The Almost Pound Escape... Or Something Like That: Part Three
Welch stared at me. "What do you mean it's your sister's fault?"
"She's not my sister," I said defiantly. "That Xweetok is the only reason I'm here. She got mad at my owner."
"Over what?" Welch asked, looking up at me with a kindness in her eyes that I wouldn't have expected to receive. It threw me off guard. I didn't deserve her kindness. Not after everything I'd done to her.
"Silly things at first. The place we moved to, the clothes we wore, the games we played. But then she got more vehement about it. She accused our owner of forcing her ideas of what we should be onto us, despite what we thought or wanted. Our owner wanted us to become Lost Desert denizens, to learn to be adept at the lifestyle and the culture that surrounded the area. She loved the Lost Desert for some reason, though I didn't understand it." I smiled a little at the only memory I had of her, then mentally smacked myself for it. She didn't deserve any nice spot in my memory.
"I personally could have cared less, it wasn't my favorite place in the world, but it wasn't like she mistreated us. I mean she fed us and all. My other Xweetok sister and I were perfectly happy with the way we lived, but the other one, Kia I think was her nickname, she didn't like it. She got mean, withdrawn, she started bullying me and the other Xweetok into giving our owner a hard time. Our owner was young and frustrated and she had had enough of our little 'rebellion'. Kia and I were sent to the pound within day of each other. I guess the other Xweetok sorted things out with the owner, at least long enough for us to get moved so deep in the pound we would never run into each other. Kia and I parted ways about a month after we got here during a bunk shuffle, and I haven't seen her since," I finished and Welch looked at me for a long time. I shrank back a bit in embarrassment and pretended to be looking down the hallways for workers. A few of the active pound doors opened for the six thirty shift, including the one for the yellow Usul above me. He left with a bored look on his face, the look I'd seen a hundred times before on repeat pound inmates' faces.
I yawned and stretched, looking over the edge of the bunk. "You might want to cover your ears, I have a reputation to uphold," I said to Welch, and she glared at me.
"You seriously wouldn't-"
"RISE AND SHINE, OH LOVELY INMATES OF THIS GLORIOUS AND PROSPEROUS SINKOLE!" I shouted, my voice echoing across the pound. The usual response resulted, minus something. Something that I couldn't place. There were the newer pets crying hysterically, check. The veterans groaning and yelling at me to be quiet, check. The Grarrls threatening to eat me alive covered in barbeque sauce, check. What was missing? I peeked over my bunk at Welch, looking at her surprised as it clicked into place. "You didn't shout anything at me this morning."
"No," she said simply, clumping her hair into a high ponytail and pulling a really decrepit diary out from under her pillow.
"But you always say something berating and demeaning to me, or worse, philosophical!" I cried in protest and she shrugged.
"I didn't today," she said, looking around her bunk for her pencil. I looked at her and stuck out my tongue.
"Well, fine then, if you won't respond, I guess I'll have to get up earlier."
"Fine by me."
"I'll get louder."
"I doubt that's possible, but okay. Go ahead."
"I'll try and take pet's bunks every time I can."
"You already do that."
"Come on! Most mornings you would be shouting at me already!" I said exasperated.
"This morning is not most mornings," she said simply, and I counted on my fingers.
"Is there anything important about June first?" I asked, confused.
"Other than the usual influx of pets that come in the night before and during the early morning, no."
"They when did you become so amiable and reserved?"
"When I started to hope," she said. I looked at her confused, and she met my eyes. There was a spark there, a spark of hope that had been missing in her eyes before. Usually I would want to crush that spark out with the truth, but this time I couldn't. I realized it was because I had the same hope inside of me, though I made sure it didn't peek through my eyes like hers did. We were both hoping for the escape.
"Don't get your hopes up too high," I mumbled.
"It's best to hope and have it dashed than not hope at all," she said, smiling a little.
"Who said that one? That Lunar Gnorbu?" I asked, and she shook her head, laughing at me.
"No, I said it," she said, taking a small pencil stub from the corner of the cage. She scribbled on one of the pieces of paper in her diary and tore it out. I jumped a bit. Welch loved that diary more than life itself. No matter how stupid I thought an attachment to a book was, items from the outside were as rare as fleas on a faerie. She treated it like it was made of gold. For all intents and purposes it was as good as gold around here. She started to read what she had written. "'Pound break out for the second of June,'" she said quietly, trying to keep her voice down. I took the paper, looked it over for a moment, and handed it back.
"Waste of paper," I said, and she looked at me for a moment.
"To you it is."
"How are you going to get that little piece of paper around the whole pound?"
"Easy enough if you think about it."
"And how is it 'easy' in any rational sense of the word?"
"Well you gave me the idea,"
"I find that insulting! I wouldn't come up with anything as foolish as using one piece of paper to spread the word of a breakout around the entire pound complex!"
"Watch," Welch said simply, handing the paper to a pet in the cage to her right. The green Ogrin took the paper and looked at it, confused. "Do me a favor, pass that around the whole level, would you? Every bunk." The Ogrin shrugged and handed the paper to the pet above him, then that pet handed the paper to the pet above him. They moved it on to the next cage, passing on Welch's instructions. I stared with my mouth open as the single piece of paper made its way around the whole level and back to Welch. "Easy enough, yes?"
"Smart," I conceded, "but how are you going to get it from level to level?" Welch's eyes twinkled.
"Hey Ralphie!" she shouted to a Korbat hanging upside down off his bunk two cages to our left. The Korbat opened one eye and looked at Welch.
"Yeah?" he said gruffly, looking annoyed at being woken up.
"Can you do me a favor?" Welch asked, and Ralphie scoffed.
"Right, why would I do you a favor? I don't even know you," the Korbat said, closing his eyes and trying to pretend he was going back to sleep.
"The bat has a point, Welch," I said smugly. Welch held up her paw at me and turned back towards the Korbat.
"You're right; I don't know you and you don't know me, but I know that you want to be able to stretch your wings a bit some day." The Korbat opened his eye again.
"So you're the one who sent around that paper a few minutes ago, eh? You guys are crazy. One row breaking out would be stopped easily."
"I'm not thinking just one row. You know most of the pets on this row by sight, right? Or am I thinking of another Ralphie?"
"I'm insulted, there's only one Ralphie," the Korbat said indignantly.
"Technically that's probably not your real name-" I began, only to have Welch slap her paw over my mouth.
"My mistake, lots of these pets seem alike to me, I'm not as talented in the area of perception as you," I rolled my eyes and pulled her paw off of my mouth.
"That's so blatantly buttering him up, even a Kiko would catch it!" I hissed. Welch put her paw over my mouth again.
"I'm listening to everything you guys say," the Korbat said, moving his ear in our general direction, "you guys are far from quiet. Especially that loud mouthed Kyrii. Fyora would he shut up some time! All he does is talk talk talk talk talk!" I fumed.
"Watch it, buddy! If I weren't in a cage-"
"But you are in a cage. So I can say whatever I want."
"Back to the matter at hand," Welch interjected, holding out the paper to the cage nearest to us and motioning for their inmates to pass it to Ralphie. "Can you hand this to a pet from another row when you get on pound duty and tell them to pass it around like we are?" The Korbat scoffed.
"Do you doubt my talents? But one note won't do the trick. We need at least five going at once to be effective."
"You would start five of them going at once?" Welch asked, and Ralphie rolled his open eye.
"Easy to do, Xweetok, we shift around a lot when we get on active pound duty, it's no problem to slip a couple pieces of paper and some instructions to the right guys for the job."
"Perfect," Welch said, and the Korbat smiled, winking with his one open eye.
"That's the way Ralphie works."
"Look at that!" I said, moving Welch's paw from my mouth again. "This crazy plan of yours might actually work."
To be continued...