A Close Shave
Casey opened her eyes to the familiar blue walls of her small bedroom. Her eyes swept across the room, looking at all the little things in her room. Her plushie collection in the corner (352 in total, she'd counted so many times the number was etched in her memory). Her dresser filled with clothes (well, not filled; she was a Hissi after all, and surprisingly there weren't that many accessories to accommodate someone without legs and two wings growing out of their back). And her most prized possession, her book shelf, stocked with a so many books she'd had to put some of them in storage in her Safety Deposit Box. She'd read most of them at least four times. Yep, same old, same old. It seemed like nothing new or exciting had ever happened in her life. She slithered out of bed and stretched her long body across the floor, flexing her stiff wings. But all that was about to change...
Casey flew down the stairs so fast she almost tripped (well maybe not trip, there wasn't much to trip on in the air). She whizzed over to the table and poured herself a hearty bowl of Neoflakes. Suddenly the milk slipped out of her teeth and fell to the ground.
"Oh no, not again," she groaned.
"Well, I guess there's no use crying over spilt milk."
Casey looked up to see her owner walk into the room. A bright smile lit across her face. She new what was coming next. From out of his pocket, Casey's owner took out a small vial, full of a bright blue liquid, with a scarf of hair wrapped around it and two blue ears poking out of the top. Casey squealed with excitement. A Blue Gnorbu Morphing Potion.
Casey thought back to a few weeks ago, when she first decided she wanted to be a Gnorbu.
"But why would you want to be a Gnorbu?" asked Casey's friend Francis. "You are so lucky to be a Hissi, a cool limited edition pet, and a such a beautiful shade of yellow!"
That of course was easy for Francis to say. He was already a Gnorbu, a way too cool looking Cloud Gnorbu. He always said he'd like to be something different, but everyone knew that it was way "in" to be a one.
"Because," explained Casey for what seemed like the hundredth time, "I am fed up with being a no legged, hairless, winged FREAK! I am so tired of spilling things, and not being able to play sports well, and having trouble just turning the page of a book! I want to be able to walk and run, and... flip my hair!"
That of course was what Casey wanted to happen most. To be able to flip around and style a long mane of gorgeous Gnorbu fur. She wanted to go with her friends to hair braiding parties, and comb it to perfection, and, just to... use shampoo for Fyora's sake!
"I'm sorry, Francis." She crossed her wings since she had no arms to do it. "But I am going to become a Gnorbu, and that's final!"
"Casey, would you stop daydreaming and just take the potion already?"
Casey woke up from her thoughts and found herself at school. All her friends, Francis, Michelle, Karyn, and Scott, were next to her, staring at her impatiently. She hadn't even remembered what they were talking about. Then Francis shoved the morphing potion in her face.
"Just take it already, would you!" he complained. "I want to get to class. If I'm tardy again, I'll be kept after school and won't even have time for my free training!"
Today of course was Gnorbu Day. Casey had made sure today would be the day she took the potion so it would be special. Not wanting to wait anymore, she took the open potion in her teeth, and chugged the whole thing in one gulp.
A sudden tingling feeling went over her. Then, the sensation stopped as quickly as it had started. She ran into the nearest bathroom to look at her reflection in the mirror. Instead of seeing a Yellow Hissi, she saw a beautiful Blue Gnorbu. The potion had worked! Casey admired herself in the mirror. She flipped her long, flowing hair across her face. It felt so soft and wonderful. She was bursting with happiness. Becoming a Gnorbu was the best thing that had ever happened to her.
"Casey, would you come out of there?" Francis called from outside the bathroom, "Somebody's here to see you."
Casey couldn't have cared less if it was the Dr. Sloth himself. She walked out of the bathroom feeling proud and radiant. She looked to see her other friends had left, only Francis remained, with a Yellow Kacheek holding a pair of scissors! The Kacheek wore a yellow hat that said Neopets Employee on it. Before she even knew what was happening, the Kacheek came up with the scissors, and started snipping away. In only a few short seconds, he had cut off all of Casey's lovely fur, leaving her completely hairless!
Casey was so stunned, she barely noticed the Kacheek do the same to Francis, tip his hat, and leave. Her mouth wide open, she ran back into the bathroom, and saw her new reflection. She was totally bald! All that lovely fur was gone. Leaving nothing but an ugly Gnorbu in its place. She walked out of the bathroom almost in tears.
"Why are you so surprised? Didn't you know this was going to happen?"
She turned her attention back to Francis, who looked extremely happy. She wanted to yell at him "What do you mean! This is insane! How can you be smiling!"
But instead, all she could muster was a "Wha?"
"It's Shearing Day," explained Francis, "Every year, all the Gnorbus get their coats shaven or cut off so it doesn't grow too long. It's just part of the celebration. I love it, it feels so great to get rid of all that fur!"
"Well, I HATE IT!" screamed Casey, suddenly finding her voice. "I've been waiting my whole life to have beautiful fur like yours, and I only got it for two minutes! Now it's all gone!"
Casey ran away from the shocked Francis, tears streaming down her face. This wasn't right! She'd waited too long, and saved too much for this! It wasn't fair!
She wasn't sure how long she ran for. But suddenly Casey found herself in front of the door to a place she'd never been to before. She cautiously opened the door, to find a deranged looking Yellow Scorchio. He wore a white lab coat, and had very messy hair. He grinned evilly, and waved for her to come in. Carefully, Casey stepped into the huge room, which looked like the lab of a mad scientist. Beakers of strange bubbling glasses of weird looking liquids, were strewn across the many tables. She saw many difficult looking science books on shelves lining the walls. But the thing she noticed first was a huge ray gun, trained on a corner of the lab.
"Well, I suppose you're here to use the Lab Ray, " said the strange Scorchio.
Now she understood where she was! The Secret Laboratory. She'd heard about all the wonderful and twisted things that could happen if you were hit by the powerful beams of the Lab Ray. Many of the stories she'd been told were not happy ones. How had she ended up here? She turned around to leave.
"Wait!" yelled the Scorchio.
She turned to look at him.
"I see you've been shaved clean." He laughed wickedly. "I'm sure you'd like to become a different species so you wouldn't look like that anymore?"
Casey thought about it. She did want to change. It was no fun being a Gnorbu if she didn't have any hair. Maybe she could be turned back into a Hissi...
"Well, hurry up!" yelled the Scorchio impatiently. "I have many more victims, I mean, clients to tend to. Would you like to use the ray or not?"
Casey made her decision. She stepped into the little corner where the zappings took place.
"Very good," said the Scorchio. He gave a maniacal laugh, and flipped the switch. The ray made a whirring noise as it sprang to life.
Casey braced herself and closed her eyes for what was coming.
Casey turned her head to see Francis come bolting through the door. He pushed her out of the way, just before the ray hit her. They both looked back to see a small cloud of smoke billow from the spot where the ray had hit.
"That's it! Get out of my lab," shrieked the Scorchio.
They didn't need to be told twice, and soon the two of them were outside the building, panting.
"Casey, how could you do that to yourself?" Francis shook her. "Do you know how close you were to becoming a pile of ash with the rest of your life?"
Casey felt the tears spring back to her eyes.
"I'm sorry, Francis," she sniffed. "I just didn't want to be a ugly bald Gnorbu for the rest of my life. No offense."
Francis took a long look at her, then burst out laughing.
"And just what is so funny?" Casey asked, annoyed.
"Casey, you're so silly," he said, calming down. "The hair will grow back, you know."
"Yeah, and even if you were a bald Gnorbu for the rest of your life, everybody would still like you. We like you for who you are, Casey, not for how you look. It's the inside that counts."
Casey smiled, and Francis smiled back. Francis was right. He may not look it in his hairless self, but right now, he was the most amazing, stunning Gnorbu she'd ever seen.
"Come on, let's go get that free training at the Academy," said Francis cheerfully.
So the two friends walked side by side into the orange sunset. The two happiest Gnorbus in all of Neopia. And over the years, Casey never cared anymore when she was shaved. Because, after all, bald is beautiful.