Rainbow Lane: Part Two
So, for the time being, we just needed to get me out of here, keeping the rest of this black hole to be explained on further notice. I said my good-byes to Rio and Clairise... but we would soon meet again in a matter of hours. We hadn’t ceased to discuss exactly how we were going to escape, so we would have to do everything step by step, and leave most of it to him, since he had gathered information about Rainbow Lane during his short time here before our meeting.
I headed home in the meantime, unsure of what to do about my father. I opened the door to find my father sitting beside my mother, his arm around her, both looking calm yet surprised, and annoyed yet content in sort of a mixed confusion of emotions that I then realized that I indeed noticed in them long before. All faulty to purification.
“Tairah,” my father said as he stood up and inched toward me. Slow, robotic steps... this was getting interesting to watch my parents now, knowing that all of this wasn’t natural. But it also made me sad all the same.
He looked down at me, unlike how Rio had knelt to my level and made eye contact. Father hardly looked at me.
Later, I lay on the pine finish table, as if I was to be operated on. Did they have to cut me open for the magic to work? “To the point that it’s basically brain surgery...” were the words that echoed in my head in which Rio had told me moments ago, so maybe they did. But it had been nearly half an hour since my odd conversation with my long-lost uncle and his steed, so I had well over an hour of time to keep the plan intact.
As our luck may have it, at the same time that the gates finally opened—midnight—was the exact time that I was supposed to be purified. The guards all had their mealtime at twelve, so we had half an hour to escape the city. (Rio happened to come in at that exact time yesterday, so he wandered around aimlessly for a day until he found me.) But for this to work, we needed all the time we could buy.
This was the inferior part of the purification. My mother stood on her knees at the low table that I lay on, her clouded brown eyes set on my father. He held a box down to where my mother had access to what was inside. She carefully took off the lid and reached for what was inside. A paint brush, tipped with chalky white paint, dangled from her thin paw as she turned her head in my direction down on the table. She went to work.
This was a small price to pay for the good of me... at least it was the painting that came first, so they didn’t have time to hack at my brain or eat out my soul or anything. She ran the paint brush over the side of my face. Freezing! I thought as the paint trickled down my spine. I winced as she covered the rest of my body with the cold, slimy paint. Then I felt a warm rush of some other fluid, presumably water. I opened my eyes to find that I was right... partly. The water reflected off several colours... red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and purple... but it quickly dried up, revealing my newly whitened fur. Then, without further ado, they picked me up and carried me out the door without a word.
They had slipped me back into my jacket, and once we were out of the house, I knew why.
The air was almost as cold as the touch of the white paint brush. My parents, for once, were reacting to the weather as my mother held me close as my father walked beside of her, holding her body to his as they walked. I couldn’t help but wonder... did my parents actually love each other? Love was new to me at the moment, but I never really recalled my father and mother ever expressing affection. Sure, they hugged, and mother would give my father a kiss on the cheek whenever he would return from work, and she would kiss me on the forehead and hug me before I went to sleep, but...
Wait, did they love me, deep inside?
There was no time to really question that... it was a long walk to where they were taking me, so I just had to wait and hope that Rio remembered every step of the plan. “Just follow these instructions as soon as you get to the building.” Those were his words before we formulated our plan. I bobbed up in down in sync to my mother’s footsteps, getting bored as well as nervous. I took a look at my paw... I could hardly recognize that it was mine, because it was white now. I was already beginning to miss my red self. I looked up to see the grandfather clock building towering over the three of us. Only forty-five minutes left. My parents probably saw it too, as they quickened their pace. I bobbed up and down even faster now, to the point where I almost felt sick. But nevertheless, we eventually reached our destination.
“Korsin, open the door.” It had been almost an hour since my mother spoke. “Quick!” It was hushed, almost worried. About what? That I was going to run away to live with my uncle and a frilly Uni? There was still so much to learn.
Father did as he was told and we walked into an even colder, silvery room that I later discovered was a lab. My mother sat down in a nearby red leather chair as my father took me. I looked back and took one last look at my mother. Her eyes looked as though she would cry.
Wasn’t this supposed to be a wonderful thing? Those weren’t tears of joy; I could just tell... A million things ran through my mind. It was all coming so fast that I couldn’t tell up from down (too much bobbing...), especially when I got a huge beaked monster thing in my face.
“Glad to have your time, Mr. Korsin...” the thing said. It was all feathery and had a long, long beak, and was wearing small reading glasses and a lab coat with a gold name tag reading, “Dr. Forester – Purification Specialist”. He took me from my father and set me on another table, except this one was a grey-blue, and sort of like a bed, only harder, and felt like a tarp. My heart dropped into my stomach as I spotted straps hanging off the edges, with buckles on the ends. I looked nervously back at the doctor, half-expecting him to say that everything would be fine, like the human doctors would to a patient before performing surgery. But he didn’t.
My father left the room. I could still see my mother, her face in her hands, but still no tears emerging. Meanwhile, the doctor was at the counter, handling vials filled with multicolored potions of every sort, pouring several into one huge vial, but that didn’t mean he was done, as he grabbed a dozen or so smaller vials and started mixing and matching again.
Then an excited feeling arose in me. I realized that it was time to enact the plan.
I clutched the bed/table with my white paws, in which each of my fingers had a tiny, yet effective claw. I then used my claws to crawl over the side of the bed, and underneath, which was made of wood and metal. On the wood parts, I continued to latch on, taking one paw and crawling on the underbelly of the wood, making my way to the other side. Thankfully, I was tiny enough to make it across without making the bed tip over. I was on the end opposite of the door that lead to the room that my parents were sitting in, so I don’t think anybody noticed I was “gone”, except for maybe my parents, but they weren’t saying anything about it. There was a door in the back of the room, so I quietly released my claws from the bed and crouched down on the tiled floor, crawling toward the door and out of the room. “Just find some sort of way out of the sight of the doctor... and remember that here, stealth is more important than speed” were Rio’s words. Step one accomplished!... partly.
Ah, a long hallway... going three ways. This wasn’t a part of the plan...so I just went straight. Only this time speed was more important. Nobody was in the hallway, anyway. So I quickly made my way to the door, and opened it just a crack. I peered out and saw what seemed to be a short, dumpy version of Dr. Forester... like the doctor because it had wings, but different... it had a snout, not like a Kyrii’s, though, and it had several spikes lining its back and tail, and it had no feathers.
It was pushing a hospital cart with something green and moving on it... a baby neopet? I couldn’t be sure... but he was in the middle of a four-way hallway and had made his way through, so I made it across safely. I then remembered that Rio had indeed said that there were fifty-four different species of neopets, so the winged thing and Dr. Forester must have been two of those different species. They were both well into their adulthood, of course, so they were painted white like my parents were. I couldn’t help but wonder about their families, like mine.
I then remembered Rio’s instructions, step two; he had said that I needed to enter the room where the create-a-pet machines were contained. Well, since the winged thing with the green neopet came from somewhere across the hall, I assumed that I must go in the direction he came from, right?
So it was a short walk from his direction, so I crept over to the wooden door and slid my paw over the silver knob. The glass part of the door was glazed, so I couldn’t tell what was inside.
There were no create-a-pet machines in here. Just dozens and dozens of tiny neopets, so many in fact, that I couldn’t count them all, although I assumed that there were around fifty-four, minus me. And a dozen or so older neopet doctors looking down at me.
“Intruder!” a short, furry one with no arms said, a clipboard clutched in one huge foot. He dropped it and went after me. So did the rest, each different from one another, each clad in either skin, fur, feathers, scales, you name it... each painted white and wearing a white lab coat, too. But of course, this was no time to stop and marvel at new creatures. This was the time to run!
The last time I remember running was from when I tried to escape from Rio when I first met him. So I didn’t have much experience when I was running now. Yet, I seemed to be making progress as I took to my heels down the hall, even running into the winged doctor who I saw earlier, although he did his best to avoid the chase, as he ducked down another end with his green thing, who I did indeed see that it was a creature of some sort. Yet, I pressed on and continued to run, running short of breath as well as I stopped at a door at the end of the hall.
I was trapped, but as I looked back I saw that the doctors were in the same shape as I was, wheezing and huffing, their white faces taking on a pinkish hue. So I opened the door that stood in my way, trusting that I wouldn’t run into more doctors or scientists, or any other adult, for that matter.
The room I entered had no adults... but it did have some devices that I immediately recognized as the create-a-pet machines! But I was frozen in my tracks as I gazed out upon the machines, each either beeping or whirring or contracting and expanding. It was a symphony of ruckus not to be enjoyed, but I was intrigued.
But behind me I heard pitter-pattering that I knew were the footsteps of the neopet mob that was chasing me, so, letting my gut feeling lead me, I rushed to the side of the room, where a huge file cabinet sat, and pushed.
I don’t really know what happened there, other than what I got from the clue of the evidential soreness that I experienced later, but what I do know that some sort of strength bellowed up inside of me and outshone my obstacle. It may have been that strength of determination that allows mothers to lift huge monsters ten times their size off their children, but all I know is that although all I remember of pushing the cabinet over is a huge blur now, it tipped over and blocked the door, and all I heard seconds later were yelling and pounding from the other side.
A wave of relief washed over me as I realized that I was safe, at least for the time being. The next thing I needed to do was get out of there. But then it hit me.
This was where I came from. I came out of one of these machines. I looked over to the direction in which the cabinet once was and saw behind it some furry, blue creatures, curled up in a long, enormous tube-like container filled with a strange, clear fluid. They had huge ears and flexible horns beginning from the tops of their heads to the napes of their necks. They had puffy-looking pink paws, with rounded fingers in which they had withdrawn claws, sort of like mine, only bigger. Their large eyes were closed, and they seemed to be half-smiling. There was a plaque above a series of knobs and buttons, titled, “Acara”.
So that’s what it's called? I thought. There were three more containers like it, each containing either green, red, or yellow Acaras. It was the same with the other fifty-three species, each segment containing a tube for every colour, so there were two hundred-sixteen tubes in all, all shoved into this huge room. I nearly cried with joy. They were all so... different. I liked them.
I visited the next four containers, except this pet was sort of like the Acara, only it was slender and sleek, and it didn’t seem to have a nose. In the place of horns, it had what seemed to be another set of ears. This species was titled, “Aisha”.
So that’s what an Aisha is! I thought, gazing into the closed narrow eyes of each Aisha. They were all so unbelievably cute... I eyed the controls for the species. There was a screen between them and the plaque. So I curiously hit a button on the touch screen. Nothing happened. My eyes quickly fluttered from the station to all that lay before me. There were the Lutari and Lupes that Rio was talking about... and as it turns out, I was able to decipher all the different species that I had seen a few minutes earlier... Dr. Forester was a Lenny, the winged thing I saw in the hallway with the cart was a Scorchio, the creature on the cart was a green Zafara, and the short, fuzzy thing with the huge feet and the clip board was a JubJub. I even saw some more Kyrii and even some Unis, but they didn’t interest me, since those (especially Kyrii) were most of what I had seen all my life.
I looked back into the glass that held the Aishas. These were my favorite so far. In the midst, I caught my reflection in the glass.
This was the first time I had ever looked back at myself since I had been painted white. My eyes seemed bigger and browner, due to how they stood out against my pale fur. I touched my cheek to see if I really had changed, or maybe if this was just a dream. Yet, it was real life.
Suddenly, I could have sworn that something in the glass moved. Then I remembered the Aishas... oh, no.
It started moving more and more, all up to the point that it finally opened its eyes. They were much bigger than the tiny slits that they had appeared to be. It blinked a couple of times as it began to look around. It stared straight ahead, at the Aisha above it, and then straight at me. It opened its mouth to say something, but nothing came out due to the fluid that it was submerged in. Then it began to be pulled downward, and into the device, and was replaced by the Aisha above it.
What I had failed to notice is that each machine had a bucket-like tray attached to it. So the little pet came sliding through a tube just big enough for it to fit through, and soon ended up clattering in the tray. Although, it was actually more of a plop, than a clatter, due to the slime that covered the Aisha from where it was submerged.
I backed away, as if the little thing were going to attack me, and tripped over another tray in the process, this one connected to a goofy, yet cute-looking species called the Blumaroo. I was feeling dizzy as I sat on the floor, casually noticing that I hadn’t had anything to drink all day. So I was in shock, and dehydrated. Swell.
I carefully looked over the tray to find the Aisha looking at me, occasionally breaking its gaze to shake off some access slime. It cocked its head and mewed.
I finally decided to speak. “Um... hello there...” I stuttered, stepping closer while doing so. “I’m Tairah. I-I’m a Kyrii, if you’re wondering...”
It feebly stood up and stepped off the tray, falling over as it did so. Nevertheless, it stood back up again. I all of a sudden felt sorry for the poor thing. I realized that this little pet wouldn’t have a mother because it was created too early on accident. I took off my jacket, even though it was cold in the lab and it was growing even colder outside, and approached it. I bent down and wiped off some of the excess fluid that it had been encased in, and then I swaddled it. It was a blue Aisha, purring contently as I held it against my chest. I looked around, wondering what to do next.
Then a sinking feeling entered my stomach... Rio! I had forgotten all about him and Clairise! And what was I supposed to do with this newborn Aisha? I sat on the floor and began to cry. The tears from before had long dried, and these new ones were washing the stains away. Then I felt something tiny and rough rub my skin. I discovered that it was the Aisha’s tongue lapping up my tears. She started mewing and rubbing her velvety cheek against mine, purring stopped, as if she knew that I was sad and that something was wrong. I couldn’t help but smile at my new little friend. “I guess you’re right.” I stood up, still shaky. “I should feel better about this. I can still carry on with the plan.”
Great timing for me to, too. I heard rapping on the glazed window in the lab, and through it I saw a red blur in the silhouette of a Kyrii, and alongside it, a purple Uni. I scurried up to the window and hollered, hoping Rio would hear me. He did.
“Get out of the way for a second!” he yelled. I did, and soon glass was scattered everywhere, coating the lab floor, regardless of the carefree expressions of the unborn neopets.
Rio climbed through, his hand wounded from breaking the glass, and Clairise stuck her head in, for she couldn’t fit through. “Tairah! Is that you?” she yelled, as if they weren’t the only group in the room other than the unborn neopets. “Honey, we hardly recognized you through the window...we thought you were one of those blasted doctors. I saw them through the window chasing you.”
“What took you so long?” Rio demanded, clutching his bleeding hand. “They might have suspected that the place was surrounded and had come after us!”
The Aisha mewed loudly before I could explain. Rio’s weary expression softened as he bent down and pet the little neopet with his good hand. “I uh...” I said, sniffing. “...accidentally turned on the thingy...” Rio took the Aisha in his hands.
“Obviously, but it’s alright,” he said, making the Aisha purr again. “I guess we have no choice but to bring this little one with us.”
“Really?” I exclaimed. Rio nodded, and I wrapped my arms around him excitedly.
Clairise snorted. “Uh, I hate to break up this little happy moment, but...” she motioned her head towards the grandfather clock building. “But we have less than ten minutes left!”
To be continued...