It all began one summer's afternoon in Downtown City. Blythe was preparing the pets for the upcoming International Pet Fashion Expo. Pepper Clark was a Queen's Guard, Minka Mark was a butterfly, Penny Ling was a Japanese/Chinese maid, Vinnie Terrio was a yodeller, Sunil Nevla was an Arab, Russell Ferguson was a knight, and Zoe Trent was… well, I can't really say.
"You guys are gonna look great at the International Pet Fashion Expo," said Blythe as she got Minka into her butterfly costume.
"We look great," said Pepper, "but how do we smell?"
Blythe became confused. "Smell?"
"Yeah!" Pepper responded optimistically. "I think we have to smell happy."
The other pets were just as confused as Blythe. They just couldn't get their heads around what Pepper was talking about.
"If the judges smell happiness on us," Pepper explained, "it'll seep into their subconscious and make them happy. And who doesn't want a happy judge?"
"That makes sense," said Penny Ling, before Pepper shoved her tail into her mouth.
"Now all I have to do is capture my happiest of happy scents," said Pepper. "A delicate, peppermint-rosy, just-baked cupcake blend."
This was it. The day I would finally capture my happiest scent.
I imagined I was in this spooky-looking castle on a summit. I was in a lab, where I stuck my tail into a tube to collect my scents. Believe me, it makes the job much easier.
"Ready, Penny Ling?" Penny Ling was operating a machine, her hair raised up like a mad scientist's. It actually reminded me of Victor Frankenstein from that Frankenstein movie. Who knew?
"Ready!" she exclaimed.
"Okay, start showing me the pictures." With that said, Penny Ling flicked the switches and a TV screen came down, displaying a picture of my rubber chicken. I laughed, and produced a bright yellow fume which caused a small explosion when it dripped in Penny Ling's test-tube.
"Mmm!" she exclaimed as she smelt the scent. "Smells like vanilla!"
"Vanilla? That's not right."
Penny Ling preserved the tube and pulled the lever, changing the screen to a picture of my arrow head-bow. I laughed again, this time I produced a pink fume.
"Blueberry with a hint of jasmine!" exclaimed Penny Ling as she smelt the scent.
"Nice, but still not right. Come on, Penny Ling! I gotta get really happy!"
What happened next… ugh… I don't wanna talk about it. All I can really say is I was shown more and more pictures, laughing harder and harder and becoming more and more exhausted at equal measure.
Just thinking about it makes me wanna curl up into a ball and cry.
Penny Ling's POV
So there I was, in my friend's fantasy, preserving her scents. It only made sense for me, Pepper and the others to smell 'happy' to make the judges at the International Pet Fashion Expo happy. As she put it best, who doesn't want a happy judge?
Her intentions were pure, and I couldn't say no to helping her find her happiest scent, so I generously preserved more of her scents each picture I showed her.
Halfway through, I became well aware that her scents were mixing together, but I kept preserving her scents. A couple more test-tubes later, the entire lab was filled with fumes. I coughed uncontrollably, desperately trying to fan away the fumes. I was virtually suffocating on the mix of scents, and my eyes teared up.
"Penny Ling, what's going on back there?" Pepper asked. I turned to face her, and I could tell she wasn't looking so good.
"All of your scents are mixing together!" I exclaimed, coughing. "It's too much!"
"I can't stop until I find my happiest scent!" she exclaimed as lightning flashed in the sky. I climbed back up to the machine, my tears draining down my face.
"But you're… exhausted… a-and the fumes!" I could feel my heart pulsating and racing throughout this whole ordeal. I knew perfectly well that Pepper wasn't going to quit until she found her happiest scent.
"Just… one… more!" she exclaimed.
Despite my weakened state, I rushed over to a big double-lever and pulled it with the strength I had left in me, changing the screen to a picture of, to my surprise, Captain Cuddles.
Lovestruck, Pepper produced a bright pink fume that created a heart-shaped explosion when it dripped in my test-tube. Just the sight of it made me feel a pain in my chest, but I managed to pull myself together and take a whiff of the scent. "Mmm! *cough cough* Smells like a *cough* peppermint-rosy *cough cough cough* cupcake!"
"Quick, Penny Ling! CAP IT!" Pepper exclaimed. I turned my head to a wine-bottle cork which was sitting on a table further away from me.
"Oohhh!" I groaned, placing a hand on my chest. "This... isn't good for my heart."
I rushed over to the table, grabbed the cork and used it to cap the tube. I slumped over on the table, breathing heavily. "There! I capped the tube!"
From what I saw, Pepper was laying on her front, panting. "Did you… capture it… Penny Ling?"
"Ugh…" I paused. "No." Pepper groaned in disbelief. I kept my hand on my chest, feeling my heartbeat gradually slowing down while steadily trying to pump more blood throughout my body.
Sadly, it wasn't enough, as when I took another breath, I felt my heartbeat come to a sudden halt. I twitched and clutched my chest as I felt intense pain. It felt like a dagger was being rammed through my heart.
To put it plainly, it was pure Hell.
This is gonna be a little tough, but… here we go.
I was resting my head on the table, worn out from capturing my scents, when I heard a guttural moan coming from behind me. I turned around and saw it was coming from Penny Ling! She appeared to be clutching her chest and thriving on the floor in agonizing pain. I gasped in shock. "Penny Ling!"
I quickly leapt off the table and rushed over to Penny Ling. Clearly, I was still exhausted, so I didn't run as fast as usual. "Penny Ling, are you okay?" Penny Ling turned her head to face me. Her eyes looked baggy and bloodshot, and I began to realise what was happening as she spoke.
"I… *cough cough* t-told you it was… t-too… much! *cough cough cough*"
I began to tear up and hyperventilate as she coughed up a few drops of blood, which soaked into my ruffled fur as well as my tears. "Penny Ling, I'm so sorry! I didn't know this would happen! You were right; I was exhausted, and I didn't know what I was-"
I stopped rambling on as Penny Ling put her finger on my lips, quietly shushing me. "I-it's okay, Pepper. *cough* I… forgive you."
Penny Ling's POV
As I laid on the cold, hard floor, slowly dying, I listened to Pepper ramble on and apologising for what was happening. I put my finger on her lips, quietly shushing her. I had already heard enough.
All was forgiven. Me and Pepper, we've had our arguments here and there, due in part to my sensitivity, but each time, we both managed to pull through in the end.
Using the remaining ounce of energy I had left, I pulled my teary-eyed skunk friend in for a last minute hug, allowing her to cry in my arms. I immediately let go of her and cocked my head backwards. The pain in my chest was as strong as ever, like a blazing furnace of hellfire.
"Ack-cckkk…!" I sputtered. "I see… the light!"
My vision became blurry and Pepper's voice echoed in my head, begging me not to go into the light. I just couldn't help myself. I was getting weaker and closer to death. My life started flashing before my eyes, and a certain memory prompted me to start singing a familiar lullaby.
Hush, little baby, don't say a word
Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird
And if that mockingbird don't sing
Mama's gonna buy you a diamond ring
From what I heard, my singing caused Pepper to cry even more. Poor Pepper…
When I was a baby panda, my cousins Ling Jun and Jun Ling loved to play with me. Ling Jun would pick me up and cuddle me, and Jun Ling would tickle my tummy and kiss me on the cheek. Both of them would then sing "Hush, Little Baby" to me while rocking me to sleep. And whenever I fell asleep, they would always tell me: "We love you, Penny Ling. Always have, always will."
As the memories faded, my body went limp as I let out my last breath. Everything went black, and I felt… cold.
I watched Penny Ling die before my eyes. She slumped over in my arms and her eyes rolled back into her head. "Penny… Ling?" No response. "Oh, no. No!"
I started shaking Penny Ling's body, desperately trying to wake her up. "Come on, Penny Ling! Speak to me! This isn't funny anymore!" I stopped shaking her and began hyperventilating again.
I dropped her body and placed my hands on her chest, at which point I started doing chest compressions in the hope of restarting her heart. I kept this up for a good amount of time, hoping it would bring her back…
I stopped and stared at her body in shock and horror. I resumed crying as I realised there was nothing I could do to save my friend. "No… Penny Ling… what have I done?" I laid over her body and began mourning, crying and apologising softly as my tears drenched her fur.
Penny Ling was dead. And it was all my fault.
"Wow, Pepper! That smells fantastic!" I exclaimed as I smelt the scent that filled the day camp. The smiles on me and the pets' faces didn't last, though. "Pepper?"
Pepper was rolling on the floor, moaning and crying. I didn't know why, but I knew it was something serious. "Oh, my!" Zoe exclaimed. "What's wrong with Pepper?"
"I don't know," I responded, picking Pepper up at her back. "Maybe I should schedule an appointment at the vet for her."
"Hold on!" Russell exclaimed. "What about the International Pet Fashion Expo? I spent half-an-hour putting this costume together and everything!"
"Now hold your horses there," I responded. "I'm sure we can work things out. Just let me take care of Pepper first and we'll see what happens next, alright?"
Russell nodded, and I was about to leave with Pepper crying softly in my arms before Minka caught my attention. I turned my head and saw that she was poking a comatose Penny Ling. She looked like she was knocked out by Pepper's fumes, and I could tell by the saliva dripping from her mouth. "Guys… is Penny Ling alright?"
I walked up to Minka and picked up Penny Ling's body. "I think I'll take Penny Ling with me just to be on the safe side. From what I can tell, she doesn't look too good." I left with both Penny Ling and Pepper in my arms. From what I saw, Pepper took notice at Penny Ling and cried harder. I felt pretty bad for her.
The question is, what exactly happened?