Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 90,555,820 Issue: 165 | 5th day of Storing, Y6
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Gilbert the Poogle: Part One


by scarletrhapsody

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"Ooh, look at those beautiful Poogles!" Ben pointed gleefully at the group of joyful Poogles that crossed his path. Admiring the endearing charm of these colourful Neopets, Ben proclaimed wistfully, "Oh, Penny, how I wish I could grow up quickly and turn into such wonderful Poogles! Can I? Please?"

      Gilbert sniggered at his little brother's ignorance.

      "What do you know? You're just a dumb baby Chia. How can you ever turn into a Poogle when you grow up?"

      Ben hardly understood what his elder brother, the fearsome, determined, and seasoned Battledomer of the family, was saying, for he was still young and naïve. Nonetheless, he lowered his head in utter disappointment. The cruel tone of voice was too much for his little heart.

      Penny stroke the soft and sparse hair on his yellow head thoughtfully, comforting him of the fact that he was born a Chia, that he could not be anything else that he wanted to be. Unless, of course, the doting owner was willing to indulge in him and splurge on that Poogle morphing potion he had been eyeing for months.

      The Fire Scorchio seemed to be able to read his owner's mind.

      "Don't even think about it, Penny. You'll need those precious Neopoints to train me for the Battledome, remember? Besides, I'm the family bodyguard. My battling skills need to be constantly sharpened, just in case a few thugs here and there come provoking us."

      At that the Baby Chia hung his head even lower.

      "Stop it, Gilbert." Penny stared down piteously at the disillusioned little Chia. "You're only making Ben feel worse. Oh, you poor thing."

      Oh you poor thing. Gilbert mouthed the words sarcastically. It was not a good feeling to be the stronger, elder pet, only to watch in helplessness as the owner continued to shower the weak and meek little brother with more love and concern. Gilbert felt it was not right. Not appropriate, in fact, that he should receive less attention from Penny. He was, after all, the one Neopet that earned her all that priceless glory by winning match after match in the Battledome. What did Ben do? The baby could only lie in his stupid cot all day, hugging his worthless Slorg which, being just as useless, always left a trail of disgusting slime on all of his freshly polished Battling equipment. Ben was the least contributing member of the family, yet Penny loved him most. It made absolutely no sense to Gilbert.

      The proud-looking Fire Scorchio's attention was quickly diverted, though, as Ben shrieked and squealed shamelessly as he gazed, mesmerised, upon the newly batch of Usuki Dolls that had just arrived in the Usuki shop. Gilbert was literally dragged into the store, while Ben took his pick.

      Gilbert couldn't help but roll his eyes.

     "You're a male pet and you're playing with Dolls? What is the world coming to?"

     Neither Penny nor Ben heard him. It was going to be another long, taxing day, at least for the completely uninterested Scorchio.

     ***

     Gilbert took great pride in his fiery image. Being a fire pet was a sign of might and strength and to him, only masculine, superior Neopets like himself were to be deemed worthy of the colour. Gilbert's condescending attitude was evident even from the way he strolled down the street, with his arrogant head constantly lifted up in the air with immense chauvinism. To him, to be able to melt many an Ice Bori was a great achievement.

     Everywhere in Neopia, other Neopets held Fire pets like him in high honour.

     Yet at home, Gilbert was only second to his little brother. Everything that Benny asked for was flooded unto him. Somehow their owner's heart melted into loving kindness and rained blessings upon Ben whenever the little Chia pouted in apparent unhappiness. In fact, a few days ago Gilbert even had a huge quarrel with Benny, an argument which turned into a fist-fight. Seeing that Ben was wailing and sobbing buckets of frustrated tears, Penny was immediately bribed to be on the little brother's side. Gilbert was given an immediate, brutal lashing even before he had time to explain his side of the situation. The smug, proudly satisfied look on Benny's face certainly didn't help a single bit. Furious and frustrated at the injustice, Gilbert ran out of the Neohome, as hot, angry tears letting loose from his eyes for the first time in his life. It was simply the last straw for him.

     Since then, Gilbert had returned home, and the situation at home had calmed down a lot more, but hostility between the siblings remained like the numbing frost on an iceberg.

     Perhaps Penny realised her mistake, Gilbert thought. He was expecting some sort of an apology for the unfairness done to him. Penny could not have failed to notice the reconciliation gift-specifically the Fire Gem-that he had wanted so badly, what with all that hinting and nudging and winking that he had done.

     Today, especially, Penny was late coming home from shopping. Perhaps she had gone to buy the Fire Gem especially for her Scorchio. Gilbert was seized in excitement of the moment of waiting.

      Finally. She was finally home, with large bags shopping, no doubt. The two pets went forward eagerly to greet her.

      "Oh, hi, everyone. I'm home." Penny was exhausted, but evidently weirdly elated about something too. She seemed especially mysterious, and her tone of voice carried her excitement to the Scorchio's ears. It all held Gilbert in exhilarating suspense.

      "Look at what I bought!" Penny dramatically pulled out something from her paper bag. Gilbert shut his eyes, afraid he would not be able to contain the thrill when he saw the Fire Gem. As his eyes slowly fluttered open, all he could do was stare in amazement and disbelief.

      In Penny's hand was no sign of the Fire Gem that her had been so eagerly anticipating. Instead, it was an annoying sweet-looking Blue Poogle toy.

      Oh, well, Gilbert thought. A Poogle toy will do as well. Maybe Penny missed my hint.

      The mildly disappointed Scorchio half-heartedly reached out a lazy paw to receive his gift. The Poogle didn't touch his hand though. Penny pushed the plushie in Ben's direction instead. The baby Chia was as much in shock as the Scorchio was.

      "Who-me?" Benny was pleasantly surprised. Somehow his elder brother seemed more deserving party to receive the present than of him, the Baby Chia felt. After all, he was "maligned" in the quarrel just a few days ago.

      Much to Gilbert's horror, Penny nodded.

      "Take it, Ben, I bought it especially for you."

      Gilbert's mind did not register. More than confused, he was shocked beyond words. As Benny hesitantly reached out his short arm to take it, the Scorchio regained his conscious mind and, felt, for the second time this week, unfairly treated. In fact, this time he sensed more than that. He was envious, even jealous of his little brother and all the attention he got. More than anything now, he wanted Penny's undivided attention. Somehow he must get it.

      Not thinking straight, Gilbert quickly snatched over the toy just at it touched the baby's hand. Before the two could react, he violently grabbed the legs of the toy Poogle, trying to tear the toy's tough fabric apart, to rip the plushie which was symbolic of Penny's injustice towards him. With both paws, he twisted and pulled at the toy, hoping only to destroy it.

      The two others could only stare wide-eyed in utter bewilderment at Gilbert. But they were not only shocked to see the aggressive reaction he had towards the toy Poogle. They were staring at something else, something they had never seen before, something they never thought they ever would see. A frightful transformation.

      Slowly but surely, Gilbert's fire colour was fading to a mild, warm blue. His wings shrunk, minimising only to become part of his round back. His portly belly decreased slightly in size, and his legs, forearms, paws and claws all reduced to mere smooth trunk-like paws. Yet the change on his face was the worst part of all. His face was contorted into a weird shape, his mouth shrinking to only a small part on the lower portion of his face, his eyes grew wide and deceptively innocent, his nose converging into a little bump on the middle of his face. Ears were gradually forming, extending from both sides of his head. Slowly, Gilbert was turning, as they managed to see clearly now, a blue Poogle, not unlike the toy one he was holding in his paw.

      Gilbert stopped in his attempt to rip open the toy's belly. Panting furiously, he threw the plushie onto the floor in front of Penny and Ben, as if victorious. But as much as he was relishing in his own victory, he realised sometime strange. He had instinctively stood on all four legs, something he was never inclined to do.

      "Oh, Gilbert, what had you done…?" Penny sounded as if in distress, as if unable to withstand the impact of the fact. She clasped her pale face in horror, while Ben just stood in shock. For the both of them, especially the innocent-minded Ben, the transformation unfolding before their very eyes proved too much for them to handle in the while.

     The shell-shocked look in the two other's eyes told Gilbert that something was not right. Conveniently, he glanced at the large hall mirror which was directly to his right. It was a devastating sight.

     "What happened to me…Penny…Ben, Oh no!"

     Gilbert, though still in ultimate astonishment, was nevertheless disgusted by his new look. He stared momentarily at the Blue Poogle toy on the floor, now non-magical, a limp toy, ungraciously sprawled on the ground. The toy had been the culprit. But rather than to start blaming the toy which was only doing its job, Gilbert was stunned with disbelief at his new skin. He had lost his once glamorous self. The once fiery, feared-by-all, mighty Fire Scorchio he was prided for was no more. What stood before the mirror now was a disgustingly honey sweet, gentle-looking Poogle. An annoying cuddly Poogle, which was the last thing Gilbert ever wanted to be.

      "I'm so doomed."

To be continued...

 
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