Life of a Lab Rat: Part Two
My Neohome consists of three people—Teri, Flint, and me. Flint, a Yellow Bori, is two years my junior. We used to have a lot of fun together, but not anymore, I suppose. He’s getting to that stage where he thinks it’s uncool to hang out with girls. One thing we had in common is we both hated Teri’s stinginess—only Flint was less quiet about it. He complained loudly to Teri whenever we had omelette for dinner. Which was every single evening in the history of forever.
I stepped through the door and twirled around a few times, trying to grab my younger brother’s attention. I grabbed it, all right. Flint gaped at me, and dropped his fork with a clatter. “Wha! How—WHAT?” He instantly turned to Teri, gnashing his teeth. “You bought her a Draik morphing potion? No fair! Who said I never wanted to be a Draik?” He pouted.
“No, silly.” Teri gave him a goofy grin. “This is from the lab ray.”
Flint glowered at me. I shrugged. I could control the ray just as well as he could.
“And I even heated your omelette for you,” he sniffed, gesturing toward a steaming plate of eggs on the other side of the table. “Oh, well. No need to thank me, I s’pose.”
I started toward my beckoning dinner when Teri stopped me. “Smoky, you don’t have to have that gross omelette today. You can share my spaghetti with me, to celebrate. Besides, that omelette is rotten.” She wrinkled her nose.
“What!?” Flint replied, instantly spitting out his food. “Whatever! I’m out of here!” He stormed upstairs.
I smirked at him. Being a Draik wasn’t bad, really. In fact, could use my new species to my advantage. Neopets parted when I walked down the hall, and they let me go to the front whenever I got in line for the drinking fountain. If I didn’t do my homework, my teachers would give me another night or two to complete it. In one day, my life had gone from excruciatingly dull to actually worth living!
I sat down with Don and Gretchen at the usual lunch table. Gretchen sighed loudly.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“I don’t know.” She shrugged. “You’ve been acting like a diva today, for some strange reason.”
“Hellooo?” I pointed to my wings. “I’m a Draik! I can’t believe you didn’t notice that. Wow, Gretchen.”
Gretchen frowned at me. “Sure, yeah, it’s great.”
“Well, gosh! I know you’re jealous and all, but you don’t have to take it out on ME!” I didn’t know what was happening to me. One day I was all happy with my friends, but now...
Don, who had been silent this whole time, spoke up. “What I think Gretchen is trying to say is that she doesn’t care what you look like. She’s fine with your being a Draik, Smoky. She thinks you’re just... kind of... well, showing o—”
“Smoky? Who is Smoky?” a voice asked.
“That Draik, remember? Wow, Sweetie Pie, sometimes you can be so dumb!” someone else shouted.
A Maractite Usul rushed into my field of vision, followed closely by a Rainbow Uni. It was my living nightmare—Mindy and Sweetie Pie.
“Hey!” Mindy smiled sweetly and waved at me, completely ignoring my friends. “So, um, I’m Mindy, as you know!” She curtsied. “And I noticed you were a Draik! (By the way, a lot better than your previous look, hun.) Anyway! I was just wondering if you wanted to ditch these basic losers”—she glanced at Gretchen and Don for the first time—“and join our clique! Sound good? Okay, great! Come along now!”
Don was glaring at me, mouthing the words “don’t do it” at me. I didn’t want to listen to him, though. I was mad at my friends.
I looked over at Gretchen. She was studying her sandwich.
“Hurry UP!” Mindy shrieked, stamping her foot.
“Alright, alright.” I grabbed my lunch and followed Mindy to her table, leaving my besties behind. I didn’t look back.
Nine people, aside from Mindy and Sweetie Pie, sat at the table and greeted me with a smile. I spotted a Woodland Kacheek (Alex), a Spotted Kau (Milki), a Transparent Wocky (Wonky), a Starry Zafara (Lori), a Plushie Shoyru (Reed), a Pea Chia (Reggie), a MSP Poogle (Scout), an Ice Krawk (Kudos), and an Alien Aisha (Nina).
“Oooh!” Several of them fumbled for the seat beside me. Wonky won, grinning at me (not the most pleasant sight).
I took one look at her and turned away. I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t have the strongest stomach.
“Soooo! Hi!” She waved a skeletal paw in my face. “I’m Wonky! And you are...?”
“Smoky,” I mumbled, without looking at her.
“Hey, hey! Let the LE pet breathe!” Mindy sat right across from me. She leaned across the table and grinned in my face. “You’re so NICE, Smoky! Honestly, I don’t know why we’ve never been friends before!”
I widened my eyes at her. “Ever heard of personal space?”
She slowly slid back in her seat, narrowing her eyes at me.
“You don’t say stuff like that to Mindy,” Wonky whispered in my ear.
“You just don’t. Alright?”
“Gee, thanks for the advice.” I rolled my eyes. I was still sore from my used-to-be-best-friends. I glanced over them. They looked pretty chummy-chummy with each other. Gabbing like usual. Not even looking in my direction. It was like we’d never been friends in the first place.
I sighed. It was over with them—I was in the popular crew now. And if you get kicked out of the popular crew, you may as well just bury yourself in a ditch and never come out. This was a life or death matter.
My gaze returned to the table I was currently sitting at. I realized everyone was staring at me, watching my every move. Suddenly losing my appetite, I put down my sandwich (yes, Teri actually gave me a real SANDWICH! I love you, lab ray!).
“Are you gonna finish that?” Scout, a female MSPP, asked.
I shook my head.
“Can I have it?”
Scout grinned and took it, as a chorus of “Aw, man!” rippled throughout the table.
I gaped at her as she stuck it in her lunch box. “I’m gonna hang it in my room!” she chirped smugly.
“Any other food?” Reed asked, biting his lip.
I rolled my eyes at him. Why was everyone acting like half-starved Kadoaties? “No. No more food,” I lied. My belly rumbled in protest. Truth was, I still had an untouched chocolate chip cookie (what a miracle!) sitting in my lunchbox.
“So... is it fun to be a Draik? You must be sooooo happy,” Lori said to me.
“Uh, yeah, it’s pretty fun. I guess.”
“Do you, like, miss your old look?” Milki wondered.
“PSH! You stupid head. Why would she miss her old look? She was just a basic Wocky!” Sweetie Pie scowled at Milki.
Kudos raised an eyebrow. “What am I, chopped liver?” she retorted. “I’m LE, too, you know.”
“Yes, but...,” Mindy chewed her lip, “your owner morphed you a whole week and a half ago.”
Kudos raised an eyebrow. “Yeah, because a week and a half is SOO long ago,” she retorted.
Mindy shrugged. “Well, I mean, Smoky was zapped last night, so....”
The look on Kudos’s face showed that she’d rather sit somewhere else, but just like me, she knew she had to stay or bad things would come out of it.
“Oh, come on, guys. Kudos is a lot prettier than me.” I smiled at the Krawk, but she didn’t return the smile. I didn’t blame her—I’d be pretty upset, too. “How often do you see an Ice Krawk? I’m just a plain old Red Draik.”
“True, true,” Milki rambled. “I always thought Draiks were kinda ugly anyway.”
I bit back the words “Excuse me!?” and instead nodded politely at Milki.
Reggie nodded vigorously. “Yeah, and I mean, no offense or anything, Mindy, but I really hate the color Maractite.”
I glanced at Mindy, expecting to see smoke billowing out of her ears, but instead she kept her cool and smiled at Reggie. “You’re one to talk, Reggie,” she said cutely. “After all, you’re nothing more than a pea. I could just eat you up.”
“Sorry,” Reggie muttered, suddenly fascinated by the handle on his lunchbox.
Mindy took out a mirror and applied some sparkly lipstick to her face. “I thought so.”
I felt Wonky’s hot breath in my ear once again. “Look at that, trying to pretty herself up for Jason.”
I frowned. “Who’s Ja—”
Just then, a Royalboy Xweetok sauntered into view, a Royalgirl Xweetok, who looked about a year or two younger, following closely behind.
“Jason!” Mindy cried. “So sweet of you to come!” Her eyes bored into the Royalgirl Xweetok as she asked in a sickeningly sweet voice, “Who’s your friend?”
“Oh, this is Natasha. My owner found her at the pound. Sweet catch, huh? Yeah, she just started school here.”
Natasha raised a paw in greeting.
Jason surveyed the table, his brown eyes flicking from one Neopet to the next. They rested on me. “I don’t think I’ve seen you before. What’s your name?”
My mouth fell open. I nearly melted at the table when I remembered that I was supposed to be answering a question. But before I could, Mindy chimed in.
“Oh, she’s nobody,” Mindy giggled.
Jason raised his eyebrows questioningly.
“You see, she’s just a plain old basic. Yeah, I know right, why would I be hanging out with a dumb basic?” Mindy rambled. “Haha. Well, anyway, she’s a Draik now, but actually, her owner was planning on morphing her back into a—No, Jasey, wait!” she squawked.
Jason was already at least ten yards away from the table, pulling his little sister along.
I smiled when Mindy shot me a scowl. For once, I wasn’t envious of others. This time, I was envied.
To be continued...