I Wanna Be MSP
Varicose plopped outside the laboratory entrance, refusing to move. I thought to myself, "How could one blue Poogle be so stubborn? We've been at this for weeks. He couldn't just give up!"
"It's never going to work," he said, sighing, "I've dropped to level one six times, changes species three times, lost my defense more than I can count, but not once have I changed into an MSP." Dejection fell over his face and he whimpered.
"Nobody said this was going to be easy," I said, "You are far from the first Neopet to not get the paint color they always wanted, for the low cost of a Lab Map.
"I know, but it's like I feel like an MSP on the inside, but I don't look like it out the outside. You couldn't understand. Let's just go home. I'm tired of being disappointed."
A Faerie Draik floated over our heads, twirling in the sunlight like a Fire Faerie.
"Another lab stat change?" Varicose asked.
"Nope! I went in there a Pirate and came out, well..." He fluttered around Varicose some more.
"Say," he said, "What's got you so blue? No pun intended."
"I want to be an MSP. It's all I've ever wanted. The only way it can happen is through the lab. I can't even buy a potion or a paintbrush to make it happen. It just seems like a lost cause."
The Draik stroked his shoulder, which was soft like velvet.
"Well, what about plushie? It looks close enough to MSP and you can buy that color. The only real difference is a pair of red eyes and some patches in different places."
Varicose shook his head. "Thanks," he said, "But no thanks. Close enough just isn't the same. The red eyes see better in the dark! MSPs are on a rare TCG and are highly valuable. So special! There's also the wicked sharp teeth I can chew better with. But let's not forget, the plushie Poogle is just a little...ahem...bald. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just...not me. I can't throw out my brush just because I can't be a MSP."
The Lab Ray Scientist appeared behind us, ready to close the double doors. "Almost closing time," he said, before laughing manically.
I gave Varicose a pleading glance.
He sighed, "Fine. I'll go."
Varicose climbed on the steel platform and waited. Meanwhile, the Lab Ray Scientist's Cackles grew louder and more maddening by the second. The hum of the laser increased, electricity snapped and popped, and a bolt of lightning flashed. The lights went out and I couldn't see Varicose.
The Lab Ray Scientist's voice came over the loudspeaker, "The ray is fired and Varicose and..."
My heart stood on the head of a pin.
"He doesn't change at all!"
I sighed as Varicose let out a cry of disappointment.
"Come back tomorrow and try again."
The lights came back on and before I could come to comfort Varicose, he ran out the door, wailing.
"Varicose," I shouted, "wait!"
"No!" He said. He ran into the Neohome and slammed the door.
I sighed and put my hands on my hips, unsure of what to do. I didn't believe he could wait until tomorrow. Something had to be done fast.
It was just my luck that Noda from the NC Mall happened to appear on the sidewalk outside our Neohome. "Shenanigifts! Wonderclaw! Get your Faerie Quest Today! Fortune Cookies for sale! Lab Ray Cookies! Limited number available, folks! Get'em quick, get'em now!"
I ran up to her, nearly out of breath.
"Hi, sport! What'll you have?"
"Just a Lab Ray Cookie, please. How many do you have left?"
Noda fumbled around in her ornate Shenkuu-themed box.
"You're in luck! It's the last one," she chimed.
"You aren't gonna charge me extra because of that, are you?"
She gave me a knowing look and placed a hand on her hip.
"Just kidding," I said, laughing nervously, "How much?"
"For you? One hundred and twenty-five Neocash."
"I bet you say that to everyone," I said, digging in my pockets. I handed her the cash in exchange for the glorious Lab Ray Cookie, which was cool in my palms like steel. This purchase was only half the battle. After Varicose's trauma today, how was I ever going to get him to set foot in the lab again?
"Thank you," Noda said, shaking my hand, "You folks have a blessed day!"
I nodded and ran inside, only to see Varicose sound asleep on the hardwood floor. I knelt down to him and nudged his shoulder. He groaned, then he rolled over.
"Varicose," I said.
"Mmmmm," he said, whining.
"I need to ask you a favor," I said.
He blinked and looked up at me. "What do you need?" He asked, sleepily.
"Go with me to the laboratory just one more time. Give it one more chance and if it doesn't work, we'll never go again. Okay?"
"I won't have to go back after that?" he asked.
I nodded, pitying him.
"Fine," he said.
"We have to hurry," I said, "Luckily, we live close by but they close in five minutes. We'll barely make it in time.
He sat up and glared at me, perplexed. "We've already used our one turn for today."
I held the fortune cookie out to him.
His mouth dropped. "You shouldn't have done that. I-I don't know what to say."
"I REALLY want this for you," I said, "And I don't like giving up."
He lunged into my arms, almost knocking me over as I laughed. "That's the sweetest thing any owner has ever done for me," he said.
"We can," I paused and laughed some more, unable to contain my own excitement, "but they're going to clo-"
He leapt from my arms and bolted outside, leaving me speechless on the floor.
I ran to the door and called after him, "You have to wait for me! I'm the one with the cookie, remember?"
That got his attention. Varicose screeched to a stop and looked back at me, suddenly beaming and hopeful. All I could think was that it would only break his heart that much more if he didn't become MSP this time. This was the last chance, for both of us.
"Come on," he said, nudging his head in the direction of the lab, "We're gonna miss it!"
I ran after him as fast as my legs could carry me, barely able to keep up with him.
Varicose nose bumped the door just as it was closing.
"We're closed," the Lab Scientist said, "Come back tomorrow."
I ran forward, then bent over out of breath. "Please, we got here as fast as we could."
"One turn per day."
I held the lab ray cookie out to him, and his eyes lit up. He unlocked the door. "Well," he said, "When you put it that way I suppose one more zap for today can't hurt."
Varicose looked back at me. The more hopeful he was, the more nervous it made me about letting him down. I laughed nervously and rubbed my forearm. "Are you ready?" I asked.
"Uh-huh," he said, trotting up to the metal platform, "He held his chin high, beaming at the lab ray that would change his fate forever.
The whirring began. The electricity popped and cackled, as it did before. There was no going back now. Varicose said, "Don't worry so much. If this doesn't work, then we'll know it wasn't meant to be. I realize that now. Everything happens for a reason. And the sadness, it'll pass!"
I smiled wider, hoping he would really believe that after this was over.
The lightning flashed at him, zapping the power out. Then, the loudspeaker flicked on, followed by the cackle of the Mad Lab Ray Scientist.
"The ray is fired at Varicose.."
I held my breath.
"And he changes colour to MSP! Mwuahahhaha!"
"You mean he did it?" Varicose called, "I'm MSP?!"
The scientist flicked on the lights, revealing Varicose in all his glory. The fresh unstained fabric skin with the patch foot, red eyes, and glistening new sharp teeth. He was everything he wanted to be and more. I pulled a mirror from my pocket and tossed it to Varicose, who caught it in his mouth. Unfortunately, his new teeth cracked the glass.
He placed the mirror on the ground and looked down, unable to believe that the neopet in the reflection was really him. Tears plopped on the mirror and his lips quivered.
"Awww..." He said, sniffling.
"What?" I said, dropping my face.
"MSPs don't cry," he said, wiping his paw on his face, which only wet his yellow fabric skin further, "Oh well."
The Lab Ray Scientist appeared. "Do you have another fortune cookie?" he said.
Varicose and I looked at each other, knowingly. "Well, I don't think you'll be seeing much of him, anymore. We got the zap we wanted. But...if I have another Neopet with a color they are dreaming of, I'll give you a ring."
"CLOSED!!!" He suddenly screamed, waving his arms wildly.
Varicose and I laughed as we left the lab, hearing the maniacal laughter of the lab ray scientist behind us as he locked the glass doors.
"Did you mean it?" He asked on the way home.
He stopped and looked up at me. "Are we bringing another Neopet back, so they can get the color change of their dreams? What if...it doesn't happen for them? I don't want another Neopet to feel like I did."
"I think," I said, kneeling down, "then they will have someone who can relate and tell them to just keep trying. Right?"
He nodded. We pressed our foreheads together as I fluffed his ears, then giggled.
And that, dear Neopians, was the day my Neopet became just the same on the outside as he was inside. Though it was the last chance for it to work, he finally got it, because for just one more time he didn't give up on his dream.