Trapped Within a Dream: Part One
A dry, hot summer day in the perpetually dry, hot and summery
Lost Desert. A brick, adobe-type Neohome stood on an otherwise empty block, mostly
ignored by passersby as it was quite similar to most of the other Neohomes in
the area: tan, clay bricks neatly stacked atop one another until there was enough
vertical space for most normal-sized Neopets to stand comfortably inside, few
frills, no flowers in the garden, no distinguishing features.
Inside, a pair of Neopets sat on opposite sides
of a straw desk.
On the business side sat a Split Kyrii with dark
black eyeliner surrounding her narrow, beady eyes.
She had her feet propped up on the desk and in
her hand, she held a sheet of paper that she scanned with some determination--mostly
determined to find fault within the printed text.
On the other side of the desk, a blue Shoyru
spun anxiously in her own rolling chair, stopping every second or so to check
and see if the Kyrii had finished reading yet. It was taking an inordinate amount
of time and the Shoyru was growing agitated, wondering if her friend and proofreader
had gotten distracted by something or if it was really that bad.
The Kyrii, a 17-month old but wise-beyond-her-year
Neoschool student named Sophie, really couldn't find any fault in the writing.
It was clean, concise, and, most importantly, showed that her overly ambitious
Shoyru friend, Hally, was actually serious about the job she was submitting
her resume for.
Sophie put down the paper at long last, sighing
as she leaned back in her chair. Hally was on her immediately, lunging halfway
across the desk.
"Well?" she cried.
Sophie's eyes widened as she made an attempt
to back away from her pal.
"Well... uh... y'know, it's not bad," she began
hesitantly, scratching her head in an attempt to appear nonchalant.
Hally, however, was anything but nonchalant at
the implications of her friend's statement.
"Not BAD?! What do you mean NOT BAD?! I mean,
what, too much bragging? Not enough bragging?? Is it too obvious that I never
worked at the Petpet Stall? They DO HAVE seasonal help, and I mean, records
DO get lost--"
"No, no... it's not that. It's just... well..."
Sophie frowned, deep in thought.
"What? It's just WHAT?!" Hally screamed.
"I dunno... Hally... I really think you might
be taking this a little too far. I mean, it's one thing to admire someone's
work from afar, but working in the same place as the guy..." she shrugged. "I
mean, the connotations of working at the Neopian Pound are not exactly respectable."
Hally's mouth dropped open in a cartoonish gesture
and she put her hands on her hips.
"Sophie, it has been my dream to work there ever
since I was less than a day old. Are you gonna stand here and try and crush
my childhood dreams because you don't want people to think I'm weird?!"
"No, I'm gonna stand here and try and talk you
out of something that's just a really, really bad idea and you know it," Sophie
said, equally indignant. "I mean, I don't know if you've read the Neopian Times
lately, but the Pound is kinda, like, a BAD place. Pets go there when they're
abandoned. If they don't get adopted..."
"But so often they DO get adopted, and I could
maybe... y'know, help more pets get adopted!"
"And what does your esteemed owner have to say
about all this?" Sophie asked, hoping to get Hally's mind off of her charitable
"John happens to think it's a great idea," Hally
boasted, crossing her arms.
"You mean you haven't told him yet."
"And I don't plan to anytime in the near future."
Sophie threw her arms in the air, exasperated.
"Aww, come on, Sophie. You know what he'd say!
'I told you to get a job--'"
"'Not evict yourself from society at large',"
Sophie finished, nodding. "And he'd have a point. No one wants to be friends
with some weirdo who works at the Pound."
"You say it like I'm working for Dr. Sloth! The
Pound might represent horrible things to some people, but some of the most famous
Neopets in all of Neopia have been adopted out of the Pound!" Hally had a far-away
look in her eyes as she spoke. "It's a place that gives hope to the hopeless,
dreams to the dreamless, hope to the... oh, wait, I said that already..."
"But you're so naive, Hally! I mean, let's get
right down to it, the Pound is not exactly a fun place to be. And with your
gentle spirit..." Sophie sighed softly.
"I have a gentle spirit?" Hally asked sarcastically.
"You know what I mean. I just don't want to see
you come away from this experience scarred."
Hally frowned, crossing her arms and slumping
down in her chair. Sophie sighed and circled back around to her chair, picking
up Hally's resume once again.
"Hally Schoy, 15 Months," Sophie read.
"True," Hally mumbled.
"Graduated Top of Class from Lil' Wadjet Kindergarten."
"Extensive experience in Petpet sales, volunteer
work for the needy of Neopia; works every year at the Soup Kitchen."
"You sold your Puppyblew at auction for 100 np..."
"Which covers the Petpet sales AND the work for
"And every year you go to the Soup Kitchen and
open cans because they wouldn't let you near the kettle ever since you made
those Grarrls sick."
"Right, 'Works every year at the Soup Kitchen',
as I said."
"Well, read on! Read on!"
"'Extensive knowledge of the intricate inner
workings of the Pound.' Right, from reading Dr. Death's autobiography 47 times
"Knowledge is knowledge." Hally grinned.
"Sure. And you're insane." Sophie said simply,
putting the paper back down on the desk.
"Oh yeah, and you're gonna tell me that's NOT
an advantage when working at the Pound?"
"I don't know WHAT it is."
"It's an advantage, that's what it is. I appreciate
your kindness, Sophie, but I'm doing this regardless of what you or anyone else
thinks," Hally said, picking her resume off the desk.
"Well, I figured you would... I don't know what's
gonna convince you that it's a horrible idea, except going there and getting
"Wow. You really think I'm gonna GET the job?"
"If I didn't, do you think I'd be so scared?"
"Hmm. Yeah. Probably not, huh?"
"I really don't know if I should wish you well
or not. Every thought in my head is refusing to let me be happy for you."
"You will be. One day."
Hally took a deep breath and felt a rush go through
her as she gazed up at the dilapidated building just up the road.
"I can't believe I'm really here," she thought.
A chilly giggle escaped from her mouth as she took in the atmosphere surrounding
"Gosh, look at it all. It's so... bleak. This
is it. This is the place where THE Dr. Death comes in to work EVERY DAY!"
As run-down as the place was, and as horrible
a legacy as it had, she looked at the building like it was an old friend, even
though she'd never been there before, and had, in fact, only seen the occasional
snapshot of it in the Neopian Times.
But still she knew... oh, how she knew that within
these very walls she would find the life that she had always wanted; starting
out slow, sure, but eventually working her way up the ladder, caring for pets,
making the world a better place, and maybe... maybe one day, working side by
side with Dr. Death himself!
She found herself looking with sadness into her
memory, recalling page 72, paragraph 3, line 5 in Dr_Death's Biography;
"I remember my first glimpse at that hole in
the ground we so lovingly refer to as 'the Pound'; a dank, Spyder-infested shack
on the inside, but on the outside, it could have been any respectable establishment
in Neopia. Flowers in the windowboxes, a lovely paved walkway, and a professionally
created sign that read 'Neopian Adoption Centre'. An absolute metaphor for the
superficiality of exterior beauty."
Hally closed her eyes and sighed, shaking her
head with a smile. The old building had survived a lot, and as weak and world-weary
as it was, still it stood. Constant and unyielding. In some respects a warning;
in others, a picture of resillience.
She realized how long she'd been standing outside,
and idly wondered what time of day it was. There was no one outside, no one
she could ask, so she decided it would be better to simply take her chances
and go into the building. Worst-case scenario, she'd be early.
Taking a deep breath, she pushed off the ground
and sailed across the overgrown grass to the filthy glass door. She pulled open
the handle and a loud bell attached to the inside of the door rang, alerting
the desk clerk to her presence.
To be continued...