Sometimes Superglue Can't Fix Everything
Back in the days, when Neopia was once more busy fighting Dr. Sloth...
“Oops!” This is one of the most famous words that screams mischief and problems, and it definitely is one of the words I am forced to use rather often – at least compared with my siblings and cousins. And no matter how quietly I mutter this word, one of them is always bound to hear me.
“Tanka, what have you broken this time?” With raised eyebrows my brother Species looks at me from over the edge of his book. He is perched on the comfy sofa in our library while I am busying myself in the study next to it on this fine morning. My other two siblings, jeshele and Ruediger, are off visiting our cousins and Mom is busy restocking, so it is only the two of us at our home.
“Uh... Nothing?” I say, trying my best to look like the innocent Acara I am – well, most of the time.
“Tankanoien, if you hadn’t broken anything you wouldn’t be using the word ‘Oops’,” Species reasons with me. And I have to admit that he has a point there. So perhaps I’d better confess, hadn’t I?
“Ahem, you remember the pretty bone with those fluffy feathers Mom brought home a few weeks ago?” I ask.
“The bone sceptre she won at that challenge?”
I nod in confirmation. “It’s a battle equipment item and you know, Mom always says that if there’ll be any fighting I am to be her battle pet. So I thought I might as well have a look at it now, just in case I am to use it someday soon... With Sloth returning and everything...” My voice trails off.
Species shudders slightly at the mention of the evil Dr. Sloth, as deep inside his little Grundo-heart he fears Dr. Sloth might come for him, though Mom has promised him this won’t happen, and if despite her assurances, he is kidnapped by said villain, we would come and rescue him. But he quickly regains his composure. “And you broke the sceptre?” He goes on questioning me. “Well, why don’t you go fetch the superglue and fix it? Perhaps there won’t be any fighting soon despite all those rumours and in the meantime Mom might get some better weapons so you won’t have to use the sceptre at all and nobody will ever notice?”
A little annoyed, I look at him. “Thanks for that helpful suggestion,” I snap at him. Because of course I had already thought about using that sticky concoction, that Mom made especially for all the things that my energetic self happens to break and that we simply call ‘superglue’. (Nobody really knows what she used, but jeshele insists on having seen her add melted cheese and bubblegum... and why the things she mixed together make up a sticky glue nobody knows either, but then again, Mom says that not even the greatest scientist can solve the riddle why things bond with glue; all they know is that things bond.) The only problem this time is that the superglue won’t help me fix the sceptre, no matter how hard I try or how much I wish it to work. Because the moment the bone sceptre broke, there were some... minor... changes... You know the kind of freaky changes that go along with a small cloud of smoke that makes you want to cough and a low, frightening noise I hastily covered up with the before mentioned ‘Oops’... And if there is one thing I know it is that things that break with a smoke cloud can’t be fixed with superglue. Because most likely the smoke cloud was supposed to remain inside the broken thing and I can’t put it back inside. Not even with the superglue.
Immediately I am sorry for my harsh words. I love my brother dearly and it is not his fault that the glue won’t help this time. “I am sorry, Species,” I apologize. “But...” Still I hesitate to tell the whole truth of what has happened. Not that I really stand a chance to hide it.
“T... Tanka...” Species suddenly trembles. “W... What is that?” He points at something right behind me.
Knowing that my brother, despite his love for books, is anything but a coward, I ever so cautiously turn around to see what has caused this rather fearful reaction. And there it is, right in our study: all bony, all ghostly, all gruesome – a Bone Spectre. Well, that is what I would call this thing... ghost... whatever. But what is even worse is: It is looming over me – seeing as I am closer to it than Species –, its bony jaw dropped as if it is going to devour me anytime now. Seems like that little smoke cloud I noticed when I first broke the sceptre melded with the bone shards of the weapon and grew into this ghostly being. Definitely not good!
Despite loving excitement and being rather adventurous I feel myself starting to panic. But then again, when faced with a Bone Spectre about to devour you, everybody is entitled to panic a little.
“Species...?” I ask under my breath as I don’t want to startle the spectre in any way that might make it devour me faster than it plans.
“Ahem, try backing out with slow, quiet movements, never looking away from it?” he whispers back.
“Species, this is a spectre, not a giant snake or some other reptile,” I reason, while trying to smile friendly at the bony being in front of me, because Mom always says that a genuine smile can work miracles for girls. And I get the feeling I’ll definitely need a miracle. “Spectres have heightened senses; surely it’ll notice my moving.”
“Well, then stand still, hope for the best and I go try to find some information on bone spectres in the library?” Species suggests.
“Can’t we simply lure him into the kitchen with some cookies?” The idea of staying here while Species goes over every book and tome we have in our library is anything but thrilling. But I know that my brother is right – without further information on bone spectres, our chances of surviving unharmed are rather small. (Not to say next to non-existent.)
Species shakes his head. “Sorry, Tanka, no cookies left. Don’t you remember that you and Ruediger ate the whole load of cookies jeshele made for today’s trip yesterday after dinner? You complained the better part of the night that you couldn’t sleep because your stomach hurt.”
Ah, yes, now I remember. But the cookies were way too delicious to leave them for our cousins, no matter how much we love them. Guess, it was worth a little stomach ache. So no cookies for the spectre, I decide with a mental shrug. Most likely spectres can’t eat cookies anyway. Ah... cookies...
A ragged, unearthly breath brings me back to reality. And let me tell you, having a Bone Spectre breathing down on you is not really a nice way to wake up from a daydream. Instantly I turn my eyes back up to the looming creature. Its ghostly bones slightly rattle as a soft breeze comes floating in through the open study-window. The very sound sends shivers down my spine.
“Species? Would you mind hurrying up a bit?” I call softly in the direction of the library as the spectre closes in on me. Seems, as if the breeze snapped it out of some daze – for me a most welcome, time stalling daze.
“Hold on for a second... Famous Tonu Ghosts, no... Ghost Techo Tales, not right either... Ghost Lupe Spooky Stories, not what I am looking for... Hm, maybe Ghost Stories? Ah, I think I might have found the right book. A Neopian Spectre Encyclopaedia! Now about the Bone Spectre... Tanka?” Species calls out for me. “There is nothing about a Bone Spectre of any kind in here. And the book lists every kind of spectre that is known in Neopia. So, are you sure of its being a Bone Spectre?”
Of course I am not sure. But what else would you call an all bony, all ghostly, all gruesome spectre like being? I call it a Bone Spectre. Before I can mutter an unkind reply along these thoughts, I hear Species’s voice again.
“I think I have some good news for you, Tanka,” he says. “Or at least something that resembles good news pretty much.”
I have to fight hard not to roll my eyes at his not getting straight to the point. Doesn’t he realize that he is wasting precious time? Time which could decide whether I live or end up as Spectre-Food?
As if sensing my anxiousness, he hurries to continue: “If asked a direct question, any Spectre is bound to answer it truthfully. However, it can only answer questions which answers are either ‘yes’ or ‘no’.”
Great! So all I have to do in order to survive this is ask the spectre a plethora of questions? Preferably until the end of time, for as soon as I stop asking questions it might return to its original plan of devouring me? Really great! As I voice these thoughts to Species, I can see him shrug his shoulders out of the corner of my eyes.
“Well, better than being devoured at once,” he says hesitantly. “And perhaps by questioning it, we’ll come upon some information that will help us get rid of it.”
I have to admit that even a poor plan such as this one is better than having no plan at all, so I start firing questions at the Not-A-Bone-Spectre. “Are you from Central Neopia? Do you love chocolate? Can spectres eat cookies? Is your favourite colour yellow? If you don’t have a place to haunt or do whatever spectres are supposed to do, do you get unemployment compensation? Were you alive before you became a spectre? Did you choose this bony apparition yourself? Do you hope that spectres can be painted Maraquan someday at the Rainbow Pool? Have you ever seen the Fountain Faerie? Do you like Kaus? Would you like to find your likeness on a stamp?...” I rattle on an on. My siblings often have said that I can even come up with questions about questions, and now I can put this ability of mine to good use.
The spectre is clearly startled at this sudden explosion of questions, but true to the words of Species’s book, it answers every single one. And my brother listens carefully, analyzing all the information until suddenly seizing his spectre encyclopaedia again. He then passes a slip of paper to me on which is written a question. A question he clearly wants me to ask the spectre in front of me.
“Are you an Anagram Spectre?”
“Yes,” the hollow voice answers.
Puzzled I look at Species, forgetting for a moment that I am supposed to keep asking questions in order to avoid being devoured. Only when I feel the ragged, unearthly breath closing in on me again do I remember and hastily I come up with more questions.
Meanwhile Species has left the study only to return in less than a minute, carrying a board game. To be correct: the board game version of ‘Word Pyramid’ our cousin Adarian sent us as Christmas present. He then proceeds to take out the triangular shaped letters that form the word ‘spectre’. Again I nearly forget to keep on quizzing the bony being in front of me, but instead of satisfying my curiosity as to his doings, Species focuses completely on rearranging the letters. In amazement I see him exchange the p and the c and suddenly the letters read ‘sceptre’ instead of ‘spectre’. It is then that he mouths: “If I can find another anagram within these letters, we might have the clue as to the way of getting rid of the spectre.”
Immediately I am thrilled. I know my brother to be extremely clever – with all the books he has read he is quite bound to be – so I am sure, he’ll come up with a solution.
But some twenty questions and at least as many anagrams later, Species is close to giving up. “Sorry, the only sensible combination I can find is ‘respect’, but I don’t know how that is to help us.” Apologetically he looks at me.
“Respect?” I shake my head for a moment, but then I have an idea. A true flash of genius! Instantly I turn to the spectre. “If we treated you with respect, would you refrain from devouring me or my brother? Or any of my family at all?” I ask.
After a moment of consideration, the spectre answers. “Yes!”
“Well then, nice to meet you Mr. Spectre,” I say, smiling brightly and extending my paw for the customary handshake. Or paw-shake in my case. “I may call you Mr. Spectre, mayn’t I? Or do you prefer to be called by any other name? And would you perhaps like to stay for dinner?”
With every polite expression, with every sentence, which showed that we considered Andrew, as the Anagram Spectre preferred to be called, not as a bothersome intruder but as an individual we wanted to get to know as a friend, our bony visitor relaxed and no longer showed any urgent desire to devour one of us. To be sure, Mom was quite surprised to find an Anagram Spectre in our living room when she returned, but she immediately seconded our invitation for dinner and before the day was over we were chatting merrily as if we had known each other forever.
So you see, sometimes superglue can’t fix everything, but if you treat others with respect, things might still turn out all right.
Thanks for reading ^^ ~chao