A Pet Shop of Horrors Fanfiction
The sun was low in the sky over Chinatown, although it was only late afternoon. This late in December the sunsets came early. A woman and a small boy made their way along the bustling sidewalk fronting restaurants and curio shops with facades made of wooden paneling and red and black pillars framing oriental arches. The smell of stir fry cooking mingled with that of laundry suds. The woman was dressed in a while blouse and a red mini-skirt and her frizzy goldenrod colored hair was tied into a ponytail. Her gray eyes wore an expression of concern as she looked down at the boy carrying a shopping bag almost as large as his diminutive frame.
"Chris, are you sure I can't carry that for you?" she asked brightly. Christopher Alcott shook his head vigorously. He always prided himself on doing things on his own whenever he could. She realized that already at seven he was the image of his older brother Leon: unruly straw blond hair framing sky blue eyes. But the resemblance ended there. Their personalities were as different as night and day.
"Alright," she said putting her hands on her hips, "But let me know if you change your mind." Jill didn't wait for his reply; since she knew Chris had lost the ability speak. Still his expressions were always easy to read.
He smiled broadly and followed her towards the pet shop like a puppy dog in tow. Not just any pet shop, since there were several in Chinatown. This one was owned by a mysterious gentleman known only as Count D. They reached a slanted slate tile roof overhanging a porch in which a pair of double doors was inset. Jill slid one of the doors open and peered into the gloom within.
"Count, you here?" she called out.
"Welcome Jill," replied a soft effeminate voice "You look lovely as ever." It took a moment for Jill's eyes to adjust. The interior was red carpeted with ornately carved wall panels made of teak. Tasseled lanterns hung from the ceiling, barely piercing the gloom. Aquariums along the walls cast an eerie glow to the animal cages placed nearby. Standing in the middle of the room was a tall pale man dressed in a flowing maroon gown bedecked with roses on the cuffs. His jet black hair fell over his eyes; the left was violet while the right was amber. He extended a hand tipped with long pink nails in greeting.
"Hello there Count," she said cheerfully, "You look lovely too." The Count cleared his throat.
"Thank you my Dear," he said hastily, "Perhaps you have finally come to look for a pet?"
"I'm here to drop off not to pick up," she clarified. Jill stepped to one side, revealing Chris still hesitantly standing in the doorway. The Count's smile looked a little strained. As fond as he was of the boy, he knew that Chris' inquisitive nature always led to trouble.
"Hello Chris," said the Count "Has your brother come to pay me a visit as well?" He heard Chris' voice in his mind, although Jill didn't seem to notice.
(No, sorry, Count. I was shopping with Jill.)
"May I ask what you purchased?" asked the Count, his curiosity piqued. Chris looked more bashful as he squeezed the bag more tightly.
(I bought some presents.)
"He asked for my help," added Jill, "But he doesn't want Leon to know." The Count bowed formally.
"Of course, you secret is safe with me," he said, "Now run along Chris."
Chris ran down the hallway at full tilt and disappeared around a corner.
"Don't run indoors!" admonished the Count down the now vacant corridor. Jill began to cover her laughter behind her hand. The Count sighed wearily.
"I was about to have tea and some scrumptious strawberry tarts," he said, "Perhaps you would like to join me?"
"I'll have to pass on cake; I have to watch my figure," said Jill with a wink, "But I'd love some tea."
Chris ran down a long corridor and down a flight of stairs. He reached an intersection and paused. Although had visited the backrooms of the Count's shop many times, there seemed to be literally hundreds of rooms and he was perpetually getting lost. He tried the right branch and almost immediately came a dead end. A large sliding door with paper panels stood at the end of the corridor. He was about to turn around when he felt a strange chill. As he approached the door again the chill became stronger. His breath began to condense in clouds every time he exhaled. He placed the package down on the rug and reached out to the handle on the door. It slid back to reveal an enormous ten foot tall door made of rough hewn oaken planks held together with thick iron bands. Rows upon rows of studs decorated the planks and a massive wrought iron padlock pierced the handle, sealing the door securely shut. It was ice cold to the touch. Chris placed his ear against the door and listened. At first he could hear nothing but soon he could make out the whistling of an icy wind. He swore could make out the sound a mournful voice mixed in, like the wailing of a ghost….
Chris ran off as fast as he could, nearly forgetting the package in his haste. He reached the intersection again and realized he should have turned left. Within minutes he stood before a tall set of double doors. His head didn't even clear the first set of panels. Far above a golden serpentine dragon in a circle decorated the upper reaches of the door. He took a deep breath before he pushed the doors open since the occupants of this room could be very temperamental at times.
The room beyond contained a polished tile floor surmounted by tall thin pillars decorated with oriental dragons that supported the high ceiling. Massive ceramic jars and priceless wooden cabinets sat along the side walls. Satin curtains hung across the far end of the room, partially concealing a wide red plush couch resting on a dais. What looked like a small girl to Chris was curled up on the couch, fast asleep. She wore a tiara decorated with yellow flowers on top of her black hair, most of which was gathered into two ponytails. The rest fell in bangs over her forehead surrounded by two long tresses on either side. Her ears looked like fins, with translucent skin stretched over boney spines, and tassels hung from each earlobe by fine chains. She wore a delicately embroidered robe with a floral motif. Chris put down the package and just admired her. He had never seen Honlon looking so peaceful.
"Chris?" she murmured. Chris nearly jumped out of his skin and covered his head with his hands.
(Yikes! I'm sorry Kanan!)
She sat up and opened her eyes. Her pupil-less dark green eyes wore a gentle expression, full of warmth. Chris relaxed.
(Oh sorry, it's you Junrei.)
"I wasn't asleep Chris," said Junrei, "One of us always stays awake while the other two sleep." Chris grinned sheepishly as he rubbed his head.
(Nice to see you Junrei)
"I'm glad to see you too," she said as she put her hands to her face to partially hide her shyness. She felt a strange and terrifying freedom in being alone with Chris for the first time. Before her sisters had always interrupted any conversation they were having. Of course now she was almost too paralyzed to speak. Chris reached into the bag and held out a box that was clumsily wrapped in red paper held together with tape.
(Happy birthday, Junrei!)
"My b-birthday?" she stammered, tears gathering in the corners of her eyes. Chris' grin faltered a bit.
(Yeah well, it's been nearly two years since you hatched, I thought you might want to celebrate….)
He dropped the package in horror as he saw her bury her face behind her hands.
(I'm sorry Junrei, I didn't mean to make you cry.)
"Don't worry Chris," she whispered, "I'm crying because I'm so happy."
Junrei sniffled and wiped away her tears demurely. She picked up the package and turned it over in her hands.
"What is it?" she asked. Chris chuckled.
(It's supposed to be a surprise. Just unwrap it.)
Junrei pulled off the paper and uncovered a cardboard box. The front panel was made of plastic and revealed an oriental doll wearing a Chinese dress.
"It's beautiful Chris," she said holding the box close, "How can I ever thank you?" Chris held out his hands defensively.
(It's okay. I'm just glad you like it.)
Honlon dropped the box onto the cushioned seat of the couch as her expression suddenly became furious. Chris felt a sinking sensation. She hooked her thumbs into the corners of Chris' mouth and began yanking.
"You impudent presumptuous little human!" she snarled.
"Where's my gift?" demanded Kanan angrily, "I share the same birthday as that crybaby!" Chris began failing his arms wildly.
(It's in the bag!)
Kanan hopped off the couch and began rummaging through the bag. She fished out a small oblong package that and stared at it disdainfully.
"This is my present?" she asked.
(Yeah, you have to take off the wrapping paper.)
"It'd better not be some dumb doll," muttered Kanan as she tore off the paper and held out a plastic yellow hammer with a red accordion shaped head. She frowned at it uncertainly.
(I thought you'd like a hammer, since you like hitting things.)
"That's so stu-" she began as she hit Chris over the head with the hammer. It emitted a faint squeak as it painlessly made contact with his noggin. She blinked in surprise and hit him again, and then began hitting him several times laughing uproariously.
"Hah! This is so cool!" she exclaimed. He looked sheepish.
(Uh…glad you like it.)
Honlon suddenly put the hammer carefully on the couch and turned back to Chris wearing an enigmatic, self-satisfied smile.
"Hello Chris," replied Shuko, "That was very nice what you did for my sisters."
(I'm sorry I don't know when your birthday is.)
"I'll be 62 soon, but birthdays do not matter to me," explained Shuko, "I have all the time in the world." Chris looked puzzled at that.
(I don't understand.)
"It doesn't matter Chris," said Shuko as she shook her head. Chris fished a third package out of the bag and held it out to her.
(I know it's not your birthday Shuko, but have a happy one whenever it is!)
"Why Chris, you didn't have to do that," said Shuko, taken a little aback. She delicately removed the wrapping paper and uncovered a small white cardboard box. Immediately her sensitive nostrils picked up the faint nagging scent of chocolate.
(I know the Count likes sweets, and since he's the one who hatched you…well, I hope you like 'Death by Chocolate'.)
Shuko shook her head and sighed. Chris began to worry.
(You don't like it?)
"Oh no I do," said Shuko, "I'm just amazed that there are still humans like you."
"This is no good," she said thoughtfully, "I have to repay your kindness now." Chris began to break into a sweat.
(No, please! You don't have to do anything!)
"There's nothing you want?" prompted Shuko. Chris shook his head.
(I'm the happiest I've ever been. I love living with bro and visiting all the pets at this shop.)
"Surely there is something else you want," she pressed. A shadow fell over Chris' face for a moment.
(Well, nothing that's possible.)
"With the Count, nothing is impossible," said Shuko beaming triumphantly.
(Please don't ask the Count for anything!) She made a dismissive wave.
"Of course not," she lied, already formulating her plan as she opened the box. She pulled out a plastic fork and began taking small ladylike bites of the cake.
Late that night the Count walked up to the double doors of Honlon's room and pushed them open. He bowed into the room before entering.
"Pardon my intrusion Honlon," he said deferentially, "You requested my presence?" The Count's amber eye saw Honlon as Chris saw her: a small girl. But his violet eye saw an enormous Chinese dragon looming over him, with a long scaly snakelike body, feet ending in talons and enormous bat-like wings jutting out of the shoulders. Three heads were connected to the torso by long thin necks. Each head had long whiskers along the jaw line and a horn decorated the tip of each nose. The right head sighed quietly as she admired a small doll clutched possessively in one claw-tipped hand. The left head was banging away at a nearby pillar with a small squeaking hammer clenched in her teeth. Only the center head was giving him her undivided attention.
"Thank you for coming on such short notice," said the middle head in a thunderous voice.
"Not at all Shuko," said the Count humbly, "How may I be of assistance?"
"I ask for nothing for myself or my sisters," elaborated Shuko, "I want you to grant Chris a wish."
"He got me a birthday present," said the right head, beginning to cry, "Chris is so sweet!"
"How touching Junrei," he said uncertainly.
"Oh stop sniveling already!" snapped the left head through clenched teeth.
"Is this what you want as well Kanan?" inquired the Count.
"Well," said the left head faltering for a moment, "That brat needs all the help he can get!"
"Junrei, I take it that you agree with Shuko and Kanan," said the Count. The right head blushed.
"Um…yes," she said.
"I must say I find it a bit surprising Shuko," said the Count with a smirk. Shuko returned with a faint toothy grin.
"It's against my better judgment," said the center head, "But the kid has a way of sneaking past my defenses." The Count and Shuko shared a knowing chuckle.
"I cannot grant him his desires, unless he asks," explained the Count, "Additionally he can't afford the prices in this shop."
"I'll pay for any pet he desires," said Shuko firmly. The Count shook his head.
"A pet cannot buy another pet," he averred, "That is the Law."
"I didn't say I was buying a pet for myself," said Shuko, "I'm just reimbursing Chris' expenses." The Count began to wish that Shuko hadn't taken after him so much.
"I'll offer to grant his desire," he said, "But you realize…."
"That the shop will not be held liable for the consequences," finished Shuko, "I'll take responsibility."
"Is there anything else?" inquired the Count.
"No, that's all" said Shuko.
"Thanks for coming!" said Junrei happily.
"You can go now," added Kanan testily. The Count bowed and left, pulling the door shut behind him.
"You sure about this Shuko?" demanded Kanan.
"Trust me," said Shuko smugly as she swallowed the last piece of cake in one gulp.