With You All the Time
“C’mon, c’mon, just a little bit more,” hissed the red Mynci as she fiddled with the lock. Her arms hurt from extending her arms outside the tight iron bars of her cage, and sleep weighed on her eyes. It was about two thirty in the morning, and the urge to curl up and drift off to Slumberland begged Molly’s every thought. The wide-eyed Usul behind her followed Molly’s movements with her eyes as best she could in the dark. It all came down to this.
The Pound near midnight was a scary place, haunted by the nightmares and tears of abandoned pets. The darkness was impenetrable, which made it harder for Molly to pick the lock of her cage from the inside. It would be a difficult enough task even in broad daylight, but Dr. Death would see her then. It just couldn’t be risked.
“Molly,” whispered the Usul. “I’m scared. We should stop before we’re caught.”
“Tiffany, how can you think that?” shot back Molly in a hushed tone. She did not look Tiffany’s way. “You’ve been here for a year, but I’ve been here for four. I need to taste the fresh air again; I need to get out of here.”
Tiffany said no more. She only hugged her tattered Tuskaninny plushie close to her. One could barely recognize it for its species, so mutated was it from its constant re-sewings. The first day Tiffany was at the Pound, a fierce-looking Lupe had snatched it through the bars of his cage as she walked by. He’d chewed up most of it before the Pound helpers could pry it from his teeth. One helper had been kind enough to patch the plushie up, but the years wore on the little toy.
All motion in Molly and Tiffany’s cage ceased when the noise came. Molly slowly pulled her arm back through the bars and handed Tiffany’s bobby pin back to her. The Usul slid the hairclip into her fur, and Molly timidly gave the strong door of their cage a little push. It swung open. Molly caught it before it could slam against the cage next to theirs and wake up the pets inside.
She’d done it. They were free.
Tiffany only stared in awe at the open cage doorway, but Molly got over the victory fast.
“Tiff, let’s go,” Molly whispered as she grabbed the yellow Usul’s paw. Crouching, they scurried out of the cage and into the hallway. Molly quietly shut the cage door, and tugged Tiffany through the hall quickly before any pets could wake up.
In the main lobby of the Pound, the glass doors slid open automatically and Molly and Tiffany slunk out. The cool night air quenched Molly’s long thirst for the outdoors, and her feet seemed to sigh with relief as the two escapees ran across the lawn in front of the Pound.
“Where do we go?” asked Tiffany, still in a whisper.
“Out of Neopia Central,” responded Molly seriously. “They’ll be looking for us in the morning. “We have to leave.”
“But where?” Tiffany repeated.
“Well, I was thinking we might track down my little sister,” Molly said. “Neither of us ever liked my owner, and I don’t doubt that she’s either been transferred or abandoned. I need to find her, because I promised that I’d find her someday.”
“Works for me,” shrugged Tiffany. “I don’t want to see my own owner ever again after she abandoned me. How can we find your sister, though?”
“I can start by looking up my old owner and asking her where she went,” Molly began. “I’ll have to say, of course, that I’ve been adopted, or my owner would just report us to the Pound ASAP.”
“Good thinking.” Tiffany nodded. “And after we find your sister? Where should we go then? I’ve always wanted to live in Altador, hint hint.”
Molly laughed. “Maybe. Now let’s hurry to the nearest User-Lookup station.”
The two scoured Neopia Central for a Lookup Machine. It was a contraption found on the sides of certain buildings with a keypad and a display screen. One was located at the Bakery, and Molly quickly typed in her owner’s username while Tiffany made a daisy chain in the grass.
“I found her!” Molly whispered. “She lives right here in the Neopia Central suburbs now. Let’s go, Tiff! 2800 Pizzaroo Lane!”
Molly and Tiffany sprinted down the streets and into the suburbs of the Central. It took a lot of searching and reading the street names, and it was six in the morning when they found themselves at 2800 Pizzaroo Lane. Molly wearily rung the doorbell.
A few minutes later, a groggy Tia opened the oak door. She started at the sight of the pets at her door.
“Hannah?!” she screeched.
“Yeah, yeah,” said the Mynci, rolling her eyes. “I’m just as happy to see you, believe me. Hey, Tia, so I had a couple of questions for you regarding...”
“Oh my gosh! Pound escapees!” squealed Tia. “I’m neomailing the Pound!”
“Wait, Tia!” Molly cried as her former owner dashed back inside the house. “I forgot to mention! I got adopted! Wait, come back!”
“Run, Molly, run!” Tiffany shouted, grabbing the Mynci by the paw and hauling her down the porch steps. Molly hesitantly began to run with the Usul, but there were tears in sparkling in her eyes.
“But, what about Patricia...?” she said longingly as she looked back at her owner’s home. The front door was still wide open. “What about my little sister? I promised her the day I was abandoned that I’d find her...”
Tiffany shook her head and kept running. Why was she crying, too? Molly wondered.
The two had made it back into Neopia Central’s shopping area when they stopped behind the Food Store, out of breath.
“Molly, we can’t waste any more time,” Tiffany said through her panting. “We need to hop the nearest boat to... somewhere. And then we can go to Altador.”
“No!” Molly objected. “Not without Patricia. I wanted to get out of the Pound only to find her. I won’t break my promise.”
“Molly, listen to me,” the young Usul said, making eye contact with the Mynci. “You found your sister.”
“No, I didn’t!” Molly objected again. “I have no idea where she is!”
“Hannah...” Tiffany began, and Molly was surprised. “That’s what Tia called you, right? I should’ve seen it before.”
“You’re confusing me.”
“I know, I know,” Tiffany said. “But listen: Hannah was your name before you were abandoned, wasn’t it? You just took up ‘Molly’ when you got to the Pound?”
Molly slowly nodded.
“Well, I did the same thing. I’m not ‘Tiffany’,” the Usul revealed.
“What?!” Molly couldn’t believe her ears.
“My name, my real name...” The Usul smiled and tears gushed from her blue eyes.
“Y-You can’t b-be...” Molly’s voice was uncharacteristically shaky, but she realized what Tiffany was saying made some sense. “How old are you?”
“Eight,” Tiffany said, still smiling. “And my birthday is March 22.”
“Patricia would be eight,” Molly said quietly. “And that’s her birthday, too. But Patricia isn’t an Usul. She was an Acara.”
“It was a zap at the lab ray that put me in the Pound.” Tiffany shrugged. “But Hannah... I still should’ve seen it earlier. I lost my older sister when I was four, but I still knew what she looked like. I can’t believe I didn’t recognize you, but when I saw Tia just a few minutes ago, I knew...”
“Patricia!” Molly cried, scooping the Usul into a hug. “It is you. It is you!”
Patricia hugged her sister back. “I missed you, Hannah,” she whispered.
They separated and looked at each other, both of their eyes red from tears.
“Now,” Molly – Hannah – said decidedly. “Let’s see what we can do about getting to Altador.”