The Cuuny Effect
"Please, please, please Mr. Kiko, can I just have a part time job?” the young Cybunny begged.
The Kiko behind the counter of The Chocolate Factory sighed. Youngsters these days just didn’t know when to give up. “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times. The way The Chocolate Factory works is a total mystery. Even if you could go inside, you’d never come back out.”
The Cybunny stamped one foot against the ground, her ears dropping down in dejection. “But Mr. Kiko, you’re here! Even if I don’t get to go inside can’t I please help out around the shop? You know I would fit right in since I’m even painted Chocolate!”
The Kiko scratched his head. She was becoming more and more of a nuisance, and if she raised her bright voice any louder she would start to make a scene with the actual paying customers. “Oh all right,” he mumbled, “but if I hear so much as one complaint out of you you’re going straight home, do you hear me?”
“Oh thank you so much, sir!” the Cy exclaimed, leaping up and hugging the dour Kiko. “My name is Cuuny sir, and I’ll get started right away with anything you need me to do!”
The customers in the shop turned to stare at the scene with interest, while the shopkeeper did his best to disentangle himself from the overactive Cuuny. This task was made more difficult by the fact that Kikos have somewhat fewer limbs to content with, and Cuuny was very thrilled indeed.
“Let go of me this instant or you’re fired!” he yelled. “And my name is not Mr. Kiko, it’s Carlos!”
“Yes sir, so sorry about that, sir!” Cuuny replied, releasing her new boss and retreating a few steps away. Even the rebuke couldn’t totally repress her excitement, though, and she couldn’t stop herself from bouncing up and down.
Her first day on the job, Cuuny was put to work cleaning up around the shop. It was amazing how dirty everything was! Bits of chocolate that had melted and then rehardened speckled every available surface. The floor was covered in even more dirt, dust, and debris having accumulated there from the feet of countless Neopian shoppers. The shop had a dark, almost dingy atmosphere, one that almost repelled prospective customers from coming too close.
Cuuny couldn’t wait to change that.x
Within a few days, The Chocolate Factory was the talk of Neopia Central. No one could stop exclaiming about how different it looked these days, even if most people were unable to point out what the actual changes were. Regardless, the shop was soon doing a roaring business, becoming frequented by more and more customers. People were always quick to go wherever there was a fuss, and word of mouth was a powerful advertisement in the shopping business.
Carlos attributed this to something he liked to call “The Cuuny Effect.” As reluctant as he had been to hire her, he had to admit that it had been a good move. Of course, The Chocolate Factory had turned a profit before the intervention of the Chocolate Cybunny, but now chocolate was practically flying off the shelves. Larger and larger quantities of chocolate were pouring out of the factory itself in a struggling attempt to keep the shelves stocked, although Carlos still had no idea how it was manufactured. Not that that mattered to him, since currently he was the king of shopkeepers and chocolate was the food of choice for discerning Neopians.
Cuuny had breezed through tasks like as if she were painted Fire. By the end of her first afternoon, the place had started to sparkle. As she scrubbed stray bits of chocolate off the floors, walls, and counters, original patterns began to be revealed. Creamy swirls the color of white chocolate wove across the floor and up the walls, catching light from the windows, illuminating the wares with a subtle light.
From there, Cuuny had quickly moved on to other tasks. Her second day of work, she’d taken on the exterior of the shop. It was amazing what a little soap, water, and small Cybunny paws could do for weathered old stone. Perhaps it was the passion Cuuny showed for her work, or perhaps her paws held a touch of magic, but whatever the reason, everything Cuuny touched seem to sparkle.
Before long, a cleanly swept dirt path led up from the main road to The Chocolate Factory. The exterior gleamed as if the stones had been laid yesterday, not hundreds of years ago. The milk chocolate of the roof shone in the sun, blinding pedestrians but never melting. Upon opening the wooden door, the color of a dark chocolate, a little bell tinkled, and customers were immediately assaulted by the overwhelming, mouth-watering scent of chocolate.
Even though her paws began to ache constantly, and she had never been so tired in her life, Cuuny’s determination didn’t waver. She had spent her childhood in the pound, being tossed about from one owner to another. That gave one a sense of resilience, if nothing else. After finally finding a good home, with a bunch of fellow Cybunny brothers and sisters, life had still not been easy. Cuuny had a nagging suspicion that perhaps life would never be easy.
Ever the optimist, she always made the best of any situation. Her motives were always crystal clear with the innocence of the very young that rarely survives long. No matter what miseries she saw, Cuuny always believed that there was potential for good.
Soon, all the smaller details had been taken care of and Cuuny found herself serving as a shop assistant. It was as if all her wildest dreams were coming true. She began to think of herself as a bridge between chocolate and the outside world, she herself being made of chocolate. In fact, on numerous occasions, she narrowly avoided enterprising customers doing their best to take a bite out of her. While some customers were obsessed with wondering what that delicious looking whipped cream fluffy ruff might taste like, most customers were more obsessed with how to pronounce Cuuny’s name.
Neopets whispered about it behind their paws. It was such a cumbersome name, with a few too many vowels. Obviously whoever named her had been trying to be creative. It looked pretty written down, especially on the jaunty little name tag Cuuny hung on her dress when she was working. No one really liked to ask her though, for fear of being rude. People took to calling her Ms. Cybunny, until one day a Baby Gelert had the courage no one else did.
Tugging on the bottom of Cuuny’s dress, he looked up at her with sparkling eyes. “Please, Ms. Cybunny, but how do you say your name?”
Far from being offended, Cuuny laughed. With a name like hers, that question was bound to come up sooner or later. “It’s said just like sunny!” she exclaimed, smiling down at the little one. “I don’t really remember who named me, and I’m sure there are a million proper ways it could be said. But I’ve always loved the sun, so that’s how I say it!”
The Gelert grinned and went running back to his parents. Everyone commented on how the name fit her so precisely. She was like a ray of sunshine in a shop that had sold tasty treats but in a smoky atmosphere. Maybe it was her color, but Cuuny had a connection with the chocolate. She always knew what flavor a customer would like without a word being said. She could flit around the store in no time, locating orders and rare finds.
However, it wasn’t long before Cuuny’s huge level of success made Carlos jealous. He appreciated the increased sales, but the profit didn’t really matter to him. The factory made chocolate whether there were people to buy it or not. Somehow the factory knew how much it should be producing. Having his shop be the best was great, but it was also tiring.
Before, Carlos, had been the one in charge. It wasn’t long before he felt that Cuuny had surpassed him, even though he was still technically her boss. After the first few weeks, she stopped asking him questions. As time went on, she began to make more decisions on her own, as if he wasn’t even there. She undeniably had a flair for business, and Carlos knew she wasn’t intentionally trying to take his place. Still, the fangs of jealousy grew, embedding themselves in Carlos.
He knew there would be no way he could get rid of her without having a public outcry. Decreased business wouldn’t bother him, but he would hate to be seen as the enemy. Try as he might, he could never seem to bring the topic up to Cuuny. He went out of his way to make snide remarks and did his best to drop hints, but this was so much in his normal manner that he felt nothing would change. He began to think he would have to take a drastic action, for he felt he couldn’t continue being stuck in the background.
Before he could act, Cuuny acted for him. One day Carlos walked into the shop, to find that Cuuny was not there. This was strange, for Cuuny was always there. Even when she had a touch of sickness, she had always come to work. He searched everywhere for her smiling face, even though he could feel the place was deserted. At last, he found a letter lying next to the cash register.
Thank you for all that you have done for me! It was great working with you, but I have heard rumors of a fantastic new kind of chocolate in other lands. One of my sisters likes exploring, so I will be traveling with her for a while. I hope you can understand, and I’ll come back to visit some day!
Now slowly The Chocolate Factory has reverted back to it’s previous state. Dust and stray chocolate drops again coat the surfaces. It no longer sparkles as it once did. Across Neopia, rumors began to arise about a traveling Cybunny looking for chocolate. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of her as she traverses from land to land. Some people say Cuuny opened her own chocolate shop that only certain people can find. Others say she comes back to The Chocolate Factory to help out. A few skeptics even claim that she never existed to begin with.
If you believe, be on the lookout. Wherever there is chocolate, a certain sunny Cybunny will not be far behind, likely with a chocolate bar in hand.