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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 20th day of Gathering, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 58 > New Series > The Dung Collector: Part One

The Dung Collector: Part One

by shidi

"Dis iz da tale of da kewlest gelart in niopa..." Snickerscat read, eyeing the file in disgust. The mutant Buzz had the frequently thankless and ill-paying job of being one of the pets who read The Neopian Times submissions each week. "This piece stinks!" she said with a grumble, and pressed the delete key. "Oops."

     Sventhor, the old and very nearsighted Bruce who was working on the terminal beside her, commented cheerfully, "You know, Snickerscat, maybe you need a vacation. They say if you work too long at sorting through the dung heap of bad submissions, terrible things can happen to your psyche."

     "Nah, I'll be fine, Sven. I'm sure there's something good in here... somewhere," she said with a sigh, continuing to sort. The pets had already sent in their recommendations for stories, articles, and comics for the week to their Editor, the enigmatic Mister Shankly. Series, however, was posing a bit of problem. For some reason, the selections that people had sent in this week left much to be desired. "Here's one that looks promising: 'How I Saved Neopia - A Tale In...' never mind."

     "A tale in never mind?" blinked Sventhor.

     "A tale in eighty-seven parts," Snickerscat sighed. "It's the size of War and Peace."

     "Probably as exciting, too," grumbled the Bruce. "Here's a 'gem'. It's called: 'Sloth and Fyora - Forbidden Love'."

     "Gag me!" Snickerscat said, making faces. "Delete, delete!" She went back to digging through her inbox, piece by piece. Some of the works were immediately discarded, because they weren't about Neopia at all, or they didn't include the author's name. How silly was it to write an entire piece, and then not put a name on it? "I'm not a mind reader."

     "More nameless wonders?" Sventhor asked.

     "Yep, the same old story with no name," Snickerscat said, shaking her wings. "Sad, really, that someone would take the time to write all this and then not include their name."

     "Bah," said Sventhor, "If they're that stupid, they deserve not to be published."

     "But still," the Buzz moaned, rubbing her eyes that were starting to burn with the searing heat of failure, "we need serieses for this week."

     "Serieses?" Sventhor chuckled. "You're starting to think like Them. You really do need a vacation, Snickerscat. Maybe you should ask Mister Shankly for some time off?"

     Snickerscat eyed the editor's office door nervously. Shankly had the best office in the Times - with a gold plated S on his door and everything. She didn't like to go into his office, with its odd posters of Vanja and the Handsome Devils on the wall and its carefully arranged Zen furniture. Not to mention, the place always smelled slightly of Studio Stunt Hair Gel, and that stuff was just plain awful!

     Snickerscat wasn't sure what was worse - heading in there to talk to Shankly, or continuing to look through her inbox. She eyed the title of her next mail--Ne1 4 T?--and made the decision right there. Mister Shankly couldn't possibly be worse than the hordes of bad submissions that awaited. "Wish me luck," she said to Sventhor.

     "Good luck, my friend," he said, saluting with a wing. "And remember, if he starts reading poetry, get out of there!"

     "Right, I remember." Bloody awful poetry, in fact, if the rumours were true. It was said to be one of the top reasons for the high turnover rate of pets. That, and well, the whole submissions thing... and the pay. And the hours, and the working conditions, and that time Sloth broke in and started firing his ray gun... well, there were a lot of reasons, really, when one looked at it objectively. Still, as she padded quietly for the door, Snickerscat reminded herself to be very cautious when asking for vacation time, and above all, avoid the poetry.

     She gathered all her nerve, and knocked cautiously, right under the golden S. There was no answer, so she knocked a bit louder. "Vanja, is that you?" Mister Shankly called from within.

     "Um... no, Sir... It's Snickerscat."

     "No thanks, I've already had lunch!" he called.

     "The Buzz, sir? I work for you sorting through the dung heap," she continued nervously.

     "Oh, right. Come on in."

     Snickerscat turned the knob, and opened the door. It made a rather eerie creaking sound that made her jump slightly. She steadied herself and stepped onto the Zen carpet, shutting the door behind her. As always, the office smelled like Stunt Studio Hair Gel - though the scent was stronger than usual because the editor was hard at work at the moment grooming his stylish pompadour. He glanced over at Snickerscat with a welcoming smile. "Got those series for me, Rickerrat?"

     "That's Snickerscat, sir... and no, not yet. In fact, it's pretty rough out there this week."

     "Welcome to my world," Shankly said, capping the gel and wiping his hand on a special monogrammed towel that hung beside his desk for just that purpose. "I was just pondering that lack of quality this week myself. That, and writing a new poem. Would you like to hear it? Its called 'Ode to Socks'."

     "Gah... that's quite all right, sir... I'm sure a simple Buzz like myself couldn't possibly comprehend your vast genius."

     But it was too late. Shankly slid open his desk drawer and pulled out a red bound leather book with golden sigils on the front, and a skull-shaped clasp. He opened it with a slightly sinister smile, and flipped to the appropriate page.

     "Ode to Socks," he read. "So stinky, so sweet. I like to place them on my feet...."

     Snickerscat could feel a rising panic from deep within. She wanted to flee, to run out of the office as fast as she could, but she was frozen in sheer horror. Her large red eyes became luminous with tears as Shankly continued to read. The pain was unbearable.

     "So terrible and rank and smellier by the hour... and now, little Buzz, you are in my power!" Shankly said, closing the book. "Muhahahahahhhahaha!" he laughed, and catching sight of himself in one of the room's many mirrors, paused a moment to admire. "You know, I look good when I'm being bad."

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

The Dung Collector: Part Two

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