400 Times The Madness
Gunther P. Grizzle woke up to another day of monotony. Or so he thought.
It’s not that Gunther didn’t enjoy his job, it was just that it was always the same. He was a Neopian Times salesman, taking his cart out every Friday to sell the newest issue. It was profitable and fairly easy.
This morning started out the same as usual.
As soon as he was up out of bed, the Skunk Krawk headed into the bathroom to fix up his appearance. He brushed his teeth until they shown brightly against his black scales. He used hair gel to secure his hair, and cream to make it shiner. He also used a brush that matched his scales to cover any discoloration. Mind you, this is strictly for professional purposes, and definitely does not involve make-up of any sort.
Once done there, he strode over to his closet, and opened the doors in a flourish. Inside hung seemingly identical pairs of neatly pressed trousers, off-white button-down shirts, and fedora knock-offs--but they were indeed unique. Gunther looked through each category, eventually picking the fourth from each row. After he was dressed, he looked himself over in the mirror, making sure his hat was positioned properly and that his trousers had no wrinkles. Satisfied, he walked downstairs to the kitchen, and started up the coffee maker, (which was set to Banana Cream, his favourite) and took a Butterlicious Muffin from the fridge. While waiting for the coffee, Gunther went out to see if the Neopian Times Papers had been delivered. Gunther always asked for one hundred issues to be delivered out back each Friday.
This is where the morning stopped being usual.
As he stepped outside, Gunther choked on his muffin. On his back porch were four hundred copies of the Neopian Times. After swallowing, Gunter noticed a note left on one of the stacks of paper. He read it hoping for an explanation, but all it said was, “Four Times More Issues Free Of Charge, In Honour Of Today! Enjoy!” Gunther crumpled up the paper and tossed it aside.
In honour of today? As far as he knew, today was just another Friday. As he waded past the stacks of paper back towards the door, he noticed that the regular blue of the newspaper was now gold. Shrugging, the Krawk dismissed it as a new design. It was quite nice.
For as long as Gunther had been selling the paper (today being his one hundredth issue, coincidently) he had never actually read it. He preferred to just learn new things on his own, or from word of mouth. The Neopian Times, to him, was just another thing to sell, instead of owning a shop.
As he walked back into the house, Gunther rubbed his forehead. His cart was only made to hold two hundred issues! But he couldn’t just leave half the papers out there. Nobody would want to buy week old papers. He’d have to try and sell them all. Groaning, he poured his coffee. The fresh aroma soothed him slightly, as he walked out back once more and into a storage shed. Gunther placed the coffee mug on a shelf, and proceeded to lug out two small wagon like attachments to his cart. Each was made to hold a couple more papers, seventy-five to be exact. As the Krawk began to load the stacks onto his cart, he hoped it wouldn’t break under the extra load. He stuffed one hundred papers into each wagon messily, but was more careful as he arranged the other half on his cart. He made sure the headlines were visible and that the papers were neat and presentable. Once that was done, Gunther pushed the cart over the front of his house, where it would sit until it was time for delivery. He winced as the cart creaked, the last thing he needed was for it to break down. Once it was in place and secured with wooden wedges to keep it from rolling away, the Krawk went back around the house, took the coffee mug from the shed, and went inside.
The Krawk leaned against the counter, sipping his lukewarm coffee. As he did, he thought of ideas to sell the extra issues. Gunther currently sold the paper for fifty neopoints apiece. Maybe if he reduced it to forty, he could sell the papers quicker. Placing the empty mug on the counter, the Krawk went over to a closet and pulled out a white square of cardboard, and some yellow paint. Neatly, in large letters he wrote “Each Issue 10% off! Only Today!” in paint. He set it on his porch to dry, and went to put away his supplies.
As he shut the closet door, he snuck a look at the clock hung above the front door. He had exactly four minutes to get going.
Gunther quickly strode over to the hall closet, and pulled out a tan trench coat and grabbed a lunch box from a hook. Before he stepped out the door, he smiled into a small mirror positioned next to the door. Teeth. Check. No food was visible, and they were as bright, and slightly shinier as when he brushed them, thanks to the Butterlicious Muffin. As he walked out the door, the Krawk did a quick breath check. Banana Cream. Gunter smiled. He always made sure that he picked food that wouldn’t affect his appearance.
He strolled over to the cart, and removed the first three wedges, and making sure he had a good grip on it, moved the last with his foot. And thus, he began to lug the cart down the drive, only to remember the poster and run back and get it. He placed it in one of the wagons, and continued. It was hard work, as he wasn’t used to pushing this much weight, but the Krawk managed.
He headed into the heart of Neopia Central, as he got lots of business there. He placed his cart in it’s usual spot, and propped up the poster, making sure it was clearly visible. Then, he waited.
It was early in the morning, and not many people were up, but he got his first customer quite quickly. They gleefully handed him forty neopoints and snatched up the paper, quickly scurrying off. This happened a few more times. Hmm, maybe this whole “sale” thing was a pretty good business plan, Gunther thought, making a mental note about it for the future.
He checked his watch. The noon rush would begin soon. He looked longingly towards his lunchbox. It would have to wait. But as it struck noon, the plaza was hardly any more populated. Annoyed, Gunther leaned against his cart, and flipped open his lunchbox, which contained a Butterlicious Muffin. As he took the first bite, a customer, a Kacheek, came up.
“Hey! You have the special issue! And it’s on sale!” As the Kacheek yelled it out, many heads turned to Gunther’s cart. The plaza had suddenly grown much more populated.
Gunther was about to ask what he meant when everyone who had looked began to make a mad scramble for the cart. The Kacheek, noticing this, had quickly snatched up a paper, shoved the money into the Krawk’s hand, and ran out of there. Gunther, though, was not so lucky.
It was madness.
They all reached the cart at the same time, clamouring for a paper while getting neopoints out of their pockets. The ones that weren’t close enough pushed violently through the crowd. Gunther cowered as neopoints were shoved into his claws, some people so eager they just threw them at him. As the papers began to dwindle, pets climbed over the cart, trying to reach the ones at the back. A small Wocky was climbing up the sign placed against the cart, reaching for a paper, only for an Ixi to snatch it away, causing the Wocky to start bawling. To the left, a Grarrl and Elephante were both fighting for an issue, which caused it to rip it in half, which made them tackle each other. A Draik was holding a paper and cursing as he dug in his pockets for neopoints, only to have a Cybunny steal it while he wasn’t looking.
A Gelert that had climbed onto the cart spied the last issue at the same moment an identical Gelert did. They both dove for it, sending the cart and the last issue toppling to the ground.
There was a pause, as all pets stopped to see the commotion, then they dove to the cart. As the smaller pets tried to wiggle under it, the large ones began to rip it apart in haste.
A passing Meerca, unaware of the commotion, noticed an issue sticking up from under the cart, and gingerly picked it up. All the pets stopped as he asked, “Can I buy this?”
Gunther was able to nod, which sent the neopoints that had accumulated on his hat to the ground.
Everyone froze as the Meerca gently placed forty neopoints into Gunter’s overflowing hands, and walked away with the issue tucked under his arm.
When he was out of sight, the pets dispersed, cursing and groaning under their breath as they left, leaving Gunther with buckets of neopoints and a ruined cart.
After a few moments, everything was back to normal. The plaza was busy and loud as pets walked from shop to shop, going about their daily business, as if nothing had ever happened.
Slowly, Gunther straightened himself, sending a shower of neopoints onto the ground. He slowly walked over to a ripped up piece of the front cover of today’s issue. Gingerly, he picked it up, and read the headline.
“The Neopian Times has reached a new milestone! Happy 400th issue of Neopia’s favourite newspaper!”