Kitty watched as her owner packed her bags carefully. (Kitty’s bags, not her owner's.) ‘Come on, Kitty, it won’t be that bad! My friend will look after you very well.’
Kitty’s eyes filled with tears. ‘You don’t love me, do you?’
Kitty used to be a cloud Kougra, until she was zapped by the lab ray. Kitty had been her owner’s first pet, her favourite pet. And then her owner had become obsessed with Ogrins.
Instead of dumping Kitty in the adoption centre she had taken her to the lab ray. And Kitty had been turned into a mutant Lupe. Her owner hated mutants so she was being packed off to live with her owner’s friend, who had three pets and was happy to adopt her.
‘Oh Kitty, it’s not like that, you know it isn’t,’ said Kitty’s owner tearfully. ‘I love you; really I do, only... Well, I don’t like mutants.’
Kitty was crying now, tears rolling down her face.
‘But Mom, I’m still me! I just look different! Please Mom, please keep me.’ Kitty was practically sobbing, gulping as she spat out the disgusting, sour words.
‘But it’s too late, Kitty. You have to go to the adoption centre now. Penny will pick you up there.’ And then she was gripping her hand and pulling her to the adoption centre, bag in her other hand.
The adoption centre was cool and dim. Kitty was pretty much screaming by now, and she collapsed onto the floor in a heap. She heard murmurings above. ‘So I guess you’re abandoning her?’ she heard the scary looking Techo say to her owner.
‘Yes. She should be adopted pretty quickly.’
‘Of course. That’ll be 250 neopoints please.’ There was a jingle of money and Kitty was pulled up by the pink Uni. ‘Come on sweetie, it’s not that bad. You’re painted so you’ll get a new home in no time.’ Kitty couldn’t speak, she was crying so much. She turned around and looked at her owner.
She was waving and crying too. Or was she? The more Kitty looked the more it seemed that she was... smiling.
Kitty lay in her cage, broken hearted. She watched people coming in and out of the adoption centre and wondered which one was Penny. None of them seemed remotely interested in her. Some even went out of their way to avoid her. The tears rolled down her skull- like face and landed on the cold metal floor. She didn’t like lying down because there were ridges along her blue body that sometimes dug into her. She stared at her front paws remembering how once they were beautifully soft pearly purple with pale blue pads and before that, blue with creamy pads.
Now they were dark blue with huge black claws. Ugly, ugly, ugly. She heard some laughter from someone who had noticed her. ‘Who’d adopt a Lupe? Who would pay for something that you can get from Create a Pet for free?’
And this hurt Kitty more than anything.
It was three hours before anyone paid attention to her. Accompanied by an island Lutari, an island Acara and an island Lupe. It was a woman, twenty or so, with scruffy blond hair and small rectangular glasses. ‘She’s already got a Lupe,’ thought Kitty. ‘She won’t want me.’ But the woman bent over and smiled kindly.
‘I’m Penny,’ she whispered. ‘I’m going to take you home with me.’
And she looked so kind and so sincere that Kitty’s heart sang with joy.
At the house Kitty was presented with a Gathow that mewled and patted her face before snuggling up to her. Its pink fluffy fur went up her nose and she sneezed, startling the poor animal. The Acara came up to her and said ‘Hi. I’m Jemma and these are my brothers, Harry...’ She pointed to the Lutari. ‘And Gary.’ She pointed at the Lupe who winked at Kitty.
Kitty felt absolute joy which she had not felt since she had been zapped mutant, eight days ago.
That night, as Kitty snuggled into her lovely warm bed in the room she shared with Jemma, she suddenly decided maybe life would be better in this lovely house than it ever had been with her old owner.
When she woke up she ran down to the kitchen at top speed and realised her claws were tearing into the carpet. Penny would kill her!
But she didn’t. She just asked her what she wanted for breakfast. ‘What have you got?’ Kitty asked. Her voice was still as sweet as it had been when she was cloud. She kept expecting it to come out as a gravely growl.
‘We have Neocrunch Cereal, Green oat cereal and Enchanting strawberry cereal. Which one do you fancy?’
Kitty was pounced on by Gary. ‘The Strawberry one’s the nicest but stay far away from the green oat cereal.’ He was yelled at by Peggy and went back to his own bowl of Neocrunch.
She was about to ask him why he was eating Neocrunch if the Enchanting strawberry cereal was the nicest but Jemma whispered to her, ‘He’s been banned from eating Enchanting Strawberry cereal because it makes him hyper!’ The two giggled together companiably and began to eat.
When Penny told them to go to school, Kitty hung back, but was given a meowclops backpack and sent to school.
Kitty had never gone to school before and was very nervous. As she entered the gates the noise of it all surprised her. The pupils, all species, all colours, were running, screaming, laughing and playing. They waved at her as they climbed on climbing frames and played Gormball and tug of war.
A bell rang out suddenly, making Kitty jump but Jemma smiled and explained. ‘It’s to tell us to go inside. Come on! You’re in my class.’
As they entered the classroom all eyes peered at Kitty but soon looked at the teacher who was a portly Bruce in a dress. ‘Come dear, sit by Jemma.’ As Kitty sat, she looked around the classroom. Pets were getting their notepads and pencil cases out, so Kitty peered in her bag, wondering what lay inside.
Nestled in the dark folds of her bag was a black meowclops pencil case and notepad. Pulling them out, Kitty settled down for a day of learning.
As Kitty rushed home, she felt she loved Penny more than she had loved her old owner. As she rushed into the house with Jemma, the two of them collapsed onto the floor in a fit of giggles.
Then Penny came in the room. She was smiling and had something behind her back. ‘Hi Mom!’ said Jemma, who was hanging upside down from a chair next to Kitty, who was doing the same.
‘I have something for you, Kitty,’ Penny said, softly.
‘Really?’ Kitty asked, peering at her.
And then Penny produced an electric paintbrush. And Kitty could have cried.
At the Rainbow Pool Kitty was painting her self electric as fast as her paws could go. A light sprang in front of her eyes so she shut them tight. When she opened them and stepped out of the pool she peered into the water to see her reflection.
Gone was the hideous skull. Gone were the bony growths and huge black claws.
Now she was beautiful. Her face was medium blue with a paler blue chin and she had light blue zigzags on the top of her head.
And Kitty cried, cried for the mutant self, lost in the water, cried for the Kougra that was never to be again.
And she cried for her foolish last owner who could not accept her for what she was.
Penny came up and hugged her. ‘Are you all right?’ she asked, concerned.
‘Yes, Mom, I’m fine. I’m just crying for joy.’
And that, those nine words, was one of the most difficult things she ever had to say in her life.
And then she and Penny walked, away hand in hand, away from the Rainbow Pool and away from misery.