Casper and the 350 Avatar: Part One
Also by flying_tree
Casper Philippe Crandel Beaumont del Montmorency the white Weewoo had no doubts. He knew exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up. That was, a movie star. He daydreamed about it constantly. He would land starring roles in all the hit Neovision films of the season. He would flash dazzling smiles and wave languidly at his adoring fans. He would sign autographs and pose for pictures. He would be the handsomest, the most talented, the most wonderful actor Neopia had ever seen.
At home in the mirror, Casper practiced his dazzling grin and wave. He never tired of this; he adored seeing his face looking back at him, his beak polished to perfection, his feathers groomed down perfectly straight. Sometimes his Neopet, Oranda, would stop by to see what he was doing. She would always look puzzled and make some comment about how cute Casper was. This made Casper beyond irritated; could Oranda not see how beautiful, how perfect, how utterly, utterly handsome he was?! Of course, though irritating, Oranda had her uses. The faerie Kougra could always be counted on to help Casper in the tasks to which he was less suited; for instance, the acquiring of grooming products, which she was quite good at.
She had one odd habit that got on his nerves particularly; she liked to refer to him as ‘her Weewoo’. Besides the fact that Casper generally preferred those lower in rank than him to use his full name, Oranda seemed to be under the impression that he was her pet, when it was, of course, the other way round. But aside from these obvious flaws, Oranda was a good enough Neopet. At least she understood Casper’s needs and wants.
All in all, Casper was very content to spend his days polishing and grooming and parading in front of the mirror, admiring himself. That is, until the day he saw It.
Casper was taking Oranda for her usual walk around town. The town was quite unbearably small; just a few family-owned shops that included a little ice-cream parlour. On a usual day, families could be seen with pushchairs and shopping bags, meandering slowly down the street. It was a small, boring town, and Casper could not wait to grow up and move to a big city, where all the action was, but for now he could wait.
Oranda was humming and stopping constantly to remark on a pretty flower or shrub or spot on the sidewalk, and Casper, on his usual perch on her shoulder, was preening his wings and for the most part ignoring her. Of course, some of the flowers were quite pretty; there was an orange one that was to Casper's taste, but none, of course, held a candle to himself.
The main problem he could see with flowers that were around town was... well, the town itself. Flowers were often put in place to create beauty and elegance, so why did they have to be placed next to Cockroach Towers? It just seemed so wrong.
And then of course there were all the billboards you saw. Even though he could imagine himself on a billboard one day, just from where Casper was sitting on his pet’s shoulder, he could see an advert for the absolutely disgusting drink that some pets seemed to enjoy known as Neocola, and another to do with the Neopian Times, something that Casper despised due to its inability to allow any petpets to be published. Sure, it had the whole White Weewoo as a mascot thing going, and Casper wasn’t going to complain about that, but he would still like the chance to actually participate. He was certain he could write better than any pets could! The whole thing was just ugly.
He took a closer look at the billboard, while wondering why Oranda was so amazed at one flower that she had to stare at it endlessly. It depicted an avatar with a White Weewoo, and said ‘This avatar could be yours! All you have to do is get into our 350th issue, just three weeks away!’ as if it would be hard.
Well, of course he just had to have it. He was a White Weewoo, and the avatar was a White Weewoo. In fact, the Weewoo shown on the avatar was so close to him he wouldn’t be surprised if they used his face for the avatar because he simply so handsome. And it wouldn’t exactly be hard for him to get; all he had to do was write off a story and convince the editor of the newspaper that he was, in fact, a pet.
So why shouldn’t he? Just because the paper thought that petpets weren’t good enough for them? Well, he would prove that wrong. If he was going to be famous, he couldn’t succumb to any kind of prejudice against him, no matter what it was.
The whole thing was so simple. Any story he wrote would win, no matter what happened, and convincing a pet of anything would never take much work. They were so mindless, and he was so intelligent. Of course, he wouldn’t enjoy pretending to be a pet, but it was the only way for his plan to work, and he was sure the outcome would outweigh the horror of it all. At least he wasn’t going to actually become one.
With that, his decision was final. He would get into the Neopian Times for Issue 350. He would get that avatar. He would do it all. Because he was Casper Phillipe Crandel Beauemont del Montmorency, White Weewoo, movie star-to-be. The most handsome petpet this sleepy little world had ever seen and not recognised.
When the walk was over and he was safely back in his mansion, carefully rearranging himself in front of his personal mirror, Casper gave more thought to his plan to get the White Weewoo avatar. There was no way he was going to refer to it as his plan to get into the Neopian Times; he would not sink to the level of pathetic writer-wannabes! He was a thespian at heart, and nothing would deter him from his true path in life. He simply had to get that avatar. It was so handsome, so delicate, so him, he could hardly believe such a thing were real.
But how to get into the Neopian Times? This nagging thought kept returning to Casper as he made sure his beak was at its purest golden-colour, polishing it against the terrycloth that had been hung over the edge of the mirror specifically for that purpose. The annoying newspaper was quite strict about its no-petpet rule; he’d heard plenty of stories about petpets who’d tried and gotten rejected. But, of course, Casper was no ordinary petpet. He would get in, and he would do it with grace and style, preferably in front of a hundred flashing cameras.
Casper finished his mirror-looking, and headed for the white-plush petpet bed that was tucked up neatly alongside Oranda’s much larger bed; the closeness so that if Casper ever needed her during the night, Oranda was within pecking distance. He settled down for his afternoon nap, and prepared himself to have many wondrous dreams, as usual.
The next few days were busy ones for Casper. To get into the Times, he would, of course, have to write something. This was no problem for Casper. Clearly anything he wrote, to matter how little effort it required, would be accepted. Even the sloppiest of his stories wouldn’t compare to the pathetic trash the newspaper usually contained.
Each morning, Casper woke early, so as to use the day to the best of his advantage. After an hour of preening and brushing at his tiny personal sink, right alongside his personal mirror, he headed downstairs for breakfast. Usually, Casper preferred to fly down the stairs. It gave a better impression all-over, with his glossy white wings spread out. But Casper was saving all his energy.
So he walked, and he had breakfast, before finally moving on to his task. He spent several weeks writing out his story, using all the bits of information on how to write them he had learnt during his time in Neopia. Of course he didn’t actually need to use them, but if he was going to pretend to be a Neopet he knew it would be best to do it all the way through the process.
Firstly he would have to plan his story. This was done in short order, because, of course, no matter what he chose to write about, it would be spectacular. However, he did want it to truly shine. No ridiculous clichés for him. So he chose the obvious thing: a story about a petpet trying to get into the Times. He would make it something of a memoir; an account of his personal hardships and endurances.
The next few days he used to come up with some characters. There would have to be a petpet, and it seemed to him that a White Weewoo would make the perfect protagonist for his story, not just because he was one, but also because it was the mascot of the Times. He invented a pet for the petpet, and a few pets to work in the Times building.
Everything was going quite smoothly, until he came to actually writing. He just couldn’t concentrate on what he was meant to be doing for more than a few seconds at a time, and whenever he wrote something down his mind would wonder off about the words he had just written, playing them over and over in his head. But he had to keep going, or he would have to wait nearly another whole year before he could obtain the avatar. Frustrated, he decided to see if any other writers had this problem, out of curiosity. So he looked it up in a book, and found that, like many others, he suffered from 'writer's block'.
Now he was angry. How could he, of all petpets, suffer from the condition of a pet? It was blasphemy! Well, he would show these other so-called writers. He would beat them, no matter what. He would overcome his writer's block, not just sit around until it left.
Eventually he did finish his story. He thought about reviewing it, but he did not have enough time to do so, and it wouldn’t affect his result anyway. His story was better than anything ever seen in the history of anything you could think of.
Then it was time for him to work out how to get his story accepted without anybody finding out his true identity. He researched how the Times worked, looking in books and spying on their headquarters in the Catacombs, and soon found that all entries had to be given to a receptionist personally, and the receptionist would pass all entries on to the editor by way of Weewoo. It seemed obvious enough that the only purpose of these so called ‘receptionists’ was to weed out any non-pet written entries.
It also seemed obvious enough to Casper how he could get his entry among the others without a problem. He could be stealthy if he wanted, as stealthy as a ninja even with his white coat. So he would just have to sneak his entry in, pretending to be one of the carrier Weewoos. No one would suspect a thing.
He smiled to himself and rubbed his wings together before getting a strange look from Oranda. How dare she.
“Is everything all right, Casper, darling?” the faerie Kougra asked with a little frown. She was getting ready to go out, and she had her makeup already on, and was winding a gauzy scarf around her neck. Casper gave her a withering look. She interpreted it the wrong way, and cooed at him instead, patting his wings and rubbing his head-feathers the wrong way. Casper wriggled out of her grasp and huffed off to his mirror to make himself presentable. He could not go before the Neopian Times headquarters without looking his absolute best!
Oranda seemed vaguely puzzled, but she waved goodbye before walking out of her room and closing the door with a snap. Casper always wondered about this door-closing thing. He thought it might have been so he, Casper, didn’t wander off. But surely even Oranda wasn’t stupid enough to not realise that he could easily turn the knob and leave anytime he wished?
With a lengthy sigh, Casper hopped onto the ledge of Oranda’s windowsill. It was a far more useful place to leave from. His story, enclosed in a lovely manila envelope, was waiting for him. He picked it up in his beak, and paused to admire his reflection in the glass of the window. He did look stunning. He then opened the window catch, hefted it up, and leaped off into the cool afternoon air.
To be continued...