There are ants in my Lucky Green Boots Circulation: 90,556,056 Issue: 163 | 22nd day of Collecting, Y6
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To The Moon


by _shakky_

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Aylinn and Mabel chatted the entire way home from school. Aylinn was an Aisha, and Mabel an Usul. The two were the best of friends - inseparable through thick and thin. They had been that way for as long as either could remember. One was never seen without the other, and their friendship had become something of a legend at school - their peers had slowly developed sayings about them never being seen apart.

     

     Today, they were talking about the school play, The Rainbow Polarchuck... Mabel wanted to see if her own dear Fulfum could play the part of the play's namesake.

      "Fulfum's so intelligent, I'm sure we could train him," she was saying. "And if my parents won't get a rainbow petpet paint brush, I'm sure we can improvise."

      Aylinn was positive Mabel's parents would get one for her. After all, they had just bought a royal paint brush last month, and were keeping it in a gallery. Nearing Mabel's house, Aylinn noticed something different about her own house across the street. She'd lived in that cozy blue house for so long, she'd started to take its appearance for granted, and she had trouble pinpointing what was wrong. But Mabel spotted it right away.

      "Look, the flower pots on the window sills are gone," she mused.

      Aylinn shrugged. Nothing important, after all. They turned into Mabel's front yard, and the two said their goodbyes in front of Mabel's house's front door. It was a ritual - they took turns every day walking each other home. The next day it would be Mabel's turn to walk Aylinn home.

      "Tell me what your parents say about the paint brush," Aylinn called over her shoulder as Mabel's door began to close. She heard a "sure," and then the door was shut. Aylinn raced across the street to her own house, excited with the day's events, and eager to share the news with her parents.

      - - - - -

      The disappearance of the flowers on the window sills made her realize how little attention she paid to the appearance of her house, and now she took in every detail of it, just to make sure she still knew it. There were two neat squares of grass to either side of the walkway which led to the front door. The front door had a semicircle shaped window above it, which let in the morning light and cast a beautiful filigreed shadow on the granite tiles of the foyer. There were windows to the right and left of the door, and that was where the flowers had been removed. Rowzez and ring vines grew in front of the house, and some other vines crept up along the siding of it. The roof's eaves held several bird's nests, and beneath that the window in the attic shone dully like a sleepy eye. Aylinn loved the attic dearly; many nights she crawled up into the attic space with a mug of hot chocolate and a book and settled down. There was a bean bag chair up there, especially for her...

      Aylinn's mother called a warm hello as the front door shut. And then the Aisha's loving mother appeared herself with a beatific smile on her face. Her father wasn't home at the moment, since he was at work developing better ways to harvest sniddberries. After inquiring about Aylinn's day, her mother dropped some interesting news.

      "Aylinn, dear, I have news. Your father just called a few minutes ago to tell me. He's gotten a new job offer... it's in Kreludor."

      "Oh, really," said Aylinn, not really paying attention. Job offers were nice but they didn't concern her, she was just a student.

      "You know what this means? We're moving to Kreludor. We already have a place picked out - it's perfect..." Her voice trailed off as she noticed Aylinn's reaction - which was a rapid change from joy to shock and despair.

      "Please, tell me you're joking, mum..." Aylinn half-whispered, eyes wide. "My entire life is here. My friends, my school... what about Mabel?"

      "I'm sure you'll find new friends at your school in Kreludor. Really, I've heard great things about the neighbourhood there. You and Mabel will still be able to write to each other - it's a big change, but your father and I feel this is an opportunity we shouldn't miss."

      Aylinn didn't respond. She traipsed slowly to her room, and sank onto her bed. She couldn't believe it. Kreludor was a giant rock floating somewhere out there in space, and the only time it exhibited significance of any sort was when there was some sort of eclipse. She pondered vaguely why anyone would want to live on it. It was cold, there was no weather of any sort - except maybe electromagnetic dust storms - and, well, it was boring. Her whole life... she would be leaving her entire life behind to follow some job offer that wasn't even hers. And she would be leaving it for a rock in the sky. She flopped facedown onto her pillow and began to cry quietly.

      - - - - -

      The next morning, Aylinn woke to find her fur a bit damp and uncomfortable. She'd fallen asleep in her clothing. She was a bit confused, but a moment later it all rushed back to her. Kreludor. Moving. She twitched at a loud thump from the ground floor, and crawled out of bed. Maybe she could find a way to stay here. She could always try handcuffing herself to the sink. Mabel's family could take care of her... it was worth a try.

      Going downstairs, Aylinn realized her house had been transformed. There were towers of cardboard boxes everywhere. And the walls were bare. A blue Aisha plushie sat forlornly at the foot of the stairs, having fallen out of a box. Reaching it, she scooped it up gently and set to searching for the source of the thump.

      "ARGH... Marcy, please let me handle the heavy boxes," came her father's voice from the dining room.

      "Sorry, dear. Good morning, Aylinn." A box with a squished corner sat at her feet. Apparently, she'd dropped it. "I'm sorry, but I forgot to tell you we're moving right away... Your father's job starts tomorrow, and the shuttle to Kreludor leaves at two. It's very short notice, but I think you'll have time to say goodbye to your friends. I hope you'll forgive us for the sudden decision. You're not going to school today. I'll help you pack up your room, if you'd like..."

      But Aylinn wasn't listening. She had a little time left --

      - - - - -

      She arrived at Mabel's door, huffing and puffing. Without bothering to knock, she let herself in. She and Mabel had been friends too long for knocking to matter, and the urgency of the situation excused her. In her rush, she ran headlong into Mabel's mother, who crashed to the floor.

      "I'm sorry!" panted Aylinn as she gave Mabel's mother a hand. "Is Mabel still here? I need to speak to her... we're moving today, I need to say goodbye..." Aylinn's voice trembled at the end.

      Standing up, Mabel's mother shook her head sadly at the sorrow in Aylinn's voice. "I'm sorry, Aylinn... she just left for school. This is news - your parents didn't tell me anything about it." She began to walk to the kitchen, and motioned Aylinn to follow her. Once there, Aylinn sat down on the tile floor and watched the Usul place various foods on the stove.

      "They just found out yesterday. My dad got a job offer, so we're taking a shuttle to Kreludor." Aylinn concentrated on her feet, trying not to let her tears show.

      The older Usul didn't know what to say, so she gave the downhearted Aisha a motherly embrace. Moments later, the doorbell rang, and she shuffled off to answer it. From her location on the kitchen floor, Aylinn listened absently to parts of the conversation.

      "Oh, hello.... mmhmm... yes, she is... she'll be back in a moment.... I hear you're moving... oh.... that's a bummer... they'll still be able to write letters, though. Good luck in Kreludor." She closed the door.

      "That was your mother, dear," sighed Mabel's mom. "She needs you to go back to the house and get ready. I'm very sorry about the whole deal. But you and Mabel can still write each other... hold on, one second." The Usul ran up the stairs, apparently with some mission in mind.

      Returning within seconds, she cradled something in the folds of her dress. She descended the stairs carefully, and handed the bundle to Aylinn.

      Aylinn gasped as she realized exactly what she was holding. It was soft... it was warm... and it meeped. It was a Snowbunny. She opened her mouth to thank Mabel's mother, but no words would come.

      "We found him at Terror Mountain on our last vacation," smiled Mabel's mom. "You keep her. I hope she'll be good company in Kreludor... consider her a gift."

      Aylinn nodded, speechless. But the Usul understood perfectly.

      - - - - -

      The shuttle hummed as it sped towards Kreludor. Aylinn sat very quietly, stroking her Snowbunny and looking around the shuttle's interior. It was full of shiny chrome, flashing buttons, and the smell of disinfectant. The pilot began to speak through the address system, and the speakers vibrated a bit as his magnified voice filled the cabin.

      "We will be landing in approximately fifteen minutes. Please take the oxygen masks offered to you by the stewards..."

      - - - - -

      The shuttle had landed. Aylinn was wearing her oxygen mask, and had fitted another onto her Snowbunny. She had to wear it for a few weeks until she was acclimatized, whatever that meant. She stared at her new home.

      It looked like a large purple egg. Large pipes jutted out of the sides and sank deep into the rock of Kreludor - her mother said that was to anchor the house, since the gravity of Kreludor was five times less than that of Neopia - and the windows and doorway were circular. The windows appeared dim, to protect the inhabitants from radiation, but from the inside Aylinn knew they were as clear as regular glass. All in all, the house looked like a purple blob with three eyes, a mouth, and some silver roots.

      Aylinn entered through the circular doorway. The house smelled like the shuttle - like disinfectant. She jumped as the door snapped shut behind her, seals making sucking noises. The house was readjusting its gravity, she supposed. She slowly climbed the stairs, eyeing each room with curiosity. The walls were bare, and a few cardboard boxes were lying around, waiting to be unpacked. Her parents were busy talking with the governor of Kreludor, leaving her alone to get used to the new house and pick out her room. She continued up the stairs.

      Aylinn reached the top through a door in the ceiling. This was as high as she could go - from the window, it seemed as though she could see for miles around. Kreludor reminded her of a sponge, in an odd way. It was pocked with holes and craters. There were no trees, no flowers, no birds. She told herself she would get used to it - it was just a different environment...

      Her Snowbunny started to squirm, and she set it down. It began sniffing the edges of the room, as though to make sure everything was in order.

      Aylinn returned to the window. It was all so different... She remained looking at the landscape for several minutes, lost in thought. She could see Neopia over Kreludor's horizon. Dark clouds roiled over a landmass currently in shadow, that would be the Haunted Woods. Currently, it was in shadow, facing away from the sun. Bits of sunlight made the clouds of Faerieland sparkle, even at this distance. A large expanse of golden sand marked the Lost Desert, which had a completely cloudless sky above it. In the middle of it all, her beloved Neopia Central sat. She closed her eyes to imagine her home one last time - she refused to call it her "old home" just yet. The other neighbourhood kids would be playing Gormball right now, practicing their timing and tossing in the street. A soft, golden, russet glow would just be descending on her neighbourhood, lighting up front porches and tinging everything with a warm shade of colour. Darkness would settle so gently over the street that the inhabitants would hardly notice the change - still sitting on their front porches or playing tag in the dusk, they would gradually notice it was time to retire. Aylinn knew it all so well she could see it clearly inside her head, with not even the most trivial detail missing from the happy scene. Flowers bursting from a window sill, a hose left running on the grass, Warfs running amok in the flowers--

      A soft thump behind her made her jump, and she turned in time to see a flash of her father descending the stairs of the trapdoor. But then she saw something else - and her face lit up.

      Her bean bag chair sat in the middle of the floor, looking familiar, inviting, and comforting all at once. Atop it lay the book she'd been reading, and on the floor rested a mug of hot cocoa.

      Scooping up her Snowbunny, which had been investigating the hot cocoa, she sank into her chair. She couldn't remember ever feeling more relieved - and she decided she could get used to Kreludor after all.

The End

 
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