A Nutty Idea
“Tell me if you think this sounds nutty, OK?” Cavillace, the mutant Draik, rolled onto her elbow to face her brother. She studied the outline of the ghost Krawk’s face in the fading light as she waited for him to respond.
GitchiManitou yawned and scratched his jaw before saying, “Well, if you have to frame your question like that, I would imagine you have something pretty nutty to say.”
The Draik smiled and relaxed back down onto the spongy tufts of grass, and placing her arms behind her head, gazed back up at the evening sky, waiting for the appearance of the first stars. GM was not only her brother but also her best friend, her sounding board for as long as she could remember, and she knew she could trust him with her most private thoughts.
“Well,” she began carefully, “do you ever feel like maybe you’re the only one who’s real out of everyone you meet?”
The Krawk now propped himself up on his elbow to see his sister’s face more clearly. Narrowing his eyes in confusion, he asked, “What do you mean? Like everyone around you is a big phoney?”
“No, not exactly.” Cavillace felt a flush of embarrassment begin to burn in her cheeks as she continued to look straight up at the sky, avoiding GM’s penetrating stare. She often felt as though her brother could see right into her, and although she held no secrets from him, she preferred to choose when and what to share. “Maybe we should just forget about this,” the Draik finally said with exasperation.
“No,” GM said gently. He understood his stare could be intimidating, even to those who knew him best, and he resumed his former position watching the sky. “Tell me what you mean, I’m very interested.”
The Draik’s brow furrowed with concentration as she tried to find the right words. “It’s more like... do you ever get the feeling that you are the only real one and everyone around you is an actor, or a robot, or something? That something is set up, some scenario, and someone is watching to see how you’ll react?”
GM gave a low chuckle and asked, “Are you saying that I’m not real? That I’m an ‘actor or a robot or something’?” His mocking air quotes threw off his sister’s train of thought.
“No, no, no,” Cavillace sputtered. “Not you exactly.” The Draik paused to think a moment before adding, “Although yeah, maybe, yeah. You could be not real either.”
“Yeah, but you see, I have no way of knowing that.”
“You know me, Cav. You’ve known me your whole life.”
The Draik became excited and sat up suddenly. “Yes, I’ve known you my whole life. I’ve known what you’ve wanted me to know. Don’t you see that that would be the perfect set up?”
The Krawk also rose up and faced his sister. “The perfect set up for what? And anyway, how do I know that you are real?”
Cavillace twisted her mutant features with confusion, her face resembling a wrung out dishcloth, before she relented with a sigh, “Well, I don’t know why anyone would want to set me up. And I don’t know how to prove that I’m real. I just know I am.”
“And I know I am. It’s actually kind of offensive, what you’re saying, Cav.”
The Draik recoiled slightly as she asked, “How do you mean?”
“Well, why are you the main character in some plot? I mean out of everyone you meet, why you?”
“Well, aren’t we all the main characters in our own lives?”
“I know I am in mine.”
“Well, then, isn’t it natural that I would feel like the main character in any plot I can imagine?”
“I suppose...” GM admitted before lying back down. The first star appeared just above the horizon and the Krawk lazily pointed it out to his sister, who then resumed her own stargazing position. The comfortable silence was broken when GM added, “I suppose what I find offensive is your idea that I’m just a supporting character. That you’re suggesting my whole existence is just to advance your plot instead of my own.”
“I told you it was a nutty idea.”
“Yeah. It’s nutty.”
GitchiManitou followed the orange Grundo through the labyrinthine corridors. The unnatural green lights that glowed overhead cast everything in a sickly hue which, when coupled with the stale air that pumped through the ventilation grates, added to the Krawk’s queasiness. He hated being called up to the Space Station, but knew he could not refuse.
A grey Evil Fuzzle floated past, gnashing its furry jaws at the Grundo, and GM turned his head in distaste. Soon, with a pull on a hidden lever, the Grundo opened a set of concealed doors and ushered the Krawk into a meeting pod.
Before long, another set of doors whooshed apart and a cloaked figure entered. With thin, green fingers he lowered his hood and levelled an imperious glower toward the Krawk.
“Dr. Sloth,” GM said curtly with a quick nod of his head.
“Minion,” the other replied, stretching the word out into three syllables in a way meant to be both belittling and intimidating. He then cracked his face into a wide grin, an expression many found more frightful than his frown.
The Krawk held Sloth’s gaze and said, “You sent for me?”
Dr. Sloth tented his fingers beneath his chin and replied, “I’ve had a report that the Draik you’ve been assigned to is becoming self-aware.”
“She has questions, just a bit of philosophizing really, but I believe I’ve handled the situation. She’s no threat.”
Sloth raised the brow above one blood-red eye and asked in a voice smooth as Buzz Honey, “Are you protecting the Draik? Have you grown fond of your assigned mutant?”
Not a muscle twitched in the Krawk’s face to betray any emotion as he responded, “I protect no one but Dr. Sloth. I am doing my job to the best of my ability until such a time as the command comes to initiate the next phase of the plot. If my assignment requires me to give the appearance of fondness, that is my directive.”
Sloth scrutinized the Krawk’s face while impatiently waving a hand toward the Grundo, who then handed his master a file folder. Sloth quickly flipped through the many pages and reports within the file until something caught his eye. With a mirthless chuckle he asked, “Tell me, minion, who is the main character in your life’s plot?”
GM tilted his head with confusion and asked, “Sir?”
“Well, it says here that you believe that everyone is the main character in their own plot. It also says that the Draik believes, to some extent has guessed that, you are merely a supporting character in her plot.” Dr. Sloth moved closer and slitted his eyes, saying, “So tell me what you really believe. Who is the main character in your own plot?”
“I serve only Dr. Sloth.”
Sloth drew nearer yet as he persisted, “Yes. But that was not my question. Who is the main character in your plot?”
GM suppressed a desire to swallow as he maintained his composure. Sloth’s petty jealousy was as renowned as his thirst for power, and the Krawk knew that he needed to proceed carefully. “You are. You are the main character in my plot. I serve only Dr. Sloth.”
Sloth’s eyes moved rapidly back and forth, seeming to scan the Krawk’s face like a laser, and afforded GM a look deep into his disturbed soul. Sloth turned away just as GM succumbed to an involuntary shiver.
Standing in front of a viewing window, Sloth stared far below him at Neopia, seemingly lost in thought for many minutes. Suddenly, he turned toward the Krawk and said, “The day of the mutants is coming soon. All those who have been foolish or greedy enough to use one of my Transmogrification Potions will be under my control. The mutants, with the influence of the minions I have placed with them as family members, will be unstoppable. Un-stopp-able. You need to keep this Draik from suspecting the truth. If she discovers my plot and is able to warn the rest of Neopia... well, I am relying on you to take whatever measures are necessary to prevent that from happening.”
“Of course. That is understood.”
Dr. Sloth turned back toward the window and waved his hand emphatically at the Grundo, who then made a motion for GM to follow him out of the meeting pod.
As the Krawk trailed the Grundo toward the Hangar, he had much to think about. One word, however, kept repeating itself insistently: Nutty.