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Usuki Singing Stars #48: The Great NT Mystery!


by downrightdude

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Sparkles looked at the whitestone rectangular building in front of her. “Here we are, gang!” The pink Bruce exclaimed excitedly. “The worldwide headquarters for the Neopian Times! Who knows what wonders we’ll see once we step inside?”

Scary sighed. “Are we going to barge in, or did we walk all the way here just to look at the ugly exterior?” asked the purple Bruce.

“Hmm, do you think we should have sent a notice about our visit?” Sparkles wondered. She watched two Weewoos fly in through the front doors, both carrying a burlap mailbag in their beaks. “Ooh, how cute! They must have delivered the latest NT issues right now.”

“REVENGE!!” Snaw swung his bat at a nearby bush before running towards the doors.

Stunned, Sparkles followed Scary inside. As they stepped into the lobby, they were swamped by a rush of hot air and the loud clattering of typewriters and cloud voices. The floor was littered with scattered NT papers, and a figure wearing a grey hoodie was walking by with a tall stack of newspapers. After kicking over a garbage can, Snaw screamed at the hoodie-clan figure, making him drop his stack and trip over a stray flyer.

“Are you alright?” Sparkles extended a hand. Then she gasped. “Hey, aren't you that new NT editor who's been answering the editorial? What was your name again….Aesop?”

“Down with everyone! Down with the NT! Up with nachos!” Snaw chanted, running around the lobby with a flower pot on his head.

“Freak.” Scary sighed. “Sparkles, the ‘thing’ is being stupid again.”

Sparkles helped Aesop up. “It’s an honour to meet you, Mr. NT Editor!” She fanned her face. “Wow, I can't believe we’re meeting an actual NT celebrity on our first visit here!”

Aesop blushed. “Um, thanks for that,” he mumbled. “Nobody’s ever said that to me before.”

“That’s because you’re a nobody,” Scary stated, “and nobody cares. Also, this place is boring and seriously needs a makeover.”

“I agree. Our offices certainly could use some renovations,” said Aesop. He picked up a small stack of papers. “Anyways, I have to go back to my office. You guys can follow me if you want.”

Sparkles clapped. “How exciting! We get to tour an actual NT office!!”

“Exactly why did we come here in the first place?” groaned Scary. She watched Snaw dance on a bundle of NT issues. “Besides watching the weirdo act weird in public, of course.”

***

Aesop kicked the door open and hurried towards his desk. “Here we are,” he said, dropping his stack and spreading his arms wide. “It’s a little messy, so watch where you step.”

Sparkles and Scary looked around the small office space. A chair and desk were to the left side, while three columns of papers were stacked to the right. Littered on the floor were papers, pencils and a few chewed easers. Snaw took delight in throwing two pencils at Aesop before hurling paper aeroplanes.

“These planes shall bring malice and confusion to the world!” Snaw exclaimed, aiming a seventh plane at his target.

“Well, I’m sure you keep yourself busy in such a snug working area,” said Sparkles, trying to sound optimistic.

Aesop ducked, avoiding two of Snaw’s paper planes. “I admit it’s not the cleanest working space in the building,” he said, swatting another plane away. “I’ve been too busy reviewing all the submissions that I keep neglecting my cleaning duties.”

“So basically, you’re a lazy n00b who can’t clean up their surroundings because they're too stupid to do it..” Scary scowled. “You somehow disgust me more than Snaw!”

“Come on, he’s not bad at all,” Sparkles insisted. She turned to Aesop. “Speaking of submissions, that’s why we wanted to visit the NT today.”

Snaw cartwheeled around the room. “Yes, talking Bruce! Retell my tragic tale of woe and greed to this lowly peasant!”

Sparkles cleared her throat. “Last month, Snaw received a response from the NT. It said his latest article was being held over for the Neopian Literature collab issue. Yet with the collab issue coming out in a few days, Snaw had yet to receive any more responses! We were thinking of waiting until the collab came out before sending a reply, but then we decided to visit the NT office to see what happened.”

“That, and our stupid owner kept throwing dirt clots at strangers,” Scary added, sounding a bit pleased. “Sparkles only wanted to come here to stop Snaw’s wrath of weirdness.” She glared at Snaw, who was now dancing.

“Gosh, I’m really sorry for that,” said Aesop earnestly. “I don’t know what happened. Guess your entry must have gotten lost amongst all the other entries for that collab issue.” He scratched his head and watched a pink Lenny walk by. “Hey, Wanda! You were the one that gave me those collab entries, right?”

Wanda stopped. “Indeed I did,” she said.

“Do you know if any entries were lost before we sent out the replies?” asked Aesop.

“It could be in the storage room,” Wanda suggested. “Go check in there.” She adjusted her purse and walked away.

“Can it really be in the storage room?” asked Sparkles as she followed Aesop.

“It’s possible,” said Aesop. “Everything that’s held over by the NT gets dumped there. The entries that get rejected are later disposed of. Unfortunately, there are times when entries that were accepted, or were designated for special issues, are left behind by mistake.”

Sparkles and Scary stepped into the storage room, following Aesop to a mountain-high stack of white papers. “Are you sure Snaw’s entry is somewhere in that pile?” asked Sparkles, craning her neck back to view the very top.

“It could be. Let’s get started.” Aesop picked up a pile of entries.

Sparkles picked up a few entries and checked their envelopes. She smiled at the thought of every entry she examined being published in the NT someday. Every contributor, whether they be a comic artist or article writer would be thrilled to receive an official NT trophy! Thinking about all the happy Neopians made the sorting go by faster for Sparkles, who loved imagining the smiling faces of those whose entries would be chosen for the Neopian Times.

“Are you morons done with your stupid quest yet?” Scary asked after an hour and a half passed by. “I’m tired of looking at these stupid comics from untalented n00bs. Is there a paper shredder around here?”

“You can't shred those, Scary,” Sparkles insisted. She turned to Aesop, whose gaze was fixed at an envelope stained with brown stains.

Aesop handed the entry over to Sparkles. “I think this one might be it. Either that, or it's somebody named ‘Snawwwaawawa’.”

“No, that’s our idiot,” groaned Scary.

Sparkles blew a sigh of relief. “I'm so relieved we finally found it! Thank goodness Snaw spilt coffee on this for…. um, some reason.”

“And there's even a sparkly gold border, too,” said Aesop. “Gee, I’m terribly sorry your entry has been ignored till now. I’ll make sure this gets reviewed ASAP.”

“Thanks so much, Aesop!” Sparkles beamed. “We had so much fun touring the Neopian Times offices! It was exciting and educational.”

“No it wasn't,” Scary grumbled.

Aesop nodded. “It’s no problem. I’m glad we were able to find your entry in time. Now it can get a proper review.”

Snaw ran around, waving a whip in the air. “Obey the Snaw! Disobedience is bad! Clouds are good!”

“Can we leave yet? This place is boring me,” groaned Scary.

Aesop followed the trio to the front door. “Thanks for stopping by, guys. If you have any other NT concerns or questions, please do stop by anytime,” he said, holding the door open.

“Sure thing, Aesop! We’d love to drop by sometime,” said Sparkles.

When they were out of earshot, Scary remarked, “I can't believe we had to leave before shredding any of those N00b-worthy entries. Not one of those dweebs deserves any NT fame!”

“I think the NT is very lucky to have a dedicated editor like Aesop working for them,” Sparkles countered. “He and Scrappy are my two favourite NT editors.”

Snaw folded his article into a paper aeroplane and threw it into the sky. “Fly, my pretty! Go somewhere far away and spread your message of vengeance!”

As the aeroplane flew away, Snaw cackled loudly and cartwheeled. “Neopia shall fear the Snaw! Everything shall fall under the crushing beauty of Snaw!"

The end.

 
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