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Out of the Turmaculus' Jaws

by nut862


I had longed for an owner I could trust ever since I was born. An owner who would care for me, feed me and play with me. An owner that I could love. Do not all Petpets wish for a Neopet to give them affection through their life? I was certainly no different, and being the naïve and very young Puppyblew that I was, I always became happy and excited when pets paid me attention.

     I lived in the stone-paved streets of Meridell, making my home in the marketplace square where the resident pets set up many little shops and stands to sell their wares. I stayed near the food stalls most of the time, poking my nose along the ground all day in an effort to catch a scent of a fallen bit of bread or some such delicacy. I sustained myself fairly well this way. But all the while I chewed on the food I'd picked up from the street, I imagined being fed by a pet's loving hand, with meals set out before me in a dish for my easy access.

     I watched the pets going down the streets with wide, bright eyes. They were fascinating to me, and so many of them looked friendly and kind. Each pet that I saw, I imagined what life would be like if they owned me. I pictured the Gelert girl sneaking me treats at dinnertime, the Kougra boy running with me in spacious fields, the old Ogrin petting me as I fell asleep in his lap. I saw myself curled up at the foot of the little Aisha's bed, or following the Lupe around wherever he went. I always watched and waited for one of those pets to bring me home and make my fanciful dreams a reality, but none ever did. It didn't diminish my hope, though. I always trusted that one day, some pet would pick me up and hug me and bring me home.

     One day, as I was chewing on a scrap of potato and watching the usual crowd of pets, and thinking of the wonderful life I'd have with the little Elephante child who was standing outside of the toy stall, a shadow fell over me. I looked up in surprise and found that a Kyrii was staring straight at me, a businesslike expression on her world-worn face.

     "Little Puppyblew, do you have an owner?" She posed the question so straightforwardly, her expression never changing, as if she expected a quick yes or no though she knew full well that I could not respond in her language.

     Yet the words she spoke were the ones that I had been longing to hear all my life. I dreamed of hearing them from the children just before they picked me up and showed me to their mothers, after which I would go home and live with them happily ever after. The moment was here; I would be going to a home. I stood up and wagged my tail, my bright eyes conveying all the happiness and excitement I felt.

     "It cannot have an owner; its coat is so rough," the Kyrii said to herself. To me she said decisively, "Come here."

     I ran to her eagerly, and she scooped me up in her paws. Overjoyed, I licked her face with happiness. My new owner seemed to draw back from me a bit, as if put off by my displays of appreciation for her kindness. Undaunted, I snuggled up in her paws, wagging my tail happily.

     The Kyrii carried me across the marketplace. I watched the other pets from my place in her arms, happy and contented. My dream was coming true at last. I began to imagine what my future with this Kyrii would hold. Young and innocent as I was, I believed that life from now on could be nothing less than a faerie tale full of joy and love.

     The Kyrii carried me up to a small shop building, which was certain to be my new home. I wagged my tail in delight. Inside, the shop was clean and orderly, with items of all kinds lining the shelves. The Kyrii brought me behind the sales counter and set me in her lap. Taking a small brush from a shelf, she began to smooth my worn fur. I smiled contentedly.

     A mere few minutes had passed since the Kyrii brought me to the building when the shop door opened. I looked up quickly to see who was intruding on our home. A Chia and a Jubjub had just walked in unannounced. The Chia seemed to be in a rush, and said in an annoyed tone to his companion, "I told you this place wouldn't have Petpets. Let's try the shop across the street, and hurry. The hour is almost up!"

     The two turned to leave, a fact of which I was glad, for I didn't much like the feeling I got from the Chia. Had I seen that pet walking in the square an hour earlier, I would not have chosen him to participate in my fantasies of having an owner. Of course, those fantasies were obsolete now, as this Kyrii had adopted me.

     The Kyrii stood up suddenly, and directed her glance to the two pets who were about to go out through the door. "Excuse me, but are you looking for a Petpet?" she asked.

     The pets stopped. "Yes, I need a Petpet now," the Chia said in a hurried voice. "It must be inexpensive."

     "You're in luck," the Kyrii said briskly. "This lovely Puppyblew is a steal at 2,000 Neopoints. It's cheap because it's young. Train it yourself, and be sure to stop by your Petpet doctor before you bring him home; he hasn't been checked."

     I stared at the Kyrii in shock and surprise. She was offering to sell me? My lovely new owner wanted to give me away in exchange for Neopoints? I whimpered, but the Kyrii ignored me.

     The Chia seemed to be considering the shopkeeper's offer, but his Jubjub friend said to him, "You can't use that Puppyblew for it. Look how its eyes are shining bright, poor thing. It is so young and confused, and to buy it for this would be cruel." The Jubjub looked at me pityingly, and I stared mournfully back.

     "How much time is left till the hour?" the Chia asked.

     The Jubjub checked his pocket watch. "It's nine minutes to noon."

     "I don't have time to be picky," the Chia said.

     "You were planning on getting an Abominable Snowball."

     "The Puppyblew is at a good price."

     The Kyrii seemed to decide that now was the time to tip the balance. "Buy it now, and I'll throw in a free can of Petpet food."

     "I'll buy it," the Chia declared, dropping a couple of coins on the counter. Whether the Kyrii's offer had caused his decision or if he had simply arrived at it himself was uncertain, though his next words indicated the latter: "But you keep the Petpet food; I won't need it."

     Confused, I whined at the Kyrii for an explanation, but again she ignored me. I remembered the businesslike expression she had when I first saw her. For a moment I wondered if she ever cared about me, or if she was only looking to get another item to sell.

     The Chia took me into his stubby paws, and I had a brief lapse back into my fancies. Still unwilling to believe that a pet could have so kindly picked me up only to sell me off for money, I told myself that the Kyrii probably was not able to care for me for one reason or another, and had decided to sell me to a pet who could give me a loving home. That was how I liked to imagine everyone, as faerie tale characters with not a speck of greed in their hearts.

     Before I knew it, I was imagining my perfect life-to-be with this Chia. Ignoring the negative impression I received from the Chia, I pictured him as a loving and kind owner who would pet me and care for me. I pictured him as a whole different pet from what my Petpets' intuition was telling me about his character.

     "Come, hurry. How much time do we have left?" the Chia asked.

     "Seven minutes," the Jubjub dutifully replied.

     The two rushed out of the shop, with me in the Chia's arms. The speed at which they crossed my old living quarters, the marketplace, was rather exciting. Soon, they were tramping across lush green fields, the likes of which I had never ventured out of the city to see. The sight of all the grass made me long to run in it. Perhaps my new owner would be good enough to play with me in the fields someday.

     My owner crossed a low hill with me in his arms, and then stopped. My eyes widened with the surprise of what lay before us. A giant yellow and purple creature lazed on the ground mere yards away. The humongous Turmac's eyes were closed, but it seemed to be only in a light sleep.

     "Okay, Puppyblew," the Chia said to me, setting me on the ground and nudging me towards the oversized Petpet. "Go wake up the Turmaculus, boy."

     I looked at him in surprise. Why did he want me to wake up such a monster? What purpose could such an action have?

     "Go on," the Chia said impatiently. "I've been waiting all day for a chance, and when the hour is over you won't be able to wake him up. Hurry!"

     I whined. The Chia seemed frustrated. "Go on! Scream! Hit him with a stick!"

     Trembling under the harsh orders, I walked slowly up to the Turmaculus. The creature seemed bigger with every step I took. He looked like a kind enough Petpet, but I worried how he would react to a sudden and rude awakening. The Chia was my owner now, and I felt a duty to obey him, absurd and foolish as this command seemed.

     Standing near the Turmaculus's head, I opened my mouth and let out a loud yelp in an attempt to wake the creature. It worked surprisingly well. His eyes popped open, as did his mouth. I quivered at the sight of the huge jaw and big teeth. When the Turmaculus grabbed me and placed me inside, however, I was petrified. His mouth closed behind me, teeth sealing the gap, and I found myself sitting on his moist pink tongue.

     My eyes were wide with fear, my head was spinning with thoughts of how I'd been betrayed. My trust of these pets, my loyal obedience had taken me to my end. My dreams never had a chance to play out in my life; my childish fantasies were now giving way to the wet and tooth-filled reality that surrounded me. Never in all my thoughts of spending my days curled up before a fire had I imagined being trapped inside a giant Turmac's mouth. My fate was clear to me.

     Faintly, beyond the Turmaculus's lips, I heard the buzz of the Chia's voice. I could barely make out what he was saying: "No avatar!" He sounded disbelieving. "But he definitely ate that Petpet."

     The Jubjub's voice replied, "Bad luck, I'm afraid. Tomorrow we'll come back."

     "And we'll come early, so we have time to find an Abominable Snowball. I wish I hadn't paid extra for that Puppyblew."

     Feeling very hurt and cold with fear, I stared at the teeth above me and around me. I could hardly believe that the Chia had brought me here and fed me to this monster. He wanted me to be eaten. At this point, I didn't care if the teeth came crashing down on me at that moment. The images I had long entertained of kind pets had been ruined by the conduct of the Chia and Kyrii I'd been in the care of today. How childish I had been to trust them so easily, to ignore all the warning signs and carry out the Chia's cruel instructions. Now I was sitting in a giant Petpet's mouth, and probably about to be brought to the stomach by means I didn't want to think about.

     What was this? The Turmaculus's mouth was opening! I seized my chance and darted forward, slipping a bit but managing to leap over the row of teeth and make it out into the sunlight. The great jaws closed behind me once again, but now I was on the other side, in the world I was used to. I stood on the grass, scared from the close call and relieved to have escaped without so much as a bite mark.

     I was of a mind to run as fast as I could away from there, but a deep, rumbling voice issued from the Turmaculus and caused me to look back at the giant. His eyes were open, and he was looking at me intently. "You're free," he growled kindly.

     "Thank you," I squeaked, truly grateful.

     "I'm glad to help. I'm tired of pets bringing me their Petpets to eat," the Turmaculus growled. "I'm also tired of having pets expect me to make their Petpet stronger or some silly thing. I like to mess with their expectations a bit. They want me to strengthen their Petpet, and I eat it. They want me to eat it, and I strengthen it, or in your case I pretend to eat it." He let out a rumbling chuckle, and I smiled faintly, nervous at the memory of being in the Turmaculus's mouth.

     "I think you're lucky to be away from those pets, young Puppyblew," he told me. "But I suppose you're going to go back and find them and go home with them again?"

     I shook my head.

     The Turmaculus looked pleased. "That's good. I'd have thought you weren't right in the head if you said you were going to go back after what they did. Be a wild Petpet, and nobody can make you do as they wish. See, that's what I am, and who in Neopia can get me to do what he wants me to? I eat and sleep as I please."

     I nodded, respectful of the old Turmaculus's wisdom. Somewhere in my mind, I remembered all the lovely ideas I'd had about life with an owner. They seemed unrealistic now.

     "You can live on the plants out here," the Turmaculus rumbled. "You can play all day in the beautiful green grass. You can have a wonderful life out here. You don't need a pet for that."

     I looked around at all the grass I'd been admiring earlier. He was quite right, I realized. I'd missed so much in my days spent living at the market, wishing for a pet to take me home. I could have been enjoying myself out in these fields all that time I spent dreaming of having a loving home.

     "There are some dangers out here, such as rival Petpets, but a wild life is still a great one to live," the Turmaculus said. He looked off into the distance for a while, and I stood silent, my mind working fast to piece together all this information. After a few moments, he turned his wise eyes on me and asked, "Well, will you be returning to the city now?"

     I shook my head.

     The Turmaculus smiled. "Fare well. Good afternoon." With that, he flopped down and closed his eyes. Soon he was fast asleep, looking as content and happy as I'd pictured myself if I were asleep before a fire with a pet watching over me.

     And so I became a wild Puppyblew. I roam the fields of Meridell alone; the fresh plants satisfy my food needs, and the grasses are my home. I do not dream of a perfect life anymore, though often I do wish I had a family of pets to go home to. But having seen what pets can really be like outside of my childish fancies, I've decided not to let another pet call himself my owner, for now at least.

     I will always be grateful to the Turmaculus for helping me on that long-ago day early in my life. Sometimes I look at him snoozing in the field and think how kind he was to release me from his jaws. Perhaps one day I will find a truly loving owner, but for now I take the Turmaculus's advice and run free.

The End

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