The Transfer Room
Miserably, she wondered if being abandoned was any worse. At least when you were abandoned there was a chance of someone coming along and hugging you, adopting you, taking you home and reading you books and tucking you into a warm bed. Why else would someone adopt an ordinary yellow Aisha, if not to love her? Nothing interesting to display. She wasn't even the hidden-genius Neopet, the kind that looked ordinary and boring but had secretly read thousands of books, or could beat anyone in the Battledome.
But this wasn't the abandonment room. It was the transfer room. Which sounded better than being abandoned, but was essentially the same thing: Your owner doesn't want you. The only difference is you know where you're going to go.
"Nothing's wrong with you," her owner had told her, giving her a hug. "You're just moving to see your—cousins, I guess. On my side account. They have a home in Shenkuu! You'll be fine."
"I don't want to live in Shenkuu," she'd said.
"Don't be silly. You'll like it there!" her owner proclaimed cheerily.
As if! As if an owner had the ability to dictate how their pet thought and felt and wished! Remembering the moment made her angry, so she switched her thoughts to something happier. But she couldn't think of anything that could be happy. She focused on the white blankness, the boring blankness of the wallpaper.
The transfer room was white. Not like the happy wallpaper of the adoption room, splashed with pinks and yellows. Nor like the abandonment room, dark gray, reminiscent of the Haunted Woods, only without a lantern. Here it was just white, plain, dreary.
It was so stupid and so boring. She'd never thought that wallpaper could ever make her mad. But her owner had dropped her off here. "I'll just get the transfer form done and bring you over to Shenkuu to meet your new family! It won't take long."
It took long. It took very long. She counted to a thousand, by ones, before she got bored and stopped. It took much longer than a thousand.
She had to be mad at something, but her owner wasn't here. It was strange because she'd never really been angry at anything. Not even when her sister—no, she wasn't going to be her sister after this—when Marikoa knocked over her Mystery Island Chocolate Milk Glass at breakfast, and it was still almost full, and the glass had smashed and chocolate milk puddled over the floorboards, undrinkable. Not even when her other not-anymore-sister Lea broke her Pull-Along Blue Pteri Toy because she was trying to make a kite and needed string. Not even when Celeste, her third no-longer-sister, had flown away from her when they were playing together, chasing some other Unis who'd invited them to play, leaving her standing alone on the ground because she didn't have any wings.
But she was mad now. She had to express it in some way, get it out somehow.
"When I'm mad, I fly," Celeste had said. "I read," Lea said too, but Marikoa was the Battledome pet and when she was mad she kicked things.
She kicked sharply at the wall.
It hurt her foot. Marikoa would've made a hole in it. Easily.
Marikoa wasn't her sister anymore and she had to remember that, and stop thinking about her.
Three loud beeps. She looked up. The robot Hissi had glided over to her chair. "The Pound does not condone bad behavior. Remember that you are held responsible for your own actions."
She stared at it, waiting for it to go away. It watched her for a while, but then its eyes changed color and it left. Stupid Robot Hissi, it probably didn't even know anything.
In the room, other Neopets sat on plastic chairs, identical to hers. The ones who had been there for a while were like her: basic color, basic species, basic stats and intelligence. Nobody was in any hurry to pick them up. They were probably strolling down the streets of Neopia Central, buying a slushie and a book and reading the book until it puffed into smoke. She imagined that her owner was doing that and got mad again, so she had to stop herself from kicking the wall by staring at the floor. It was beige, and harder to kick.
Strange. The room was white and the pets were red, yellow, green, and blue, and yet all the Neopets seemed to blend in with the wallpaper, like slight stains on the even whiteness. You could walk into this room and, with a little imagination, pretend it was empty.
She felt as if she was fading into the wallpaper too, melting into the plastic chair—which was pale yellow. She would drip into the beige carpet, and she would never be found again. She wasn't sure if she cared anymore.
Since there was nothing else to stare at and sleeping was boring, she looked at the robot Hissi. It emitted hard beeping noises whenever it glided somewhere, which was often. It was constantly patrolling the room. She thought about watching it to see if it was on a set path, or just moving based on the whims of its programming, but decided not to because she didn't really care. She wondered if it was even a Neopet. What happened to pets painted Robot? Maybe she was lucky she wasn't a lab rat. She could've been zapped Robot, and it could've been worse. But maybe if she was Robot, her owner would want to keep her on the main account.
She remembered what her owner had said to her. "It just looks like the ray isn't working for you. Sorry, Ossawat."
And then: "I think I'll move you to a side account of mine. I'm going to try out the ray with another pet, see if the results are any better."
And then: "It's in Shenkuu .You'll like it there. They're nice."
Do Robots see color?
The door opens and her head jerks up. Her owner's standing there, hair messed by the wind. She'd intended to give her owner a few masterfully timed, painful, cutting remarks when she showed up. Something like "Hey! I just got used to living here, so you can go now!" Or "Finally remembered your own neopet, huh?" Or just sit and pretend not to recognize her.
But she can't. Because all she can feel is relief, sweet relief, sweeter than Altadorian honey, which she's tasted before—it was in an olive. Her owner takes her by the hand, apologizing the whole time. Something about paperwork and an emergency, her sister (who will always be her sister, she realizes, no matter what family they're in) breaking a wing. Together, they step out of the Pound.
She's astonished by the blueness of the sky, the rush of color that she seems to have forgotten. The wind moves. Nothing moved in the Transfer Room except for the robot Hissi. The sun shines, bright and warm, making everything beautiful and colorful and interesting. She doesn't realize she's smiling until her owner asks her why, and then she just says that the weather is very nice today.
Which it is.
She wonders if the sun is shining in Shenkuu.
She thinks so.