Hope For New:Part Two
Late at night, thunder crashed around outside the little bars of my cage. The pound wasn't a nice place, let me tell you. Dr. Shtalker would make his rounds every day, collecting the pets who had been there for the longest, and taking them to his lab, cackling with joy, and every day I hoped I wouldn't be one of those pets who never returned. Every day a few new pets came in, and I looked at them with sad eyes, wishing Dr. Shtalker hadn't banned us from talking after a kind and caring blue Uni (who got adopted very soon after she was dropped off) tried talking the newer Neopets through their fears. She told us not to lose hope just as she left, but my hope was already gone. With so many Neopians like Melissa, who's to say I'd get adopted to a good Neopian?
I'd been rotting in the cage for a week, now, and I'd started to lose hope, despite the constant flow of Neopians who would check my cage and smile at me sweetly, then another Neopet would catch their eye and it certainly wouldn't be MY lucky day. I sighed.
A young Chocolate Wocky came in and caught everyone's eye. The dollop of cream on his head was perfect, looking like he worked on it every day. He was in tears; bawling, which started messing up the cream on his head. As soon as he noticed, he rapidly began cleaning himself, pretending like nothing had happened.
I rolled my eyes, wishing the Wocky had been put further away from my cage so it would be easier to sleep. It was hard enough already, with all of the bawling Neopets and Dr. Shtalker's yelling at them to be quiet, but this Wocky seemed to be extra...extra.
"Bonjour, everyone," The Wocky bowed to us. We all were mystified by his appearance and his attitude. When no one else bowed to him or introduced himself, he frowned.
"Well, I suppose I could start by introducing myself, then you can all take turns," His accent was French. One of the Neopets in a cell near mine failed at holding in a laugh.
The Wocky gave him a dirty look and opened his mouth to speak, and let a smile break out. It surprised me that his teeth were shining white, although I'm not sure why. Maybe because he was a CHOCOLATE Wocky.
"I'm Ruby," The Wocky smiled wider.
The Neopet who had tried holding back a laugh before was laughing through tears now, pounding his feet, or paws, or hooves, or fins, or whatever on the floor of his cage, making the rest of us jump, and making me hit my head on the ceiling of my cell.
My cell in particular was much like the rest of the cells; small and not comforting at all. It held a small food bowl, making us feel like Petpets, which was usually—if someone didn't 'forget' to feed us, which happened a lot—half-full of moldy omelette. One time I got lucky and got a full sized Meat Feast Omelette, and had broken it into pieces to share with the younger Neopets.
Ruby bowed to us again, which caused more stifled laughter.
Suddenly, in the middle of Ruby's bow, the door slammed open. Dr. Shtalker emerged from the light.
"What did I tell you about talking?" His eyes scanned the room for new bait. "Ah, so the new one doesn't know the rule? Well, we'll have to teach him!"
Ruby gulped and shot Dr. Shtalker a big smile. "Sir—" he bowed again, but none of us dared laugh "—I, Ruby, ask—"
"SILENCE!!" Dr. Shtalker threw his hands in the air. "I'll send Merisol in here to feed all of you—EXCEPT the Choc Wock." He chuckled at his own not-so-hilarious joke and headed out, muttering to himself "Choc Wock. I'm so funny,"
"I guess he's a little—" Ruby twirled his paw around his ear and made a face.
The door opened again, but this time it was Merisol with a bucket of omelette in her mouth. Merisol was a pink Uni. She was usually behind the desk when anyone came to adopt, giving them a good impression so Dr. Shtalker didn't scare them too much.
"Dinner!" She sang, even though it was breakfast time. I think. There's no windows in here, but I just assumed, since I woke up just a few hours ago.
She opened our cells one by one, giving us each a bit of omelette, even Ruby, although I'm not sure Dr. Shtalker would approve.
The pound wasn't nice, of course, but I learned to be a bit more optimistic. Ruby got adopted half a week after he came in, blowing us kisses and speaking fast in French to us as he was carried away on what seemed to us to be a red cushion.
I had just rolled my eyes at that, but I began being happier when people came in. When a girl and her Ruki came in, I perked up as she rubbed my head. I purred at her, and she looked just about ready to open her mouth and take me home (home; such a powerful word in this world), but she just moved on—Slowly, mind you, keeping her eye on me, I'm pretty sure.
A boy who looked very nice came in and headed straight for a starry Xweetok, who reminded me a lot of Toto. My heart hurt thinking that I'd broken his trust. I missed Milk. I missed Toto. I missed his books. I missed Purrr. Heck, I almost missed the trophies covering Melissa's Neohome, but one thing I sure didn't miss was Melissa. Even the thought of her made me shake my head. I felt bad for Toto. Melissa sure wasn't getting rid of him anytime soon. I wondered if she still had that baby Eyrie. I hadn't seen him here. Yet.
And then, just like I had summoned her, Melissa strode through the door, the baby Eyrie under her arm and Toto by her side, lashing his tail the way he had when Melissa got me.
I ignored the no talking rule and started yelling and scratching at my cage door.
"TOTO!! TOTO, I'M SORRY! FORGIVE ME, I DIDN'T KNOW!!" Toto turned at the noise, and so did Melissa, both wondering who would be yelling at an innocent Neopet.
Toto finally noticed me and tugged at Melissa's hand, pointing at me. They both stared at me in anguish. Well, maybe Melissa wasn't in anguish, but I was almost sure that Toto was.
"Uh, can I go look at the adoptable Neopets?" Melissa asked Merisol, who brightened and nodded happily. She took the baby Eyrie in her arms and brought him over to a cell near mine.
Oh, no. I didn't want Melissa. I only wanted Toto. He was the only friend I'd ever had, besides Milk.
"Can I talk to him?" I heard Toto whisper to Melissa, who nodded, but headed off to look at another corner of Neopets.
Toto trotted over to me and wrapped his tail around himself comfortably.
"I kept good care of Milk, and I'm getting you out of these bars that are between us." Toto's eyes were desperate, like he needed me back.
"What? No...No, no." I stepped back.
Toto looked hurt. "Don't you want to come back with Melissa and I?"
"I...I can't. Please, don't break me out. I can't do this. I can't go through with another Melissa-abandonment."
Toto seemed to understand a little, and nodded slowly. He sighed and headed off after Melissa, his tail drooping. I guess that means Forgiveness.
I yawned. What was going on? Someone was holding me in their arms. I blinked open my weary eyes and closes them again quickly. The light was too much.
Did I die?
No...no, no. I could still feel everything. I didn't remember dying. I also didn't remember having food in the last three days.
I risked opening my eyes again, and I looked up into a girl's face. She had dark red hair that seemed purple, and pale skin with freckles. She had a brown-and-white striped shirt and jean-shorts. Her left knee had a good sized scratch on it, and she had on white sandals.
She handed Merisol a bag of Neopoints and took me out the door. Huh? Was I asleep on the best moment of my life. Well, what I hoped was the best day of my life.
The girl set me down once we got outside. I remembered this routine. This is what happened with Melissa.
But the girl didn't fasten a leash around my neck. She just let me walk along beside her.
"I'm Cherrie," She said. "Do you mind if I call you Rigel?"
"Call me whatever you want. I'm yours now, and I hope that's a good thing."
Cherrie wasn't offended by this the least bit. "Nice. I hope you have a good time with me, too." She smiled.
Cherrie's Neohome felt like a home, unlike Melissa's house. Instead of trophies, the shelves held books. The walls held photos. And the living room was cozy and warm, thanks to the fire.
The kitchen was large, but I could tell Cherrie didn't have a lot of money for food, considering all the free omelette and jelly that filled the cupboards.
When Cherrie led me to my room, it wasn't with exclamation points. And my room was nice. A little bed with a book comforter reminded me of Toto, and the desk in the middle of the room reminded me sadly of Melissa. There was one shelf behind the bed, which held books, and an empty Petpet bed that looked new.
"I hope you like reading. I sure do," Cherrie smiled.
"I...I love reading, actually. Thank you."
Cherrie beamed. "Awesome! I'll take you shopping for a few more someday, and, if you want one, I'll get you a Petpet!"
My face fell. Petpets. Milk. Purrr. Toto's Weeble.
"What? Don't you like Petpets?" Cherrie tilted her head to the side, confused.
"Actually, I love them!" My exclamation point surprised me. I sounded like Melissa. Blech. "It's just…."
"Memories." She nodded, understanding.
"How did you know?"
"I know a lot of things." She winked at me.
Cherrie and I did end up getting a Petpet; a Weeble named Toto, although I didn't tell her why. I got used to eating omelette and jelly, and became rather thankful for it, especially since it wasn't moldy. I learned that the neighbors were a family of Aishas; Mizzy, Mazzy, Mozzy, and Moxxy; the youngest.
I learned that Cherrie liked the Neopian times, and often read the comics aloud to me, making milk spill out of my nose. Once she'd tried to get a story published, but had failed. She didn't care, though. She was optimistic with me around, and though I often wondered about her past Neopet (it was obvious they existed, considering the photos on the wall and that everything of mine was used), I was always happy with Cherrie.
It was getting close to my birthday, but I didn't want to say anything. I knew our dire need of Neopoints, and I didn't want Cherrie to feel obliged to getting me something, but I accidentally blurted it out during breakfast the day BEFORE my birthday. Great.
Cherrie had clapped her hands together. "This is WONDERFUL!" She beamed. She'd gone shopping and left me home. I wished I hadn't said anything, because I only counted 122 Neopoints in Cherrie's room, scattered across the floor. I put them in a pile on her bed.
She needed a present, but she'd locked me in the house, and I had nothing to give her. Neopets couldn't buy things on their own, anyways. I sighed, wishing I knew what her birthday was, and wishing she'd buy more food instead of presents. My belly growled with hunger, and I headed to the cupboard in the kitchen only to find crumbs of omelette, which I licked up, not even taking the edge off of my hunger. If anything, it reminded me of food and made me hungrier.
Cherrie got home late, bags of things in hand. She shooed me to her room and I heard her unbagging and rebagging things. Late at night I heard her yawn and saw the lights go off, and only then did I go to bed.
I headed downstairs late. I slept in. After all, I deserved a little present, didn't I?
Cherrie was waiting for me downstairs. She had a full meal read for me. Not just omelettes, but slushies and pizza from the Pizzaroo (which reminded me of Toto and Milk). We ate like kings, and then Cherrie led me to the living room with my eyes closed.
I popped opened my eyes and saw someone I never dreamed of seeing again.
To be continued…
What a CLIFFHANGER!! I hope you're excited for the next one!