Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 107,594,495 Issue: 215 | 4th day of Storing, Y7
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Trapped Within a Dream: Part Eight


by chibicelchan

--------

Hally took in an exasperated breath and smacked her head against the door.

      "COME ON! SOMEBODY'S GOT TO HEAR ME! HELLOOOO?!? HELP!"

      She rattled the cage door rather loudly, wincing at the pain in her shoulder. She knew she couldn't give up now, though... although why she was in such a hurry to get out of the cage and face the wrath of Dr. Reynolds and possibly the Neopia Central law enforcement community was beyond her, but just the same, she was growing rather claustrophobic in the cage.

      "Out of the frying pan and into the fire," she muttered, then continued pounding on the cage door. "HELLLLOOOOOOOO!! SOMEBODY?!"

      She was suddenly silent. She heard something.

      A door.

      Someone was coming, at last!

      And then she was silent. Now that someone was coming, she suddenly felt a terrible amount of embarrassment. Here she was, stuck in a cage. Tricked. Locked up like Hansel and Gretel. It would almost be poetic if she didn't feel like such a moron.

      Footsteps. Hally peered through the bars and saw someone wandering around the room almost aimlessly. Their flat yellow feet stopping every few steps, circling, turning back, walking, stopping...

      "I could argue that the pound's never looked better," a low voice said softly.

      Hally frowned, then crouched lower so she could get a better view of the soft-spoken man, her would-be rescuer.

      Before she could really make him out, he was suddenly standing just a few cages down from where she was.

      "How strange. Why didn't this cage open like the rest?"

      Hally opened her mouth to speak, but suddenly the figure bent over, head cocked sideways, with a puzzled experience on his face. It took her a moment for her mind to register the features, and her eyes slowly widened.

      "Well, someone's still here," Dr. Death said simply. "Hello, dear."

      Hally's eyes were nearly bugging out of her head now. Her brain struggled to come up with a single coherent thought, and failed miserably. The same two words kept going through her head over and over again:

      "It's HIM."

     And a moment later:

      "And I'm stuck in a cage."

      Dr. Death examined the cage, and frowned when he saw that the latch had been broken.

      "How did this happen? Must have been that idiot Ken," he said quietly.

      Hally felt a giddy breath escaping her mouth, and before she knew it, she was speaking.

      "Hey don't be so rude about Ken. I mean... yeah, Ken. He's... he's a good worker. He has a bad back and you never hear him complain," she rambled.

      Dr. Death raised an eyebrow.

      "That's funny. I hear Ken complain all the time. Usually about the fact that he never complains. So, what's your name?"

      Hally laughed nervously.

      Oh my gosh, he wants to know my name. Oh, boy. He's not the only one.

      "Uhhh... my... name?" she stuttered daftly.

      Death smiled with amusement.

      "Never mind. I'll just check your sheet."

      He skimmed over the sheet of laminated paper clipped to the door of the cage, and suddenly frowned.

      "You're no male yellow Wocky."

      "No, sir, I'm not. I'm Hally," Hally blurted, immensely proud of herself for remembering her own name.

      "Hally," Death said thoughtfully. "Now, I've heard that name before."

      Before Hally could form any sort of response, the door that led to the cafeteria suddenly flew open. Hally ducked instinctively and gasped as she saw 4 coal black paws striding into the room.

      "Well, Reynolds. What happened to your face?" Death asked.

      Reynolds didn't reply. She looked at Death, then at Hally's cage.

      "What's the story with this cage?"

      "Well-" Death began, but Reynolds leaned down and looked into the cage.

      Her eyes narrowed.

      "Hally?!"

      Hally smiled a worried smile.

      "Hello, Dr. Reynolds."

      Death raised an eyebrow.

      "So... I can see you two know each other. So... uh, Reynolds, maybe you can tell me why she's in the wrong cage?"

      "She works here," Reynolds said angrily. She then turned back to Hally. "Why are you locked in this cage?!"

      Hally looked down sadly, but before she could speak, Dr. Death interrupted her.

      "What? What do you mean she works here?"

      "I mean she works here," Reynolds said quietly. "Why are you in this cage, Hally?"

      "It... it was that Wocky. The yellow one. He told me to clean his cage first, and while I was inside... he locked the door," Hally explained, stumbling over the words.

      Reynolds' eyes widened in disbelief.

      "You... you didn't put him in the empty cage?!" she screamed, her voice shrill. "You let him wander around FREE?!"

      "What? What empty cage?" Hally whispered.

      "Oh my g-... Hally, the empty cage. The empty cage across from the laundry chute! The EMPTY CAGE!"

      Hally felt her face growing pale, and she felt sicker to her stomach than even the lemon roll from breakfast could make her feel.

      "I... I didn't," she said uselessly, tears coming to her eyes.

      Reynolds turned away from her, unable to believe what was happening. She held her head in her paws, feeling the mother of all migraines coming on.

      Meanwhile, Death was quietly pondering the situation. Nearly a minute of silence passed; the two women feeling their separate emotions of anger and dismay, and then Death spoke. Quietly, and dangerously.

      "She works here. Since when?"

      "Since today," Reynolds answered.

      "Why have I never heard of her?"

      Reynolds had no response. She just shook her head and turned toward the other door, looking as if she were walking in front of a firing squad.

      Death frowned at her, then gave Hally a confused and almost critical look, and Hally felt as if her world were crumbling. As Reynolds began to walk away, Death coughed loudly.

      "Aren't we going to let her out?" he asked.

      "DAN!" Reynolds yelled as way of a reply. "He can get the cage open if he has to bend it with his bare hands."

      "Super," Death said sarcastically.

      Hally felt a sob escaping her lips, and she whimpered loudly.

      "Wait... Dr. Reynolds, wait, please... I..."

      She stuttered, desperate.

      "I... I'm so sorry..."

      Reynolds didn't reply, just continued down the walkway. Death looked at Hally once again, a pained expression on his face. He then closed his eyes and followed Reynolds out the door.

      Thus Hally remained, stricken; tears of anger, shame and sorrow cascading down her face. She began to shake uncontrollably, letting out one piercing wail.

      ***

      It had begun to rain, and the rhythmic pitter-patter of raindrops on the roof added an unnecessary layer of tension to the already tense meeting of the two doctors.

      Death sat behind his desk, tapping his fingers together. Reynolds had been offered a seat, but she now stood across the room, leaning on one paw against the wall.

      Reynolds spoke first.

      "I don't want to hear it. Not from you."

      "Well, who is she?" Death replied.

      "Her name is Hally Schoy. She came in here yesterday with a resume, practically begging for a job."

      "A job HERE? And this didn't strike you just a bit weird?"

      "Of course it did. But she was absolutely desperate, rattling off this big spiel about how it's always been her dream to work here."

      "So. Are we under the assumption at this point that she came here with this breakout on her agenda, or is it her eagerness to work alongside us heroes that inadvertantly caused her to lose control of the security box and forget something as obvious as not letting yourself get locked in a cage?"

      Reynolds snarled at him.

      "Look, all I'm saying," Death said, "is that this kid, how old is she?"

      "15 months."

      "This 15 month old kid comes in here, out of nowhere, asking for a job in a place that nobody in their right mind would work for, and the very next day we have the most catastrophic breakout in Neopian history, on HER watch. You don't see a problem with this?"

      "I used my discretion as an employer," Reynolds said through gritted teeth.

      "And you didn't think to ask for a second opinion?"

      "I hired Dan and Sandy without asking for your help."

      "And... and, what? 'Two out of three ain't bad'?"

      "I didn't say that," Reynolds snapped. "What do you want me to say, anyway? I made a mistake, all right? A mistake that will cause us thousands of Neopoints and our reputation. I mean, no matter how quiet we try to keep it, eventually the secret will get out. I know that--"

      "Oh, forget about that. The dumb kid probably saved at least half of their lives. What I want to know is exactly when you decided that you could hire someone off the street, at first sight, for a position we didn't need filled, and keep it your little secret."

      "I don't need your permission, Doctor."

      "Apparently you forgot who exactly it was that hired you."

      "You hired me to take on the parts of your job that you no longer wanted to do. You hired me to interact with public and gave me full discretion over the payroll. If I wanted to put an ad in the paper requesting 500 circus clowns, I have the power to do that."

      "And I have the power to step in and override your decision, assuming I'm actually aware of it."

      "Well, you know, Doctor, with all due respect," Reynolds said angrily, "I wasn't really interested in what you had to say yesterday. I mean, let's be honest here. I can't name a single date in the past year that you've done anything to contribute to this place. You sit in this dark office all day, you help with maybe one-fifth of the patients, and those are the simple ones, and then all night you sit behind that desk and moan and groan about the injustice of having to sit at a desk and sign papers. You go for weeks without being able to do a thing, and then every so often, it's like you wake up and remember that you're still alive, and then you spend a few weeks yelling at everyone and playing 'big mean righteous boss man' and wear yourself out until you're not able to even leave your office, and the whole thing starts all over again."

      Death was giving her a terrible look, but she stuck her nose in the air and continued.

      "This is a horrible place. You think I don't know it? I see pets come in here that are in such bad shape I can't even tell what color they're supposed to be. But where you and I differ is that instead of locking myself up for weeks and becoming a walking zombie, I get out there, and I patch those pets up. I know they don't have a chance in heck of being adopted, but what can I do about it except put on a smile and keep them alive for 48 hours? I've spent nights here too, you know. Remember that Aisha that came in with her little sister who bandaged her up herself and refused to even go in a separate cage from her? Remember that girl who came in and only wanted the little Aisha? Remember how the older sister insisted that she go, just so she'd have a fighting chance at surviving? No, you probably don't. But I do."

      "Reynolds, I'm glad that you got the chance to get on your soapbox. I really am. You obviously needed that," Death said. "But the fact remains that you used your discretion and hired someone who you shouldn't have hired."

      "Yeah, well, she's gone."

      "You're not firing her," Death said suddenly.

      Reynolds paused.

      "Fine, fine. You fire her, I fire her, it doesn't make a lick of difference," she said dismissively.

      "No one's firing her. It's your mistake, and you're going to rectify it."

      Reynolds snapped to attention, eyes wide with shock.

      "What do you MEAN I'm going to rectify it?" she asked incredulously.

      "You are both equally responsible for this. Your way of righting your mistake is to give the poor girl the apprenticeship you decided she ought to have, and her way of righting her mistake is to work it off."

      "You mean you'd actually keep someone like that on as an employee just to... just to SHOW me," Reynolds exclaimed in disbelief.

      "Don't flatter yourself," Death said coldly.

      A flash of lightning reduced Reynolds' pupils to pinpoints.

      "Then I'm officially putting in my two weeks' notice," she said angrily. "You'll have me and her for two weeks, and at the end of that time, I'm gone and she's gone. My last act will be to fire her."

      Death was silent for awhile. Finally he spoke.

      "You'll be missed."

      His voice was quiet, and he sounded sincere. Reynolds felt what almost seemed like a pang of guilt, but suppressed it almost immediately.

      Death gave her a long look, then turned his chair to the side and stood up.

      "Well, it looks like the complement of the Pound is down to one," he said ironically.

      Reynolds gasped, suddenly remembering 3298eyyfda.

      "What hap-" She began, but Death was already out his door. He gave her a brief look, then lowered his eyes to the floor and continued down the hall.

      Reynolds frowned suspiciously and in her haste passed Death and stepped into the room almost 10 paces before he arrived.

      She gasped.

      3298eyyfda was lying on his side, breathing slowly and steadily, his broken foot temporarily set in place with a splint and tied with gauze. His eyes were closed and he had an expression on his face of surprising serenity.

      Reynolds didn't speak, couldn't speak. She went from being shocked to being worried that it was a trick, to being worried that something awful had happened and she hadn't been there.

      "It turned out that the breakout provided just the distraction I needed," Death said from behind her. "While our friend here was trying to decide whether to run for it, I gave him a shot of paralysis serum. You remember that stuff that Dark Faerie gave us in exchange for holding that Darigan Eyrie for her?"

      "That's not exactly medical," Reynolds said quietly, knowing she ought to be disapproving and angry, possibly even insulted that the doctor she resented had come up with such a brilliant solution to what seemed to be a solutionless quandary.

      Death simply shrugged.

      "I used my discretion as a physician. Who knows, he may even find himself grateful that we kept him alive, now that he's the pick of the litter."

      Reynolds expelled a deep breath, and then impulsively reached over and stroked the Kougra's ear.

      "If anyone deserved a chance, it's him," she whispered.

      "I'm inclined to agree, although I'm not so sure about my hand," Death said ironically.

      She frowned and then looked down at Death's hand, bandaged up as well.

      "You ought to be on some kind of antibiotics."

      "Thank you, doctor."

      The two of them shared a bemused glance, and from somewhere behind them, they heard Rose clearing her throat.

      "Uh... hey, you guys," she said nervously.

      "Rose. What is it?" Death asked.

      "Well, Doc, uh... and Doc, there's this lady at the door," she said nervously.

      "Tell her to go away, we have no comment. Didn't I tell you to turn the lights off?" Reynolds asked.

      "She's not with the media. She says her brother brought a pet here and she's come to see-"

      "Well, Rose, I'm not sure how up you are on current events, but odds are said pet is halfway to Mystery Island by now," Death said ironically.

      "A blue Kougra, Doc. With a name that's impossible to pronounce? Sound a little like someone in this room?" Rose asked, a smile playing at the edges of her lips.

      Death and Reynolds looked at each other with surprise.

      ***

      Dan entered the room quietly, whistling a little, and he found Hally curled in a ball in the corner of the cage.

      "So it's true... oh, Hally," he said sadly.

      Hally peeked out at him, then squeezed her eyes shut and began to sob loudly.

      "Oh, Dan... go away."

      "Hey, I'd love to, I'm on lunch break," Dan said lightly, then he took a crowbar and began prying the door open. "Boy, these things are made strong."

      "My life is over, you might as well just leave me here to die," Hally moaned.

      Dan didn't reply, and after a few minutes of heave-ho-ing, the door popped open.

      "Well. It's open," Dan said unnecessarily.

      Hally looked up to confirm the fact, then she silently sat up and crawled out.

      "Man, I wouldn't even be able to breathe in there! You sure did get it clean, though," Dan said.

      "Yeah," Hally said sullenly, getting to her feet and walking toward the door. "Whoopee."

      "Where are you going?"

      "Who cares. Home or someplace, I guess."

      Dan hesitated a moment, then sighed deeply.

      "I really thought-"

      Hally cut him off.

      "Me too. I guess we were both wrong."

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Trapped Within a Dream: Part One
» Trapped Within a Dream: Part Two
» Trapped Within a Dream: Part Three
» Trapped Within a Dream: Part Four
» Trapped Within a Dream: Part Five
» Trapped Within a Dream: Part Six
» Trapped Within a Dream: Part Seven



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