The 800th Zap
Most pets were afraid of the Lab Scientist and his Lab Ray, and Mack understood that fear. He could remember the first time he tried it: the way his stomach did somersaults, his knees shaking so badly he could barely step onto the platform, and the Scorchio with a crazed glint in his eye. Although he had gotten a feeling that he should run far, far away, some type of steeled determination inside him made him step up to the platform and face the ray head on. After a burst of light and a weird tingly feeling, Mack opened his clenched eyes.
"You’re a little faster now," the Scientist said nonchalantly, turning the ray off. "Two movement points more, to be exact."
"That’s it?" Mack had asked.
"That’s it. You can come back tomorrow."
Nowadays, when it came to the Lab Ray, Mack had no fear. He went every day, saying hi to the Scorchio, and awaiting what change he would feel today. Usually it wasn’t much. Sometimes he got a little stronger or lost some defense. Sometimes there were no changes at all. On really unlucky days, he would go all the way back to level one or even change gender. It was always hard to adjust to being a girl, but Mack usually managed. Fortunately, he had stuck as a boy for quite some time now. On the best days, he would change species or color. Those were always fun. Mack had been nearly every species under the sun at this point. His favorite memory was of being a Robot Mynci. That was really neat.
Mack had been zapped so many times he almost couldn’t remember what he started as. But every so often he pulled out his photo album of all the different species and colors he had been and went all the way back to the first page. The first time he ever went in, he was just a dorky red Moehog. But right now, he was a proud Desert Poogle. Mack hadn’t changed color or species in a while, but he was okay with that. He liked the way he looked at the moment and hoped he could keep it that way for a while. He fit right in at the Lost Desert and it made haggling with the shopkeepers there easier.
On a bright, sunny day in Neopia, Mack strolled into the Mad Scientist’s lair with a smile on his face. He had already had a pretty good day so far: picking up some new clothes, reading a good book, and taking a nice stroll through Neopia Central to make the most of the weather. Now it was time for yet another trip to the Lab Ray. On the way in, he noticed a friend of his, someone who tended to always go right before him. Her name was Lea, and she was always nice. Right now, she was a Chocolate Xweetok, so Mack could smell her before he saw her.
"Hey Lea, what’s new today?" He asked as she approached.
"Oh nothing," she replied. "Lost a defense point. No big deal."
"Gotcha. Well, I’m about to head in, I’ll see you later!"
Mack walked into the main room with the ray and saw the Scientist scribbling down some notes. "Oh hello, Mack," the Scorchio said. "Good to see you again."
"Good to see you too!" Mack said, stepping right up to the platform where the ray was aimed.
"You know, I keep careful records of every time a pet comes to see me. You have quite the file." The Scientist held up a folder that was stuffed to the brim with papers. "As a matter of fact, today is your 800th visit to me!"
Mack was surprised. "Wow, it seems like it was just yesterday I came in here for the first time."
"Well, enough talking, let’s crank this baby up!" The Scorchio started pressing buttons and flicking switches with aplomb. A wild grin spread across his face, as it usually did, when he yanked the final lever that made the ray blast a powerful beam of light at Mack. The Poogle closed his eyes, since he would probably go blind if he didn’t, but he wasn’t afraid of what would happen. The tingly feeling spread across his whole body for a few seconds before it finally went away. It was like being hit with a jolt of static electricity, but not as painful. Just weird and a little uncomfortable.
When Mack opened his eyes, everything looked the same. Sometimes when he changed species, he could tell pretty quickly because he would be seeing things from a different height. But that wasn’t the case this time. However, he still felt different. Not a new feeling, by any means, he felt different every time unless he didn’t change at all. But it wasn’t a different Mack was familiar with. He had been to the lab ray so many times that he could usually tell the difference between gaining strength or losing defense. This was something new.
"Goodness…" The Scientist said, a wicked grin spreading across his face. "I don’t see this very often. In fact, I haven’t seen it in at least a year."
Now Mack was a little nervous. "What is it?" He asked warily, feeling knots in his stomach begin to form.
The Scientist gestured to a nearby mirror. "Why don’t you take a look for yourself?"
Mack walked over to where the mirror was and gasped as soon as he could see his reflection. "No way."
"The Malevolent Sentient Plushie, MSP for short. It’s very rare that I see this. The Neopian zapped has to be a Poogle first, of course. And even then, it doesn’t happen much," the Scorchio explained, furiously scribbling notes into Mack’s file.
Mack turned a few times, examining his new form from all angles. He also discovered that he could get up onto two feet, which was different from all other Poogles, who were mostly reserved to all fours. "I don’t know what to think."
"Do you notice any changes in personality at all?" The Scientist asked, briefly looking up from his notes.
"I guess I feel a little different…" Mack trailed off. But he wasn’t sure how he would be able to tell. Somewhere, deep down inside, he did feel something new. However, he just couldn’t put a finger on it yet. It was as if something had awoken.
"Well, you go out there and please do keep track of it. Keeping a journal may prove helpful," the Scientist suggested, putting away Mack’s file. "Come back tomorrow and let me know if you see any changes. And who knows? Maybe tomorrow you’ll just change again and there will be nothing to worry about."
Mack normally would’ve asked why the Lab Scientist had indicated that there could be something to worry about, but he brushed it off. That little something in him made him feel as though he might not be coming back tomorrow.
He headed towards the exit and emerged from the Secret Laboratory, blinded by the bright sunlight from outside. It bothered him - no, it really made him angry. "Curse the sun," Mack found himself growling under his breath. But as he began the long journey from the secret location of the lab to home, he found that he was quite eager to get back and show off his new form to everyone he knew. After 800 zaps, Mack was finally done with the lab ray. This was his true self.
And now, he was ready to have some fun.
TO BE CONTINUED……?