An Abandoned One
Behind a door, isolated from everyone, she waited.
Rachelle happily bounced out of her neohome. Her pink Poogle fur was gleaming, and her eyes twinkled. Her mouth was stretched in a wide smile as she skipped down the beaten paths toward the Pound. Today, her owner had given her the task of choosing a new sibling.
Rachelle knew that she was going to choose a girl. She needed a feminine presence other than her owner in the household. Her two brothers were simply too annoying for anyone to be living with for long.
She pranced over to the quaint little office, scampered across the porch and burst through the front door. She smiled prettily at Dr_Death, who glanced up and beamed back. Nodding to the pink Uni, whose name she had yet to discover, she walked curiously into the next section of the house.
The Pound wasn’t as bad as she had heard it was. There were decent beds, even a couple timeworn plushies, and a threadbare cream rug. There were a couple grimy windows that let in some musty light. It was still a dreary place to live.
Rachelle glanced around at the pets. There were hundreds. All species were there, all of the basic colors, all of them with forlorn expressions on their faces. She felt extremely sorry for them.
A grey Eyrie approached her. In a dreary voice that indicated that he had said this many times, he welcomed her to the Pound, and asked if there was any particular type of pet that she would like to see. When she said no, she was just browsing, he left with a half smile.
Rachelle started walking down the left side of the long, wide hallway. Some pets gazed out at her a little hopefully; others showed no sign of recognizing her presence. She stopped when she saw two pets on one bed, two Gelerts, clinging to each other. They glared at her with defiant expressions on their faces. She guessed that they were brother and sister, and they had had experience in some people trying to separate them.
Giving them a sad smile, she walked past. From the corner of her eye she saw them visibly relax when she had gone. Smiling sadly again, she started walking once more.
This experience, she decided, was having a permanent effect on her happiness. Nevertheless, she kept walking.
Pet after depressed pet she passed. Every time she saw a tear, heard a sob, or passed a weeping pet, her heart clenched. By the time she had passed about thirty pets, she was almost sobbing herself. She decided to come back tomorrow.
Instead of skipping home like she usually would have done, Rachelle plodded slowly home. She didn’t really want to think of all those sad eyes that she had seen. She thanked her lucky novas that her owner would never do that to her.
She made it to her neohome and plopped down beside her plushies. She pushed her plushie Poogle plushie around for a bit, and then gave it up as a hopeless case. She was much too depressed.
She slouched down to dinner. Her little brother, Trillun, a plushie Kougra, noticed her downcast face. In honor of his sister, he started the biggest food fight that had ever been seen. As her brother had hoped, Rachelle cheered up immensely.
In bed, Rachelle resolved to get up very early and take a girl out of the Pound as soon as possible. She didn’t want anyone to have to stay in that miserable place for too long.
Smiling to herself, pleased with the resolution, Rachelle closed her eyes and slept.
She was up, eating her Neocrunch Cereal, and out the door at five AM NST.
She rushed to the Pound. Absentmindedly grinning at Dr_Death, she asked the Uni to bring her to the pet that had been there the longest. The Uni smiled, very pleased that someone had finally managed to ask the question that she had been waiting for.
Motioning for Rachelle to follow her, the Uni opened the door to the hall, and started walking down the aisle. On and on they went, past hundreds of pets. Rachelle noticed that as they proceeded, the pets’ expressions kept getting more and more depressing. It was taking all of her self-control not to burst into tears. The Uni looked sad as well. “The poor dears,” she said. “They’ve been here so long they’ve forgotten what the world looks like, forgotten what family is.”
Rachelle couldn’t imagine a world like that. It was unthinkable.
The Uni stopped before a door at the end of the hall. Reaching for her keys, she unlocked it. Before she opened it, she turned and spoke directly to Rachelle.
“These are the Abandoned Ones. Some of them have been here for eight years. Be careful.”
Rachelle nodded, and the Uni opened the door.
There were about ten pets in there. Nine of them were huddled together in the middle of the room, talking and laughing.
Rachelle was surprised. “Why are they laughing?” she asked the Uni.
“They think that this is what life is. They think that they were born here, raised here. They’ve been here so long; all memories of the outside world have disappeared. They all live in bliss, sort of. All except for that one.” She inclined her head toward a corner in the room.
There sat a white Xweetok. She wore glasses, and was scribbling furiously on a yellow lined notebook. Torn and crumpled papers littered the floor around her.
“That one has a very acute mind. She’s another Lilian Fairweather. She hasn’t forgotten the world.”
Rachelle gazed at the Xweetok in awe. “What’s her name?”
“Her name is Sohlange,” answered the Uni.
“She’s the one.”
Rachelle didn’t know exactly how she knew, but she had to take this one home. She was what she was looking for.
The white Xweetok looked up.
The Uni smiled. “Do you want to be adopted, Sohlange?”
“Very much so, Matron.”
“Then come, Sohlange.”
“One moment, Matron.”
Sohlange bent down and picked up all the papers on the floor, smoothing them out and glancing at them, stowing them away in her notebook. She glanced up and saw them waiting.
“I’m coming! You go on,” she said and waved her paw toward the door. The Uni smiled and turned to go.
Rachelle hesitated, and then turned to the Uni and asked, “Can I stay here for a minute?”
The Uni smiled again, nodded, and left, closing the door behind her.
Rachelle turned toward Sohlange, took a deep breath, and walked over. She then bent down and helped her pick up all the papers.
Sohlange looked up at her and frowned. Turning back to her papers, she said, “So you’re my sister now.”
Rachelle coughed nervously, and replied, “Yeah.”
Sohlange did not attempt more conversation. Rachelle was very relieved when they got to the front desk.
Sohlange was officially adopted.
Rachelle gazed at her. She somehow admired this cool, dignified Xweetok. Yet she was also a little afraid of her.
When they got to Rachelle’s neohome, she opened the door and called out, “Everybody! Come and meet Sohlange! She’s the newest addition to our family!”
Instantly Trillun was there, saying hi, introducing himself, all in a way too enthusiastic manner. Sohlange just regarded him coolly, and made a couple notes on her notebook.
Next came Rachelle’s older brother, Kiesud. He looked at Sohlange coldly. She returned his look with one of indifference. Rachelle and Trillun shivered. Rachelle was sure that if there was a glare contest, they would tie. She didn’t like the thought.
Then Saycallie, her owner, came bursting in. Seeing Sohlange, she squealed and rushed to hug her. With Callie’s arms around her, Sohlange’s mouth split into the first smile that Rachelle had seen.
Kiesud glowered. Rachelle giggled at him.
Callie let go of Sohlange, and burst into a gaggle of chattering. Rachelle caught something about welcome, a new room, and how excited Callie was.
Callie then led Sohlange to the room that was reserved for the new pet.
It was late, Rachelle noticed. She plodded to her room and threw herself onto her bed. She fell asleep almost instantly.
Over the next week Rachelle surveyed Sohlange carefully. She noticed that during the times when Sohlange was around the family she was formal, stiff and rather unfriendly. But once Rachelle had peeped into Sohlange’s room and seen her reading a piece of paper. Sohlange’s eyes had been shining, and she had been reading with such love and compassion that Rachelle decided not to disturb her.
Sohlange was very good at one thing, though. Getting rid of Kiesud. Rachelle thanked her every time she did this, for it helped with Rachelle’s sanity enormously. Sohlange usually just sniffed and looked away.
One morning, Rachelle was in a foul mood. In fact, the whole household was. Rachelle was mad at her brothers for bothering her and being pains-in-the-neck, Kiesud was sulky because he had lost in the Battledome to some Jetsam, Trillun was whining that no one was paying him any attention, Callie was brooding over the drop of values in the stock market, and Sohlange was who-knows-where. Plus the fact that everyone except Sohlange and Callie had Neomonia.
Rachelle decided not to be around when her owner exploded, like she always did when she was frustrated. She tramped up to her room and threw herself on the bed.
An hour later Rachelle ventured downstairs for something to eat. Callie was sitting at the kitchen table reading the NT. Rachelle turned her back to open the fridge when-
“Didn’t I say the next person who came into this room would get a severe punishment?”
Rachelle slowly turned around. Callie stood, almost literally bristling with anger, her eyes in dark slits.
“Err- did you?”
“YES, I DID! AND YOUR PUNISHMENT IS OUT! OUT, GET OUT! OUT OF THIS HOUSE, AND I DON’T WANT TO SEE YOU FOR THE REST OF TODAY! OUT!”
Rachelle scrambled out of the house and ran. She ran all the way to the Money Tree, then leaned against the trunk and sobbed.
“It’s not that bad,” said a voice “We can still have fun.”
Rachelle looked up. Sohlange stood over her, grinning and holding a bag of neopoints. “Come on.”
The two neopets spent the morning shopping and donating to the Money Tree. Then it began to rain.
“Oh no,” said Rachelle.
“Oh yes,” replied Sohlange, “I’ve wanted to do this for a while.”
She tugged Rachelle into the Art Centre, and the girls spent the afternoon looking at poems, and seeing who could get the most coins from the shopkeeper before he ran out.
At dinner they went home. Callie was very sorry about her outburst, and everyone was happy again. Well, except for Kiesud, but the, he was never happy. And that’s how Sohlange and Rachelle came to be sisters.
Hope you like my second story! Critics are welcome!