Pipes: Part Four
I stood, face to face with my mother. Her mouth gaped down, and her eyes met mine. Tears welled up. I realized that now, we were both trapped. But at least we were together. My eyes didn’t make tears very well, being so strange for any animal to have. Of course, my mouth trembled, and my mom knew I would be crying of happiness and sadness if I could.
“Nuld?” She choked on the word. It must have been hard for her to say. She was happy I was here, but terrified that I had been caught, too.
“Mom, it’s me,” I stuttered, as if it was the day before, when I had just learned to speak. We stood facing each other in silence for several long seconds.
“You speak. But how?”
“In the pothole, a Quiggle had a speaking day, and I saw and heard everything. Just like that, Mom. But I shouldn’t have, since now we’re trapped,” I cried, and pounced over to her pushing her down into a deep hug. Her tears stained my messy, blue fur.
“At least we’re in this together. I’m so sorry I left you. It wasn’t my fault though. Everything happened to me as it did to you,” she explained, looking at me nod every few seconds.
“Yes, of course. Now what is this place?” I pleaded, looking around, trying to skip the face of a cut-up Xweetok, staring at me with his smoky, black fur. When I saw him even through my glance, I choked. His face had a scar that went through his mouth to a little below the nostril.
“Lionel must have given you the lies again, huh? I mean, we are looking for a key, but Nuld, it’s not just to be free and happy out of the pothole.” She looked distraught.
“Then why do they want out? I’d like to be free, but Lionel didn’t seem that bad, other than his laugh and his stupidity.”
“Nuld, this Tonu is not a good animal. He wants out for revenge on something else,” Mom sulked and added that maybe I should go talk to the others, as she began to weep.
The black Xweetok stared at me; he knew I was looking at my scar. I only wished he’d speak the first word, but there was no sign of him being friendly.
“Hello, um, I’m Nuld.” My voice sounded kind of rude and frightened, so I hoped he’d understand. Instead of talking, he seemed to be surveying me. In my head, I pleaded that he would say something.
“Yes.” The word came from his mouth like a dagger to my back. My back shivered, feeling the stab.
“Would you mind, sir, if you explained the...” I bit my lip and stopped.
“My scar?” The Xweetok spoke again. His voice was cold and mean, yet he didn’t look like the type. Really, his face was handsome, and made him look refined, but there was an air of sweetness around him that I could sense. I nodded, choking on my spit from worry.
“The escape. You want to know about it?” He finally warmed up the icy voice, and I nodded.
“I’m Daniel, by the way. I used to live up in the real world. This place isn’t real, if you haven’t noticed. Real is happy, and this is the opposite.” He rambled on. “Back to the point; I had a job as a sewage monitor, up in Neopia Central with a Tonu named Onel. He was a good animal, yes. We were grading the sewage, making sure it was enough for Sewage Surfer, and not too much as to overflow into our perfect world. And then one day, he went power-hungry. Somehow, he opened the pothole and leaped in, grabbing me with him. He went down there to plan his domination of Neopia. But when the pothole closed, it locked. We had the key. Onel climbed down to the very bottom, where Sewage Surfer got trapped, and began planning. One day, he was testing his new weapons, and one of them shot the key into the pool of sewage. Since then, I’ve been a searcher, and we’ve all been trapped.”
“And,” I was shocked from the news, “What is the revenge that Onel wants?” I suddenly realized that Onel was truly Lionel, gone mad. His domination plans had surely been finished years ago; he just can’t find the key. Daniel breathed deeply, and let out a sigh.
“Lionel only dragged me in here with him because I loved Delia.”
“Who is that?” Sounding a bit rude, I might add. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so curious.
“Delia,” he breathed deeply again, “is a Xweetok. Lionel had always been jealous of me, which may have jump-started his evil self. Delia loved me, and I loved her. She was beautiful, and nice, but who knows where she is?” Daniel looked like he could cry, but he was too tough.
“I’ve tried to escape, when we had the key,” he said again, “but that only resulted in this scar.”
By then, Daniel had a drop of a tear filling in his left eye, and he slunk away into the room’s shadows, where a few bunks were attached. I turned to look at my Mom, who was in more tears.
“Mom, how did we end up below Neopia Central?” I asked, patting her on the head carefully with my paws, as not to scratch her. She began to weep even more loudly.
“Nuld, what is my name?” She wept, and it made me feel very odd.
I realized that I didn’t know. Mother had always been Mother. It was a mystery, even to me, her son. My eyes looked at her, confused.
“What is your name? And,” I gasped, “How on Neopia did you learn how to speak?” I bit my lip and narrowed my brows, which were very narrow themselves.
“You can’t tell anyone. I’d be too embarrassed for it to come this way.” Mom looked around to see if Daniel was gone.
“Delia. It’s me,” she bawled. “I went looking for him, and in the pipes I had you, my beautiful Nuld. I got kidnapped two nights ago, and I found him, Daniel. He didn’t recognize me, his love. He’s your father, Nuld. And he doesn’t know!”
I stared at my mom, Delia. She was the one that caused the tiff. And she just heard the story Daniel had said. But he didn’t even know that Delia was the one female Xweetok in the room. Looking at the dark bunks, far from the lantern, I saw that he was still asleep. My past was revealed to me in minutes.
“Did, did Lionel recognize you?” I gasped, remembering Daniel’s enemy.
“Yes,” she cried, “And he’s trying to keep me his love. But Daniel, he doesn’t know. Oh, Nuld. You should’ve known before tonight. My heart is in pieces, and I just can’t tell Daniel who I am. He’s forgotten what I look like, dirty and filthy me.”
“I’m so sorry, Mom.” There was no way in which I could make my suffering mother happy again. Her heart had been smashed by a very kind man, who just couldn’t remember the Xweetok he loved.
My mom, Delia, pulled me closer to her warm, blue coat of fur. And together, we slowly fell asleep, each of us in happy, sad tears.
It may have been morning, but it may have been the afternoon. So far down from light, you’d never know what time of day it was. There were two things I did know when I woke up, along with Daniel. We were a family, and we had some terrible work to do.
Lionel pounded on the door, with his hoof, which by the way hadn’t had a trim in years. He’d have a shot at breaking the record for longest toenails.
“Xweetoks, outside!” he growled, and I could hear his paws pounding as he walked away. Stretching my arms and legs, I noticed Daniel looking strangely over Mom. It was a confused look, but I knew he still didn’t recognize her.
“Do I know her, Nuld?” he said, in a coy voice, eyes turning big. I shook my head very slightly.
“Maybe, you’ll just have to realize it yourself,” I responded. Daniel looked at me strangely, and then backed out before Delia woke up.
“Mom, we have to go to work,” I said, wondering how long and painful a day it would be, looking for a key to help Lionel take revenge on Daniel, by taking over the world, therefore being able to choose his own bride, Delia.
Mom slowly got up, and a tear fell down her matted fur at her first glance towards Daniel. She sucked it in, and got up.
We all walked through the tunnels, not knowing where the other doors went, but knowing where we were going.
The sewage pool seemed much bigger to me when I knew I’d be searching for something. Me, Mom, and Daniel all gathered at the bank, and Lionel and the Skeith stood in front of us, on the side of the pool. A group of Wockies stood beside us. They were the ones trapped when we lost the key.
“Today, men and women,” Lionel winked at Mom. I snarled at him, and he glared at me, “we are doing the exact same thing we’ve been doing for five years. Cleaning.”
The Skeith high-fived him at his terrible joke, and Lionel laughed his knife-like laugh. One of the Wockies even dared to cover their ears, which led to some trouble later on that’s beside the point.
Lionel handed us surfboards, and gave each of our two species a spot to search for the key.
Hopping onto my surfboard, I widened my eyes, hoping they would help me see more underneath the murky sewage. I boarded around for about five minutes, noticing my mom still crying. The Skeith sometimes yelled at her to try harder. But really, he and Lionel just sat on the sidelines and worked on the plans. They couldn’t talk to my dear mother who had lost so much like that. However, I knew that if I tried to stop them, I’d be punished severely. I continued to surf.
The Wockies and Daniel had done this for over five years, and the key was still lost from the accident. Somehow, they didn’t give up. Sewage Surfer still went on, even if it seemed hopeless. I wondered why on Neopia Lionel didn’t look himself. Maybe he got tired.
We were all tired, after only ten minutes of searching. I wondered why people didn’t up and drown themselves. There was no sign of any key for five years. And then, I saw a strange glint in the water.
To be continued...