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The Pains of Being an Avatar Pet


by kaisbff

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Most Neopians think that being an avatar pet is quite spiffy. When I was young, I loved being an avatar pet. But I was yet to discover what an unstable and painful life this would lead to.

      I was born to a wealthy owner, a fine restocker with a well-sized paint brush gallery. Like many lucky pets, I was created and painted within a few minutes of each other. I was created as a red Quiggle and painted island after a few minutes.

      When I was young, I loved my large ego. I loved the way people would beg for me to be lent and I loved the way my owner always refused them with his nose in the air. I loved my avatar and always begged for my owner to use it. At neoschool, I always showed off my owner's avatar at dismissal time, bragging, "See that? He got that avatar 'cuz of me. That's an Island Quiggle avatar. My avatar." I was so obsessed with my avatar that my first word was, in fact, avatar.

      My world was turned upside down when my owner pounded me to a friend. I had only met this friend once or twice and I didn't particularly like her. The truth is, my beloved owner wanted a new avatar pet, like most collectors. So, one day my owner informed me that I was going on a little vacation. We hopped on our bikes and began peddling towards the Neopia Central, where the pound was located. Eventually, I tired and begged for rest. My owner agreed and we went to sleep in a nearby inn.

      When I woke up the next morning, I was in a cage. I jolted to my feet. Gasping, I saw other tired, bedraggled, hopeless Neopets in cages all around me.

      "'Ello," said a deep voice behind me. "What brings a pretty pet like yourself here?" I turned around and stared at the Wocky, who was clearly missing an eye.

      "I...." I was speechless. "I don't know."

      "You'll be gone in a minute. The second the pound opens you'll be snatched by the lurkers," he added grimly, and sauntered off.

      Fear filled my young heart. Why would my owner EVER abandon me? I had a good life, I did not wish to be snatched up by some lurker.

      Luckily, my owner's friend was quick and the moment Dr. Death rang the bell up front to indicate opening time, she pushed through the entering crowd and grabbed my hand, dragging my through the door. I received more looks of admiration as people passed, but for the first time they brought me no happiness.

      I pulled my hand away. "What are you doing?" I hissed. "Where's my owner?"

      "You're mine now." She grinned. "So is your avatar."

      I lasted with her about a week. I admit, she was a pretty good owner. I was her second pet at the time (she had a mutant Draik), and she cared for me well. She fed me good foods and gave me a separate room in her extensive Neohome. But I could tell that she never truly cared for me, because after a week she approached me while I was reading in my room.

      "Darling (I hated it when she called me darling), do you think you would like to be another species?" she asked.

      I gaped at her. "Never! Never ever! I love being a Quiggle!"

      She glared at me, then her expression softened. "Alright then, darling. If you get thirsty, here is a drink for you." She left a muddy colored drink behind and exited the room with a false smile plastered across her face.

      I did not look up from my book, but stupidly enough I trusted her and reached for the drink. She must have been waiting outside the door for this moment, because the moment I took a sip she was by my bed, staring at me with expectant eyes.

      My body went into convulsions and I started shaking rapidly. I screamed as I felt like fire was consuming me. After a few minutes, the pain stopped and my heart rate slowed. I got up from bed and stared at her. "What happened?"

      She was beaming at a new avatar depicting a mutant JubJub that had just "found" its way into her collection. "What? Er... go and see for yourself, darling."

      I tiptoed over to the mirror in the corner of the room. I screamed when I saw my reflection.

      "Keep it down there, darling," my owner muttered absentmindedly.

      I was a mutant Grundo! A hideous mutant! My skin was dry and green and my eyes were huge and pure black. I was reduced to sobs with just a glance of myself.

      I slumped on the floor and sobbed loudly. I could not believe my owner and my own stupidity. I could not stay in such a madhouse! My world was suddenly very twisted from my point of view. I had to get away. I would pound myself and escape the pain. I grabbed my small, unpacked backpack with all my belongings and raced out of the house. As I slammed the front door, I heard her calling after me, but I only ignored the pleas.

      I burst through the pound doors and squeezed through the crowd. I locked myself in a cage, sobbing heavily. I heard a familiar voice in a cage nearby.

      "Back again?" the Wocky asked. "I have never been out of this wretched place once, and you are darting in and out. Pah. I wish I could be painted."

      "No, you don't," I managed to breathe before I was picked up by a lurker and whisked away to my new home.

      This owner was very young. She didn't have any painted pets or secret avatars, her account was barely four months old, and I was her first pet.

      "Aww, you're sooo cute! Who's a cute little grunie-groo?" she chanted. I glared at her and managed to contain my rage.

      Now, she was poor. I, who was used to living in style with rich owners, was outraged to find a one-room Neohome and a safety deposit box filled with omelettes and jellies. She was totally oblivious to my contempt for her, and she also had a firm belief that I was a girl, which may explain why I was brushed and dressed up in dresses daily.

      About three days after my adoption, we were strolling through Neopia Central when a hooded stranger approached us. "Here," he said, handing my owner an orange paint brush. He looked me up and down carefully, then vanished.

      "Oh My Gosh! OMG! Wow! Jacko! Cool!" My owner could barely contain herself. Then she stopped and turned to me. "We've got to get you painted!" With that, she grabbed me by my pink dress and dragged me to the Rainbow Pool.

      She pushed me into the icy waters of the pool, and threw my paintbrush in after me. This transformation was less unpleasant than my previous one; it simply felt like waves of cool color washing over me. When I stepped out, she was handling an Orange Grundo avatar with surprise.

      "Well?" I asked hopefully. She looked up from her avatar and gasped in shock.

      "You're hideous!" she screeched. How she found an Orange Grundo hideous and a mutant one adorable is beyond me, but apparently she did.

      "I can't have a pet like this!" she added miserably, and grabbed my hand. She broke into a all-out sprint with me flying behind her. Before I knew it, we were at the pound and she was handing me to Dr. Death.

      "Wait!" I burst into tears. Ok, I admit she was an annoying owner, but at this point I was so desperate for a stable home that even she would do. "Please! Please keep me! You can get me repainted! PLEASE!" Dr. Death stared at her with sad eyes.

      "I'm sorry," she said, looking mournful. "I am truly sorry." Then, she backed away into the distance and out of my life.

      "No!" I screamed after her. "Come back!" But it was too late. I was being shut in a cage again. I screamed after her as loud as I could, until I was hoarse. I noticed the sad Wocky huddled up in the corner of my cage, eyeing me with extreme jealousy, but he said nothing.

      Before I could call her name again, my cage was opened and a well dressed young Neopian bent down and picked me up.

      "Well, well, well, what luck I am having today," he chanted, while his Royal Cybunny Boy admired me over his shoulder.

      "Take me home," I pleaded. "Take me home."

      "Oh, I will, don't you worry," said the young man, and sat me on his shoulder as he exited the door. I was filled with happiness and pride at such a kind new owner.

      But the happiness didn't last. As soon as we arrived at his lavish Neohome, he hurled me to the floor and yelled, "Where's my avatar!"

      Timidly, his Cybunny suggested checking his collection, which he did. I had a few seconds to breathe and examine my limbs from my impact with the floor when he re-entered the room.

      "I do have it now, yes," he snarled. "You can go back to where you came from now."

      I could not believe what I was hearing. "Please, sir! Please! Give me a chance! I am more than just an avatar!" I threw myself at his feet. "PLEASE!"

      "Alright," he snarled, kicking me away from his feet. "You can stay the night. But you are leaving first thing in the morning."

      I slumped against the wall and cried hard. The Cybunny sat down next to me.

      "He is a bit harsh, isn't he?" he consoled me. I looked up and saw an emotion very close to desperation in his eyes. I put my head down and buried it once again in my hands.

      That night, after the Cybunny showed me to the guest room, I lay in bed, wondering what kind of owner I would have the next day. What I wanted more than ever was an owner that would adopt me for who I was, not for my avatar status. Neopians seemed oblivious to the fact that pets were friends, not just trophies.

      Suddenly, I sat straight up in bed. When the Cybunny had given me a tour of the Neohome I had seen the owner's deposit box door and heard that it was stocked to the brim with morphing potions (his favorite shop to restock at was Kauvara's). I registered slowly that the room was right next to this one, and was always left unlocked. It would be too easy.

      I silently opened the door and slid down the hallway. I reached a door labeled "SDB" and I knew that would be the right room. Carefully, I eased open the door, entered the room, and shut it behind me. I turned around and saw the most spectacular sight I was ever to see.

      There were shelves and shelves of potions, from the ceiling to the floor. My eyes widened as I saw all the shiny bottles. Altogether they would add up to a couple hundred million Neopoints. Why on earth didn't he sell them? What was the use of just hoarding them?

      He wouldn't miss just one potion out of the hundreds he had, I reasoned, so I pulled a ladder over and started an inspection of the shelves. They were organized in alphabetical order by pet species. I was having a hard time deciding what I wanted to be.

      Ruki, Krawk, Moehog, Cybunny... . There were SO many choices. But I knew exactly what I wanted to be as soon as I reached the Quiggle section.

      Unfortunately there was no red Quiggle morphing potion, what I ultimately wanted to be, but there was a green Quiggle morphing potion. I tucked it under my arm and proceeded down the ladder.

      I reached the bottom and slowly uncapped the cork to this mysterious bottle. I smelled the curious smell of the potion and I hesitated a bit to drink it. In my mind, the memory of being hurled to the floor replayed and I shoved the warn liquid down my throat.

      It was actually quite pleasant being transformed. My mind raced and my body smoothly formed into a new shape. I felt like I was being reborn.

      When the transformation stopped I looked down and saw Quiggle feet. I hugged myself, glad that I was in the form that I had long desired to be.

      I heard a yawn in a neighboring room and realized that it must be near morning. I had to pound myself, and quick. If my owner ever found out what I had done, well, I stopped myself from thinking about that.

      I had no bag by now; I was so used to changing owners that I found personal belongings impractical. I shoved the door and it flew open with a bang. Panicking, I broke into a run and almost broke the door in my hurry to get out. I sprinted to the pound and ran to Dr. Death. "Please," I begged. "Put me in a cage again. I'm safe there." He picked me and put me in a cage yet again with the Wocky.

      The next few days were painful. I had barely ever known what it was like to be unpainted, and how neglected unpainted pets are. I watched with sympathy as painted pets were adopted only for their color. The Wocky and I became best friends and together we discussed how cruel life was.

      Then, one fateful Monday morning, she walked in. A teenager, 15 perhaps, with long brown hair and bright blue eyes. She obviously had no pets and was looking for some. She passed by a few painted pets without glancing at them, including a Halloween Lupe, which immediately filled me with respect for her.

      Finally she arrived at our cage. "Hello," she said boldly. "What are your names?" We told her our names and she nodded slowly. Then she inquired, "Can you tell me a little about yourself?"

      I never meant to, but all of a sudden my sad life story came spilling out, even the smallest and most painful details. I was sobbing by the end of it and I don't know why. Why I just told everything I knew about myself to a complete stranger was beyond me.

      She listened carefully and was clearly interested. At the end of my story, I sobbed a few times, then got a grip on myself and lifted my head to look at her. She was looking at me with deep sympathy and affection, and then she smiled.

      "Would you like to come home with me?" she asked hopefully.

      "Oh boy, would I!" I exclaimed and as she opened the cage door I leapt into her arms. She picked me up and hugged me, and set me down on the floor, holding my hand. We were about to leave together when I saw my friend the Wocky crying silently in our cage.

      "Wait," I told her. "If you are going to adopt me, you will need to adopt my brother too." The Wocky lifted his head and stared at me in sheer joy, obviously never hearing anyone call him a "brother" before. She turned around and picked him up too, and he was absolutely speechless. As we walked out of the door together, I turned to her.

      "Can I ask you a favor?" I ventured. She nodded, smiling at me. "When we get home, could you paint me red? It's just that that was the color I started in and that is the color I have always wanted to be." She broke into a grin.

      "I have a starter paintbrush in my deposit box that might to the trick," she chuckled.

      And now I write this in our small but cozy Neohome. My brother Daniel, a blue Wocky, sits by the fireplace, drawing, and my dearest mother knits a poncho on our couch. I myself am wrapped in a homemade blanket and I am sitting at a desk in the corner writing this. It's just me, my brother, and my mom, altogether as one happy, stable family.

      I think perhaps that was too much of a mournful and detailed introduction to who I am, if I haven't scared you off by now. So let's start anew.

      Hello, I'm David the Quiggle, and I am finally red, the color I was before the mess I call a life began.

The End

 
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