Too Good to be True
Taking a sip of his morning coffee, Dr. Frank Sloth let out a sigh and began his morning ritual of sorting through his mail. A group of pesky Grundos had thought it’d be funny to sign him up to a variety of mailing lists. Even with his vast power and influence, he’d had been so far unsuccessful in stopping it.
“Junk, junk and more junk”, Frank grumbled as he glanced through his mail, tossing the unimportant ones into a pile. Loath to admit it, he did like to browse the sales catalogues for bargains. However, he would never admit this to anyone.
Almost finishing up his daily mail sorting, a gleam of gold reflected off the light and caught his attention.
“Hmm, what’s this?” Frank muttered as he grabbed the envelope.
The envelope was relatively plain except for the golden seal picturing a rather dashing Chomby in a top hat. Turning the envelope over, the words ‘To the esteemed Dr. Sloth’ were inscribed in an intricate font.
“I like this neopian already”, Frank chuckled to himself as he opened the envelope.
Once fully opened, a letter tumbled out onto the table. Picking it up, Sloth began to read it.
‘To the most esteemed Dr. Frank Sloth - benevolent ruler and savior of the Grundo population:
It is with great honor that I, Keethiel Reginald Chombicus, formally invite you to the first annual gala to commemorate Neopians greatest heroes.
I welcome you to partake in the festivals at my grand mansion where you shall enjoy entertainment among Neopia’s best and brightest.
You need not bring anything except for yourself. My lavish mansion will cater to your every whim and I guarantee it will be a night you shall not regret.
Be at my mansion at 6pm prompt, Neopian Standard Time.
Sir Keethiel the 1st.’
Normally Frank wouldn’t attend such events but this one piqued his interest. It was clear that this Keethiel recognized his momentous achievements and was a Neopian of high caliber. Setting a reminder in his calendar, Frank quickly drank the rest of his coffee, wiped his face and set off to find his best suit. ________
Glancing back down at the letter, Frank was fairly sure he’d gotten the right address. He was standing outside the door of a lavish mansion. Folding the letter into his back pocket, Frank rapped on the door.
Promptly the large oak doors creaked open to reveal a rather regal Chomby. Wearing a fine suit and top hat, the Chomby was the epitome of class. However, the size of the Chomby left Frank rather perplexed. After all, he was only half a meter tall.
“Ah, good evening Master Sloth”, the Chomby boomed eloquently, twirling his cane around. “Welcome to my rather humble establishment!”, he continued. “Please come in, you’ve arrived just in time as we’re about to start. Allow my servant Mercutio to take your belongings.”
Frank maliciously grinned as he handed off his items to the rather sad looking Pawkeet. It was clear that he was going to be treated as he rightly deserved. It was about time someone recognized him for his valiant achievements and his contributions to Neopia.
“Come this way. The other guests are waiting to meet you and we’ll jump straight into the activities. You have much to see”, Keethiel gestured as he led Frank through his extravagant mansion. The walk itself took a long time and disoriented Frank as he was led through corridors containing many twists and turns.
Eventually they came to a halt outside a room with a rather ominous steel door.
“Ahh we’ve arrived. If you’d kindly step inside”, Keethiel smiled as he waved Frank into the room with his tail.
Frank adjusted his bow tie and cleared his throat, plastering his best smile as he walked into the room.
However, just as promptly his smile dropped. Inside the room was a variety of Neopians. However, many were from the Gallery of Evil (himself included) and Frank was not on the best of terms with many of them.
His initial horror quickly turned into confusion as he noticed everyone was seated at desks, chatting amongst themselves. The desks were arranged in rows, all facing one side of the room which housed a large projector.
Without missing a beat, Keethiel began escorting Frank to an empty seat on the other side of the room, gleefully promising that the night would be one to remember.
Frank frowned as he lowered himself into his chair. He wasn’t quite sure what was happening and why it looked like a classroom.
“Now that everyone is seated, allow me to begin the first session of the night”, Keethiel smiled as he wandered off to the projector.
Frank glanced around and noticed that he was seated next to Meuka. Leaning over, he waved to get Meuka’s attention despite not being on the best of terms with this disgusting creature.
“Hey Meuk, long time no see. How’s the wife and kids?” Frank smirked.
Meuka narrowed his eyes. “Slothykins! You know perfectly well that I don’t have any. What I can’t figure out is why you were invited to such a prestigious event.”
Frank let out a chortle and pretended to wipe tears from his eyes.
“My dear Meuk. Clearly, sir Keethiel has exquisite taste. He values my achievements. What I can’t figure out is why he invited you here”.
Looking around the room he added, “I don’t understand why the pant devil is here either. This was an exclusive event for Neopia’s best.”
Meuka glanced around, eyeing all of the various attendees.
“Now that you mention it, this is rather odd. Did you find out what is actually going to be happening tonight?”
“No I didn’t. Now that I think about it, the letter was rather vague”, muttered Frank as he began to grow wary.
Suddenly the lights went dark and the projector screen lit up.
“Welcome, welcome one and all to my illustrious event!” roared Keethiel as he stood by the presentation screen.
“You may be wondering why you’re all here. Now I was being truthful when I claimed that you are Neopias best and brightest. You all share something in common. I believe and I’m sure you all believe that your efforts are underappreciated”.
“Here, here!” cheered the room as the villains began banging on their desk.
“Yes, it’s a true shame” continued Keethiel, “that you must live in scrutiny and be hindered by your achievements. That is why I have bought you all together. I have a solution that will solve all your problems.”
Franks attention was piqued as he leaned into his seat, a grin forming on his face.
Clicking a button on the projector, Keethiel continued his presentation until it stopped on a photo of some happy looking Neopians.
“See these Neopians? They’re too happy for their own good. We need to get rid of that happiness”.
Keethiel clicked to the next slide. It showed the same Neopians huddled together looking terribly sad.
“This is what they should look like. This is how they should feel in your presence. To them, you are all currently a laughing stock with nothing to show.”
Frank looked around and noticed a number of the villains in the room nodding their head, enraptured in the presentation.
“This is why I have a solution,” Keethiel continued. “I have spent many years developing this serum to help out Neopians just like you. I call it happiness-b-gone. Anyone who uses it will be directly afraid of the specific target. I guarantee it works! With this magical item, you can be feared as you rightly should!”
The room erupted in further cheers and Frank raised his eyebrows, perplexed as to how everyone was so quickly consumed by the promise.
“Now I’m sure you’re wondering how to gain access to this product. Well, it’s very easy.” Keethiel smiled dazzlingly.
“Currently, I have only enough materials for one batch. That is why I need your help to invest. For a measly sum of 100,000 neopoints, I will develop enough serum to make you feared for a month. However, our total contributions in the room alone will not be enough. This is why you need to invite friends and family to also sign up. The more people you invite, the more serum is made, keeping you all greatly feared. It’s super simple and super easy!”
While the room was erupting in claps, Frank furrowed his eyebrows, deep in thought. Then it clicked.
It was a pyramid scheme.
With a groan Frank slammed his head on the desk. How did he not see the warning signs earlier? He had to get out.
Climbing out of the chair, a sharp cough stopped him in his tracks.
“And where do you think you’re going?” Keethiel asked icily, all traces of merriment gone.
“Uhhh, I need to go to the bathroom”, Frank said meekly. The other villains smirked at him. Although it was humiliating, he’d be having the last laugh once they’d parted with their money.
“Ah, down the hall and to the left!” Keethiel boomed, returning to his boastful self. “Be back soon as we’ll be getting into the good part – with canapes for al!”
Frank hurried out of the room, slamming the door shut on his way out. Turning into a full sprint he began scrambling through the hallways looking for an escape. Eventually he realized he was lost and looked around desperately.
Spying a window, he opened the latch and climbed out to find himself in the mansion’s gardens. Although Frank’s items were still with the butler, it was a small price to pay.
Wandering through the topiary, Frank spotted the mansion entrance and hopped over the gate.
“I still can’t believe I got conned into a pyramid scheme” Frank muttered as he began the walk home. He still struggled to comprehend how such an innocent looking young Chomby could be so devious.
Upon arriving home later that evening, Frank spent the next 3 hours unsubscribing from all mailing lists. He’d also made sure to block all communication from Keethiel. Once finished, he let out a yawn and rubbed his eyes.
“I think,” he grumbled to himself, “I’ll just stick to the daily newspaper from now on”.