The Young Dr_Death: Part Two
“...so it was Captain Lemmy, the most fearsome pirate to sail the Neopian seas. Now can anyone tell me what his ship was called?”
The short blue Acara straightened her glasses; her eyeglasses strap was a string of artificial pearls. She was elderly, with hollowed cheekbones. She had a few grey hairs on her head, a face that was wrinkling and shrinking a bit with age, and a rather fluffy woolen pullover. She was gentle-looking, yet it was obvious her best days were behind her. She held the history book in her left hand while she wrote up on the chalkboard.
She didn’t seem to notice her class, full of young, blue-clad pets, was inattentive. In fact, many of them had fallen into a stupor, dreaming of playing in the snow, or of a hot cup of cocoa. None of them were paying the least bit attention to the teacher ever since she’d blasted the heat up way too high in an effort to keep her old body warm. None of them, that is, except a small yellow Techo. He looked around, and seeing his classmates playing Cliffhanger on the wall next to them, he timidly raised his hand.
“Yes, Dr_Death?” their teacher asked, turning around.
“Um... the Captivator?” Dr_Death asked uncertainly.
“That is correct,” the Acara said, turning back to the board. “Now, the Captivator, we are told, was built in...” she continued in a weary voice. She droned on, not noticing (or caring) what her students were doing. That’s why she didn’t see what happened next.
“Psst,” one of her students, a Shadow Bori, hissed sharply at Dr_Death. Dr_Death bit his lip, but pretended he didn’t hear him.
“Hey, psst, Brainy!” the Bori hissed again, so lowly that it could hardly be heard in that last row of students, let alone at the front of the room. He poked Dr_Death rather sharply with the tip of his pencil.
“Ow! Hey, stop that!” Dr_Death cried back in a whisper, rubbing his arm.
“Aw, did that hurt Brainy? Maybe this will make it better,” the Bori said with a maniacal grin, and he started to throw wads of paper at his head. The red Skeith and alien Aisha chortled under their breath. Dr_Death frowned and tried to ignore them.
“Brainy! Hey, Death Breath!” the three whispered maliciously, trying to get a response out of Dr_Death. It was all he could do to turn around and hit the shadow Bori with his binder. He looked up at the clock.
Only thirty more minutes, he said, thinking about what he would do once school ended. Perhaps he’d take a visit to the Shop of Mystery; he’d always enjoyed sitting in there, trying to guess what was in Tarla’s bundles. Or maybe he’d get a Snow Puff; he hadn’t had one of those in a while, and it was his favorite treat. Besides, he hadn’t been outside much except for school and medicine, on account of the Puppyblew that he’d recently given over to the petpet shop, or the Felf he’d taken care or the week before that.
“And tomorrow,” Dr_Death said to himself, “Drew is taking me down to Happy Valley. This is going to be a great weekend!” He smiled, and his thoughts for the last few minutes of class centered on all the fun he was going to have on Saturday. He completely ignored his classmates’ attempts to antagonize him.
“... and so, Jemmy Lickers became Captain Jemmy of the Captivator,” their teacher ended dryly. Just then, the bell rang. The class, torn out of its inattentiveness, gathered up their things and herded out the door in a mad rush. Dr_Death picked up his things and walked out the door into the hall beyond.
The desks, doors, halls, and just the plain design of the NeoAcademy were antiquated, the school having been built over one hundred years before. The recent addition of blue lockers (in the last ten years or so) created an incongruity with the pale mango walls. The students were jammed together, wall-to-wall, in groups around lockers, making it very hard to navigate. Dr_Death fought his way through the swarm in an attempt to get down to the second floor, where his locker was, from the fourth.
“Hey, Death Breath!” Dr_Death heard someone call out to him. A few female Xweetoks at a nearby locker giggled. Dr_Death did his best to ignore the statement and push his way through the crowd faster.
He finally found himself on the fourth floor landing. He looked out the large window that was opposite of him. The snow had begun to fall heavier now. Dr_Death could tell the temperature had fallen drastically.
Good thing I brought my heaviest coat, he thought to himself, smirking. Now all I need to do is get it out of my locker.... He started down the stairs, which were less crowded than the hallway he’d just left.
“Hey, Death Breath! Where you going, Brainy?” A voice called down to him mockingly. He tried to run, but suddenly someone grabbed his backpack. He was stopped so abruptly that he was swung around and forced to face his attacker. A small group of bullies, including the Bori, Aisha, and Skeith, surrounded him. The shadow Bori tore his backpack from his body and ripped open the zipper.
“Well, boys, what do we have here?” he asked, taking a binder out of the backpack.
“Give that back...” Dr_Death said through gritted teeth, trying not to lose his temper.
“Well, this doesn’t look important,” the Bori said casually, ripping a handful of graded papers and homework out of the binder.
“Wait, don’t!” screamed Dr_Death desperately as the Bori made a move to toss the papers down the flight of stairs.
“Heh, looks like Brainy thinks they’re important,” the Skeith sneered.
“Well, then. He’s going to have to do something to get them back,” a glowing Korbat said, grinning evilly.
“Yeah, you’re right, Paul. Let’s see... what should he do this time?” the alien Aisha pondered out loud. Dr_Death started at them with a look of utmost loathing.
“I am not going to anything you jerks come up with. Not this time,” Dr_Death said in a dangerous voice. The Bori just smirked.
“Jerks? I think he just called us jerks, Dave!” the Skeith said in mock astonishment.
“I heard him loud and clear. Looks like he doesn’t need this stuff after all,” the Bori said, placing his hand with the stack of papers over the handrail. Dr_Death gasped.
“Then you’ll do whatever we want.... Unless you want your little,” he looked into the stack of papers in his hand, “essay on The History of Meridell to go flying.”
A shadow passed over Dr_Death’s face.
“Don’t... I spent forever on that paper!” he blustered. The others pets laughed at him, seeing they had struck a nerve. Several pets were standing on either side of the group, on the landing and below on the staircase, waiting to see what happened.
“Sing, Death!” the Bori demanded suddenly. “Sing ‘I’m a Little Teapot’!”
Dr_Death squirmed uncomfortably. The other pets looked on with interest to see if he would do it.
“I-I’m a little t-t-teapot...” Dr_Death started singing slowly. He could hear amused giggles behind him from the pets on the stairs.
“And dance, Death! You got to do the dance!” the Korbat jeered. Dr_Death gritted his teeth again and tried to regain his composure.
“I’m a little teapot, short and stout,” he sang loudly, going through the motions of the dance. The whole stairway erupted into laughter. Dr_Death closed his eyes.
“...hear me shout, ‘Tip me over and pour me out!’” Dr_Death heard them laugh even harder.
It must be hilarious, he thought to himself. Not only must I look silly, but I’m off-key, too. He opened his eyes. Everyone was still laughing at him. The Skeith was on his stomach, pounding the floor; the Korbat was tumbling in the air with laughter. The other two were bent over double, clutching their stomachs and laughing with heaving breaths.
Dr_Death bit his bottom lip so hard it nearly bled. It was so hard trying not to cry....
“Give me back my papers,” he said tearfully. The Bori coughed and laughed a little more. Then he got up, wiping tears of pure malicious joy out of his eyes.
“What, Brainy?” he asked breathlessly.
“Give me back my papers!” Dr_Death roared, and the whole flight of stairs stopped laughing. Dr_Death couldn’t take it any more: he had lost his temper.
“Wait, so you yell at me and expect me to just give this stuff back? Fine. Catch!” The Bori threw the papers into the air, and they dispersed, floating slowing back down all over the staircase. Then the Skeith threw his binder at him, hitting him in the shoulder and knocking him down into the sitting position on the floor.
“I believe this is yours,” the Korbat said nastily, picking up the discarded backpack and throwing it into Dr_Death’s stomach.
“Oof!” Dr_Death groaned as it hit him. Still chuckling, the band of bullies pushed him out of the way and went down the stairs.
The other pets stood silently there, and then went on their way. A few picked up some papers and handed them to Dr_Death guiltily, and others just threw them at him. But most just passed by, stepping on the papers like they weren’t even there. Dr_Death just sat up against the wall until everyone had passed by and the school was mostly empty. Then he picked up a ruined piece of graded homework and started to sob pitifully into it. This was one of the worst days of his life.
Dr_Death was still sniffling forty-five minutes later as he exited the school into the powerful snowstorm. He’d spent thirty of those minutes collecting his papers. The last he’d found was his essay, which was muddy, wet, and trodden on. Dr_Death had renewed his sobbing session- that essay had taking him a good two weeks of solid, hard work to write.
“It’s... not... fair,” he sobbed, gulping on each word. He wiped the tears from his eyes, but they kept coming. “They always pick on me,” he said sullenly to himself. He sniffed again, and opened one of the front doors.
Immediately, Dr_Death felt a powerful blast of cold winter air hit him directly in the face, making him stagger back a little. Dr_Death was used to storms coming up and causing it to snow harder- after all, he’d been on Terror Mountain a while. Still, it was a little shocking to be hit in the face with such chilling air, especially after he’d just gotten done crying. It was more than a little snowstorm, but not quite a blizzard. Dr_Death felt the tears on his face instantly freeze. He wiped it off and looked into the sky.
The snow was coming down hard, and the sky was almost as white as the small, icy flakes that hit Dr_Death in the face. He could see faint bits of grey through the falling snow.
Dr_Death estimated (by looking on the playground and seeing a glazed-over spot that was indicative of ice) that the temperature must be below freezing. He needed to get home, and fast.
Dr_Death buttoned his coat up and shielded his face from the wind with his arm. He slowly started his way across the playground, the wind almost blowing him over at times. The snow only seemed to be falling harder, and he could barely see in front of him. The storm had officially turned into a blizzard.
He managed to find his way out the school gates. Luckily, his home was only five minutes away, if he could hold out that long. He struggled against the storm, seeing nothing else but white and hearing nothing but the howl of the wind swirling around him. Well, almost nothing else.
“I... must... be... hearing... things,” he told himself, his teeth chattering. But the sound was gone. And then it came again, louder this time.
“It... sounds... like... mewing?” Dr_Death looked around. He wasn’t imagining it- or was he? For he could have sworn he was hearing the mewing of a petpet. He got to the grove of pine trees he’d hidden behind several weeks ago. The mewing was louder and seemed to be coming from here.
Dr_Death ran into the relative protection of the trees and searched around. The mewing seemed to be coming from behind a bush. He stooped down, shielding the wind and snow with his arm.
“Mew?” Dr_Death started at the weak little mew. It was a Kadoatie.
“What the- what’s a Kadoatie doing out here?” he asked himself. However, he had no more time to consider this, as he saw the Kadoatie was wet and freezing. “Oh, no. She might catch pneumonia. Or... worse. I just can’t leave her out here.” With that, he put out his hand to grab the Kadoatie.
“It’s alright... ouch!”
The Kadoatie had sunk her sharp eye teeth into his hand. He pulled it back, wincing.
“I’m not going to hurt you...” he said gently, but the Kadoatie just retreated back into the heath. Dr_Death considered a moment.
I've just got to get her out of this cold, he thought to himself. Oh, I know!
Dr_Death reached into his backpack and pulled out the remains of the lunch he’d bought in the cafeteria- a slice of Neggy Custard Pie.
He had been saving it as an after school snack. It was his second favorite dessert, and he’d waited for two moths for the cafeteria to serve it again. However, he now unwrapped it and held it out to the Kadoatie.
“Come on, I know you’re hungry,” he told the Kadoatie sternly. The Kadoatie sniffed the air and started to move closer, wearily eying the pie.
“That’s it, a little closer...” Dr_Death whispered. The Kadoatie glanced up at him cautiously, then leaped forward and began to ravenously eat at the pie. Dr_Death smiled, chattering his teeth, and petted the Kadoatie. “That’s better, isn’t it?”
She mewed, and then sneezed. Dr_Death shook his head sadly and picked the nearly frozen petpet up. He undid his coat a little and placed the Kadoatie inside.
“It’s not much, but it’ll keep you warm,” he said, re-buttoning his coat up to the Kadoatie’s head. She mewed weakly and snuggled her head against his body. Dr_Death’s eyes teared up. He bit his lip, and then wiped away the tears. A determined look emerged on his face, and placing the pie back into his backpack, he got up and set out again to brave the storm.
To be continued...