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The Four Stars


by 3dogbiscuits

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“Is this it?” Blueii asked incredulously. “The hotel room that Natalie described as ‘the place you’d never leave’?”

     Natalie was their owner, and she had booked them in the Neolodge for a long four-day stay. She wanted them to have a little ‘treat’, and besides, she was busy with the family shop with her assistant, a Royal boy Shoyru. She had insisted that they all went to enjoy themselves, and bring their petpets and their petpetpets along.

     The pets knew that she couldn’t afford much, but this was totally...

     The four pets glared down at the room in front of them, standing at the doorway of the also disgusting corridor. The brown wallpaper was peeling off, leaving yellow, dried-up hard lumps on the walls. The bathroom’s tap was leaking out bluish water, staining the floors and the already dirty carpet. The bed was in the worst state, the sheets crumpled, with a few Mootixes and Aboogalas jumping in it, as though enjoying themselves. The four pets’ eyes flickered upwards above the bed, to the ceiling, to see a big fat Spyder settled on it, its eight eyes glowing expectantly at them.

     “Cockroach Towers,” Jello said, disappointment obvious in his voice. The four pets were siblings; Blueii the Rainbow Blumaroo, Reddio the Christmas Blumaroo, Ray the Disco Kacheek and Jello the Starry Blumaroo.

     Ray was the first one to recover. She stepped into their room, tripping over some tangled up blanket lying on the floor in a heap, sending a cloud of dust flying as she fell. “Ouch!” she shrieked, getting up. She managed a weak smile as the three remaining pets stared down at her, a look of utter amazement printed upon their faces. Her snow Fir, Cozy, stared down at her after leaping on the bed. Its petpetpet, Chippy the Grumblebug, like a petpetpet movie star, had already been surrounded by a crowd of excited mix of Mootixes, Fleafs, and Aboogalas on the bed. One of the Aboogalas was Blueii’s petpetpet, Peagreen.

     “OK, maybe it’s not as great as we thought, but what about the food? It’s nearly lunch, and maybe Natalie meant that the food was the greatest,” Ray decided, brushing the dust off herself as she surveyed the surroundings. She couldn’t help but wince.

     Blueii stepped forward. “Maybe—but put first things first. We unpack, change into cleaner clothes, and go down,” he planned ahead wisely. There was a look of doubt in his face as Reddio and Jello gingerly stepped inside the room. Blueii tried to shut the door, but it was already hanging by its hinges, so he dared not touch it in case it broke down altogether.

     ~

     Natalie was wrong again, and so was Ray. The Jellies they served were warm, and their Sausage Omelettes still had bits of ice in them, and they tasted frozen! Besides, the restaurant was something that could be called the world’s largest garbage bin. It stank, and overlooked nothing but a meadow of weeds with rubbish on it, let alone the flies hovering above them.

     “What did we do wrong?” Reddio half-cried, as she prodded her cold Sausage Omelette reluctantly, “Natalie would never have sent us to such a... a...”

     “—garbage place that stinks and has loads of unhygienic...” Jello’s voice trailed off.

     Blueii’s mind trailed off as well. He was thinking along the same lines as Reddio—Natalie had promised them a great vacation, but when they arrived, was this all they had? Garbage, rubbish, peeling walls, leaking taps?

     Maybe she was meaning another thing... like the best Jacuzzi, sauna... or...

     That was when it hit him. He grabbed his Plushie Slorg so tightly by its neck its eyes popped up and it started gasping.

     All of a sudden, he knew why Natalie booked them in such a lousy hotel. He knew what it meant by having fun and having the greatest and the most meaningful vacation.

     He suddenly realized what he was doing. He dropped his Slorg and it plunked right onto his warm Strawberry Jelly.

     “Hurry,” he gasped excitedly, trying to keep his urgent voice calm and steady, “Finish whatever you want—we need to go to Neopia Central.”

     ~

     “What are you harping about?” Reddio suddenly demanded, “Why are we at School Supplies? And why did we visit the General Store to buy ten Blue Short Hair Brushes and the Neopian Furniture to buy posters, rugs, and Elegant Lamps... ? And now... Why are you loading your basket with rubbers? If you’re not telling me, I’m staying planted here. I’ve been walking round and round, and I don’t even know what I’m doing!” Jello and Ray readily agreed with her. They were both puzzled. If they have brains at all, Blueii thought, frustrated.

     Blueii had no choice but to spit it out. After all, he needed their help as well. “You know the new Neopia competition, the cleanest hotel?” he nearly shouted. “Natalie wanted us to help out. She wanted us to clean Cockroach Towers, make it look respectable. If we win, that’s what she meant by having the most meaningful vacation! Don’t you get it? And we’re all going to help out! That’s why we’re buying soap and brushes. They’re to scrub things clean. The rubbers are for peeling, to make strings to hang the curtains, of course, after it’s been washed. The furniture is for decorations and usage. The carpets will all be scrubbed. So will the wooden floors.

     “We’ll capture the petpetpets, and sell them for more NP to furnish the hotel. Otherwise, if there isn’t time, we can just shoo them into the nearby bushes. It wouldn’t be Cockroach Towers anymore. It would be... the greatest hotel,” Blueii finished, his eyes shining.

     Realization registered in his siblings’ faces. Ray and Jello slapped high-fives and Reddio exclaimed, “I’m in!”

     “Ditto!” Ray and Jello chorused.

     “Great, now let the hard work begin!” Blueii answered, pumping his Blumaroo fist in the air. Poor Ray had a hard time catching up with the three fast bouncing Blumaroos.

     ~

     It had been hours since they had worked. They didn’t know what time it was; whether it was still afternoon, evening or night. The competition would end the next day, and they were working as hard as they could. The secretary of Cockroach Towers, a Blue Kau, printed and sent in the submission form immediately after she heard about the plan. Then, she alerted the hotel staff to help out, as well as some willing tourists and visitors there who supported the idea.

     Blueii stapled the pieces of rubber together, and hung the washed Giant Leaf Curtains up. Reddio was scrubbing grime off the dusty carpets, Ray was scrubbing the blue out of bath tubs, and Jello was washing the bed sheets. A yellow Aisha was helping to capture petpetpets and the big fat Spyder. Helpers all around were scrubbing this and that. Patches of color started to appear at first, and black dirty water swirled around their feet as they scrubbed, rinsed, washed and mopped. They were making great improvement. Blueii encouraged his siblings and other neopets—they needed more than they knew.

     Every room went through the same treatment. Each room was left sparkling clean, with a bit of shine on this and that. The hotel lobby was being gone through. Old forms and papers were thrown out at the reception area, leaving only crisp and clean ones, and everything was sprayed and washed and scrubbed and rinsed and cleaned.

     Blueii carefully surveyed the scene. He liked what he saw, no doubt—his idea was coming to life, in bits and pieces. He went back to work, scrubbing the black window to white and transparent. What a day, he thought silently, brimming with happiness.

     ~

     It was the day of the competition.

     Everybody felt tired, even that day. They had finished the day’s work, complete with a great washing for themselves. Everything was sparkling. The carpet felt soft as they stepped out of the shower, and the toothbrushes, instead of being infested by petpetpets, were white and bright and clean. Reddio had helped to make the beds and plump the pillows. Ray rinsed the whole hotel through and through.

     Soon, Blueii thought, this hotel’s going to strive.

     They had a good night’s sleep yesterday. Today, a Faerie Tonu and a Shadow Gelert would come to inspect the hotel they had put their efforts in. In fact, they would come any second now—

     “Hello. I’m Gel, and this is my assistant, Waffle, and we’re going to inspect your hotel today.” Somebody opened the door. Gel the Faerie Tonu looked around and stepped inside gingerly. Her assistant followed. The neopets that had helped the day before gathered around, looking pleased. The four siblings were part of the crowd. “Well, it’s quite clean...” She considered her surroundings, perplexed. “Unusual for Cockroach Towers...”

     She inspected room after room, lobby after restaurant, and after a few hours, she stopped. “Well, this is the cleanest hotel I’ve ever been in!” she exclaimed, sitting down on a nearby couch, exhausted. “I haven’t spotted any petpetpets, yet, and I daresay, there isn’t any. Cockroach Towers, it’s easy to say...” Everybody drew in their breath, waiting for the best, and preparing for the worse. “... you win!” she finished, smiling broadly. Everybody was stunned.

     Blueii was the first to clap furiously. Jello joined in, and then Reddio, then Ray, followed by the yellow Aisha... neopet after neopet started clapping and whooping and high-fiving. Soon, the whole hotel was filled with cheering and happy neopets. It was a day the four pets couldn’t ever, ever, and I say, never forget.

     The hotel was their favorite now. If you pop in the Neolodge, and check in to Cockroach Towers, you’d find that it is the cleanest (yes, it is still), and the cheapest hotel. Also, if you’re lucky, you’ll meet the four pets who fought for the champion and the trophy, made themselves, and each other, proud... the four stars.

The End

 
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