The Doctor's Tale: Part Two
The doctor takes a sip from his drink. You follow suit, only to find that you have drained your cup. You beckon the waitress over and she scurries off to the kitchen to bring you a refill.
"So what happened next?" you ask, intrigued by the old man's story. "Did the Kacheek family kick you out? Is that why you became Dr. Death?"
He chuckles at your curiosity. "Slow down, youngster," he says, and you hear for the first time a trace of a Meridellian accent. "The Marolls, as I discovered they were called, were the greatest family a boy could wish for. They fed me three square meals a day with a delicious dessert to boot, and the chores I had to do were minimal. Myra, Trink, and Bailey became like sisters to me. Myra and I were particularly close. She and Sym and I would go for walks just as the sun was beginning to set if we finished all of our chores. She would ask me what it was like to be an orphan, and if I remembered my parents. I would ask her about her young childhood, and the way things worked around the farmhouse during different times of the year.
"I loved the Marolls as if they were my own family. Soon my stomach forgot what it felt like to be hungry, and my memories of life on my own became a mist in the back of my head, more of a dream than reality. My time with the Marolls was the happiest of my life."
Dr. Death cuts you off with another chuckle. "You are very curious," he observes. "It was my third year with the Marolls that we took that fateful vacation to Neopia Central..."
"Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" the four of us chimed together, grinning mischievously. We had been asking the same question for nearly the entire wagon trip from Meridell Farms to Neopia Central.
George grumbled from the driver's seat. "If you kids ask that question one more time, we're turning around!"
We giggled. That had been the response a running total of eighteen times. That and "Keep it down back there or I'll feed you to the Turmaculus when we get home!"
Lyla (the Cloud Kacheek I mentioned earlier), turned around and gave us a half stern, half amused look. "We'll be there in fifteen minutes, my dears, so get your stuff together."
We cheered, and Sym gave a yip of relief. It was the first time that any of us had left Meridell, and we were filled to the brim with excitement. The trip had been a surprise. The day before, Lyla had mysteriously told us to pack our stuff. Then when we came downstairs, she told us that we were taking a vacation to celebrate my third year with them.
I had been so touched by their love for me that it was all I could do not to cry in joy. Instead I rushed to Lyla and embraced her in hug that I hoped expressed all of my gratitude.
"What do you think it'll be like?" Myra asked, peering over the side of the wagon.
I thought for a second, before replying, "I think it'll be big, with lots of stuff for sale."
"Like food and clothes and toys?" Trink asked, her eyes wide.
"And Puppyboos?" Bailey piped up.
I laughed. "And Puppyblews," I assured her. I looked down at Sym, who was curled up at my side. I scratched right behind his ears, and he looked up at me lovingly as his tail whipped like a whirlwind.
When we finally arrived at Neopia Central, I gasped. It was even better than I had imagined. Buildings in all shapes and sizes were spread out around the clearing, advertising things I had never knew existed. There was a gigantic tree in the center, with a beautiful glistening pool beside it. Neopets wandered around alone or with friends and family, walking in and out of shops with their arms full of bags.
I could tell that beside me my sisters were gazing about them with bulging eyes, trying to take everything in at once. Sym too was looking at all of the buildings, his tail wagging wildly. George and Lyla watched us with smiling faces. They had been to Neopia Central a handful of times, and probably remembered vividly their first trip.
After we had looked and looked until we could look no more, we carried our bags to the Neolodge, where we would be staying for the next few days. The place was marvelous, and George and Lyla had gone all out. We had a large suite with an en-suite Jacuzzi, Neopian Times delivery, free access to the lodge's restaurant, unlimited time in the swimming pool, and even maid service.
For the first ten minutes there, Myra, Trink, Bailey, Sym, and I ran around the suite pointing out all of the luxuries.
"Look! Running water in the bathroom!"
"The Jacuzzi has a bubble feature!"
"The menu has so many different foods!"
"Bouncy bed! Bouncy bed!"
Once we had exhausted ourselves, George suggested we take a tour of Neopia Central. We all agreed whole-heartedly.
We returned to the Neolodge that night each holding a new toy. Lyla had given us each a small bag of Neopoints and told us to spend it on a toy of our choice. The girls had each gotten a Usuki doll, while I had purchased a Red Mynci Puppet for myself and a Purple Petpet Ball for Sym. We spent the remainder of the afternoon admiring and playing with our new treasures.
The next morning we visited Movie Central, where we were treated to popcorn, candy, and a movie about a Jubjub who gets lost in the forests of Mystery Island. It was amazing. None of us had ever seen a movie before, and we were enchanted by the big screen.
However, when we begged to go see another movie, our request was denied. George said that he and Lyla had a special surprise for us. So we dutifully followed him down an old cobblestone path.
The spectacle that met our eyes was breathtaking. Before us stretched miles and miles of shops, each with a window display filled with wondrous items. If Neopia Central was big, then the Marketplace was gigantic.
George handed us a significantly bigger sized bag than what we had received the day before. He then set us loose, with the exception of Bailey, and gave us instructions to return to the Money Tree by the end of the day with absolutely no Neopoints left.
Myra, Trink, and I stared at each other, goofy grins spreading from ear to ear. At the same time we bolted for the nearest shop, yelling, "We're rich!"
We ran through the Marketplace like a group of hungry Slorgs. Soon, all but a handful of our Neopoints had been spent.
"I only have a thousand left," Myra sighed. "I can't believe how quickly they all went!"
"I know!" Trink agreed, jingling her bag. "I didn't even have enough left to buy that cute plushie at the last store."
"Why don't we split up? We'll be able to look through the stores quicker that way." I suggested. "Sym and I could head over there to look, and you two could head over there." I pointed in the two directions we hadn't checked yet. The girls nodded, and I watched as they skipped off to a store that held quite a number of grooming products.
"Where'd you like to go first, Sym?" I asked my buddy. The little Puppyblew tilted his head in thought for a second, then pointed his nose towards a row of stores housing some delicious looking treats. I smiled. Leave it to my Petpet to go in search of food.
We set off down the street together, enjoying the smells that emanated from the shops. We had only 500 Neopoints or so left, and many items were out of our price range. We wandered down the winding street, but nothing that was in our budget caught our eyes.
The sun was getting low by the time we decided to give up. I would just donate the rest of the money to the Money Tree, and George and Lyla would never know if we got there early. I looked up at the sky again. I estimated that we had about a half hour to get back.
"Let's go this way." I indicated a dark alleyway to Sym. "It looks like a shortcut."
Sym looked down the alley warily, then shook his head.
"Oh, come on. We'll be fine. If we could survive the countryside of Meridell, we can survive one little alley," I reassured him, taking a step towards it. Reluctantly Sym followed me.
It was colder and dirtier in the alleyway. Neocola cans and broken goods were scattered about the ground, and the cold stone of the store walls pressed in on us. Sym took a step closer to me, shivering.
I started to doubt whether this had been a good idea, but I wasn't going to turn around now. Lifting up my chin, I strode forward confidently.
The next few minutes were a blur. All I remember is feeling Sym vibrate against my legs. Then something hit me in the head, hard. I heard a few gruff voices and the sound of Sym squeaking in fright before I slipped into darkness.
To be continued...