Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 122,607,461 Issue: 247 | 7th day of Swimming, Y8
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Blandfish: Bland in Disguise?


by syprodrgon2

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There are hundreds of species of underwater creatures swimming about in the oceans of Neopia, each interesting in its own way.

In New Maraqua, for example, you might come across a Surzard, which is a quick little creature that zooms around the sea at alarming speeds. Another is the Beanbagfish, a rare creature known as a "Utility Fish." At first glance the Beanbagfish appears to be a perfectly normal fishy fish, but will sporadically turn into a big beany ball and fall to the sea floor, creating a comfortable sitting area for any scuba diver or fish-passerby.

Yet some of the most interesting and unusual creatures of Neopia originate from the Underwater Fishing Cavern in the Ruins of Old Maraqua, one of the most popular Neopian locales ever since it was discovered. Everyone in Neopia knows that the Cavern includes some of the most exciting fish around.

Just the other day, for example, I saw a fisherman catch a Landfish, which is a fish known for its two legs which enable it to walk on land. "Ha Ha Ha! A Landfish!" exclaimed the fisherman with glee. "I am going to race this Landfish to the end of the dock, and if it wins the race I will set it free! But if it loses, I will cook it into a casserole and eat it for dinner! Ha Ha Ha!" The fisherman and the Landfish did indeed race as expected, though the race itself took quite an unexpected turn. As the two sped to the end of the dock, one racing for its life and the other racing for a delicious casserole, the Landfish stuck out one of its tiny legs and TRIPPED the fisherman, who fell face first into the water and lost the race.

Intense events like that are not uncommon at the Underwater Fishing Cavern, and that is one of the reasons that it is so popular.

But the fish of the Underwater Fishing Cavern are not always as exciting as expected. There is one fish in particular that doesn't bring a smile, or a laugh, or really any expression at all, to anyone's face when they catch one. This fish is blue, with a few darker blue and white stripes along its body, some brown fins, two big bulgy eyes, a long thin line of a mouth, and, as you can probably expect from my horrendously boring description of the creature, is known as the Blandfish.

The blandfish is the most boring, drab, dreary, dull, insipid, lackluster, spiritless, unanimated, uninspired, vapid, wearisome underwater creature ever to swim in the waters of Neopia.

Or... is it?

The first time I visited the Underwater Cavern and saw a little green Mynci catch a Blandfish, I was immediately incredibly suspicious. You see, when the little green Mynci reeled the fish up, it merely looked at the blue creature, said "oh," and dropped the bland fish right back into the water, probably assuming that it would taste just as bland as it looked.

Ever since then, I have thought about that moment. I have thought and I have thought, and I have come to one conclusion:

The Blandfish are deceiving us. They WANT us to think they are unexciting and uninteresting so we will just drop them right back in and they can get back to partying all night long instead of being cooked into casseroles.

"PARTYING?" you're probably saying to yourself. "Blandfish don't PARTY! They're BLAND!"

Wrong. Incorrect. Untrue. FALSE.

But I knew no one would believe me. I knew that if I even brought up the subject with anyone, they would just laugh at me and say it was a dumb little conspiracy. I needed proof.

So I set out on an expedition to uncover the truth. My pet KakohaAlora (who has now been given to a wonderful new owner), or Kalora for short, had recently transformed into a Peophin by the Laboratory Ray, and agreed to come with me. Our first stop was, of course, the Underwater Fishing Cavern.

We thought that the Maraquan Jetsam that runs the bait shack in the Cavern might know a bit about the fish there, so we stopped there first.

"Hello," I said to the Jetsam, who was sitting inside the shack reading an issue of the Neopian Times. "Do you--"

"I'm busy," mumbled the Jetsam in an angry tone, cutting me off, not even looking up from his newspaper.

"But--"

"No. Leave me alone or I will eat you." The Jetsam looked up at me and opened its mouth, showing off each of its big, sharp teeth.

Since we didn't feel like being eaten at that moment, Kalora and I left the Jetsam alone and decided to find some other source of information. We decided to fish.

Before I go on, I feel the need to explain a bit about fishing to my readers, just in case they have never tried it. The first rule that every fisherman in the world knows is, "Fishing is boring." And in fact it is. In the Top 5 Most Boring Activities, fishing is number 3, right below long division. And since it is so horribly dull, one wonders why the Cavern is so popular? Why would ANYone ever want to sit for HOURS at a time just to get one measly avatar? But that's a whole different discussion.

As Kalora and I sat in a little tent on the Fishing Cavern dock (we planned to stay overnight so we could catch the best Blandfish specimen), we were so amazingly bored that we almost gave up. We sat, and we sat, and we sat, and we sat some more all night long. We sat, and sat, and sat. And sat and sat. And sat. And eventually the sun began to rise, and light filled the cavern, and we sat.

You would think at that moment, after having sat and sat and sat for so long in utter boredom, that catching the most boring fish in the entire ocean would just make us want to run away and never ever come back for fear of being bored to death. But that wasn't the case as we pulled the little blue fish out of the water thirteen hours later and looked it right into both of its big, bulgy eyes.

I held the creature in my outstretched hand so that both Kalora and I could see it, and interrogate it properly.

"Tell us your name, you foul fish!" demanded Kalora, trying to sound vicious in order to provoke a response.

"Blub," replied the fish, with no expression.

"We know the truth about you Blandfish! Tell us your name!" I demanded, in a voice as angry and forceful as I could muster.

"Blub," replied the fish, with no expression.

"GRRrrrr!" roared Kalora, attempting to appear rabid.

"Blub," replied the fish, with no expression.

Our plan wasn't working. Nothing was working. I began to think that maybe everyone was right; maybe Blandfish ARE bland and boring. I stared at the fish, I glared at the fish, my nostrils flared at the fish, but nothing happened. And then, suddenly, I had an idea.

"If..." I chose my words carefully and said them slowly. "If you don't tell us your name.... I'll... I don't care how bland you taste.... I'll.. I'll.... I will EAT YOU." Of course, I never did plan to eat it. Even if it did turn out to be an imposter, I'm sure it would have had a completely dreadful taste.

To any other person, it would have appeared that the Blandfish had had no reaction to my statement. But I am not any other person. Before the trip, I had spent hours and hours studying the Blandfish, which, I might add, was incredibly difficult to do as Blandfish are just so bland to research about, which is of course expected.

I, practically a Blandfish specialist at the time, noticed the Blandfish's eyes growing slightly wider. It was fear. Every previous time the Blandfish had been caught, it was thrown right back in after the fisherperson saw how bland it was. This time was different.

I pretended not to notice the fish's fear. I opened my mouth slightly, and began moving the blandfish towards it, pretending like I was going to eat it. As the little fish moved closer and closer to my open jaws, I jutted out my teeth and made a slight "ahhhrrgg" noise for added affect.

Closer, closer.. I felt the Blandfish squirming in my hand. I could smell it. It smelled boring. Closer.. closer..

The fish's head was in my mouth, and I clamped my teeth down slightly and added pressure.

"FINE! OK! YOU WIN!!" screamed the Blandfish. "YAARGGHHHGGH!!! BLECH!! EWW! UGH! WHA!!!"

I pulled the Blandfish out of my gaping mouth and Kalora and I smiled down at it in my hand.

"YUCK! GROSS! DISGUSTO!!! FLUGH! FLOOP!! YUGH!!" screamed the fish. Apparently I had forgotten to brush my teeth that morning.

"Okay you foul fish," I said to the foul fish. "Tell us your name."

But the Blandfish was too busy making strange noises to listen. We stood there for over an hour waiting for the fish to stop flapping, which was getting quite irritating, when it finally stopped.

"YERGHHhh... fleerghh... wabble..." said the fish, which then turned into coughs, which eventually turned into silence as the fish apparently ran out of energy.

"Now..." I said, slowly, calmly. "Tell us your name."

The fish barely moved, but looked up at us.

"Barney..." it said, and sighed deeply. "Barney... Barney the... Blandfish."

"Since we already know you're an imposter," said Kalora, "you might as well answer a few questions."

Barney sighed again. "Fiiiine..."

He told us a great many things about himself and the Blandfish that he knew. He told us everything, and the story was incredibly sad. When the Underwater Cavern was first discovered, Neopians everywhere flocked to it. Many of Barney's friends and family were caught, and he never saw them ever again. The Blandfish community went into a panic, and many fled to safety, which didn't turn out to be much better as much of the Neopian oceans are filled with vicious sharks and sea monsters.

The Blandfish, which, before the Cavern was discovered, hadn't had that bland name, did the first thing they could think of to save themselves: act as boring as possible.

As Barney the Blandfish explained the terrible things that had happened to the Blandfish that he knew and loved, Kalora and I noticed that he was getting weaker and weaker. His voice began to quiver, and we knew that we had to let him go.

We felt bad for what we had done to him. We felt bad for what we had done to every Blandfish, and every other fish for that matter.

Barney's story was finished, and his eyes slowly began to close. There was nothing we could do but drop him back in and hope that his family, or at least those that hadn't already been caught, could nurse him back to health.

As Kalora and I silently travelled back to our home in Brightvale, we both realized that we did not come to the conclusion we had expected we would come to. We thought that maybe we shouldn't publish the article we had worked so hard to research at all. Maybe we should let all of Neopia go on thinking that Blandfish are bland, and keep dropping them right back in.

But what about the other fish? What about the Lesser Spotted Fish, the Landfish, the Waterfish? The Neopian public must be informed of what has happened. A whole colony of fish that once lived in harmony are now being ripped from their friends and families to be cooked into casseroles.

Why are the fish of the Underwater Fishing Cavern considered food while most other underwater creatures are petpets? Why is it acceptable to eat a Butterfish yet unacceptable to eat a Baby Blu?

As one wise shark once said, "Fish are friends, not food."

 
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