The Hard Life: Tales of a Lab Rat - Part One
Gary the Grarrl once had a happy life. He had an owner who took care of him, and fed him, and even took the time to play with him. His family consisted of a Shoyru, a Blumaroo, and him. They had their good times, and their bad. Gary had a perfect life going at the time. Until the day that his owner discovered the Secret Laboratory Map.
Now, this so-called “secret” map could actually be collected in a large number of ways. There was the trading post, for example. Some could even be bought in shops! When Gary’s owner found their first piece in a random event, they were very excited. Wanting to know where this map could lead, they decided to collect all nine pieces. At the time, the goal sounded crazy. But now, it haunts Gary’s dreams.
It was a long process for Gary’s owner. They had to save up many Neopoints just to afford the simplest pieces. It took weeks to be able to afford some of the pieces. But eventually, one dark April morning, it was complete. Of course, being who he was, Gary shared his owner’s excitement when he also saw this full laboratory map sitting in front of him. Who knew what wonders it might lead to? Maybe some great wealth would come their way! Maybe it was a portal into the unknown. Oh, the possibilities were endless!
As the final piece of the map was placed into position, a crazed yellow Scorchio came out to greet them. Gary wondered where he could’ve possibly come from. He shook Gary’s owner’s hand, barely glancing at him. He began to explain how the laboratory map worked, and as he rambled on and on, Gary began to feel a bit nervous.
Eventually, the Scorchio took the map and began leading them down an old winding trail deep into the woods. He scrutinized the map, turning it around and flipping it countless times. After many turns and twists, corners and hills, they saw it. A magnificent, yet spooky looking castle stood on a mountain just a few yards away from where they stood. Gary’s owner gave a gasp of glee and ran for the structure. Gary followed close behind, with that crazy Scorchio coming up a bit slowly.
When they entered the building, they weren’t sure what to expect. It was an empty room. However, as they lit a dim candle, a dust-coated trapdoor was barely visible popping out of the ground. The Scorchio decided to make his way through the room, grasped the handle, and wedged the door open with his own two paws. Or claws. Whichever this Scorchio had, Gary couldn’t tell.
The door made an eerie creaking noise as it slid open. Gary winced a little, and thought that this must be a very, very old place, possibly built back when the Brain Tree was but a sapling. Nevertheless, the trio climbed down the ladder. Gary’s siblings had been too tired to journey out to find where this map lead to, and now they were actually here. Gary climbed down a wooden spiral staircase that creaked and moaned with every step of the way.
They had finally made it down to the dirt floor of what must be the cellar of this place. The Scorchio felt around on the wall a bit, until he felt something. A lever of some sort, attached to the wall. As he yanked this lever down, a loud hum entered the room. Lights began to come on, lights that seemed to have not been there before. Eight bare bulbs hung from the ceiling, which was the lighting for the room. And then, they all saw it.
In the center of the room sat a huge yellow machine; nobody could tell what it did. Inscribed on the stone which made up the base of this contraption was a message. The message read, “Welcome to my secret laboratory. It appears you have found my latest invention: The Pet Ray! Be cautioned, however, to use this at your own risk. I have not tested this machine much, but what came of the pets that were zapped has been both magnificent and horrifying. Place your pet on the square, pull the lever above, and let the magic begin!”
The square that the message was referring to was a white patch on the ground several feet in front of what must have been the tip of the ray. Gary could recall so clearly how his last day of being an Acara came to an end. His owner must have been too excited to even think before acting, because they just picked Gary up and dropped him on the square like he was a toy. He was instructed to stay, so as scared as Gary was, he wouldn’t dare disobey his owner. So, there he sat, trembling in fear, as the Scorchio gripped that lever and gave it a pull.
The events that followed are just a vague memory to Gary. All he could remember was a huge flash of light, followed shortly by a bang. The Scorchio sat there, looking awestruck with the results. He stared at the ray, then back at Gary, then back at the ray again. The Scorchio let out a crazed laugh, shouting something about him being a scientist.
Gary ran over to his owner, scared, looking for comfort. His owner, however, was not pleased with what had become of Gary. They let out a shriek and began to back away. Gary, confused, began looking over himself. What was so bad that could possibly make his owner run away?
But then, he knew it. The scaly skin. The spiked tail on his back. His brand new red color. This all seemed too unreal to be true. But it was real.
Gary had become a Grarrl.
His owner ran up the stairs of the building, never to be seen again. Gary tried asking the Scorchio for help, but it wouldn’t listen to a word that he said. Now feeling miserably depressed, Gary ran up the stairs after his owner, shouting, screaming for their help. But nobody came. Gary was forced to wander out of the building and follow the trail back to his home.
Somewhere along his journey, he must have gotten lost, because after many hours of wandering Gary came to this magnificent place that he had never knew could have possibly existed. Gary almost forgot his entire problem and just ran out to the paths in this new place. Buildings, Neopets, they were EVERYWHERE. And in the center, there was a large tree, and a fountain. And, what could those two paths to the west lead to? What Gary didn’t know at the time was that he had found Neopia Central.
Gary began walking into the streets, not knowing what wonders he might come across next. What an adventure the day had been! Suddenly, being a Grarrl didn’t matter at all to Gary! For a short amount of time, this joy lasted him as well. Gary noticed that at that tree in the center of town, people were just leaving their items for others to take. Most looked like plain junk, until someone dropped off this gleaming brush, tipped with the strangest shade of paint. Was that... Glass? Gary knew this must be worth something, and he wanted it. As he ran towards this tree, all he could see was him with this brand new item, showing it off to his owner....
But his owner was no longer there. Then reality struck Gary. He was lost, without a home. His owner abandoned him. What kind of an owner would be so cruel as to do this? He was forced into this dreadful change of form, and now he was unwanted because of it. Gary stopped in his tracks, and somebody else snatched up the brush. Gary barely had time to sit and ponder what he could do next when he heard somebody approaching him, fast.
“And what have we got here, an ABANDONED Neopet? Well, we know just what to do with you...” was all that he heard, when Gary was scooped off of the ground and whisked away from this city. He was too frightened to move or scream. He figured wherever he was going couldn’t be that bad compared to what had already happened to him today... Could it? And then it was all over.
Bells rang as a door was opened, and Gary saw a pink Uni sitting at a desk, filling out some papers. As she looked up, she smiled, and looked at Gary with a curious look. She said something to the thing that had brought him in, and Gary carried in to yet another room. He now was placed into the center of a room full of what he knew were cages. But these cages contained other Neopets! Some sad, some scared, but some excited and thrilled.
As he was placed on the ground, his carrier left the room and shut the door. Gary took the time to observe all of his surroundings. There were white walls, and a white tiled floor. The cages were piled on top of each other, side by side. All types of abandoned Neopets filled these cages, with an empty one here and there. Some cages had tags on them that read “Adopted” on them. What was this place?
As Gary was about to ask one fellow pet that exact question, the carrier came in again. This time, Gary looked and realized that it was an angry looking Techo. This Techo took Gary, placed him in an empty cage, and shut the door. Without even a word of hello or goodbye, this Techo just left the room as if nothing was in the room.
Sitting up, Gary and the Ogrin across from him made eye contact. They stared at each other for a few moments, until the Ogrin mumbled a word and waved at Gary. Gary waved back. Maybe this place wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe he would enjoy his home here.
Trying to start a conversation, Gary started with the first thing he could think of, and asked what this place was. Several hours of chatting later, Gary had gained the knowledge that this place was known as the Neopian Pound. Neopet owners came in here to adopt abandoned Neopets. Gary also discovered that most of these pets were actually carried TO this place to be abandoned. He couldn’t imagine how depressing that must have been to have to be carried by your owner who was about to just abandon you into your new home.
Sure enough, while they were talking, more than six different owners had walked in to look around at the different Neopets. Gary would be thrilled every time one looked at him, but it only lasted for a moment until this person just moved on to the next pet. Oh well, Gary was sure that somebody would want him soon! Not everybody could be as cruel as his old owner, could they?
To be continued...