Abandoned: Part One
Taite tugged her pink sun hat closer to her head as she briskly made her way down the Neopian street. In her one free hand hung a vintage suitcase that she had picked from Chesterdrawer’s a few days after she had been told ‘the news’. A wave of emotions shook the poor Usul, but she pushed it aside. Her eyes glanced slightly sideways toward the teenage girl walking next to her. Their eyes just barely met, but she could practically hear the girl pleading. ‘Forgive me, Taite. I’m so sorry.’ The Usul broke off the connection and kept moving forward, more stiffly now. The couple turned a corner and Taite barely noticed that they were not on the main street of Neopia Central. She felt as if Batterflies had filled her stomach. It couldn’t end like this! Surely Belinda would change her mind, come to her senses! But Taite knew better. Her owner wouldn’t reconsider; she would only apologize with fake sorrow, then proceed to walk away. She felt the weight of Belinda’s arm as it settled around her shoulders and shrugged it off. She didn’t want to be pitied; she just wanted to go home. If only she could...
They turned onto yet another street and Belinda stopped abruptly in front of a bright, brick building. Taite did the same, turning to face the large sign inscribed with the blocky words THE NEOPIAN POUND. Belinda brushed her brunette hair out of her eyes and sighed. “Well... This is it.” It was the first time she had spoken in hours and Taite noticed that her voice sounded weak. This didn’t bother her, though. It had been weeks since she’d been fazed by her owner’s struggling emotions. Taite chose not to reply to this statement, knowing that any words that came from her mouth at this moment would be spiteful. It wasn’t fair. They shouldn’t be here. All the same, she let Belinda grab her paw and lead her through the wooden double doors.
Past the threshold was a long corridor adorned with lavish interior decorating that would have caught Taite’s eye on any other occasion. Today, she simply sailed past it, staring straight ahead as she walked. The two stopped when they reached an alcove with a marble desk perched in the center. A plump, blue Cybunny was sprawled out lazily in the chair behind it. She looked condescendingly upon the pair as they approached, but asked, “What can I do for you, ladies?” She blatantly eyed Belinda’s couture and it seemed to meet her standards. She flashed a genuine smile at them, one that seemed to say, “So you’re rolling in Neopoints, too?” Taite just gazed through her. She wanted nothing to do with anyone in this wretched place.
“Ah, yes. I talked to someone three weeks ago about putting my pet up for adoption and they told me to bring her in today.” The brunette spoke the words so calmly, as if they no longer affected her.
The pudgy Cybunny flipped through some pages on a clipboard that was presumably hers. After a few moments, she nodded. “Here we are. Belinda Newberry of 496 Wishing Well Drive, Neopia Central- here to abandon the Chocolate Usul, Taite.” She paused and her eyes fell over Taite’s icy white fur and red bow. Then, she stated the obvious. “You are not a Chocolate Usul.”
Belinda chewed her bottom lip ever so slightly. “No ma’am. She was recently painted white.”
The blue animal let out a grunt of annoyance. “Well, we’ll let Dr. D take care of changing that description, although...” She paused to meet the girl’s eyes. “Next time, we would appreciate it if you called after you settled on a color.” She sniffed haughtily, grabbed the clipboard, and turned on her heel. Belinda and her pet watched in amazement as she began to walk away, leaving them there. When she sensed that they had not followed, she paused and questioned, “Are you going to just stand there all day? Come quickly, so we can get to our next client.” With that, she picked back up her pace and led the girls through a maze of hallways before stopping at yet another desk.
Taite’s heart froze as she recognized the yellow Techo sitting there. He stood at their entrance and smiled grimly. In his cold voice, he needlessly introduced himself. “How do you do? I’m Doctor Death.” His eyes lost any speck of warmth as they sized up Belinda and he watched her carefully for a minute before turning to their escort. “Suzette, would you mind getting this lovely Usul a cup of tea?” Taite noticed that he mentioned nothing about getting Belinda a beverage. Did he somehow want to scorn her for being so careless as to bring her pet here? She was almost ashamed to hope so. But before she could figure the action out, the Techo got to work, pulling out yet another clipboard. “Miss... Newberry? I see that the pet you have brought to us does not match the description you gave to our secretary via neomail. I hope you do realize that this will cause us a good deal of work, as we now have to edit the description on all our records.” Belinda opened her mouth to apologize, but Dr. Death did not pause to let her speak. “Now, I will need you to fill out some registration forms with information about your Usul and yourself. It is indeed extensive and I should hope you have the attention span for it. Once the paperwork is finished, we will take Miss Taite into our custody. You will not be allowed to communicate with her after this has happened. From there we will let her rest for a night in one of the rooms upstairs, take her to the grooming parlor, and then let her join the other pets. We will neomail you when she is adopted, but we are not able to give out details on the adopter. Any questions?”
Belinda stared past him for a second before pressing her lips together and shaking her head. Dr. Death shot the girl an irritated glance and shoved an impressively large stack of papers toward her. Taite looked on as her owner grabbed a pen from her purse and began filling in the demanding form. The Techo smiled encouragingly at the Usul as the Cybunny, apparently called Suzette, reappeared and set a cup of Earl Grey Tea in front of her. In all honesty, Taite was more inclined to coffee, but she lifted the dainty cup to her mouth to please the slightly terrifying creature in front of her. After hearing endless stories about Dr. Death, it was amazing that he was actually acting... nice. She dared to hope that tales were false, but she still didn’t trust him. The last person Taite had decided to trust was Belinda- and well, look how that had turned out. A cold shiver of nerves filled her fur and she tried to shake it off. If she thought about anything other than ‘right now’, she would get hysterical. She couldn’t let that happen. There was no way she would show Belinda how much this was affecting her. Taite wouldn’t let her have that satisfaction.
The Doctor cleared his throat, breaking her train of thought. She glanced at him in time to see him punch in an extension on the Virtupets intercom. After a moment, he spoke into it, “Liv, we’re just about finished wrapping this one up. Female. Usul. White. Suzette informed me that Suite 16 is open...” There was a crackle of static as he finished and a minute later a response came through the system.
“I’ll send one of the maids to get her shortly.” The feminine voice was so soft and warm that Taite had to smile. It was strange to think of the icy Techo being acquainted with anyone who sounded like that, and Taite found herself smiling at the thought. If there were people here who weren’t as emotionless and frightening as Dr. Death, she might just survive after all.
Taite glanced over at Belinda who was just writing out the last of the information that the papers required. The girl signed her embellished signature at the bottom and handed it over to the Techo. Nerves gripped Taite’s stomach as she realized that it was over, that this was really happening. She was really being left here to end up who knew where... But she had to force those emotions aside and be strong. She would not crumble.
Dr. Death sighed and looked Belinda in the eye for the first time. “All right, Miss Newberry,” he instructed robotically. “Say your goodbyes and we will take your Usul into our custody.” His eyes glossed over and he seemed to look through the Neopian and her pet. It was as if he was used to the bittersweet somberness of these partings. But of course he was. He saw them a dozen times a day, didn’t he?
Belinda leaned forward and wrapped her arms around her pet’s white fur. A single tear fell from her eye and she broke away from the Usul. Still, she said nothing and Taite wasn’t surprised. Her owner hadn’t spoken a word to her all morning. But Taite felt that she should say something, anything. If Belinda could express her regret or even wish her luck, it would make this moment so much better. Not a word came from her mouth, though. She didn’t even try to say something, so Taite did the same. It was all she could do not to break down as she silently watched her owner, or rather the girl who had been her owner, walk away.
To be continued...