Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 81,443,838 Issue: 150 | 23rd day of Swimming, Y6
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Tangy Lemonade


by costa_rican_girl

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Whizzz!

     “I got it, I got it!” an orange Gelert cried as she bounded to the left, trying to get the best position for catching the Yellow Puppyblew Frisbee that her owner, a 14-year-old girl by the name of Shasta, had just thrown. The Gelert leaped into the air and caught the spinning disc in her strong jaws.

     “Great job, Tang!” Shasta commented. She pulled her long, wavy auburn hair back into a loose ponytail. She was ready for another throw.

     ZZZZHHHHOOOOM!

     Tang whirled the Frisbee back at her owner and the game went on. Then the fun came to a sudden halt when Shasta accidentally sent the toy into the gloomy woods that were located directly behind Tang.

     “I’ll get it,” Shasta said as she began to amble over towards the trees.

     “No, no! I can get it,” her Gelert assured her. “I’m closer, anyway.”

     Shasta shrugged and let Tang retrieve the Frisbee instead. She headed over to where she kept her Red Picnic Hamper and spread out the checkered blanket that was kept inside. She lay down, patiently waiting for the return of her beloved pet.

* * * *

In the Woods

Tang felt a shiver of fear travel through her spine as she crept through the dreary forest. What was she so afraid of? She was only fetching a Yellow Puppyblew Frisbee, for Fyora’s sake!

     At the corner of her eye, Tang suddenly spotted something yellow-ish under some brambles. She stepped up to it and slowly uncovered it, her maw swiftly broadening and releasing a shrill screech.

* * * *

“Who are you?” Tang asked after she had calmed down a bit.

     Instead of seeing a Yellow Puppyblew Frisbee under the brambles, she found herself looking at a mutant Moehog! It took her several minutes to calm down, but finally after taking some deep breathes, she was able to speak. So she had asked the hideous Moehog who he was.

     “My name is Zeke,” he said hurriedly. “But please don’t tell anyone that I’m hiding here! You won’t, will you?” Suddenly the ugly creature was clutching to Tang’s paw. “Please, please don’t tell!”

     Tang couldn’t see what the big deal was. Maybe it was because he was so ugly. She decided to question him.

     “Why are you hiding in the gloomy woods? It’s scary up here!”

     Zeke sighed. Tang clearly knew that he was trying to avoid telling her what happened. But inside his heart, Zeke knew he had no choice. So taking a deep and long breath, the mutant began his tale.

     “Well, first of all picture this: a young blue Lupe with a sword and armour. No, it’s not Jeran. It’s me. It was me. I was that blue Lupe. And I was the champion of the Battledome. No one could beat me. No one. But I was ignorant, and way too trusting. Then it got to the point where my fans and old rivals alike would slave away to make me content, like getting me water after a match. I should’ve known they were plotting something. Plotting to take me down. But I was stupid.

     “One day after a particularly tricky battle I needed some water. I was so tired that I simply asked my former rival (who’s name is Robbo) to get me some water. He ran off with incredible speed and returned with a glass of what I thought was water. It looked a bit cloudy, but I gulped the liquid down without a second thought. It had a bitter sort of taste to it. Within minutes I was this… this thing.” Zeke gazed at his shaking hooves. Tang caught a glimpse of what looked like a tear running down the poor Neopet’s face.

     They both sat on the leafy ground in silence for a couple minutes, until Tang spoke up.

     “So then you just… ran away? Just like that?”

     Zeke frowned, thinking.

     “Yes. First I stopped by my Neohome. But I scared both my owner and my younger sister, a beautiful young Shoyru by the name of Prina. I tried to explain to them what had happened, but they were screaming too loudly to hear. So I just gave up and left.”

     “Wow,” Tang replied, looking out into the trees. “You’ve been through a lot.”

     “Ta-ang! Ta-ang! Tang where are you?” It was Shasta!

     Tang told Zeke to hide and promised to come back the next day.

     “Bring food,” requested the Moehog as he disappeared into the greenery.

     “I’m here, Shasta!” Tang yelled. She heard twigs snapping and dead leaves crackling as her owner followed the sound of her voice. Finally Shasta appeared.

     “Where have you been? What took you so long? The food’s all set out. Let’s have our picnic. Did you find the Frisbee?” The girl said all this in one single breath.

     Tang shook her head.

     “No, I’ve been looking this whole time,” she lied. “I can’t seem to find it anywhere!”

     “Let’s go eat and look for it later. C’mon.”

* * * *

That night Tang lay in her bed, thinking about Zeke and the awful predicament he was in. There must be something she could do to help him!

     I can’t sleep anyway, the Gelert thought as she got out of bed and took out her Red Notebook and Faerie Pen. When she was finished writing in her untidy scrawl the page in the notebook looked like this:

Ways to Help Zeke:

1. Buy a paint brush.

2. Buy a magic potion.

3. Pretend it never happened.

4. Give sympathy but don’t actually help.

     Both options one and two were expensive, while three and four were just plain pointless. So Tang decided that tomorrow she would visit Zeke again and ask him some questions. Finally the girl could get some shuteye.

* * * *

“Tang? Wanna go throw the Frisbee around again today?” Shasta asked when her pet slumped down the stairs.

     “No thanks,” the Gelert said, shaking her orange head. “I have some things I need to do.”

     Shasta simply shrugged.

     “I need to go earn some Neopoints, anyway,” she mumbled.

     When her owner left to go earn some money, Tang grabbed as much food as she could carry and ran back down to the park.

     Zeke’s face brightened at the sight of her.

     “Hello again!” His sad, ugly face broke out into a happy grin (but was still ugly) when he saw Tang’s food. While he began to chow down Tang explained to him the circumstances.

     “We need to get you back into civilization,” she said. “But there’s definitely no way you can go out as a mutant Moehog! So I’ve decided that I am going to save up. When I have enough money I’ll buy you either a magic potion from Kauvara or a paint brush—whichever you prefer.”

     Zeke stopped eating.

     “I liked being a Lupe, but being a Moehog isn’t so bad, one you get used to it. My hero, Xavier Arch, was actually a yellow Moehog. So that’s what I’ll be, too. A yellow Moehog.

* * * *

Now that Tang knew what she needed to buy, she needed to figure out how to earn the money! Sure, Shasta was pretty well-off, but she didn’t have tens of thousands of Neopoints to spare! No, Tang was going to have to earn the money herself.

     So she weighed her options. She could do a Petpet wash, maybe deliver the Neopian Times, or perhaps baby-sit someone’s young Neopet.

     Then it hit her. She could sell Lemonade! No, not just Lemonade, Phearade, Tigerade and Juppieade as well! This was going to be perfect.

     The next day she woke up earlier than even Shasta and took her Box of Crayons, Red Notebook, and a few thousand Neopoints and put them all in her wagon. Then she attached the wagon to her Blue Bike and sped off towards the Marketplace. It was time to purchase some lemonade.

* * * *

“I’m sorry, but all we have are two Jugs of Fresh Lemonade! We should restock very soon,” said the shopkeeper.

     “Fine. I’ll take them both.”

     Tang had finally found a shop that sold the beverage, and all they had were two measly jugs!

     Oh well, thought the Gelert as she paid the Nimmo working there. It’s better than nothing.

     She placed the sweating pitchers into her wagon and found her way to the Notice Board. She tacked her flyer over some kid’s advertisement about walking Warfs. Then she found an empty spot on the grass by the park and began to set up.

     First she took out all the supplies from her wagon and put them off to the side. Then she turned the wagon over to make a perfect table. She made a sign that said:

Tang’s Tangy Lemonade—150 NPs per cup

It was very colourful because she had written the letters with her Box of Crayons.

     Tang sat down on the cool, damp grass and waited for the customers to arrive.

     While she was waiting, the intelligent Neopet made a quick calculation. If each jug fills 30 cups, and each cup costs 150 Neopoints, then that would mean that each Jug of Fresh Lemonade would earn her 4,500 Neopoints! She just needed to sell 60 cups and she would already have made 9,000 Neopoints!

     This’ll be easy, the Gelert thought. I’ll have Zeke out of that forest in no time!

* * * *

That evening Tang returned home lighthearted. She had sold so much lemonade that she had needed to buy another whole jug!

     She grinned as she counted her earnings. Wow! She had made 13,500 Neopoints in one day! It was a dream come true. Then an ear-splitting voice made the Gelert feel as low as Maraqua.

     “Where on NEOPIA have you been, young lady!?”

     Tang’s smile faded. She had forgotten to tell Shasta where she was going!

     “Shasta, I—”

     “I WAS WORRIED SICK! YOU COULDN’T BE BOTHERED TO SIMPLY LEAVE A NOTE OR WAKE ME UP BEFORE YOU LEFT! YOU ARE GROUNDED, TANGERINA!”

     “Shasta, you don’t understand!” But Tang knew it was too late. When her owner used her full name—Tangerina—she knew that Shasta was angry. Very angry.

     “Go to your room!”

     Tang sprinted upstairs to her bedroom, tears welling up in her eyes. Now how was she going to help Zeke? He was counting on her to bring food, to buy a Yellow Paint Brush!

     I can’t believe I forgot to leave a note for Shasta! I am so… incredibly… STUPID!

     Tang punched her pillow, fuming. This was all her fault.

Thirty Minutes Later

Knock, knock.

     “C’min.”

     Shasta entered the cluttered bedroom with a plate of cold sandwiches.

     “Hey,” she said.

          “Hey.”

     “So where were you?”

     Tang wanted to tell her everything. She wanted to tell about Zeke and how she needed money to earn a paint brush. But she couldn’t spill the beans; Zeke had asked her not to! So she cooked up a quick lie.

     “I, uh, I was…”

     “You had a Lemonade stand, didn’t you?”

     “Yeah. How did you know?”

     “I saw your sign.”

     Tang sighed.

     “I was earning money for a gift,” she said. “For a friend.”

     At least I’m not lying! I was earning money for a gift to give to Zeke, who is a friend.

     Shasta nodded.

     “Well, I’m afraid you’ll have to put off the Neopoint-making for another week. Sorry, pumpkin.”

     The teenager left the room, leaving the icy sandwiches behind.

     Tang took a bite out of one and sat on her bed, deep in thought.

     A week. She was grounded for a week. But Zeke couldn’t survive in those dark woods all that time! Tang had to act now. If only she wasn’t stuck inside!

     Then a devilish thought struck her like a lightning bolt. She didn’t have to stay.

     I have a window; I could just leave right now! Tang felt she had no other choice. So she wrote a quick letter, left it on her bedside table, and clambered out of the window.

* * * *

Tang’s Letter

Dear Shasta,

I am sorry, but I must leave and stay away until I earn enough Neopoints. I wish I could tell you why I have to buy this gift so badly, but I cannot.

I’ll be back in a few days, please don’t search for me! When I return I’ll tell you everything that happened. I promise.

Love always,

Tangerina

     This was the note that made Shasta cry herself to sleep.

* * * *

“Lemonade! Get your Fresh Lemonade here!” Tang called. While she was selling she kept her eyes and ears on the lookout for Shasta. She hoped she wasn’t going to come looking!

     By now the Gelert purchased for items every day: Two Jugs of Fresh Lemonade, one Jug of Fresh Tigerade, one Jug of Fresh Phearade, and one Jug of Fresh Juppieade. (She charged fifty Neopoints extra for the Tigerade, Phearade and Juppieade.)

     Finally, two days later, Tang had earned enough for a Yellow Paint Brush. She bought it within minutes and headed into the woods to find her ugly friend.

* * * *

“Tang! It’s so great to see you!” Zeke gasped. “Is that a Yellow Paint Brush?” He asked in astonishment.

     “Yep,” Tang replied happily. “Are you all ready to get painted?”

     “You bet!”

     “Then follow me.”

     Tang began to walk towards where the trees started to disappear, but then she noticed Zeke wasn’t following.

     “What’s the matter?” she asked.

     “Can’t you just paint me here?”

     “No, we have to go to the Rainbow Pool in the Marketplace!”

     “Then I’ll just stay mutant. Thanks for your help, but there’s no way I’m going to be seen in public like this!”

     Tang scowled.

     “Now listen. I saved up all these Neopoints, bought you a paint brush, and ran away from home all for you! There is no way in Neopia that you’re going to blow me off now!”

     And with that, the Gelert grabbed Zeke’s arm with her orange paw and pulled him out of his hiding place.

     When the two friends arrived at the Rainbow Pool Zeke tried to pull away.

     “Omigosh,” he said. “It’s Robbo! The one who turned me into a mutant Moehog!”

     Tang looked in the direction that Zeke was pointing. Sure enough, there was a green Wocky standing there, getting ready to paint himself with a Fire Paint Brush.

     Tang let go of Zeke’s arm and jogged over to Robbo. She yanked the paint brush from his paw and threw it at the Money Tree, where it was quickly snatched up.

     “Who the heck are you!?” Robbo snarled at Tang. He was getting ready to pounce, that was obvious. But Tang was so furious that she pretended not to notice.

     “Do you know someone by the name of Zeke? He was the leading champion of the Battledome, until you played your dirty trick. Now he is a Moehog! A yellow one.” She tossed the Yellow Paint Brush to Zeke who quickly painted himself.

     He grinned evilly at Robbo, who was looking at his rival with a loathing gaze.

     “You owe me a Fire Paint Brush!” he told Tang.

     “Ha! I don’t think so! You owe Zeke a Blue Lupe Transmogrification Potion!

     The Wocky was just about to retort something but then he lost the nerve, and walked away, grumbling to himself.

     Suddenly, Tang felt herself become suffocated in a giant bear hug by Zeke.

     Zeke, once feeble, ugly, and weak, was now perky and happy. Tang could easily see how he was a Battledome champ. His muscles bulged out in every part of his body, and veins ran down his legs.

     “Thank you,” the now yellow Moehog whispered. “Thank you so much.”

* * * *

That evening Tang returned home.

     “Shasta? Sha-asta!” She called down the dark corridors.

     “TANG!” Shasta darted down the hallway and hugged her Neopet, tears in her eyes.

     “Tang don’t you EVER do that again, you hear? I didn’t come looking for you like you asked in your note but I was worried sick!”

     Tang explained everything to her confused owner. When she was finished she had a very important question to ask.

     “Am I still grounded?”

     “Oh, yes.”

The End

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Yay! This is my second short story and publication in the Neopian Times. I’ve had a lot of fun writing them and plan to do lots more!

Please feel free to Neomail me but don’t request to become my Neofriend or invite me to your guild.

Thanks to all by buds at the NTWF like Blub, who edited the intro to this story. Thanks everyone!

--Rose--

 
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