The Valentine's Day of Dr. Frank Sloth
Have you ever wondered, in the very, very bottom of your heart, perhaps, what Sloth does for Valentine’s Day? What does the hideously dastardly, evilly cunning, always-a-bad-hair-day villain do on this day full of Candy and Hearts and Roses and I-love-yous with not a single Bad Hair in the description? Where in this wonderful, loveable day is there room for abducting and Transmogrification potions? Well, I wondered this very same thing. And in order to find out, I have gone to the farthest reaches of Neopia—ahem, Kreludor, to bring you this story, which is just chock-full of news on what one of Neopia’s favourite villains does for one of Neopia’s favourite days (as well as sheds some light on what a writer really goes through when starting a story).
So what does Dr. Frank Sloth do when he wakes up on Valentine’s Day morn? I woke up that morning full of energy, happy to be doing something exciting with my Valentine’s Day. There’s only so much candy one can have, and hearts really aren’t the most pleasing shape in Neopia. I opened one eye, and glanced at the curtains. A few rays of orangey-pink pre-dawn light came in through the cracks, striping the windowsill. I gave the alarm clock a quick glance, just to make sure it wasn’t already too late (it wasn’t), threw off the covers and sprinted out of my dark bedroom, still in my nightie.
My pets weren’t so thrilled about this ‘crazy’ idea of mine.
“Mummy, it’s nighty-time,” Rosie moaned when I rapped on the door to her room. I was wide-awake, and felt a little like a whoot in the near-dark of dawn, standing in the hallway in my big fluffy bedtime-socks. “Get up, Rosie!” I called out cheerfully. Wow, was this day going to be spifftastic!
The door opened with a creak, and my baby Ogrin peered out sleepily, rubbing her eyes.
“Mummy, it dark,” she whimpered. It was, but that wasn’t about to stop me.
“In the kitchen in five minutes, and I’ll make pancakes,” I suggested. That got her going. The door slammed in my face, and I set off along the hallway happily, toward my other pets’ rooms.
Ten minutes later, we were all in the kitchen. I was at the stove, dressed for the day in jeans and a cherry-print T-shirt with my mousy brown hair forced into a ponytail, humming my favourite tune as I poured pancake batter on the griddle. Hurrah for instant baking mix! Already, there was a heap of golden-brown cakes on a platter by my right elbow.
“Blueberries on mine,” my red Kougra, Tanamoril, mumbled from his place at the kitchen table. He was sitting next to Taratelica, my yellow Ogrin and the only one in the family with any taste in clothes. Rosie was in her high-chair, colouring on the wood with a pink crayon. I think she’s a budding artist, and it’s always necessary to encourage young children to express themselves.
“Go get them, then,” I told Tanamoril, grabbing for the spatula as the tell-tale smell of burning food reached my nose.
“Whasa special occasion, Kathleen?”
I turned from rescuing the pancakes to see Soraya, who was a bit late, enter the kitchen. She’s the only one who ever calls me by my name, Kathleen; probably because she was adopted. Currently, she was tugging a red T-shirt straight and blinking her long black lashes as she walked toward the table.
“It’s Valentine’s Day, Aya,” I said cheerily, pouring slightly too much oil on the griddle. “Oops, better wipe that up.” I reached for a paper towel and swiped at it, getting safflower oil all over the counter in my effort.
“Red clashes with blue,” Tanamoril informed Soraya, emerging from the freezer with a bag of frozen wild blueberries.
“You know Tonus have a hard time finding clothes,” Soraya shot back, glaring at him. “And I like being starry-coloured, for your information.” To strangers, Soraya appears shy and quiet, but get her around her brother, and she’s like a spark on tinder.
“Pancakes are ready,” I sang, anxious to end this argument before it became a full-blown fiasco.
“Oo, yeah!” Tara was at the counter in a second, grabbing the pancake platter from me. I ducked as Tanamoril and his blueberries came flying toward the table, and then sat down to join my pets, grinning happily to myself. This was going to be the most perfect Valentine’s Day ever.
I reached the Neopia Central Shuttle Station just a little before 5 am, panting from my run. I was a little late, because Rosie had spilled the syrup and I, deciding against returning to find my four pets stuck to the living room carpet, had paused in my goal to bathe both her and the kitchen floor.
I stood on the dull-grey pavement as the crowds of people, human and Neopet alike, surged past me, and watched as shuttle pods roared into their stations with squeals and screeches of metal-on-metal. The noise was so loud I had to cover my ears to avoid having their eardrums blasted out.
“Excuse me, sir, but could you tell me where I would find a shuttle to Kreludor?” I yelled at the nearest porter, a sullen-looking pink Aisha.
“Platform six,” he replied, giving me a glare and jerking his thumb in a direction I’d never before heard of.
“Thanks!” I called out, although he had been useless, but he had already scurried off anyway. Deciding I could do without directions, I plowed my way through the crowd toward Platform 5, assuming that these things were done in the logical way, and Platform 6 would be located next to 5. It turned out this was not the case. Apparently Shuttle Station people count different from the rest of Neopia. It took me several more minutes to locate another porter, who, rolling his eyes the whole time, led me to Platform 6, which was, incidentally, right alongside Platform 5 ½. Well, how was I to know they had half platforms?!
The clock and schedule above the station informed me that the pod was due to leave in exactly two minutes, so I scurried up the silver ramp and into the tiny silver oval, dropping my three thousand Neopoint fare in the till as I did so.
I was obviously just in time, because as soon as I had sat down on one the benches on either side of the shuttle pod, the doors slid closed and a dull mechanical voice announced that we would be leaving shortly. Shortly came sooner than expected, and the orange Grundo next to me jumped as the pod lurched out of its port.
“Never ridden on one of these before?” I asked the Grundo conversationally. He shook his head, and I decided to leave him alone; the poor guy looked terrified. I spent the rest of the journey catching up on sleep. Turns out once your adrenaline rush leaves, you feel kind of flat. Who knew?
We arrived on Kreludor with an almighty bump and a bang as the pod settled into its new port. Outside the sleek plexiglass windows, I could see tourists and native Grundos alike milling around on the platform, which appeared to be Platform 543 43/56. Kreludians seem to have an unhealthy attraction to fractions. Shrugging, I climbed out of the pod and down the ramp, pausing to give my seatmate, who looked positively ill by now, a reassuring smile.
I made it out of the station pretty quickly, bypassing the all-Grundo band, and the Attractions of Kreludor Guide selling boy and his poor Kau. I was tempted to stop in at the squat concrete buildings with the sign that read ‘Isse Crèem Shopp’, but, being an author, I have pretty good spelling skills, and I knew that wasn’t the right way to spell ice cream. Everyone knows you should never trust someone who can’t spell.
Not many people on Kreludor will tell you where to find Dr. Frank Sloth himself, and to complete my quest, I definitely had to find Sloth himself. So I left the Shuttle Station and the Isse Crèem Shopp, and took myself off to the shadiest, and possibly most dangerous place in all of Kreludor: the flats.
They don’t sound very menacing, but trust me, they’re the creepiest place on that flat, grey little planet.
“Hello? Um, can anyone help me find Sloth?” I asked tentatively, peering around. Soft grey mist rose up on all sides, blocking my limited view of the little grey shacks. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, everything on Kreludor is grey. I stepped forward, and stumbled over something soft. I let out a not-so-dignified scream, and took off running blindly, panting hard and not caring where I ended up. I pelted madly forward and then... straight into something enormous and green that loomed up out of the mist in front of me.
I’m pretty sure no-one within about a sixty kilometre radius missed my yell as I hit the soft green thing at a speed I’d probably never come close to before.
“Calm down, Miss!” the green thing yelped, grabbing my arm.
“Noooo!” I shrieked, trying to pry it off me. “I didn’t do it, I didn’t!”
“Miss, I was only going to tell you where to find Master Sloth,” the green thing pleaded. “I’m not going to hurt you!”
“Please, I’m innocent—what?” I paused in my desperate pleas for mercy, and blinked owlishly up at the green thing. The mist seemed to have cleared a bit, and I could tell that it was something no more harmful than a mutant Grundo. I relaxed, sagging down.
“I’m sorry, I thought you were the Green Monster of the Mist,” I said truthfully, looking down at my trainers, which were covered in grey muck.
“No, no, Miss...”
“Kathleen,” I supplied helpfully.
“Yes, Miss Kathleen,” the Grundo said, peering at me with big red eyes. “I just want to tell you where to find the Great and Glorious Master.”
If there was ever an award for sappy, awe-struck voices, he could have easily won it.
“Um, yeah, yeah, I want to find the great and glorious master,” I mumbled, pushing my hair back from my face.
“I shall tell you where he is, so that you may aid him in his plans,” the Grundo informed me rapturously. I could have sworn his eyes were actually shining. Poor thing, he probably didn’t have any life to speak of.
Exactly ten minutes later, I was in the back of Sloth’s closet, in his personal apartments. It took me a while to figure out how to get past the guards, but with my ingenuity that comes from years of spending all your time glued to fantasy books, I had pulled off some of the trademark maneuvers, and gotten in. Turns out bribing guards really does work, if not in the traditional fashion. All I had to do was ensure them that I was there for the personal benefit of the Great and Glorious Master, and agree to bring in his alarm clock. Apparently Sloth has his alarm clock brought in every morning. Weird kinda guy.
I settled deeper into the nebulous regions of Sloth’s closet, hoping I wasn’t lying on dirty socks, and took out my notebook and pen, the tools I had brought to record the events of the day. I opened the notebook (which, incidentally, had a fuzzy purple cover), uncapped the pen, and waited, poised to document the Valentine’s Day of the one and only Dr. Frank Sloth.
The Events of Dr. Frank Sloth’s Valentine’s Day, as recorded by Kathleen Sapphire:
5:57 am (Wow, is he an early riser! But he has nothing on me. Muahahaha! Ahem.): Sloth’s Sloth Alarm Clock (adroitly positioned by yours truly) rings. Sloth groans and rolls over in bed, then reaches out to turn off the alarm. He lugs himself out of bed and off to the bathroom to get ready for the day.
6:50 am: Sloth finally emerges back into his bedroom (he certainly took long enough! This closet is rather stuffy, you know). He’s spiffily decked out in a super-tight black suit with a (*gasp*, can it be?!) pink rose on the lapel. I nearly fainted at that one. Fortunately I was strong enough of spirit to keep myself upright as Sloth began a series of push-ups and crunches (it’s obviously how he maintains those superbly sinister muscles).
7:30 am: Sloth is now finished with his exercises. He pats the rug (possibly a Walking Carpet?) and leaves his room, closing the door behind him with a snap. (Yes, indeed, it was locked, and I had a good time trying to pick that lock, and in the meantime—but let’s get on with the documentary, shall we, before the Meepits come?)
7:57 am (That’s how long it took me to get out of his bedroom and find the dining room): Sloth is sitting down to breakfast. His pancakes seem to have a distinctive heart-shape, at least as far as I, squeezed into a waiter’s trolley nearby, can see. He eats them with gusto, not stinting on the maple syrup. Mmm... maple syrup. Time for breakfast, I think.
8:46 (What?! I ate as fast as I could! Besides, what do you need to know about Sloth and his pancakes?): Sloth heads out of the dining room and down the hall, obviously intent on a secret mission. I creep after him and watch as he enters a room marked Sloth’s Office. I slip in after him, and hide under his desk to watch. To my surprise, the first thing he does rather than review his latest evil plan is pull a pile of lumpy, garish packages toward him. Whoever wrapped them has no taste whatsoever in wrapping paper. He grunts in delight as he reads the first label. I, from my neck-craning position, can’t see what it says, but it obviously pleases him. He slowly unwraps it, while I get a neck cramp, and finally pulls out... a Glistening Sloth Statue. He lines this up along with twenty others on the side of his desk, and starts on the next package, in an agonizingly slow manner.
10:00: Sixty-odd minutes later, he has six new Glistening Sloth Statues, fourteen Sloth Mirrors, two Sloth Caps, eight Sloth rulers, two Sloth Paddleballs, and four Scary Sloth Stories books (it’s anyone’s guess why he has to read them so many times. After all, he should have LIVED them, right?). Then Sloth proceeds to take out... yup, you guessed it: Valentine’s Day cards. They’re just as pretty and pink as yours or mine, and there are so many of them it looks like he’ll be here for hours. Which he probably will. I yawn in boredom, close my eyes and settled down for a nice little nap.
1:00: A knock on the door wakes me, and I quickly check on Sloth. Still going through cards (he must be into the thousands by now). He calls—no, commands—the person to come in, and the door opens. A blue Grundo enters and says, in a loud, boring voice, “Oh Great and Glorious Master, we are pleased to bring you your lunch.”
At the word lunch, I raise my head, suddenly alert. I’m pretty hungry after tracking Sloth all day, and lunch wouldn’t be amiss.
2:00: It certainly takes Sloth a long time to eat lunch. But I can’t complain; I managed to sneak quite a lot of it off the tray while he wasn’t looking. He’s not very attentive, I can tell you that. He was mainly admiring his cards and sticking the choicest ones onto the wall with cellotape. In minutes, we were surrounded by cards of all colours (but namely red and pink) with lots and lots of little hearts, all wishing Sloth a ‘Happy, Happy Valentine’s Day!’. Who knew Sloth had so many secret admirers? I for one thought he ran a slave population here. Everyone knows slaves aren’t happy. Or are they?
2:10: A Grundo comes to take away Sloth’s plate, which is clean, thanks to me. He announces as he does so, “Greatest and Most Glorious Master, I would like to inform you that it is time to get ready.” I wonder what he means by that, but Sloth stands up at once, beaming, and exits the office at what is practically a run. Time to stretch these legs.
3:00: Sloth finally emerges from the bathroom, smelling of rose perfume. Yurchh. I, once more in the closet, pinch my nose and wait as he wanders around his bedroom, humming and straightening things.
3:30: After thirty minutes of this torture, someone knocks, and Sloth commands them to come in. It’s a pink Grundo who looks quite young. She’s carrying a basketful of chocolates. Sloth takes them with exclamations of delight, and shoos her out of the room.
3:10: Another knock. This time, it’s the same blue Grundo who delivered lunch. He tells Sloth that it’s ‘time to go’. I jump up. Excitement at last!
4:00: after a very long and complicated journey involving me riding under the seats of a private shuttle pod, we have arrived back at Neopia Central. It saved me fare, at least...
4:30: Sloth has just entered the poshest restaurant in all of Neopia! I am not joking. I just barely managed to slip in behind him, dressed as one of his personal servants (a disguise I picked up in the shuttle, when I overheard one of his other personal servants muttering about how they’re replaced every couple of days). He didn’t even seem to notice as he swept in. A waiter came almost as once, hurrying with menus, and asking, asking, Sloth where he wanted to sit. I heard you had to make reservations months in advance!
5:00: Turns out Sloth’s personal attendants get to eat, too. I’m sure Sloth wouldn’t care one dust speck if his slaves stood there the whole time watching him stuff himself, but the waiters are obviously afraid of upsetting him, and so give us our own little table. I sit down with the three other servants, none of whom speak while they peruse their menus. I sneak a glance over at Sloth’s table, and see a tall pink Aisha, wearing a silk dress and mink coat, coming to meet him. This is going to be an exciting dinner.
6:10: I order just about everything on the menu, and eat it all. By the time Sloth and his lady friend stand up to leave, I’m so stuffed I can barely keep my eyes open. I figure 6:10 is late enough to call a day, and slip quietly out of the restaurant, ending this documentation.
End of Documentation
I arrived home sleepy and very, very full. Fumbling for my keys, I unlocked the door, humming slightly to myself. It had been a very good Valentine’s Day.
The door creaked as I opened it and stepped inside onto the striped mat. I tripped over the many pairs of miscellaneous shoes my pets insist on keeping there and banged my toe into what appeared to be a wooden clog in the dark as I tried to keep my balance and not go flying. I mumbled some not-nice words under my breath, hopping on one foot. My toe throbbed in time with my heart, which was doing flip-flops after the near disaster. I was too tired to be doing this. I should be in bed. I stumbled through the empty, dark house, occasionally bumping into things and banging up various limbs and appendages.
My pets were all in the living room, waiting for me with, mercifully, light. Tara appeared to be knitting some sort of scarf, Rosie was stacking blocks, and Soraya was on the sofa reading a book with Tanamoril peering over her shoulder. They looked up when I stumbled in, muttering under my breath and massaging a bruised elbow. Rosie blinked big brown eyes at me.
“Mummy, looka me castle!” she crowed, pointing to the block building.
“Doesn’t anyone in this house believe in light?” I asked pitifully, cradling my elbow. I had been out all day on an important mission, and they didn’t even turn on the lights for me!
“So whadja find, Mum?” Tanamoril asked excitedly, bouncing on the sofa and completely ignoring my words.
“Eurg, I’m full,” I groaned, collapsing next to him. I closed my eyes, ready for a good long nap.
“Mummy eat?” Rosie asked uncertainly, abandoning her castle to come peer up at me.
“No, Rosie, I made a very important documentation!” I said indignantly, snapping upright. “Now, thanks to me, all of Neopia will know what Sloth does for Valentine’s Day!”
“So what does he do?” Tara asked impatiently, leaning closer. Soraya looked up from her book, her green eyes interested.
“He...” I paused for dramatic effect, looking all my pets in the eye. There was a moment of silence. Tara blinked, Tan made little bobbing motions with his head, Soraya stared. Finally Rosie burst out, “What, Mummy?!”
“Well,” I said, “I recorded the whole thing, very, very detailed, in my notebook, but let’s just say... he pretty much has a normal Valentine’s Day.”