Thyla's Tale: Part Two
When I woke up, I was lying on the hard ground. For a moment I considered falling back asleep, but then I remembered where I was, and I bolted up. My head was throbbing. I was sitting in a small cell in the pound, lying on threadbare carpet. There was a cold iron bed in the back. I peered out of the bars. It was just like it had been last time, except there were more neopets here now than there were then. The pets huddled on their thin carpets in despair. Most of them were crying, which meant that it was loud in here.
"Troi," I called through the din, "Troi, Iyka, where are you?"
"Here!" called Troi.
"Here," whimpered Iyka.
Dr. Death walked in. He held an armful of omelettes. He threw in about two mouthfuls for each of us. But I was hungry. I gobbled mine quickly.
"Visitors," he barked.
Most of the pets suddenly tried to perk up. They smiled through their tears. They wagged their tails hopefully. They stood up. I stood up, too, and tried to smile. Maybe being adopted was the only way out of here. Suddenly, the doors opened, and a flood of owners came in. Some walked past the pets impatiently. I'd been in the pound before, and I recognized the signs of those ones being pound surfers, people who looked for pets who had rare, exotic colors or pretty names. Some owners simply stopped at pets randomly, pets they liked. A pound surfer rattled my cage bars.
"Look at this name," she yelled loudly. "Thyla! Great! But a green Zafara ..."
She melted away into the crowd. Suddenly, through all the other voices, I heard my sister.
"Yeah, I am," she said. "We were caught and thrown in here."
My heart leaped into my throat when I saw the red haired girl from earlier here. She was smiling at my sister.
"I really like you, Iyka," she said.
No, no, no! I thought. You can't take my sister! No! Stay away from her!
"Will you come home with me?" asked the girl.
"But my siblings are here," said Iyka.
"Oh, sweetie, I know," said the girl. "That's hard. But I can only adopt one, and... and let's face it. You probably won't get adopted together anyway. Wouldn't it be better to have a happy life at least?"
"NO!" I screamed. "Iyka, don't, please, don't, I know it's true, but Iyka!"
"Iyka, think!" yelled Troi. "Think about it! We'll never, ever see each other again!"
"Iyka, NO!" I yelled again.
Our voices barely rose high enough above the other noise for her to hear us.
"Thyla," she said softly in her sweet voice. "Thyla, Troi, I know it's hard. But it's for the best. I'll see you again. I promise."
And she was carried off by the girl. I ran and jammed my head into the musty pillow on my bed, and I cried. I don't know how long I cried. I put up my head for air once in a while, but I never really calmed down. How could I have been happy earlier? My dream of a restaurant was gone, and now my little sister was gone. How could I ever get out of this? If I ran away, I'd be homeless again. If I stayed here, who knew what would happen? I could have a happy life, or a terrible one. The pound is a terrible risk. You never know what you'll get. It's awful being in there.
I must have been crying for hours, because when I surfaced for good and calmed down, it was evening, and the pound was quiet. The afternoon of visitors was over. I sat up and wiped my face. I heard the sounds of pets whispering and some pets crying again. My face burned with shame when I realized I'd been crying, too. I gulped and crawled off my bed. I stretched a little on the carpet and I looked around. It was eerie here after dark.
"Troi," I called out. "Troi, are you there?"
"You mean that red Bori?" asked a green Blumaroo across from me gruffly.
"He was adopted earlier," said a red Wocky gently.
I suddenly felt lightheaded, from lack of food and exhaustion, but also because my siblings were gone. I probably wouldn't ever see them again. I fell down on the carpet. My knees were too weak to support me. Somebody said something to me that I couldn't quite understand. My eyes blurred up, and I couldn't tell whether it was with tears or exhaustion. I blinked a few times. Somebody shouted something. I caught the phrase "gonna be sick", and I fell to the ground, completely exhausted.
When I woke up, I was disoriented. My forehead was burning. I felt very sick. I couldn't understand where I was. I slowly opened my eyes. I saw a green Gelert in a white coat talking to a pink Uni. I couldn't understand who they were, either.
"It's what I call 'Pound Disease', and it's quite common in the pound," said the Gelert, but I didn't take in the meaning of the words. "The combination of the intense physical exhaustion of lack of food and possible abuse from their old owner and the mental exhaustion because of the shock of being pounded, and leaving their siblings and owner behind can make pets very sick in different ways. This is the worst case I've seen in a long time. It looks like she's been roughing it a while before she came here. I recommend..."
I suddenly remembered where I was, and the meaning of his words flooded into my brain. I sat up quickly. A wave of heat spread over my forehead. My eyes were still slightly blurry, and I was sore all over. I had a pounding stomach. I felt absolutely horrible. And there was a hollow feeling in my stomach. I couldn't quite put my finger on why, though. Then, suddenly, it hit me. My siblings! I began crying hard. The Uni and the Gelert turned around quickly.
"I didn't realize you were awake, sweetie," said the Uni in a superficial, high-pitched voice.
"You have to stop crying at once," said the Gelert doctor. "It will do more damage to your eyes and your head."
I couldn’t stop, though.
"I should have been called in to treat you immediately," said the Gelert, laying a cool cloth on my forehead. "Why didn't you call me down more quickly?"
The Uni waited a moment as the Gelert carried me to my hard bed.
"I simply didn't find her," she said. "I'm a busy Uni, you know," she said with a false giggle.
The Gelert was examining me.
"I'd say she's been out of it for a few days," he said suspiciously. "Tell me, er—"he checked the sign on my cage"—Thyla, are you aware of the date you fainted?"
"It was the same day I was abandoned," I croaked, feeling sicker than before and wishing I hadn't woken up.
"Surely you at least have the record of that?" he said.
"Why, I—yes," she said. "I'll just go get them."
The Uni left the space in front of my cage where she had been standing. The Gelert poured a terrible-tasting medicine into my mouth. I shuddered. Then he poured in some water, which was welcome, until I started hacking loudly.
"Who owned you before you came here?" he asked me sharply. "You were in very bad shape when you came here. I think I may need to report them for Neopet Abuse."
"Nobody owned me," I gasped through coughs. "We ran away from the pound—we've been homeless—but I wasn't sick when we came here."
"Who is 'we'?"
"My brother Troi and my sister Iyka," I said, my eyes blurring again. "They—they were adopted."
The doctor opened his mouth again, but seemed to think better of it, and gave me some more water. The Uni came stomping back into the hall.
"She arrived here three days ago," said the Uni in a very grumpy voice.
The Gelert dropped the cup he was holding. It shattered on the floor. He turned to the Uni, obviously enraged.
"Three DAYS?" he said to her. "THREE DAYS and you didn't bother to check on her ONCE? Don't you even come in to FEED them?"
"Dr. Death is responsible for that," said the Uni stiffly.
I started crying again. My siblings were gone, and I was in the pound alone! My brain, which had cleared for a little while earlier, started to fog up again. I didn't listen to the Gelert's angry shouts and the Uni's answers. I drifted off into a sad sleep again.
When I woke up, I was lying on a softer bed. I heard voices coming from all around me, unfamiliar voices. I didn't feel like opening my eyes, but I did. The first thing I saw was that my old owner was standing at the foot of my bed.
To be continued...