Why We All Fear the Word "Hospital"
On a normal morning on Mystery Island the day seemed bright and inviting. Warm air, a cool breezes here and there, endless sunshine. As a Shadow Xweetok yawned and flicked her long tail, Shootingtail thought dreamily to herself, What a nice day. There’s no way anything can spoil this morning!
“ACHOOOOOOO!” The Xweetok’s ears perked as she instantly spun around and charged inside her neohome. Her two sisters Lila and Kimble, and her owner Alex, were sitting at the table in their kitchen when a loud sneeze had disturbed the peace.
“What in Neopia was that?” Shootingtail demanded as she walked towards them.
“That’s what we just wondered.” Alex’s worried reply made Shootingtail even more curious.
“Good mor-ACHOOOO!” Jake’s quiet greeting was broken off by a terrible sneezing fit as the Baby of the family (literally) walked into the room, handkerchief at hand. The Lupe’s eyes were tearing, his nose was running, and he looked rather annoyed, which was unnusual for Jake considering his normally cheerful personality.
“Oh my gawd! Jake, you poor thing!” Alex gasped as she rushed over and threw her arms around Jake in a tight hug.
“Mom, get off me!” Jake whined, struggling underneath her killer hug of doom. “I feel just fine-ACHOOOO!” He left a nice pile of snot on Alex’s shoulder.
“Eww,” Kimble grumbled, watching, as Alex released Jake and went to search for a towel.
“What’s wrong with Jake? Does he have a fever?” Lila prodded Alex with her concerned questions as she returned, her shirt now de-snotified. The Bori was glancing at Jake now as he settled down in a chair next to Shootingtail.(As he had done so Shootingtail had slowly been inching her chair away, for fear she might catch whatever disease he had.)
“I’m not sure what Jake has,” Alex murmured at last. “Jake, let me feel your forehead.” Slowly she paced over and examined Jake. Jake frowned and looked away, muttering under his breath about how terrible he felt.
“You have, err... something.”
“Great hunch, mom,” Jake stated sarcastically.
Alex shot him a warning look and went on: “Well, definitely a cold, or it could be something else. How do you feel?”
“Like I’m going to faint and break out in a fever, or start puking - hey, why are you all backing away from me? Don’t ignore me, darnit!” Jake snapped as he stared at all three of his siblings suspiciously.
“Sorry, Jake, but if you feel like you’re going to retch... we don’t want to take any chances.” Lila laughed nervously.
Jake sighed as she slumped out of his chair and yawned/sneezed. “I’m going to bed,” he complained loudly.
“Oh no, you’re not,” Lila said as she grabbed her brother by the scruff. “You’re coming with us to the hospital.”
Horrific background music began playing somewhere close by as Jake’s eyes widened like moons. “H-H-h... hosp... hospi...”
“Great job, Lila. You said the ‘h-word’. That word is a big no-no around Jake,” Kimble chided quietly, sighing with displeasure.
“YOU’RE NOT TAKING ME ALIVE!” Jake screamed as he threw himself out of Lila’s grasp and ran down the hallway of their neohome.
“Quick! After him!” Alex ordered as she paused to point dramatically. She then pulled a rope out of thin air.
“How did you do that?” Shootingtail asked nervously, eyeing her owner curiously.
“Hey, it’s reality - reality has no limit!”
“You can’t do that in reality! That defies it!” Kimble protested.
“Shouldn’t we go after Jake now?” Lila broke in. Everyone blinked.
“Oh, right. Quick, grab him!” Alex screamed like a banshee as she charged down the hallway, waving the rope around like a medieval weapon.
“Should we help her?” Lila asked.
“Nope. Too lazy to move,” Kimble yawned as she leaned against the wall, grinning.
Ten minutes later Alex returned, dragging behind her a bundle of rope that was Jake. The little Lupe gave muffled yells of protest underneath the layers of rope, and began coughing again.
“Wow. He looks like a hostage,” Shootingtail commented as Alex dusted off her hands in a proud manor.
“I know. If he won’t cooperate then we’ll just have to treat him like one,” Alex replied with a smile. “Come on, let’s go. If we want to make it to the hospital in Neopia Central then we’ll need to take the boat to mainland.”
Jake whined loudly and squirmed just enough to free his paws and part of his head. Unfortunately, it was his mouth that was freed.
“Are you all out of your mind?” he screeched. “I’m not going, and that’s final!”
“Who gave you a say in this matter, Sir-yells-a-lot?” Alex asked, poking Jake on the forehead.
“Alright! A road trip! Finally, something to do that will give us some exercise.” Kimble’s good spirit showed as she grabbed Shootingtail and Lila by the paw and began dragging them towards the door, while Alex followed close behind, dragging Jake along. Jake had fastened his claws into the ground and was leaving marks in the floor as he was hauled along by the rope. As Alex came past the door frame she was halted abruptly. Everyone glanced over their shoulder and stared dumbly at the sight. Jake had dug his claws into the door’s frame and refused to let go.
“I’m not leaving this house!” Jake yelled, as he clung stubbornly to the door handle.
“If you don’t go, you’ll be feeling sick all week, Jake!” Alex yelled as she tugged at the rope.
“Quick, activate plan A43211Q!” Kimble yelled dramatically. Everyone blinked again.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Lila asked.
“I don’t know, it just sounded cool,” Kimble replied shiftily. “Quick, assist Alex!” she added on and bolted forward to grab Alex’s back and began tugging. Exchanging an odd look, Lila and Shootingtail raced over to help.
“PULL!” Alex yelled.
With the four of them and their combined efforts they managed to yank Jake off the door and drag him down the road towards the docks. Some day this is turning out to be, Shootingtail thought to herself as they left.
It took a while, but after an annoying two-hour boat ride, the four siblings and their owner made it to Neopia Central without much difficulty.
“I’m hungry,” Jake whined as he struggled under the ropes. Yes, he was still a hostage. “And I feel nauseous.”
“Then you shouldn’t eat,” Kimble replied, glancing around the small clearing that was Neopia Central. “Hey, look, the Money Tree!”
“No pit stops,” Alex said, patting Kimble on the head. “If we have some time, we can try to make a visit there, but priority comes first. We need to head to the Neopian Plaza and the hospital.”
“NOT THE HOSPITAL!” Jake wailed loudly as he began sniffling over-dramatically.
“Stop that,” Lila hissed under her breath, sweat-dropping. “People are staring at us, Jake.”
A group of bystanders went back to what they were doing, leaving them to relax and not have to worry about making a scene.
“I’ll make as large of a scene as I want, and if they have a problem with it, then they can say it to my face!” Jake snapped irritably, wriggling violently under the mass of ropes.
“Face it, Jake, you’ll never escape.” Shootingtail laughed softly. “There’s no way a sick Lupe such as yourself could muster enough strength to break out.”
“Then... then I’ll chew my way out!” Jake whined as he attempted to knawe through the closest rope, but instead broke out into another sneezing and coughing fit.
“Please calm down,” Alex begged. “Let’s just hurry. It’ll be noon before we know it, and we really need to hurry.”
“I can’t wait to get there so we can leave sooner.”
“You can’t make me go - ACHOOOO!”
Once all the replies came, Alex began walking again, tugging Jake along on the rope, while other Neopians simply watched in bewilderment. Can’t you just feel the bad vibes screaming trouble? Lila, Kimble and Shootingtail all swapped a glance. Before them stood a towering, white building with a green cross on top. This building truly did scream “Place Of Evil”.
Gulping, Jake took up whimpering again as he was dragged inside the building to the waiting room area. A bedraggled-looking Techo sighed, his skin covered in blue and green bumps. A Tonu sitting across from the Techo looked like it was in a very bad condition, with watery eyes and an open, gaping mouth. The only noises that escaped its throat were ugga-ugga sounds.
“What kind of torture place is this?” Jake whispered, his eyes wide.
“The kind where sick Neopets like you come to get better,” Alex replied firmly.
“But what if I don’t want to get better?” Jake demanded, sniffling over-dramatically.
“For Meridell’s sake, pull yourself together, Jake,” Kimble sighed as she gently plopped on a chair next to a hyper-looking Chia, who was trembling violently.
Lila and Shootingtail joined her while watching Alex drag Jake up to the front desk and spoke to a green Elephante, who nodded and scribbled something down on a clipboard.
“By the looks of things, we won’t have to wait long,” Shootingtail whispered brightly to Kimble.
Kimble nodded to this and glanced at Lila. The Christmas Bori had slunk low in her chair and was trying to inch away from a rather intimidating Mutant Jetsam, who was eyeing her intently.
“Can I help you?” Lila asked the Jetsam worriedly.
The Jetsam was looking at Lila as if she were his mid-day meal.
Just when things could have gotten odder, the three sisters were saved as Alex’s voice rang across the waiting room. “The doctor will see Jake now!”
Relieved, all three Neopets quickly stood and raced towards the front desk to join Alex as she dragged Jake by the rope and proceeded into the back room.
“Hello, ma’am, and welcome to the Neopian... hospital.” The Green Gelert’s greeting was cut off as he watched the unnusual scene ahead. A human owner dragging a coughing Lupe behind by a rope leash, while three other pets followed closely.
“May I... ask why he’s tied up?” the Gelert asked awkwardly.
“Jake refused to come along quietly, so I decided to treat him as I would treat any disobedient felon.”
“But... isn’t that Neopets abuse?” he stumbled.
“Yeah, what he said!” Jake whined irritably, pouting underneath his cocoon of ropes.
“In my dictionary no such word exists. Neither does the word ‘bedtime’, ‘sticky paper’, or ‘Evil Fuzzles’,” Alex replied with a beaming grin, which could have frightened even Dr. Frank Sloth himself and sent him packing.
The Gelert sweat-dropped and coughed awkwardly. “If you want me to examine him, you’ll need to remove the ropes.”
“I’ll do it!” Kimble volunteered as she instantly leaped forward, maractite dagger at hand and swung it like crazy at the rope.
“NO!” Everyone screamed at the same second.
Frozen in place, Kimble’s head was bowed, her body poised as she remained fixed on the spot. Just then every rope around Jake fell to the ground around him in a stack of neatly-cut rope.
Lila and Shootingtail both applauded while Alex held up a sign that had a ten written on it.
“Bravo!” Lila cheered, whistling like a one-man stadium at a Yooyuball game.
The Green Gelert sighed as the noise died down, then stated, “Young Kacheek, may I remind you this is a hospital.”
“Sorry,” Kimble replied quietly as she tucked her dagger away into her backpack.
“Now, let’s see what’s wrong with this one,” the Gelert said as he lifted Jake by his paws onto a small examination table.
“There’s nothing wrong with me!” Jake snapped as he curled up into a ball and began muttering under his breath.
“Definitely an attitude. And what other symptoms does he have? By the way, I’m Dr. Salem.”
“He’s been sneezing and coughing,” Alex replied, shrugging, as she leaned against the wall. “And it’s nice to meet you, sir.”
“Well, now,” Dr. Salem mumbled, scribbling something onto his clipboard. “Alright, sonny, how many fingers am I holding up?”
“What kind of question is that?” Jake blurted out, narrowing his eyes. “And it’s two.”
“Very good,” Dr. Salem murmured, writing something else down. Jake, Kimble, Alex, Lila, and Shootingtail all watched in silence as he reached for his stethoscope.
“Now, can you take a deep breath for me, sonny?”
“No, and stop calling me sonny!” Jake whined, flattening his ears against his head. Suddenly he gave a loud yelp as the cold end of the stethoscope was pressed against his back. “It’s s-so c-cold...” Jake chattered.
“Well, at least you’re not numb to any sense of feeling. That’s good.” Dr. Salem sighed, requesting that Jake cooperate and take in large breaths for him.
Jake hesitantly obliged and complained under his breath the whole time until Dr. Salem finished with the breathing test, and took up writing in his notes again. Jake’s right eye twitched as he listened to the scratchy, scribbling sound of pen on paper, the noise slowly hammering away at his sanity. At last Dr. Salem stopped; Jake sighed in relief as he watched him finally put away the pen and paper and pace casually towards the table.
“It seems,” he began, “that Jake here has Kikoughela.”
“What’s that?” Alex asked grimly.
“It’s nothing serious if treated quickly,” Dr. Salem explained, shaking his head.
“Treated quickly? You mean I’m going to die or morph into some fungus ball? Well guess what, buddy? I’m not staying around here if I need to get a needle!” Jake howled, as he spun around and launched himself off the desk, his paws thudding against the tiled floor as he ran out the door.
“Jake!” Kimble gasped as she fluttered out the door, hastily followed by Lila and Shootingtail.
The Gelert doctor huffed and glanced at Alex. “Maybe the ropes were a good idea.”
“They are a good idea,” Alex agreed.
“Jake, stop!” Lila yelled. Her sides heaved as she launched herself at Jake’s hide legs at the same second the Lupe made a turn around a corner. Jake howled as he heard the satisfying clang of Lila collapsing into the wall behind him. Now, if he could the door he’d be home free..
“GOTCHA!” Kimble screamed as she sprang forward, arms extended.
“Road block!” Jake stated to himself, leaping up and landing on his stomach. He easily slid across the floor and between Kimble’s out-stretched legs, and in the process, knocked her over. “Road block avoided,” Jake smirked coolly, slowing his pace to a trot. He was now wandering around in what felt like an endless maze of halls in the place of torture.
“Shootingtail.” Jake’s tail swished as he eyed his sister, who happened to be blocking the back door of the Neopian Hospital.
“You really wouldn’t stop me, would you?” he asked awkwardly, frowning. “Come on, Shooty. Please? Don’t let them take me!”
“Sorry, Jakey,” Shootingtail sighed, holding up a dart filled with paralyzation serum.
Jake gasped aloud and slowly began to back away until he felt an object behind him. He spun around, realizing that said object he had backed up into was Lila.
“Game over!” Lila grinned as she grabbed him by the scruff with her front claws. “Shootingtail, now!”
“Sorry, brother,” Shootingtail purred as she chucked the dart at Jake. It landed evenly on his front right leg, and instantly the Baby Lupe yelped in startled surprise and fell over.
“I... I c-can’t m-move,” Jake gasped.
“You’re paralyzed now,” Lila explained calmly, as she grabbed Jake by the scruff and began dragging him back down the hall towards the room. Shootingtail casually followed behind.
Ten seconds later...
“This could have been a lot easier if you had listened to me,” Dr. Salem chided Jake, wagging his green tail just for extra measure.
Jake was now tied up in an even thicker cocoon of ropes, and he was still paralyzed. The only part of him that he could still move was his mouth, which wasn’t a very good thing.
“Easier? NO! RELEASE ME NOW!” Jake whined loudly, sniffling over-dramatically as he threw the doctor his “cute eyes technique”. As most of you know (if you don’t, then you should!), Jake’s cute eyes were almost impossible to resist, and were equivalent to any powers of a Faerie-blessed Neopet.
Dr. Salem gazed deeply into his blue eyes before he shrugged it off. Jake hadn’t been the first Neopet to try something like this. And when you’re a professional, you need to learn to ignore such trivial things. “I was going to say that Kikoughela wasn’t common among Neopets; and, no, it won’t kill you. The cure is two spoonfuls of Kikoughela Syrup.”
A dead silence fell over the five of them.
“That’s it?” Kimble asked slowly. “You mean, we went through all this grief for nothing?”
Lila, Shootingtail and Alex slowly fixed Jake with death glares that could rival Dr. Frank Sloth’s on Jake, who flinched.
“Uhh... No hard feelings, right? Ehheh... heh...” Jake laughed nervously.
* * * Ten Hours Later, back on Mystery Island * * *
“Well, at least he’s feeling better now,” Lila sighed as she helped Alex fold some kitchen towels.
“Uh-huh,” Alex agreed.
From nearby, Jake piped up, “You can’t blame me, can you? I was a poor, scared little Lupe who-”
”Give it a rest, Jake,” Alex, Lila, and Shootingtail all sighed simultaneously.
Suddenly, a loud coughing fit rang through the air, as a bedraggled Faerie Kacheek marched into the living room.
“I’m going to kill you, Jake,” Kimble groaned. Her nose was runny and she bore a look of pure sickness.
“Here we go again,” Jake sighed.