Chapter 4:

Rescue or Revenge


Lucky doesn’t know much about the slaughterhouse. Neither do Viper or Panic Button. They just know that once you go there, you don’t come back. It’s the only truth they know, and it weighs on them heavily each second that passes where Bliss doesn’t return.

Viper, normally laid back and lighthearted, paces his cage the few steps that he can manage over and over. His snowy, mottled tail swishes behind him in aggravation, and his ears flicker a if he’s straining to hear something—anything—about the situation beyond the steel door.

Panic Button, on the other hand, spends most of his time in sleep mode. He’s curled up in a little ball, like a roly-poly, and it’s pitiful to behold. He can’t face the reality that Bliss has gone to that terrible, unknown end. Lucky would almost be annoyed with him if it weren’t for the fact that this is all her fault.

She’s the one who set the rag on fire, and she’s the one that Bliss was trying to save. It hurts to think of the way Bliss will suffer. Since Lucky arrived here, Bliss and the others have been her only companions. They mean something to her—at present, you could even say they are everything to her. She knows nothing about the Pet system, the outside, or who she used to be. All she has is what’s in front of her, and she’s truly lucky that she hasn't had to face an uncertain future alone.

Between the four of them, Bliss has actually been here the longest. Lucky discovered this fact after a lazy conversation between the two of them where they swatted mosquitos away with their tails and tracked roaches across the cracked gray floor with their eyes. Bliss had seen the other Pets go to the slaughterhouse in quick succession until she was the only one left.

Being alone, she couldn’t escape all the negative thoughts she was having, and the lack of contact with others began to eat at her. Even Lester seemed to have picked up on this and decided that he couldn’t let her “brain rot” before she was adopted, so he threw Panic Button and Viper in with her. Even though she was afraid that they too would end up being victims of the slaughterhouse, she was secretly relieved to have fellow Pets to interact with. Bliss told Lucky that just like she supported the other two in different ways, she wanted to find a way to help Lucky through this whole situation too.

She should have just worried about herself!

“We need to rescue her,” Lucky says, her chest puffed up in determination as she confronts Viper.

Viper stops pacing, but only for a second. “Rescue her and then what?”

“Escape, obviously!”

“But if we stay here, we’ll be adopted eventually. So why—”

“Because if we stay here after rescuing Bliss, Lester is just going to take her away again.”

“Well, of course he would. She is a Pet. She has to be adopted by someone.”

Lucky twists her ears together and tries her best not to let her frustration get the better of her. “Look. I don’t understand why you think that way, but you don’t want her to get hurt, right?”

“No. Never.”

“Then we need to go get her.”

Lucky still hasn’t figured out the exact mechanism preventing the other Pets from considering things like escape or even gender, but if she dances around the actual words “escape” and “rescue” it might help them be able to take actions they normally wouldn’t be able to. She just has to be very, very careful with her words. She hopes that it works.

Viper lies down and put his paws over his face. He sighs. “But how? I want to go get her but every time I try to think about how my mind just turns blank.”

“Don’t think about how. Just let me tell you what to do and do it. Don’t think!”

Viper chuckles. “Ah, the hardest thing for me to do. You ask a lot of me, don’t you?”

“Well, of course. You’re very reliable. We all think so.”

“Really? Well, I suppose I can’t let you down after hearing that.” Viper opens his mouth wide, his prominent and shiny fangs on proud display, and roars. “Panic Button! Wake up!”

Panic Button leaps up, his eyes wide and filled with trepidation. “I don’t know what I did, but don’t be mad, okay? Last time you were mad you nearly lost it, just like Bliss.”

“I’m not mad. Think of this as my way of giving you a kick in the butt.”

“Can you kick it twice?”

“With pleasure.” Viper roars again and Panic Button squeaks.

“I-Is this really the time to be messing around? Bliss is in danger!”

“Uh-huh. And what are you doing about it asleep like a baby?” Lucky asks.

“I’m! Well…” Panic Button grips the bars of his cage tightly. They creak slightly underneath the pressure.

“I know you said you’re not big on one-on-one, but you’re not alone, alright? Isn’t that what Bliss has been trying to show you all this time in her own way?”

Panic Button hangs his head. “But... what if she’s already…”

“She won’t be. Lester runs on a strict schedule, and he mentioned there was a new shipment of Pets coming in. He’s gonna focus on that first before he deals with Bliss.”

“And what are you going to do if you’re wrong?”

Lucky’s face falls. She very well could be wrong about this whole thing. Heck, she can’t even guess how many fingers Panic Button has behind his back on most days. But she just has to believe that Bliss is alive, or else her parachute thin resolve will be torn into shreds. “What do you want me to do if I’m wrong?”

“If we can’t all be adopted together, then I want you to get back at them for it.” Panic Button points at her eyes. “Your eyes caused this, and they need to fix it too.”

Lucky has been so focused on getting out of here, that the thought of circling back for the sake of revenge has never occurred to her. She’s surprised that even though Panic Button has the “instinct” to stay, that same mechanism doesn’t prevent him from wanting revenge.

She lifts one of her ears above her head the same way someone would raise their hand while saying an oath. “If I can’t rescue Bliss, then I’ll make that cheese wart regret the day he was born.”

Panic Button slips his arm through bars as if trying to give her a handshake. “Then I’m in.”

Pope Evaristus
Steward McOy