The Pound Board: The Story of Sherazad
“Maraquan Kougra! Maraquan Kougra Up For Trade with a great name!”
“Trading okay-named Baby Zafara for a Poogle! Offer inside!”
“300 Hit point Battledome Pet going to the best offer! Krawk is auto!”
The loud, raucous hubbub of the Pound Board was at its usual high speed rate, with offers being shouted and pets being waved in the air mercilessly by their owners.
As the door to the Pound Board was opened for the first time to the blue Cybunny, she shrank back in fear, frightened by the sea of red, yelling faces and the look of abject misery that hung sadly on the pets that were being “traded”.
Her voice caught in a terrified croak in her throat. “I don’t want to go in there,” she whispered hoarsely.
“Come on, Sherazad. I don’t have time for this. Follow me.” Shera’s owner dragged her through the archway into the chaos beyond. Names, numbers and a myriad of colors surrounded her as Rainbow pets, Royal Pets and Plushie Pets were touted in front of the crowds that clamored for attention, yelling their offers at the owner and waving pictures of the pets they had to offer in return.
Tearing her eyes away, Sherazad turned her attention to her owner. The expression on Kate’s face made her eyes burn. Kate’s eyes glowed as they alighted on Pink Aishas and Darigan Hissis, and her mouth twitched with delight as she spotted a cowering, delicate Draik perched on a stool, her wings shielding her face from the traders straining to get a good look at her. Greed was written clearly on Kate’s face, her eyes peering to get a better look at a Faerie Kau that hung back shyly from the crowd.
Shera felt a wave of tears come on, but she bit her lip to stop them. Her only chance for surviving in this horrible place was to hope to find a better owner than the one that was trading her off like an item. She followed Kate to an empty stand where Kate told her to sit on a stool and smile while she readied her advertisement. Shera felt her muscles freeze up as she felt eyes look her from head to toe and demand her “statistics” from the owner: her age, strength, intelligence levels and others. She realized, detached from all emotion, that she was nothing more than a bug under a microscope.
She was still trying to process the events of the day – the daily walk in the Market Place with Kate, Kate learning of the Pound Boards from another pet owner, Kate taking Sherazad to the Boards, and now this. Sherazad had learned something about her owner that day, and the other traders on the Pound Boards: they didn’t care about the pets they were trading, they didn’t care that they were living, breathing creatures that were undergoing torture that the traders themselves would never have to endure. And the feeling of betrayal from Kate that Shera struggled with was devastating. The owner that had raised her since birth didn’t care about her. She wanted another pet, a trophy that she could look at and brag about and parade around. And that alone made Shera sick to her stomach.
It was soon clear to Sherazad that Kate was determined to trade her off that night, and that Shera would not return home with her ever again – not that she wanted to anyways. However, she was sick of being forced to walk around, be examined like a piece of meat by hundreds of people, and see the saddened eyes of veteran pets of the Pound Board be traded from one owner to another every few hours. She was tired, scared, and powerless to stop Kate. Her eyelids drooped in exhaustion, and she was about to nod off to sleep when a voice awoke her.
“Sherazad the Blue Cybunny, eh? Hmmm, I’ll take her. Want a Ghost Hissi in return?”
Kate’s familiar voice jerked her back to consciousness: “OMG really? Sure, I love Hissis! I missed Hissi Day and I always wanted one! What’s the name?”
“Zekkkiki. Like it?”
“Yeah! Good stats?”
“Yep, he can beat Meuka, if you want the avatar. There’s a person trading a NeoFlu pet further up on the boards if you have another pet to trade.”
“Ugh, I hate that avatar, but it’s another one to add to my collection, so I’ll get it anyways. Alright, Shera’s yours!”
“Thanks! Zekkkiki’s over there. See you around!”
Shera felt herself being tugged off of the stool. She twisted to get free and ran over to Kate. “Kate, don’t do this! Don’t leave me! I love you! I thought you loved me!”
Guilt spread on Kate’s face. “You’re going to another owner; it’ll be fine, Shera. Don’t make such a big deal out of it!”
Sherazad couldn’t hold the tears back this time, as memories and fear swept over her. “Kate, I’m scared! Don’t do this to me! I’m your Shera, remember?” She sobbed, flinging her paws around Kate’s leg.
“Honestly, Shera, stop it!” Kate yanked her leg free and thrust Shera back at her new owner and ran off to see her new pet.
“Ugh, stop crying and get a hold of yourself. Nobody wants a crying pet, Cybunny.”
“The name is SHERAZAD, thanks very much!” Sherazad snapped indignantly, momentarily free from her misery as her pride took over.
“Whatever. At least you have a good name. I might even get a baby for you.”
“I’m not an item,” she spat viciously.
“Well, you can be traded, and there isn’t much you can do about that, is there?”
Sherazad screamed inside.
Her new owner, an indifferent male Neopian who hadn’t even bothered giving her his name, deposited Sherazad in a tent erected behind his trading post and signs. She scrambled to get inside, away from the prying, indifferent eyes that dissected her every minute. Inside, she found a baby Yurble sleeping quietly in the corner and a fire Lupe resting his head wearily on his paws. He looked up when she entered, then turned his head indifferently.
“So you are who Zekkkiki was traded for.” His voice was tired and emotionless.
“Yes – yes, I was.” Shera walked over and lay down next to him. “I don’t understand this place. It scares me – how can people let this happen?”
“Oh, you’ll get used to it. People want different pets, better pets, so they trade.”
He looked at her expression, and laughed bitterly. “You thought that you were the apple of your owner’s eye, eh? That they would love you forever and paint you nicely and never do this to you, right?”
Sherazad was lost for words. She didn’t have any words to begin with.
“You did. Yep, you did. Ahhhh...” He looked sympathetically at her trembling lip. “You’ll learn how to deal, how to survive here. And hopefully you will find a good owner. That’s what we all hope for. But they are rare around here.”
“But – but I thought that owners loved their Neopets forever? Like, Kate-” Sherazad stopped, then corrected herself bitterly- “my previous owner – said that petpets weren’t for Christmas – they were forever!” She looked desperately at him.
“Where is your petpet now? In your old owner’s shop?”
Shera felt her heart fall to her stomach. Kate had said that Brownie was missing. She now knew where her Puppyblew was.”
“I hope I don’t have to stay here long,” she whispered.
“Don’t we all,” the Lupe said, then closed his eyes to sleep.