"People believed that the so called Curse of King Coltzan is real. Those that visit his tomb will be cursed with bad luck," Kakimiha read from a book as he stood between the rows of shelves. "Scholars say this isn't true, but it has not stopped the widespread beliefs of the Curse of King Coltzan upon any who dare visit."
He winced and snapped the book shut on his paw.
"You are supposed to be putting those books where they belong, not reading them. You do that on your own time," the Lenny librarian hissed, catching the Zafara in the act. Ms. Marsh wasn't young but not old either, but in Kakimiha's eyes she was ancient, Prehistoric, Dweller of the Tyrannian Dark Ages and definitely an old mean Lenny in a floral dress and thick spectacles.
Kakimiha sighed dramatically and resisted the urge to roll his eyes as he shoved the book back on the shelf between Lost Desert History Volume Two and The Lost Desert During the Time of King Coltzan the Second.
"Not like that," she snapped in that hushed tone you get if you visit the library for prolonged periods.
"Books should be treated with the utmost care." She shelved the book again, taking time to straighten the books on either side. The shelf was even with no books shoved back or sticking out. Perfect in the eyes of Ms. Marsh, that old super sour shocker Chia pop.
"Do you need to be shown again?" she asked with little patience twitching the few tail feathers she still had left.
Kakimiha shook his head. "No, I got it." She made an unconvinced grumble that reminded Kakimiha of a Doglefox with a bone, and stalked down the aisle.
He shrugged and continued his task. Pushing the sturdy metal cart up and down the rows of shelves, Kakimiha did his job to Ms. Marsh's exacting standards.
It wasn't that bad doing this sort of thing; he liked to make things orderly despite his own home being incredibly cluttered with books, old cups of tea that he should empty out and wash along with his random knick knacks that he collected on his rare travels outside of Neopia.
Sure he was interested in history, especially on the Lost Desert being painted Desert himself, but did Ms. Marsh have to be so grumpy and particular about shelving books?
Craning his neck, he checked the time on the large digit-less clock above the check out desk. Ah, he thought with a smirk he carefully kept hidden while wheeling the empty book cart back. "Ms. Marsh, may I take my break?" he asked once he positioned the cart in its proper place according to Ms. Marsh's preference.
She eyeballed him from behind her drug store brand reading glasses, glanced at the clock for a long minute before agreeing. "You may take your break. Please be back in fifteen minutes."
He nodded and headed to the staff lunch and locker room to retrieve his small bag containing his house keys and neopoints. Ms. Marsh made him give them up his first day with the promise they would be safe and not stolen and headed out into the fresh air.
Normally he enjoyed the library with all the books he could read for free and he could bring them home. (But he had to bring them back otherwise he would be fined five neopoints each book every day they weren't returned; he learned that the hard way!) However, he didn't realize how much work went into being a volunteer there.
The day before he had to stay late because of the donations that had been dropped off late in the afternoon. Ms. Marsh thought it would be best to sort through the nearly three dozen boxes that same afternoon. Unfortunately he barely made a dent in unpacking and sorting and Ms. Marsh claimed that he would be best at it by himself since she was of a delicate nature.
"Miserable old-" Kakimiha started grumbling and headed in the direction the Coffee Shop. He had just enough money for an iced soy chai latte and if he was going to be stuck inside with Ms. Marsh sorting through book donations from people's garages, then he would need that extra energy boost.
He placed his order and paid then waited around for his drink. Delicious ice soy chai latte coolness, he thought while sucking the drink through the straw.
Walking along in the sunshine with an iced latte in paw, Kakimiha thought it couldn't get any better, feeling cheerful for the first time all week.
Then he paused when a shiny glint caught his eye. "A lucky coin," he said to himself and picked it up.
He tucked it in his trouser pocket and continued back to the library.
Only to be berated the moment he set foot inside by Ms. Marsh for bringing in his latte. "No drinks in the library," she snapped, pointing at the door. He mentally smacked his forehead and left to guzzle the last of his drink outside.
"Brain freeze!" He dumped the cup in the trash and rubbed his forehead furiously.
He pivoted only to jump back with a squeak he would never admit to when a black gathow dart in front of him. "Darn petpet," he mumbled, glaring at the petpet as it trotted calmly to the bushes growing on the side of the building.
Kakimiha was treated to a glare when he returned. "You're late," Ms Marsh stated with narrowed eyes.
"You saw me a few minutes earlier," Kakimiha protested, slipping behind the check out desk.
The older woman sniffed. "Still you are late."
He bit back a reply and went to put his bag away in his specially designated locker. Kakimiha made sure to take his time and check one last time for any texts that came in. He kicked one of the folding chairs tucked underneath the flimsy folding table.
"Darn it! Why is there a salt shaker there? Who uses salt?" He was at a loss as to how clean it up so he just used his hand to sweep off the excess salt grains on the linoleum. Thankfully he was fast enough because he nearly ran into Ms. Marsh outside the lunch room.
"There you are," she said with that perpetual look of disapproval on her face. "The children's section needs tidying."
He nodded and nervously swiped his salty paws on his trousers. Kakimiha headed to the corner where the children's section was located. Normally he didn't mind the clean up; it was better than sorting through book donations which he still had to deal with afterward.
Another neopet, a Blumaroo, was on a sturdy ladder changing one of the light bulbs in the same section.
Doesn't anyone know how to put books away? He griped silently and let out a nervous laugh at how much he sounded like Ms. Marsh. Oh, the horror. Kakimiha shuddered and began to right the chairs around the kids' table, stack up the many books to be put away, and set right a bunch of cushions that needed to be rearranged on the plush carpet.
He absently kicked the footstool toward the large squashy easy chair by the kids' table. Kakimiha then went to put away the large stack of picture books. Ducking underneath the ladder where the Blumaroo handyman was changing the lights, he felt a shiver go up his spine, causing him to bump into the ladder.
"Watch out, kid."
"I'm fine, don't worry about it," Kakimiha replied with a half shrug and shoved the last couple of books in their proper places.
The Blumaroo finished his work and climbed down. "Bad luck walking under a ladder," he said before leaving with his tool bag and old light bulb.
Kakimiha stared at him and rolled his eyes. Superstitions weren't something he believed in; after all, that silly Coltzan curse was just rumors and made up stories by the locals to lure tourists in.
The afternoon passed with Ms. Marsh being the horrible task master that she was; who knew that such a tiny Lenny could be so mean and think of so many things that needed to be done? Certainly not him.
Kakimiha left the library late in the afternoon tired and wishing he remembered to bring his favorite bright red scooter but recalled that Ms. Marsh told him off for bringing it one time. "Accidents happen!" Kakimiha imitated her tone and words. He dug in his trouser pocket and found the coin.
Slightly tarnished and almost mocking his bad luck, Kakimiha tossed it in the air and caught it in his paw. "Lucky coin," he scoffed and repeated the action as he crossed the street.
Should've looked both ways otherwise he would've seen the game of Tag a group of Pteris were playing.
"Ouch!" Kakimiha yelped as he was clipped by a starry Pteri's wing. "Watch where you're going!"
The Pteri shouted a reply and didn't bother to check if the Zafara was injured. Kakimiha stood up and dusted himself off cursing his streak of bad luck.
However, his luck was already changing and didn't notice that he had dropped the coin. Instead, he continued home where he wanted to have a cup of tea and a sandwich while listening to the Sticks 'N' Stones Greatest Hits on his CD player.
It had rolled on the pavement and came to a stop next to a Neopian Times news stand.
The next day, a Poogle strolled down the street, saw something shiny on the pavement and bent down to pick it up. "Huh, a lucky coin. Just my luck!"