Oops! I thought this was going to be the final installment for this story, but my imagination changed the plan on me. This story will end. I’m not writing an entire novel draft based on Continent 15’s underground trolley system.
Last post on this story was about a couple weeks ago. So here’s a memory refresher, in case you lost track of what the hell is going on. In PART 3 of The Trolley Tracks Are Alive, you learned about the gemstone artists, the trollies that are made mostly of mushroom, the gloppety gross algae tracks, what a destination panel is, and how it’s possible to make a speeding trolley stop without stepping on the breaks. Artheena shared a sentimental childhood memory, and you rode the rest of the way with everyone singing extra terrestrial gospel music.
Now it’s time to party!
We’re finally going to Audry’s mom’s cousin Jill’s 167th birthnight celebration where they’ll play party games that are out of this world. (Corny pun fully intended.) You’ll also see that, maybe Artheena and Mell May’s sisterly relationship isn’t exactly as sweet as birthnight pastries and cookies.
The crystal street cousin Jill lived on always had the same distinctive smell. Her neighbor across the street, an eccentric, elderly grungol woman in her 230’s, didn’t grow food or medicine in the vertical wall gardens outside of her cave home, but she sure was obsessed with draydles. The frilly, yellow cone shaped flowers were all she grew. Their fragrance, like a cross between oranges and ripe palm fruit, overpowered the variety of aromas from other neighbors’ wall gardens and permeated the whole street. Artheena, Mell May, and Audry smiled at the smell of that old lady’s draydles as it reminded them of past visits to cousin Jill’s.
Jill was a widow. Her husband had drowned in an underground river. His contribution was collecting rocks from underground bodies of fresh water and studying the micro organisms that grew on them for scientific and medicinal purposes. One night, he carelessly let himself get distracted while chit chatting with a colleague, and wasn’t looking where he was stepping. One misstep made him lose his footing and fall off the slimy, algae infested rocky river bank, making him fall in the river and get caught in an under current. This happened a little over a hundred years ago, but Jill never remarried, because she never felt lonely. She lived with her grown son, Mackruff, his wife, whose name was also Audry, her two grown grandkids, Saber and Mart and their spouses, and five great grandkids. It was always a full and happy house. Jill and the rest of her family loved to throw crazy parties, and like the South Section 5,898 family, they often had unplanned neighborly get-togethers.
Mell May, Artheena, and the thirty-eight grungols that accompanied them were each greeted with joyous hello shouts as they stepped through the curtain of orange flowered vines that made the cave home’s front door. “HAPPY BIRTHNIGHT!” the new guests all shouted. Once inside, they were ambushed with furry, four-armed hugs and balls of paper confetti beads being thrown in their faces and dropped over their heads.
Mell May roared with laughter at this whole spectacle, laughing like an insane person until she started choking on a confetti bead that flew into her wide opened mouth.
“Are you going to be okay?” asked Makruff. “Do you need the Maloosa Vassincoff?”
“No,” she could barely choke out. “Please, please, no, not that stuff.” She shuddered. In a world where the Heimlich maneuver hasn’t been discovered yet. The most common way to dislodge something that went down the wrong pipe is to have finely powdered Maloosa Vassincoff bark sprayed into the nose and mouth. Its intense pungentness induces violent coughing fits to force the blockage out.
“Oh, dear,” said his wife, the other Audry. “Should we get her some water too?”
Mell May made a weird noise that sounded like a cross between a burp and a cough. “I’m okay,” she said, sounding normal again. “It’s out. I just swallowed it. But I would like some water. My mouth kind of tastes like throw up now.”
Artheena wrinkled her nose, wishing that her sister didn’t have to be so blunt.
“Let’s go get you that water.” said the other Audry, taking Mell May by the arm and leading her through the crowd.
“Artheena!” Jill exclaimed, making her way towards her. “What a nice surprise that you and Mell May came. And hello, Audry.” She turned toward Audry’s parents. “Budgy, Lulu Bell, nice to see you. It’s nice to see all of you. Where’s your sister, Artheena?”
“Makruff and Audry took her to the kitchen to get her some water,” said Artheena. “I’m sorry, but me and her didn’t get you any birthnight gifts. We came here on impulse.”
“Your presence here is enough of a gift,” said Jill, putting an upper hand on Artheena’s shoulder. “I hope you girls have a great time. We’re going to have some crazy games going on, later on, and there’s plenty to eat. But it might not be a good idea to stay the whole party. Don’t you and Mell May have school tomorrow?”
“Yeah,” said Artheena. “But we’ll be fine. We stay out late on school nights all the time.”
“Well, what your parents don’t know won’t hurt them.” said Jill. Artheena and Audry laughed, along with those around them who heard their conversation. Jill was just cool like that. “All right, I’m going to look for Mell May and say, hi. Enjoy yourselves.”
Artheena and Audry—the teenaged Audry—proceeded to mingle with the other guests. The crowd was massive, as expected. Audry’s family was probably the biggest grungol family in the land. She had relatives living in every under-village in Group 4, and it seemed like a majority of them were at this party. There were aunts and uncles and great aunts and uncles, first, second, third, forth, and fifth cousins, and each relative brought over some of their own friends and neighbors. And more people were expected to come. Artheena and Audry didn’t worry about losing track of Mell May, or Mell May losing track of them. Being the only vervetts at the party, neither sister would have any trouble finding the other.
Jill’s cave home was designed for immense party crowds, with bigger, more spacious rooms, and less hallways. This party took up three rooms, so far. Some people hung out in the sitting room, which was the first room everyone entered. Some hung out in, what Jill called, the fun room. The fun room looked like an even bigger sitting room, except there were shelving units all along the walls. Each were stocked with different types of card games, board games, jigsaw puzzles, and indoor sports equipment. The fun room was also where the guests put all the birthnight girl’s gifts. Dozens of festively colorful boxes and bags adorned with ribbons and sprigs of sweet smelling herbs were piled up so high, they looked like sky scrapers at the back of the room. An archeological study room was available for the guests to hang out in too.
Jill’s grown granddaughter, Saber, and her husband were archeologists who traveled the world, collecting and studying the remains of extinct ancient creatures. And they were the only ones who couldn’t be at the party, because they were off on an expedition on Continent 24 and were not expected to come home for another season. Their study room was a little on the morbid looking side for a place for socializing. Next to a bookshelf full of reference books and copies of research reports, there were shelves upon shelves of fossilized animal skulls and bones, and wax models of the heads of demonic looking ancient carnivores. However, the grungol guests didn’t see it as anything morbid. It was just another nice, clean and tidy, big room that was conveniently next to the fun room. It had comfy couches and chairs for when Saber and her husband threw parties in there to celebrate a new archeological discovery, and all the wax heads and ancient animal remains made for good conversation pieces.
Garlands of pink, yellow, and orange flowers were strung along the walls of the three rooms and around all the furniture within them. Jill and her family had borrowed spare light stone lamps from their neighbors, and set them on every table and side table. The rooms’ light fixtures had been taken down from their hooks. Different colors and sizes of large, frilly tissue paper cones hung in their place, which made the set-up for a popular grungol party game called Conjo Mog.
Foldable mushroom wood tables full of party treats were set out in the three rooms too. There were bowls of home-grown berries and other delectable fruits that grow underground, dried roasted seeds and nuts, and curly, colorful flower petals that had been fried until crispy, like Earth’s potato chips, but their taste was more like fruity candy. There were platters of grungol-style cookies and pastries too—made with only plant based ingredients. And every table had a tall stack of disposable skitzo paper cups and several large clay pitchers of jassup fruit juice, which was the birthnight girl’s favorite drink. The juice was pitch black and syrupy sweet with a taste kind of like Earth’s current jelly.
Audry and Artheena caught up with Mell May in the archeological study room. She and Audry’s friend-and-possible-crush, Brotell, were hanging out by a full bodied wax model of an ancient carnivore that was actually beautiful.
“Brotell,” Audry exclaimed. “There you are!” Her two vervett friends exchanged giggly nods over how she looked a little too happy to see him.
“Hey, you,” Brotell smiled at Audry. “I was wondering when you were ever going to bother to give me the time of night.” he teased.
“Sorry,” said Audry, with a slight giggle. “I had about one million relatives I wanted to say hi to, and I too would’ve given you the time of night. You could’ve hung out with us at the trolley stop, or sat across from us on the trolley, you know, instead of all the way in the back.”
“I didn’t want to interrupt your time with your sparkly shelled friends,” he said. “And if I sat across from you on the trolley, I would’ve had to sit on my great grandma’s lap.”
“Awe, that would’ve been so cute,” Artheena teased. “Cool statue.” She turned toward the wax creature that had the wings and tail of a lizard, the tree climbing claws of a horse, and a head and body that resembled a slender, long legged panther. “What is it?”
“It’s the ancient kar… uh… thing.” said Mell May.
“The ancient varkrong,” Brotell corrected. “It’s said to have prowled the forests of Continent 29, three-hundred-million years ago.” He had some archeological knowledge due to his avid fascination with the natural world, reading books on everything nature, and going to the surface to hike the forests to look for new things to discover.
“I thought Continent 29 was a desert land.” said Mell May.
“It is,” he said. “It used to be full of lush forests, three-hundred-million years ago, but Jumellica and Jyoseppy changed their minds for whatever weird reason and decided to turn that land into a desert.”
Artheena made a mental note to go to a West Section book store and look for books about what the world was like before Jumellica granted vervetts and grungols the blessing of being smart enough to create things like civilization and technology. Very little was taught about this subject in children’s schools, because not enough discoveries had been made and not enough theories had been proven to be facts for the Guardians to make it a regular part of the school curriculum. There wasn’t even an archeologists’ training school in her village. “It’s weird how our creators would change a whole land around to be the opposite way,” she said, looking at the varkrong again. “Or why did they stop creating certain animals and replace them with new ones? It’s like they go through phases, like kids do.”
“Maybe Jumellica and Jyoseppy are still kids,” said Brotell. “I heard that they’re almost a billion years old, but maybe that’s like, eight years old in great entity time.”
“Maybe in another three-hundred-million years, they’ll turn our tropical continent into a frozen arctic land.” said Audry.
“That would be great,” said Mell May. “It would get rid of all the skullvicks.” There was nothing she feared like Continent 15’s most notorious predator in the animal kingdom, who can sharp-shoot their lethal venom from their blood red, glowing eyes.
“ATTENTION EVERYBODY!” said Jill’s amplified voice through a megaphone-like voice enhancer, as she entered the study room and startled the four teenagers from their deep conversation. “ATTENTION EVERYBODY! IT’S GAME TIME!” The crowd fell silent. “WE HAVE SUCH AN AMAZING NUMBER OF PEOPLE HERE THAT ALL OF US CAN’T PLAY THE SAME GAMES ALL AT ONCE. WE’RE GOING TO HAVE TO GATHER INTO LESS NUMEROUS CROWDS. ONE CROWD WILL GATHER IN THE SITTING ROOM WHERE THE CONJO MOG COURSE STARTS. ANOTHER WILL GATHER IN THE FUN ROOM TO PLAY MOLDY COUCH, AND THE REST OF YOU WILL JUST HAVE TO BE THE AUDIENCE.” Some people in the crowd made exaggerated huffing and moaning noises of pretend disappointment.
“Moldy couch?” Mell May laughed. “What the heck kind of game is that?”
“WE’LL SWITCH AROUND AND TAKE TURNS.” Jill continued. “GATHER UP NOW. THE GAMES WILL START IN JUST A FEW MOMENTS. FORTY PLAYERS AT ONCE FOR CONJO MOG, AND EIGHT PLAYERS AT ONCE FOR MOLDY COUCH… BUT WE DO HAVE MORE THAN ONE COUCH TO GET OUR MOLD ON.” The crowd cheered. A split moment later, they heard Jill making those same announcements in the fun room.
“What is this moldy couch game?” Mell May asked again.
“It’s a new thing that’s been invented only maybe two or three seasons ago,” said Brotell. “You’ll love it. It’s hilarious.”
“Okay, so what does everybody want to do first?” said Artheena.
“I want to play Conjo Mog,” said Audry. “I love that game. The last time I played it was at Dad’s grandpa’s birthnight party, almost a year ago.”
“And I love watching it,” said Artheena. “I wish there was such a thing as ceiling gripping foot pads that vervetts could ware on the bottoms of their feet, so they could play too.”
“I want nothing to do with that game,” said Brotell, as they started towards the sitting room. “All that running around in circles upside-down, bleck. My stomach can’t take it.” He turned toward Audry. “But I’ll have fun watching you do it. And if you fall from the ceiling, I can catch you.” By the look on Audry’s face, Artheena and Mell May imagined she was probably blushing beneath her silver-gray fur.
With hair on the palms of all four of their hands and on the soles of both feet that acts like thousands of tiny, powerfully gripping fingers, grungols can easily climb walls and crawl along ceilings as effortlessly as an insect. However, running on a ceiling is more of a challenge. When moving about the ceiling using two limbs instead of all six, gravity, of course, has a stronger pull on the grungol’s weight, making their upside-down running look more like awkward stomping and staggering. How funny this looks is part of the game’s amusement. They can’t run with super-cheetah speed either, like they can when running right-side-up, which adds to the challenge.
Forty upside-down grungols race one another through an obstacle course of sixty-six upside-down paper cones. They have to run around each cone two to seven times, clockwise or counter clockwise, depending on the color and size of the cone. Several referee-type obstacle course monitors hang from the ceiling on the sidelines, but right-side-up by their upper hands, and watch the upside-down racers’ every move. They call out any mistakes that a player makes that puts them out of the game. If they run around a cone in the wrong direction or the wrong number of times, they’re out. If they touch a cone or any passing players, they’re out. And if they look down below them instead of keeping focussed on looking strait ahead, they’re out, even if it’s a quick glance. When a player is called out of the game, they have to drop down from the ceiling and shout, “Conjo Mog!”
It’s common for players to put themselves out of the game. Spending an unnaturally long time upside-down while running around in dizzying circles can sometimes get sickening.
The winner has to sing the name of the game as loudly and with as long of a note as they could hold, before dropping down from the ceiling. Once down, they get ambushed by confetti bead balls. If there’s a tie, the remaining racers have to keep running around and around the last cone until one or the other gives up and drops down first.
Brotell and the two vervetts excitedly stood among the crowd in the sitting room and watched Audry and her thirty-nine other competitors climb up a wall and take their places on the ceiling, hanging upside-down behind the starting cone.
“Welcome everybody!” shouted Jill’s grown grandson, Mart, who had a naturally booming voice, like Earth’s boxing ring announcers, and didn’t need a voice enhancer. “It’s time… for our first round of Conjo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o Mog!” The crowd cheered, even the players hanging on the ceiling. “Racers, get ready-y-y-y-y!… On the count of three!… One!… Two!… Three! GO!”
The forty racing grungols scattered like frightened roaches to avoid touching one another, before they went tromping through the obstacle course, their feet noisily smacking against the ceiling. Their lopped ears swung and twirled about as they staggered like Earth’s drunks. The sight of it made Artheena laugh every time. She, Mell May, Brotell, and the other on-lookers followed the race, pushing and shoving one another as they whooped and cheered racing friends and family members on. Obstacle course monitors whistled and barked out each player’s name and their mishap and ordered them out of the game. Whenever a player shouted, “Conjo Mog!”, everybody below held their hands up to catch them.
The two vervetts got distracted from the game for a brief moment when they ran with the crowd through the fun room and got a glimpse of the Moldy Couch game going on. At first glimpse, it looked like groups of grungols chanting, “Moldy couch!” around clouds of whirling colors.
Audry made it to the thirty-seventh cone before she was ordered out of the game for accidentally brushing against another player as she tried to run ahead of him. “Conjo Mog!” she shouted with a big silver smile as she dropped down from the ceiling. To Brotell’s disappointment, she was too far off over the crowd for him to catch her. A couple of elderly grungols caught her instead. Then she pushed and shoved through the crowd until she found her three friends.
“Great job!” said Mell May.
“You did awesome!” said Artheena, giving Audry a hug.
“Amazing,” said Brotell. “I could never make it to the thirty-seventh cone. The last time I tried to play, I nearly lost my birthnight cake at cone number four.”
The race wasn’t over yet. After Audry was out, there were four players left. The cheering on-lookers followed them through the archeology study room, and then back to the sitting room where the end of the course was on the opposite side of the ceiling as the starting point. One player accidentally skipped a cone while making a sharp turn and was out. Two players got so excited when they made it to the sixty-forth cone, they accidentally slammed into each other when circling it. So they were out. The last player remaining was behind them, still circling the sixtieth cone, but he was the winner. “Conjo Mog! Conjo Mog!…” he sang, in a funny, twangy, yodeling voice that made everybody laugh, as he finished running through the rest of the course. The crowd exploded into deafening cheers when he made his final circle around the last cone, and then gave everyone an upside-down bow before dropping from the ceiling. Mart had an enormous box of confetti bead balls ready for ambush. Those standing nearest to the winner grabbed as many of the balls as they could and smashed them in his face. The crowd didn’t stop cheering and applauding until the last confetti bead ball was smashed. When it was over, the winner looked hilariously ridiculous with little brightly colored paper beads stuck to his fur.
“Congratulations! Under-Village 7 Omarrial of #67 South Section 2,999!” boomed Mart. “How does it feel to be the first winner of this game tonight?!” The crowd fell silent to hear the winner’s answer.
“Do we have any sandwiches?!” Omarrial shouted. Everyone laughed.
“Artheena, Mell May,” said Jill, who suddenly appeared beside them, her clunky metal voice enhancer in hand. “Would you girls like to play Conjo Mog? I wouldn’t want you to feel left out.”
“You mean you have ceiling gripping foot pads we could ware?” said Mell May. Jill gave her a puzzled look.
“Of course she doesn’t,” Artheena laughed. “I made that up.” She couldn’t believe the bubble-headed things that came out of her sister’s mouth sometimes.
“We don’t need any ceiling gripping foot pads,” said Jill. “You girls could simply ride on a couple players’ backs. I know it’s not really racing, but you’ll get to see what it’s like to be in a race upside-down on the ceiling. I think it’ll be fun.”
“Whoever we’re riding won’t have any chance of winning, lugging our weight around.” said Artheena.
“Oh, Artheena, nobody really cares about winning,” said Jill. “It’s just a party game. I’ll tell you what. We’ll just have the two grungols that would carry you girls in this next race. How about that?”
“Sounds like fun.” said Mell May, enthusiastically.
“MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION, EVERYBODY!” Jill announced into her voice enhancer, making the chattering crowd fall silent. “ FOR OUR NEXT ROUND OF CONJO MOG, IT’S GOING TO BE A VERVETT AND GRUNGOL RACE! BUT SINCE WE ONLY HAVE TWO VERVETTS AT THIS PARTY, ONLY TWO GRUNGOLS WILL BE RACING! NOW I NEED TWO BIG, STRONG GRUNGOLS WHO THINK THEY CAN RACE WITH THESE BEAUTIFUL GIRLS ON THEIR BACKS! HOW ABOUT YOU, FEZZLE AND DANZO!” A split moment later, two grungol men with wide torsos and thicker-than-average limbs came towards them. “ARE YOU READY, GIRLS?!” Jill whooped and clapped, getting everyone else in the room whooping and clapping.
“WE’RE READY!” the vervetts shouted in unison.
“It’s time!…” boomed Mart. “For our first vervett and grungol round of Conjo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o Mog! Ladies, get on your grungol friends’ backs!” The crowd cheered and applauded louder as Artheena hopped onto Fezzle’s back and Mell May got on Danzo. They both got into burrowing position, out of habit, but then realized they could relax and ride in the more comfortable piggy back style. All eyes were on them as the grungols carried them up the wall. Mell May began screaming as the men reached the top of the wall and carefully climbed over the flower garland and onto the ceiling. The two vervetts had ridden on grungols’ backs many times, traveling to and from the under-village, but these rides were always right-side-up. They’d never ridden a grungols back on the ceiling or while hanging upside-down, high above a crowd. Both girls were screaming when the men released their hands from the ceiling and dangled by the grip of their two feet.
“You can do it!” Jill shouted through the crowd noise.
The vervetts wrapped their legs as tight as they could around the grungols’ wide, flat waists and hung on for dear life. Artheena looked down at all the smiling grungol faces cheering them on and shouting words of encouragement, and she felt a little less scared. Mell May, on the other hand, kept her eyes clenched shut.
“Are you ready-y-y-y-y-y!…” shouted Mart. “One!… Two!… Three! GO!”
Danzo and Fezzle ran the upside-down race as though the adult-sized vervetts clinging to their backs were as light as air. They didn’t even stagger, like the other players did in the first race. Instead, they circled around the cones with grace and precision as though they were doing a choreographed dance.
Artheena quickly grew to enjoy this race ride, and her screams of fear became whoops of delight. Meanwhile, Mell May still wouldn’t open her eyes, and she screamed as though a skullvick came into the room.
In her state of panic, Mell May dropped down from the ceiling without shouting Conjo Mog. Nobody reached up to catch her until it was too late. She crashed onto a snack table, sending dishes of food flying in all directions and spilling to the floor. Artheena wanted to yell at her sister for being so careless, but the grungols were laughing about this disaster, even the Conjo Mog players. They stopped running at the sixth cone. The race was over.
“Are you okay?!” Danzo called down to Mell May.
“I’m sorry.” said Mell May, with a shaky giggle. She got up and climbed off the table, but then her foot landed in a pile of spilled berries. “Uh, oh, oops.” Someone handed Mell May a wad of cave moss paper napkins to wipe off her foot, and the grungols nearest to the snack table began cleaning up the mess.
“Fezzle and Artheena are the winners!” announced Mart.
“CONJO MOG!” the grungol and vervett sang in unison, although Artheena was laughing too. From her view on the ceiling, she saw that stupid Mell May’s foot was stained blue.
“WAY TO GO, ARTHEENA!” Jill shouted into her voice enhancer. “ARTHEENA! ARTHEENA!” she began chanting, as the two grungols and one vervett dropped down from the ceiling. The whole room was chanting her name as Fezzle held her up on his shoulders and danced around, and confetti bead balls went crashing over her head. Through the pouring rain of confetti beads, she gave the crowd a winning smile. She felt like a star, basking in this ridiculous amount of glory over winning a game without even doing anything. Things like this were typical. People thought she was awesome no matter what she did. Fezzle danced further through the crowd, and Artheena got a glimpse of her sister. Mell May didn’t look too happy.
As the party-goers in the sitting room got ready for the next Conjo Mog game, Audry, Brotell, Mell May, and Artheena headed for the fun room to play Moldy Couch. Some of the couches and chairs had been stacked up to clear a large enough space for four small fake couches plus the crowds of on-lookers that were to stand around them and watch the game. These couches were made of little magnetic disks. There were eight players per couch. Each of the eight players was given a large basket with straps that buckled around the waist, and each basket was full of a different color of fuzzy blobs that had a magnetic disk at one end. These blobs were the pretend mold.
The object of the game was for the eight players to dance in a circle around the couch, while throwing the magnetic mold onto it as quickly as they could within the time it takes the crowd around them to chant, “Moldy Couch” five times. The player with the most fuzz blobs stuck to the couch wins.
Mell May chose the fluorescent orange fuzz blobs, Artheena got the lavender ones, Audry got yellowish gray, and Brotell got an ugly green that made his fuzz blobs look like real mold. The other four players had mauve, brown, black, and mustard yellow.
“All right, couch wreckers,” said the young grungol woman who had handed out the baskets and helped the vervetts adjust and buckle the straps to fit around their more narrowed waists. “Get in a circle. Are we ready?” The eight players nodded as the people who crowded around their couch applauded. “After I say, moldy couch, it’s time to throw. Mol… dy… COUCH!”
The magnet disk couch instantly disappeared beneath hundreds of flying fuzz balls that formed a cloud of blurred colors. The grungol players’ arms moved with such superb speed compared to their much slower dancing feet, the vervetts couldn’t see them. Artheena and Mell May were at a disadvantage. Not only was vervett strength and speed naturally inferior to that of grungols, they had two arms instead of four, which made them unable to grab as many blobs out of their baskets per throw.
“STOP!” shouted the young woman. The crowd around them cheered and applauded. The two vervetts burst out laughing at what an ugly sight the couch was. It was covered in terrible color combinations of fuzz blobs, making the couch appear to have some kind of nasty disease instead of a mold infestation. The young woman then counted each color of fuzz blobs that made it onto the couch, as she picked them off and put them back in the players’ baskets. Quite a lot of the blobs had ended up on the floor. Most of them were the lavender ones. Artheena really stunk at this game, coming in last. Mell May, who had remarkably above-average arm coordination, came in third.
“You must have a lot of experience at this game.” the young woman said to Mell May, looking amazed. The other players and the crowd around them exchanged their agreements on how good Mell May played.
“No, this is my first time.” she replied.
“Well, grace of Jumellica, you have a gifted pair of arms,” said the young woman. Mell May gave her an appreciative smile.
The winner was the player with the mauve fuzz blobs. Instead of getting ambushed with confetti bead balls, the winner was simply put in charge of the next game. As all the players helped pick up the remaining fuzz blobs from the floor and gave the refilled baskets to the new grungol in charge, Artheena thought she saw Mell May flash her a smug look.
Audry and Brotell wanted to play another round of Moldy couch, but their vervett friends decided they needed to take a break. They had been on their feet through their entire time at the party, walking around and mingling, running around and cheering with the crowd during the first Conjo Mog race, and then participating in the games themselves. Now they just wanted to find a place to sit for a few moments. So they parted ways with their grungol friends. They found an unoccupied comfy couch to sit in in a far corner of the archeology study room, sighing with relief as they relaxed into it. The next thing they knew, Audry’s parents, Budgy and Lulu Bell, were shaking them awake.
“Artheena, Mell May,” said Lulu Bell. “It’s two-thirds past the night. I think you should get home and get to bed.”
“Mom?…” said Mell May, disoriented. She opened her eyes and looked around. “Curse of Jyoseppy,” she yawned. “We’re still in Under-Village 8.”
“But you need to get going, so you could be back in Village 3.” said Budgy.
“We want to see Jill open her presents.” said Artheena, stretching and yawning.
“Jill isn’t opening her presents until the end of the night,” said Lulu Bell. “Maybe not even until sunrise. A time when you girls would be getting ready for school.”
“And besides, she’s got about five-hundred gifts to open,” said Budgy. “I think you girls would get bored out of your minds sitting through her opening all of them.”
Both vervetts stretched and yawned. The archeology room was quiet with only a small crowd of grungols calmly chit chatting. Nobody was playing Conjo Mog or Moldy couch anymore, but a dance game was going on in the sitting room. They could hear people rhythmically clapping to someone playing a flute-like instrument. Jill’s amplified voice was giving instructions, “UPPER HANDS ON YOUR HEAD. LOWER HANDS ON YOUR HIPS. SHAKE YOUR HEAD. SHAKE YOUR HIPS. SHAKE YOUR HIPS. SHAKE YOUR HANDS ON YOUR HEAD. SHAKE YOUR HEAD AND YOUR HIPS…” It was a game where players had to follow dance instructions at a faster and faster pace.
The sounds of the party still lively and kicking helped Artheena into alert wakefulness, but they made Mell May feel even more exhausted. “Can’t we just wait until morning to catch a trolley to Under-Village 3?” she wined, yawning again.
“Nope, that would not be wise, and you know it,” said Budgy, loudly clapping his hands by Mell May’s ear. “You need to head out now. Come on, Mell May flower, snap out of it. Artheena is already as awake as the sun.”
Artheena stood up and stretched again.
“We’ll ride with you girls and take you up to the surface.” said Lulu Bell.
“Don’t leave the party for us,” said Artheena. “We’ll be fine going home on our own.”
“We’ll come back to the party after dropping you off,” said Lulu Bell. “The trollies aren’t as busy this time of the night, so we won’t miss out on much.”
“Besides, you’ll need some extra help traveling back home with this girl,” Budgy pointed at Mell May, who had nodded off again. “Get up! Up! Up! Up!” He clapped in her ear with two hands and shook her with the other two. Mell May let out a miserable groan as she shoved Budgy away and forced herself to stand up. She leaned on him for support while the four of them walked through the three rooms, announcing their good-byes and receiving more furry, four-armed hugs. Audry was notified that her parents were taking her vervett friends home and would be back in a little while. Mell May and Artheena called out to Jill through the noise of the dancing game, wishing her a happy birthnight. “GOOD NIGHT!” she called back to them through her voice enhancer.
“GOOD NIGHT!” echoed the crowd of dancers, all smiling and waving at the departing vervetts.
What an incredible night it had been, despite Mell May having a couple little mishaps. She and Artheena left the party with smiles on their faces and hearts full of happiness as they stepped out into the draydle scented street and started for the North Section trolley stop.
Woooooow, that was long, but thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed partying on a different planet. Until next time…
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