The Silence of the Stuck
"I'm sorry boy, but at least here you'll have others to keep you company."
Plewo the Gelert wilted at the sight of his owner shutting the pound door behind him, and quietly followed the yellow Techo that ushered him down the hall. Plewo was so distracted and despondent that he hardly noticed that they had been walking for quite a while, until finally the Techo shooed him into a cage at the end of the hall. As he took in his surroundings, he realized it was eerily silent for what he knew to be a crowded place. His cage was tucked into the corner, and he could only see a small patch of wall beyond the cage bars. The air smelled moldy, and his enclosure was cramped. Plewo lay silently for what seemed like days until suddenly a small voice spoke out, "pssst! I see you got unlucky too pal!"
Plewo listened for the source of the voice, and figured the Neopet talking was just a few cages down. He didn't bother trying to respond however, when he had been a few years younger he had caught an illness that permanently took his voice. His owner had thankfully cured it quickly, but he had never been able to speak again after that.
"Psst!" The voice quipped again, "you hear me buddy?!"
Plewo stayed silent and tried not to let the other pet hear his sniffling, but the voice persisted, "okay, so you don't wanna talk? Fine, but at least make a sound so I know I'm not going crazy."
Plewo sighed and tapped the bars once.
"Good! So I did see the doc leading in a pitiful blue creature down here with me! I hate to break it to you, but no one really comes down this way, I don't think I've ever seen a single human since I got here."
"What's your name friend?"
"Can you not speak?"
"How about one tap for yes and two taps for no?"
"D'your owner get tired of you and dump you here?"
"Ah, well that's unfortunate."
Plewo and the mystery pet continued this series of tap responses until they became very well acquainted, he learned that the other neopet was a blue yurble by the name of Hass_71009, but he just called himself Hass. He also learned that Hass had been in the same cage for at least three years, and that his owner had dumped him off after getting a "better" pet. Plewo tap talked until Hass figured out that he couldn't speak even if he wanted to.
Plewo and Hass "spoke" often, and when they ran out of yes and no questions Hass often tried to guess when they'd see their next meal. When things got too gloomy Hass directed the conversation to memories of concerts, sneaking past the Snowager and even what he theorized his next owner would look like. Once or twice, they would hear unfamiliar voices and approaching footsteps, but their hopes were always dashed quickly as no one ever walked to the end of the pound. Well, except Dr_Death once and while, and that was only to be tossed scraps.
Plewo and Hass became close over the following years, only having each other for company. They celebrated birthdays with Hass humming out the song and Plewo tapping along, and then Hass would describe what he got Plewo for his birthday. For the whole month of celebrating Plewo would tap out holiday carols, and Hass would swear up and down he was drinking hot borovan. Many other nights in the dark they would comfort each other as they cried, and chuckle together when Hass mimicked Dr_Death's voice.
One day, Plewo heard those rare footsteps. He immediately perked up, it had been forever since he had eaten so he excitedly began to tap the bars to alert Hass. The footsteps drew near, and suddenly Plewo picked up on an unfamiliar voice, "-all this time no one has ever come down here?"
"No," Dr_Death replied, "people say the walk is too far and too creepy."
As the stranger approached, Plewo's heart began to hammer. No human had been near him in what felt like an eternity, and suddenly he felt like if he could yell, he would to get her attention. He heard her stop at what had to be Hass's cage and make a kind comment, then she continued on to the end. She looked at Plewo with kind brown eyes and asked, "what is your name?"
Dr_Death interrupted and quipped, "this one doesn't speak, something wrong with him when he came in."
Plewo ears began to droop until the girl responded, "I think he's wonderful, and I can't imagine being here, secluded, with no voice. I'll take him."
The girl reached through the bars and patted Plewo on the head and smiled. Dr_Death shrugged and unlocked Plewo's cage, and made a motion with his hand for him to vacate. Dumbstruck, he walked in a daze out of his cage and followed the young girl. As he passed the cages he looked at Hass, who he had never laid eyes on, and saw nothing but happiness in the Yurble's eyes. Hass asked, "You won't forget about me once you're out there living the good life will ya?"
Plewo tapped twice on Hass's cage and smiled, and as he walked out of the pound and into the bright light of the sun, he could've swore he heard faint tapping.
It took many weeks for Plewo to adjust to his new life, and even longer before he could actually believe that he got three hot meals a day. His owner had taken him home and given him an actual bath full of bubbles and brushed his once-matted fur. Several days after she surprised him with a petpet, and then informed him that they had business at the rainbow pool. As Plewo followed his owner through the busy streets of Neopia Central, she revealed to him a spotted paint brush. "This", she smiled, "is what we came for!" As she was busy stuffing the brush back into her bag they bumped into another owner and their pet. Plewo looked at the stranger, and then to the neopet. Recognition dawned on their faces and the blue yurble grinned, "what's up Plewo?"
Plewo was so happy to see Hass, but became overjoyed when Hass's new owner agreed to let him come watch Plewo being painted. As he stepped out of the pool as a spotted Gelert, Hass's eyebrows shot up and he laughed, "You look great Plewo, but I'm still funnier!"
Plewo simply tapped his new spots and stuck out his tongue. Hass and Plewo spent the rest of the day together in Neopia Central, each with a modest allowance of neopoints that they mostly spent on the junk food they told each other about while they were in the pound. Before parting ways, they spent their last remaining neopoints on pencils and paper so that they could neomail each other, then reluctantly said their goodbyes. Plewo and Hass write to each other often, and have remained best friends ever since their quiet days at the pound.