The Meepit Show Before Christmas
Note from the author: My sincerest thanks to blacebrander, pyrosquirrelx, pacmanite, vanessa1357924680, flying_tree and twocents for their character loans. To see more of Stanley, H33lix, Jesc, Simon and Androcles, please read the linked stories. You can finish this one first, though. You don’t have to, but it’s nice to have a choice.
(Setting: The Altador Stadium, as full as a Skeith who has just eaten every dish in Kelp – fairly well padded, but not so much as to cause problems. The Yooyuball goals have been removed, and replaced with a large podium in the centre. Scattered around the stadium are scorch marks, and there are gaps in the stand, where seats have been destroyed. In a semi-circle around the podium are five stools. A Mutant Scorchio is standing on the podium, and the chairs are filled with the five contestants – from left to right, a Blue Lutari, a Red Hissi, an Air Faerie, a Blue Kyrii and a Snow Candychan. At the very top of the stadium, neon letters read ‘The Meepit Show’. Around the outside of the stadium, there are three entrances. One entrance is marked ‘Contestants’, another is marked ‘Roan’ and the third one is labelled ‘Producxzq’. A producer stands nervously just under the latterly-mentioned exit.)
ROAN: Good evening, and welcome to the...
PRODUCER: Didn’t we agree on a nice opening script for you?
ROAN: (Looking bemused) Did we?
PRODUCER: Yes, we did. You know; a nice, welcoming, Christmas message for the audience, to make them feel good about themselves.
ROAN: And I agreed to this? Was I feeling okay?
PRODUCER: Just read it. (He passes Roan a script. Since Roan is in the middle of the stadium, the Producer is on the edge, and he manages to do this without moving, a few laws of physics are ignored in the process, but that’s fine – ignorance is a suitable defence against the forces of nature.)
ROAN: (Reading from the paper) “’Twas the night before Christmas...” Sorry, ‘twas? Who says ‘twas anymore?
PRODUCER: It’s a shorter was of saying ‘it was’.
ROAN: Wouldn’t a shorter version of saying ‘it was’ just be not saying it at all?
PRODUCER: Well, yes. But then the sentence wouldn’t make any sense.
ROAN: And it does now? Does that mean that we have the ability to merge any two words we like together now, just to get the words out faster? (He looks thoughtful.) Meaning that the show ends faster... Producer, you are a genius. Anyway, let’s g’ton with the show.
PRODUCER: I don’t think you can do it with any two words...
ROAN: ‘Hutup. Can our first contestant introduce himself please?
(In the space of time between the introduction and now, the Lutari has produced a false moustache, and is now wearing it with gusto. He has also produced a small shrub, which he is hiding behind with pesto – incidentally, a healthy and delicious snack.)
LUTARI: What first contestant? I’m not the first contestant.
ROAN: Are you not?
LUTARI: No. The first contestant was Stanley, and I’m clearly not him. Stanley doesn’t have a moustache.
ROAN: It’s a shame he’s not here, then.
NOT STANLEY: Indeed.
ROAN: In any case, Not Stanley, what doesn’t bring you here today?
NOT STANLEY: I wouldn’t know. But somebody else’s adventures in saving Neopia from the evils of the Tombola Guy may be a contributing factor.
ROAN: Sounds good. I do like contestants that aren’t here – in my experience, they’re the best kind. Let’s move on.
HISSI: Hi! My name is H33lix. You may recognise me from...
ROAN: Pleasure to meet you, H-Three-Three-Lix.
HELIX: It’s actually pronounced Helix. I wouldn’t worry, though – it’s a mistake a lot of people make.
ROAN: But I’m not a lot of people – I’m one most of the time, two on a good day. I find three’s a crowd – although I’m sure you can relate to that. The middle of your name seems fairly busy in the three department. Moving on to our next contestant.
AIR FAERIE: Hello!
ROAN: Why do I get the impression that you’re going to be horrifically cheery?
AIR FAERIE: Oh, there’s nothing horrific about it at all! In fact, it’s wonderful, don’t you think?
ROAN: I think very rarely – I try to get other people to do it for me. Is there a name to accompany this mass of cheeriness?
AIR FAERIE: Jesc.
ROAN: Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Jesc.
ROAN: Yes. It’s up there with the time the Pant Devil stole my shoes, and when they cancelled Christmas.
JESC: They’ve never cancelled Christmas.
ROAN: It appears my petition was ignored, then. Next contestant, please!
KYRII: Good afternoon. My name is Simon, and I’m Neopia’s most famous Inspectre.
SIMON: No, there’s an ‘re’ at the end instead.
ROAN: Oh, so it’s spelt wrong?
SIMON: No. It’s simply a witty, intelligent name.
ROAN: I would disagree.
SIMON: Remind me, you host the Meepit Show? I must be missing the hilarious joke in that.
ROAN: Yes, it’s you.
SIMON: We could do this all day.
ROAN: (Nodding) True. Now we’ve met all the contestants...
CANDYCHAN: Bar one. Stupid pet.
ROAN: Oh, I didn’t see you there. Aw, how adorable – a little Candychan.
CANDYCHAN: Candychan, yes. Little, possibly. Adorable, without question. But there’s no need for a such a patronising tone. If you’re not going to bother respecting your superiors, it’s probably better for all involved that you don’t address me at all.
ROAN: Supposing I did want to address you, what could I call you?
ROAN: That’s quite a big name for such a small thing.
ANDROCLES: And you’re quite a big ego for such a small brain.
ROAN: (Turning to Producer) Did you deliberately pick ones that talk back to me.
PRODUCER: Just sharing the Christmas spirit.
ROAN: Christmas. Bah. (Rummages in his pocket, before producing a black and white striped sweet) Humbug?
PRODUCER: Not while I’m working.
ROAN: Very well. (He stows the sweet away.) To celebrate the Christmas edition of the Meepit Show, we’ve decided to offer a very special reward to the winner of today’s show. (He holds up a piece of paper.) Yes, this unique voucher can be yours today!
PRODUCER: (Stepping forward, taking the voucher, and reading it aloud) “Dear Roan. A contribution has been made on your behalf to the Money Tree. Thank you for thinking of the poor in Neopia this Christmas time.” (Looking up) You can’t give this away!
ROAN: Why not? It’s congratulating me on my goodwill. It’s like giving Sloth a card saying well done for your invasion skills, or Maraqua the Lost Desert Award for Services to Dryness. I may as well pass it on to somebody who might appreciate the happy, warm feeling I’ve been assured it is possible to get for this sort of thing.
PRODUCER: It’s addressed to you.
ROAN: You’re addressing me now, and I’m ignoring you. So what makes the piece of paper any different?
PRODUCER: You’re not ignoring me.
ROAN: About half past three. Anyway, let’s get on with the show – battling for the gift money can’t buy. A fifty neopoint donation. So, we start with the person who isn’t our first contestant. Definitely Not Stanley, what event happens on the 21st Day of Awakening.
NOT STANLEY: I believe that’s Tonu Day.
ROAN: I’m sorry, that question was addressed to Stanley.
NOT STANLEY: Wasn’t it addressed to Not Stanley?
NOT STANLEY: Oh. In that case, since I’m clearly not Stanley (he adjusts his moustache), I guess you must be right.
ROAN: I am. So Stanley loses a point. Fortunately, because of your timely interruption, you gain a point. We move on to Threedom. H-three-three-lix...
HELIX: It’s Helix!
ROAN: I can’t be held responsible for your name. I suppose you should think yourself lucky – an unfortunate shift, and you could have been H££lix. That would have been even harder to pronounce. Sadly, it would have also been even easier to mock, but we can’t have everything.
HELIX: Can I have a question?
ROAN: What have you done to earn it?
HELIX: Er... I applied to join a quiz show!
ROAN: Oh, and that automatically qualifies you for free questions, does it?
ROAN: Producer, does it?
PRODUCER: Yes, it does.
ROAN: Really? How long have we been doing free questions for?
PRODUCER: Since the start.
ROAN: What about all the invoices I sent out? I thought a thousand neopoints per question was fair.
PRODUCER: I don’t think they did, though. That may be why we didn’t get any responses.
ROAN: That sounds suspiciously like charity.
PRODUCER: Well, I guess you’re providing a public service of sorts. So you could be considered to be doing charitable deeds.
ROAN: I’ll have to try harder to be less useful, then. H-three-three-lix, you lose six points. Now you’re just Hlix.
HELIX: But I didn’t even answer the question!
ROAN: You appeared to abstain. It certainly wasn’t correct, in any case. Jesc, what is the success rate of the Faerieland Employment Agency?
JESC: How do you mean success rate?
ROAN: I mean, how successful are they? I thought the question was obvious.
JESC: But is that percentage of jobs completed? Percentage of pets employed? Ratio of pets starting jobs to pets completed?
ROAN: Do I really look like the sort of person who would know that? Incidentally, you’ve just had three free questions. So I’m expecting three top-quality answers.
JESC: Weren’t the first two the same?
ROAN: You can’t answer a question with a question.
JESC: Can’t I?
ROAN: Do I ever do that?
JESC: You have a point. (She shrugs.) Never mind. I’m enjoying myself anyway. I don’t know the answer.
ROAN: That’s unfortunate. For getting four questions wrong, you lose four points.
JESC: That seems a little harsh. Understandable, though – you have a tough job.
ROAN: Are you really always this cheerful?
JESC: I suppose. My glass is always half full.
ROAN: I always have a glass-three-quarters-empty view on life. It’s even more pessimistic than the half empty one.
JESC: How does that work?
ROAN: Well, a pessimist assumes the worst is going to happen. I assume the worst is going to happen, but that you’ll be there as well – that always seems to make it worse.
JESC: But you’ve only known me a few minutes.
ROAN: Clearly you’ve left a very big first impression. Simon, which book would provide you with recipes for Geraptiku Burger and Greaptiku Punch?
SIMON: I think it’s... wait, Greaptiku Punch?
ROAN: That’s what it says here.
SIMON: Are you sure that’s right?
ROAN: I’ll double-check. Producer, could you get me a copy of Geraptiku Recipe, please?
SIMON: Aha! The answer is Geraptiku Recipe.
ROAN: You’re good.
SIMON: And it’s recipe? As in, singular?
ROAN: Apparently, yes. Despite having...
SIMON: (Joining in with Roan) ...at least two recipes in it.
ROAN: I like your way of thinking. You lose a point.
SIMON: What for?
ROAN: Plagiarism. And now, we move to this little thing here.
ANDROCLES: (Sighing) I suspected you wouldn’t understand. Mere pets never quite seem to comprehend my greatness.
ROAN: I’m not a mere pet.
ANDROCLES: Suit yourself. In any case, you’re rapidly losing my attention, so I suggest that you ask your little question now while I’m still listening.
ROAN: I won’t take orders from you.
ANDROCLES: You should.
ROAN: A bit arrogant, aren’t we?
ANDROCLES: It’s not arrogance when it’s true.
ROAN: What would you say if I took a point off you for it?
ANDROCLES: What makes you think I’d want to receive a point from the likes of you?
ROAN: In that case, you have your point deducted. And now, the scores. In the lead at the moment isn’t Stanley, with one point. In joint second place, the first of the losers are Stanley, Simon and Androcles with negative one. In fifth place is Jesc with minus four. But going home first tonight, coming sixth out of a possible five places, is Hlix with minus six. Any final numbers?
HELIX: I’m extremely disappointed that you weren’t able to see past the numbers in my name, to the interesting and diverse personality beneath.
ROAN: Or, to put it another way, ‘seventeen’. Well, it’s been my pleasure to have you on the show, mostly because I can now kick you off it with a certain sense of achievement. Go away.
ROAN: That made me feel good. This must be what charity feels like to other people. Anyway, we now don’t go back to Stanley.
NOT STANLEY: Excellent.
ROAN: I wasn’t talking to you.
(A gust of wind blows through the stadium. The false moustache on Stanley is blown away, and the shrub falls over.)
ROAN: See, I was talking to him.
STANLEY: Yes, that’s me.
ROAN: Anyway, Stanley, good to have you on the show. Unfortunately, you’re quite late, so I’m deducting you a point for every minute you failed to be here.
STANLEY: How many points is that?
ROAN: It’s enough. Jesc, what is the most common species that can be found in the Ice Caves?
JESC: Is it the Bruce? They like the cold.
ROAN: They do – well done for knowing rudimentary facts. Unfortunately, you didn’t know anything especially complicated, and you therefore were unable to work out that, in fact, 56% of the inhabitants were Lupes.
JESC: They’re Lupes? How interesting – I didn’t know that. Thanks for telling me – I try and learn something new every day, you know, so it’s good to hear that. Did I mention that...
ROAN: Ack! Is there no stopping you?
JESC: Doesn’t look like it.
ROAN: Would a point deduction make any difference to your cheeriness?
JESC: Probably not.
ROAN: (Tutting) See, that’s the problem with Neopians these days. They’re just not interested in good old fashioned points any more. Anyway, you lose one for nostalgia’s sake. Simon, what job did Hoban have on the Cyodrake’s Gaze?
SIMON: He was the navigator.
ROAN: Correct, annoyingly.
SIMON: So isn’t this the point where you attempt to patronise me about my job or some other aspect of my life?
ROAN: Well, usually. I mean, hunting spectres? How dull is that?
SIMON: Indeed. I’d much rather be living on the edge hosting a game show.
ROAN: You have to stop doing that!
ROAN: Producing annoying comebacks like that. It’s not in the Christmas spirit.
SIMON: Actually, if anybody should be able to comment on spirits, it’s me.
ROAN: Precisely. Unfortunately, anybody can comment on spirits – making you about as unique as air. People like you are everywhere.
SIMON: Do you really want to turn this into ‘Let’s insult each other until one of us gives up?’
ROAN: No. I expect you to admit defeat graciously before it’s thrust upon you. You lose a point.
ROAN: And you lose an extra one for every cutting, snide comeback you come up with. Moving on to Androcles...
ANDROCLES: (Looking up) Sorry, were you addressing me?
ROAN: Just a little bit, yes.
ANDROCLES: You should announce yourself better. I was busy.
ROAN: Doing what? Preening yourself?
ANDROCLES: That’s one possibility.
ROAN: Do you want a question?
ANDROCLES: Not especially. As I think I’ve made clear, the points scoring on this game means absolutely nothing to me at all, and there’s really no point to me being here. It’s a waste of my time, when I could be doing much better things with myself. I have sidekicks to attend to.
(Androcles flutters his wings and flies off his stool and into the sky.)
ROAN: And, as I intimidate another contestant away, we reach the end of the second round. The scores at this stage are fascinating – so, to prevent raising your hopes regarding the quality of the rest of the show, I won’t share them with you. What is remarkable, though, is that we have a tie at the bottom between Jesc and Stanley. That means that we have to say goodbye to one of you.
JESC: So how do you decide who stays?
ROAN: Who stays? Oh, neither of you are staying. I was just going to be more polite to one of you as you left. And, since you’ve been such an interesting, intriguing, talkative contestant... goodbye, Stanley.
(Stanley bends down, picks up his false moustache and wears it.)
ROAN: And, now that Stanley’s left, it’s time for Jesc to leave unannounced.
JESC: That’s a shame. Well, I’ve enjoyed my time here at any case, and I’d just like to thank...
ROAN: ...me for being an excellent host, I understand. The exit’s that way. (He points to the contestant’s entrance.)
JESC: That wasn’t what I was going to say.
ROAN: Well, you should have been faster. Shoo!
(Jesc flutters her wings and flies out of the stadium.)
ROAN: Producer, this is awful. Why aren’t people using the real entrances? (He turns.) Producer?
(From the sky, the Producer flies in.)
PRODUCER: (Landing, out of breath) Sorry, Roan, the shop wizard was struggling to find a copy of Geraptiku Recipe. He kept trying to tell me there was more than one in there.
ROAN: Producer, did you not hear what I said? I said people should use the proper entrances. Just because you’re a Draik, doesn’t give you the right to flaunt the rules.
PRODUCER: Would you prefer me to enter by conventional methods and take twice as long?
ROAN: No. I’d prefer you to enter by conventional methods, but get lost on the way and never arrive. But I’ll settle for the additional time.
PRODUCER: (Looking around) Where have all the contestants gone?
ROAN: Well, you know me.
PRODUCER: Yes, I do. In that case, how come you’ve still got some left – I was gone a good few minutes.
SIMON: Yes, Roan. It looks like I’m the only one left. Does this mean I win?
ROAN: That depends. Do you want to play the final round?
SIMON: (Smugly) No point – I’ve won anyway.
ROAN: I’ll ask you them anyway. Where is...?
SIMON: Don’t care.
ROAN: Incorrect – you lose a point. What was Hannah’s job at the Golden Dubloon?
SIMON: (Yawning) Next!
ROAN: She was a waitress. Final question. (He smiles) How many contestants are left in the competition.
ROAN: Again, incorrect. You lose another point.
SIMON: (Smug look fading slightly) What do you mean?
ROAN: (Ignoring him) And, at the end of our final round, let’s recap the scores. In second place is Simon, with minus five points. But our winner today, with a grand total of one point, is Not Stanley! Congratulations!
SIMON: What? You can’t give the prize to somebody who doesn’t exist.
ROAN: Why not? You make a living working around them.
ROAN: No buts. Unfortunately, since the winner is Not Stanley, this prize goes to everybody who isn’t Stanley.
SIMON: So I do win?
ROAN: No, you came second. Which means that, in this Meepit Show, you lost to everybody else in Neopia. Except Stanley.
SIMON: That doesn’t make any sense.
ROAN: Hey, the scoreboard doesn’t lie. Tonight, everybody wins.
PRODUCER: Roan, that was almost... nice. You’ve given a win to everybody in Neopia. The poor, the sad, those who really need some cheering up at this time of year. Does this mean that there really is a nice person deep down inside you?
ROAN: (Shuddering) I hope not. Fortunately, I’m also very shallow, so I’ve never been able to check my inner depths. It’s probably for the best – I reckon there must be a sea monster or two in there. Besides, there’s more important things in the world than winning the Meepit Show.
ROAN: Yes, losing. Congratulations, Simon, on your second place finish. And congratulations, everybody else in Neopia, on your win!
(The audience cheers. Above, in the sky, clouds begin to appear.)
PRODUCER: (Pointing) Look! It’s about to snow!
ROAN: (Sighing) Oh, come on – we can’t end with that much of a cliché.
PRODUCER: Like it or not, Roan, it’s going to happen!
(The clouds open, and a single, solitary snowflake drifts gently to the ground, landing at Roan’s feet. A second later, this is obliterated by the torrent of heavy rain that starts.)
ROAN: (Smiling) Rain. Torrential, by the looks of things. (He turns to the Producer.) Merry Christmas.
(The audience, Simon and the Producer race for cover, whilst Roan stands in the middle of the stadium, beaming up at the sky.)
NOT STANLEY: (Tapping Roan on the shoulder) Can I have my goodwill now, please?