Revenge: Part One
The very first time I saw him, I knew I was in for it.
His hunched position, sullen eyes, the stubborn set of his jaw... they all boded ill will, signs of torment to come that I knew all too well. I could still feel the hard floor beneath me, the pain in my tail as my own body fell upon it, and the humiliation burning in my cheeks as I watched the pets around me laugh heartily. The memory of rushing through the crowd in an attempt to escape came flying back to me, and I cringed, half expecting the first terrible blow to land already.
Mom had been to the pound earlier that day, searching for a pet to zap so she could start her foster program. She’d already labbed a few pets that she’d created with the intent of pounding—me and Qintari included, originally—but this time the pound was actually open, and now she had a chance to truly start.
My friends had various opinions about the news that I had told them, that I was getting a new temporary sibling. Some had been excited, because a new brother or sister for me meant a new classmate for them to get to know. A few had been worried about me, because who knew what kinds of pets were in the pound? However, Brian, my closest friend, was more supportive. After all, Mom wouldn’t choose a pet that was going to put us in danger.
Looking back at that belief now, while I was seeing him for the first time, I bit back a nervous laugh. Maybe my owner wasn’t so trustworthy with the adopting of pets after all...
“Guys, this is Q’tai,” she said, resting her hand on his shoulder and seemingly oblivious to the venomous looks he threw at her.
My heart thudded hard, feeling strange and weird in my chest as I looked at him. For a pet from the pound, his forest green pelt was sleek and shiny. I’d been told that usually when somebody was adopted from that place, their looks were less than glamorous—a major understatement—and that it took ages to get them back to looking normal. Maybe he hadn’t been there for that long?
The Ogrin’s eyes widened as he looked at all of us, and then he seemed to shrink in on himself, his glaring full of even more hatred. Clearly he felt intimidated by us, with our nice colors. Sheijarun was a Gelert with a powerfully striking shadow color, and Qintari was a beautiful faerie Grundo with starred wings that twinkled like diamonds. I myself had just finished with the lab ray, having just become a white Usul, and all of us had been painted by it. This made our owner look super rich and influential, when she really wasn’t. The only way she’d even gotten the map pieces was because she’d gotten the neopoints from selling a prize she’d earned from her writing.
“Welcome to your new home, Q’tai,” she said, smiling politely. “You’ll be treated just like a member of the family while you’re here, so don’t hesitate to poke around a bit.”
The Ogrin nodded, smiling too, even if it was more of a grimace. Mom patted his shoulder reassuringly and left the room, where an awkward silence immediately attacked us. Hostility seemed to buzz off of his body. Wouldn’t it be funny, I thought, if he became the same color as Shei? It would certainly match his personality.
“Hello, I’m Qin,” said my winged brother, walking over to him and holding out his hand to shake. “Nice to meet you.”
“Hi,” said Q’tai in a small voice, and then he fled without shaking his hand at all.
“Um...” said the Grundo confusedly, turning to follow the Ogrin, but Shei held out a black paw to keep him from running after him.
“Leave the poor boy alone,” she said in her deep, sure voice. “He needs time to adjust.”
The clock in my paws beeped loudly, grating on my ears and making me shake my head in an attempt to get rid of the noise. My hands and fingers were moving all over the device, but for some reason none of the buttons were working. Eventually I just put it on the dresser, and waited, because I knew that all alarm clocks stopped their incessant beeping eventually, having discovered that when I’d been too lazy to get up one time to push the switch.
I got my wish. The beeping did go away. However, it changed to something else.
Tears streamed down the clock’s face, pooling in the letters and wetting the hands, and it wrung my heart. I hadn’t meant to hurt its feelings, and had I known it had actually possessed them I wouldn’t have ignored it like that. I walked over to it, hoping that there was a way I could be forgiven, and I blinked, trying to fight my own onset of tears. Guilt flooded through me, and I shut my eyes...
...and opened them to darkness. The blanket covering my body felt a little too warm and I could feel some of the night air biting at my face. I shivered and rolled over, tugging the covers so that they only covered part of my body so that the temperatures could even out in some lopsided way.
I reached my paw over to the windowsill to turn off my alarm, because, for some reason, it was still going off.
I looked up. It was still midnight.
The sound that came into my ears wasn’t an obnoxious beeping sound after all, but the weeping that had spurred the clock on to tears. It wasn’t ingratiatingly loud, either, but so soft that I could barely hear it. What could it be from? Did we have a ghost in the house that was bemoaning its fate or something? I sat still for a moment, my scatterbrained thought processes struggling to gather themselves as it slowly came to my awareness that there was a light spilling out into the hallway from another room.
After he’d run off, he didn’t come out of his room except for dinner, and even then our meal was tense. Some of us tried to initiate conversation, but nobody felt much like replying, and the short spurts of speech never got far. He hadn’t looked like he’d been crying when he was at the table, either, but frustrated. There had been a crease between his eyebrows and his motions were jerky, and he didn’t talk at all while we were eating.
I guess he changed his mind about how he was going to feel.
Slipping out of bed, I lost my balance and fell to the floor. Aches spread through my body as I picked myself up. I really missed my long Zafara legs, and hated my short, stubby Usul ones. Maybe I’d be able to convince Mom to save up for a Zafara morphing potion—I’d even go for mutant, whichever one’s cheapest—and a glowing paint brush. I’d really felt good when I was that color and shape.
I stood up and shivered, wondering what I should do. Should I walk over to help him and hope I was over exaggerating when imagining his reaction? After all, I did have an overactive imagination when it came to predicting how other people would respond.
Wrapping a blanket around my shoulders, I walked out into the hall and tip-toed down it.
“Q’tai?” I asked softly, cautiously peeking into his room. The crying and sniffling continued. Maybe I hadn’t spoken loud enough? “Q’tai?”
“Bomberries,” muttered his voice, and then a few moments later, “Go away!”
I slowly opened the door of his new bedroom, letting even more light spill into the hall, and found him on the bare floor of his sparsely furnished room, his eyes bloodshot and puffy. He had mounds of pictures surrounding him and his green backpack was at his feet, the arm of a sweater flopping out dejectedly. Then he sniffed, wiping away some snot from his nose with the sleeve of his jacket. Had he been looking at pictures of his family?
He looked upset... and hurt.
“Are you alright?” I asked, concerned, even though the answer was obvious. Maybe there was a chance that he would answer me and tell me what was going on.
“Get out!” he shouted, trying as hard as he could to hide all of the pictures from me, scooping them together and trying to shove them beneath him, under the bed... anywhere that would hide them.
I fled very quickly, afraid that his wrath would get the better of him. He’d looked as if he’d been ready to hurt me had I stayed there any longer, and that frightened me. It always made me upset whenever somebody clearly showed ill will towards me, and even now tears were spilling over my cheeks as I stumbled into my room.
I cried as I burrowed into my bed.
What had I done?
To be continued...