It was burger night at apartment 402. The Penguin was waddling back and forth on the carpeted floors. His plastic red shoes made a squishing sound every time he walked. He continually moved his vision from his phone to the door to the clock and back to his phone. A black and purple bat was hanging from a bar on the ceiling, holding a book in her six fingers.
“It’s been thirty minutes.” She told him, not looking down from her book. “Sit down and relax.”
“It takes ten minutes to make and fifteen minutes to get here from the restaurant.” He looked at the phone again. “You called thirty five minutes ago. It should be here.”
She sighed. “Maybe they are busy tonight.” She turned a page. “Maybe they got caught in traffic.”
“You don’t understand!” AP waved his flippers over his head in emphasis. “If they don’t come straight here with no delays then the buns will be soggy!” He huffed and gestured some more despite his roommate not paying attention. “If the buns are soggy, the burger doesn’t taste right, and if the burger doesn’t taste right, the night is ruined.”
Squeak looked down at him now with an expressionless face. “I told them to leave them separate.”
AP’s flippers fell to his sides. “Oh.”
“Now sit." She ordered going back to her book. He did as she said without hesitation this time. “Not on the floor.”
“Well you didn’t specify." He grumbled moving to the couch. Despite her reassurances that his burger would come exactly as he wanted it, he wrung his flippers nervously.
An action that made her just as nervous. “What is your problem?” She stared at him for the first time since ordering their dinner and noted his unusually pale face and shaking flippers. “What did you have for lunch?” He opened his beak to retort, but then closed it without speaking. She rolled her golden eyes. “You didn’t have breakfast either did you?”
“Ha!” AP pointed a flipper at her triumphantly. “I did have breakfast!” She raised an eyebrow at him, doubtful. “Well, I had coffee.”
She shook her head at him. “Oh, little pengoo.”
AP hung his head in shame. “I guess I just forgot.”
The doorbell’s ring cut off any further lecture. The book fell from her hands as she spread her purple wings and flew off to the peep hole. She hissed at AP and gestured him over. “It’s the food.” She whispered. “Get the money.”
AP fished a couple dollars out of the dinner jar and slid it under the door. He spoke in a voice he thought might sound spooky. “Just leave it there.” Squeak watched from the peep hole until the delivery gopher scuttled down the stairwell. AP cracked open the door and pulled the bags inside, all the while keeping an eye on apartment 403. They had watched the new neighbor move in from through the peep hole. They didn’t need her getting social. He set them on the coffee table and they sat on the floor to search through them. AP found a salmon burger all separated like Squeak had promised. He spread the tartar sauce on the bun and laid out some spinach. Squeak found her burger and tossed the lettuce onto AP’s plate, which he did not appreciate, but was rather used to. He flicked them off his burger into the delivery back and bit down on his perfect little meal.
As he started to take another bite, a sound worked its way through their door. A sound from across the hall. A sound they knew all too well. A sound from the new neighbor’s apartment. Apartment 403. A sound that went something like this.
Dun Dudududun dududun dudu doooo doooo weee dooo dooo dooo doo....
AP stopped mid bite and Squeak’s eyes widened. “Is that?” She asked in a hushed voice.
AP nodded slowly and answered in a matching voice. “Uh-huh.”
Without another word, the roommates leapt up and ran for the door. They wrestled with it for a minute, getting themselves in the way. Finally out in the hall, they pounded on Apartment 403. As the door opened, the air was showered in glitter. Glitter accompanied by a soft pink glow. AP and Squeak took an apprehensive step back. A pink fluffy head stuck out of the door.
“Hello?” The Kitty meowed at them as Squeak looked over her head at the tv. “You must be from across the hall. I wanted to meet you, but I didn’t know if you were home. I’m Luci.”
AP waved a flipper, suddenly realizing the whole talking thing was not his strong suit. That and he was kind of afraid if he breathed he would die of glitter poisoning. Squeak was still focused on the tv. Luci looked up at her and then back at the tv. “Do you want to come in?” They both nodded wordlessly. Squeak darted to the sofa with a thud, and the required mushroom cloud of sparkle that came afterward. AP walked in more slowly, taken in by the bright fabrics and decorations around the apartment. Even the ceiling fan was colored teal. Magentas, purples and teals covered the entire room with a splash of orange here and there. AP’s eyes then fell on the table where a plate of fresh cookies was spreading its fragrance throughout the room. Before he’d realized what he was doing a cookie was in his mouth.
“So you just moved in?” He asked with his mouth full, not really so skilled at small talk.
Luci leapt up on the sofa next to Squeak and flicked her tail, glitter rained from it as she did. “Oh yes. I didn’t finished decorating quite yet so I’m sorry it’s a little bare.”
“Shhh.” Squeak hissed. “Amy is going in the wrong time stream.”
AP was busy trying to imagine what the apartment would look like “fully decorated”. Well, doing that and eating another cookie.
Luci pulled the cookies off the table and offered one to Squeak, who wiped some sparkles off before eating it. Her eyes widened as she chewed the warm gooey goodness. “AP," She looked back at him with puppy like eyes. “Why don’t we ever have cookies?”
AP tried to maneuver onto the couch while holding a cookie in each flipper. Unfortunately he wasn’t really coordinated while holding nothing. He ended up laying face first into the couch and then wiggling into a sitting position. A process that involved grunts and whimpers. When he was finally in place he was completely out of breath.
Luci and Squeak stared at him, both with an eyebrow raised. “You alright there?" Squeak asked.
“We don’t have any sugar.” AP answered her first question between breaths. Then he stopped to think about it as Amy figured out how to hide from the hand bots. “Or chocolate. Or butter. Or," There was a really long pause as he realized he had no idea how to make cookies. “Other ingredients.”
“I could give you my recipe,” Luci piped up. “I could take you to the store too.”
AP and Squeak turned to her in horror. “Go...” AP stared.
“To the store...” Squeak continued with, well, a squeak.
“Outside?” AP finished at barely a whisper.
Luci looked at both of them in confusion. “The store isn’t outside, there is a building. Unless you go to the farmer’s market, but you can’t find sugar there. Though there is this one guy that sells this really creamy milk chocolate that you could crush into chunks. Sometimes the creamery has a booth and their butter is so delicious. Seriously, you will never taste a better butter." She gave a small laugh. “Better Butter.” She purred out again. “They also have the sweetest sweet cream. I have some every morning. And in my tea at night. Oh, I should put a kettle on. You two are welcome to have some with me. It’s not often I get to share my tea. But I only have enough for one more of my favorite so you can’t have that. I hope you don’t mind, it’s just so hard to find so I like to savor every cup...” As Luci disappeared into the kitchen area, she had no idea the roommates had stopped listening somewhere between chocolate and creamery. Squeak because she stopped being interested at the suggestion to go outside. And, in AP’s defense, he really intended to listen to her, but he got distracted by the TV and she was talking so fast that he just couldn’t stay focused on her. The oblivious kitty continued to ramble on, unaware of their lack of attention. By the time she came back with three cups of tea balanced on a serving tray set perfectly on her head the roommates tuned back into her voice to hear that she had somehow moved all the way from tea to her nail polish collection that was so much more pragmatic than her mom’s collection. Of course, at this point in the conversation, they had no idea what exactly her mom collected. Hopefully it wouldn’t be pertinent information later on.
“You named your robot Rory?”
The inhabitants on the sofa “awwed” in unison. “I want a Rory," Luci announced to the room.
Squeak nodded, AP cocked his head. “A robot Rory?”
“No not a robot!” Luci sighed. “A real Rory.” She got up and began clearing the table of coffee cups and cookies.
Squeak grabbed a cookie as she passed and nudged AP. “Let’s go before she gets back and starts talking again.”
“What?” AP shook his head. “But the episode isn’t over yet and she's nice.”
Squeak spread her wings out and they shimmered with the glitter that had seemed to fuse itself into her thin skin. “She has as many conversation topics as she does sparkles. If we stay much longer we’re going to have to start talking!” She gulped in fear dramatically to illustrate her point. “And I don’t want to go home looking like a christmas ornament.”
“But you said you wanted to learn how to make friends.” AP nodded to assure himself it was a brilliant point and he could win this argument. “And you can’t do that if you can’t even watch one,” He paused and held a flipper up, but then dropped it when he remembered he had to fingers to emphasize the solitary number, “episode at the neighbor’s place.”
“I did make friends," Squeak insisted. “You’re a friend. I made you.” He raised an eyebrow. “oh you know what I meant!”
“Don’t you want to finish the episode?”
Squeak stared at the screen for a moment then sighed. “Yeah, I do.”
Luci came back in the room and forced herself between the two of them. “Oh, this is my favorite part.” AP watched her as she dug into a basket and pulled out a rhinestone. She peeled the paper off the back and gingerly placed it on the tip of squeak’s ear. AP’s eyes widened and he leaned back, waiting for the outburst. Squeak’s attention was focused on the television. SHe didn’t even notice. Luci must have taekn her silence for approval because she stared framing the ear with them. AP opened his mouth to object, shut it and then smiled in amusement. This could get interesting.
By the time the episode ended, Luci had decorated one ear, changed seats, and done the other as well. If she'd had time she probably would have done more, but Squeak stood and stretched her wings out wide.
“Well that was fun,” She managed to yawn out. “But we really should get going. Work tomorrow and all that.”
“You don’t have a job,” AP reminded her.
“But you do.”SHe paused. “And Luci probably has to get up early too.”
“Oh I don’t work in the summer.” She looked at them in surprise. “I’m a teacher remember?”
The roommates shared a look. “Oh yeah.” AP nodded. “I guess we just assumed you had summer school.” Squeak nodded vigerously to agree, and AP stifled a laugh at the rhinestones catching the light.
“Anyways,” Squeak dragged the word out. “Thanks for the cookies. We’ll see you around, maybe.”
AP rolled his eyes as he followed her out. “Nice to meet you.”
Luci waved a paw goodbye as they shut the door and squeak sighed in relief. “Finally free of the Sparkle House.”
“I was going to go with Glitter House,” AP said more to himself than her as he opened their door. They both stopped at the sight of the table. Their burgers were still sitting where they left them. AP lifted the bun off his salmon burger as a look of dejection overcame his face. “My burger is soggy.”
“YOu’re the one who wanted to stay.” Squeak began picking soggy items off her burger and poured even more ketchup on top.”She’s nice you said. Don’t you want to watch the episode you said. Well I for one have had enough shiny objects for one day." She wriggled her fingers in front of her like the shiny objects were creepy crawlies.
AP almost pointed out her ears but decided to let it pass as he ate just the meat from his cold meal. “It’s just not the same when it’s not warm." He complained to himself, then,realizing what he’d done, added. “But I’m glad we could meet the neughbor.”
“Uh huh.” She shoved the rest of her food in the trash. A dried up plant crunched somewhere underneath. “Well I’m going to bed.”
She stepped into the bathroom and AP leaned back, flippers crossed behind he head. “Three, two, one.”
A horrified screech echoed around the bathrrom walls and AP burst out in laughter as Squeak darted back into the room in a rage. “How could you let her do that?”
“YOu didn’t stop her either.”
Squeak scratched at the rinstones and shook her head violently. THey didn’t move. “How am I supposed to get these off? You! You will have to get them off.”
AP held up both flippers. “Me? Me and what fingers?”
There was a knock at the door before Luci poked her head in without waiting for a response. “Is everything okay? I heard an awful noise.”
Squeak fumed at her and AP shook his head. “Oh everything is fine. Squeak just had a bit of a shock.”
“What did you do?” The bat snarled, scratching at her ears.
“Oh, I’m so glad it turned out so well.” Luci glapped her front paws. “I got this new glue so it should last for days. You look so beautiful. Don’t you love them?”
Squeak managed nothing more than a low growl so AP stepped in. “Oh it’s just, they’ll take some getting used to. But I'm sure she thye will grow on her quickly.”
“Well every gril just needs a little more sparkle.” Luci informed them with a bright smile. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Maybe we can watch the next episode at your place.” She shut the door behind her leaving a trail of glitter in her wake.
AP turned to his roommate expectin gher to be furious with him. Instead she had turned almost grey in shock. “Did. Did she just say our place?” She grabbed him by the shoulders. “You can’t let her come here.” She turned him towards the doorway. “She’ll get it everywhere. She’ll get it on the couch, in the kitchen, in the bathroom. Then we will track it into the bedroom, into our sanctuary AP! I can’t have glitter all over the bat cave. Bat caves don’t have glitter! When I take a shower it will stick to my wet wings and never come off. It’s a disease, AP. A contagious deisease.”
“You could just leave while she’s here." He suggested.
“What?” She waved her wings frantically. “You want me to go outside? I don’t go outside. You can’t jsut kick me out of my own apartment.”
“You don’t even pay rent.”
She dropped her wings. “That’s cold. It’s not like you would let me if I tried.”
AP shook his head and went for the broom and dust pan. “YOu wouldn’t try and you have no money.”
Squeak jerked the dustpan away from him. “You can't just throw it in the trash. It will get out while we’re sleeping.” She opened up the door and swept it out into the hall and in front of the Kitty’s apartment.
“Ge-get out?" AP watched her from their door. “It can’t fly, Squeak. It’s just glitter.”
She turned to him with wide, frightened eyes “Do not underestimate things that sparkle, AP. It’s never just glitter.”
“You’re benig over dramatic.” He nodded to himself, as he walked to the bedroom. “Yes, you’re being over dramatic.”
Squeak followed him and glared as he emptied the water in his shoes. “THat’s such a guy thing to say. I don’t like it so I’m being overdramatic. I’m trying to help you. THere are things in this world that should not exist and glitter is one of them.”
AP sighed as he hopped up the staircase to his artificial igloo bed. The cold air was the perfect tempurature to burrow under the covers and not get too hot. “SHut the light off Squeak.” He said, barely conscious.
Squeak did as he said, but not before reaching behind her black curtains and flipping on her bunny nightlight. She climbed up to the wire mesh under AP’s bed and hung there, wrapping her wings around her tightly. Growaning, she unwrapped and shook them. She groaned again. “Now there’s glitter in my cave.”
“Goodnight, Squeak." AP said, voice muffled by the covers.
“And my ears itch.”
“And they are heavier than they’re supposed too be.”
There was a heavy sigh and the bed creeked as he turned. “I’m asleep now. Your goodnight window has closed. Now I will have a terrible night and it’s all your fault.”
Squeak hung for a moment in silence. “That’s not how it works.”
AP mumbled something but he was too far gone for her to understand it, so she closed her eyes and tried to forget that her ears were reflecting colors around the room.