Trapped Within a Dream: Part Six
Hally stood with her back to the door now, looking at the
floor in shock and dismay.
Oh man... what now? What do I do now? Don't
cry, don't cry...
She heard a low sound and realized that a few
of the pets were talking amongst themselves in a near-whisper. She felt her
heart rate accelerating as she felt their eyes on her, tearing into her...
Tearing into me? Listen to me! I sound like...
I sound like I'm talking about prison inmates! They're pets, just like me. And
just because Dr. Reynolds was rude, that doesn't give me the right to act like
this. The only thing separating these pets from me is the fact that they happened
to have bad circumstances befall them. I need to snap out of it. I have a job
now, a job HELPING pets in need, not judging them.
Reality sunk in, and she felt ashamed and angry
at herself for letting her fear get the better of her. With that, she snapped
her head upward and put on what she hoped was a friendly and fearless smile.
"Hey, guys! Um... my name is Hally Schoy, and
I... uh... I work here now. I'll be taking care of your food and cleaning out
your cages," she announced loudly and proudly.
A few stray snickers were her only response
at first, but she wasn't discouraged. No, not now. Not now.
"Uh... maybe... maybe someone can help me out...
because I don't really know how to do this," she admitted. "Dr. Reynolds said
that the cages get cleaned out every day."
"They didn't yesterday," someone called out.
"Oh, they did too," another pet replied. "YOU
got here in the afternoon."
"Afternoonie!" Yet another pet chimed in.
"Oh, yeah. That's REAL mature," the first pet
"Um... they get cleaned out every day, then?"
Hally asked nervously.
"Every MORNING," the second pet elaborated.
"Well... okay, then... I guess I'll just get...
uh... get started then, okay? Uh... does it matter what order I go in?"
"It sure does. You always start on the cafeteria
end," a low, smooth male voice called to her.
Hally frowned and looked down the row on the
left. A yellow Wocky was waving to her with a cocky grin on his face. Hally
hesitated a moment, then padded down the narrow walkway and stopped in front
of his cage.
He nodded cordially to her.
"Good morning," he said, still smooth. "Although,
maybe not so good for you."
"Hey, don't think I don't feel ya. One day here
every couple of months is enough to make you realize that they gave the name
'Dr. Death' to the wrong doctor."
Hally perked up at the name, but found herself
more curious about the statement before his name.
"Every couple of months?"
"Oh, at least. I'm a regular here. I know this
place inside and out."
"Interesting question, isn't it?"
"Yeah," Hally enthused.
"Bucket's over there," the Wocky gestured. When
Hally gave him a confused frown, he winked at her. "You don't want to have Reynolds
come in here and see you wasting time socializing with the prisoners."
"Oh, boy... you guys
aren't prisoners," Hally whispered.
"Well, some of these guys would beg to differ.
Don't worry, my cage will be the easiest one you do."
His smile was so reassuring that Hally felt
herself strangely comforted, and she got up and trotted down to the cleaning
cart. She wheeled it back up with a smile that the Wocky gladly returned.
"Uh... do... I mean, you don't stay in the cage
while I clean it, right? No, I guess not."
"Nope, dear. I come out. Push down on the latch
and turn it to your left."
"Oh. Sorry, I'm not usually so dumb," Hally
"I'm sure you'll be an old pro in no time,"
the Wocky replied gently.
Hally grinned and lowered her eyes, fiddling
with the latch.
"Your other left," the Wocky advised her.
"Right. Would have gotten it eventually."
She finally activated the lock and jumped back
with surprise as it swung open by itself.
The Wocky grinned and carefully stepped out,
flicking his tail as he surveyed the large room.
"Okay, uh... let's see here," Hally said quietly,
sitting on her knees and looking into the cage. "Take the... towel... er...
blanket... take it out. And put it... in the chute... but that's all the way
down at the other end of the room."
"I can take it down there for you," the Wocky
"Oh, can you? Sure, that'd be nice. Thanks."
The Wocky strolled away with the blanket, and
Hally turned around for a moment, grabbed a towel and the spray bottle. She
hesitated a second and then crawled almost all the way into the cage.
One spritz on this wall, and one on this
one, and one on this one... then take the towel...
She heard soft, padding footsteps coming back
up toward her. She rubbed the towel vertically on the cage walls, whistling
a little. It wasn't as difficult to get in between the bars as she thought it
would be, and although she could imagine a rather sore back after the day was
done, she wasn't going to complain.
After all, Ken doesn't complain... whoever
"Hey, uh," she said out loud to the Wocky, looking
behind her. Her view was obscured by a bunch in her lab coat. It occurred to
her then that her skirt and coat were probably getting rather dirty from crawling
around on the bottom of a cage. She tucked her legs underneath her and sat upright,
stifling a groan. Her back hurt already.
"Yes?" the Wocky replied.
"So, uh... this Ken guy that works nights...
what's his deal? Where are you, anyway?"
The Wocky didn't respond.
Suddenly, she heard an almost deafening slamming
sound that echoed off the walls, piercing her eardrums and causing her to jump
and cry out in surprise. She whipped her head around and found herself looking
through what appeared to be a fourth wall.
THE DOOR, she thought, the meaning behind the
words striking her consciousness like a sledgehammer. Now, if this wasn't the
last thing in the world she needed...
She quickly turned around, grabbing at the door
frantically. She pushed on it, but it had already locked behind her.
"Hey!! Uh... Mr. Wocky? Hello? Can you help
me?" she called out, rattling the cage door a bit. She scanned the room, but
her view in here was worse than she could have imagined it would be, and above
her sat another cage with a Mynci inside who was jumping up and down noisily.
In fact, the noise around her was growing exponentially
louder with each passing moment. Cages rattled, pets screamed with a mixture
of confusion and amusement.
"Oh man... HELLO?!" Hally screamed, her voice
growing shrill with fear.
This is bad. Oh man, this is so bad. This
is one of those moments where you just know everything is going to change. Oh
no, this isn't like when we walked past the building that was going to house
the Neoschools and said that our lives would change forever when Neoschools
finally came. Oh no. This is nothing like--
Her frantic and very off-topic thoughts came
to a screeching halt as she saw the Wocky running past her, toward the cafeteria
door. She called out to him for help, and for a second their eyes did meet.
He graced her with a brief pause and a warm, but somehow hollow smile.
"Oh, dear child. What you have done. What you
have done," he whispered. He then took hold of the latch that opened the cage,
bent it far to the right, and snapped it off. Then he winked at her and leapt
on top of the cage, then to the top of the cage above Hally. She gasped, her
What's going on?! Oh my gosh, I'm locked
in here. Oh no... oh my g... what was that sound?!
All became silent for a split second as it seemed
that the entire population of the Pound took in a collective breath of exhilaration.
Hally frantically tried to push the Mynci's blanket up so she could see what
was going on, but a second or so later the effort became moot.
"My friends, my dear friends," the Wocky breathed
with emotion. "What I am about to do is a crime punishable by death. This institution
has all of your personal information, and you can bet that information will
be turned over to the authorities. Before I push this button, I want you all
to take a brief moment and ask yourself a simple question: 'is my freedom worth
a potential lifetime of being pursued by the law?'"
"Oh, you sentimental bozo. Just hit the button,"
an elderly-sounding female Jubjub cried. "I wanna get out of here."
"Oh yeah. I'm gonna have a few choice words
for my so-called owner once I track her down," an angry-sounding Ixi added.
"Very well. Good luck everyone... and godspeed,"
the Wocky whispered.
Hally felt faint.
Oh my dear gosh holy Kau. They're breaking
out. THEY ARE BREAKING OUT AND IT'S MY FAULT. This can not be happening, she
thought, both hands covering her mouth to stifle a sob.
The Wocky took a deep breath and whispered a
few words to himself, and then without another moment's hesitation, he lifted
the glass cover that protected the Pound's master security console. He punched
in a series of key combinations, then with a deep, satisfied sigh, hit the one
final button that would unlock every cage in the place.
He did so.
A momentary pause, and then...
Screeching, deafening alarms.
And the doors opened, with the exception of
"Blast it! Come on, you all! Don't just sit
there! Go! Go! Go!!" the Wocky screamed, leaping down from the top of the cage
and ushering the escaping pets through the cafeteria door. "Keep going until
you see an 'Exit' sign. Keep running, toward the city! Go! Go!"
"He's still shocky. I heard a bone break in
his foot when he landed," Reynolds explained breathlessly to Dr. Death as they
stood on either side of the stretcher where 3298eyyfda lay again, fitful and
in obvious pain.
"It'll need to be set," Death said simply. "Remind
me again why I'm here."
Reynolds narrowed her eyes at him. One of the
rare times when his spirit resurfaced, and of course it had to be now.
"The patient lunged at me, Doctor. Claws out,
teeth bared. If I hadn't dodged him..."
"Right, right. Your pretty face would be shredded.
So... do I hold him down while you snap his bones back into place... or do I
just stand back, supervise and get all the credit?"
Reynolds glared at him.
"That was a joke, by the way. You don't have
fingers, so obviously I get to do the dirty work. Correct?"
"You know, Doctor, as glad as I am to see you
resembling a functioning man more than a walking Zombie, would it be too much
trouble for you to shut up?"
Death gave her a simple smirk.
"Well, let's see. Are we going to be stupid
about this, or are we going to sedate him?"
"He was unconscious for at least a minute,"
Reynolds replied. The risk of concussion was moderate, but enough of a worry
that to put him under anesthesia would be taking his life in their hands.
"So we attempt to treat a crazed, violent, bloodthirsty
patient with nothing keeping him from eating us alive. I'm loving that."
"I don't see where we have another option. If
you can think of something else, I'm all ears."
"That's for sure. Why don't you tie those things
back before you come into a medical facility?" Death said, growing irritable.
"Not bad. I'll make sure to remind you of that
line when you write your next book." Reynolds grinned evilly.
Death raised an eyebrow, then shook his head.
"We'll X-Ray him, and if we're lucky it's a
simple set and go."
Reynolds nodded and together in body, if not
in spirit, they wheeled the stretcher down the hall to the antiquated Virtupets
X-ray lab. 3298eyyfda began to stir, growling low in his throat.
"So, Reynolds," Death said casually as he prepared
the X-ray equipment, wishing he had a technician to do it for him. "How exactly
did all this come about? Did he hate you last night?"
"No, he didn't. He was attempting to resist
medical treatment. I think if he'd made a successful jump, he'd have left against
"And against the law," Death added.
Reynolds glared at him.
"Well, he's not the first pet who's felt that
way," Death sighed, resting his hand on the edge of the stretcher. "While the
pets are here under our care, they're basically our property. You know that."
"And I prefer not to treat them as such," Reynolds
Death paused for a second, then shook his head.
"Let's get this done."
A beat, then: "How do you propose we get this
Reynolds cleared her throat.
"Hey, 3298. Uh, listen, we're gonna need you
3298eyyfda snarled and swiped at her, eyes narrowed.
"Come on, buddy. Look, this will just take a
Another swipe. He was beyond words.
Death took a deep breath. He reached out and
stroked the Kougra's head. His ears flattened immediately.
"Hey, kid... I know how much this stinks, but
look," he said softly, in a voice that surprised Reynolds beyond measure.
She ceased being surprised when 3298eyyfda drew
back and took a huge and very painful bite out of Death's hand. He screamed
a string of words she wouldn't dare repeat.
And the sirens began to wail.
To be continued...