Finding a Home: Part One
"This is the Petpet Protection League, open up!" Cassie yelled, banging on the door.
No sound came out of the old hut.
The Wocky turned away from the door with a sigh, wrapping her tail around herself to keep herself from shivering. The flimsy winter coat she wore wasn't doing a good job of keeping her warm. It was unusually cold for a June afternoon, but then again, the temperature was always cold at Terror Mountain.
"Hey! Cassie!" a voice suddenly called out, bringing her back to reality.
She looked to see her Petpet Protection League partner, Zachary, trudging towards her through the snow. Like her, he was also a Wocky. On the other hand, he looked completely at ease in the freezing temperature. Which was impressive, especially since he was only wearing shorts and a T-shirt.
"How are you not cold?" Cassie grumbled, turning back to the door of the hut, shivering.
Ignoring her comment, Zachary walked up beside her, examining the hut. Overall, it was in a terrible condition. It was built out of wooden planks that were obviously decayed by now. Mold covered almost every inch of the walls, giving it a greenish-black appearance. It looked as if a gust of wind could knock it over at any moment.
"Hmmm... Are you sure we're in the right place?" Zachary asked dubiously.
"We wouldn't be here unless a petpet wasn't being treated right. This looks like the perfect place for one to be neglected," Cassie responded, disgusted by the condition of the hut.
"Well, I just thought that they would send us somewhere... nicer for our first mission." Zachary shrugged.
Cassie didn't say so, but she felt the same way. She had been a member of the PPL for a few weeks, and after some training they had sent both her and Zachary on their first mission to rescue a mistreated petpet. She wasn't sure what she had been expecting, but a rundown hut in Terror Mountain definitely didn't come to mind.
While Cassie watched, Zachary starting banging on the door. After a few moments, it was clear that no one was coming to answer it.
"Looks like we're going to have to open it by force," Zachary mused, clearly excited about the prospect of doing something mildly spy-like.
"Do we even have the license to do that?" Cassie wondered aloud.
Before she could stop him, Zachary leaped forward and gave the door a hard kick. Fortunately, it didn't budge, meaning the PPL wouldn't have to pay for any damage.
"Well, that didn't work very well," Zachary grinned sheepishly, glancing at the door. He had barely given it a scratch.
Sighing, Cassie stepped forward and twisted the knob. The door swung open easily.
"Oh. It was unlocked. I knew that, of course," he coughed, sticking his paws into the pockets of his shorts.
Cassie rolled her eyes and entered the hut, Zachary following closely behind. Both of them had to blink for a few moments to let their eyes adjust to the darkness. The only light in the hut was the faint rays of sunlight shining in from the open doorway behind them.
"Hellooo? Anyone home?" Cassie called out.
There was no answer.
Slowly, the two of them crept farther inside.
"I feel like we're intruding," Zachary whispered, glancing around nervously.
"Says the guy who wanted to kick the door down," Cassie responded, shooting him a glare.
Before Zachary had a chance to reply, the door suddenly banged shut behind them. Cassie yelped in surprise and ran towards it, tugging on the handle.
"It won't open!" she whisper-yelled.
"Let me try," Zachary offered.
But it was no use. No matter how much the two of them pushed and pulled, the door just wouldn't budge. It looked as if they were trapped inside the hut.
"We might as well look around for the petpet. Do you know what it looks like?" Cassie asked, squinting in the gloom. The hut didn't have any windows, making it even more impossible to see.
"Nah, the head of the Petpet Protection League didn't give me a picture or a description. They said something about wanting it to be a surprise."
"Hmph. A surprise, huh?" Cassie muttered, feeling around on the wall for a light switch.
After a moment her paw closed in on a switch. She flicked it upward, and the room flooded with light, giving them a chance to take a look at their surroundings.
The hut was tiny, but that didn't stop whoever lived there from cramming as much furniture as possible inside. There were about four couches, two desks, five beanbags, ten paintings, twenty sculptures of ghostkerchiefs, and three floor lamps. The strange thing was, all of the furniture was carelessly pressed up against one of the walls, leaving a clear pathway that led to... another door.
"Zachary, look! That might be our escape!" Cassie cried impatiently, pointing at the door.
When she didn't hear a response, she looked over to where Zachary had been standing merely moments ago. But he was gone.
"Zachary?" Cassie called out nervously, looking around. The hut was too small for him to have gone anywhere. Was he hiding?
And that's when the lights went out.
"Hey Zachary, look, this isn't funny! We came here to save a petpet, not scare me half to death!" Cassie yelled, starting to make her way to the couch she was certain he was hiding behind.
But before Cassie could take another step, she tripped over something furry and went sprawling onto the floor.
Grumbling, she pulled herself up into a sitting position and looked to see what had tripped her. The darkness made it almost impossible to see, but Cassie was able to make out the outline of something moving.... something alive.
"Zachary!" Cassie cried, half from relief, half from anger. "Stop fooling around; we need to get back to work."
She wiped the dust from her pants and stood up, grateful that they could finally start their search for the petpet.
"I'll go turn on the light," Cassie told him.
But again, before she could take another step, she tripped over the same furry thing, which she now guessed was Zachary's paw. This time, however, she landed dramatically in a pile of pillows.
"Cut out it, Zachary!" Cassie yelled impatiently.
This time when she got up, she walked slowly and carefully to make sure that Zachary wouldn't have an opportunity to trip her again. When she finally reached the doorway, she gratefully flicked the light switch upward.
But nothing happened.
Cassie proceeded to flick it down then up over and over, hoping that somehow the lights would turn on. After her twentieth try, she finally gave up.
"Must be a power outage," Cassie sighed, turning back to the darkness of the hut.
Drained of all energy, she made her way back to the pile of pillows she had fallen in earlier and slumped down into a sitting position.
"We should have brought our night vision goggles huh, Zachary?" Cassie joked. "Maybe then we wouldn't be doing such a terrible job."
No reply. Cassie squinted, trying to find where he was, and caught sight of something moving on the other side of the room. What was he doing over there?
"Zachary? Come on, what are you doing?" Cassie asked, standing up.
What was the matter with him today? Cassie was used to him doing odd things, such as the time he attempted to fly on the back of a Karren, but this was just plain weird.
"Did you find the petpet or something?" Cassie asked, taking another step forward.
Still, he failed to respond.
"Seriously, Zachary! I'm not in the mood for games!" Cassie huffed, crossing her arms.
"What do you mean?" asked a voice behind her.
With a yelp, Cassie whirled around to see another figure walking towards her.
"Stay back! Who are you?" she cried, grappling around for something she could use to defend herself.
"It's me, Zachary. Why are you so jumpy?"
Cassie stopped and stared at him, her mouth hanging open. It was true; the voice speaking to her was undeniably Zachary's. But if that was him other there, then who was the other figure?
Slowly, Cassie turned back around to where she had last seen the other figure. But it was nowhere to be found.
"Where were you?" Cassie asked Zachary, refusing to believe that she had imagined the whole thing with the other figure.
"There's a small doorway in the back that leads to this really tiny kitchen. I guess I got distracted looking around."
Suddenly, the lights harshly flashed back on, flooding the room with light. Not ready for the sudden brightness, both Cassie and Zachary had to close their eyes for a few moments before they were ready to face the light.
"Hey, are you okay?" Zachary asked once his eyes were open, taking notice of Cassie's disheveled appearance.
"No," Cassie responded slowly, "We're not alone here."
"What do you mean?" Zachary inquired, raising an eyebrow.
As Cassie told him what had happened with the other figure, his face turned to one of understanding.
"It was probably the petpet," Zachary chuckled, amused.
"How can you be so sure?" Cassie asked stubbornly, refusing to believe that she had been scared over nothing.
"You said yourself that it was furry," Zachary responded.
"Neopets can be furry too," Cassie grumbled, but she knew Zachary wasn't even listening anymore; he was too busy looking under the couch for the petpet.
With a sigh, she turned to help Zachary when she heard a strange sound. Someone was knocking on the front door.
To be continued...