Enter the Snowflake's lair... Circulation: 108,522,844 Issue: 217 | 18th day of Storing, Y7
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Trapped Within a Dream: Part Ten


by chibicelchan

--------

Rose yawned, seated at her desk.

      Hally and Dan walked in, Hally limping and rubbing her knee.

      "I'm sorry, I really should have seen that rock," Dan said. "Or, you know, you could have walked by yourself instead of making me drag you."

      "I know!" Hally moaned. "Is it bleeding?"

      "Rose, look, it's Hally!" Dan said eagerly.

      "Yeah, we've met," Rose said, raising an eyebrow. "But who's that behind you?"

      "Uh huh," Dan said dismissively, thinking it was a joke. "No, it isn't bleeding."

      "HALLY!" A female voice exclaimed from behind them. Hally and Dan jumped in perfect sync, whirling around. They found themselves face to face with Sophie.

      "Whoa! Where'd you come from?!" Dan cried.

      "Hey, I told you guys..." Rose said, rolling her eyes.

      "Sophie! Hey, thanks a lot for that nice visit last night," Hally said, hands on her hips. "What are you doing here?"

      "Sophie? Hey! Great to see ya!" Dan said, pointing at her and nodding.

      "How do you people all know each other?" Rose asked.

      Sophie was breathless, and she began babbling almost unintelligibly.

      "What?" Hally asked.

      "Everyone's talking about the breakout! Hally, they're talking about shutting the place down!"

      "Shutting it down?! What?! They can't do that! Who told you that?" Hally cried.

      "Hally, I'm scared. They're calling the escaped pets menaces to society and advising everyone to stay inside! Hally, did YOU--"

      "Menaces to society?!" Dan asked.

      "Those pets that escaped are out of control! One of them tried to find his old owner and... oh, it's just... I can't even talk about it! Hally, you gotta get out of here!" Sophie cried, grabbing Hally's hand.

      "But I was just about to talk to Dr. Death and get my job back-"

      "Are you CRAZY?! They fired you?!"

      "Well, not exactly... I mean, I don't know, really. You see... well..."

      Sophie sighed exasperatedly, and locked eyes with Hally.

      "We have to get out of here, before you get involved in something that'll hurt you."

      "But, I already am, Sophie! I already am involved! I... It was MY fault that..." she looked at the floor.

      "Listen to me. The government's been talking. Someone already made a statement that something drastic will have to be done. You could go to jail!"

      "Jail?!" Hally, Rose and Dan said at the same time. Sophie seemed to notice Dan and Rose for the first time, and she started to back up, eyes wide. She gestured for Hally to follow her, and Hally complied.

      "Who are they?" Sophie asked.

      "Who, them? Well, that's Rose and Dan," Hally said, as if she'd known them forever. "You guys, this is my friend So-"

      Sophie clapped her hand over Hally's mouth.

      "Are you crazy?! Don't... don't tell THEM who I am! Look, I risked a lot coming here, but I had to make sure you were okay. You're my best friend, and... oh, why couldn't you have listened to me?"

      It was clear Sophie was near tears, and Hally reached up and took the Kyrii's hand off her mouth.

      "Sophie, everything's going to be okay! I mean, this was all... an accident! A misunderstanding."

      "What? Nobody's going to believe that! Hally, someone got hurt. His old pet came back, and attacked him, and..." Sophie shook her head.

      "And it probably served him right," Dan said suddenly. Rose looked at him, eyebrows raised, but he continued. "I'm sure his pet was mad, and with good reason. He was abandoned. Anybody would be angry. People can't just... they can't just act like their pets are toys they can throw away when they get bored with them!"

      Sophie looked at Dan incredulously. She spoke to Hally, but kept her eyes on Dan the whole time.

      "These are the people you work with? Don't they have any professionalism?"

      "Sophie, I told you, this was all a mistake. I..."

      "A mistake?! Hally, I'll have Janie come get you and you can come to my house..."

      "No, listen! This is crazy! No one's going to jail, and I want my job back! This was all an accident!"

      "ACCIDENT?!" Sophie cried. "You have to wake up!"

      "Sophie, it's gonna be fine. I'm gonna talk to him and..."

      "You're not listening. You're not LISTENING to me! You can get out of here! Why would you want to go back to work here, here with all of these..."

      "These WHAT?!" Hally cried. "Those pets didn't do anything wrong! I'm here because I want to HELP them! I want to help pets get adopted! I want to--"

      "Oh, that's a lie and you know it. You're here because you want to work with that creepy doctor. Well, you've worked with him for a day, that's plenty! I mean, you think this is all some kind of game, don't you?! If you're going to be this delusional, at least stay at home where you can't hurt anybody! "

      "I didn't mean to hurt anybody!" Hally screamed. "I made a mistake! It was all an accident!"

      "And you can make sure it never happens again! Hally, please, come with me. This place is bad for you. These... these weird people, and-"

      "Those 'weird people' are my friends!"

      Sophie stared at her.

      "Your friends?! This is the Pound! You can't..."

      "Sophie, you sound like Janie! Come on! This is my dream, and... I want to do it. I want to be able to fix my mistake, and help people. And... you know, they do, too."

      "But, Hally, how?! How can you help anyone here?"

      "By helping someone... find a home," Hally said softly, looking back at Rose. Then she looked at Dan. "Or maybe... convincing someone not to make the biggest mistake of their life."

      Sophie looked at her, then she laughed half-heartedly.

      "You think you're gonna change the world, huh? Well," she turned to walk away. "I wish you luck. And uh," she gestured toward Dan and Rose, "Your... friends, too."

      Hally watched as her best friend walked out the door, and she sighed deeply. It was Dan who broke the silence, a few moments later.

      "Boy, she wasn't half as much fun as I thought," he said, sounding disappointed.

      "Oh, she's a blast most of the time. Like at karaoke," Hally chuckled sadly.

      "What did she say about jail?!" Rose whispered.

      "Oh, I'm sure she's blowing it out of proportion, right, Hally?" Dan asked.

      "Huh?" Hally asked. "Oh, uh... yeah. Of course she is. Don't worry about it." Hally didn't sound convinced.

      "Well, uh," Rose smiled, "That was really nice, what you said. I mean... you didn't have to defend us to your friend."

      "Oh, yeah, I did," Hally frowned. "She has this... idea in her head, of the Pound. And she's wrong."

      "Well, thank you."

      "Yeah, well... we really better talk to the doc now," Dan said.

      "About what Sophie said?" Hally asked. "What are we going to say?"

      "Man, I am SO not going to jail, I can't even tell you! Say whatever you have to say!" Rose said.

      "Okay, let's, uh... let's go talk to him," Hally sighed.

      "Hally, don't worry about it. I'm sure everything'll be fine. And, anyway, I have a good feeling," Dan said.

      "A good feeling?"

      "Hey, I don't have those too often. I say we take it and run with it."

      "Good luck, you guys. Oh, man, now I'm nervous. If I even hear the doc say the word 'jail', I think I might flip out!"

      "Isn't it a little late for that?" Dan muttered.

      ***

      Death felt like death. With his head pounding, his hand throbbing, the caffeine from his Neocola having worn off and the events of the day hanging over him, he didn't welcome the sound of a knock on his door.

      He looked at the clock on his wall.

      9:47 pm.

      Normally, he'd only be starting his shift now, just coming in or waking up, depending on whether or not he'd spent the night. which he did frequently. The comfortable but horribly worn couch in the back of his office often served as a bed for when he just couldn't bring himself to make the effort to go home at the end of the day.

      His office had all the "comforts" of home; all he really needed was the most recent copy of the Neopian Times and some soothing music when he couldn't sleep. Now, he felt as if he couldn't even make it to the couch. Falling asleep right at the desk sounded as good a plan as any.

      But the knocking persisted, and finally, with an ornery groan, he managed to form the words "Come in".

      He watched as the door opened, and Dan stood in the doorway, looking purposeful but also reluctant.

      "Dan," Death muttered. "Oh, man, it's late, isn't it. I suppose you want to know if you can go home, or if I'm coming to work or what. Well, I tell you what--"

      "Oh, uh... that hadn't really occurred to me," Dan said.

      "Yeah? Huh. So, you ever get that... uh... girl out of that thing? How'd that go?" Death asked, trying to make small talk to wake his brain up a bit.

      "Well, actually, that's what we'd like to talk to you about."

      "We?" Death asked.

      "Yeah. Uh, Hally, you can come in-- Hally?"

      "I don't see anybody," Death said suspiciously.

      Dan whirled around, and with exasperation began departing back down the hall.

      "Hally, what are you doing all the way back there?!"

      A small, feminine voice, barely speaking above a whisper, frantically tried to explain.

      "No, no-- I-- I changed my mind! I..I...I...I...I can't do it! You just... y'know... you just... you can do it better than... I... could. You work here, I mean, he's like... MET you, and stuff."

      "Hally, what's the matter?"

      "No, no, no, no," She began laughing hysterically. "This is just... not the right time, y'know?! I mean, I planned it, all in my head and stuff, and this is just not it, this just... this isn't how it's supposed to go. Why don't I come back tomorrow, and..."

      "But we were going to do this NOW," Dan lowered his voice to a growl.

      "But, I mean, he's really IN that office and everything and... and this isn't a dream, right?!"

      "Hally, get up! Get up off the floor."

      "No, no, no no no no no no. Maybe I'll just... I think I should just go home-- NO, DON'T MOVE! I could almost see the office, OH MY GOSH DID HE LEAVE HIS DOOR OPEN?!"

      "Is this a private conversation? I couldn't help eavesdropping, you're just so... loud," Death said smoothly.

      "Uh, Doc..." Dan sighed, looking back at Death, "This is Hally Schoy..."

      "OH MY GOSH WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?!?" Hally screamed.

      "Hally Schoy, why, yes. I recall you. You look so much taller when you're not locked up."

      Hally put both hands to her mouth to stifle a scream and her eyes appeared to bulge out of her skull. Dan shook his head and took that opportunity to pick her up and carry her into the office.

      "Hally Schoy, this is Dr. Death," Dan said needlessly, putting her in the chair across from Death's. "This is his office. While in his office, he'll likely expect you to extend proper courtesy and respect to him. That means, no screaming, no fainting, and if he offers you a mint, take one and no more."

      "Oh, I don't care about the mints. They're awful," Death said.

      "Doc, I gave you those mints last Christmas. Remember, in the tin?" Dan said quietly.

      "That was you? I thought that was a gag gift. Oh, If I'd known that, I wouldn't have..."

      "Yeah, I put the expired coupon you gave me on my mantle," Dan snapped.

      "It wasn't expired when I got the darn thing."

      Hally looked at both of them, then began laughing, her eyes still bulging.

      "Is she okay?" Death asked.

      "Yeah, I think I'm gonna go," Dan sighed.

      "Is she going to say anything?"

      "Hally, tell him what you were going to tell him."

      "What?!" Hally screamed.

      "What you were... yeah, I'm going."

      "How long should I watch this before I ask you to come get her?" Death sighed.

      "Uh... give it a little while, Doc. She's really got something important to say to you."

      "She going to need some notecards?" Death asked, and Dan turned and left. "Great. So, you're Hally Schoy. Oh, gosh, we covered that already. Well, ball's in your court, dear."

      Hally blinked at him, then covered her mouth with one hand and giggled.

      "I bet you think I'm the BIGGEST idiot," she whispered.

      "She speaks," Death yawned. "Speak again, bright angel."

      Hally stared at him.

      "Don't read much?"

      "That's not true! I've read your autobiography 78 times! 78!" Hally exclaimed, leaping out of her chair.

      "No, no, I mean, LITERATURE. Never mind. You obviously have vocal chords, what is it you want to tell me?"

      "Tell you?! Oh, sir, I'd never presume to TELL YOU anything! I mean, that is, to say... I always had a few ideas about how to run the Pound, oh, just that I'd cook up in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep... and, I mean, I thought they were pretty good, but, that's just me. I mean, for example, have you ever thought of..." She leaned close to him, looked around, and grinned. "Uni Rides?"

      "Ho-okay, I think I understand. FUNNY, DAN. YOU CAN COME GET HER NOW," Death yelled.

      "Come get me? Hold on! I haven't begged for my job back yet!" Hally cried.

      "Beg for your job back? You still have your job, against my increasingly better judgment."

      Dan entered the room meekly, shaking his head.

      "What's going on?"

      Death gestured toward Hally, then noticed that she was staring at him, her jaw practically dragging on the desk, her eyes wide open and watering.

      "Dan, what's she doing? Why's she doing that?"

      "I still haven't figured it out. She seems to do it a lot when you talk. Go ahead, say something."

      "No, I'm not gonna-- oh, man, I think you're right."

      "Well, what was said?"

      "All I did is tell her that she wasn't fired, and--"

      "She's not fired? How'd she convince you so quick?" Dan exclaimed.

      "What are you talking about? She didn't convince me of anything except the fact that I really need a nap and about a case of Neocola."

      "Then why isn't she fired?"

      "You think she ought to be?"

      "Absolutely not! I mean, maybe she's not the best worker in the place, but--"

      "The best worker? She can't even speak nine times out of ten--"

      "And I realize that, but you have to give her credit, she really has a great attitude, and spunk!"

      "Do you think she appreciates being referred to in the third person like this? She's sitting right here."

      "I don't think it matters."

      "Well, fine. So you say she has spunk. You think that's important?"

      Dan nodded vehimently. "Oh, she really brings something to this place. Something... I can't put it into words..."

      "And neither can she. Does she need medical attention? She hasn't taken a breath in the whole time we've been talking," Death said, leaning over his desk and squinting at Hally, who was still seemingly frozen in place.

      "Hally, get with it! Come on! You've got your job back! This is great!" Dan said enthusiastically.

      "Yes, you're gainfully employed at the worst place in Neopia. Something to put in the old diary, that's for sure," Death yawned. "Do kids still write in diaries? Dan, do you know?"

      "Uh, I never had one. I thought they were for sissies."

      "Boy, that's gonna drive me crazy, now that I really get to thinking about it. What about 'cool', do kids still say 'cool'?"

      "I have no idea. I sometimes say 'rad'."

      "Well, you're a loser, though, Dan. Shoot, I'd ask her, but she seems to have turned to stone."

      "That is so not rad," Dan sighed, shaking his head.

      "Could you get her out of here, maybe? Go home yourself, everyone, go home. We're closed. I'm going to sleep," Death said, turning off the lamp on his desk.

      "What about tomorrow?" Dan asked.

      "I don't care. Ask Reynolds, maybe she can come up with something. Let her earn her keep the next 2 weeks."

      "What happens the next two weeks?"

      "Oh, she tells it so much better than I do. Go on, take this employee out with you and ask Christine what's to be done. Yes, that's it."

      With that, Death switched off the overhead light as well, and plopped down on the couch. All was silent for a minute or so, and then he sighed.

      "Dan, that was your cue to leave."

      "Are you okay, Doc? You seem so... alive," Dan said, with true confusion in his voice. The looming, ghost-like presence from the previous night seemed to have melted away, and in its place was someone with an odd sort of passion. Even in the darkened office it was obvious that something had changed.

      "Life can do that to you," Death said sleepily. "Don't forget your parcel. Uh, night, Hally Schoy."

      Dan sighed and scooped Hally out of her chair, and as he walked through the door, he was half-aware of what felt like a tear landing on his shoulder, and a faint, hoarse whisper;

      "Good night, Dr. Death."

      ***

      Dan ended up walking Hally home, at his insistence.

      "You know, this is kind of out of your way, isn't it?" Hally asked as the two of them walked through Neopia Central.

      "Nah. I live just a little ways back the other direction," Dan said casually.

      "Really? Where?"

      "Mystery Island."

      "A little... that's not a 'little ways', that's across the ocean!" Hally cried.

      "Yeah, when I was little, I always wanted to live on an Island..."

      "Are you sure you've got time for this?"

      Dan simply smiled and nodded. "Are you kidding? There are crazy escaped pets on the loose. I might have to save you from a pack of Lupes who all want to say thank you but end up tearing your limbs off in their frenzy."

      "Man, that's not going to happen," Hally said, but she was smiling. "The streets are so quiet."

      "Yeah, that's fear for you."

      "Fear. Ha!"

      Dan looked at her and cocked his head to one side.

      "You weren't scared?"

      "Me?! All I was scared of was looking like a fool in front of Dr. Death. Well... I was also scared of Dr. Reynolds."

      "Yeah, you're gonna have fun scrubbing those floors tomorrow morning," Dan sighed. "Man, she was in a bad mood tonight."

      Hally nodded, and they walked in silence for awhile.

      "So, where do you live?" Dan asked, looking around.

      "Not too far. Do you think she hates me?"

      "Who?"

      "Dr. Reynolds. Does she hate me?"

      Dan laughed, but it did little to soothe her worry.

      "I mean it. She was so... cold," Hally whispered.

      "Ah, she's always like that. Don't forget, you're pretty much the only one who really LIKES it there. Working there gets to you. You know that."

      "I guess so. She wouldn't even..."

      "Forget about her. Really. There's nothing you can do about it, and even if you could, she's just... ah, it's not nice to say."

      Hally frowned.

      "You're not like that."

      "Who? Me? No, I'm not like the doc at all. That's the truth."

      Hally sighed, and suddenly stopped walking.

      "Uh, well, we turn left up here. My owner's probably worried... I don't know... do you want to come in?"

      "Oh, um... I don't know."

      "We have coffee... and we should have some omelette. I think, unless stupid John forgot again."

      "John's your owner? Heh. Mine's named Bridgette. Uh, you know what, I probably should go home."

      "Yeah, you should. You're going to have to go all the way back the other way! I told you."

      "Eh, that's no big problem."

      Hally shrugged and looked at the ground.

      "Well, I guess... I'll see you at work tomorrow?" Dan said.

      "At work," Hally said, smiling. "That's... right."

      "They'll probably open the doors back up. Boy, I'm not looking forward to that. Owners are going to go crazy. I wish I could call in sick."

      "Maybe it won't be so bad," Hally said quietly.

      "Hmm. Maybe not. It'll probably be worse," Dan sighed, then held up a hand to say goodbye. "I'm off. Good night."

      "See ya," Hally said with a grin. She stood and watched Dan disappear down the street. It was cold, but the moon was out and the night was clear as could be.

      She felt peaceful, almost strangely so.

      Tomorrow... won't be so bad, she thought. It won't be so bad at all.

      She grinned widely and turned toward her house. The lights were on, and she could see someone standing in front of the door. She held her hand up with a smile, and John waved back to her.

      "Janie and Sophie are here," John called to her. "You've got a lot of explaining to do!"

      "Don't worry! I'll tell you guys everything, but I gotta get to bed," Hally called back. "I've got work tomorrow!"

      "You've got WHAT?!" John screamed into the night, and Hally laughed as she ran down the street. Her heart raced with exhilaration and tomorrow couldn't come fast enough.

The End

 
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Other Episodes


» Trapped Within a Dream: Part One
» Trapped Within a Dream: Part Two
» Trapped Within a Dream: Part Three
» Trapped Within a Dream: Part Four
» Trapped Within a Dream: Part Five
» Trapped Within a Dream: Part Six
» Trapped Within a Dream: Part Seven
» Trapped Within a Dream: Part Eight
» Trapped Within a Dream: Part Nine



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