Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 114,248,913 Issue: 228 | 17th day of Awakening, Y8
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Misunderstood Monster: an Interview with Spectre


by lady_oracle27

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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 chair.

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.

Me: Cheat?

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 in Neopia...

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 you?

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.

Spectre: Good!

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 Fleet?

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 it.

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 Jetsam Fleet.

Spectre: Are you sure I can’t just give you six Baby Paintbrushes and get rid of you?

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 myself Spectre.

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 Room.

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…”

 
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