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Lena: Cursed on Two Counts

by lish73


Lena was in and out of the Pound in a blur. She didn't remember who put her there; she was just there. In a matter of moments a cloud of painted pet-seeking Neopians surrounded her cage waving neopoints in the air and calling to Dr. Death that 12_5_14_1 was the pet they wanted. She knew that was her name, her real name, but from a far off distance she remembered Lena. Some one had called her Lena, and she was sticking with it.

     She didn't remember anything before the Pound, just a feeling, of what though? Happiness, contentment, those were the feelings, she didn't know why though. How happy can you be with an owner who would abandon you?

     She sighed and looked up; her cage slowly opened and already the cloud was separating, disappointed they hadn't grabbed her. Only two figures remained in the doorway. The first was Dr. Death glaring menacingly at her, keys in hand. The second was her new owner, with bushy reddish brown hair and a large, happy smile. She dropped some coins into the Techo's hand and looked at her.

     "Hi, I'm Kalee," she said. "I can't wait to get you home!" Lena only blinked.

     "Um-" she began, but Kalee stopped her.

     "Quiet young robot, I need to talk to the Techo."

     Lena immediately went silent; there was a click and a whir sound from somewhere inside her, but that was all. She stared down at her hooves, a shiny, blue metal. The rest of her body was mostly silver. Lena was a robot Uni; she had been for the minutes of her life she could remember. She'd never seen another. Most of the pets in the Pound were low level and unpainted. She wondered if she was the only one.

     Dr. Death and Kalee talked for a while, Kalee's smile getting bigger as they went on. "Excellent!" was all Lena heard before they stopped talking and both turned to her. "Let's go!" she said, and Lena silently followed behind. She felt an awful feeling in the pit of her stomach but swallowed it; she would make the best of whatever her new home brought.

     "So Robotniki, you'll love meeting Elmer, your new brother! He's a blue Bruce but we're saving for a Royal Paintbrush. We're at about 10 000, so we think we're almost there!" Kalee seemed to have no trouble running the conversation, and didn't even notice Lena's silence for about ten minutes. "Well Robotniki? Are you stupid? Talk!"

     Click. Whir. "I'm not stupid; I think my reading level is at the master genius state." She didn't remember ever reading, but she knew she had. "And why do you keep calling me Robotniki?"

     "Well, that's what they used to call robots… like you. Robotnikis. And you're a robot, aren't you?"

     "Well yes, but my name Lena-"

     "Quiet, your file says your name is just a whole bunch of numbers, that's boring! Your new name is Robotniki; it means slave, or servant."

     But I'm not a slave, or servant! Lena screamed inside her head, but her voice just wouldn't come.

     "You'll simply love the neohome!" Kalee went on. "I called ahead and made you a metal room, because you're metal, get it?" Lena grimaced at this; did that mean Elmer had a flesh room? "You're a robot, though, so you don't really need furniture; I can just turn you off at night or something." Lena was feeling worse and worse, no furniture? Just an empty metal room? And what did she mean, "slave?"

     "There it is!" Kalee pointed at Lena's new home proudly. There were only three rooms. A small soggy one with cardboard walls, another, new silver one for Lena, and then what must be Elmer's. His was larger then the cardboard and silver room put together. It was shimmering and gold with expensive windows. Lena already felt jealous. She should've taken the fact that his name was Elmer as a bad sign.

     Kalee opened the door into the soggy cardboard room, which turned out to be the kitchen. It had a half melted snow fridge and an old broken table with one chair. As well as a dirty "Rebuild Maraqua" poster hanging from a sloping cardboard wall. Lena felt sick. "This is the kitchen," Kalee said, waving the Uni on. "This is your room." Lena was not surprised to see her room was completely bare. "I was looking for a new Neopet and figured I'd give them a cardboard room, but when I saw a Robotniki, I knew you needed a matching room!" The room wasn't even metal, it was silver, but Lena remained silent.

     Kalee continued down to the great Gold room. "And this," she squealed, excited, "is Elmer's room." She took a deep breath and opened the door quietly. Lena let out a small gasp.

     Inside were the most possessions she'd ever seen! To one side there were walls of plushies, all organized by colour, species, or date of purchase. Facing that wall were more toys than you could imagine. Yoyos, board games, toy swords, a Usuki Doll or two, and a few clockwork toys walking around. Then there were bikes, scooters, musical instruments, and other objects sitting in a line against another wall. All of these were perfectly prearranged, as were the other knickknacks that sat on the dusted shelves. On the opposite side of the room was more plain attire consisting of an oak bed, a matching desk with a sturdy chair, and a red notebook with an ink pen on top of it. Lying on the bed was a Bruce, reading.

     "Huh?" He looked up after a moment, surprised as his book disappeared in a puff of yellow smoke. "Oh, hello," he stood politely and walked over to greet her. "I'm Elmer, tell me your name."

     "12_5_14_1," she replied immediately. "But call me Lena."

     "Actually I've named her Robotniki, I think it's suits her better then that…other name," Kalee interrupted.

     "How about Niki?" Elmer smiled. "That sounds nice."

     Niki nodded. "Alright, Niki it is." She didn't like giving up 'Lena' but Elmer seemed nice, and Niki was better then Robotniki.

     "OK then," Kalee said. "Anyway I have exciting news!" Her cheeks were flushed with happiness. "Little Robotniki is going to help us get that Royal Paint Brush!" Niki stared; she supposed she could help.

     "Oh, I really don't need to be painted." Elmer blushed. "Can't I just get some books? I'd love some more!"

     "Nonsense! You'll be painted in no time. Robotniki will work as long as we say and do the cooking and cleaning, leaving us to play games for points!" She grinned broadly at this idea.

     "That doesn't seem fair," Elmer protested; he seemed horrified at it. Just as horrified as he'd looked when he had seen her for the first time. "Niki won't want to work night and day; just because she's a robot, doesn't mean she doesn't have feelings!"

     Niki would have protested too if not for the fact Elmer had said everything she wanted to say. "Don't worry about that," Kalee announced, "It doesn't matter if she has feelings, she'll do whatever I say!"

     "No I won't!" Niki couldn't believe that she was in an argument like this on her first day.

     "Yes you will. I talked to Dr. Death and unlike other robots you do whatever you're told!" Kalee gave a giggle like Niki was some new fun toy, better then the other toys.

     "What?" Elmer and Niki said in unison.

     "Yeah, you're programmed to! He said your previous owner, Dr. Sloth, created you and programmed to do whatever anyone said, but then he got bored and abandoned you," she rambled happily.

     "No," Niki stammered. "I- I have free will…" This did explain a lot, but how could it be? It wasn't fair!

     "It's true! Clap your hands!"

     Click. Whir. She clapped them, making a loud clanging sound. She felt deep sadness in the pit of her stomach.

     "See, it's very cool. Now go to your room and go to sleep, I'll wake you up first thing tomorrow to begin your duties," Kalee said waiting for the Uni to oblige. With a click and a whir she went to her room and fell asleep on the cold silver floor before she had a chance to let the sadness settle. She didn't understand it, though; if she'd been with Dr. Sloth, what was that happiness she remembered?

     Kalee woke her up bright and early the next morning to make breakfast. "And don't complain or be negative!" she'd ordered and thus Niki'd entered the kitchen with a phoney smile on her face and no words in her mouth, as they were all complaints.

     At least Elmer's OK, she thought, but was wrong there too. Elmer stomped into the kitchen with a smug look of evil on his face.

     "Robotniki, after you make me Cheesy Chokato Pie go into my room and rearrange my plushies by how soft they are!" Niki was too shocked even to feel sad at her fate. What had happened to the kind Bruce she'd met yesterday? "Also," Elmer went on smiling, his eyebrows arched, "agree with everything I say!" he cackled just as Kalee walked into the room.

     "Morning," she yawned, and then spotting Niki, she smiled. "Making breakfast? Excellent! Why are you making pie though? Elmer needs nutrition! Feed it to the Kadoaties."

     "It was Niki's idea," Elmer jumped in, "I told her I need nutrition!"

     Click. Whir. Niki nodded, still with a goofy, fake smile. "It was my idea, he did tell me he needed nutrition."

     "Well, don't smile!" Kalee said angrily, "And listen to your brother!" Niki was glad to see her smile vanish.

     As if I have a choice, she thought to herself, and began to remake the brat's breakfast.

     The day went on like this. First she went into Elmer's now surprisingly messy room and tested the softness of each and every plushie. Then she walked down to the Kadoatery and fed "Bubbles" the pie. More chores came with this. She had to organize other things for Elmer, and mop up the leaking fridge. Shopping, which would have been fun, was no longer, as she was told to buy one item and look at nothing else. The item was usually something like a tomato too. She did this all while agreeing with the evil Elmer, as well as listening intently to every idiotic word that came out of his mouth. Kalee and Elmer went to bed at 9:30pm and ordered the Uni to work till midnight then go to her room and straight to sleep. After two and a half more hours of work she collapsed into slumber so quickly she never bothered to feel sorry for her misery.

     The next day was different and the same as the last. Elmer was different. He apologized for being so mean and told her not to listen to everything he said or agree with him unless she really did have the same opinion.

     "Why did you do it?" she asked icily, not so easily forgiving.

     "I- Well I- I just can't explain it right now." He looked down at the ground, ashamed. "I'm sorry, for past and any future…jerkiness." He sighed, and then went into his notebook. "I just can't tell you right now."

     Niki turned and left, confused. What could it be? Elmer didn't give her any chores and made his own breakfast. When Kalee gave her a chore Elmer would later tell her not to do it, and then do it himself. She couldn't believe he was the same Bruce as yesterday.

     The next day was back to evil though. Elmer got her to do every chore imaginable. Even Kalee had trouble coming up with more. After it seemed Niki had cleaned absolutely everything in the house he got her to do other things. Elmer also seemed to enjoy ones where he wasn't watching. He told her to go to Merifoods and buy a Draik Egg; she could not leave till she had one. Merifoods doesn't stock Draik Eggs very often.

     Then the next day he would apologize and still tell her nothing of why he had been so mean.

     "All I can say is I'm sorry, Niki," he said looking into her eyes.

     "Call me Lena," Lena said stonily, she was having trouble believing his stories now. "Or better yet, call me Robotniki! You sure like that one!"

     "Niki- I mean Lena- I mean, Robotniki?" he sighed. "Please believe me!" Tears filled his eyes.

     Click. Whir. "I believe you," she replied. It did make sense, what was so bad about being a cruel tyrant one day and a perfect angel the next anyway?

     "No, only believe me if you mean it!"

     "I don't believe you," she said flatly.

     He sighed. "I understand, I- I have to go."

     Lena looked down at her metallic blue feet. What she'd give to be a regular Uni. It seemed like she'd never be happy again.

     For months she felt like this. The unpredictable Elmer kept being nice, then mean within 24 hours and Kalee still seemed oblivious to the fact that Lena was a Neopet with a mind and feelings not a… Robotniki.

     "Robotniki!" Kalee called another miserable morning. "Go clean out Elmer's desk; it's a mess!"

     Click. Whir. Lena nodded unhappily, and made her way to his room. In the small, three roomed Neohome it was not a very far walk. She opened the door and began organizing his pencils not even taking notice of Elmer sitting there.

     "Oh, um," he slammed his notebook shut and blushed. It was a good day, meaning he wasn't an evil tyrant today. "I'll just leave…" He stood and hurriedly left the room. He stopped at the doorway though, and sighed. "You don't have to do that…" he said then turned and left.

     Lena wasn't sure what he meant by that but continued the clean up; she mostly dusted, and then organized the drawers so everything was neat. It made her sick.

     When she was at last done she stopped. She had no other chores left to do. She was under no other orders. She looked around, almost unsure what to do, which made her feel ashamed. She didn't know what to do with herself when some airhead or two-faced mystery Bruce wasn't bossing her around? Pathetic.

     "…You weren't like that yesterday!" A sudden noise floated down the hall and got caught in Lena's ears.

     "You know why I…acted differently yesterday!" Elmer argued back. Lena opened the door a crack and the voices came in loud and crystal clear.

     "She is just a robot! It's what she is programmed to do! What is the big deal?" Kalee defended, sounding annoyed.

     "She is not just a robot!" Elmer's voice suddenly cracked, causing Lena to blush for some reason. He sniffed. "She has thoughts and opinions and feelings and doesn't want to spend her whole life doing whatever you say! You know she hates us? She hates our guts and she has good reason!"

     "Don't cry, my baby!" Kalee said, even if she was annoyed, Elmer was still her pride and joy. "I'll make it OK; I'll tell her to be happy and I'll tell her to like us first thing tomorrow. Then it'll be alright because she does what I say, and if I say to be happy, she'll be happy!"

     Lena felt light headed. She would be stuck. She would never escape this because she wouldn't want to. She would spend her whole life happy cleaning and cooking and worshiping the ground they walked on.

     Tears sprang to her eyes. She didn't even know she could cry, but here she was. She had to stop this. She had to, but how?

     Then she wondered something, wouldn't Elmer tell her each day to be happy only if she wanted to, and like them only if she did? So she wasn't stuck… but what about those days Elmer was…not Elmer? Why wasn't he Elmer? She had to find out, and she had to do it tonight, she knew that.

     If she didn't she could never escape. She could run away but Elmer was smart…even when he wasn't Elmer. He'd find her because he was mean and sadistic. He had the advantage. He knew her weakness when she didn't know his. She had to find out…it was the only way.

     She slowly picked up the notebook, and flipped it open to the first page. There was long curvy writing, with a lot of errors, like a small child had written it.

     Dear Journal,

     I found you today on the way to the toy store, Kalee said I should throw you out, but I think your cool. I like to write. Kalee only created me yesterday; she's awesome. She buys me whatever I like, except she doesn't buy me books a lot, unless they're about royal Bruces. She says she'll paint me royal one day though! I'd rather have a book though, I don't want to drag that cape thing around and wear the heavy crown!

     Lena frowned and flipped the page, reading on.

     Dear Journal,

     I went to the Haunted Woods today, Kalee says you can make a fortune off Coconut Shy! I was wandering around when I heard a voice coming from some trees. I couldn't see anything I just heard it. It asked me if I was a good Bruce and I said yes. The voice said you shouldn't always be nice, sometimes it was OK to be bad, and then I felt funny. After that it was gone. Weird.

     Lena frowned; the next page was covered in scribbles, unpleasant pictures and…profanity.

      Dear Journal,

     I don't know what's wrong with me. Yesterday I was evil and mean and snobby and bratty. I could go on forever. Kalee didn't seem to notice. She says it was the first time I got away from my journal and played with my toys. It's a blur. I wasn't me… I was watching me… I'm sorry I destroyed a page of you, little journal! I wonder what happened…

     The next pages were in neat, serious writing.

     I will no longer call this notebook a journal, he wrote. I've aged quicker then any pet I've seen. I'm cursed. I'm almost certain of it. I've done a lot of research; years even, without touching this book. I believe a shadow creature has cursed me, bringing out my truly evil self any other day. After exactly one day I turn good or bad depending whatever I was the previous day. I'm documenting any info I find here. One day I'll find the cure and be safe. Others around me will be safe. I'll also be able to leave Kalee, who is quite a n00b. For now she seems to be the only person I'm safe around, and that's all I can trust.

     The pages were then filled with different and possible solutions, equations, and ideas of how to lift this curse. Many were crossed out; some were circled with notes next to them

     Fyora: As soon as tried to talk her I was kicked out! (A few… inappropriate words came after that.)

     Esophagor: Did six quests, got nothing.

     Edna: Knew nothing, cackled a lot.

     Pant Devil: Tried to steal my notebook.

     Books are useless; I found one paragraph in a book on monsters that led me to believe it was a shadow creature. I must keep reading though, I'll find something

     The pages went on and on and on. All leading to dead ends. She couldn't help but feel bad for him. It was like he was stuck, as she soon would be. She read on.

     My idiotic owner adopted! I told her! The fool, I can't stand this. This is awful. The girl is so nice and beautiful, but she's a robot. She wants to be a free spirit, but she's programed to do what she's told. I'm so scared. I can't tell her, though; I'll find a cure, I will. I was so mean to her these past days! I vaguely remember telling her to rearrange my plushies, go to Merifoods and get a Draik Egg, and dress in Usuki clothes. I also made her agree with whatever I said! I'd call her stupid and she'd say, "It's true, I'm not very bright!" I hate myself.

     The next few months of pages were of his zero progress, and growing sadness. Lena felt a tear come to her eye despite herself. Not too long ago she didn't even know she could cry.

     "Lena!" Elmer was suddenly at the door, his eyes wide. "Drop it!" he snapped.

     The notebook immediately fell to the floor.

     "I mean, sorry, I don't know. You read it?"

     She nodded.

     "All of it?"

     She nodded again.

     He sighed. "I just didn't want anyone to know how stupid I was, what difference would it make?"

     "I don't know," she sighed truthfully. "Kalee's going to make me happy?"

     "Only on the outside. She says if I interfere she'll tell you to ignore me." Tears sprang to his eyes. "I don't know what to do, it seems too hopeless."

     "I- I have to go," she whispered. "I can't be around others, they can't help themselves. I have to find out more." She knew Elmer could go after her, but he wouldn't. He was cursed to be evil, not find one Robot Uni and stalk her for eternity. She was just convenient. He'd find new ways to torture Neopia.

     He sniffed, but didn't argue. "I know. I'd go with you, but with my…situation, I can't trust myself not to hurt you."

     She stood. "I have to go, while I can." While I can still force myself to leave you, she said to herself.

     "I know." He looked at his watch. "Now, you have to, you have to." He brushed the tears from his eyes quickly. "I'll pack some things."

     He grabbed a bag and threw a plushie, some books, a notebook with pen, some food, a blanket, pillow… "I can only hold so much, you know," Lena smiled.

     "Oh, right." He froze before putting a rather large, heavy sword in the pack. She lifted the pack onto her back and they carefully walked to the front door. Kalee was asleep; the Snowager couldn't wake her if he tried, but they were still careful.

     "Well," Elmer said, as the door swung open and Lena stepped into the starry, slightly windy night. "I guess this is goodbye." He gave a large gulp; he knew this was for the better, but he couldn't help it.

     "For now," Lena said softly, and leaned in to kiss him on the cheek. The metal felt cool against his fur. She gave a small wave. She then turned, the moonlight glinting off her metallic body, and walked slowly down the small dirt road and into the trees.

     Elmer swallowed, standing in the doorway, light pouring into the night. He glanced at his watch. In 15 minutes he would have turned into something he wasn't, and Lena would have been stuck. He sighed, and went back inside; he couldn't risk chasing after her. If he did, he wouldn't be able to stop himself from telling her to never, ever leave.

     Lena walked a little ways, and then turned a final time to see Elmer turn and go inside. Then it was her and silence. She sighed; she was free. A smile crept over her face despite herself. She was sad to leave Elmer, but for now, it was the best she could do. She suddenly knew what that happiness had been. It had been the small sense of freedom, of true happiness at escaping; she'd had between being with Sloth, and the being in the Pound. She could now feel like that, forever.

The End

Author's Note: I may make more stories involving these characters in the future! Comments/questions welcomed!

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