Zerpana squealed happily as she raced down the streets of Kiko Lake. In her hand, as she bounced up and down happily, was a flyer for one of the greatest events to ever happen in the history of Kiko Lake Junior High!
In fact, she was running so fast, her siblings could hardly keep up. Dustinany, being the slowpoke that she was, complained, "Slow down!!"
"Make me!" Zerpana retorted, before skidding to a stop in front of their house.
She was so excited by the time she found her keys; she almost dropped them in her swirled, blue flippers. Ara snatched them from her and opened the door.
"Now," Ara coached. "Try to contain your enthusiasm as you CALMLY enter the house..."
"PRETZEL!! PRETZEL!! LOOK! LOOOOK!!!" Zerpana screamed, shoving Ara out of the way and bounding into the house.
Pretzel groaned and sat herself up from their Straw Sofa. Ouch! Argh, one of the needles poked her... AGAIN.
She smiled. Well, at least she knew NEVER to sit down in that Chair of Despair...
"AIEE!" Pretzel screamed.
It all seemed to happen in slow motion. First, she saw a small, camouflage Flotsam pounce at her, a crumbled piece of paper clutched in her fists. Next, Pretzel felt a sharp, prickly sensation attack her as she collapsed into the straw sofa.
Pretzel's eyes twitched. "Ooow..."
Finally, she saw the piece of paper gently float down onto her face. It was then when she screamed.
"I know!" Zerpana cheered. "I'm excited, too!!"
She peeled the flyer off of her owner's face, and held it up in front of her nose. Pretzel's eyes crossed in response.
"See? It's a flyer, for the school talent show!"
"The school talent show?" Beauty repeated, entering the Living Room with her sisters.
"Yep!" Zerpana chirped. "It's this Friday. All talents are accepted!"
Ara's eyes lit up at the news. "I could showcase my drawings!"
Ah, Aratemese could see it now: the entire audience, applauded wildly as the Green Xweetok bowed reverently. Her artwork was behind her, dressed in the grand blue ribbon. Ara laughed, as the audience threw dozens of roses onto the stage...
"As if!" Beauty cried, interrupting Ara's fantasy. "You want to dazzle the audience, not bore them to sleep!"
She flipped her mane in agreement. "I'M going to play my guitar, and steal the show!"
Beauty smiled, and romanticized on this. She imagined herself, sitting atop a wooden stool onstage, a single spotlight raining down on her. The crowd was hushed, bewildered at the smooth chords that the Uni strummed on her Air Faerie Guitar. Perfect...
"No one will enjoy THAT!" Dustin said, rolling her eyes. Beauty growled deep in her throat as the Tuskaninny continued, "What the audience likes is singing."
And singing was what she would do. She would march onto that stage, microphone in hand, and perform a Twisted Roses song that everyone in the audience would enjoy. They would scream her name, "Dustin! Dustin! Dustin..."
"No...!" Zerpana told Dustin. "Have you EVER seen Dancing with the Techos on Neovision? It's dancing that the audience likes!"
And, lucky for her, Zerpana was a gifted dancer. Even without feet or legs, she would perform a dance so graceful that it would leave the audience in tears. Oh, Pretzel would be so proud of her...
"No!" Aratemese rejected her idea. "I will win!"
"No, I will!" Beauty argued.
"No, I will!" Dustin growled.
Pretzel tried to break up the argument, and mumbled, "Guys, please stop..."
But they didn't listen. Instead, they stormed up the stairs, glaring at each other until their eyes burned.
Now Pretzel and Zerpana stood alone in the Living Room. The only noise throughout the ground floor was the ticking of the wall clock above the fireplace. Or at least, it was that silent at first, until Pretzel heard a soft sobbing from beside her. She turned and noticed that her Flotsam was crying.
"What have I done?"
Zerpana sighed loudly as she climbed into bed. She should've never grabbed that flyer, even if it was fun to wrestle that Acara for it back at school. She could see it now: his little competition tearing the entire family apart. Dustin would run away to Maraqua, Aratemese going back to the palace, Beauty abandoning herself into the pound... No. She couldn't let this happen.
"There has to be a way to bring our talents together..." she could only whisper, tears once again flowing down her face.
She remembered what she had seen each of them work on for the talent show, and each of them were excellent.
Aratemese's acrylic paintings were magnificent: One of the royal palace, which used to be her home; a profile of a Chocolate Usul, Ara's best friend Violet; and a gorgeous painting of the entire family, each one doing what they loved. She painted herself writing, BeautysBeat battling, Dustinany singing, and Zerpana dancing, more beautifully and gracefully than the Flotsam had ever imagined herself being.
Beauty’s guitar playing was exquisite, as well. She strummed the chords so beautifully, naturally... you probably have never heard such a perfect melody before in your entire life!
And then there was Dustinany. An amazing soprano, hitting high notes that Zerpana never even knew existed before. She had true talent. Oh, her voice would harmonize spectacularly with Beauty’s guitar!
Before she knew it, the bedroom lights overhead began to dim. Her eyelids grew heavy in exhaustion. With a good, satisfied yawn, she collapsed into her pillow, and drifted off to sleep.
Wait a second!
It had just come to her! Zerpana shot up from her bed instantly. Grinning ear-to-ear, she grabbed her favorite Valentine Newsboy Hat, snatched a Drawing Pencil and Sketch A Pic, reclined back into her bed, and began to compose her genius.
“The world comes alive, when you paint your color...”
Zerpana smiled softly when Dustin’s singing reached her ears. Ah, yes! Dustinany’s singing the same song that she had written months in advance. It’s the perfect song for Zerpana’s plan.
In the background, she could faintly hear Ara’s brush strokes against the canvas, and a muffled onslaught of chords from Beauty’s Air Faerie Guitar.
Time for her perfect plan to begin.
“OMG HELP!!!” Zerpana cried loudly. “THERE’S A GIANT SPYDER RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!!!”
In less than five seconds, each one of her siblings ran out with a giant frying pan.
“Oh great, you’re all here!” Zerpana said, clapping her fins together in agreement.
Dustin rolled her eyes. “What is it now, Zee?”
Ergh... Zerpana growled deep in her throat. She hated that nickname. Well, you can gripe about that later; for now, you have to tell them about your plan.
“I have the perfect idea for the talent show!”
“Good,” Beauty said. “So go on and practice it. I still need to perfect the bridge on my song...”
“It isn’t an idea for me,” Zerpana told them.
Now THAT got their attention. Each one stared at her in curiosity, completely clueless of what she was even talking about. Perfect.
“It’s an idea for all of us.”
The next day...
“You ready?” Zerpana asked her siblings anxiously.
They were now minutes away from performing in the Kiko Lake Junior High Talent Show, or KLJHTS for short. Many talented performers had already dazzled the audience with their acts, and each one delivered flawless entertainment. One Draik showcased a flight maneuver through many hoops, and received a shower of applause. Another Kacheek showcased how far they could shoot Neocola from their nose, and two out of the three judges ran into the bathroom in horror. They returned in time for the next act, but Zerpana was pretty sure the Kacheek was not going to win.
“I’ve never felt so nervous before!” Beauty complained. You could tell she was nervous; she was sprinkling makeup glitter on her cheeks.
Aratemese swiped the tube of Glittertastic glitter from her sister’s hooves.
“I don’t think making yourself look like a Usuki Doll will help you,” she assured her.
Beauty pouted and crossed her hooves in disgust, but didn’t answer.
“Well, whatever,” Zerpana told them. “We’re ready to rock!”
“Does everyone have their instruments?”
Dustin held up her purple and blue microphone, nodding excitedly. Beauty nodded and strummed her guitar. Ara played a quick beat on her Bongo Drums, which Zerpana could only take as a ‘yes.’
“All right!” she exclaimed. “Let’s do this!”
They all cheered joyously, and took their places onstage.
The second Zerpana could see the audience, her eyes were blown wide open in horror. Up in the very front row was Pretzel, dressed like the biggest superfan in the world. No, I’m talking a white T-Shirt with each of their faces printed on it, blue jeans with each of their instruments’ pictures stitched onto them, a giant foam finger that said “Go Pretzel’s Family!”, and her face painted each of their colours: one quarter of it painted blue, one quarter painted brown, one quarter painted green, and the last quarter painted a camouflage mixture.
She waved her giant foam finger in the air, screaming, “YEAH! GO ZEE! BEAUTY! DUSTIN! ARA! YOU GUYS ROCK!!!! ENCORE! ENCOOOORRREE!!!!!!!!!”
Zerpana slapped her head with her flipper in embarrassment.
“And now, for our final act,” the green Lutari announcer... well... announced. “Please give a warm welcome to Zerpana, Dustinany, BeautysBeat, and Aratemese!”
Applause followed, including Pretzel screaming, “YEEEAHHH!!!!!! ROCK! ROCK! ROCK!!!” Zerpana smiled.
Ara counted, “One, two... One, two, three, four...”
Beauty began to play her guitar softly. Dustin began to sing the intro of the song. Never before had Zerpana heard such a lovely melody before. Wait, she used the word before twice... ah, whatever! Either way, it was SPECTACULAR!!!!
Just then, Dustin backed up from the front of the stage. Ara pushed her artwork onto the viewing easels. Each one was covered, so no one in the audience knew what was underneath. But Zerpana knew.
“The world comes alive, when you paint your color...”
Ara revealed the first painting, which showed an artist’s paintbrush, and countless paint splatters, all around the canvas. Faded in the background was a little green Xweetok: Ara.
“Everywhere you are, the feeling’s like no other...”
Ara then reveled the second masterpiece, revealing a Xweetok walking along a Kiko Lake sidewalk, a rainbow backdrop behind it.
“Life is like an empty canvas,” Dustin sang, as Ara revealed her next painting. This one was of all four of us, holing hands and smiling and laughing together.
“So grab your brush and,” Dustin brought the microphone over to Zerpana, and they both sang, “Paint your color!”
It then launched into a guitar solo, with Beauty’s hooves gliding perfectly across the strings. At one point, she tried to power slide, but instead it looked like Kasuki Lu had just defeated her in the Battledome.
And trust me, you don’t want to know what that looks like... You think she’s dancing, but then she sounds like she’s having a conniption fit.
Dustin then launched into the chorus again, and now it was Zerpana’s turn to perform. Butterflies zoomed around in her stomach, and then turned into Warfs scratching at her insides like it was a Kadoatie.
“This is no time to be nervous,” she told herself as she walked onto center stage. “Just pretend you’re dancing in the Living Room, in front of Pretzel, and your sisters...”
So she closed her eyes, smiled, and began to dance. She didn’t even think about it; she felt it, instead.
The next thing she knew, applause erupted from the audience, and Dustin motioned for her to come back with the rest of the band. The Flotsam nodded and strutted over. A Uni’s hoof then clutched her flipper, and hoisted it upwards. A Tuskaninny’s flipper did so with the other one. The next thing she knew, they were bowing, with roaring applause echoing throughout the auditorium. Zerpana grinned. They did it!
“Excellent job! If only I could dance THAT well!!!” a voice exclaimed. Zerpana turned, and noticed that the voice belonged to the Lutari announcer.
“Now, we’ll announce the winner of the talent show!”
“It’s gonna be us!!!” Dustinany squealed.
“And the winner is...”
Zerpana gulped nervously, Beauty cheered joyously, Aratemese shook with excitement, and Dustin nodded her head, approving their victory.
“...Branston Kacheek, and his Neocola spitting act!!! Give him a round of applause!”
“WHAT???” Zerpana, Ara, Dustin, and Beauty all exclaimed in perfect unison.
Branston smiled, and walked out past them to accept his trophy, a diet can of Neocola in his left hand.
“You’ve got to know what the audience likes,” he told them, and walked away.
Beauty growled. Zerpana gasped. She knew what her sister wanted to do. She quickly grabbed Beauty’s arms, restricting her from tackling Branston.
Lesson learned: next year, she’s never bringing home a flyer from school again. EVER.