Sal Vs. The Neopian Times
“And so Marty, he just rolls his eyes and goes, ‘NOOOOOO...’”
“Miles, I kinda gotta go...?”
“...So I did. And he gets all indignant on me he’s like, ‘Hey, man, I was just being sarcastic!’ Well that’s just great how was I supposed to know that?! I’m not a mind reader for cryin’ out loud...”
“I HAVE TO LEAVE!”
“Fine, be that way. It was a great anecdote, I’m not gonna lie.”
Here’s the story. I was trying to get my story into the Neopian Times. Me? I’m Sal. Shadow Gelert and class pretty-boy. According to Miles. He’s a yellow Chia. Whatever. And yes, I was in another story. It’s called a spin-off, all right?
Speaking of stories, this story I was about to deliver to the Catacombs, was brilliant. I know it sounds egotistical, and Miles will tell you I am, but seriously, this was the most amazing story you would ever read in your pitiful meaningless existence. Really, it had more action, humor, and... similes... than you or your grandmother could handle.
I took the final copy, pale yellow envelope and all, into the pouring rain to the Neopian Times office. This was gonna be it. This was gonna be the big issue 300 headlining short story. No umbrella to shelter me in the rain, just a sweater and jeans were my soaking devices as I trooped down the sidewalk, running as the raindrops hit me.
First off, I gotta say—acid rain? Same as regular rain. No lie.
Secondly, what’s with the grey pets’ obsession with rain? I saw at least three grey pets lying on the front lawn staring at the rain falling down. And at least one of them was writing poetry and letting the rain wash away the ink.
As the rain stopped, I walked a bit longer down not-so-sunny Rainbow Lane (No rainbows here, kiddies!) until I encountered a giant jelly monster consuming the street. That’s just great. Just great. I was going to get absorbed. I was going to get absorbed and probably, the jelly monster would implode and send me flying from Neopia Central all the way to the Virtupets Space Station.
I’ll spare the details, because that’s exactly what happened. As I flew into the deep ebony beyond they call “Outer Space”, I questioned how I could breathe. And weirder... I thought Jelly World didn’t exist; how’d we get a jelly monster? Never mind that, how was I going to get to the Catacombs on time?
“ANY KIND SPACESHIPS CARE TO PICK UP A GELERT TRYING TO GET INTO ISSUE 300?” was written in bold black marker on a scrap piece of metal. Heavy metal. And not the music kind.
I’d resorted to hitchhiking. I couldn’t believe myself.
And my bad, I was sent via implosion to Kreludor rather than Virtupets. Same thing, who gives a meaty lupe treat what the difference is?
Suddenly I was saved... I think. A shockingly purple spaceship pulled up to where I stood.
“Sal? What’re you doing here?” My science teacher, all foot and a half of her, and same color purple as her ship, was here to rescue me. She wasn’t my favorite teacher, but I was happy she was here.
I stammered, “...visiting?”
D’OH. I messed it up. For all we know Mrs. Whats_her_face could’ve had me in the Catacombs in a matter of minutes. But did I want to endure those few minutes during the (gulp) summer!? Probably not.
“Nice to see you around here, come back soon!”
And she was off.
My one way ticket to the Neopian Times office was gone. I became desperate.
“H-hey! Can I have a ride?” I called out hopelessly to a pair of mutant Grundos in a shiny silver-grey spaceship. They grunted. YES. FINALLY, I thought. After two whole hours, I can maybe make it in time!
“We can only take you to Terror Mountain; this is a programmed ship and we’re making a shipment,” one grunted. Wow, more than one word out of a mutant Grundo. Sloth was really upping those thug standards!
Minutes later I was in Happy Valley. Thank goodness they didn’t drop me on the peak of the mountain, or I’d be playing Cliffhanger, literally. I dared not question why they were dropping off slushies. Hey, maybe Sloth had some extras and cared to donate.
I ventured off into Tyrannia. I did not know the language of Tyrannia, and every time I tried to converse, they’d attempt to slap me across the face. At least I knew some Tyrannian insults. I found some Krawk Island natives buying exports in Tyrannia and was kissing their feet because they said they’d take me to Neopia Central-- thank Fyora, I don't think I could've taken a trip across that horrid Roo Island, the pirates' other destination.
We boarded the pirate ship, the Sea Warf. I suspected it was stolen. Their captain, a tough-looking pirate Kougra, named Captain Crossbones, approached me. “Arrrgh son, what be your name?”
“Sal, sir captain sir.”
“How’d ye know my first name was Sir?”
“I guessed, captain sir—I mean Captain Crossbones... sir... oh... wait...”
“We be nice enough to let those gone astray onto this here beauty.”
“I am grateful.”
“Would ye like some ice cream?”
“Yes! We here love chocolate ice cream!”
I suddenly felt at home. I loved chocolate ice cream as well.
“’Cept me, I like pistachio!”
I turned, looking for the annoyingly happy voice. I knew that voice.
Captain Crossbones continued, “We picked this stray matey off the coast of Neopia Central!”
Dumbfounded, I said, “...Miles...?”
“What can I say, I like to travel. Hop on a few pirate ships here and there, swab the deck, shoot some petpet cannons...”
I couldn’t believe my two eyes. And I didn’t want to hear the end of that horrible anecdote he was telling me earlier.
Ironically, Miles sat down with a wooden bowl of pistachio ice cream and said, “Like I was saying, I see this guy Marty carrying a big ol’ sofa up the stairs all by himself...”
I took my bowl of ice cream from a pirate Chomby and ate it gratefully as Miles babbled on and on about sauerkraut. He doesn’t know I carry earplugs everywhere I go.
Finally we reached Neopia Central. Thank Fyora that Miles stayed on the ship, because the Neopian Times office was closing in twenty minutes, and it took fifteen to get there. I had five to spare, and maybe I had enough neopoints to get a cup of islandberry coffee and heck, I was so run-down I could’ve gone for that paired with a raspberry mocha candy bar too!
I rushed to the office, enthralled. Sal, I thought, Sal, you’ve outdone yourself. You are the greatest Gelert who ever lived.
Ran into the pink Uni at the desk. Never liked her. Tacky office too.
She chewed her gum. “We’re closing. Back it up buddy, the door’s behind you.”
“You’re not closing!” I argued. “You close in five minutes!”
“Five minutes is nothing, we’re closin’ it up.”
I tried my pseudo-persuasive outlook on the secretary. Worked with all my teachers when they tried to give me detention.
“Listen,” I said calmly and suavely. “Five minutes is a lifetime to a fly, or a snowflake, or—”
“We’re closing, give it up,” the Uni droned.
I resorted to whining. “Please, just let me drop this off to the editor’s office, I need to get this into issue 300! I promise, I’ll be thirty seconds!”
“Issue 300 was several weeks ago.”
I stood frozen.
Talk about irony.