The Rehabilitation of a Meepit
The day we met, Cecil the Meepit was late. He knew it didn't matter, in all probability no one would notice because of the sheer privacy in which it was held.
He made his way briskly into the foyer of the neolodge, noting how sparse the renowned hotel was and feeling a touch of relief. He wasn't in the frame of mind to deal with people today. Contributing to his natural antisocial mood, aside from the heat and the long journey he had just endured, was the strangest sensation in his stomach, not exactly painful, but certainly very uncomfortable. A kind of churning, shifting weight unlike anything he had experienced before. Something like butterflies. At that moment he wanted nothing more than to skip the whole meeting, make his way up to his suite and flop onto the plush Qasalan cotton duvet without interacting with anyone. Least of all me.
If only that were an option.
The meeting, it was agreed would be held in suite 42. It would be fair to say that it was strange for any Meepit to even consider a civil meeting of sorts, let alone one that would rehabilitate his villainous outlook on Neopia. It has been a well known fact of Neopia that Meepits at worst enjoy their villainy. It is still unclear to this day as to why Cecil agreed to meet us when we wrote a letter to him and we were certainly in no position to deny him any of his requests.
"Good evening," muttered Cecil. "You must be Nommitt."
"Yes," I retorted with a titter of nervous laughter. "And this is Doctor G. Howard!"
"Ah, the Doctor, the one who believes he has the power to change the mind of a Meepit!" he laughed.
Howard's eyes narrowed slightly, scrutinizing Cecils face for any trace of irony. If any were to be detected, Cecils strategy would be unacceptably compromised. The stakes were high. There was no retreat. If foul play were to be suspected, Howard could easily call Cecils bluff. His formula would be lost forever with a single moment's miscalculation and the penalty would be severe. Howard summoned every ounce of his theatrical ability and presented what he hoped was an Neopies-worthy expression of sober attentiveness. The seconds he held it seemed like aeons.
"Correct." He nodded.
As we began to take our seats, it was clear that there was a distracting sense of anxiety and apprehension in the room. Nobody other than myself, Dr G. Howard and Cecil knew of the existence of this interview, or the possibility of the stay in a rehabilitation unit that could follow. I believe if anyone caught wind of this, it would be frowned upon, and myself and Howard would be considered "Mad" at best, and outcast as Villains of Neopia for consorting with Meepit-kind!
Alas, we were here, and we were here for a reason.
"Let's begin," the doctor said, reaching into his brown briefcase to retrieve a pen and notepad.
I began to instruct Cecil of the format. "I am here, Cecil, to interview you regarding your willingness to give up your own time to change the view of Meepits around Neopia, and your willingness to consider the possibility of a stay in a rehabilitation unit. Are we clear?"
"Quite," replied Cecil.
Nommitt: My first question for you, is why? Why would you agree to this meeting in the first place?
Nommitt: Yes, Why?
Cecil: No, no, my dear fool, I am asking you why you would ask me such an insufferable question.
I could tell this was going to be a difficult interview at best from the offset, and I don't know why I was surprised. Howard raised his eyebrows enquiringly, not expecting a response, the pause serving to allow Cecil time to absorb the inescapable hostility of his answer and be thoroughly pleased by it.
Nommitt: Cecil, excuse me if I'm speaking out of turn. But you are a Meepit, that much is clear, by appearance and nature, and you and I both know how unusual it is that a Meepit would agree to meet with Neopians for a 'discussion of future prospects and relationships'.
Cecil: You would make a wonderful Meepit, have you ever considered the Lab Ray? *Maniacal Laughter*
Nommitt: I can't say I have - Would you care to answer the question?
Cecil: *Takes a deep breath followed by a sigh* OK, I agreed to come here today because... Well, because I think in the light of the war that has just happened it is high time that we come together. We should let this be a time of unity and recovery, rather than continued fighting and hostility between the races that grace the wonderful world of Neopia. As myself and my comrades sat beneath the Obelisk in the days following the battle... I... Oh, never mind.
Nommitt: Please, continue...
Cecil: Well, I felt moved by the determination and team-work of Neopia. Don't misplace my heartwarming nature. This is certainly not the way for other Meepits, I just hope that I can lead us into a new way of living amongst Neopians. Sitting under the tree at Christmas, lovingly opening the doors of the advent calendar, roasting chestnuts on an open fire in a neohome. It was like that once upon a time, you know, until... they came.
Nommitt: They came?
Cecil: The Sway.
**Cecil looks around somewhat worried about what he had just said as his voice changes into a sinister whisper.
Nommitt: What do you mean 'until The Sway came?' what did The Sway do, Cecil?
Cecil: They took us! One night! In the night... All of us, young, old, sons, daughters! You wouldn't have noticed, I mean, it would have been impossible for any Neopians or Neopets for notice.
Nommitt: They took you?
Cecil: Not physically, mentally! They took our minds, they altered our minds and they changed us, they changed how people viewed us, I don't know how, or why, all I know is I was changed. I mean, I... I have said far too much.
**There is a sudden sense of atmosphere in the room, Cecil begins to pull at his own fur, looking around him nervously as if someone else were in the room with us. His eyes begin to twitch.
Nommitt: Cecil, are you OK?
Cecil: I have said enough for one day. I must now rest.
**Interview suspended at 4:02pm
As Cecil hopped down from the chair, he walked out of the room and made his way back towards his private suite as Doctor Howard followed. Perhaps the interview could resume later. I figured the Meepit was clearly upset by remembering whatever it is The Sway had done that night. I was unaware at the time of the events unfolding in the hallway outside the interviewing suite.
"I've been meaning to talk to you," said Doctor Howard, approaching Cecil who was now receiving his full attention. "I know you've been considering a change of mind and, well... frankly I was hoping I might persuade you to reconsider."
"Howard," Cecil began apologetically "I..."
"...Now hear me out old chap, I know we can't possibly expect an idiotic, small-minded, absent hearted Meepit like you to understand the sheer measures we have gone to, to keep you quiet, but that's not the only factor to consider now is it, I mean, for one thing, do you really think your newly found expertise is best suited to the cause of 'leading' the helpless little critters into a Neopian bliss?"
Howard placed a hand on Cecils shoulder and smiled in his favorite condescending smile. Cecil understood that to argue was to try to hold back a perfect storm with a cocktail umbrella. He might have been more inclined to try were it not for the terrible twisting, bubbling sensation in his stomach, the one that was now becoming impossible to ignore.
"Okay, Howard," he conceded, "I understand."
"There we go," said Howard, moving his hand from Cecil's shoulder onto his back and motioning him back towards the interviewing suite. "Should be good. I've got a programme. Shall we go and return to our seats?"
As Howard ushered Cecil back into the room, he showed him one last thing. A ring carrying the golden embellishment of the letter 'S'... Cecil gulped, realizing what he had let himself in for.