→ To Sit in Solemn Silence...

The corridor to your left was just as long as the one to your right. At least you guessed they were, because you couldn't see the end of either. Candle quaking and teeth chattering, your instincts decide for you. Left: go towards the light. But that was probably the only difference between the two hallways. Gentle light drifted through half of a window somewhere down that hall; the other was shrouded in absolute darkness.

Your heart pounded obnoxiously in your throat and ears. You smile to yourself through your fear. Fear, after all, was the source of all your excitement. The point was to be afraid, but only afraid enough that it was exciting.

The haunted mansion of Roo Island had no eerie nickname of spooky calling. It was simply, 'The Haunted Mansion of Roo Island.' No big deal, really. Just an ordinary, supposedly haunted house, appealing to both young and old thriller and chiller seekers. Apparently no one lasted more than three days in the once-beautiful summer home, without going insane. As legend had it, a single ghost haunted the place. According to eye-witnesses, he was a tiny ghost, but with a big head and a big ego. The ghost did whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. And best of all, he followed you everywhere.

Finally able to control and ebb the chills in your spine and the chatters in your teeth, you slowed your pace as you drew closer to the window at the end of the hall. It was still a long ways away, but the light that shone through it was comforting in the otherwise typically chilling darkness. Those guys don't know what they're missing, you whisper proudly to yourself, eyeing the many oil paintings looming on the wall almost above your head. Why on Neopia would anyone hang a painting so high? You can't even see the darn things and they only hurt your neck.

The familiar clink-clesh of ringlets sliding across a brass pole broke your train of thought. The hallway went black as the drapes on the window flew shut. Your candle blew out.


→ On A Dull, Dark Dock...

Drag to your URL bar for larger viewName: Atrocità
Origin: Italian
Pronounced: ah-troh-chee-TAH
Moniker: Toughwing
Species: Draik
Gender: Male
Age: Six Months
Lifespan: 74.5 years
Brush: Ghost
Scales: Pale green
Eyes: Bright pink, solid, glowing
Ears: Long, narrow, pointed
Wings: Small, weak
Figure: Malnourished
Tail: Long, tough
Type: Lost
Temperament: Generous, shy, kind
Faults: Cannot fly; Stutters; Awkward claws


Atrocità's wings are incredibly weak and entirely useless for flight. Between his shoulder blades is a black, painted 'X' denoting his death at the mill he grew up in. The claws on his index fingers and middle toes are disgustingly long and resemble those of a Velociraptor's.


→ In a Pestilential Prison...

What better way to begin your journey through the Haunted Mansion of Roo Island than with... well, the beginning? Keep in mind a general rule of thumb and nauseatingly cliché moral-of-the-story:

be careful what you wish for.


The young Draik was hatched in what we call an L.E.P. Mill—a Limited Edition Pet Mill, on Roo Island. And, why yes, it was just as illegal as it sounds! He knew absolutely nothing of the world outside his cage. Never had he witnessed the volatile sky, breathed in fresh air, or seen a single leafy plant. But it was the only life he had ever known, and with nothing to compare it to, he was living the high life.

His cage may have been somewhat cramped, but the company was nothing less than enjoyable. The mill owner had never named any of his stock, so the Draiks, Cybunnies and Krawks could only refer to each other by physical appearances. Our Draik was known as Toughwing because he carried an unusually massive set of wings for his young age. The other boys he lived with here named Stripelegs, Feather, and Roughskin for evident reasons. The four Draiks played games with each other, most of which were observational (such as "I Spy", and "Huckle, Buckle, Beanstalk") and word games like Balthazar's Faerie in which they'd run through the entire alphabet making up adjectives about Balthazar's Faerie.

Balthazar's Faerie is an angry faerie!

Don't start with that one, Feather, Stripelegs usually complained, you always start with angry.

Let me start, Toughwing volunteered nobly with a devious grin on his face, Balthazar's Faerie is an ancient faerie! And then they would all laugh at the image of a grandmother-aged faerie beating Balthazar over the head with a tiny cane. No matter what, everything was a game to them, and while their shenanigans brought on some cross words across the aisle from the senior L.E.P.s, they never stopped beaming over their jokes.


Inevitably, every now and then a Lutari, Krawk, or maybe another Draik would be taken from their cages in a quarrel, and sold to an unfamiliar face. But sometimes when the other L.E.P.s were taken from their cages, they were taken to the back room instead… The boys had never seen what was behind the door, but they each had their own speculations. I bet they have a lab ray back there and whenever someone has been here for too long, they zap them to change their color or species! But the four boys knew that couldn't be right. Even the youngest of the pets were taken into the back. They didn't ruminate over their ideas for very long. No one really wanted to talk about it because no one who went in the back had ever returned. This fact hit home unfortunately harsh when Feather was taken from the cage. He had been losing his feathers for a couple of days now and the pink and lime green fluffs littered the mesh wire floor of their cage. The other three put up a rowdy fight, gnawing on the man's hands and arms, trying to break through his thick protective gloves. Stripelegs almost managed to escape before the man slammed the door shut on his hand. Toughwing pulled his injured cagemate into the corner and comforted him while Roughskin watched hopelessly as the man took the struggling Feather into the back room.


The cage fell silent for many days before Toughwing's legs began to give way. Everyone had assumed it was because none of them were eating. They wanted to see their poor Feather again. Toughwing, Roughskin whispered in a solemn, hushed tone one humid morning. He reached behind the brilliant green Draik and picked up what looked like a newly hatched Draik's wing.

Toughwing itched his head against the bars of the cage as he peered at the object in Roughskin's hand. What's that? he asked hoarsely.

You can't feel it? Stripelegs looked appalled as Roughskin separated each finger of the limp wing to expose a thin, rubbery membrane.

Toughwing, it's your wing.

Toughwing hesitated before twisting his head to follow the arm of the wing. Sure enough it was attached to his own shoulder blade.

The ominous sign was followed by Toughwing's retrieval the next morning. The boys put up less of a fight this time as the man came to take Toughwing to the back room. I'll come back, he squealed, craning his head to look at his friends who clung to the side of their cage. Stay here. I'll come back, I promise!


Despite his ordeal, Toughwing couldn't decide whether he was more disappointed or relieved by what he found behind the back door. There was no giant ray gun to zap pets, no hungry Skeiths to eat them, and most fantastically of all, no one was stuffed. The lack of taxidermy soothed his nerves a bit. Perhaps the back room wasn't a bad thing? All in all, nothing was really new, and for that Toughwing ground his teeth in annoyance. Absolutely nothing was different: everyone was in their own separate cages with the same amount and type of food and water. So why couldn't he have just stayed in his cage with his friends? And what of Feather? Just because he didn't look amazing he had to be put in the back where no one could see him? Toughwing snorted distastefully.

The creaky metal door of the new cage slammed shut behind him. Toughwing folded his long ears back and waited for the mill owner to leave before investigating the other residents. When the wooden door swung shut, Toughwing spun around and grasped the side of his cage, staring at the wall of caged L.E.P.s across the aisle. His scalp suddenly pulled taught at the sight. Zombies, it looked like, disfigured Neopets, strewn about their cages as though they were left there to rot. Krawks grew extra limbs and eyes, and Lutaris lost their fur as if stricken with mange. Toughwing jumped back in his cage, slamming the mesh against the tin wall and making a ruckus. The noise attracted the attention of the others. Those who could see looked up at Toughwing's cage hopelessly. Those who could only hear weakly twisted their heads in his direction. Toughwing heaved heavy breaths, attempting to calm himself. They're in cages too, he silently reminded himself and slowly crept forward for another look.

The sight sickened his stomach. He winced in pain for the poor creatures whose fur and flesh were rotting off their bodies. He trembled with fear and nausea. Scanning the cages he gradually began to notice one symptom everyone shared: itching. The sight of the Krawks gnawing on their own legs and Lutaris kicking furiously behind their ears sent itchy tingles all over his own flesh. He gently rubbed his head against his shoulder to relieve an itch--Don't scratch, ragazzo! a raspy, Italian accented voice across the aisle barked when Toughwing tried to rub his itches away on the bars of his cage. A crooked, lumpy Draik glared at Toughwing. It's only the virus.

Huh? Toughwing choked on his words as he peered up at the Draik he soon came to recognize as Horntail from the five horns growing out of the stalk on his tail. They were chipped and cracked. The old Draik had disappeared from his cage some months ago when Toughwing was still very young. Horntail was one of the older L.E.P.s sold to the mill from a previous owner. He never discussed his life outside the mill though.

It's a virus, una malattia. 'Been going around the kennels, Horntail grumbled, realizing the younger Draik had identified him. He shamefully hid his tail. Whatever you do ragazzo, don't scratch your itch. The more you scratch it, the quicker the infection spreads, amico. Horntail hissed behind his teeth, You'll only be another atrocità he spat, an atrocity. Toughwing's eyes immediately searched the cages below Horntail's. Feather had been scratching his itches for weeks before he was finally taken from the cage. Where was he?

A bare Draik lay just visible at the bottom of the stack of cages, fast asleep. The sight of his empty, pink skin with naught but a handful of flight feathers on both of his wings bore a deep hole in Toughwing's heart. He did not call out to his friend nor ask questions about him. Toughwing knew Feather could no longer be called Feather. And no doubt he was no longer Toughwing.


The green Draik's itches sent painful shivers down his spine, which sent his flaccid wings quivering like the latex gloves that the mill owner wore to refill food and water bowls. He tried to play his old games in his head to distract himself from wanting to scratch the itch. But it was difficult to focus on a two-or-more person game all by himself. Barely two days had gone by before the Draik could no longer stand the tingle. He writhed in his cage, rubbing his head and face alongside the bars. No one was there to tell him to stop. No one wanted to because they either already had or were close to giving in themselves. Finally, without any thought or consideration, he gave one, long, hard scratch from the crown of his head down between his eyes. That was the first time he really took notice of those enormous claws on each of his hands.


It wasn't long before he was drained of all color and found himself swimming in a sea of limitless white. No one was around. He was no longer in his cage. He was able to move freely, to stand on his hind legs, to stretch his wings. But he didn't. He just sat there, looking around him for some sort of sign of Feather, or Roughskin or Stripelegs. No one. He never felt more alone than in his environmental utopia.

He formed his lips in an 'o' to cry out, but the first word wouldn't come to him. He knew exactly what he wanted to say, but for some reason his mouth didn't want to say it. Something was wrong with his brain: it didn't want to work. He pressed hard and flinched at the pain in his head as his brown tensed up in concentration. His jaw quaked before he finally managed to spit it out, B-b-b-but… I want to t-tt-t-stay, he begged aloud to anyone who could hear him.

C'é un'atrocità... was the only response. The raspy voice of Horntail filled his hears from all around. And the white, though it seemed near impossible, steadily grew brighter until he could no longer see. When he finally opened his eyes, he could see himself on a shiny, metal table. It looked very cold. But he wasn't shivering.

A long gash that had been stapled shut ran down the face of the body that lay limp on the table. Atrocità reached for his own face and felt the cold staples between his eyes. He looked around for anyone else in the room. F-f-ff-f-Feather! His best companion sprawled out on another table on his stomach. Atrocità crept over to the table to examine the body. It was rigid like stone and entirely bare of feathers with a black 'X' painted over the shoulder blades. He carefully reached over his shoulder to touch the wet 'X' marked between his sagging wings.


Atrocità stared at the black paint on his hand for a solid minute, gather where he was and how he came to be. I'm here, he thought to himself, I'm back! His gaze returned to Feather's body on the table. He was hooked up to a big machine that wasn't on. I'm still here, he mulled the idea over before forcing his mouth to speak, stuttering only slightly, F-Feather? Are yu-yu-oo-you here? He looked around the room for any sigh of another creature, living or dead. That's when he spotted the door.

Atrocità made a run for it, slamming against the door to open it—but only fell right through and tumbled onto the floor. Opening his eyes and lifting his head he found himself in the back room once more. Horntail? he called aloud. There was silence for a moment but Horntail's cage rattled as the Draik staggered over to peer out the front.

Hmm? Qui c'é? Who's there? The old Draik looked all around the narrow room for whomever was talking to him—and even looked right at Toughwing's ghost. But he saw nothing. A low growl escaped Horntail's throat before he disappeared to the back of his cage once more.

The poor Draik's ears slowly folded against his neck. He crept towards the opposite door, testing it by sticking a clawed hand through it. Holding his breath, he walked through the door into the front room. Eyeing the top shelf on the right, he searched for his cage, for his old friends Roughskin and Stripelegs.

Do you think he'll come back? Atrocità could hear Stripelegs' hushed voice. His ears immediately perked up and for the first time, he wagged his tail.

I dunno, Roughskin's gruff reply came as a snort as he lay down in the corner at the front of the cage where Atrocità could see him. Feather's not come back yet; no one comes back, Stripelegs. I don't think Toughwing's coming back.

I'm h-h-hh-here! Atrocità shouted up to his friends. Neither of them stirred. Rrrruh-oughskin! Stuh-stuh… mph, Strrripelegs! I came puh-puh-back! I told you I'd c-come back! he beamed, but there still was no response. Guys?

They probably sold him already, Stripelegs surmised with a shrug of his banded shoulders.

Yeah, Roughskin falsely agreed and closed his eyes for his evening rest.

N-n-n-no Atrocità said quietly as the grin disappeared from his face. His shoulders slowly began to sag as he sat down on his haunches. The whiskers on his maw grew heavy and numb with loneliness. N-no, I'm here. I'm st-still here… I p-p-p-promised…



Epliogue


Seventy-four years later, the ghost of Toughwing, known now only as Atrocità haunts the old grounds of the L.E.P. Mill. It was ransacked by the citizens of Roo Island and eventually seized by the Limited Edition Pet Rescue and Rehabilitation Organization. Shortly thereafter, the four small trailers in which Atrocità had barely grown up all burned to the ground. No one was fined. No one was tried. No one cared.

Atrocità watched with a heavy heart as construction for a personal summer home began a decade later. He would have been a full-grown adult by then… and maybe he would have had a chance to catch up with Roughskin and Stripelegs. But poor, quiet Stripelegs was sold not but two months after Feather's death. Roughskin was lucky enough to be taken by the L.E.P.R.R.O. Atrocità never doubted for a second that both of his comrades wound up in excellent homes. Yet he was condemned to stay on the grounds on which he died—after all, he asked to stay.

To this day the young Draik haunts the wealthy summer abode, just old enough to grasp the concept of right and wrong, but not yet personal space. The ghost haunted the mansion's residents for years, peering over their shoulders into books, willfully changing the channel on the television set, and opening and closing drapes as he pleased. Eventually the family stopped using their summer home and it has since been left to rot on its foundation where Atrocità will forever wander its lengthy halls.



→ With a Lifelong Lock...

I'm sure you're at least a little bit curious about that virus infecting the pets in the back room of the mill, hmm? Well, it's fairly similar to the strands of mange that we know in our own world, but with a few more drastic adaptations.

Much like mange, the virus known as Sloth's Disease (or Chicacaucohrritis) is carried by a particular type of mite known specifically as the Itchi. The illness can be transferred to its host through the Itchi's saliva (through biting) into the bloodstream. Few pet owners know that such infected petpetpets carry harmful illnesses like Sloth's Disease. Tragically, many petpetpets like the Mootix are highly desired for their value and are simply introduced to their hosts as trophies. Owners are completely unaware of the danger these little threats furnish.

The actual virus is a parasite that attacks deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in cells, but has been known to alter ribonucleic acid (RNA). These attacks and alterations, in effect, mutate its host. No doubt there are other, more drastic means of mutation. Transmogrification Potions, created by Dr. Sloth himself, directly affect the pet's genetic code to twist the flesh and mutate bone and tissue. The use of such potions, though frowned upon, is still entirely legal and unfortunately common. While these potions create the same effects as Chicacaucohrritis, it is not accompanied by an infestation of mites or petpetpets that so often irritate their hosts.


→ Awaiting the Sensation...

Here is Atro's gallery of beautiful art. Most of these images were gifts from friends and strangers alike, bless their hearts, but a few were done by request. Please, take your time to browse and enjoy the color, composition, and personality of each piece… To see a full-sized version of each piece, all you need to do is drag the image into your browser's URL bar.


by Suiqu

by Keshire

by Blur

by Syd_Rae

by Aria

by Hidrate

by Clumzy123

by Spiffuh

by Aspen

by S Demon


Images by Abra



→ Of a Short, Sharp Shock...

Adoptables of Atrocità

Atrocita


→ From a Cheap & Chippy Chopper...


Family Links.
Emsohl loves you! Hang ten, man.


Visit Others.
... Risen from the ash. Salve!


→ On a Big, Black Block...

To sit in solemn silence on a dull, dark dock
In a pestilential prison with a life long lock
Awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock
Fro m a cheap and chippy chopper on a big, black block.


He thrust his fist against the post
And still insists he sees a ghost.



[ Since 7.20.2008 ]





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