Stand behind yer sheriff Circulation: 135,120,767 Issue: 266 | 17th day of Storing, Y8
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Golden Slumbers


by goldenlullaby

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"Good morning," a gentle voice announced. I never heard the voice before, but I was too exhausted to notice or care. I heard the owner of the voice open the blinds, letting the sun's rays reach their way to me. The warmth of the rays rested upon my cold cheeks. I slowly opened my eyes. The room was completely unfamiliar to me. As I took in my surroundings, my eyes shot open. Where was I?

     The room was all white, from ceiling to floor. Even the armchair that sat beside my bed was snow white. At my bedside, a small vase of flowers brought some color to the room. I rested my back against the headboard, and took in a deep breath. As I exhaled, the nurse - a red Usul - turned around. Her shocked expression soon was replaced by an excited smile as she rushed to my side. I managed a nervous chuckle, although it was just a facade to cover up my fear.

     "You're awake!" she exclaimed over and over. "You're awake! Are you feeling okay?" I was about to ask some questions of my own; but before I could even open my mouth to speak, she was going on about going to get her boss. I sighed. I just had to sit tight and wait, I assumed.

     Just as I began to doze off again, the door burst open. I jolted upright. I gasped as I saw a beautiful, brunette faerie follow the Usul nurse into my room. The Soup Faerie, I told myself, I remember her! Well, I had seen her before somewhere. I was sure of it. Her warm, chocolate eyes were a welcome sight in the white room. She squeezed my arm, assuring me that this wasn't a dream.

     "Welcome back to Neopia," she said with a wide grin. "You're a success story. You've recovered! Do you need a ride home?"

     As much as I wanted to be polite and say "No, I'll be fine," I couldn't lie. I stared at them with a blank look, and asked:

     "Where's my home?"

     ***

     I sat in the Soup Kitchen, stirring the tomato soup in the bowl with my plastic spoon. I had no appetite after hearing the story of my life for the past two years. I didn't know whether to be happy because I was finally awake, or to be sorry that I managed to survive at all. The Soup Faerie explained to me where I was and how I got there.

     She told me that I was in the Revival Center. It was the hidden place where Neopian owners were sent when they fell into "a deep sleep", comatose. Usually, owners woke up within the month. Sometimes, alas, they never woke up. But they were always kept safe in the Center - unless, of course, they were deleted. Those who were deleted were never seen nor heard of ever again.

     That explained a part of the puzzle. I was in a hospital! A "center". But now, who was I? Who? When I asked, she looked down at my wrist. I didn't know why, since my wrists were bare. She helped me get out of the bed - and that was when I realized that I was wearing a pair of white, cotton pajamas pants and a large, white T-shirt. She assured me that all my questions would be answered shortly; I just had to get some warm soup in my stomach. Of course, after I got my hair brushed and changed my clothes. (I had to agree, since I had been wearing these very pieces of clothing for the past two years.)

     I squeezed myself into a pair of blue jeans that had holes in the knees, a gray sweatshirt, and a pair of red shoes. The Usul nurse brushed my hair - which didn't require a lot of work on her behalf, since my hair was cut at my jaw. She complimented my brunette hair with a smile, and sent me on my way with the Soup Faerie.

     "Eat your soup before it gets cold," the Soup Faerie warned as she sat across from me at the cafeteria-like table. I told her that my appetite had ran away and she chuckled. She failed to see that it was hardly a joking matter until I stared at her blankly with unmoved eyes.

     "Who am I?" I brought up again. I can tell she's tired of beating around the bush, but something is holding her back from telling me. Was someone paying her? Was this all some sort of scam? What did I have, though, that someone would want? I couldn't even remember my own name!

     "Tell me!" I demanded, standing up strongly and raising my voice. Others in the Soup Kitchen glanced at me as if I was crazy. You would shout too, though, if no one would give you a straight answer! The Soup Faerie was obviously unimpressed by my scene, tried to hush me. Embarrassed, I sat back down.

     "We'll talk about this in the morning," she said. "When you finish up your soup, I'll get you a room in the Neolodge. You need to rest. This must be a scary time for you, I imagine."

     Oh, I thought inwardly, you don't even know the half of it.

     ***

     The Soup Faerie helped me to my room in the Royal Neopian. I asked her if she had a Neopian Times on her that I could read, since I found not a single book lying around the room, but she told me it was best if I didn't read the news. I had a lot of catching up to do. I just shrugged and took her word for it. It didn't matter anyway; I was too tired to read.

     I changed back into the white pajamas that the Center gave me. (I had no intention of sleeping in a pair of jeans!) As I folded up the clothes and sat them on the waist-high dresser, I heard a ruckus from the hallway. I carefully opened the door to peer outside. I automatically wished I hadn't. A creature - one I had never seen before - rushed in my room, squeezing past my legs. She slid under my bed, shivering in fear. I was in fear too, but I sympathized with her. I saw her large, blue eyes watching me from under the ruffles of the bed. I quickly slammed the door shut, then locked it up.

     The creature didn't move from under my bed. I then understood why as someone pounded at my door. Opening the door for a second time that day, I found myself eye to eye with a rather grumpy-looking Neopet.

     A Techo, if I recalled the species correctly. His eyes were cold and his soul heartless. Just his appearance sent shivers up and down my spine like wildfire. I prayed I'd never have to see him ever again in my lifetime.

     "Did you see a blue Xweetok?" he demanded. I nervously shook my head, informing him that I thought I heard someone running down the opposite steps. Without even a "thank you" nor a "goodbye", he and his butterfly net were off.

     I hurriedly shut the door, locking it once again. I made my way to my bed and crouched down. Lifting up the ruffled, I found myself eye to eye with the creature known as a "Xweetok". I had never heard of them before, and figured that it came after my time.

     Oh, how gorgeous she was! She seemed to have a newfound trust for me as she slowly crawled closer to me. I stroked the top of her head, much as I would a Kougra, and tried my best to coax her out. It didn't take long, and soon she was lying in my lap on the bed. Her fur coat was soft and much warmer than the hotel sheets. I softly sang to her, songs that I knew from somewhere. I just couldn't recall song nor singer. (I admit, I'm not much of a singer at all. But in a whisper, you can't tell.)

     "So," I began to speak, "what's your name?"

     "Serenity," she mumbled as she snuggled closer to me. I held her in my embrace. I knew that from this moment on, we would probably become very close friends.

     "Why were you running?"

     "The Pound is scary," Serenity said, looking up at me. "You sit, and sit, and sit. Unless you're special, you're there forever. It's even worse if your name is unusually long or odd, or if you're an 'ugly' pet."

     "You're gorgeous," I assured her. She smiled.

     "Some people looked at me, but I didn't want to go with them. So, I ran away."

     "Like that?"

     "It was hard," she said, "but I couldn't stay. Wouldn't stay."

     "Why didn't you go to the Soup Kitchen?"

     "Because someone would send me back. I know they would. ...What is your name?"

     "My name?" I was surprised at the sudden change in the conversation. Why had it gone to me? "Well, I think it's... Jude." Jude. It sounded familiar. It had to me my name, right? Close enough, at least. "Who was your first owner?" I asked her, trying to get out of the spotlight.

     "Why do you ask so many questions?" she asked.

     "Because I don't have any answers," I blatantly said.

     ***

     The next morning, I was at the Soup Kitchen again. This time, I was joined by my new companion. Serenity was convinced that I was now her owner; I was convinced that she was my new owner. The Soup Faerie explained to me that in my two absent years, I had missed a lot. She was supportive of the idea of me taking in Serenity. "Maybe she'll teach you something," the Soup Faerie said with a sly smile.

     While Serenity was on her third bowl of soup, the Soup Faerie lead me to an isolated corner to speak with me privately. Although I wasn't found of leaving Serenity on her own, now becoming quite attached, I obeyed. I needed some answers about my identity. I didn't have time to waste if she had some information on me.

     "You were sent to the Revival Center anonymously," she began. "That's why you didn't have a wrist band with your name and username on it. We're still searching for who you were. But for now, you'll use this name. I warn you, don't let anyone steal this from you. No matter even if they claimed to have seen you before, it is your last shred of self." She handed me a business card. On it, in shiny, gold, cursive letters was my new identity: "goldenlullaby". Homage to my two years of slumber, perhaps. I slipped it in my back pocket and sat back next to Serenity. I gave her a light hug. She was all I had in this world that had changed without me.

The End

 
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