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A Backwards Christmas


by jupeboxgal

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Tentriff had never had much luck with petpets.

     The white Poogle's first petpet had been a Blue Kookith, which she had actually liked. But then her owner had simply needed to get that Fire Paint Brush for Tartyne... Kippers was just out of luck.

     Then, sometime later, the Advent Calendar had given out Snow Kookiths. Tentriff had been reminded of her original Kookith and claimed the snowy petpet for herself, naming it Kipps in memory of Kippers.

     But then, once again, her owner struck.

     The petpet lab ray had come out, and Tentriff's poor pet was chosen to be the guinea pig. Or guinea petpet. Or something.

     Kipps was never the same again.

     Since the ray had been assembled elsewhere in the first place, Tentriff had been given a "temporary" petpet to keep her mind off of the horrible transformations and name changes Kipps, or rather 1337, was going through.

     She was given an Abominable Snowball.

     The Abominable Snowball lived up to its name by doing a number of things she would have preferred it not do, such as melting on her books, glaring at her with glowing red eyes and making strange noises that neither Kipps nor Kippers had ever made.

     She hated her petpet.

     She named it Uglylumpofsnow, or Lump for short.

     At the moment, Lump was hopping behind her as she trotted towards the kitchens for a mug of cocoa. He was melting, as was his wont, and when she turned around to reach for the boiling water for her cocoa, she slipped on one of his residual puddles.

     What ensued was a very unfortunate chain reaction.

     As she slipped, her foreleg caught on the handle of the pot of boiling water, which flipped over and landed several feet away, on top of Lump.

     He was melted before she was able to clear her vision.

     She blinked at the large puddle on the floor, the chunks of coal and the tiny scarf floating in chilled water.

     'I really don't have much luck with petpets,' she mused to herself, absently watching the hat float towards the kitchen table.

     Shaking her head slightly, she trudged out of the kitchen and towards her room.

     And then she realized that she still didn't have her cocoa.

     '...Rats.'

     ~*~

     Becky, aka Jupeboxgal aka the aforementioned horrible owner, was currently rifling through her savings.

     "Oh cheesecookies. No way is this going to buy presents for twenty pets."

     With a dramatic sigh, she dropped her head into her crossed arms.

     "I need a job. Or a really really nice random event. Ha, I wonder how Santa Kau does this every year for all of Neopia?" she asked herself wryly.

     Her head shot up.

     "Waitaminute. Santa Kau..."

     Becky grinned.

     "She's makin' a list..." she sang under her breath as she rummaged through her art supplies for a piece of paper and a pencil.

     "Checkin' it twice..." Her pencil flew furiously as she wrote down the names of all of her pets.

     "Gonna find out who's naughty or nice..." and she grinned devilishly as she put checkmarks and x's next to each pets' name.

     "Santa Becky is comiiiiing to tooooown~"

     ~*~

     "Can you see, Teasila?"

     The pink Kacheek peered through the ventilation duct as she studied her quarry.

     "M-hmm! She's making a list of everyone," she whispered over the Wocky Talky.

     Tartyne's ears perked. "Oh? What's she doing with this list?"

     Teasila squinted and pressed herself closer to the duct. "She's puttin' x's and checks next to the names. Ooh! I have a check! Is that good, Tartyne? Isitisitisit?" she asked excitedly, almost forgetting to whisper.

     Tartyne's chuckle was scratchy in her earpiece. "I'd wager it is. Hey, what's next to my name?"

     "You've got a check, an' Tsuki has a check, an' Tentriff has an x. Why does Tentriff have an x, Tartyne? Is she going to get something extra special?"

     The Fire Gelert cringed. "Um, probably not. I'm guessing she has an x because she hasn't had the world's best behavior this year."

     Eyes wide and innocent, Teasila looked at the list again. "Brichubi has an x, too, an' so does Chrilistia an' Zapestry. Have they not had good b-be-behaver this year, either?"

     "Behavior. And no. Gosh no. You remember what Brichubi did at breakfast yesterday?"

     Teasila turned green at the memory. "O-oh. Okay. So what are the x's for, then?"

     "Pets with x's are probably getting nothing for Christmas. Or else coal. Or maybe dung."

     "But that's not fair to them!" she cried, completely forgetting to be quiet. Becky's head shot up from her paper, a startled expression on her face.

     "You're supposed to earn your Christmas presents, Teasila. That's the way it works," Tartyne reasoned over the Wocky Talky. "Teasila? Teaaasila? Tea, are you there?"

     She shook her head in a negative and gulped.

     Becky was really really scary when she was angry.

     "GET OUT!! AND TELL TARTYNE TO STOP SPYING ON ME OR ELSE HE GETS AN X, TOO!"

     Tartyne flinched at the sheer volume communicated over the Wocky Talky, and Teasila simply scuttled backwards in the ventilation duct with surprising speed.

     "...Oopsies," she whispered into the mouthpiece.

     ~*~

     Her footsteps were silent as she stalked her prey. She was completely hidden behind the couch. There was no way she could possibly be seen.

     "Teasila," her owner drawled, "if you want to sneak up on someone, you should probably remember to check the position of your tail."

     Aw, shucks.

     "So what do you want, Tea? After your stunt in my room, I'm surprised you're actually brave enough to face me."

     Teasila visibly flinched.

     "Um, I kinda wanted to know..." she trailed off.

     Becky raised a brow. "Yessssss?"

     Ducking her head to hide her sudden embarrassed flush, Teasila continued, "I wanted to know what pets with x's were getting for Christmas."

     "Nothing."

     Teasila's wide eyes were brimming with unshed tears.

     "But Beeeeckyyyyy!"

     'Must... not... succumb...'

     "Pleeeeeaaaase?"

     'No! Not the puppy eyes!'

     "With asparagus on top?"

     Becky cracked.

     "Oh all right. I'll give them something cheap, okay? Maybe nice volcanic rocks or cans of prune juice, okay?"

     Teasila scowled.

     "...How about nice pretty snowballs?"

     "...Or adorable keychains...?"

     "...I'll give them delicious Jellies!"

     Teasila pouted.

     And nobody, not even her owner, could resist her when she stuck out her bottom lip.

     "I give up! What do you want me to do, huh? I have almost no Neopoints, and twenty pets to get presents for!"

     "Give me a thousand Neopoints an' I'll buy presents for everyone on your x list!" Teasila chirped.

     Becky eyed her dubiously. "U-huh. And how do I know you won't spend it on yourself?" The bottom lip made a second appearance and Becky's defenses crumpled.

     "Oh fine. Buy things for these pets," she groused, handing a sack of Neopoints and a list to her way-too-cute Kacheek. Teasila squealed, grabbed the items from her owner and was gone.

     'Note to self: Develop resistance to Teasila's cuteness.'

     ~*~

     The streets of the Neopian marketplace were packed with holiday shoppers, and Teasila, for the first time in her life, was glad of her small size. It made ducking under wings and between bodies much easier. She hummed to herself cheerily as she admired the decorations shop owners had put out.

     "Hmm... What would Nevrai want for Christmas?" she asked herself aloud, gaze darting between the colorful displays. She recalled a conversation she'd had with the green Lupe a month or so before.

     "Hey Nev, what're you doin'?"

     There was a startled squeak and a flurry of limbs as Nevrai attempted to cover something up.

     "N-nothing! Ab-absolutely nothing!"

     Teasila cocked her head slightly. "Really? I thought you had out a necklace. It was really pretty."

     Nevrai's cheeks burned.

     "W-well... Don't tell anyone, okay?" she whispered, bringing the unfinished necklace from behind her back. "It's still a work in progress, and I just know that if Brichubi saw me with this thing I'd never hear the end of it."

     Teasila grinned widely. "It's really really pretty, Nev! Can you make one for me, too?"

     Nevrai smiled shyly, the expression foreign on her face. "Well, I guess so. I'm running low on beads, though, so I might not be able to make you a full necklace."

     Eyes shining, Teasila nodded vigorously and bounced in place. "You can make a bracelet!"

     The Lupe's smile grew.

     "Indeed."

     Teasila's face lit up at the memory.

     "So, beads for Nevrai. I can do that! Now, where to find beads...?"

     Her eyes jerked back to a shiny bottle she was passing by.

     "Oh? What's this...?"

     A bottle of sand. It was a pretty bottle of sand, dirt cheap and richly colored.

     Funny how she'd never noticed before that the grains of sand were hollowed out... and rounded...

     Her pink eyes widened. 'Beads!' With a grin on her face, she scooped up the bottle and searched out the owner of the store.

     Moments later, she walked out of the shop, bottle tucked under her arm as she hummed behind a smile.

     "One down, five to go!"

     ~*~

     Chrilistia had been easy to shop for. A few cheap cosmetics wrapped expertly in a discarded NeoGlo (TM) bag and she was set.

     Chrilistia would never know the difference.

     With two pets crossed off of her list, Teasila returned to the paths of the market, pondering who to buy for next.

     "Lessee... There's Brichubi, an' Tentriff, an' Nekomai an' Zapestry. What would Zapestry want?"

     She tilted her head upwards, a finger on her chin as she contemplated past conversations with the Electric Aisha.

     "Hey, Zap! What'cha doin'?"

     "I'm spiffin' up my room, Squirt. What're you doing?"

     The Pink Kacheek shook her head half-heartedly. "Nothin'. The chocolate is all gone." Zapestry's lips curled into a smile.

     "Can't have that, now can we, Squirt? Hey, how about this. You help me spiff up my room, and I'll take you out to the chocolate factory afterwards, 'k?" Teasila squealed, predictably, and zipped past him into his room.

     "WhatdoIdowhatdoIdowhatdoIdo???" she chittered happily, bouncing on his messy bed.

     "Dude, careful with the bed. It collapses sporadically."

     The bouncing ceased.

     Slightly more carefully, yet no less energetically, Teasila tacked up posters and straightened out messes, placed knick-knacks artistically and dusted and swept.

     When they were finished, his room was indeed 'spiffed'.

     The Electric Aisha looked sad, though.

     "Zapestry? Is something wrong?"

     He shook his head slightly, a faint smile lingering around his lips. "Nah, nothin' you can help with. I just feel like there ought to be something hanging from the ceiling somewhere. Hey, Squirt, let's go see if the chocolate factory has restocked!"

     A pink giggling blur streaked through the house.

     Zapestry chuckled.

     Teasila's eyes narrowed as she considered the conversation.

     "Something to hang from the ceiling, huh?"

     Her eyes lit upon a massive stack of keychains. The sign on the table was written in bold red lettering - Keychains! Buy 2, get 1 free!

     She tilted her head.

     A devious smile lit up her face.

     "Three down, three to go!"

     ~*~

     Nekomai had been fairly easy to buy for, she supposed. The Aisha had been complaining of accidentally destroying her pillows at night due to extreme evilness exacted upon their forms. Tartyne had told her that she meant she'd clawed them to pieces in fits of frustration.

     She had vowed then and there to never be near Nekomai when she was angry.

     But that was beside the point.

     The point was that Nekomai adored her pillows and needed something to rip apart that she wouldn't regret destroying afterwards.

     So she bought a dozen cheap plushies- the kind that was disturbing to look at. She figured that Nekomai would actually enjoy clawing those up.

     Then there had been Brichubi. After his stunt at breakfast that morning, she knew exactly what to buy for him.

     So, armed with bottles of sand, a pile of keychains, an armful of plushies, a bag of cheap cosmetics and a variety of very, very gross foods, she returned, once again, to the streets of the market. The sun was just beginning to set, and the shops were starting to close down for the night.

     "I still have to buy for Tentriff!" she whimpered, bogged down with her purchases.

     Her arms were so full, in fact, that she completely missed the rock in her path.

     "OOF!"

     Groaning, Teasila put a paw to her forehead. Her presents were scattered all around her, and she didn't relish the prospect of re-gathering them into her arms, just to trip over the rock again.

     The most obvious solution seemed to be to remove the rock.

     Nodding her head resolutely, she bent back down to the ground in search of the obstacle.

     It had a face.

     No- wait, it didn't. But it sure looked like a face.

     How curious.

     The rock was sculpted in such a way that it almost seemed to be smiling at her cheerily, completely oblivious to the fall she had taken at its hands.

     Er, surfaces.

     An idea began niggling at the back of her mind as she turned the rock over in her paws.

     A really good idea.

     Teasila grinned, dropping the rock into one of her bags and rushing back into the market.

     She had one final purchase to make.

     ~*~

     "WAKE UP, EVERYBODY; IT'S CHRISTMAS!!!!!"

     The energetic squealing of the more sugar-oriented pets in the household was enough to rouse the more common sense-oriented pets in the household from a perfectly good night's rest.

     Teasila, Floralet and Sercany, three of the sugar-oriented pets, were pawing at their presents eagerly even before Becky had put on her glasses and stumbled down the stairs.

     "Geez, can't a girl sleep in on Christmas?"

     The trio stared at her with expressions that clearly said she was an idiot to even suggest such a heinous thing.

     Becky promptly clammed up.

     Pets trickled into the living room one by one, smiling sleepily at the antics of their younger siblings. And then the noise came.

     "ASPARAGUS?"

     The self-satisfied smirk on Becky's face was enough to answer Tartyne's questions.

     They had, no doubt, all gotten asparagus.

     He almost envied the pets on the x list. At least they hadn't gotten the dreaded vegetable, though they hadn't gotten anything else, either...

     But then he saw Brichubi grinning cheekily as he slurped from a cup of salmon mousse tea, and Nekomai breaking in her new scratching posts with relish.

     What was this?

     His gaze slid to Teasila, who was watching the proceedings with a happy glow surrounding her as she nibbled on chocolate-covered asparagus.

     A knowing smile spread across his face as his eyes crinkled.

     "Duuuude! Check out this wicked awesome mobile!"

     Zapestry held the present above his head, watching the blue keychains twirl this way and that way from their suspensions on a set of mangled coat-hangers.

     It fit him to a T.

     Chrilistia was already applying gaudy shades of eyeshadow and lipstick to her face, and Nevrai was clutching a few bottles of sand to her chest, eyes sparkling.

     He sought out Tentriff.

     She sat by herself, as usual, slowly opening a tidy white box tied with a red ribbon. As she lifted the lid from the box, the most intriguing expression of awe mixed with surprise and wonderment flickered across her face. Carefully, reverently, she lifted the rock from the box, a red bow tied around it.

     A Christmas Rock.

     Tentriff ran a paw over the surface of the rock. Was it her imagination, or had it winked at her?

     A slow, small smile spread across her face.

     Maybe she did have luck with petpets, after all.

The End

 
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