Fearsome: A Grarrl's Story - Part One
It floated, suspended in unconsciousness. There was no sound, no light, no feeling... nothing but a blank dark void. The creature had never known anything but this weightless space, buoyed up and cushioned by the all-enveloping liquid. It had no mind, no identity, no name... nothing to call its own except for one thing... existence. If the creature had been conscious, it could be said that it had been that way as far as it could remember.
One day all of that changed.
Suddenly that which was not became. Awareness flared, sudden and hot. There were feelings burning within it that had never existed before. The feeling of being... restricted, trapped, enclosed. Suddenly the void was a box... or a vise, steadily shrinking, pressing in on the creature’s sides, threatening to crush it. Stifle it.
It wanted to get out.
Consciously it moved, stretching limbs and swelling its body out, defying the cruel walls that held it in. It wouldn’t be defeated by this... it wouldn’t...
The walls tore. Cracking and splintering, they split wide apart, spilling the now useless liquid out into... what? What strange world had he entered? Darkness had exploded into bright sharp light that screamed into his eyes, cold fingers of wind blew over his skin, loud raucous noise assailed his ears. He curled in on himself, large eyes blinking in amazement. Where had all of this come from? New and alien things were invading his senses in all directions, all at once... what was all of this? How was he ever to figure it out? He tucked himself tighter into himself, more than a little confused.
A voice, louder and sharper than anything else, pierced through the cacophony.
“Where is he? Where’s my little Shoyru?”
Fingers grabbed at him. Instinctively aroused by this sudden invasion, he lashed out with a claw. He heard a squeal as his attack struck home and the hand withdrew. Uncurling, he looked at the thing that had tried to touch him.
A strange creature stood before him. It looked much like the others that stood around it, but much, much smaller. Angry red scratches glowed on one of its forelimbs. It was staring at him with a look that he felt sure was not in the least friendly. Then it opened its mouth, a cavernous red hole.
“Mommy!” it screeched. “Mommy!”
One of the larger creatures anxiously pushed its way towards the smaller one.
“Mommy!” bellowed the small one, stabbing an accusing digit at him. “That’s not a Shoyru!”
“Oh dear.” The larger creature bent to peer at him. “I could’ve sworn I asked for a Shoyru...”
He had been able to defend himself quite easily. These creatures weren’t so tough. No longer afraid, he peered back at this new one, somewhat curiously, trying to get some starting point in which to try to comprehend this astonishingly complex new world. Were these creatures like him? Would he live with them?
“That’s no Shoyru.” A deeper voice, now, and another face, with a lot of hair on it, was brought up close – but not too close - to him.
“That’s a Fyora-blessed baby Grarrl!”
“A Grarrl!” The small creature had taken up its screaming again. He looked at it, annoyed, wishing it would stop making those shrill noises that grated so painfully on his ears.
“I don’t want an ugly, mean, stupid Grarrl!” it wailed plaintively. “I wanted a cute little Shoyru that I could dress up and play with! I wanna Shoyru I don’t wanna Grarrl!” It repeated this last phrase several times, hopping up and down in accompaniment to its screechings. He was really starting to get tired of this. When would someone explain to him what was happening? It was all too bewildering.
“Alright, alright,” the larger creature was saying in a soothing tone, “we’ll get you a Shoyru. But why don’t you just take the Grarrl first, hmm? Maybe you’ll find out that you like it.”
The creature started to wail louder at these words. He looked down at himself. Scaly bright red skin, clawed feet and a long heavy tail... Was he a Grarrl? Apparently, if he was, the creature didn’t want him. It wanted something else...
“Just take it,” asserted the other, deeper-voiced creature. “It can’t do you any harm to let you make the most of a situation like this.”
Grumbling and moaning, the creature went over to him and picked him up gingerly in its pudgy arms. He blinked. He had felt sure the thing would continue its discordant objections, but it seemed to have decided to take him anyway. Feeling only slightly clearer about the situation, he wondered what would happen.
Two months later
Life had settled some for the Grarrl. That was what they called him. The Grarrl. He was a Neopet, he had found out. He had also found out that they were called humans, but only after he had asked. Somehow it had never occurred to him to ask them for the answers. After that he started asking his owner, the small human, about everything he came across. He could only expect a tart reply at best, and most of the time she would call him stupid and snap at him to stop bothering her. This caused him to feel some irritation. The world was a confusing place. If she wouldn’t tell him about things, who would?
He had found out that a Shoyru was another kind of Neopet. She had finally gotten one. Frenn, his name was, a chubby, playful, yellow creature who got into everything. The Grarrl often wondered vaguely why his owner was so nice to Frenn and always answered his questions and did what he wanted. He briefly considered asking her about it, but in the end decided against this. After all, he didn’t want to bother Frenn. He was a nice Shoyru really, and they played together sometimes, when their owner wasn’t looking. Whenever she saw Frenn near the Grarrl she would rush towards them shrieking and snatch Frenn away. Neither Frenn nor the Grarrl could understand this sort of behaviour, but it simply meant they had to play only when she was away. It did cross his mind to ask about this too, but didn’t feel up to it. The only thing she was good for anyway was giving him food and a place to live.
Food. That was the one thing he really did feel something for. He often sat in the kitchen, watching the adult human prepare the family meals, wondering about how they were made. Once he did climb up to peer into the metal containers, but all he got was a smack on the nose and a sharp telling-off, so he learnt not to do that. He could tell the adult humans didn’t pay very much attention to him either, especially since all they said in way of answer to his queries was a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and occasionally a ‘hmm’, all of which more often than not had no connection to the question at all.
This lack of knowledge frustrated him. What did it take for someone to explain things to him? He thought about this problem for a while, and eventually it occurred to him to ask Frenn to go to them with his problems. The small human liked Frenn, but she didn’t like him. Therefore, if Frenn was to ask her his questions, he might get a proper answer.
This system worked, surprisingly well. Slowly from his Shoyru brother the Grarrl learnt more and more about the world, including how food was cooked. The Grarrl’s interest quickened at the thought. Supposing he tried! It would be an experience.
His chance finally came along with the large package that appeared at the door. His owner danced around some of the larger humans as they puffed and panted upstairs with it. With enthusiasm, she ripped into the brown cardboard, and strewing bits of tissue paper from within, brought out a very large and beautiful cooking range. She squealed with excitement. The Grarrl couldn’t believe his eyes. Sure enough, it was a great deal smaller and considerably more colourful than the one in the kitchen downstairs, but it seemed to have all the same elements right enough. He could hardly wait to try his own claw at it. He should be able to; hadn’t he seen the larger female human do it so often? But how was he to use it? His owner certainly wouldn’t let him.
Several days later, the humans and Frenn went to the park for a walk. The Grarrl was never taken on such outings, so naturally he was left to amuse himself. This time, however, his owner had forgotten to shut the door to her room as she usually did when she left the house. It was wide open, the interior of the room beckoning to him. It was too good an opportunity to be missed. He shuffled through the doorway eagerly.
There it was, standing resplendent in all its glory. Excitedly, he sniffed at it and around it. Ah, there were the ingredients. In nicely labeled little pots, too. The Grarrl couldn’t read but there were large brightly coloured pictures on the pots as well that were as good as anything.
The only question now was what to make. Perhaps he could experiment.
The Grarrl dipped a claw into a jar that supposedly contained Pebeanjay butter. It smelt just like the Pebeanjay flowers, at any rate. It was a swirly orange and purple paste. He dumped some into a blue mixing bowl. What next? With Pebeanjays, it would have to be something sweet. He sniffed at another jar that had some other plant painted on it he didn’t know the name of. This might work. He scooped out the paste with his claw and flicked it into the bowl with the first. This paste was more watery, though, and it spattered out onto the carpet. Oh well. He could clean it up later.
Feeling more confident, the Grarrl dug into some more jars. All the contents were brightly coloured, and, he found, quite edible. Some of them, though, weren’t labeled. The Grarrl left these alone. Perhaps they weren’t meant for eating.
He went through all the available jars, picked up a large spoon lying nearby and begun to stir with enthusiasm, making coloured bits fly everywhere. Some of it splatted onto his muzzle, and he licked it off appreciatively. His green eyes lit up. This tasted good already. He must be getting the hang of it faster than he had thought.
Suddenly there was an earsplitting shriek from the door. He looked over, and saw his owner standing there with Frenn. Her eyes were almost popping out of her head. The Grarrl regarded them for a second, and then she rushed at him, screeching something incomprehensible, swinging her arms wildly around, as if to scare him off. He dodged her flailing attack easily and bolted for the door. He dashed downstairs and out of the main door into the garden, where he scrambled under the thick hedge that lined it.
He stayed like that for the whole day, and all through the night as well, curled up in a red scaly ball amid the prickly leaves. It was an uncomfortable place to sleep, but he suspected rightly enough that his owner would never want to see him again, or at least for a long time. Oh well. He didn’t much care for her anyway.
He was still sleeping when they found him late in the next morning. He was hauled out rather roughly by one of the larger humans and carried under an arm to the garden gate. From his position, he could see the small human, standing at the front door with Frenn in her arms. The small Shoyru waved a paw in goodbye, but the human simply stood in stony silence, a look of extreme dislike on her face.
The Grarrl returned Frenn’s gesture as he was borne out of the gate and away. Somehow he knew that he would never see Frenn or any of those humans again. He gave a philosophical shrug. He would miss Frenn somewhat, but perhaps his new owner might allow him to do more. Maybe even teach him to cook properly! A wide smile tugged at his mouth. This could mean good things ahead.
He wondered at the city called Neopia Central, as they strolled down its streets. Such a lot of humans of every shape and size! And there were other strange creatures... other Neopets he was told. The Grarrl stared in fascination at his surroundings. The world was a much more interesting place than he could have possibly imagined.
He was taken to a plain-looking brick building. Inside, he was placed on a desk, while his owner haggled with a grizzled old creature that he supposed was another Neopet, as he didn’t look the least like a human, though he wore a white coat. He was tall and thin, with a long snout, and he was covered in yellow scales.
At any rate, the human soon left after handing some small pieces of paper and metal to the creature. The Grarrl looked after his ex-owner somewhat forlornly, but he soon shook it off with great resolve. He would get a new owner now, and he could start a new life.
The thin yellow creature picked him up, and brought him to a cage in dimly lit room behind the desk. Setting him down inside and securing it, he patted the cage bars ruefully.
“It doesn’t look good for you, old fellow. Grarrls aren’t a popular choice as pet, but we’ll look out for you, no fear.”
Through the bars, the Grarrl watched the tall, lanky figure stride away down the corridor. He decided that the creature wasn’t half bad, despite his stern demeanor. He settled philosophically down on the floor of his cage to wait for his new owner to come and take him away.
To be continued...