Always at Home
Matrixpaw stared out of the window of his cramped room.
Neopia looked like a giant beautiful sphere, one half bathed in sunlight, the
other mysteriously shrouded in darkness, save for the few twinkling lights that
came from Faerieland. All in all, if you had seen it for the first time from the
Space Station, it would be a great shock. But to Matrixpaw, it was old news.
He had been living in the Space Station for upwards
of 5 months now. He went to sleep at the midnight buzzer and woke up on the
breakfast buzzer. He spent 6 hours each day serving up food to the tourists
and Space Station techies in Grundo's cafe as a measly way to pay for food and
rent. He hadn't smiled for ages.
What was really cruel was the sight of Neopia
in front of him now. It reminded him that he could never go back there. Not
with the pay he was on, leaving him with just 2 NP for personal expenditure.
He just couldn't afford to take the shuttles. Heck, he couldn't even afford
to pay to do laundry.
So in the end he just had to tough it out.
He had left for the Space Station on a warm day
in the Month of Eating. He was looking for excitement and fun, which was just
what all the posters were advertising. He quietly said goodbye to his sibling
and his owner before leaving. When he arrived on the Space Station, actually
with in seconds, someone approached him with a job offer:
"Hey you! Yeah, you, the red Lupe! Can you cook?
I work for Grundo's Cafe!" said the Grundo loudly, pulling him aside after he
got off the shuttle.
"Yeah, basically. What for?" he said stunned.
"The Chef's quit, I got no replacements, how'd
you like a job? I can get you on a salary of 2000 NP a day."
"Sure, I'm in!"
"Super! Right this way," said the Grundo, throwing
him an apron and a chef's hat.
And with that, Matrixpaw had a good paying job,
and a place to stay. He excelled at his job and soon became accustomed to life
there. He was doing great! It was much better than he had in Neopia Central.
But then inflation went up, the economy went
bad, and with it went Matrixpaw's money. Not only did the inflation cripple
how much his salary was worth, his salary was reduced to 1000 NP in order to
pay for the ingredients for the food.
Up until that point, he had been looking for
a better job on the station, but now with his income significantly reduced and
no job experience except in the food industry, it would be impossible.
So he continued on working. Days became weeks
and weeks became months. He had no sense of time and no sense of humor. It even
appeared that the same customers kept coming. It was more monotonous than the
Wheel of Monotony.
As Matrixpaw kept staring out of his window,
he seethed in anger and sorrow. A techo clock ticked silently on the wall. It
was peaceful and quiet. Well, it was, for a while at least.
A loud beep edged its way into the silence of
the Space Station. It was the midnight buzzer. It always sounded for 30 seconds
to let everyone know what time it was.
"Attention all Space Station Residents and Personnel,
all lights are being switched off," came the voice from the speaker on the wall.
There was a dull THUNK and the light went off in Matrixpaw's room.
"Perfect, just perfect,' said Matrixpaw, climbing
into his bed. The only light in the room was the sun coming through the window.
But in a few minutes the Space Station would be behind Neopia and everything
would be dark, not even the stars would show through Matrixpaw's window. It
ironically reflected his current mood.
Ugh, that must be the morning buzzer, thought
Matrixpaw as he got up for another mind-numbing 6 hours of work. Breakfast was
already on his desk, an omelette with a can of Neocola.
"Yum, wholesome," said Matrixpaw, his voice threaded
with sarcasm. He downed the meal in seconds.
He opened the door and continued down the hallway
until he got to the Space Station Center. He grimly threaded through the crowds
to Grundo's Cafe. His boss was waiting for him when he got there.
"Hey MP, how are things?" said his boss.
"Terrible," Matrixpaw grumbled.
"C'mon Lupe, cheer up, I'll pay you extra for
overtime," he said.
"Whoop-de-do. Overtime. My favorite time of day,"
said Matrixpaw, putting on his apron. The next 3 hours were a blur except for
the words: 'We need more Neocola!' coming from the supply room.
At 12 o'clock, he swapped shifts and for the
next hour or so, said nothing but: 'Hi, my name's Matrixpaw, welcome to Grundo's
Cafe, how may I help you?'
But at 1:15, something interesting happened.
A young Human came in with a red Lupe, blue Lupe, blue Gelert, and blue Krawk.
Just like Matrixpaw's own family. His jaw slackened in surprise. He noticed
that they were coming towards his counter so he quickly blurted out the words
he was being paid to say.
and um...uh," he said quickly.
"Come again?" said the Krawk.
"Can I take your order?" said Matrixpaw, out
"Well, I'll have Cosmic Salad please," said the
Gelert. It was exactly what Matrixpaw's sibling would have ordered. He was the
only one in the family who was vegetarian.
"We'll both have a Space Lupe Treat to share,"
said the blue Lupe.
"Oh no, you won't. You'll both be fighting for
it, make that 2 Space Lupe Teats," he said. Just like Matrixpaw's siblings,
dueling each other for the last Lupe Treat.
"Well then, I'll have a large Star Platter. Extra
everything," said the Krawk. Just like his other sibling, a bottomless pit for
"I'll have the Space Burger and Asteroid Fries,"
said their owner. Just like GX, the greasy option.
"Okay, you want Neocola with those orders?" said
Matrixpaw, finishing writing down their orders.
"No thanks, we'll all have water if you don't
mind," said the Krawk.
"Okay, thank you. Your orders will be brought
round in a minute. That'll be 20,000 NP please," said Matrixpaw handing the
owner a receipt.
said their owner. Exclaiming just like Matrixpaw's owner would have at the cost.
"C'mon, dad, we're on vacation, please don't
be a cheapskate now," begged the Gelert.
"Oh...Oh...all right..." said the owner, handing
over the money, almost crying. Just like GX would have done, thought Matrixpaw.
"Thank you, please come back soon," said Matrixpaw,
handing the order to the other chef.
"Here you go James," said Matrixpaw.
"Hey, isn't this what your family likes?" said
the Flotsam, scanning the piece of paper.
"Yeah, weird isn't it?" said Matrixpaw, smiling.
Then it hit him, like Hasee that bounced off
onto people's heads. As long as he could remember his family, it didn't matter
where he was, he would always be home, in his heart.
"Uh...James, I'm going to take 5 okay?" said
"Whatever," said James, beginning to fry the
Matrixpaw walked over to a table and pulled a
crumpled piece of paper. It was a blank Neomail that he hadn't used yet. He
picked up a pencil and began to write:
Things have been rough over here. The job's
underpaid, my room is small, the food is bad, and the nightly buzzers are the
most annoying things I have ever heard. But I'm beginning to call it home now.
I was wondering if you would like to come up here some time for a weekend vacation.
I miss you all, Dragon, KC, and GX Jr. It would be great to see you all again.
As he sent it off, he felt happier than ever.
Sure, this place was worse than the Cockroach Towers but it was still home and
whenever he thought of his family and himself here, he would always be home.