The Doctor's Tale: Part Three
Dr. Death pauses and calls the waitress over. Your mind is spinning, taking in this new part of the story.
"Who kidnapped you?" you ask after he receives his refill. "Was that how you became Dr. Death?"
The Dr. slowly takes a sip from his drink. Each second is agonizing; you have to know more.
Finally, he replies, "Yes, and no. The way I became who I am today is a bit complicated. And you probably don't want to hear me ramble on about-"
"But I do, Dr. Death!" you exclaim.
"Please, call me Tad," he chuckles. "Are you sure you want to hear about it? It's not a happy story."
"Yes, I want to know what happened!"
"All right then, but don't say I didn't warn you..."
Darkness. That was all that I could perceive. That and the cold. And I knew that I was sitting-or was I lying?- on something hard.
Slowly, my senses returned. My head throbbed in pain from where I had been hit, and I discovered that I was sitting on a stone floor. I blinked open my eyes and saw nothing but the seams of a black bag. The smell of death and decay filled my nostrils, and for a second my mind envisioned Neopets who had preceded me wasting away in this same spot, never knowing where they were or what had happened to them. I quickly pushed away that disturbing thought.
I shivered. Maybe I had been brought to Terror Mountain. Maybe I was outside the Snowager's cave, waiting to be fed to him. It was a frightening thought, and I shivered again, but this time not from the cold.
I could tell that I was in a small room. If I wiggled my arms, which were tied behind my back, then I could feel the walls behind me and to either side. I couldn't tell if Sym was with me; if he was, he made no sound.
I wondered if the Marolls were looking for me. What had they done when I didn't return to the Money Tree? Had they assumed that I had lost track of time and waited longer? Or had they realized right away that something was wrong and called the Defenders HQ? Either way, it would have done them no good. If anyone had come looking for me, all they would have found in that alley were a couple of empty cans.
Did they miss me? I could just imagine them sitting in the Neolodge right now, worried sick. George would be mad and defiant and insist on continuing to search for me. Lyla would be weeping and blaming herself. Myra would be hugging a sobbing Trink and trying to be brave for the sake of her sisters. But I knew that there would be a tear in her eye. I could almost see it slide down her cheek.
And then there was Bailey. Little Bailey, so young and innocent, would be utterly confused. Why hadn't her 'big buther' come home? And where was 'Puppyboo'? She wouldn't even begin to understand when her mother and father tried to explain how I had gone missing. Words such as "Defenders are searching" and "very bad people took him" would not register with her.
Suddenly I was bubbling with anger. Anger at those who had kidnapped me, anger over losing my family, and, most of all, anger at myself for being so stupid. Why had I gone down that alleyway? In hindsight, it was probably the worst choice I had made in my life.
I was so enraged that I felt the need to do something. So I thrashed around, trying desperately to loosen the ties that bound my arms and legs. In my fury, I hit something soft. A quiet whimper told me that Sym too had been captured.
My anger drained out of me, and I felt weak and vulnerable.
"Sym?" I whispered. He gave a muffled woof, and I realized that they must have muzzled him. Anger pricked at my mind, but I pushed it aside. Only logical thinking could help me get us out of this.
Suddenly, an idea popped into my head.
"Sym, can you crawl over to where my arms are?" I asked him softly. A few seconds later I felt warm fur against my hand. I ran my fingers over his body, searching for the ropes that bound him. To my surprise, I couldn't find any binding his front or back legs. Then I felt a coarseness that was much different from Sym's soft fur.
Ropes had been looped around his back paws. I tried to follow the rope with my hands, but I couldn't get far enough. I assumed that he had been tethered to the wall. Cursing, I dismissed my idea of untying him and setting him loose.
I was about to ask Sym if he knew where we had been taken when I heard voices outside. My good ears recognized the voices of those who had captured Sym and me in the Marketplace.
"Do you think they've come to yet?" one voice asked. It was high-pitched and reminded me of stones sliding through a river.
"Only one way to find out," replied the other voice, which was deep and hollow. I had a distinct image of echoes in a cave.
I heard the groan of a door opening, and then light blinded me as the bag was snatched off of my head. I squinted my eyes tight, seeing only shadows. Gradually, my vision cleared. I wished it hadn't.
A Shadow Hissi stood before me. His scaly skin was blacker than the night, and his eyes were filled with malice. They seemed to sear right through me, but I could tell that there wasn't too much intelligence in them. My guess was that he was the sidekick, dispensable and not very bright, but still very formidable. However, it was not he who scared me.
A creature more frightening than Sloth himself had entered the room after the Hissi. Long, sharp, and curved horns protruded out of its head, and spikes traveled from its forehead all the way down its back. Ugly brown, matted fur covered it from head to toe. Its paws were connected to its body by nothing but blue fire, which flickered hungrily.
The worst part was its face. Cold and empty eyes were etched into more blue flame, and a cruel smile flared in and out of existence. Unlike its simpleminded counterpart, I could practically see the cunning intellect in its eyes. Its very presence seemed to suck all warmth and light out of the room.
I began to tremble, and I knew it sensed my fear.
"Never seen a Mutant Acara before, kid?" it sneered, lowering its face so that it was level with mine. I shook my head, unable to look away from those icy eyes.
The Hissi chuckled, momentarily distracting me from the mutant.
"Look at this, that little scrap of fluff thinks its so big and tough, growling at me!" he scoffed.
I glanced over at Sym and realized that he was vibrating again. His teeth were bared and the fur on the back of his neck was standing up. I quickly noted the way he had been tied to the wall so that I could devise a way to release him later.
"Save your breath, you mangy mongrel," the Hissi snarled, kicking Sym. My poor Puppyblew cowered back in fear and pain.
"Leave him alone!" I shouted, losing control.
My response did not bring the effects I had anticipated. Instead of becoming frightened or surprised by my outbreak, the two fiends cackled.
"You think you can take us on, kid?" the Acara asked. "Go ahead, give it your best shot."
I struggled and fought like I had never fought before. I had to take Sym and get us out of that horrible place. I bit at the ropes, twisted my hands around to try and untie them, and even hit myself against the wall in hopes of shaking them loose.
Exhausted, I eventually had to admit defeat.
"That's what I thought," the Acara smirked. Then he put his awful red nose up to mine. "I'm only going to say this once, kid, so listen carefully: if you try any funny business, your little Petpet is going to pay for it. Got it?"
It took all of my self-control not to spit in the filthy Neopet's face. I thought of Sym, and reluctantly replied through gritted teeth.
"Good." The Acara nodded. Then, with a dip of his head, the Acara signaled for the Hissi to leave the room.
When we were alone, the Acara turned his eyes back on me. I met them without fear; my anger had blotted out all other feelings.
"Why did you bring me here?" I dared to ask. The Acara closed his eyes, no doubt thinking of what lies to feed me.
"Let's just say that this was what you were created for," he replied slowly. After letting his words sink in, the Acara spun around and stalked out the room. The door slammed shut behind him, and Sym and I were again engulfed in darkness.
I sat motionless, mulling over all that had just transpired. I had been kidnapped, apparently for no other reason than that it was 'what I had been created for'. Sym and I were locked up King Skarl knew where, and I would probably never see my adopted family again.
At least I don't have that filthy bag over my head, I thought, trying to look on the bright side. But there was no bright side. My future was as bright as the room I was locked in.
To be continued...