The Loneliest Lurman
“Okay, Seaweed… time to say goodbye…”
Seaweed the Lurman bubbled sadly as his owner, a young, yellow Kacheek named Bradley held him with a trembling grip. The boy wiped his teary eyes on the back of his hand as he knelt at the edge of the shallow pond, his other arm outstretched and prepared to drop him into the water. The knees of his blue overalls were dirty from the damp grass beneath him, his white t-shirt stained with tears.
“M’sorry… I-I wish you could come with us…” he sniffed, giving the Lurman a pat on the head. “B-But Mama said you’ll dry up in Qasala… a-and I don’t want you to dry up…”
With a slight whimper, Seaweed stretched one of his eyestalks to tap at the Kacheek’s hand, which prompted him to give a few head pats. He tried to climb up Bradley’s arm, but he was stopped by the boy shakily pulling him off.
“N-No, Seaweed, you gotta…” He sniffled again. “Y-you gotta stay here, o-okay?”
Seaweed let out a sad burble. He didn’t want to leave his friend!
“Bradley!” A White Kacheek in a pink dress called out, standing next to what appeared to be a round carriage with landing gear. “Hurry up, please, honey! The Shoyru Lift is ready to go, and your Dad’s getting restless!”
“C-Comin’, Mama!” Bradley called, his voice catching as he answered her. With a quick motion, as if he were ripping off a bandage, Bradley thrust Seaweed off of his arm and into the water below. He hesitated only a moment to give his friend one last pat on the head before scrambling to his feet and running away from the pond, tears streaming down his face.
With a few soft reassurances from his mother, the young Kacheek reluctantly climbed into the lift, unable to muster up the strength to look back as the lift took off, leaving Seaweed behind.
It was a bit of a shock to his systems, to be sure.
One minute, the Lurman had been happily moving about his tank, idly wondering about what had happened to all the toys and books that used to be in the living room of the small cabin near Kiko Lake.
The next, he was being brought to a small pond where the two of them used to play, his owner radiating sadness.
While there were definite limitations in communication between Pet and Petpet, he was positive that the reason for visiting the pond wasn’t a good one.
If there was a nose, Seaweed was certainly on it.
Though his vision was somewhat distorted due to the murkiness of the pond – at least compared to the crystalline water he was used to – he was still able to catch sight of the lift flying away, and a little speck of yellow that was most certainly Bradley.
I’m… alone, the Lurman realized after a moment. He’d… never been alone before. Well, alright, there was the time that Bradley and his family had gone on a trip to that really white place, all bundled up in heavy-looking clothes… but even then, that had only been for a week, and that pink Lenny girl had visited him every day to play and give him his Chokato Petpet Food. But now…
Who was going to feed him? Who was he going to play with? Who was going to tell him stories?
…what was he going to do now?
Seaweed stayed at the edge of the pond dutifully, staring up at the clear, bright sky, scanning it intently for any signs of the strange carriage coming back. Maybe… maybe he’s just going on another trip, and… and the pink Lenny was busy and she couldn’t look after him! Yeah! And he’ll be… he’ll be back any minute, and he’ll be very sad if he leaves!
Determined, Seaweed hunkered down to wait. Bradley would be back. He had to be!
Two days he spent waiting at the edge of the pond, not eating, barely sleeping, keeping his eye stalks fixed on the vast blue expanse above him. Yes, he was hungry, but he was taught not to eat the plants in his tank. He doubted he was supposed to eat the ones in the pond. Besides, Bradley was going to be here to pick him up any minute! He had to be prepared!
“Kid’s not comin’, y’know.”
Seaweed started a bit, and turned around as quickly as he could, spotting a Pooka staring at him, looking wholly unimpressed.
“Don’t know why you’re wastin’ your time,” she continued, “They don’t come back. They never do.”
“M-Maybe he will…” Seaweed countered softly, “He’s… he’s my friend. He-”
The Pooka cut him off with a sigh, rolling her eyes and flicking her green fins as she spoke. “Look, newbie, I get you’re probably hopin’ you’re a special case or whatever, but I’ve seen it dozens of times. Kids bringin’ their petpets here cuz they can’t have ‘em or don’t want ‘em anymore.”
The Lurman stared in stunned silence. He… he really wasn’t coming back?
She glanced away. “Don’t gimme that look. It’ll sting for a few days, but you’ll get over it. Now c’mon. You haven’t eaten a thing since you got here.” With a flick of her tail, she flitted over to a loose clump of kelp, wrapping a large piece around her fin before swimming backwards to rip it free from the plant.
“Here. S’not Petpet food, but it’ll fill you up.”
Seaweed looked on worriedly. “B-but… won’t I get sick? I’m not supposed to eat the plants in my tank…”
The Pooka rolled her eyes again. “S’cuz they’re fake, newbie. Heard it from an Arkmite once. Things taste like sand.” She nudged the greenery closer. “C’mon, would ya? It’s just sad watchin’ you waste away here.”
Hesitantly, the Lurman accepted her offering, and gave the kelp a tentative bite. It tasted strange – not bad, but definitely not like Chokatos. It was bland and chewy, without much flavour, and it took a bit of effort before he was able to gulp it down.
She gave him a smile, or at least what he assumed was one. It didn’t look very happy. “There ya go, newbie! Relax, enjoy yourself. You’re free now.”
He went to respond, but she was already swimming away.
“But I… I don’t want to be free…” he murmured, flattening himself sadly, “I want my friend…”
Though the pond housed a variety of aquatic Petpets, Seaweed didn’t feel inclined to interact with any of them. He was too sad that his owner had left him behind.
Bradley was his only friend. Granted, that was to be expected considering it was a bit difficult to bring water-dwelling Petpets like him to visit others, but it certainly didn’t make the loss any easier. And it certainly didn’t simplify things when he finally attempted to make new friends.
After coming to terms that he was alone, and shakily acknowledging that he had to move on, Seaweed tried to make friends with the pond’s Petpets.
It didn’t go too well.
Not only were his social skills pitiful at best, but the fact that he still smelled of his original owner also didn’t assist in gaining the less domestic Petpets’ trust. Even those that had apparently been abandoned by their owners did nothing more than spare him an empathetic glance. The various species were certainly more independent than he was expecting, and while a few were cordial, like the Pooka, none seemed inclined to form any sort of companionship with him.
It certainly didn’t make his transition to becoming a wild Petpet any easier.
Out here, even in the relative peace of the pond, it was every creature for themselves. The more aggressive Petpets had stolen his food on more than one occasion, forcing him to a less than ideal area of the pond when it became apparent that he was too timid to fight back.
He missed his home. He missed his food, his toys, but most of all, he missed his friend.
The days passed slowly, with Seaweed falling into a fairly shaky routine: Wake up before the more aggressive Petpets, find something to eat, hide from said aggressive Petpets, find something else to eat, find somewhere safe to spend the night if the previous night’s sleeping spot was taken. Sometimes, depending on the atmosphere in the pond, the Lurman wouldn’t get a single nibble of food, too busy hiding from the others. He saw the Pooka on occasion, but she never had anything to do with him.
One day, a few weeks into this new routine, Seaweed was busily making his way over to a more plentiful edge of the pond. He hadn’t seen any of his aggressors, which probably would have concerned him had he not been so hungry.
He was just about to take a bite of kelp when a faint, familiar scent caught his attention.
No… it couldn’t be… could it?
Practically trembling from hope and excitement, the little Lurman went as fast as he could towards the smell. Yes… yes! It was Chokatos!! Chokato Petpet Food, his favourite! It… it had to be Bradley, it just had to be!!
He nibbled desperately at the food, bubbling happily from the familiar taste. Finally! Finally, he was going home!
If he could’ve, he would have cheered with joy at the hand that reached down to pluck him out of the water.
“What ‘bout this one, boss?”
Seaweed blinked in a stupor as a young red Zafara held him curiously, a half-empty can of Chokato Petpet Food at his feet. This… wasn’t Bradley! Who was this? Wait… was it someone who wanted to care for him? Someone looking for a Petpet? Sure, it wasn’t Bradley, but at this point, he was desperate. Would he finally get a real home?
The Zafara examined him intently, before speaking up again. “Ya think someone’ll want it? Pretty cute lookin’!”
“Naw, s’just a Lurman.” Looking to his left, the Petpet noticed an older blue Gelert in a fishing hat, sitting around a number of water-filled buckets. Some were empty, while others had a single Petpet within. He waved a paw dismissively, giving Seaweed an unimpressed look. “They don’t fetch nothin’. Throw it back.”
No! No!! Please! Please don’t put me back! Seaweed burbled sadly, squirming in desperation as the Zafara walked over to the water’s edge. I-I’m a good Petpet, I promise! I can- I can make someone happy! Please!
With a brief pat on his head and an apologetic smile, Seaweed was tossed back into the water. He rolled a bit, the impact disorienting him. He shook his head to get his bearings, and stared up at the pets, whose faces were distorted by the water. If… If he could just make it back to them, perhaps they’d see how loyal and friendly he was! Perhaps they’d give him a chance!
He desperately tried to climb the embankment, but it was far too steep for him to get a good grip on. By the time he’d managed to get a bit of grip and his eyestalks broke the surface, the two had already moved on to a deeper part of the pond, leaving him alone once more.
He spent the rest of the day chasing them down as they moved about the pond, but his slow pace and the effort required to climb the pond’s vertical edge never allowed him to get even remotely close. He’d practically gone around the entire pond, and when evening came and the two finally left, he sagged into the sand in exhaustion, gasping in an attempt to catch his breath.
It wasn’t long before he passed out, oblivious to the storm clouds rolling overhead.
Seaweed was jolted awake by rough currents slamming into him in the dark water. Having not found a secure sleeping spot, he was unable to keep his grip on the sand as the current tossed him about.
A wail escaped him as he struggled to right himself, but his efforts were futile as the storm above churned the water into a violent torrent.
He didn’t know how much time had passed as he was sent tumbling head over tail, thrown into plants and rocks. He was barely able to collect himself after each impact before he was wrenched away again, the darkness surrounding him only adding to his disoriented state.
And then the current suddenly grew stronger.
There was a definite shift of force and, had Seaweed had light to see by, he would’ve seen himself being dragged into an underwater tunnel. The water here splashed and crashed and the little Lurman tumbled and fumbled about for what felt like hours. He could barely manage to stay conscious from the water’s immense pressure on his tiny body and the deafening roar that pounded his non-existent ears.
The longer he was dragged along, the rougher the water got. He didn’t notice the salty tang that began to surround him.
Finally, after far too long, Seaweed was tossed out of the tunnel and onto soft sand with a pained ‘oomph!’ He slowly got up, his eyestalks trembling from the ordeal, and squinted slightly, worried that he would get thrown about again, only for his eyes to go wide.
Before him was a scene unlike any he had ever seen before.
Massive rock formations towered high above him, with coral of all colours decorating the stone and sand. Kelp swayed lazily in the currents, some of them big and bulky, others shiny and reflective. Sea fungus and stones of various sizes and shapes were littered about the sand and rock. Even with the murkiness of the pond, he had been able to faintly see the other side. But here, in this crystalline water, he couldn’t even make out what could even be considered to be an edge. High above him, the water’s surface was dark, but he could barely make out the night sky, indicating that whatever storm he had endured had passed, at least for the moment.
The surroundings took his breath away.
It was expansive.
It was beautiful.
Seaweed couldn’t see another Petpet anywhere. Wherever he had ended up, he was most certainly alone.
He hesitantly inched forward, calling out nervously for someone, anyone, to tell him where he was.
But there was no response.
Only the soft rippling of water currents and bubbles reached his hearing, the quietness even more deafening than the roaring rapids he had been forced to endure mere moments before.
Even here, in this vast place…
He was alone.
Fighting back tears, Seaweed decided it would be best to get some rest after such a terrifying experience and began to search for a place to sleep. Eventually, he found a small cavern that he was able to crawl into, a small crack in the cave floor emitting warmth, likely connected to an underwater heat vent.
As the Lurman settled into his new, lonely life, closing his eyes as he prepared to sleep once more, he could only hope that one day, somehow, someway, things would change for the better.
For now, he would sleep. Tomorrow was another day.
Maybe tomorrow he wouldn’t be so lonely.