If you were to be walking past 31482 Neopia Central, Main
Street, the first thing you would probably see are the many signs forbidding entrance
upon the grounds beyond, with its withered and dying plants and, last be certainly
not least, the Neohome itself. Or, at least, a sorry misconception of the word.
The building looked half-done, and as if it were
about to fall down at the touch of a feather, the stonework paled and crumbling,
windows cracked into a thousand pieces. Its single green door hung lazily on
its single remaining hinge, where it swung to and fro on the odd breeze. There
was no particular roof to speak of, just a sparse lining of thatch around the
tops of the walls. The curtains inside were ragged and moth-bitten, the rooms
cold and dank.
On some rare occasions, you may hear the odd
dull banging echoing down the empty hallways and reverberating in the dark rooms.
These noises could easily be mis-accounted for as faulty pipes or, to be extreme,
…But the truth, I think you’ll be glad to know,
is much more interesting.
For the truth was that, for all the rundown old
house may seem, it was actually habitable, and was actually accommodating at
this very precise minute a Neopian of the highest calibre and esteem that he
had actually allowed his home to become so just to be left alone to his work.
But where, I hear you ask, could anyone possibly
work in a decrepit house such as this was? The answer is simple; the house had
an extension to it that barely any other Neohome in the world had, one that
was both out of sight and comfortable. It held, far beneath its rotting floorboards
and mould-encrusted walls, a basement.
Now, the basement was as different to the rest
of the house as you could possibly imagine. For where the rest of the home was
spare and cold, the basement was fully-furnished and warm, thanks to a furnace
in the far corner, one could sleep within the hollowed-out ground (for that
was basically what it was, more or less) with almost the selfsame amount of
comfort as if it were a bedroom in the most luxurious of Neohomes.
But it wasn’t a bedroom on the whole. No, it
was mainly a workroom… a laboratory for want of a better word.
Whose laboratory, I hear you ask once again?
Why, none other than the lesser known and equally
genius of the two Scorchio Doctors, Harry Von Snappy, the brother of the eccentric
Doctor Zappy, worker and maintainer of the Secret Lab Ray that is so often frequented
by nearly all Neopians.
What’s that…? You mean to say you have never
actually heard of the Doctor Snappy?!
Well, then, I’d best be getting on with my story!
Doctor Snappy, dressed from head-to-toe in his usual grease-smeared overalls
that had originally been a brilliantly dazzling whiter-than-white white, stood
bent over a large metal contraption, red tail wagging joyously, goggles over
his eyes as he worked a wrench in one hand, Rubber duck in the other.
After giving the odd-looking machine a few final
twists with the wrench, Dr. Snappy took a step back to admire his handiwork.
Turning his head to the duck, he said. “Vell, Ducky? Can you tell vhat it is
He gave the Rubber Duck a quick, tight squeeze,
causing it to emit a short “Squeak!”
“Vhy, yes, it is a machine of mine!” he nodded
proudly, before realising that Ducky had been with him all the time while he
made, and that Ducky was being sarcastic. He gave it another short pinch.
“Vhat vas zat, Ducky? Vhat is it? You really
vant to know?” He gave the Duck two squeezes in quick succession this time.
A word here, if I may… you may have already realised
that the Doctor wasn’t all there in the Sanity Department. Like his brother,
he too was a few clues short of a full Faerie Crossword.
“Very vell, very vell, I shall tell you! To be
being patient, please!” Gathering his thoughts and clearing his throat at the
same time (an annoying habit, but it seemed to work) Doctor Snappy turned once
again to his machine. “Zis machine – and a very clever little piece of vork
it is, too – is zurely my greatest invention of all time! I present unto you,
Mister Ducky…The Snappy Anti-Gravitron 2645!”
An awed round of applause utterly failed to swell within the room, leaving
Doctor Snappy with his hands raised dramatically in the air. Turning an odd
shade of red, he quickly squeezed the Rubber Duck again in the embarrassing
“Vhy ze number 2645?” Doctor Snappy repeated
slowly, the redness in his cheeks growing darker with anger. “Vhy, have you
been asleep the last ten years, Mister Ducky?! 2645 is ze number of times I
have tried to create ze Anti-Gravitron!”
There was a short silence as comprehension dawned
on the Rubber Duck’s face (well, to Doctor Snappy it seemed like comprehension
dawning. Really it was just the flickering shadows from the furnace), then,
“You vant to know vhat it does?” Snappy murmured
in a confused daze. “Isn’t it obvious, you rubber simpleton? It destroys ze
laws of gravity; it makes vun able to fly vithout vings!”
“Squeak-cheep-squeaky! Cheep, squeak?”
“How come you have vings, but cannot fly?” The
Doctor’s confusion was mounting. Mister Ducky was never usually this bothersome.
It was usually a case of “Squeak-ah-squeak-cheep” (that’s great, let me have
a go), rather than all these questions. “How am I to be knowing zat? I am no
Ah, the Doctor sighed happily. Here it comes.
“Vhy, but of course, Mister Ducky! But kindly to be letting me demonstrate first,
hokay? Hokay…now vhere did I put ze controls…?”
If, by some amazing feat of magic and random
possibility, we were to view the following proceedings from the eyes of the
Rubber Duck, time would seem to slow down to half its normal speed.
Letting his wrench drop lazily from his hand
onto the work table, Doctor Snappy’s eyes grew large and he gasped for what
seemed like ages as the tool fell onto the table…but not before hitting the
controls in question, smashing it into a hundred pieces (the controls, not the
Almost as if on cue, the machine hummed into
life, sputtering and honking, emitting large clouds of steam as it bounced and
“Noooo!” Snappy cried out in despair, as time
seemed to return to normal. Placing Mister Ducky on the work table, he scurried
over to the machine, plunging his small red arm down amongst the clockwork components
to the power switch below. “Must reach…ze main switch…before it is too…erk!”
This last, strangled syllable of Snappy’s desperate
cry was not actually intended, and only came about when the Doctor found himself
being thrown up into the air, whereupon he found himself to be stuck fast to
the basement ceiling, much to his displeasure.
“Vell, vell, vell!” he fumed impatiently as fought
to lie down on the ceiling, as standing made him feel dizzy. Tapping his claws,
he muttered, “Zis is quite the predicament, to be sure! Vhat to do to be getting
down, I am vondering…?”
It was then that he spied Mister Ducky perched
quite safely on the work table, where the Doctor had left him out of the machine’s
range, and his eyes lit up with hope only a madman could dream of.
“Ah, but Mister Ducky!” he sighed in relief,
clasping together pleadingly. “You are going to help me to get down, hokay?”
Mister Ducky, however, sat in stubborn silence,
staring straight in front of him.
“Oh, come now, Mister Ducky!” Doctor Snappy whined
piteously, wringing his hands compassionately in the Rubber Duck’s direction.
He was still stuck to the ceiling, spread-eagled on his back, and the machine
didn’t sound like it was giving up any time soon. “All, you vould have to do
is vaddle under ze machine and flick off the manual switch vith your beak! Please…?”
Mister Ducky stayed exactly where he was, which
was probably the wisest choice, given the circumstances.
“Hokay, fine zen!” Snappy growled huffily. “Stay
put, zen! See if I care!”
And Mister Ducky did so, leaving the scatterbrained
Doctor to his weightless fate.
And, as far as I know, Doctor Snappy is still
there to this very day, lying on his basement ceiling, waiting for Mister Ducky
to kindly turn off the Snappy Anti-Gravitron 2645…
…but, of course, that’ll never happen, will it?
Mister Ducky’s way too smart for that.