Unwinding, Sloth Style
The clock on the wall chimed as the hands swung themselves around to read 9:00 pm, stirring a figure sitting at a wide desk in a high backed chair. The window behind him showed nothing but stars and the black abyss that is space, and the dark outline of what appeared to be a planet. Inside, the room was large with a dark, ominous atmosphere, broken only slightly by a warm fire roaring in the corner.
Large paintings depicting a green-skinned being smiling in an evil manner covered the walls, and stacks of fan letters, computer print-outs, and various other papers littered the floor. Strangest of all was the subtle stench of asparagus that lingered around the room, despite the fact that there was no asparagus in sight. When the chiming stopped, the being stood up from his chair and crossed the room to the tall doorway.
He leaned his head outside the door, and saw two Grundos with ray guns standing on either side. As soon as they saw him, they stood at attention, saluting in an automatic fashion.
“Make sure I am not interrupted for the next hour,” he said with a final tone.
“Yes sir, Dr. Sloth, sir!” they replied in unison, saluting again. The door closed behind him, and the two Grundos relaxed a bit.
“What do you think he does in there?” the orange Grundo on the right asked, gesturing to the doors.
“I’m not sure,” the other Grundo, blue in color, responded. “But I could guess...”
Dr. Sloth closed the door behind him and crossed the room to his desk. He laughed in a very evil manner, and sat in his high back chair. With one quick motion, he cleared all of the papers off of his desk, and leaned back as far as his chair would allow. He then placed his feet up on the middle of the desk and fell asleep. Within a few minutes, he had begun to snore loudly.
“No way,” the orange Grundo interjected. “Why would he nap so late in the evening? He doesn’t even work all that hard. I bet I know what he does...”
Dr. Sloth closed the door behind him, making his way to the fireplace in the corner. After stoking the wood a little, he took a few steps back and cleared his throat. He mustered up the most maniacal expression possible, threw his head back in defiance, and released the loudest and most sinister laugh.
“Muahahahaha!” Afterwards, an expression of wonderment covered his face, and he seemed to be pondering the success of his laugh. “I wonder if that is evil enough. Perhaps I should try a ‘Bwaha’ instead of the standard ‘Muaha’ that I’m so used to. Then again, I don’t want to mess with a good thing, and my laugh is probably the most important thing to me.”
Dr. Sloth paced around his office for several minutes, stopping only briefly to check a letter or fact on one of the print-outs. After gazing into a painting on the wall, he once again twisted his face into an insane smile, threw his head back, and released another laugh, this time utilizing the ‘Bwaha’ that he had wondered about.
“Bwahahahaha!” He slammed his fist into the desk and continued pacing around. “That will not do at all. It sounds as though it is for the lesser villains. Perhaps my initial gut feeling was correct, and I should not be changing my evil laugh at all. But I don’t want to be laughed at by other villains... or worse, by my underlings!”
“He practices laughing for an hour?” the blue Grundo asked, tilting his head. They both laughed to themselves, and practiced their own evil laughs for a few minutes. “Okay, here’s one that I think you’ll like.”
After ensuring the door was locked, Dr. Sloth crossed his room and pulled down the curtain of the window. He waited a few seconds, listening to the sounds outside the room. Apparently pleased with what he heard (or didn’t hear); he sat behind his desk, pushed all of the paper aside, and pulled out a key from the front of his deep black cloak.
The key was fit into the very bottom drawer of his desk, and his mouth bent itself into a toothy grin. A large box was pulled out of the drawer, and placed on top of the desk with a thud. Again, he listened to the sounds outside of the room, and then removed the top of the box, his hands shaking.
From inside the box, he pulled what looked to be a crude set of finger puppets depicting many of the previous heroes and villains of Neopia. He laid them out in a line, pulling more and more out of the box. Once they were all on his desk, he retrieved a few backdrops made out of cardboard. A couple of them appeared to be in space, there was a Lost Desert backdrop, one for Faerieland, Meridell, and a few other places.
“What to choose today,” he wondered, his long fingers tracing the outline of Jeran, Brucey B, Captain Scarblade, and even himself in the form of finger puppets. “How about the Battle of Meridell... That will do nicely.”
He put aside a few finger puppets that looked like Jeran, Lord Darigan, Lord Kass, Morguss, a tiny Lisha, and one of himself. The rest of the puppets were placed gingerly back into the box. He took each of the finger puppets, besides himself, and put them onto one finger each, wiggling all of them in a satisfied way. In front of the Meridell backdrop, he held Lisha and Jeran up beside each other, and cleared his throat.
“Oh Jeran!” he said, in a high pitched voice. “You’re my hero, what would we do without you!”
“Quiet you,” he responded to himself in a low voice. “I’m just a dumb sword-wielding Lupe that thinks he is all that and more because I’ve slain a few monsters and stuff.”
“AHA!” Sloth gasped in a raspy tone. “Fear me, for I am Lord Darigan, the lord of my Citadel over there! I am leading an army against your silly castle, and I will win against your silly forces. Bwahaha!” He stood up straight for a second. “Yes, the ‘Bwaha’ really is for lesser villains. Anyways, carrying on!”
“Take that, evil doer!” The Jeran puppet swung around a tiny sword and hit the Darigan puppet. “Lord Darigan is no more! Lisha, I am now a hero because I defeated that pitiful bad guy. I don’t see why, since he was kind of silly. We’d be in big trouble if someone like Dr. Sloth came here, that evil genius!”
He replaced Darigan with Kass, and moved Morguss beside him. “I am Lord Kass,” he said in the same raspy voice as Darigan. “I am here with Morguss to take over your silly castle. We even thought ahead... Your king is incapacitated! Morguss, shoot your wand at them, and make an example of these dim-witted heroes!”
“Pew, pew, pew!” Sloth said in a very high pitched voice, mimicking Morguss shooting her wand. “Oh no,” the Jeran puppet writhed around, “perhaps this is the end?”
“Never fear! Lisha is here!” The Lisha puppet lunged for the wand and pretended to break it. Sloth flicked the Morguss puppet off his finger. “Now our army is here, and you are finished, Kass!” The Kass puppet appeared to be no match for the combined powers of the Jeran and Lisha puppets.
Then he put his own puppet on his finger, and the two heroes cowered as though defeated by the mere sight of such a villain. “Fear me,” Sloth said victoriously, in a booming voice. “I am now the Lord of the Citadel, and the King of Meridell... Soon, I will be the ruler of all Neopia! Muahahahahaha!”
“Finger puppets?” the orange Grundo laughed, clutching his sides. “Imagine if that were true. I would understand him wanting to lock the doors every night. I guess we’ll never know what goes on in there, huh?”
From inside the room, they heard faint laughter. “I’m not sure if I want to know what goes on in there,” the blue Grundo mused.
At 10:00 pm, Dr. Sloth unlocked the door, as usual, and stepped outside to speak with the two Grundo guards. After assuring him that everything was alright, he walked inside the room again. The orange Grundo looked in after him, and for a brief second, he saw an unmistakable finger puppet in the shape of Dr. Sloth before it was whisked away from the public eye and deposited safely in the bottom drawer of his desk.