The To Do List
Also by ginny_invisible
7:45 AM NST
THE TO DO LIST.
I stare at the words. They are scrawled across the paper in a neat, exact hand, every letter capitalized and underlined twice.
The paper extends out of my hands, overflowing like a crisp, frozen paper waterfall onto the floor, bulleted items in neat little rows all the way to the bottom.
I can just imagine whoever wrote this, writing until his or her hand cramps, being careful to form each letter in the precise manner. I know I will not find a single grammatical mistake.
"Zoe! Don't you think you should get started?"
I sigh. The voice is annoying, ringing in my head. I can feel a headache starting already, just looking at how long the list is. I really don't want to get up and get started.
I am such an idiot.
I signed up for this, I remind myself, as I meticulously brush my teeth and splash water on my face. Number one on the list does not say, "Make yourself look presentable," but it is inferred. If all that should be inferred were included on the list, it would be three times as long.
I signed up for this. I was excited. After all, the 450th Neopian Times issue was a big thing, and I wanted to be in there with the rest of them, organizing the celebrations. I got caught up in the spirit, the Neopian Times ardor, the kind of vigor that sends writers off in a frenzy to write a three-hundred-page series, just because something stupid you said gave them an idea.
I wanted to do this. After all, this is a privilege. The Neopian Times Community--made up of all the writers, artists, and readers who are dedicated to each weekly publication being a success (that's what our slogan says)--was full of Neopets, clamoring to be involved in the organization for this celebration. And I, this little Speckled Ixi with big ears, I said I'd do it. I said I could do a good job because when I was given a job, I'd get it done.
Everyone's counting on me. This party has to be a success. We've already got the banner made, and the invitations sent. Everyone's who's ever submitted a measly little comic has been invited. It's the 450th! We've got to go all out.
I signed up for-- Oh, fine. I'll do it.
But that To Do List is so horribly long. How will I ever get it done by tomorrow?
8:05 AM NST
I read the first block of text, checking my watch. I should really get started, after all that time I dallied sulking.
If you are reading this To Do List, you are this year's Neopian Times Party Planner!
Yeah, that's me. Hooray.
The party is going to be such a success! But for it to become a success, there is so much to do beforehand! All the items listed below should be done the day before the party, so everything is ready for when the guests arrive on the 3rd day of Swimming! Good luck and have fun!
The excessive exclamation points are getting really annoying.
NOTE: Be sure to read all the instructions before beginning. It's important to plan ahead!
I scan down the list briefly. I don't have time to read every single bullet, whatever the cheery exclamation-point-addict thinks, but I can see that there are exactly four hundred and fifty items on this list. How cute! Four hundred and fifty items for the four hundredth and fiftieth. They probably extended the list by fifty things just to create the effect.
I'm just dying of the cuteness.
1) Reserve the Catacombs for the Neopian Times 450th Issue Party.
Easy enough. I set off for the catacombs.
8:30 AM NST
"But we were planning to have the Storytelling for Tots today!" cries out a snotty little Snot Koi.
"Look!" My patience is gone after being complained to by little snotty brats for about ten minutes. "This thing comes once a year. Once a year! We've always had our party here. And, no offense, but I think a commemorative event celebrating four hundred and fifty weeks imparting creativity and wisdom to Neopia by means of the most renown newspaper ever written, is more important than some Storytelling Dots thing!"
"It's Storytelling for Tots!" whines a baby Grundo. "And we've been having it here every day for the past three days!"
I want to scream. I'm just on the first thing on my list, and my irritation level is already full. "Can't you just have your stupid Tots somewhere else?"
"Go! Shoo!" I half-guide, half-shove the toddling Neopets out of the Catacombs, and they complain and wail the whole way. I push the last one out of the entrance ("Pushing is mean! I'm going to tell your mommy!") then give a large sigh of relief.
The bonneted yellow Shoyru is peeping out of the Coffee Shop, wide-eyed. "What?" I snap. "Do you have some annual Coffee Connoisseur Convention which just happens to be being held here, tomorrow, as well?"
She ducks back inside her shop, embarrassed, and I return to the To Do List.
2) Buy 450 Caffeine Free Neocolas from Neopian Fresh Foods.
I trudge off.
9:00 AM NST
"What do you mean you only have 35? I have a party here I'm planning! The entire Neopian Times Community will be invited! We need 450!"
"I'm sorry, miss, but that's truly all we've got in stock. If you come back tomorrow, I might be able to--"
"I don't need it tomorrow! I need it today! Why is the world against me?" I want to sob.
"I'm really very sorry. Perhaps I can sell you these 35, and see if I have any other types of Neocola in my back room? I'm sure any other variety will be okay."
"I--" I peruse the list again. Right there, it says, 2) Buy 450 Caffeine Free Neocolas from Neopian Fresh Foods. It obviously does not mean just any Neocolas. I deliberate it for a moment, then check my watch again. Half the morning is already gone, and I'm only on number 2 of 450.
11:45 AM NST
"Who wrote this idiotic thing?" I rage at the inanimate list. "Why would you be so stupid? What a time waster!"
23) Buy 500 Bags of Chips from Neopian Fresh Foods.
I was just there a few hours ago. Couldn't they, maybe, put this item right below number two? But, of course, why in Neopia would they make things easy for me?
I stack up the Cans of Neocola, Caffeine Free Neocolas, Diet Neocolas, Apple Neocolas, Raspberry Neocolas, and Grapefruit Neocolas better against the side of the Catacombs, and walk briskly back to the shop.
"Five hundred bags of chips, please."
1:30 PM NST
So I've gotten to number 137 on the list, and have finished buying all the food. I could not for my life find a single Artichoke Cupcake, and the tall, tottering piles by the right side of the Catacombs were made up of mix-matched substitutions, but at least the party-goers will have something to stuff their faces with. I don't know if it makes a huge difference whether their pizza is Mushrolivepepper Pizza instead of Pepperolive Pizza, but if so they're just going to have to deal with it.
137) Buy 450 Purple and Green Party Hats. They may be difficult to find.
So we're on to the favors. What fun.
3:15 PM NST
221) Double-check with all the invitees that they are indeed coming.
I collapse in a pile of soda cans and pizza. I don't really care.
I check it off. If they're going to come, they'll come. If not, someone else gets to figure out what to do with all the darn party hats.
222) Blow up all the balloons and tape them to the ceiling and walls.
I circle that one for later. I'm completely out of breath after running around to the different stores. There's nothing left to spare for balloons.
223) Find a band to play music during the party.
Okay. That one will be hard.
3:45 PM NST
"NO WAY! We have concerts to do, songs to write. We don't possibly have the time to go entertain some stupid writers guild."
"It's not a writers guild! It's The Neopian Times Community, made up of all the writers, artists, and readers who are dedicated to each weekly publication being a success--"
"Spare the advertisement, kid. I really don't care."
I decide to skip Plan B (puppy eyes), and go on to Plan C. "If you don't come play at our concert, I'll tell everyone that you don't actually charm Cobralls, but they're actually a Bucket of Cobralls which your colleagues tie strings to and make them move!"
That wipes the cockiness from Jub Zambra's face. "How did you know?" he chokes out.
I give an evil smirk. "We Neopian Times writers know everything. Well?"
"Fine, fine," he mutters distractedly. "We'll be there."
I check number 223 off the list. 227 to go.
11:15 PM NST
379) Collect stacks of old Neopian Times issues from the neighbors. Go door to door if need be.
I yawn, cover my mouth, and yawn again. The sky is dark, and I can barely see the list.
I walk up to the first house. "Do you--yawn--have any spare copies of--yawn--the Neopian Times?"
"What in the world are you doing here at this time of the night?"
0:45 AM NST
426) Make sure you have 450 candles for the cake and enough matches to light them with!
I groan and glance over at the mountain of candles I bought earlier in the day. Rolling over I begin to count but after the first fifty, I realize that counting candles is a sure fire way to send me off to sleep... I decide that some estimation is in order and check it off the list--I mean no one is going to be counting the candles tomorrow anyway!
1:30 AM NST
I'm dead on my feet. I'm curled up next to a large pile of sticky pizzas, and I think I have pizza sauce on my forehead. I feel so sore that I can't even lift my head to pick up the To Do List. I'm definitely not going to be attending the party. I'm going to be having a serious get-together with my pillow and teddy bear.
One more thing to do, and then I'm done. I muster up the strength to look at the list.
450) Just kidding! You don't have to do anything! The Neopian Times 450th Issue Party is a potluck where everyone brings in their favorite issue of the Neopian Times, something delicious to eat, and an activity to share. This was just our little joke--every year the Party Planner gets fooled as they read through all the directions, then realizes they don't have to do any of it! Remember, always read all the directions before you start something. It's important to plan ahead, especially for Neopian Times Writers!
1:32 AM NST
I had leaned against the tower of food, drinks, and party favors in shock.
It trembles, then crashes to the ground.
I wipe the pizza sauce off of my forehead.