“Mpghsff,” the jumble of incoherency sounded out gruffly with the occasional interruption of a hard metal wrench banging on what appeared to be - a new experiment.
Between the cold lined, metal bar’d walls, a tiny Jubjub shivered, fur…or feathers…she wasn’t quite sure what currently was covering white patchy skin. Her color changed so often.
He called her experiment #607.
But she remembered a kinder time, when she had tucked herself between rose petal sheets and cuddled against the fuzzy body of a Petpet. A gentle voice would call for her in the mornings, gently easing her from slumber. Her name, now more a faint echo in the confines of her memory, still resided there.
It had all been a terrible misunderstanding.
There had been a Scorchio with a sign. A scratchy grandfather inspired beard and tiny specks covering sharp sky blue eyes. He had patched trousers and a friendly Draik at his side, handing out flyers of bold chunky letters spelling out : DREAMS CAN COME TRUE.
The man called himself the scientist. He had promised the possibility of all their dreams coming true. For as long as experiment #607, formally known as Jhinn, had known, she had longed to become a Coconut JubJub. Her owner had saved every Neopoint available, only to sadly find out that no amount of Neopoints could buy a dream.
Dreams meant taking risks. And sometimes those risks meant finding oneself down a dead end road, with no way to turn back.
“Pffffh” the mad scientist gurgled, banging his fist on the side of the gigantic metal contraption that he had unveiled that morning, sweeping off a white sheet to reveal glittering silver. The ray let out a sputter, it’s buttons glowing for a moment before dimming again.
“ARGHHH” a swift kick, the force of impact nearly sent the mad scientist back, his tail swiftly recovering his balance as he righted himself and reached for an electric sounding drill, humming loudly as sparks began to fly.
The JubJub quickly leapt back from her cage, the hot red flecks of metal leaping towards the bars of her cell. Feet against cold metal, she hobbled towards the farthest end, a buzz sound filling her ears as the ray leapt to life.
The mad scientist dropped the drill to the shiny cold floor, creating an echoing bang that had the JubJub closing her ears. He moved to the door of her cell and flicked open the lock, beckoning her forward.
She had long learned refusing wouldn't deter the strange little Scorchio, and gently moved forward, finding herself at the pointer's end of the ray gun. Swallowing thickly, Experiment #607 lanced nervously up at the pointer’s end of the gun.
“Dreams,” the Scorchio huffy grumbled, sounding as if he had swelling in his throat, “Come with sacrifice.”
Bumbling over, he flipped on the switch. The machine leapt alive. Humming and vibrating with power and energy, the barrel of the machine glowed an unnatural neon green, button’s lighting up as the gleaming machine hummed hungrily. Experiment #607 felt the ground vibrate under her feet, her entire body shiver with the anticipation of what was to come.
With a gleeful rub of his hands, the mad scientist yanked down the lever, the entire machine roared fully to life, and then sputtered out a few lost sparks, their glow of anticipation dying at the JubJub’s feet.
With a howl of rage, the mad scientist shoved the JubJub back into the crate, his devious eyes turning towards the machine with a scratch of his head as he picked up the drill.
Far too engulfed in his equipment, to notice the door of the crate still propped open, the lock left unlatched.
The experiment flickered a look at the glimpse of hope, the tantalizing possibility of freedom. Did she dare?
Her little body inched closer, trepidatious footsteps blurred out by the rampant mutterings of the scientist. This could be the only chance she had to escape - to find her way back home. Her dream of becoming a coconut JubJub had long been discarded for a new dream - the dream of finding herself home. Of waking up in her own bed. Of being called by her own dream. Walking to school with her brothers and sisters, sitting down to dinner.
A dream of normalcy.
With all the courage she could muster, to make this dream come true, Jhinn skidded out of the cage and dodged behind the scientist, her reverent eyes upon the doors that led to somewhere else.
Nearly sliding into the gigantic metal doors, her little body puffed up, jumping up in a dismal attempt to reach the knobs. Once. Twice. Three times. Heart muttering and sweat slick down her face, she gave another desperate hop before cluttering to the ground.
The sound of the mad scientist’s incoherent grumbles were suddenly behind her, his breath hot down her back. “Dreams…" he muttered, coughing out the smog that the machine had choked out. He reached down and picked her up with ease, carrying her back to the intimidating ray.
Her heart pummeled at the sensation of dread spread through her veins. Once more she found herself on the target zone, glancing up at the menacing spout of the machine. It sputtered back to life, and the lights gave a flicker at the enormous use of electricity channeling through the machine.
A brilliant glow of light shot out, filling the JubJub with a sense of mad shivers racing down the full context of her skin. The eager cackling of the scientist filled her ears over the hum of energy. Her lithe body was raised through the power of the lab ray, holding her a few feet above the metallic flooring. She was suddenly aware of her body changing. To her abhorrence, the feathery white context of her skin was suddenly overcome with a wetness, tentacles emerging out of her garnish green tinted skin, talons emerging as claws from her feet. A horrible scrape of fear scratched her throat.
This was not her dream.
THIS WAS NOT HER DREAM.
Her old name faintly echoed, the remembrance of better times, of a life she had lived that had gone unappreciated. Of a time when she had been living the dream. And she had taken it all for granted.
"Jhinn!" the voice grew louder, and with a rough tumble, Jhinn was no longer held captive by the alarming warmth of the freaking neon green light.
She had bumped hard against the carpet flooring of her old room, the sound of startle raw in her dry throat. With a careful wiggle, she noticed her toes, shrunken back to their appropriate size. Her white pelt laminating by the quiet glow of the nightlight. Each rapid breath caused a ruffle of her fur, her heart still ricocheting between a set of ribs.
A sudden click flooded the room with light, chasing away the clumped shadows and darkness.
“What are you doing on the floor?” Mira stood in the doorway, arms crossed as she glanced down at the tumble of pink bedsheets and JubJub that had seemingly morphed into one creature.
“Bad dream,” Jhinn grumbled, slowly detangling and climbing out of the bedsheets, giving a brief shake to fully emerge out of the bedding. Her hair tousled as she grimaced up at the figure in the doorway. Her breath and nearly returned to normal.
Mira raised half an eyebrow, “About?”
“It’s….nothing,” Jhinn gave a shake, letting the dream slip from her thoughts. The smell of bacon was re-ordering her priorities, and delving into the dream could provide her siblings with the opportunity they needed to eat all the food.
“If you’re sure,” unconvinced, Mira gave a shrug, and waved her from the doorway, “Better get down to have breakfast. You’ve got a busy morning ahead of you.”
"It's Saturday, we don't have school," Jhinn whined, stepping closer as the hall light peeled back to reveal half of Mira's face. She gave a confirmed nod on the day of the week, before rolling out a crumpled paper flyer from the back of her worn jeans pocket. With a wolfish grin on her face, she handed it to Jhinn, expecting a look of genuine excitement and surprise to leap across her face. It had been no secret on the disappointment the JubJub and felt upon finding out Coconut could not be bought.
"I had something else in mind."
And there in bold, blocky letters, were the terrifying words: 'DREAMS CAN COME TRUE' with a sketchy looking Scorchio grinning in the background, the specks nearly falling off his face as he wielded a rather formidable looking wrench.
Jhinn gulped at she followed Mira down the stairs.
“That's okay, I’m already living the dream….”