Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 142,874,434 Issue: 200 | 22nd day of Swimming, Y7
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Sloth and the Coffee Conundrum

by perfect_eternal


Dr. Frank Sloth sat in the breakfast tent backstage of Neopets, totally and utterly exhausted. He had a jumbo-size coffee mug on the table in front of him and a large pack of chocolates in his pocket. They'd probably be gone before the day was over.

     He looked even more evil than he usually did that morning, with huge bags under his eyes. The whole Neopets team knew that Sloth was definitely not a morning person. In any way whatsoever.

     Sloth took a huge gulp of his coffee. Aaah, caffeine. Just the thing he needed to wake himself up for the long day ahead of him.

     At the sound of running footsteps, he looked up from his coffee and saw the Shop Wizard coming towards him. Miserable little stuck-up JubJub-a chatterbox and annoying to boot.

     "Here we go, another fantastic day backstage of Neopets," said Sloth, dripping sarcasm from every word in the hope that it would make the Wizard go away. But the stupid JubJub didn't notice. He just kept right on coming.

     "Hey Mr. S! How's the morning coming?"

     Sloth thought about throwing his coffee at the Wizard, but realized it would be a waste of caffeine. Instead, he retorted, "My name is Doctor. Frank. Sloth. Not Mr. S. And as to your question, my morning had been merely bad until you showed up. Now it's horrible."

     "Well, my morning's going great! I got a lot of really cool stuff from-"

     "Can't you go pester Little Miss Queeneypants instead?" Sloth was getting fed up. All the Shop Wizard's talk was ruining his coffee.

     "Her name is Fyora," said the Wizard. "And no, I can't pester her. She's getting her makeup done."

     "Good Sludge! How long does it take for that woman to get herself dolled up?" Sloth said so loudly that most of the people in the tent turned and stared. He grumbled something and told the Shop Wizard to go away and pester the stage-and-lighting crew.

     "Whatever, Mr. S. Why d'ya have to be so grumpy all the time, anyway?"

     Sloth opened his mouth to explain noisily that a lifetime of plotting world domination gave one the right to be grumpy sometimes, but then his attention was drawn to a commotion at the breakfast buffet line.

     "Holy Ray Guns," he groaned, "can't these faeries give it a moment's rest. One moment, that's all I ask. Just one!"

     "You know your place!"

     "Don't talk to me like that! I'll tear your wings off!"

     "Get out of the way and hand me over the cereal!"

     Darigan flew over, wearing a bathrobe, with that little punk Jeran trailing behind him. "Cut this out! I thought we'd stopped this total nonsense once and for all last time it happened! Don't you point your wand at me, Jhudora!"

     "Yeah, dude. You totally suck!" said Jeran. Suck-up, thought Sloth.

     Jhudora looked offended. "Illusen started it!" She pointed a long finger at the earth faerie.

     "That's not true!" Illusen said, stamping her foot. "I was in line and-"

     "Enough!" Darigan yelled loudly enough to shake the tent. "What happened this time?"

     "I was just pouring my corn flakes and-"

     "It was my turn to get cereal!"

     "-and this annoying little dark faerie is standing there tapping her foot, so I say knock it off, and-

     "You did not! You said to-"

     "Okay. Okay. I get the picture." Darigan sighed and folded his arms. Even wearing a fuzzy yellow bathrobe, he was an imposing sight. "You were fighting over breakfast cereal?!"

     Sloth snorted at Darigan's words. Those idiot faeries, getting themselves worked up over a little bit of cereal. He conveniently forgot the stage-crew member that he had Sludgified yesterday for taking the last of the milk.

     The fighters were looking foolish, except for Jhudora, who was wearing an expression of righteous anger mixed with humility. They kicked at the ground and scuffled around until Darigan went away, then finally broke up the fight with a few pushes and tugs. Illusen stalked off to one end of the tent, and Jhudora to the other.

     Sloth realized with a sinking feeling of horror that he was on the very last table on his side of the tent.

     He thought about breaking down and sobbing when Jhudora took a seat on the side the Shop Wizard wasn't occupying, and the Tooth Faerie sat on the table in front of him. Why, oh why couldn't everyone just leave him alone to drink his coffee in peace?

     Jhudora and the Tooth Faerie started quarreling almost immediately about whether Fruit Loops or Complete Bran Flakes were better. Sloth got up, coffee in hand.

     "I'm leaving, pals. I don't have to be a part of this conversation. Oh, and if any of you follow me," he added as the Shop Wizard got up to join him, "I'll make sure some heavy lighting equipment falls on your head."

     Sloth walked slowly out of the breakfast tent and across the stage. He loved to watch the stage workers… work, while he did nothing at all. It was so much fun.

     He wandered out over to the Money Tree and sat down underneath its branches, glad that he had found a peaceful place to drink his coffee.

     Sloth looked up suddenly at the sound of approaching footsteps. Oh no. Oh no. Please, not her.

     Little Miss Sunshine sashayed around the corner of the set, admiring herself in all available reflective surfaces.

     "Please," Sloth prayed, "please oh please do not see me. Please do not see me. Ignore me. I'm invisible. Do not see me-oh, dang." She had seen him.

     "Hello, Mr. S!! Didn't the makeup department do such a fantabulous job on my this morning?!" Sloth put down his coffee and covered his ears. His eardrums were about to burst from her high, squeaky voice. And… fantabulous?

     "Uh, yeah," he said, "it's great. Wonderful. Er, amazing." He knew not to insult Fyora, the Faerie Queen. If he did, all the faeries would be after him-fire faeries, dark faeries, light faeries, water faeries, even the Battle Faerie with her evil, limb deforming swords. So much pain. Too much for a just a cheap insult.

     Fyora giggled girlishly, totally unaware of Sloth's mounting discomfort. "Oh, thank you so much!! I'm sure that the dear makeup department tried something new this morning, and it worked gorgeously!! I'll have to-"

     Evil, evil Fyora, Sloth thought viciously. I hope your wings fall off and your hair falls out. He suddenly remembered his untouched coffee and sobbed. It was being so terribly mistreated. Suddenly, he saw Sarah the Zafara walking past. Saved at last!

     "Umm, sorry, Fyora, but I've got to go speak to Sarah. Er, bye!" He dashed away gratefully, leaving Fyora staring bewildered at his retreating back.

     "Sarah!" Sloth cried as he stepped in front of her.

     "Hey Sloth. Incidentally, d'you know where my spectacles are?"

     "No." Why should he?

     "Well, help me look for them," said Sarah. "C'mon! Let's go!"

     Sloth looked pathetically at the innocent coffee cup resting in his hand.

     "Come on, Sloth! I really do need my glasses, you know!"

     Sloth followed morosely after Sarah and helped her search. There was really nothing else he could do. But as the coffee-less seconds ticked by, he could feel himself getting nearer and nearer to the breaking point.

     He and Sarah looked all over Neopia-in the Maraquan set, in Faerieland, even under the Giant Omelette. Eventually, after thirty minutes of searching, Sloth found the spectacles inside one of the books in the Book Store.

     "Thanks, Sloth!" said Sarah the Zafara gratefully. "I'm nothing without my glasses!" She put on the spectacles and peered closely at him. "Good God, Sloth, you look like you've been tortured within an inch of your life! What happened?"

     Sloth broke down. "Well, well, well, I was really sleepy this morning and I got a big mug of coffee to wake me up and I just wanted to drink the coffee but then the bratty little Shop Wizard shows up and starts chatting to me and Illusen and Jhudora got into a fight over cereal and then somehow I get involved in their conversation and they start talking and making my head hurt so I run away and try to drink my coffee-"

     "Wait just a second," said Sarah. She tilted her head to the side, blinked a couple of times and adjusted her glasses. "Okay, continue."

     Sloth went on, "-and that Fyora shows up and starts blabbering to me about her stupid makeup and I still haven't drunk my coffee and she won't stop talking and she made up disgusting words like fantabulous and I ran away to you so I could drink my coffee but then you made me look for your glasses and I still! Haven't drunk! My c-c-coffee!" He burst into tears and flung himself on Sarah, who seemed slightly alarmed.

     "All I ever wanted! Was to drink my coffee! But nobody would let me! H-h-h…"

     Sarah patted his shoulder awkwardly in an attempt to calm him down. "Ummmm, it's okay, Sloth. You can drink your coffee now. I won't let anyone stop you from drinking your coffee. It's okay. Um. Now can you please let go of me? You're terribly, er, out of character now."

     Sloth let go and thanked her. Then he picked up his coffee mug and took a huge gulp.

     "Aaaaah. Thank you, Sarah."

     Sarah still looked awkward. "Um… are you sure work isn't stressing you out too much, Sloth? Maybe you should get a counselor or something…"

     "No!" he said, getting excited again, but then he calmed himself down. "No. Really. I-I'm okay. I'm, er, okay."

     "Whatever you say, Sloth." Sarah began to leave.

     "Um, Sarah?" Sloth said. Sarah turned around and looked at him warily. "Er, could you not… mention this to anyone?"

The End

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