Reason We're Here
The dull bell on the top of the door sounded. The Techo looked up from his paperwork to inspect the arrival. The person standing in the doorway was holding a red Gelert. She wasn't here to pick up a pet; she was here to drop one off, permanently. He walked around the counter and rubbed his yellow hands together. He gave a leering smile to the owner. “Hello, welcome to the pound. Is this the animal you wish to dispose of?”
The girl quavered slightly at the word 'dispose' but gave a small nod and held out her pet. The Gelert, realizing this was the end of the line, made a grab for his owner's shoe. “No! Don't leave me!”
The girl handed the Techo the required neopoints, turned away, and ran for the door.
“Please don't!” Tears formed in the Gelert's eyes as the door behind the girl slammed shut.
Dr. Death put a hand on the Gelert's shoulder. “She's not coming back. Let's find you somewhere to stay.”
The Gelert's head hung almost to the floor as he slowly followed Dr. Death back to the rows of cages where they kept pets in need of homes.
The Techo strode down the line until he came to an empty cage. He swung open the door. “In here. Dinner will come soon.”
The Gelert dragged his feet in, curled up in ball, and cried.
Dr. Death's hard face softened as he started to shut the door. He stopped, swung the door open again and reached a hand inside his lab coat. He placed something next to the Gelert. “Here, this might help a little.”
The Gelert looked up. It was a very beat up, very old, Lupe plushie. He reached out a paw, pulled the plushie into his arms and rested his head on it.
Dr. Death closed the door softly and walked away.
“Thank you,” a small voice said.
“You're welcome,” he said over his shoulder. He shoved his hands into his deep pockets and walked out to the front of the shop.
“Please don't leave me!” The Aisha clung to her owner's neck.
The boy tried to untangle her arms. “I'm sorry, but I have to. I can't afford you.” He glanced nervously at Dr. Death's evil grin. “She'll be fine, right?”
“Oh, yes!” Dr. Death said in a tone that implied that she would certainly not be fine.
The boy hesitated, then ripped the Aisha from his shoulders and practically threw her at Dr. Death. “Good, thank you,” he said as he ran out.
“Hey! You didn't pay!” Dr. Death yelled at him. The boy didn't stop.
Dr. Death sighed as he watched the boy run out. “There goes another one,” he thought. He looked down at the sobbing Aisha in his arms. “Come on, let's find you a place to stay. He carried her down to a cage somewhere in the middle. “Here you go.” He opened the metal door and placed her down the cage. As soon as she saw it, though, her wailing began anew and she clung to his lab coat sleeves. “No!”
Pets in other cages started to grumble. Veterans with no patience for new pets. Dr. Death tried to quiet her, but nothing helped.
“Can't you stop that thing?” an angry Grarrl shouted from the back.
“You weren't any better when you came in,” muttered a tired Lenny.
“Say that to my face!” The Grarrl shook his cage.
“That's enough! I don't need a riot!” Dr. Death shouted over the Aisha's wailing. “Don't make me get out my Hammer of Death!”
The name of the weapon quieted everyone but the Aisha.
Dr. Death looked up. The red Gelert he had put in the day before was holding up the plushie. “She can have this.”
Dr. Death looked at the crying Aisha and at the Gelert. “I have a better idea.” He closed the Aisha's cage and opened the Gelert's cage. “You can have this.” He set down the Aisha. She looked at the Gelert then ran over to him and buried her head in his red fur.
The Gelert stroked her head. “That's fine.”
Dr. Death closed the door softly and walked away.
“Thank you,” a small voice said.
“You're welcome,” Death said over his shoulder.
He opened the front door that lead to the lobby where the owners had three doors to choose from: Adopt, Transfer, Abandon. Someone had straightened his sign. The Techo put the “Abandon” sign at an angle, then walked over to the Adopt door. A happy bell rang as he pushed the door open.
“Be right there!” a sing-song voice called from the back.
“Take your time, Rose.” Dr. Death seated himself behind the counter and poured himself a cup of tea from the pot on Rose's desk.
“Oh, it's you.” Rose, the pink Uni, trotted up. “What was that commotion in the pound?”
“A small Aisha that didn't want to be shut in a cage.”
“Poor thing,” Rose said sympathetically.
The bell rang again. They looked up to see the head of Transfer slither in. The Robotic Hissi snaked behind the counter and curled up in a circle next to Dr. Death's chair. “Another one?” he asked in a metallic voice.
“There's always another one,” Dr. Death muttered.
Rose sighed as she stirred her tea. “That's why we took this job, isn't it?”
“In here.” The Yurble kicked open a cage door. A young, yellow Techo shuffled inside. He hadn't bothered begging his owner not to leave; he knew he was going to get left and nothing was going to change that. He leaned against the back bars of the cage and sighed. A renegade tear trickled down his face. He quickly wiped it away with the back of his paw.
“Here.” He looked quickly over to his left. A little red Uni held out a plushie to him through the bars. “This helps on the first night.”
The Techo slumped farther down. “Don't need it.”
The Uni withdrew it. “Alright. My name's Rose. What's yours?”
The Techo glared at the friendly Uni. “Death.”
An airy laugh came from the cage to his right. He peered through the bars at a blue Hissi.
“That's a good name.”
The Techo glared at him. “Think it's funny?”
“No.” The Uni leaned through the bars. “He thinks it's an actually good name. Do you want to know his?”
Death looked up at the name place on the Hissi's cage. It was a long string of numbers and letters with no meaning.
“That's what keeps me from being adopted.” The Hissi sighed. “They take one look at my name and leave.”
“Oh,” was all that Death could think to say. He looked over at the cheerful Uni. “Why are you here?”
Rose looked down at her Lupe plushie. “My owner wanted a limited edition pet and needed to get rid of one in a hurry.” Her face fell at the memory. “Why are you here?”
Death looked down at his feet. “Owner got tired of me.” He looked over at Rose. He felt sorry for her; she was too nice to be here. “Can I see your Lupe?”
The Uni's face brightened as she strained her arm through to hand the Techo her plushie. “You can keep him as long as you need him.”
“Here's the pets,” a lazy voice drawled. The adoption Acara swung open the door to a potential owner. “And if you could hurry it up, I have a lunch break in five minutes.”
“Don't they even want us to get adopted?” Rose gritted through her teeth.
Death had seen the Acara let in ten owners, each time the same way.
Rose continued her rant. “They should be happy to let in the owners; they should treat them like royalty! This is all wrong.”
The person left without adopting any pets.
Rose gave a snort and tossed her mane. “I could do better.”
The Hissi stirred from the coil he had wrapped himself into. “I think they should make a way for owners to exchange pets, so they don't have to send them to pound if someone else wants them.”
Death gave a coarse laugh. “Good luck getting them to listen to a poundee.”
Rose watched the Yurble lead in another abandoned pet. “I think that he should be more evil looking, so that people would be more afraid to leave their pets here.”
The Hissi poked Death with his tail and gave an airy snicker. “You would fit that job perfectly.”
Death batted away the tail. “Stop that!”
Rose pulled out a piece of paper that she hid under her mat and a stub of a pencil she had snatched somewhere along the line. “Ok, so.” She began to write a list. “I'll become the new adoption neopet, Death will be the new abandon neopet...”
Death rolled his eyes. “Fine.”
“And Hissi will open up a new department for people to transfer pets through. There!”
She held up the list of three jobs with blank boxes next to them. “Oh, I forgot.” She bent back down and scribbled one last line. “And we'll do all this to help every pet be adopted.”
The Hissi smiled. “Sounds good to me.”
Death looked at the list that Rose had handed him. “I'm in if you guys are in. I have nothing better to do.”
Rose smiled and held out a hoof to him. “Deal!”
A buzzer sounded. The Robotic Hissi uncoiled himself. “That's my cue.” He slithered out the door to meet the transferee.
Rose sighed and finished off her tea. “It never ends.”
Death stood up and shuffled towards the back of the pound. “It's about time to feed them.” He pulled out a trolly full of food and was about to push it towards the waiting pets in the back when a dull bell sounded. Someone was in the abandon lobby. “Rose, would you?”
Rose took the trolly. “Sure, go ahead.”
Death shoved his hands into his pockets and shuffled towards his desk. There was a girl holding a JubJub. She looked nervously around.
“So sorry to keep you waiting,” Death greeted her in a sarcastic tone. “I had some... business to take care of.” The word business implied something evil.
The girl nervously craned her neck to look at the back of the pound.
Death noticed and slammed the door shut with his foot. “Sorry, employees only.”
The girl nodded, then reached into her pocket for the payment. The JubJub trembled, but didn't say anything. The coins shook as she handed them over to Dr. Death.
Death counted the coins, then looked back up. “And the pet.”
The girl looked from Death to her JubJub and bit her lip. Then in a jerky movement, she snatched the coins off of the desk, hugged her JubJub to her and ran out the door.
Death smiled as he watched her run away. “No, Rose, it never ends, but we have to start somewhere.”
A happy bell sounded. Someone was coming into the adoption door. Death went into the back to see who it was.
Rose was showing a young boy the pets. He stopped in front of one, spoke softly to the pet inside then nodded to Rose. Rose smiled and opened the cage. A red Gelert carrying small Aisha on his back came out. As Rose led all three out, the Gelert spotted Death watching them. He loped over and dropped something into Death's hands. “Thank you.”
Death put the old Lupe plushie into his pocket. “You're welcome.”
He and Rose watched them walk out of the pound together. Rose looked over at him. “So that's what happened to my old Lupe.”
Death hurried into his office. “Don't know what you're talking about.”
Rose smiled, then walked back into her own office. She sat down and looked at a framed piece of paper she had hung on her first day. 1. Become head of Adoption. 2. Make Death head of Abandonment. 3. Make Hissi head of Transfer. 4. Make sure every pet gets a home.
I hope you go adopt a pet now. ^_^