Coughs, Colds, and Cures
One bright sunny morning on Cairn Close, Neopia Central, three perky Neopets jumped out of their beds and ran down the hall of the neohome, eager to get breakfast over with so they could start the day.
"Ma? You in here?" the eldest, a Christmas Shoyru named Naddien, called. She flew into the kitchen, followed by her two (out of three) sisters. She expected to find her owner, Biogirl1991, making breakfast. Instead she was greeted by a gloomy, stuffy cough from a teenaged girl with shoulder-length brown hair hunched over the kitchen table, reading a new copy of the Neopian Times, and dressed in her pajamas, bathrobe, and slippers.
On hearing her pets stumble into the kitchen, Biogirl looked up groggily from her paper and did her best to put on a smile. "Oh, good mornin', girls," she said. Her voice, normally a smooth happy tone, sounded raspy and stuffed up this morning. Her naturally pale face had dark unhealthy circles under her forest green eyes.
"Good mornin'!" the three chorused in reply.
"Hey Mama? Where's Hewki?" asked Thanya, a cheerful little blue Usul, walking over to join her owner in reading the comics.
"She left for Sakhmet City about an hour ago. She wanted to get there bright and early," Biogirl replied. Hewki_the_Ruki was a desert Ruki. She worked in the Lost Desert during the day and sometimes overnight, but she always returned home to be with the family.
"I take it that you don't have work today?" asked Aneran, an intelligent, magnet-loving, yellow Aisha. Biogirl was a waitress at a little café in Neopia Central.
"Nope, my boss gave me the day off," she answered. The owner sneezed and sniffled.
"Are you okay, Mama?" Thanya queried, looking up from the paper.
"My, aren't we quizzical today." Biogirl giggled. The bathrobe-clad owner coughed, cleared her throat, and answered, "Well... I've come down with a bit of a cough-slash-cold."
"I didn't know owners could get sick," Aneran murmured, sitting down next to the others with a piece of toast. "I thought that was just something us Neopets got..."
Biogirl laughed good-naturedly, halted mid-laugh, and wheezed. She sniffled again and said, "No, owners can get sick just the same as Neopets." She folded up the newspaper and handed it to Thanya. "You know what, girls? You're right. I'm definitely not feeling well, so I'm going to stay in bed today. There's plenty of food, and I should be better by tomorrow morning. If you need anything, just come and wake me up." She gently (or perhaps weakly) pushed her chair back, stood up, and left the kitchen for her bedroom, her slippers padding quietly across the kitchen floor.
"Poor Mama..." Thanya sighed, her ears and bushy tail drooping.
"Yeah..." Naddien muttered in agreement, picking sadly at the grains of cereal floating around in the milk in her bowl.
"I wish there was something we could do for her; something to make her better," Thanya piped. She was generally a wishful type of person.
"I'll bet there is," Aneran stated boldly, looking up from her toast.
"Is what?" asked Naddy.
"A way to make Mama better," Aneran answered. "If there's a way to cure a sick Neopet, there's bound to be a way to cure whatever it is that Mama caught."
"Hey, you're right!" Thanya said, her creamy tail and ears perking up excitedly.
"We can look all over Neopia if we have to!" Naddien exclaimed resolutely. The Christmas Shoyru fluttered up from her seat.
"Right! So... Any ideas for where we should look first?" Aneran asked. The Aisha's question was followed by low 'uhm's as her siblings pondered it.
"How about the Neopia Central Hospital?" Thanya suggested. "We could ask a doctor if they know anything about owner-sicknesses."
"That might work," Aneran replied with a nod.
"Then it's settled!" Naddien cheered. "We'll finish up here and then head for the hospital!"
The threesome stared up at the tall building. Glistening sunshine warmed their backs. Owners and pets bustled around the sisters on the stairs to the Neopia Central Hospital and in the streets in front of the large establishment. Naddien led her younger sisters up the remaining stairs and swung open the door. Shoyru, Aisha, and Usul all looked around the waiting room before making their way to the front desk.
Naddien, who had been elected spokesperson by her sisters because she was the eldest, cleared her throat and called to the nurse working at the desk.
"Excuse me? Our owner's sick," she began explaining. "Is there someone we can talk to?"
The nurse, a purple Scorchio, looked down at the siblings, smiled, glanced over a list attached to a clipboard and replied, "I suppose you could talk to Dr. Brimstone. He isn't busy right now, and he shouldn't mind answering any of your questions. Dr. Brimstone is the big red Uni down the hall; you can't miss him." The Scorchio-nurse beckoned down the hallway with a purple claw.
Naddien, Aneran, and Thanya dashed down the passage in the indicated direction.
"Well, she was nice," Thanya said. Anything else she had planned on saying was cut off when the perky Usul bumped smack into the backside of a large, before-mentioned red Uni, dressed in the standard white doctor's uniform. Naddien and Aneran skidded to a halt beside her.
The Uni looked behind him over his should to see what ran into him and then turned around.
Thanya smiled sheepishly up from her sitting position on the tile floor and asked innocently, "Are you Dr. Brimstone?"
The Uni chuckled and replied, "Yes. Who wants to know?"
"I'm Thanya, and this is Naddy and Rena," the little Usul replied, leaning on one arm and gesturing to each of her sisters in turn.
"We were wondering if you could help us with something, Dr. Brimstone," Naddien said, looking up to the tall doctor.
"I'll do what I can," he said, pawing the floor with a hoof. "So, what is it that you need?"
"Well, ya'see, our owner's sick, and we were wondering if you knew how to cure her," Aneran stated.
"Aha... Do you know what she has?" Dr. Brimstone asked.
"She called it a 'cough-slash-cold'," Thanya piped, pushing herself to her petite feet.
The Uni lifted his head up thoughtfully for a moment, humming as he pondered. "It could be similar to Kikoughela or D'achoo..." he murmured, looking back down to the trio.
"So... What should we do about it?" Aneran asked, her yellow earstalks swiveling in a quizzical manner.
"I would suggest Kikoughela Syrup and-or Neopkins, but I can't promise any results seeing that she's not a Neopet," the Uni doctor said to the sisters.
"Okay!" they chorused. The Shoyru, Aisha, and Usul ran back for the door, shouting 'thank you's over their shoulders.
Dr. Brimstone smiled and continued his stroll down the hospital's hallway.
Thanya pressed her nose against the glass window of the pharmacy. Her bright blue eyes looked longingly at the box of Neopkins and bottle of Kikoughela Syrup.
"Well, I can't afford it," she said, turning to her sisters.
"None of us can," Naddien replied. "That's why we're pooling our Neopoints together." And that's what they did. Not long after that, the threesome dashed back to the neohome, clutching the brown paper bag. They found Biogirl asleep in her bed with the covers pulled close around her.
"Should we wake her up?" Thanya whispered to her sisters. The Neopets looked at each other.
"Well, she can't take it asleep..." Naddien murmured. The Christmas Shoyru stretched out her paw and gave her owner one, two quick pokes.
Biogirl sat up immediately, but she was still half asleep. The teenaged girl sniffled and groped around on her nightstand with her hand for her box of tissues.
Not saying a word, her Neopets placed the box of Neopkins in her hand.
She took it and groggily blew her nose; a loud honking sound like a rusty trombone. Setting the box and used Neopkin down on the night stand, Biogirl began feeling around for the glass of water she had set there.
They opened the bottle of Kikoughela Syrup and gave it to her.
She swigged the whole thing drowsily, not seeming to notice the odd taste. The owner sniffed, placed the empty bottle next to the Neopkins, and lay back down, still sound asleep.
The three Neopets stood there for a few moments in dead silence.
"That was scary..." Aneran whispered.
"Uh-huh..." Thanya gulped.
"Did the medicine work, though?" Naddien asked.
Biogirl coughed and wheezed in her sleep.
"Nope..." Thanya sighed. The trio walked out into the hall, shutting the door quietly behind them.
"Well, what do we do now?" Thanya asked. The small Usul's ears sagged unhappily.
Aneran snapped her fingers – er, paws. "I've got an idea!" she said excitedly. The yellow Aisha scurried into the family room of the neohome with the others following at her heels. She dashed over to the bookshelf and stood on tip-toes to reach one near the top.
"Mama's science book?" Naddien queried, watching as Aneran flipped through the pages.
"Yep," she agreed. "Ah, here it is." She tapped her paw on a page of a chapter on magnetism. She read a part of the introduction out loud, "'To people long ago, magnets seemed magical. Some proposed that magnets were evil objects possessed by invisible spirits. Other claimed that they could cure headaches and heal sicknesses.' Get it?"
"You're saying that we should use magnets to try and heal Mama?" Naddien questioned. "That's crazy!"
"It may be crazy, but I think it's worth a shot," Thanya said, perking up a bit.
"I guess," Naddy succumbed.
"Great!" Aneran cheered. "To my lab!" She slammed Biogirl's science book shut, and – Poof! – it disappeared in a cloud of glittery purple smoke. The sisters stared at the remnants of their owner's textbook, dumbfounded.
"Oops..." the Aisha muttered.
"Uh, to the lab?" Naddy said with a nervous smile.
"Last one there's a Jhudora Rotten Negg!" Thanya called, running for the basement door, her bushy tail streaming behind her.
In the end no one was the Rotten Negg, as they couldn't figure out who had arrived in Aneran's brightly lit basement laboratory last. The walls and ceiling were lined with smooth metallic sheets and planks, and table and stools dotted the room. Each table served as a different type of workspace. One table supported a chemistry set and neat rows of flasks containing various substances. Another was covered with tools and equipment; bolts, screwdrivers, socket wrenches, and other assorted gear.
Aneran walked over to a much larger table than the ones mentioned before. On it was a myriad of her favorite objects; magnets. Big magnets, little magnets, powerful magnets, electromagnets, refrigerator magnets, every kind in the book. The Aisha selected a rather large box-shaped one and held it up for her sisters to see.
"This baby can lift over ten times her weight. She should be just what we're looking for," Aneran stated confidently, tucking it under her arm and patting its side.
"Well, okay. Let's go give it a try," Naddien said.
The three clambered back up the stairs, crept into Biogirl's room, and tiptoed around to the side of her bed. Silently, Aneran held up the large magnet. While her sisters crossed their fingers, she flipped the switch from "off" to "on". The electromagnet hummed gently as it came to life. Nothing seemed to happen at first. Then the spoon on the nightstand that came with the Kikoughela Syrup began to quiver, and – Whizz... Ping! – it flew onto the magnet. Suddenly the room became alive as dozens of things shot through the air towards Aneran's magnet; a watch, some earrings, the Techo wall-clock, pens, notepads. Even the closet and bedroom doors trembled and shook as the hinges threatened to come loose.
"Quick! Turn it off!" Thanya whispered (rather loudly) from where she was hiding under her cream-colored tail.
Aneran didn't hesitate to do so. She swiftly flipped the switch to "off" with a swipe from her paw, and all the various metallic objects clattered to the floor.
Strangely, and much to the sisters' relief, Biogirl didn't wake up. The sick owner dozed on as if she hadn't noticed a thing. Which, in fact, she hadn't.
Naddien spoke up quietly. "I guess that didn't work." The Christmas Shoyru sighed.
"We should clean up the mess before Mama wakes up," Thanya said in a hushed voice. Nobody could argue with the sense in that, and so they carefully picked up their owner's scattered things and put them in their original place.
The threesome returned to the hallway, filed sullenly into the family room, and flopped down onto the sofa. Each was lost in their own gloomy thoughts, trying to think of a cure, and staring at some random thing. Aneran's gaze was fixed on the ceiling, Naddien stared blankly at the floor, and Thanya had seemingly become interested in the wall. They sat there for a couple minutes, until Thanya suddenly leapt up from her seat and pointed to something on the wall. A family photo. It was a picture of Biogirl and her, not three, but four pets. Naddien, Aneran, Thanya, and Hewki.
"That's it!" Thanya squealed, dashing towards the framed photo. "We can ask Hewki for help!"
"Of course," Aneran murmured. "Hewki knows about lots of things."
"Let's go to Sakhmet then!" Naddy cheered.
The sisters scrambled out the front door, down the street, and towards the Neopia Central Port.
"I'm gonna win!" Thanya squealed, dashing headlong across the hot sand. The Usul and her elder siblings had arrived at the Lost Desert moments ago, and she had promptly declared a race to the gates of Sakhmet.
"Oh, no, you're not!" Aneran said with a grin, rushing past her. Panting heavily, she picked up the pace when the gates came in sight. The Aisha was suddenly aware of a giggling noise overhead. "Hey!" she shouted as Naddien flew overhead carrying a laughing Thanya. "No fair!" she called in a half holler, half laugh.
Naddien and Thanya won the little race, and then the trio headed into the streets of the desert city to look for their sister. It didn't take long for them to find the Desert Ruki. She was in her little one-room home on the side of the streets, and she was more than happy to see them.
"Hi guys!" Hewki said, giving her sisters each a hug. "What brings you girls to my neck of Neopia?" she asked with an ecstatic smile, giving them room to come through the door.
"Mama's sick and we need a cure!" Thanya blurted, jumping up onto the Ruki's backside.
"Thanya..." Naddien moaned, flopping onto a cushion on the floor that served as a couch. "I thought we were going to tell her slowly."
"Ma's sick?!" Hewki questioned, wide-eyed.
"Yeah, she's got a cough-slash-cold as she called it," Aneran answered. She explained their attempts and ignored Hewki's snickers at the magnetic part.
"So can you help?" Thanya asked while polishing a spot on her sister's armor.
"I can't, really," Hewki said. "But I know someone who might." The Ruki led her sisters out the door and over to the Lost Desert Medicine tent, and spoke to the Cybunny who ran it.
"Well," the shopkeeper began, pawing at her silky red hair. "I think this might do the trick," she said. She patted a warm looking blanket that was an earthy dark green color. "I can give it to you for this price," the Cybunny stated, tapping at a small sign.
"We don't have that kind of money with us..." Thanya whispered to Hewki. She was still sitting on her backside, making it easier to reach the Ruki's antennas.
"All right..." Hewki sighed quietly, remembering that her sisters had pooled together all their Neopoints to buy the Kikougela Syrup and Neopkins. She shuffled around in a small pouch and withdrew the amount needed. She handed the coins to the shopkeeper who handed the blanket to them.
"Thanks, Hewks," Naddien said gratefully, hugging the Ruki.
"Don't mention it," she answered, closing the much lighter Neopoint sack. They walked out of the tent onto the street.
"Well, it was nice seeing you, Hewki," Aneran said. "But we should probably head back home to try the blanket on Mama..."
"Will we see you at supper time?" Thanya asked, looking at her sister hopefully.
"Of course," Hewki said with a fond smile. She helped the little Usul down to the ground. "I'll see you three then."
Waving and calling goodbyes and see-you-soons, Naddien, Aneran, and Thanya made their way through the crowded marketplace back to the gate.
Naddien opened the door to the neohome quietly and stepped inside. The Christmas Shoyru was followed by her tiptoeing siblings. "C'mon," she whispered, leading them to their owner's bedroom. Carrying the warm green blanket, Naddy snuck over to Biogirl and placed the blanket over her.
"Should we put on another blanket?" Aneran suggested, over their owner's wheezing breathing.
"I'll go get Naddy's pink fuzzy one," Thanya said, scurrying out of the room.
"Not Keyo..." Naddien whispered in a moan.
"Your blanket's name is Keyo?" Aneran asked with a laughing smile.
"Uh..." Naddien didn't make any more of a reply. Being the Battledome pet, she had to keep a strong reputation. She was saved from her embarrassment when Thanya came back with the blanket. The little blue Usul gently placed it on top of the green one.
But Biogirl did look a whole lot warmer.
Aneran left and came back with her own blue blanket. The Aisha spread it carefully over the other two.
Still, nothing happened.
Biogirl coughed roughly.
"So much for plan C," Naddien sighed. The others nodded and they walked out of the room, leaving the blankets laid out on top of their owner.
"I'm wiped out of ideas..." Aneran said wearily, falling over onto the living room couch. Thanya flopped down on top of her, causing the Aisha to giggle a little. Naddien paced the room, back and forth. Back and forth... They had started their quest early in the morning and now it was late afternoon. The day was almost gone.
"There's only one thing left to try that I can think of," the Shoyru said after a few minutes worth of pacing. "We could go to Mystery Island and ask the Techo Master for advice. He's pretty wise..."
"You think he'll know anything about sicknesses?" Thanya said, falling off of Aneran onto the floor.
"I don't know," Naddy murmured. "But it's worth a shot, don't you think?"
Nobody argued. The threesome grabbed a quick bite to eat from the kitchen and then headed out the door again.
Aneran paced impatiently across the lush soil ground outside the Mystery Island Training center. Waiting could be such a bother. Thanya skipped curiously around the vicinity, looking in wonder at all the tropical flowers. Naddien had gone inside a few minutes ago to have a word with the Techo Master as planned. It was getting late and the sun was just beginning to set in an orangey glow.
"Maybe there's a line of people waiting or something, Rena," Thanya said when she saw the Aisha's anxiousness. She buried her tiny nose inside a lovely blue flower.
"I suppose," she replied, stopping her pacing. Her foot began tapping a few seconds later.
Naddien walked out the door, shut it quietly behind her, and flew over the stairs.
"How'd it go?" Aneran asked the moment she saw her sister.
"What'd he say?" Thanya chimed in.
"He said, "Karate is like ballet. Only there's no music and the dancers hit each other...'" Naddy answered, falling gloomily onto her seat.
Aneran groaned and sat down next to her.
Thanya looked confused. "I don't see how that's going to help Mama..." she murmured, looking up blankly and twirling her flower in her paws.
"That's because it's not..." Naddien sighed, kicking at a pebble.
"Well, we tried..." Aneran said, standing up. She held down a yellow paw to help Naddy up.
Naddien looked at the paw, blinking back defeated tears. She reached and grasped it, and was hauled to her feet.
"Let's go home..." Thanya said in a small whisper.
Saddened and defeated the trio went back to the neohome on Cairn Close, Neopia Central, had dinner with Hewki who came home as she promised, and went to bed immediately, completely exhausted.
Naddien blinked her eyes open and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. She squinted her eyes and looked out the window of her chocolate bedroom. Bright cheerful sunshine beamed in from outside, and Beekadoodles sang and flitted around. Too bad she couldn't be cheerful. Not with Mama sick... Her nose twitched. It smelled like waffles in her room... The Shoyru crawled under her covers sullenly... Wait. Waffles? Naddy poked her head out from underneath the blankets and sniffed the air again. It did smell like waffles. She clambered out of her bed and traipsed down the hall. She was joined by Aneran and Thanya only seconds later. Apparently they had smelled waffles too. Naddien led them down the hallway and looked around the door into the kitchen.
There was Biogirl, standing over the stove with a spatula and a bowl of waffle batter, dressed in a pair of blue jeans and a kitchen quest t-shirt. Her hair had been brushed neatly, her eyes were bright, and she happily hummed the Meepit Juice Break song. She seemed perfectly healthy.
"Mama?" Naddien called quietly. Her voice sounded like a small squeak.
Biogirl turned around. "Good morning, girls!" she greeted them cheerfully, wiping a smudge of batter off her cheek. The threesome rushed over to give their owner her morning hug.
"G'morning, Mama," Naddien, Aneran, and Thanya chorused.
"I thought you were sick..." Thanya said.
"I got better," Biogirl replied, juggling hugging her pets and flipping the waffles with her spatula. "You three hungry?"
There was unanimous agreement, and the sisters sat at the table each with a plate of fresh waffles. Biogirl grabbed a plate for herself and sat down with them. "Well, I didn't do anything much yesterday," she said while she cut her waffles. "Besides sleep and blow my nose, of course." She giggled and stabbed a waffle piece with her fork. "So what did you three do all day yesterday?"
The three sisters shared an exasperated, but happy, glance.