Misunderstood Monster: an Interview with Spectre
We’ve all heard of Spectre, curse of Cheat and terror of the games room. I’m sure
he’s even been featured in many a cautionary tale told to young Neopets about
the dangers of greed. But in truth, how many of us have stopped to consider the
real Jetsam behind the terrible reputation? This intrepid reporter, lady_oracle27,
was given the rare opportunity to have an interview with the fearsome beast himself
and find out…
Well, I’m here, and I must say, Spectre’s mansion is very imposing. He must
have half the wealth in Neopia tied up in that house! I’m certainly feeling
a bit subdued as the mechanical gates open to let me in, and even more so as
I’m led along the huge hallway to the room where Spectre is sitting on an enormous
Spectre: Ah, you’ve come. I’ve been expecting you.
How’s that for a sinister opener? I’m quaking now, but I try not to show it.
Me: Your house is beautiful, Mr - uh -
Spectre: Call me Spectre. No need for formalities among friends, yes? And thank
you, I am very proud of my house. It took a lot of…shall we say…dealings to
allow me to build it here.
Me: You bribed the Neopian Bank?
Spectre: No no no no, you misunderstand me, my friend. I simply mean to say
that I had to play many, many games of cards.
Spectre: Ah yes, the game they call Cheat. But you must understand, I rarely
cheat – if ever. It is no more than a name. I assure you, I am an honest Jetsam.
Me: So why the bad reputation?
Spectre sits back in his chair and looks at me. He doesn’t answer for a long
time, then eventually smiles and clicks his fingers for food.
Spectre: What will you have? Super Spicy Jelly Beans? Cornupepper? Have a slice
of Rainbow Melt Pizza, everyone loves that. Go on, take your pick, I can get
you anything in Neopia.
Do I really want to be accepting food from Spectre?! Still, I can have ANYTHING
Me: Well...I have always wanted to try Jelly Bean Pizza...
Spectre: Of course!
The food is brought and we munch for a while.
Me: So why DO you have a bad reputation?
Spectre: Oh, I don’t know. Am I really as bad as all that? Do I seem bad to
Me: Well, you’ve just given me Jelly Bean Pizza, so no, you don’t seem bad.
But then Malkus Vile would seem nice if he gave me Jelly Bean Pizza. Thing is,
you’re very much feared around Neopia.
Me: Good? You think it’s good to be feared and hated?
Spectre: Hated? Am I hated?
Me: Well, yes. You cheat everyone out of their money and use it to build yourself
this scary old mansion, then you lurk here all day...
Spectre: But I am merely shy! I may seem frightening – which is GOOD! – but
really I am as shy as a Peophin. Anybody can see that.
At this moment, Spectre is leering at me very unpleasantly. It is very clear
that he is NOT as shy as a Peophin.
Me: Look, cut it out. Let’s talk about something else.
Spectre: As you wish.
Me: So how did you get to be so good at Cheat?
Spectre: Now you ask an interesting question, my friend. It all began when
I was a young Jetsam in the now disbanded Jetsam Fleet. We used to roam the
seas around Krawk Island, plundering and stealing. In those days, the Jetsam
Fleet was a tough group...hard to be in, you understand?
Me: I understand.
Spectre: We would all play Cheat at night, sitting around the table. The best
player would win a couple of dubloons or a bit of food. But it was more than
that! It was a contest for the position of leader! Only the great and good at
Cheat could hope to lead the Fleet.
Me: So you rose up the ranks?
Spectre: Yes. If I say so myself, my rising was quick. I could outwit all the
others with just a glint in my eye. I could cheat them around the deck and back
again without breaking a sweat!
Me: I thought you said you rarely, if ever, cheated?
Spectre: Oh – well – perhaps I exaggerated a little.
Me: A little?
Suddenly Spectre seems to be dropping the “scary” front and opening up a little
more. He’s looking me full in the eye for the first time now.
Spectre: Oh all right. Yes, I cheat. I cheat a lot. I’m good at it, OK? Just
like Fyora’s good at magic, I’m good at cheating. I mean, what’s a Jetsam to
do if he’s not allowed to play to his strengths?
Me: True. So is that anchor tattoo on your fin from your days in the Jetsam
Spectre: Yes, my friend. It was our badge of honour, the sign that we were
a part of the noble Fleet. We all had a codename, something to distinguish us
from the rest.
Me: And yours was...?
Spectre: Oh...um...well, it was...er... “Scary”. Yes, I was called “Scary”.
Me: No, you weren’t. What was your name?
Spectre: Look, you really don’t want to know. It isn’t important. Just forget
Me: Tell me!
Spectre: Well, OK. I was called “Cuddles”.
I can’t control my laughter at this point. I know I should be afraid of Spectre,
but somehow he seems funny now, not frightening.
Spectre: I knew you’d laugh. This interview was a mistake, wasn’t it? I always
end up telling my darkest secrets to interviewers if they flatter me.
Me: I’m sorry. This is one of the best interviews I’ve ever done, actually.
So why were you called Cuddles? I think you’ll have to tell me more about the
Spectre: Are you sure I can’t just give you six Baby Paintbrushes and get rid
Me: Tempting, but no. I want to hear this now!
Spectre: You’re dedicated. I like your style. Well, all right. The pressure
in the Fleet was awful; you’ve never seen anything like it! I was the youngest
there, I didn’t have two dubloons to rub together, and sometimes I wanted -
well, I wanted out of the Fleet.
Me: Were you teased?
Spectre: Yes, I was. By the older, harder Fleet members. They found me trying
to escape one day, and I was given the nickname Cuddles to show how weak and
weedy I was. You can’t imagine the torment. It was a nightmare.
Spectre turns away to wipe his eyes with a handy Neopkin. He blows his nose
and eats a couple of Apple Sweeties to calm himself down.
Me: How does this fit in with your winning at Cheat?
Spectre: I’m coming to that. One night, the boys started a game, and I was
invited in, probably as a joke. I beat them, every last one, and when they dealt
another hand to prove that it was just chance, I beat ‘em again. Good and proper.
Me: So you continued up the ranks?
Spectre: That’s right. I’d finally found something I could do, so I played
and played, beating all the tough, experienced players until I was finally due
to face Fearless, the Fleet leader. It was a dark night and I was preparing
to play when two other Jetsams grabbed me and bundled me below deck. Just before
they threw me off into the ocean, I heard them say...I heard them say...
Me: What did they say?
Spectre dabs his eyes with another Neopkin.
Spectre: “No Jetsam named Cuddles will ever rule the Fleet!”
Me: That’s terrible. So what happened then?
Spectre: I was left to wander Krawk and Mystery Island, cheating my way to
a few Neopoints. Gradually I got even better and managed to win myself bigger
and better sums of points. And soon I became known as the Cheat of Krawk Island,
and I was able to move to the Games Room and fleece people even more. I called
Me: And so with the profits you bought yourself the house, etc? I guess you
just got to enjoy fleecing people, after a while?
Spectre: Yes. I admit I enjoy it. And isn’t this a great revenge on those other
Jetsams? I mean, who’s the most feared Jetsam in Neopia now? It’s Cuddles, and
I bet they know it!
Me: I agree, it’s a brilliant revenge. But you don’t have to be feared to get
revenge, you know.
Spectre offers me a slice of grilled Negg and smiles, a proper smile this time.
Spectre: I know that. But you know, I quite like it nowadays. I don’t get anybody
begging for Neopoints, that’s for sure! Plus, I have a steady job in the Games
Me: So this is how you like it?
Spectre: This is how I like it. I’m no Fyora, and I reckon it’s more fun to
be the baddie.
Me: I think you might be right. Spectre, it’s been a pleasure talking to you.
I’ve loved it. And so will our readers...
Spectre: WHAT? Don’t print this in the Neopian Times! Everyone will know I
was called Cuddles! Well, OK, if you do print it, just remember to mention how
scary I am!
And there it is! This feared fiend is really nothing more than a Jetsam getting
even. So next time you’re playing Cheat and you need an easy win, just look
Spectre in the eye, smile, and whisper “Cuddles…”