Voice of the Neopian Pound Circulation: 151,901,457 Issue: 213 | 20th day of Collecting, Y7
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Trapped Within a Dream: Part Six


by chibicelchan

--------

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 sighed.

      "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."

      "What?"

      "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."

      "But how...?"

      "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 laughed self-deprecatingly.

      "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 volunteered.

      "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 he is.

      "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.

      "Uh... hello?"

      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 mind racing.

      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 Hally's.

      "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!"

      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 medical advice."

      "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 said coldly.

      Death paused for a second, then shook his head. "Let's get this done."

      A beat, then: "How do you propose we get this done?"

      Reynolds cleared her throat.

      "Hey, 3298. Uh, listen, we're gonna need you to..."

      3298eyyfda snarled and swiped at her, eyes narrowed.

      "Come on, buddy. Look, this will just take a second..."

      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...

 
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Other Episodes


» Trapped Within a Dream: Part One
» Trapped Within a Dream: Part Two
» Trapped Within a Dream: Part Three
» Trapped Within a Dream: Part Four
» Trapped Within a Dream: Part Five
» Trapped Within a Dream: Part Seven
» Trapped Within a Dream: Part Eight
» Trapped Within a Dream: Part Nine
» Trapped Within a Dream: Part Ten



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