The Almost Pound Escape... Or Something Like That: Part One
"Lovely day, ain't it?" I shouted down the rows of pets in the pound, curling up on my small bunk. My legs hung down off the side. It wasn't my fault, I had always been tall for a Kyrii. A couple of the pets shouted back sarcastic remarks, others shouted at me to shut up and go to sleep like any other sane creature would. The rest never stirred from their frozen spots on their bunks. They went into a state of shock around week nineteen. Some snapped out of it around week thirty six, but then again some didn't. I'd heard that there was a Lenny on a bunk in row #3472 who hadn't moved in three years. But I wasn't like them, no not like them at all. See, I liked it here. It was much better here. They fed you sometimes, maybe even gave you a new shirt around Christmas. Oh yes, life was so sweet here. Just what any pet would dream for! Can you sense the sarcasm yet?
I leaned back on my bunk and grinned up at the marked up bottom bunk above me. The Acara on top was a newcomer to the system. Easy new bunk space. He had no idea how the system ran. I tugged his green antenna thing and he looked over the edge at me.
"Leave me alone," he grumbled, wiping his tear stained face with the back of his paw.
"Come on, bud-" I began.
"My name is Messy," the Acara snapped. I glanced at the name tag stuck to his shirt.
"No, it's-" I started to read the jumble of letters off the card but Messy stopped me.
"Shut up!" he shouted, turning over. I grumbled something about him being cranky and sank back into my bunk. Forget everything I said about him being an easy new bunk space. I glanced around the walls of pound pets. The bunk room went on forever, the bunks separated from the center drop by a tall metal cage that ran the rim of the floor down to a thin walk way below and above, cutting every three rows off from those around them. We had doors that led from our bunks to the active pound room. Well, most of them did. For some reason a couple of the bunks didn't have doors that opened every half hour like the rest of them. Some opened once a week, some once a year, and others never opened. We were considered stuck if the door wouldn't open for us. Not unreachable, just stuck in our bunk unless someone came looking for us. Not that I minded, it gave me more peace and quiet. But if I could only swap bunks I might have a chance at seeing the outside of the pound. Maybe even the world! I sighed as I heard the buzzer go off that signaled the closing of the pound. I made a mark on the wall next to my bunk and closed my eyes. "Seven hundred and sixty three days in the pound and no owner," I mused to myself as I rolled over and buried my face in the not so clean pillow, "lets see if seven hundred and sixty four is any different."
I woke up to the sound of the door above my bunk being opened. I groaned. I always woke up around the seven thirty shift. Messy sat up and blinked at the light coming in through the door way before rolling out of bed for active pound duty. I rolled over and yawned. I was going to see that little Acara back here in a half hour, dejected and still abandoned. I tried to get back to sleep, but it didn't work. Needless to say I was one of those people who woke up once and then couldn't get back to sleep. An unfortunate trait for those who woke up easy. Even more unfortunate for the other pets who got the pleasure of dealing with me.
"RISE AND SHINE!" I shouted at the top of my lungs, my voice echoing off of the walls and into the ears of the sleeping pets. "FYORA'S LETTING ALL THE POUND PETS GO!" Some of the veterans like myself groaned at my old joke, rolling over and ignoring me. The newer ones fell for it head over heels. They scrambled towards their doors and started hammering to get out. I leaned back and sighed, sticking my feet over the edge of the bunk.
"Don't you ever grow up, Prince?" A small blue Xweetok on the bunk below me groaned, and I shrugged down at her.
"Do you ever get less grouchy, Esme?" I quipped, and she scowled.
"My name is Welch," she said, shooting daggers at me with her eyes.
"Sure it is, and my name is Rin," I said sarcastically.
"It could be if you wanted it to be," she said softly, and I rolled my eyes.
"What does it matter if I'm Prince_Jalerin or Prince or pet number 4,322,536? Either way I'm here, on a stuck bunk, in the pound. Just like you. How long have you been here?"
"Six months," she said quietly. I laughed.
"Only six? I've been here for two years. My door hasn't opened in all that time, and guess what-" I looked down at her, my eyes cold. "Neither has yours. You aren't getting out--" She turned away from me, sinking down into her pillow and trying to hide the fact that I had made her cry. I sat back on my bunk, my ears flat against my head. I hated it here. I wanted to leave. She had no right to get out before me. If anything she should be on this bunk instead of me. I breathed out through my nose and rolled over, my face against the wall and my back towards the bars. I shouldn't care. I never cared when I made them cry. I'd done it a hundred times to the painted pets, the ones with a chance. Why would it hurt me to do it to Esme? I closed my eyes for a moment. It hurt because I was telling her the truth. The others were going to be gone in under a month at most, free, with owners who would feed them and play with them. But Esme was as stuck as me. Her door hadn't opened in my time here. The only reason there had even been a spot there was because one of the pets got lucky and traded up bunks. I sat upright and looked over the edge of the bunk. "W-welch-" I began, she didn't turn around. "You wouldn't happen to be the same Xweetok who traded-" She spun around and glared at me, wiping her tear stained face with her paw.
"The Xweetok who traded her bunk to that Grarrl way back when she first got here?" She said, her voice shaking. "The one who was convinced by a certain blue Kyrii that she was making an uptrade, that her bunk was going to open the next morning at six just like all the other ones in the row?" I winced and nodded a little. "Yeah, I'm that Xweetok. I've spent six months under your bunk and I haven't even tried to move up. Not even once. You know why? Because this door is rusted shut. It won't open from the outside either. Trust me, I had one of the other pets try."
"Then why-" I asked quietly, and she looked at me.
"Because your door has a chance of opening. I wouldn't take that from anyone in this pound, not even you, Prince." Welch locked eyes with me for a moment without turning away. "Now leave me alone."
"Welch, I-" I started, catching myself before I said anything stupid. I pulled myself back onto my bunk and stared at the wall. "Boy, did you mess things up big time, Rin," I grumbled, pulling the thin blanket over my head and trying to keep my feet from hanging over the edge of the bed, "picking on the one pet who can't ever leave this place. Smooth buddy, smooth." I closed my eyes and sighed. My peace and quiet was interrupted by the noise of footsteps on the narrow path to the bunks.
"This one is empty," one of the workers said, coming closer to the bunk above my head.
"Good, I was thinking we would have to go up another row or two," another worker replied, leading a small Usul to the cage over our bunk space.
"Wait, I thought that green Acara was up there this morning!" I shouted, sitting up and staring in shock at the new inmate.
"He was, lucky fellow got snagged right away," one of the pets a few rows over said, and the worker shrugged.
"Not my business to keep track of every Acara. That shows up here. In you go." The worker set the Usul up on the bunk and relocked the cage outside. I stared at them until I was sure they were out of earshot.
"That cage door opens every morning," I mumbled, smacking myself in the forehead, "and the one time I had a shot the newbie got adopted."
"You could always stay where you are," Welch mumbled, almost out of earshot with her face in the pillow.
"I suppose," I grumbled, rolling over. Yeah, like that was ever going to happen. As soon as the lights went out I was going to make my move, and Welch was not going to stop me this time.
To be continued...