Skipping School: Part Two
"WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING OUT OF CLASS, YOUNG LADY?!"
Remember what I said about not meaning "to die for" literally? Well, this is why. The look on Kate’s face was simply murderous.
"I - um, well -" I tried to think fast and keep Triya out of trouble. "I was being chased by some - some bullies, they looked really mad, and I was scared and all alone, so I saw this hole in the fence and went through it, they were Skeiths, they couldn’t fit so I got away, but I kept running I was so scared, and now I’m here and I - got lost," I finished lamely. I was trying to work up the whole self-pity thing.
I think it might have worked. Kate’s face softened a little and she seemed to be opening her mouth to say something consoling, until -
"Hey, Ice, where’d you go? They’ve got this GREAT custard tart - oh," said Triya, catching sight of Kate. "Erm…"
"Skeiths, huh?" Kate thundered, the murderous look right back in place. "Iciefur, you – are – so - GROUNDED!"
I flinched. "But I’m not kidding, we were both being chased and - "
"What? Being chased?"
"Triya, shut your -!"
"Don’t you dare talk like that, young lady!"
"But, Kate - "
"You’re coming home!"
"But - "
"No buts! Triya, I’m informing your owner. Iciefur, come with me, NOW."
There was nothing to be done. I stared into Triya’s face, half apologetically and half angrily - she had messed up my excuse, after all. She met my glare with one equal to it, though I could tell she was dreadfully confused. I used my paws to try and signal her a quick RUN AWAY NOW but I don’t think she got the message, considering Kate slapped my behind in the middle of it and made me turn around. She kept a stony silence all the way back to our Neohome.
Kate pushed me down onto a cushion in the living room then left to go to the kitchen, giving me such a fierce glare that I knew my personal health would be in jeopardy if I tried to leave. I heard her scribbling a note to Triya’s owner, Sally, and winced – it was bad enough that I was in trouble, much less my friend.
She stormed back into the room. I dropped my gaze, unable to look at that furious glare any longer.
"Iciefur," she said, in a relatively calm voice, but it was clear that she had at least fifty veiled threats up her sleeve. "I cannot BELIEVE what you just did. You acted just like Angeilyca."
"Now that’s not fair," I objected angrily. "I wasn’t busting people’s eardrums out and trying to feed the Kadoaties rotten apples - "
"That’s beside the point!" Kate interrupted. "You snuck out of school, Ice! How could you be so irresponsible? I’m ashamed of you. I’m writing a letter to your teacher, apologizing for this, and I bet Sally will be doing the exact same thing. I’m assuming it’s your fault Triya was there at all? You must have goaded her into coming - "
"THAT’S NOT TRUE," I shouted. "Neither of us were the one - "
I stopped short, ashamed of myself. I had been about to rat out Mina for showing us the hole, and I never tattled on my friends. I hung my head in submission.
"Sorry, Kate. Yeah, it was me. I found the way out and convinced Triya to come through it with me."
"I thought so," she said smugly. "Thank you for being truthful, Iciefur - " – here I barely managed not to snort in derision – " - and I accept your apology."
I looked up. Could I really escape punishment by covering up for a friend?
"But that still doesn’t change," Kate said fiercely, noticing my glance, "the fact that you are GROUNDED for two weeks, missy. And I’m writing Mrs. Couper right now. Go to your room. I’ll send Sheiluu up with a meal when they all get home from school. Don’t try to leave."
She left. I pouted hopelessly for a minute or two while I headed up to the pets’ room and curled up sleepily on my cushion. Two weeks! I could always fly out later, but Kate was probably very alert and watchful at the moment. And I was hungry. I’d let myself out after a meal and go over to Triya’s to help her out of her prison too. If we were lucky, we could be out of here and exploring by sundown.
"Hah, now you know what I go through on a more than weekly basis, Icie," Angie taunted.
I glared at her. Angie, Miekeia, and Sheiluu were all sitting up in our room with me, reading books or playing with toys, and I was stuck with nothing to do except mope. Kate took away all my toys as part of my punishment. I only had to wait a couple more hours, though, before Angie, Sheiluu, and Miekeia would go downstairs to start their homework, which would probably be around eleven at night. Then it’d be a cinch to sneak out the window and head to Triya’s.
Angie let out a great yawn. "Gee, too bad you don’t have one of my toys to play with."
"Oh, shut up already, Angie." Miekeia was sympathetic to me. She glared at Angie too, and though the Kougra was painted baby, Angie stopped talking instantly. No one wanted Miekeia angry at them.
I gave my older sister a grateful wink, and she brushed me with her tail. "No problem," she whispered in my ear. "Want me to get them out of here for you?"
"Sure," I replied in an undertone.
"Hey, guys! Last one downstairs is a rotten Negg. I bought some candy on the way home - we better go get it before Kate eats it all!"
Angie immediately leapt up and flew down the stairs, Sheiluu close behind, but he didn’t leave without sticking his tongue out at me tauntingly. If that’s even possible, he looked so silly. I ignored him imperiously.
"Thanks, Miekeia," I told the little Kougra. "I owe you one."
"No problem," she replied, padding calmly out the door herself. "I’m always here to help my little sister. Except when - "
"I’m beating you at something."
Miekeia mimicked Sheiluu and stuck her tongue out too. I stuck mine out right back; it was easy to have fun with Miekeia. She grinned and darted off downstairs. She must have actually bought some candy.
I waited till I couldn’t hear her pawsteps anymore and could only faintly hear the rude burps and crunchings of Angie and Sheiluu. They seem plenty occupied enough to not notice any noise I might make. I crept over to the window, pried it open slowly with my deft paws, and slipped through silently like the beautiful fluttering faerie I am.
It usually is only a half-hour journey to Triya’s place, but it took longer tonight. I was being extra cautious; the memory of being caught was far too fresh. But, other than nearly running into an elderly Eyrie flying home with groceries, the trip went smoothly. Well, and almost being seen by an only slightly younger-looking Grarrl who was walking out of a copse of trees with what looked like a bag from the NC mall. I did wonder why such aged Neopets were shopping this late at night.
I reached Triya’s house safely, though. The windowsill to her room (I always knew which was hers; it was the one with all the books in it and the occasional Twisted Roses poster) was very thin, so I gripped it with my front paws and let myself hang there. My wings were getting tired. I swished my tail up and tapped hard on her window.
Triya’s delighted voice, thankfully kept to an excited whisper, sounded clearly in the night when the brown Gelert’s paws pulled open the window. I scrambled inside without waiting for an invitation.
"Hey," I said. "Come on, I’ve come to jail-break you."
"But, Ice, Sally said - "
"Whatever. Come, on, seriously, we can go anywhere at night! It’s not hard to hide from the Chia Police."
Triya still looked worried. "What - what about - the Shadow Usul? Or…."
She let her voice trail off ominously. I paused, disconcerted, but said airily, "Those are just faerie tales to frighten little Neopets. They don’t really exist, you know."
"Okay… okay, let’s go, but let’s be back before midnight, okay?"
"Deal," I said with a smile. "Come on, this’ll be fun!"
My excitement seemed to be contagious, because Triya started smiling as she leapt out the window and landed softly on the cool grass. I flew out and closed the window softly behind me.
"What shops are open this time at night?" Triya questioned.
"Duh," I said. "Chocolate Factory! It’s open twenty-four seven!"
"But I’ve already been there."
"And it was awesome, wasn’t it? Besides, I haven’t seen it yet, and after Kate caught me there, I’ll never be allowed anywhere near it. I say we head there again."
I lead the way, now on paws, with Triya was close behind. I had reckoned on the fact Triya’s house was close to Neopia Central, because whenever Sally took us home from school in the middle of town to her Neohome, it never seemed to take very long. I thought I could figure out the way. Or, at the very least, I thought Triya could.
This just goes to show I really shouldn’t think so much.
"Oh, no," Triya moaned. "Ice, I’m sorry, I’m really, really sorry, I thought it was this way, honestly, I really did! I would have been willing to bet ten thousand Neopoints Sally and I came this way once, I’m so sorry…."
"It’s okay," I sighed. "I couldn’t have done any better."
For someone like myself, who loves being right, I hated this. Stuck and lost in the woods in the middle of night. I didn’t honestly believe what I’d said to Triya about the Shadow Usul and those other nightmarish Neopian monstrosities.
"We’ll be fine," I said, trying to sound confident. "Let’s just walk in one direction, we’ll be out of the woods eventually, and then we’ll have some idea where we are and can work from there."
Triya nodded glumly and headed off to the right. I followed just a pace behind her, not wanting to be alone. And when she suddenly stopped walking, I crashed straight into her rear.
"Ow, Triya! Whaddya - "
I listened intently. A faint rustling was coming from the bushes in front of us. And, now that I thought about it, it was coming from all around us as well. Whatever it was, it had us surrounded. I was scared.
"Triya," I whispered. "I’ll grab you and try to fly you up to a tree, I don’t think I could carry you any farther than that but it’ll be something. On the count of three?"
Triya nodded, slowly. She was shaking.
"One – two – three - ARGH!"
Three enormous, shadowy shapes leaped from the bushes, straight at us. I jumped into the air, gripping Triya and pumping my wings as hard as I could.
Dear Fyora, I thought to myself. What has Triya been eating lately?! She must have put on a hundred pounds-
No, she hadn’t. When I heard her scream I looked down. That old Grarrl I had seen earlier had grabbed Triya’s leg and was dragging her down, me along with her. The elderly Eyrie was there too, standing beside a much younger Ruki.
"Perfect," the Ruki hissed. "Get them in the bag, Fryar."
"No!" I screamed and writhed in protest, but the Grarrl’s powerful claws dragged me out of the air, and he threw Triya and me unceremoniously into the NC Mall bag.
What a horribly rude way to end a rebellious escape plan. Getting captured by pet-nabbers, nearly knocked out, and stuck in a filthy bag that made us look like items from the NC Mall wasn’t flattering at all. Come on, couldn’t it at least be something stylish like Uni’s Clothing?
Just kidding. Though these thoughts were indeed hovering in the back of my mind, they were the least of my worries. I felt a sharp blow to my head, and then everything went dark. Darker, I should say. It was already almost black in the NC Mall bag. It really was dirty in there.
To be continued…