It was just a normal day for him. Like any other. By midnight, this particular day would have been over and out of his mind like the thousand ones that came before it. He would have never remembered this plain day if he hadn"t passed by them. For who would know that a single decision could change his life forever?
Locobo had nothing is his mind as he strolled in the busy streets of the Warf Wharf district in Krawk Island. It was incredible how that place was always full of the most different Neopets one would be able to imagine. The green Krawk had no particular destination as he left the docks and went deeper into the district.
He then turned a corner, finally seeing something that called his attention. A group of Blumaroos in white lab coats was in the middle of the street and there were a group of curious people around them.
"Yes, ladies and gentlemen!" announced a purple Blumaroo, who looked like the leader of the group.
"I, Moara, and my team of scientists came all the way from Neopia Central to look for voluntaries to participate in our science experiments."
An Acara raised her hand and spoke.
"And how does that work? Are we going to be paid, and for how long will that be? What is the purpose of your experiments?"
Moara smiled at the Neopet before answering.
"Rest assured, young one. We cannot tell you about our objectives and goals, but do not fear, since we are entirely supported by the citizens of Neopia Central."
She held out a parchment that seemed official. Due to his good eyesight, Locobo was able to see that it was a letter of permission signed by, probably, all of the Neopia Central citizens – he couldn"t count the signatures, but he was sure of it because of the length of the piece of parchment. He had never seen one so long. The Acara nodded, seemingly satisfied with the answers.
"We still don"t know for how long we will carry on with the experiments, but we also assure you that it is completely safe and you"ll have a room booked at the AstroVilla Hotel in the Neolodge during the entirety of the programme."
The more he heard about it, the more Locobo got interested in the programme. It would be good to travel and do something different for a change, right? He had always heard that saying and now he was going to put it in practise.
"And are you going to take everyone who"s interested?" he shouted so he could be heard among the crowd.
"No, no, dear Neopet. As much as we"d like to, our funding only permits us to take a single Neopet. So that is why we are going to have a selection process!" she said even louder.
As expected, the crowd cheered. Locobo now had only one focus, one thing in his mind: he was going to win.
The scientists took the whole afternoon to build a stage and simple sports facilities so that the Neopets could show their prowess. It had been decided that the physical ability performances were going to be held from the sunset until a few minutes before midnight, and the one with the best abilities would be chosen for the job.
No one had time to train, but that didn"t make Locobo nervous. The Krawk was completely sure of himself and of his abilities. The games – as Moara had called them – started just as the sun disappeared in the horizon. There were no surprises at all and everything went smoothly to Locobo. Actually, it was all to easy for him and he did not feel surprised when Moara announced him as the winner, with 200 points ahead of the other competitors.
Locobo watched proudly from his place on the improvised podium as the competitors and the crowd disassembled and left the streets to go home. Everything happened quite fast; now Locobo was alone with Moara and her team.
"Congratulations!" she smiled, patting him on the back. "I knew, from the start, that you had it in you. I knew you were going to win the competition".
The Krawk wasn"t sure about what to say, so he just smiled back and thanked her for the opportunity. Moara led Locobo to an enormous, white tent in the outskirts of the city, where the scientists were packing up.
"Sit here and wait for a while. We will be leaving soon".
Locobo nodded and did as she said.
Now he did not know how much time had passed, but it was at least one hour. Everything was so dark now that he could not see anything. He rose from the chair as he heard footsteps. Just like he had thought, it was Moara carrying a torch. She seemed to be with someone else.
"I am terribly sorry, Locobo. We were making some last-hour arrangements."
While she spoke, a Darigan Wocky left the shadows of the night and stood by her side. Locobo eyed him, not remembering seeing him before. Locobo blinked.
"No problem, Moara. I would like to know who this is? I don"t think I saw him during the competition. Is he going with us?"
Instead of Moara, it was the Darigan Neopet who got the torch from her paw and answered.
"In fact, I am the one who is going to take you there".
Locobo could see him perfectly now: he was tall and it was difficult to make out his black horns from his black, short hair. He had yellow eyes and red fur. He was wearing a long jacket that covered his fur ruff, long pants and boots. He also wore a cape on top of everything and it was possible to hear his red tail swoosh, as if he were expecting something to happen at that moment.
The Wocky smiled crookedly – in fact, it was a creepy smile, since it showed his fangs – as his eyes started glowing in an eerie baby blue colour and at the same time a faint glow, the same colour of his eyes, appeared in his free paw. Locobo didn"t think there was something wrong until he saw the look on Moara"s face. Locobo paled instantly and the Wocky"s smile only grew.
Locobo found himself tied to a metal table when he woke up. Looking up, he could not see much, since everything was so dark. There was a light bulb right on top of his head, so the little he could see made him realise it was a laboratory. Later, Moara came and told him that he was so adequate to be studied that he would never see the sun again.
No one was quite sure for how long Locobo was trapped in the laboratory underneath the fun-loving Roo Island. He remembered seeing the blink of a pair of fangs, but could not be certain.
Locobo ended up losing the track of time and also, his own history, name and conscience. His bright green scales turned to a dull grey and green colour, with darker spots, and now he had stitches and scars all over his body, but the biggest one was across his face, between his eyes. His pupils had turned into tiny black spots which faced opposite directions and his tongue was always visible now.
Locobo had no idea who he was anymore. If he had an owner, one could say that he had paid a visit to the rainbow pool, because Locobo was, from this moment on, a Zombie.
Moara and her team now let him roam free in some areas of the facility, for he posed no threat. Quite the opposite, actually: Locobo had started behaving like a cute puppy after losing his mind. And whatever they did to him, Locobo would not complain, only maybe whimper or hide. His ability to talk was long lost.
Maybe Locobo finally got lucky, or maybe the scientists were so lenient now that they would not restrain the Krawk anymore. Anyway, Locobo was able to escape one afternoon. He ran, ran and ran, until he could not see the laboratory. Somehow he had left the underground facility and now found himself near King Roo"s Castle.
Luck must have smiled to him twice, because as soon as he emerged he ended up meeting no one other than the infamous Dr. Death, who was enjoying his holidays since Rosie the Grarrl had taken his place at the Neopian Pound.
The Doctor was pitied by the view of that Zombie Krawk that behaved like a puppy. He immediately took him to the Pound and made the necessary arrangements for him to be accepted in the institution.
However, as they would soon realise, Locobo was in no condition of being adopted anytime soon. People would come, look at the Krawk and despise him. Many months passed until the Pound administration decided that they could not hold him anymore.
Dr. Death was one of the few who did not see Locobo as an abomination; instead, he wanted to take care of the Krawk. The only solution he could find at the moment was to hide him in the janitorial closet before the pet removers came, and then, he"d tell them that Locobo had escaped.
Locobo has been living in the janitorial closet ever since. He has grown to be affectionate, but at times also destructive. Maybe one day it will be safe enough for Dr. Death to let him roam the Pound again.
Until then... let"s hope that Locobo thinks that the closet is a comfortable home.