Chet Flash wuz here Circulation: 188,728,398 Issue: 530 | 27th day of Sleeping, Y14
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Bitter Aftertaste

by eevee0011


Art by eevee0011

The Razumi was angry.

      He was angry that he was in a cage, he was angry that all of the pets who ran this shop took a wide berth around him, and most of all he was angry that there was a little price tag taped to the corner of his cage, advertising to all around him that he was for sale. It wasn't his fault at all that he was here. These silly creatures had just gotten tired of toting the recently discovered, stocky little petpet all over the place.

      He glared at the Aisha behind the counter, and he growled with satisfaction when he saw him shiver. He deserved it, tossing him aside like this.

      Pets came in, and usually the first thing they saw when they entered the store was him. However, the Razumi didn't want to go with anyone. He didn't want to raise his hopes that the pets who bought him this time would be better than the ones who abandoned him the last. So he chased away each and every pet, mostly by swiping his stubby gold claws at the offending paw or fin and snarling at them, revealing white, gleaming fangs.

      On the fifth day, the Aisha replaced his price tag with a new one before scuttling back to the desk as fast as possible. The Razumi cocked his head, curious, and leaned back up on his hind legs to he could get closer to it. He sniffed it, tried—and failed—to lick at the piece of paper with his tongue, swatted at it... but there was nothing different about it, except that it was new and unwrinkled.

      The petpet humphed and lay back down in his usual curled up and glaring at the world position.

      A little while later, the bell rang.

      A small Xweetok walked in, a big blue scarf wrapped around her neck. She was one of those weird pets that looked like giant versions of those treats sold at the Chocolate Factory. She looked around for a brief moment, and he growled when her eyes settled on him.

      She made an exclamation so soft he wasn't sure he'd heard it, and then she walked toward him.

      Like usual, he swiped his claws at her and snarled, and her paw stopped just out of his reach. But instead of cowering and walking away like most other pets, she kept looking at him, studying him. The Razumi snarled and bared his teeth as much as he possibly could, arching his back and causing the store light to glint off of his green scales.

      "I'll take him."

      Even though she was less than a foot away from his cage, he could still hardly hear the Xweetok, but it didn't matter. He couldn't believe it anyway. The Aisha came out cautiously from behind his counter.

      "Are you sure?" he asked, his voice loud and clear in the Razumi's hearing. "This little guy has quite a temper, and—"

      The Xweetok muttered something that the petpet couldn't quite catch.

      "Alright then, he costs about 12,250," said the Aisha. "We reduced the price just this morning on account of how... ornery he is."

      The Xweetok pulled out the neopoints and handed them to the Aisha, and he was promptly handed over to her—still in the cage. The Razumi was too shocked to fight back, and he was a bit preoccupied with the way the cage was swaying while he was being carried outside.

      "Don't worry, Mister," said the Xweetok, her voice as soft as ever. "I already have a petpet, but I know a friend who would be perfect for you."

      So she was getting rid of him, too. He tried to be surprised.


      The bakery around him was warm, and the sound of the machines in the kitchen as they worked were surprisingly relaxing. The Razumi found himself falling asleep, but he kept on catching himself, and would stand up straight and alert until he started dozing off again. By the time the door opened again, he was lost to the world.

      "Dyri, DYRI!" The loud voice jolted him away from dreams of muffins and donuts (not at all influenced by the smells coming from the back of the bakery, nope). For a moment, the Razumi's sleepy eyes couldn't see anything, and then they cleared. The Zafara hanging her coat up was another one of those chocolate creatures. "DYRIALLE!"

      A few moments later the Xweetok came out from the back, almost completely covered in flour.

      "Why did you come over here on the weekend?" the Zafara said, her volume not changing one bit. "We have plenty of inventory for Monday!"

      "I like baking," the Xweetok said softly. Then she looked toward his cage. "Oh! I got up early this morning, and I knew you didn't have a petpet, so..."

      "You got me a petpet?" asked the Zafara. "Dyri, I told you I was going to wait a while before I got one!"

      "Well, they said he was a bit temperamental, and I figured you'd be able to handle him, and..."

      "I told you I wanted to wait until we made sure my new home was zombie and vampire-proofed!"

      "You're staying at my my place for now, Jytria... I say it's okay, and, well, the little guy was scaring the pets who were selling him... I think he'll be fine..."

      "He was scaring the store owners?" The Zafara's eyes widened, and before he knew it, the loud and boisterous pet was stomping toward his cage. He growled and bared his fangs.

      "Now stop that!" All of a sudden, all the Razumi could pay attention to was the pain radiating from his nose. "I didn't do anything to you, so you better be courteous to me!"

      The Razumi blinked, and stared quietly back up at the Zafara. This was the first time in a while anyone had reacted with anything but fear around him.

      "If I take you in, you have to give me some respect back," said the Zafara, and to his surprise she crouched down until her face was at the same level as his cage on the counter. "Agreed?"

      For a while the Razumi kept quiet. He looked at her, his black eyes studying her just as the Xweetok had studied him earlier. The air in the shop grew tense, and none of the creatures in the bakery moved so much as an inch. As he looked at her determined expression and her confident gaze, he realized that there was no way she'd ever just throw him away like his previous home had. But could he trust her?

      After several minutes of silence, the Razumi rolled over on his back, and Jytria laughed as she opened the cage door and pet his tummy. He didn't quite believe this new pet would never abandon him, but he was at least willing to give her a chance.

     Behind the counter, Dyri grinned. Despite her vocalizing that she didn't want a tiny companion, Dyri had seen the loneliness in her eyes, and she was determined to get her one. She knew the moment she'd seen the petpet in the shop that he belonged to her. Jytria was the kind of Zafara that liked having petpets just as spunky as she was, and the little Razumi looked like he needed to have someone he could trust.

      As Jytria lifted him out of the cage and dubbed him Cocoa—after her favorite drink—Dyri knew she'd made the perfect choice.

The End

Note: Thank you, Sukozu and Vanessa, for helping me with corrections and titles!

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