Misery at the Pound
SLAM! Dr. Death winced as the heavy door to the young Bruce’s cell slammed shut. Muttering to himself, the doctor walked back down the corridor and back to the desk marked “abandon.” The aged Techo was faced with another ever-growing line of owners. Owners and their whining, crying pets. Dr. Death sighed. He hated this job. Day after day, he walked into the depressing Pound, where the unhappy atmosphere hit him like a slap in the face. Then, he had to lock up poor neopets, dooming them to days, weeks, or even months or years of misery.
“Next, please,” he called. A teenage owner with a baseball cap pushed his way through the crowd. The boy looked about fifteen and was with a blue Skeith. However, unlike most pounded pets, the Skeith wasn’t frowning at all. In fact, he was eating an issue of the Neopian Times with gusto.
“Hi there,” said the doctor. “You must be abandoning this—“
“Wha— aban—huh?” the Skeith broke in. Realization suddenly dawned on his face. “Wait a minute, this isn’t the neolodge!”
The Skeith panicked, trying to bolt for the door, but Skeiths are not the greatest at moving fast. The owner grabbed the pet. It was now crying and wailing.
“Hurry up and get rid of him, old man!” demanded the boy. The neopet was screaming by now. “Oh, forget it!” said the boy. “You take care of this obese piece of junk!” The teenager left hastily.
“Name?” asked the doctor.
“Beverages_22561...” sobbed the Skeith. Dr. Death winced. The Skeith continued, “...and I’m blue, and a male Skeith, and I would Insult from Afar, and I’m twenty-five days old...”
“Hmmm... you must have been made for an avatar,” mused Dr. Death. The Techo hated when owners did that. He wished people would at least adopt a pet instead of making a new one “just for the av.” “Oh well, too bad. Let’s get you a cell.”
* * *
The weeks passed by, and the Techo began to notice something was going on. The rate of abandonment had nearly tripled in the last two or so months. The pound had just gotten a new addition to hold all the pets. At least they get out in a couple days, the old doctor thought as he dumped a baby Kougra into a cell. His thoughts were rudely interrupted by a sudden rush of people swarming towards the Kougra, almost knocking Dr. Death to the ground.
“I’M ADOPTING HIM!” screamed a young girl.
“NO, I AM!!” yelled an older boy.
“Please move over, you... sorry, pardon me... calm down, everyone...” It was Dr. Death’s coworker, Rose the pink Uni. “I believe you were here first, sir. Now if you would please step right through here with me...” The Uni pointed to a geeky looking teen, who pumped his fist in the air. The other people immediately left, without bothering to look around.
Exactly, thought the doctor. He walked back to his desk and reviewed a chart on the wall.
Average stay time: 13.83 days. Maximum stay time (this month): 98 days
**Painted/Limited edition pets: **
Average stay time: 1.24 minutes. Maximum stay time (this month): 0.3 days.
The doctor nodded to himself. Yep, short stays. Except for one number. 98 days. The second longest stay this month was only 23.9 days. And Dr. Death knew who had been here for over three months. He glanced at the cell with a fat blue Skeith in it. The nameplate read: Beverages_22561 the Skeith. The Techo felt really sorry for the poor guy. I shouldn’t make a habit of this, but...
Dr. Death sighed, reaching down into one of the drawers on his filing cabinet. His hand emerged holding a small Mallard. Closing the door, he walked over to the blue Skeith’s cell. The neopet snuffled at his approach.
“Did you bring something to eat?” the Skeith asked.
“No, I brought you something better.” The Techo opened his hand, revealing the Mallard. The Skeith’s eyes lit up as the doctor addressed the petpet. “No name, this is Beverages_22561.”
The Skeith reached out to take the small Mallard. “Thanks. Now I can have a friend in here.” However, the neopet still looked crestfallen.
“What’s wrong?” asked Dr. Death.
“Well... I don’t like my name. It’s thoughtless and the numbers are just like a third wheel. The underscore just makes it worse. It’s like I was named Beverages and then someone taped 22561 onto it all.”
“Well. Let’s see here,” said the doctor. “Of course, you can’t change your name. But what about a nickname? Yes, that would be good. What would you like to be called?”
The Skeith appeared flustered. “Umm... what about Steve?”
Dr. Death nodded. “All right, Steve. But tell me more about your life before the Pound, will you?”
“Well...” began Steve. “As soon as I was created, my owner bought a 'Skeith Juice Cocktail' and fed it to me. He was really happy, and he said something about finally getting the avatar.”
“But then things just got worse. My owner fed me all this fishing junk, tombola prizes that weren’t worth anything, and burnt desert fruit. My ‘siblings’ were really snotty. One was a Desert Grarrl and the other was a Faerie Xweetok. They made me clean their rooms and take out the trash.”
“After I finished eating all the junk, I wasn’t fed anything. I got so hungry that I decided to risk eating a sculpture in the neohome. It was made of toast, after all. But my owner noticed and got really mad. Then all of a sudden he got really calm, and asked if I wanted to visit the Neolodge, where I could eat whatever I wanted. But I was really dumped here, as you know.”
The doctor sighed. “That’s too bad, Steve. I really hope that you get adopted soon. But I have to go. Good night.” He began to walk away.
“Doctor, wait!” It was Steve. “Mister Death, do you really think I’ll get adopted?”
“Of course you will, Steve. I’m positive.” Upon hearing this, the rotund Skeith rolled over and fell asleep.
* * *
Dr. Death was at the desk again when he saw Rose, Steve, and an owner walking towards him. Steve was cuddling No name.
“Mr. Death, you were right. No name and I are getting a home!”
“That’s great! And on your hundredth day as well.”
“I’ll take good care of them. We’ll be sure to come back and visit.” A hint of a smirk played over the girl’s face... or maybe Dr. Death was just seeing things. He smiled and waved as Steve walked away.
* * *
The old Techo walked into the office after another sleepless night. Seeing all the sad pets in the Pound had always taken its toll on him. At least Steve isn’t here anymore, the doctor thought. He sat down behind his desk and looked at the line of wailing pets before him. Dr. Death blinked. No, it can’t be...
But it was. A very familiar blue Skeith was at the front of the line. “Um... hello?” Dr. Death was at a loss for words. Well, this is awkward, he thought. “So, uh, well...”
“I didn’t want him after all,” the girl replied. Steve looked crestfallen.
“Wait a minute... Where’s No name?” the Techo wondered.
The girl looked flustered. “Well, you see, funny story about that, actually...”
Suddenly, Dr. Death was filled with an uncontrollable rage. “YOU...” he bellowed. “YOU ADOPTED HIM FOR THE PETPET!” He began to walk toward the scared girl. “This is why I hate this job,” he said, his voice turning to a lower tone.
“Hundreds of pets come here to pretty much DIE every day... and owners come in and bring them hope. I’ve seen them all. Pets brought back once they got the avatar... pets adopted only for Christmas... and then you. Using pets for material gain. It’s like you’re taking a hurt Pteri, giving it wings... and taking them away during flight, leaving him worse than before.” Dr. Death was advancing towards the door now, his face a mask of anger.
“GET OUT! ALL OF YOU LEAVE NOW!” Consumed by anger, the doctor drove the scared Neopians out of the building, slamming the door behind him. The old Techo collapsed, sobbing, on the ground.
* * *
The Pound wasn’t opened for a year after that. Nobody knew why... except Dr. Death and Rose. The Pound was having a new section built to accommodate a new feature. The only thing Dr. Death would say was that the new section would make pets less miserable by cutting the number of pets that had to go through the Pound.
Finally, the Pound was re-opened. But first, the doctor had something to say to the public.
“Everyone, I’d like to introduce my new coworker, Dalek. He’s the guy in charge of our new 'Transfer' feature. Now, this new feature will be used to safely give a pet to someone else. I won’t go into the details, but I hope that now, owners can think twice about abandoning a pet, and give it to a friend instead.” The crowd cheered.
“And finally, I’d like to introduce my new assistant. Come on out...”
A blue paw, then a whole body appeared. It was Steve.
Author’s note: Thanks for reading this story. One thing I’d like everyone to think about is how it would be to be in the Pound. If you don’t like your pet anymore, I’m sure one of your neofriends could use a new addition to the family. :)