Note: This is a story I wrote for the Neopian Times several years ago. I've tweaked it here and there and corrected a few things (mostly the way certain words were corrupted when the story first appeared in the NT). So many new people have joined NeoPets since this first appeared that I figured why not run it again before a fresh audience?

Disclaimer: Of course I don't own NeoPets. If I did, do you think I'd be writing silly fan fiction about them and not getting paid for it? ;-)

And now - on with the show!

Part One: A Snack Bites Back

Something Had Happened!

It was Hollowbelly's favorite random event: he had found a food item! A lovely Chocopie Slice lay on the ground, his for the taking. The Green Lupe capered a bit out of sheer delight before settling down to devour his find on the spot. He opened his mouth to gulp the pie whole, and -

- the pie bit HIM instead! Yes, it really did, it split itself to reveal two rows of nasty-looking teeth, and lunged to sink them into Hollowbelly's tender nose. With a howl of shock and pain, the Lupe whipped his head back and forth to dislodge his attacker. The pie let go and was flung several feet. However, instead of splattering, it landed intact and Hollowbelly could see a pair of angry eyes in the creamy topping, glaring balefully at him.

"For goodness' sake, what kind of a pie are you?" the Lupe yelped, unable to believe his own eyes. Were it not for the pain in his nose, he would have thought that he was dreaming.

"A very mad pie," the thing answered in a gooey voice. "Try to eat me, will you? You just wait!" And with that, the pie started to bounce back towards him, vicious teeth snapping.

Hollowbelly did not wait for it. With a loud "Ki-yi-yipe!" of terror, he did a one-eighty and bolted. He ran for a full five minutes, not daring to look back to see if that cherry-topped horror was chasing him. When at last he could run no further, he glanced fearfully over his shoulder. There was no pie to be seen. Panting and trembling with relief, he headed for home.

Upon reaching the NeoHome that he shared with his brother (Jonah, a Striped Flotsam) and sisters (BlossomAnn, a Yellow Aisha and Miss_Claus, a Christmas Bruce), Hollowbelly found his siblings huddled together on the lawn. So anxious was he to tell them his incredible story that he did not notice how upset they looked, or that the front door was standing open.

"You guys are not gonna believe what happened to me on the way home -" he began.

"Shhhh!" hissed BlossomAnn. "They'll hear you! Keep your voice down!"

The Lupe raised a questioning ear. "Whaa-? Say, what's going on? Who are 'they?'"

"Our foodstuffs," whispered the Flotsam. "They've come to life. It happened just a little while ago. They all jumped out of the pantry and drove us out of our house!"

"They're mean," whimpered Miss_Claus, who was the youngest. "And scary, too."

At that moment, a Cheeseburger and a carton of Kau Kau Farm Milk appeared in the NeoHome doorway. "You want to keep it down, out there?" the burger snarled at the cowering pets. "The rest of us are trying to take a nap in here, and we don't like to be disturbed!" With that, they went back inside, slamming the door rudely behind them.

"BUT THIS IS OUR NEOHOME!" BlossomAnn yowled at the top of her lungs. Hoots and jeers from within were her only answers.

For a long moment, nobody said a word. Then Jonah glanced at Hollowbelly and inquired, "So, what were you about to say happened to you on your way home, big brother?"

"Never mind," muttered the Lupe. "Let's get out of here."

"Where will we go?"

Hollowbelly thought a moment, then answered, "Let's go visit our cousins. Maybe Pearlbeak can help us out. I'll bet she could beat up all those sassy foodstuffs single-pawedly."

On their way to their cousins' home, the four NeoPets saw many strange and unnerving sights. A Cinnamon Swirl rolled across their path, stopping only to hurl insults at them before rolling on. A group of variously-colored Neggs had gathered in a park clearing, having some sort of meeting. At one point Hollowbelly thought he saw the same Chocopie Slice that had bitten him earlier, teamed up with a piece of Chocolate Cake and a Chocolate Waffle Cone. He shivered and took the long way around to avoid being seen by them.

Even more disturbing was the fact that they did not encounter any other NeoPets, despite the fact that they lived in one of the more populated suburbs of Central Neopia.

When they finally reached their cousins' house, it was almost dark. The usually cheery NeoHome had all the shades drawn and the door shut tight. "The joke's on us if they've been driven out of their home as well," Jonah said gloomily as they approached the door.

Ignoring him, Hollowbelly rang the doorbell. When nothing happened after half a minute, the Lupe began to scratch and knock urgently. "Somebody please answer the door!" he begged.

A soft bumping sound was heard from within, like something was being piled up against the door. "Go away, you awful things, or I'll thrash the lot of you!" squawked a voice that sounded both angry and frightened at the same time. "Leave us in peace, or I'll leave you in pieces!"

"PEARLBEAK!" yapped the Lupe. "OPEN THE DOOR! IT'S US, YOUR COUSINS!"

This was followed by a silence that lasted two seconds, then a dragging sound, as though whatever had been piled up against the door was now being hastily pulled away. At last the door opened, just a crack at first, then flung wide to reveal a female Silver Eyrie. "Hollowbelly! BlossomAnn! Get inside, cousins-" she gestured frantically, "-get inside quickly!"

Seconds later they were all within the house and helping to pile furniture back against the door. Nobody had to ask the reason for the barricade. Once it was secure, Pearlbeak turned to her cousins and hugged them one after the other. "Thank goodness you're safe!" she cried. "But what made you come here when it's so dangerous to be traveling right now? You should have barricaded yourselves in your own homes."

"We-we don't have a home right now," Hollowbelly said in a low voice while BlossomAnn tried to comfort Miss_Claus (who was crying). The Green Lupe went on to explain how they had been driven from their NeoHome by the living Food Items.

"Oh, you poor kids," the Eyrie sympathized. "Luckily, we only had a few provisions in our house when they suddenly came to life. A few zaps with my Attack Fork sent them packing out the front door, but they swore they'd return with reinforcements. That's why I thought they had come back when I heard you at the door."

Hollowbelly started to say something else, but at that moment a Fire Wocky bounded into the room. "Hey, cousins! Glad you weren't eaten up trying to get here," he said brightly. "C'mon into the TV room. They're covering the living food thing on the Channel One News right now."

They all followed the Wocky (whose name was 7_flames) down a corridor and into a lavender, squishy-floored room containing a green sofa, a Purple Kougra and a television set. The TV screen showed a worried-looking Gelert newscaster behind a desk. Next to her head was a computer-generated logo that read "NEOPIAN FOOD CRISIS."

"...in Central Neopia, the main Food Shop, the Coffee Shop, The Health Food Shop, the Smoothie Shop, Hubert's Hot Dogs, Pizzaroo and the Bakery have all shut down for the duration of this terrible crisis. In a recent interview, Hubert Mynci was quoted as saying, 'I was very nearly eaten alive by my own merchandise...'"

Hollowbelly cleared his throat nervously. "Guess this means we can't send out for pizza, huh guys?" He felt embarrassed when nobody laughed.

"...the Lost Desert Food Stall tent was completely destroyed. Meanwhile, reports from Terror Mountain indicate that the Slushie Shop and the Happy Ice Fun Snow Shop have both been put on ice until further notice. Likewise, the Tyrannian Food Shop..."

The Green Lupe's stomach rumbled loudly. Hearing about all that food didn't help.

"...Merifoods, Grundo's Diner, the Mystery Island Food Shop, the Golden Dubloon and the Faerie Food Shop have all ceased operations. However, there is one ray of hope in this midst of this dark catastrophe. We take you now, live, to the Soup Kitchen..."

The image on the screen changed to show a very weary-looking Soup Faerie ladling broth into a bowl held by a famished-looking Red Zafara. Behind her stretched a line of hungry NeoPets that seemed to go on for miles and miles.

"Well, at least the Soup Kitchen is still functioning, thank goodness," commented Pearlbeak.

"Yeah, but look at that line," 7_flames countered. "Why, I'll bet if you were very bloated when you entered the back of that line, you'd be dying by the time you reached the front!"

"This is REALLY going to mess up the Gourmet Club, big time," muttered BlossomAnn, who was a high-ranking member of said club. "I had a piece of Faerie Sparklecake at home that I was planning to have for my next meal, but it told me to go stuff it, the rude thing!"

"Poor Soup Faerie," Miss_Claus put in. "Somebody really ought to help her."

"I think somebody already is. Look," said Jonah, pointing to the screen, which now showed several other Faeries of various different alignments pitching in to help pass out bowls and portion out the soup. Nearby, Fyora the Faerie Queen herself was being interviewed. "Until this current crisis has been remedied," she was saying, "the Soup Kitchen will offer nourishment to all, regardless of how many Neopoints one has. It is the least we can do to help Neopia."

"Do you have any idea what can have caused this current situation, Your Highness?"

"None whatsoever. We have our suspicions, of course, but no conclusive evidence. Investigations will be made shortly. I'm afraid I cannot tell you any more than that."

"May I be so bold as to ask what-or whom-you suspect, Your Highness?"

("I'll bet my Wocky Shield of Truth it's Jhudora, the Dark Faerie," whispered 7_flames.)

Fyora shook her head. "No comment, if you please. That will be all."

The screen image cut back to the Gelert reporter. "Thank you, Your Highness. In a related story, word is out in Tyrannia that the Giant Omelette has disappeared, possibly for good. In the following pre-recorded interview, Sabre-X is quoted as saying, 'The Omelette has been missing for over a day now, the longest it's ever been gone...'"

"That may be a blessing in disguise," said the Kougra, speaking for the first time. "Can you imagine how awful it would be if the Giant Omelette came to life? It would be worse that The Stuff-I can just imagine it slithering around, engulfing everything in its path..."

"Cut that out, Kuvu," BlossomAnn hissed as the Bruce whimpered and huddled close to her. "You're scaring Miss_Claus. If she has nightmares tonight, I'm gonna give you such a scratch-"

Kuvu stared at the floor meekly. "Sorry about that, Blossom. I wasn't thinking."

The Yellow Aisha smiled forgivingly at her cousin, then set about putting Miss_Claus to bed in one of the guest rooms. The young Bruce, exhausted from the long walk, fell asleep almost at once, and BlossomAnn returned to the television room to catch the remainder of the news.

The NTV News came to a close with the promise of further updates as they occurred, but Pearlbeak went over and switched the set off. Facing her remaining cousins and siblings, the Silver Eyrie looked grim. "Guys, this situation is well beyond serious," she began. "And as a member of the Defenders of Neopia, I see this as a call to action. I don't need to see my supervisor to know this. And I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm not content to just sit here locked in our NeoHome and hope that things get better by themselves soon."

"And slowly starve to death while we're waiting for that to happen," added Hollowbelly, horrified at the very thought of such a thing. "I agree; we gotta do something about it."

"Yeah, but what?" challenged Jonah. "The Faerie Queen herself looked like she was at a loss for what to do. What can mere NeoPets do against something that has the Faeries stumped?"

Pearlbeak smiled slyly. "Fyora mentioned that there will be investigations. Like her, I have my suspicions as to who could possibly be responsible. But whomever is behind this terrible occurrence will undoubtedly be on their guard against Faeries. I figure a small group of determined NeoPets may be able to succeed where the Faeries have failed."

"A small group of determined - and foolhardy - NeoPets may well get their heads handed to them, too!" Kuvu said dryly. "Count me out; I'd rather get in line for the Soup Kitchen."

"Good luck trying to make your way over there," murmured Pearlbeak.

"Well, I'm in," Hollowbelly woofed, standing up. "Better to die fighting than to die hungry."

"I'm in, too," piped up 7_flames. "I've already got cabin fever from being cooped up here."

BlossomAnn and Jonah exchanged glances. Finally, the Yellow Aisha spoke, "I'd like to go, but one of us has to stay with Miss_Claus. She's too young and too timid to do any fighting."

"Say no more, sis," replied the Flotsam. "I'll look after her. You're the better fighter, anyway."

With that settled, Pearlbeak urged everyone to go to bed so they would be well rested for the journey to come. Hollowbelly started to argue that he was already hungry, and would be even hungrier in the morning, therefore they really ought to leave right away, but BlossomAnn fixed him with such a look that he hastily squelched his protests and retired to one of the guest bedrooms. Though his namesake rumbled and growled throughout the night, the Lupe slept.

Meanwhile, outside the NeoHome and all over Neopia, the living Food Items reigned supreme. Sandy produce stalked the Lost Desert. Frozen foods prowled through the Ice Caves. Medieval foods were laying siege to Meridell Castle. Bands of tropical fruit had taken over Mystery Island, seeking to ambush the unwary. Worst of all were the Gross Foods, which were found on every continent and island in Neopia, and were totally without fear, due to how disgusting they were. If a gang of them surrounded any unlucky Neopets, the Gross Foods would taunt and torment the poor creatures by threatening to feed themselves to them.

And the Neopets were confused, frightened, many of them homeless, and all of them hungry.


Coming Up Next: Morsel Combat