Messenger: The Journey North - Part One
Most people assume that I love petpets. After all, petpets are my job. My life. They used to be right. Now I think that they might be wrong.
We’re located right behind the Petpet Supplies shop. We’re a little red brick building with a corral, a kennel, and a yard off to the side. A wooden sign is nailed to the door, The Petpet Doctor. The paint is bright blue for most of the sign, but when we got to ctor we ran out of blue paint, so the rest is painted in Tenna green.
The front office is, well, in the front. The front door has a little silver bell that rings whenever the door is opened. My Aunt Lila is our receptionist. She’s a tall, skinny Wocky, with an overload of eye shadow and long yellow fur.
Beyond the front office are the three examining rooms and the petpet quarters. We may seem small on the outside, but inside we’re really a big place.
Today I’m on duty in the bathing room. Big tubs full of water sit on the tiled floor, and a cabinet full of freshly washed towels stands in the corner. A couple of rugs sit under the buckets to catch the water from the tubs if they leak or drip.
Right then I was washing Pecan, a furry male Tyrannian Gallion owned by a rich collector. Pecan is quite feisty and gets into trouble quite often; he had been playing around in his owner’s gallery when he tripped over a large vase and it smashed. One of the shards had cut Pecan’s delicate wing and torn it, which sent him over to our clinic to receive some stitches. Mom just gave him the stitches yesterday; I was just cleaning him up so that he could be sent home this afternoon.
Mom is my hero. She is a beautiful faerie Wocky with the same long fur as her sister-in-law, Lila, but instead of being wiry it’s silky and smooth. She keeps her pure white mane trimmed and brushed daily, but her long peach-colored tail is kept long. Somehow her white doctor’s coat is always clean and smooth and her wings are always kept neatly folded inside her coat. She is a true beauty and should be in a big house filled with Beauty Contest medals, not in a brick hut caring for other people’s petpets; at least, that’s my opinion.
I, on the other hand, have inherited my Auntie Lila’s long, wiry fur. Like my mother, I’m painted faerie, but it looks ugly on me. My over-large wings are stiff and immovable, and it’s almost impossible to fold them down. My mane is cream with dashes of tangerine and my tail is an ugly tannish-peach.
Dad has short, coarse fur. He’s a blue Wocky with a pretty sky-blue splotch on his right cheek. Dad’s in charge of providing food, shelter, and water for the petpets. Lila’s in charge of the budgets and balances and things like that while Mom’s in charge of the actual doctoring stuff. Rooli and I are the assistants.
Rooli is my adopted brother. He, as you may have guessed, is a Blumaroo. A fire Blumaroo, to be exact. He was abandoned about three weeks after he was born as a red Shoyru by the name of kr4z4rooliganh4n_5uuball. No one wanted to adopt him, having a horrible name and all, until a kind foster parent adopted him and labbed him into a painted and excellent Battledomer Blumaroo. The foster parent arranged with my parents to adopt Rooli when I was about three years old and he was seven. Now, seven years later, Rooli’s acting like he’d been born in our clinic.
But enough about me and my family. As I was sitting here, lost in my own thoughts, Pecan had nearly escaped-twice. Thankfully--or maybe not so thankfully--the knocking over of the bath bucket had prevented his escape.
“Pecan!” I said, exasperated. I grabbed the little rascal by his long and furry tail and pulled him back into the now empty bath bucket. “Thank goodness this is your last day here,” I told him, “because the way you’re going, you’re going to flood Neopia!”
It was Mom. I’d be able to recognize that sweet, soft, melodic voice even if there’d been a marching band playing right in our own backyard. I lifted Pecan up onto my shoulder and placed the bath bucket in the corner of the room. Then I cracked a window in hopes that the sun would dry up all the water.
Mom was in Examining Room 3, which was the check-up and vaccinations room. She had a tongue depressor on the tongue of a small yellow Noil called Thunder. Thunder’s owner, a pretty Christmas Bruce named Martha, was sitting nervously in a comfortable armchair shoved into the corner of the room. Pecan lifted his shaggy nose to the air, sniffing out this new, strange smell, and immediately flew onto the examining table to sniff Thunder, who gave a dainty cry and recoiled.
“Scaredy Aisha,” I muttered. Mom shot me a look, tossing the tongue depressor into the trash can and peeling off her gloves. She handed Thunder to Martha and said, “Well, he’s doing pretty good, but I think I detected a virus, so he might have to stay a couple of nights... blah blah blah... blah, blah blah...”
I rolled my eyes and poked Pecan, who had been sniffing at Martha’s purse. He gave me a guilty look and shuffled away, rapidly giving his chest fur a few quick licks.
“Thanks, Caroline.” Martha sighed. “I need to tell you something--you know I’ve always wanted to move to Terror Mountain, right?” Mom nodded, and Martha went on. “I found a really great little house--er, igloo-- in Happy Valley for a nice price, so I’ll be moving there. In fact, I have an Eyrie cab waiting just outside the clinic for me to take me there right now.”
Mom sighed, too. She looks so majestic and serene when she sighs. “I guess we could hold Thunder here for about--say, three days--and we could treat him and then send him up to you.”
Martha shook her head. “I’m sorry, but I--er--don’t really trust mail carriers. Could you--”
“Oh, yes.” Mom nodded. “Louie and I will be too busy, and dear Lila works night hours already--we could spare Emma for the trip. She’s going to Tyrannia anyway; it’s right next to Terror Mountain.” She glared at me, daring me to contradict her. I didn’t.
“I’d be very happy to bring Thunder to you, Martha,” I said graciously. I shot Mom a questioning look. Tyrannia?
“Have a nice day, Martha,” said Mom, smiling and ushering Martha out the door and outside to her Eyrie cab. “You have a nice time in Terror Mountain.” As soon as Martha was gone, she closed the door and turned to me. “About Tyrannia.”
“Yeah,” I said angrily. “At least tell me if you’re going to be sending me to the other side of Neopia.”
Mom put a paw up and I stopped. “Pecan’s owner, Henry--he’s moving as well. In fact, he’s already there. He got a job as backstage manager for Yes Boy Ice Cream in Tyrannia. In three days or so you’ll be going north to deliver Pecan and Thunder.”
“Of course not. Clark’s coming with you. Dad’s going to take over the shop while he’s gone.” Clark was the shopkeeper of the Petpet Supplies shop. He and Dad were good friends; in fact, they were partners. Dad, being allergic to petpets, made all of the merchandise. Clark was the shopkeeper and accountant.
“Oh. Still, why can’t Rooli go instead?”
“Rooli’s going to be busy here at the clinic. He’s fourteen, Emma, I’m training him to be a nurse. We need more doctors around here.”
“I can be a nurse!” I yelled.
Mom shook her head. “You don’t have the potential, Emma. You seem to be a more janitorial person. You know, cleaning up after the petpets and feeding them. That kind of stuff.”
“You won’t even let me have a petpet!”
“Quiet down, Emma. You’re upsetting Thunder.” Mom reached down and scratched Thunder between the ears. I reached out to stroke him, but Mom snatched him away and cradled him. “None of us have petpets, Emma,” she said, opening the door and walking away, leaving me alone.
The Weewoo living next door gave me a rude awakening at 6:30 a.m. I yawned and blearily stumbled across the hall to breakfast. Rooli and Dad were already up; Dad had already finished his Peanut Crunch Cereal and was thumbing through the Neopian Times while walking towards the front door on his way to work. Rooli raised a paw in greeting as he wolfed down his waffles.
I padded into the pantry to find Mom, who was grabbing some Vitamin B Tablets to give to some of the ill petpets. She nodded to me and handed me the Peanut Crunch Cereal Box, which I took and poured it into a bowl, complete with Kau Kau Farm Milk, fresh from the farm.
“I’m leaving,” Dad announced, pocketing the Times and opening the door. “I need to finish a paint job on some Scarabug Feeding Bowls.”
“Fine,” said Mom. She smiled. “Have a nice day at work, Louie.” She poked Rooli and me. “Bye,” we chorused.
“Lucy’s getting a shipment of Puppyblews at her store,” Mom said as soon as Dad was gone. “As always, before she puts them up for sale, I’ll need to check them. We can’t have sick Puppyblews running amuck!” Lucy was the foster parent who had adopted and zapped Rooli. She was proud to say that she had successfully rescued 14 Shoyrus, 7 Skeiths, and 26 Grundos from the evil clutches of the Pound. Lucy was an older Usul now, and had retired from pet-saving to living a quiet life as shopkeeper of the Neopian Petpet Shop.
“Can I help-?” I started to ask, but Mom cut me off.
“Rooli and I will be checking the Puppyblews,” she said. “The Kadoatery has an ill Kadoatie that needs checking on. Emma, this is your chance. You told me yesterday that you wanted to train as a petpet doctor. I advise you to try your best not to muddle this job.”
To be continued...