruel Krawkadon started eating the food, gobbling it down quickly, as Erals dropped the plate he had been holding.

     "Hey, hey!" he exclaimed, and rushed to pick up the Snarhook and examine him. He loved all his Petpets and he couldn't stand seeing what that Krawkadon had just done- the poor Petpet could be seriously hurt, from the tears that were tumbling down its face.

     The cute pink creature had a small injury in his arm because of the fall. "Oh, come here," the Kyrii said to the Snarhook, "I'll give you more food, you'll be all right." The Snarhook emitted a hi-pitched noise as an answer, clearly comforted.

     ***

     "That is so much better!" said the Kyrii a while later. He had just put some bandages on the Snarhook and he was observing it while the creature as it ate the food he had given it. "I think you'll be better if you stay apart from the other petpets. I don't want to see you hurt again, ok?"

     At that moment the chief shopkeeper of Little Nippers, a blue Kyrii who dressed in the same pirate clothes every day, entered.

     "Ye be talkin' to the Petpets again Erals?" he said with his deep rough voice. "Ye know we only gotta keep those Petpets well till someone buys 'em!"

     "This one got injured; I just wanted to make sure he'd be all right," Erals answered

     "Ye threat 'em like they were yours. Ye even put some bandages on him!" the blue Kyrii exclaimed angrily. "What a waste of time an' dubloons," he muttered.

     "I paid for them myself," the brown Kyrii said proudly. "You don't need to worry about profits, sir!"

     "I do need to worry about ya sanity though, wee lad," was the light-hearted reply, before the huge Kyrii nodded, making his long fur tumbling forwards. "Now, I have ta tend to the shop, so you're gonna have ta give them their bath."

     "OK, sir!" Quickly Erals hurried across to the cabinet and slid it open, the hinges squeaking. Two huge bowls sat inside, one inside the other, and he grabbed them both.

     "What're ya doin'?" the pirate Kyrii asked, leaning against the doorway that led into the shop. "You only need one, lad."

     "Actually, sir, I was going to keep this Snarhook separate from the Krawkadon-"

     "That's not the way to do it! Put them all together, it'll be good for him." And with that the pirate Kyrii shook his head and stepped into the shop, the door swinging shut behind him.

     Erals sighed and replaced the smaller bowl and walked over to the sink. The Snarhook squeaked excitedly as it saw the water tumbling down from the tap, and the chocolate-brown Kyrii grinned.

     "It's bath time, little guy. We've got to make sure you don't have any Petpetpets or anything, don't want them spreading to the other pets." Erals watched for a few seconds as the Snarhook bounced up and down excitedly. He checked the temperature of the water, and then lifted the bowl onto the table, turning the tap off with his tail as he did so. The Petpet bounded towards it, trying desperately to jump inside, and eventually it managed to scramble over the edge and fall into the water with a splash.

     Erals patted its head and then walked through the large doorway that dominated the back wall. On the other side he was greeted by a round of squawks and squeaks from the Petpets that were wandering around on the floor, playing games or nibbling on cookies. He walked through the crowd over to the play pen in the corner, where the Krawkadon and the Krikket sat isolated. Both had dozed off, so he heaved the entire play pen up and carried it out to the kitchen. As he set it down on the table the Snarhook squeaked with shock, clearly upset at seeing the Krawkadon again, but Erals patted its head, calming it slightly, before rousing the sleeping Petpets.

***

     Soon all three were toddling around in the water quite happily, their Kyrii carer scrubbing gently at them with a large bar of soap. They seemed to be enjoying themselves, and the atmosphere was calmer, but as he leant over to wash the Krawkadon it grabbed the bar in its mouth, tugging it from his grasp and flinging it at the Snarhook. The Petpet squeaked as the soap struck it, knocking it down into the water.

     "Hey!" Erals exclaimed as the pink Petpet burst into tears. "You're OK, you're OK." He picked it up and gave it a hug, ignoring the cool water that was soaking into his shirt. Finally the cries subsided, and with a smile the Kyrii put him onto the floor, nudging it with his paw towards the back room and the waiting Petpets.

     Suddenly the door was pushed open and the Little Nippers chief popped in again.

     "Ye finished? I need restocks for the shop, ye know," he said. "And what happened ta yer clothes?"

     "The Petpets splashed me too much this time," Erals lied. Quickly he proceeded to put them back in their cages, along with a few others from the play room at the back. At first the Snarhook resisted to go back to its cage, so Erals stroked him one last time and the Petpet waved goodbye with its little hand.

     This made Erals feel somewhat apprehensive. He usually felt happy for the Petpets because they would be bought by caring owners and find good homes. But with this Snarhook everything was different. He knew at once he'd miss it; it was a very special Petpet for him, without any good reason at all. In his work he had no choice; Petpets came and went and he took care of all of them, but no Petpet stayed for long enough for him to grow attached to it. Erals felt strange to find himself in this situation- the same had happened this time. The Snarhook had only been here a few hours- why did he feel this connection?

     "Here they are," he told his boss, handing him the cages whilst pushing these strange thoughts from mind.

     "We were expectin' another hunter to drop by this afternoon," the owner continued as he took the cages. "Why dontcha go to see if he has arrived yet?"

     "Sure," Erals said, in a lower tone than usual.

     ***

     Erals had received the delivery from Trakkes, an Eyrie who was also their only flying hunter. He had brought four Petpets with him, two Pawkeets, a Piraket and a Weewoo.

     Usually the chocolate-brown Kyrii would have admired the beautiful feathers of the Piraket, or stared at the Weewoo remembering the moment he decided to work with Petpets, or at least paid attention to notice that the Pawkeets had been trying to play a game of Deckball with a piece of cheese. But instead he did his usual caretaker routine very absent-mindedly. He found himself seriously thinking about the possibility of adopting a Petpet. Maybe he could find his perfect companion; maybe he already had, in that Snarhook.

     ***

     Soon it was late, and his boss had come to dismiss him for the day.

     "Yarr, the sales were very good today!" said the blue Kyrii happily. "Ye can go home now, Erals. It's time ta close the shop."

     "Were all the petpets bought, sir?" Erals asked quickly, putting the mop down and trying not to sound worried, but rather casual. The sole thought of the Snarhook having fun with its new owner made him sad.

     "Almost. The only ones left were one of the Pawkeets and the Snarhook."

     ***

     Erals' heart leapt. "So the Snarhook wasn't bought?" he asked, but the other Kyrii didn't noticed the excitement on his voice.

     "Nah. Too pink and cutesy for us pirates if ye ask me. I put him to bed in the back room."

     "Sir, can I buy that Snarhook?"

     "Ye want it?" the owner asked, confused. "I dunno Erals, I dun want ye to be distracted from yer work because ye have to take care of a Petpet of yer own."

     "Oh, please sir! I would pay for it like any regular customer."

     "Hmm…" The blue Kyrii didn't seem to like the idea as much as Erals expected, but finally he spoke. "It is a popular Petpet for visitors, you know, and we have the cruise ship coming in tomorrow. Let's make a deal- if it isn't bought by tomorrow night ye can have it. OK?"

     "Err… sounds good," said Erals, though not definitely convinced. And, with a final glance at the back room, he walked out the door.

     ***

     Erals raced past his boss into the back room, straight up to the back row of cages, his thick fur flying behind him. The Snarhook was there, only just woken up from its nap but clearly pleased to see its carer. It wiggled its little arms up and down and squeaked that high-pitched noise happily, making the dark-brown Pet grin. He tugged the door open quickly; the Petpet leapt into his arms; and he smiled.

     "You're my Petpet now, Snarhook. And I'll never let you go…"

     "Erals?"

     The Kyrii woke with a start from the daydream, his eyes focusing quickly on the owner of Little Nippers who stood before him. The huge blue Pet, dressed in his usual pirate gear, frowned.

     "You hear me, sonny?"

     "What, sir?" Erals asked, confused. "Sorry, I wasn't really listening…"

     "Fetch some cookies from the storeroom. I wanta show this young fella how easy to care for these Pirakets are." The huge figure pointed at a large yellow Skeith stood in front of the counter, yawning as the fat Petpet tried desperately to do a little dance. That Piraket, Kyrii knew, was desperate to get out of the dank shop, even with the amount of care Erals gave it.

     "Cookies. Yes sir." Slowly the Pet walked into the back room, his eyes red from the sleepless night before, and grabbed a box of the treats from a shelf on the far wall. Usually a group of the pirate Petpets would be crowded underneath, trying to reach them, but today was tourist day, and they were all in cages out front. It saddened Erals to see so many go, but it meant that the Petpets had real homes and real friends now. They would forget the store, and forget their Kyrii carer, and so he would try to forget them.

     He walked back to the store even slower, putting the cookies down and trying to smile at his boss. It was tough, though, but he realized quickly that there were only a couple of minutes until closing time.

     That was most likely their last customer. A genuine grin spread across his face- the torment was over, and the Snarhook was his.

     "There you are," he said, patting the box happily. "Hey- where'd he go?" The Skeith had vanished, but the Piraket was still sat on the counter, a glum look on its face.

     "Ah, well, see…" Eventually the gigantic Kyrii sighed. "He didn't want it. He wanted something simple, something he could take to school easily."

     Erals could feel his heart falling- he knew, deep down, where this was going, but he asked anyway.

     "Wh- what?"

     "He bought the Snarhook."

To be continued...

 
Search the Neopian Times




Week 186 Related Links


Other Stories


---------

T3h Praedius
An ill-timed random event... looks like Praedius is in trouble.

by arttimo

---------

The Dream of a Kitchen Boy
The curious eyes belonged to Joey, a young Gelert who worked in the restaurant's kitchen. He had always wanted to become a pirate but it wasn't half as easy as he had imagined it to be.

by ssjelitegirl



Submit your stories, articles, and comics using the new submission form.