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An Off Morning

by arqien


      Larry woke up early Tuesday morning. Something was off, but he couldn't quite place it. Sure, he woke up before his alarm went off - but that wasn't it.

     He didn't really want to get out of bed, but he felt it better to just get up and moving. If he stayed in bed he would just wallow in his thoughts and considering how off he already felt, it wasn't a chance he was eager to take.

     He got up and put coffee on as he does every morning, and he whipped up a bowl of Fantastic Fly Pie - a Quiggle's favorite breakfast. It was a tradition he carried down from his father, at least. So, maybe not an official sentiment, but a family motto he stood by.

     Larry slowly made his way upstairs to the bathroom to brush his teeth, and to finish washing up for the morning. He decided to take a longer shower this morning, as he got up a bit earlier than usual, and he was enjoying the warm water, wishing the weather outside were as warm and satisfying as the water pouring down from his showerhead.

     "I'm so in need of a vacation," Larry thought as he wrapped up his shower and prepared to get dressed.

     Larry is a manager over at the NC Mall. He's not an out-on-the floor manager, he's in the back ensuring shipments come in properly and oversees stocking. It's a lot of data and inventory and not really what he saw himself doing at this point in his life, but it pays the bills. Plus he's been working there for a while so it's comfortable for him.

     He lives on the outskirts of Neopia Central, so the distance to Mall isn't incredibly far - Larry can walk it in a little over 20 minutes, which he doesn't mind. He actually enjoys the walk and picked Neopia Central to live in because he likes being able to observe its diverse scenery on his way to work. On most mornings, his commute brings him a sense of peace that he feels is what allows him to take on the rest of his day.

     As he leaves his house, a half-hour before his shift begins, Larry still can't place what it is, exactly, that's nagging at him - that feeling that something is just... off.

     "It's just another day of work," he thought to himself, possibly out loud, as he walked down his block. The walk wasn't feeling as nice as it normally did for him, but he continued on anyway, figuring perseverance would get him through the day.

     On the walk he saw his buddy, Mark, a Striped Quiggle who lives about a block down the road from him. Mark is outside with his Puppyblew - presumably to spend some time outside before he, too, heads to work.

     The two exchange friendly greetings as Larry continues on his way to work.

     "How's it going?" Mark yelled out, as Larry barely slowed his pace passing Mark's front yard.

     "You know, not bad. How about you?" Larry shouted back, though he didn't really listen for a response. He just wasn't really feeling the small talk this morning. He had the time, but something still just seemed off.

     "Having a Petpet seems so nice, I wish I had the time to take care of one," Larry muttered under his breath once he was out of earshot from Mark.

     Larry had tried having a Petpet once before - a simpler one to take care of, he thought - a Goldy. But it just wasn't in the cards for him. He felt bad not being around for the Goldy - which he aptly named Goldy - and was overly anxious he wouldn't be able to feed it regularly, so he gave the Petpet away to another friend of his who had always wanted a Goldy.

     That wasn't the problem, though; he wasn't feeling off because he was feeling lonely. He was comfortable enough with that aspect of his life. He perhaps was a little lonely, but with how much he put himself into his work, he had no time to maintain relationships outside of that, he already felt bad how often he shrugged his friend Mark off.

     "Today is just another day," Larry somewhat groaned to himself. Sure, it would be nice to get out of this job and interact with friends more. He thought about how much he would love to have a Petpet, but shrugged it aside, repeating the thought in his head that it was just not in the cards for him.

     Larry arrived to work, trying not to focus on how much he could use a vacation but instead reassuring himself that some of the extra money he has saved up could be used for a nice trip. Larry drifted off into a daydream thinking about when he might be able to get some time off. He thought about renting a nice cabin out by the beach in Mystery Island for a few days. With the recent cold weather, it would be nice to get away, and the island is such a relaxing getaway.

     He entered the building still somewhat daydreaming and foggy as he greeted a few coworkers, before heading off to the bathroom near the entrance of the mall. This was a regular part of his routine. Every time Larry entered the mall, he felt the need to use the restroom, even if he's there off the clock. It's like an instinct - or, perhaps, an instinctive desire to put off getting to work for just a few more minutes.

     Larry finished up in the bathroom, washed his hands, and began walking toward the elevator that would take him down to where he would start his shift today overseeing and unloading shipments.

     Waiting for the elevator, Larry mulled over what it could possibly be that was giving this unnerving feeling, it felt still more of a distant nagging inside his head other than what he had been thinking about this morning. It was something more, something he couldn't quite place. He got so enveloped in his thoughts he actually jumped when the elevator arrived. At least nobody was around to see, he thought.

     The elevator ride down was normally a little slow because it was an older elevator, and arguably a little less cared for than other elevators in the mall. But this particular ride felt slower than usual to Larry. He found himself noticing things in the elevator he had never paid attention to before. It had a fairly standard metal interior common to industrial settings. There was a slight dent near the top of the elevator. "How strange," he thought. "I wonder how that got there."

     The light on the B button flickered ever so slightly. Larry had never noticed this before; perhaps it was new, perhaps it was him trying to east the thoughts in his mind. Considering the age of the elevator and the condition of the interior, he thought about how it still functioned surprisingly well overall.

     As the elevator reached its destination, it shook a little, as it often does, before the doors opened slowly to reveal to Larry the massive shipment of new Sweetheart Grams awaiting unloading.

      The End.

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