A Petpet In The Pound: Part Three
Sure enough, there were five tiny Warfs gathered around Mary, who was practically glowing with pride.
Everything began to click together. "The sleeping, and eating and being sick, and being bloated..."
"Yup!" Chris cheered. "She was pregnant!"
"When did she have them?" I asked, watching Mary and her new babies.
"Sometime during the night. I woke up and they were already here."
"Wow. Puppies." I sat carefully on the edge of Chris's mattress. Mary greeted me with a small bark and I tentatively put my paw towards her. She leaned into it and I started scratching her head.
The puppies were pale pink things. Their eyes were squeezed shut and their ears were closed too. They nuzzled their mother's belly and let out tiny squeaking noises.
"These two are girls." Chris pointed to the largest puppy and a middle-sized puppy. "And the rest are boys."
"What are you going to name them?" I asked, carefully stroking one of the girl puppies. She nuzzled my hoof blindly and opened her tiny pink mouth in a yawn.
Chris shrugged. "I don't really want to name them until they're older and I get to know their personalities better."
We marveled at the sight of the little Warf family, before reluctantly getting up and heading towards Movie Central. Chris especially didn't want to go.
"Will they be okay here by themselves?" he asked, looking worried.
"They seem fine. I got Rosie to leave a bowl of water and food for Mary, and she'll take care of her puppies," I answered, although truthfully I didn't want to leave her alone either.
The day seemed to go by agonizingly slow, but finally, we were able to race back to the Pound. Mary was waiting for us with her puppies nestled around her.
"See, I told you she'd be fine," I said to him, but I was glad to be back as well.
We got little sleep that night, excited by the puppies and the fact that the musical was tomorrow. We woke up bright and early, hardly believing we had come this far.
At 6:30 PM, people started filing in to Movie Central. Rosie sold tickets and the Fresh Foods shop sold refreshments. Chris and I peeked out behind the curtain to see the crowd. The theater was completely filled!
"Good luck," he whispered, before shouting, "Places, everyone!"
I waited with the rest of the stage crew, where we were all dressed completely in black. The Kau who was Princess Vyssa (we didn't have a Cybunny to do that part) positioned herself in her smaller throne, while King Coltzan sat in the larger one. There was an expectant hush, then the music started and the curtain rose.
A lowly page walked into view, before bowing. "Your Majesty, I have come with sad new. Your cousin, the Duke of the Desert, his son has been murdered!"
An appropriate gasp rose from the crowd at the startling beginning of the play. The king got riled up, and did not notice his daughter leaving the throne room. The stage went dark and I ran out to take the thrones away while someone else moved the bed into place. We rushed back behind the curtain as the light came on again.
Princes Vyssa sang a sad song while staring at the picture of the Duke of the Desert's son, who had been her betrothed. When she hears that her father will not avenge her fiancé, Princess Vyssa curses him and declares that she shall be a better ruler than her father.
The princess runs into the desert, thinking that she'll know how to survive. But she soon learns that life in the desert is much different than life in the castle. Luckily, a group of nomads find her, sunburned and dehydrated, and take her in. She travels with them without reveling who she really is, learning the ways of the desert.
When they reach a small town, the nomads see reward flyers for the lost princess. Recognizing her, they turn on her and try to capture her to collect the reward. She flees, but this time know how to survive in the harsh landscape.
Disguising herself, she eventually joins a guild of lowly thieves and pickpockets, although she rarely steals herself, and when she does, only from those who've used their wealth for evil. When she hears her fellow guild-members discussing a plot to murder her father, she fears for his life and travels back to the castle.
She arrives just as her father drinks from the poisoned chalice. She rushes to his side and clutches him as life leaks out of his body.
"Father, I'm so sorry," she says.
"It's okay, Vyssa. You are going to be a great Queen." Weakly, he places the crown on her head, before the stage goes dark.
The audience jumps up, cheering. Princess Vyssa and King Coltzan walk out onto stage, smiling and bowing. The other actors and actresses go out too, and then the stage crew walk out onto stage. I feel a thrill looking at the huge crowd, and I smile and bow.
Opening night was a huge success, and the rest of the performances were filled. At the end of the week, after the last production, Rosie gathered us all together one last time.
"Thank you all so much for this wonderful experience," she said with tears glistening in her eyes. "We've made a lot of money to help improve Pound conditions, and already people are adopting more. Tomorrow, you will all be up for adoption as well. I wish you all the best of luck."
It was a relief the next day to just relax with Chris, Mary and her puppies. At a little over a week, four of the five puppies had opened their eyes and were busy examining the world. Mary loved being a mother and couldn't be happier.
We also were able to tell the puppies apart better, and we gave them names. Priscilla was the largest puppy. She had a large brown spot on her back and white ears. Vyssa was the other girl, and we named her after the princess in the musical. Rodrick was the largest of the three boys, although he wasn't as big as Priscilla. He shone with the brilliance that his mother had. Lucas was the middle-sized boy puppy. He had two brown ears and a ring around one of his eyes. He was the most energetic. And Tommy was the littlest puppy, the only one who had not opened his eyes yet.
People loved seeing the puppies, but still no one adopted Chris or me. The Neopets who played Vyssa, Coltzan, and the other main characters were adopted within a few days, but not us. Chris was disappointed, I could tell; he had been a background character in the musical. But he loved the little Warfs and tried not to dwell on things.
The puppies grew exceptionally fast. Before we knew it, they were already two months old, yapping and jumping and playing. You couldn't turn around in that cage without a Warf being there, but I didn't mind. I loved holding Tommy in my lap, or playing tug-of-war with Lucas.
I wanted to ask Chris if I could adopt one of them, but I was scared. I was afraid he wouldn't want to give them up; and truly, who would? I debated which Warf I would want; maybe Rodrick, who's coat was as brilliant as his mother's, or Vyssa, who was the smartest puppy of the litter.
But one morning, I awoke wondering why no one was biting my ear or pulling on my tail. Suddenly, I grew cold and jumped out of bed. Chris wasn't there. Neither were Mary or the puppies.
"Rosie!" I screamed, running to the front of the cage. "Rosie!"
Rosie wasn't there, but one of the other pound workers rushed to me. "What's wrong?" he asked.
"Where's Chris?" I demanded, fearing the worst.
"He was adopted early this morning," was the reply. A frown formed as the skin between his eyes wrinkled. "Are you all right?"
I nodded dumbly, before slumping back down to my mattress. I should be ashamed of myself. Chris wanted to be adopted. We all wanted to be adopted. Yet I was selfish enough to wish that he hadn't been.
I put my head in my arms and cried.
Something nudged my foot. I looked up, rubbing tears out of my eyes, and saw Chris's blanket. I picked it up and a Warf rolled out. I held my breath; my heart was beating against my rib cage. Could it be?
"Lucas!" I screamed happily, gathering the tiny petpet into my arms. He licked my face and wagged his little tail and I laughed and cried at the same time. Never have I been so happy.
"Oh, Lucas, why are you here? You should be with your Mama," I said, sighing. The puppies had been weaned, by they still loved each other. They were a family.
I noticed something, then; there was a note on Chris's mattress. I picked it up and unfolded it carefully, staring at Lucas for several seconds before reading the note.
I'm sorry that I didn't say goodbye in person, but it would just be too sad. You made life in the pound so much better for me. I don't think I could have survived without you.
You've taken care of Mary and the puppies just as much as I have, so I'm giving you Lucas. He didn't want to leave you, and you're just as much his family as I am. Take good care of him; I know you will.
Good luck. Lots of love,
I wiped the tears off my cheeks, but they kept on coming. I was so sad, yet so happy. Chris had a new home and I had Lucas, but I missed him and the other Warfs terribly.
Lucas hopped into my lap, staring at my face questioningly. He licked my hand and I sighed and hugged him. And together we waited for our future.