Apprentice to Evil: Part Four
Also by chivo
Meti's Neopian job resume was starting to read much like the script of a horror movie. He reflected upon this fact early in the morning as he headed off toward Neopia Central, where he had an appointment to meet Meuka, the famed Snot Meerca. Very few pets would have set off on such a journey with a merry stride like the Plushie Draik was currently indulging in, but Meti's eternal optimism left him firm in the belief that this would be a case of third time lucky.
Meuka surely wouldn't mind a mess; he was fond of making one himself. The snot issue was very much in bad taste, but Meti was bright enough to realize this wasn't the time to be selective about methods of earning. The concert he so longed to attend in Tyrannia was mere days away and he hadn't yet earned one single Neopoint.
Neopia Central was a bustling hive of activity that morning. The shops were packed with eager Neopets seeking a bargain, practising their restocking skills or watching the Money Tree with hungry eyes. The scent of warm soup was drifting along upon the gentle breeze and the mournful wail of hungry Kadoaties could be heard. Meti beamed. This felt right. Finally a job he would be able to succeed at.
The address he had scrawled down was a little out of the main market place. A rather large house, its owner given away by the horrid snot furniture that laced the backyard, a snot umbrella leaning against the front porch, dripping slowly with a yellow, oozing substance which Meti preferred not to touch. Gingerly he raised a paw and knocked slowly on the door, reminding himself why he was doing this in the first place. Repeating 'Concert, Concert!' to himself like a mantra seemed to do the trick.
The door slid open and the Draik was faced with the horrible vision of Meuka up close. The Meerca was a dripping, drizzling pile of green and yellow ooze, the flow of which seemed to be in continual motion. As he spotted Meti he thrust out a paw to shake, sending the revolting substance flying. Meti looked a little ill, forcing a smile.
"I'm Meti, Mr. Meuka. I'm here to work for you."
The Meerca beamed, ushering him inside.
"Something to eat?" he offered. His voice was slippery, seething, and horrid. Meti gulped and shook his head.
"No, No thank you. I... just ate."
A blatant lie, but he hadn't missed the snot pizza piled on a rather dirty plate at the end of the table. Indulging in such food was a little more than a Draik could be expected to undertake!
Meuka apparently had no such hang ups and ate happily, chewing on the dripping pizza as he outlined Meti's duties.
"You'll be working the Wheel of Excitement shift, kiddo. That's up in the Faerieland district."
Meti nodded. He knew Faerieland well, having often ventured there to visit the healing springs after one clumsy incident or another.
"Whenever someone lands on the illness or disease icon, you jump out. It's your time to shine!"
Meti nodded slowly, not sure he understood.
"I jump out and what?"
The Meerca laughed, finishing his last bite of the slimy pizza and releasing a rather bad mannered burp.
"Challenge the ill pet to a fight in the Battledome, of course!"
Meti contemplated this in silence, avoiding looking at the grotesque creature in front of him.
"I could do that. Easy, I think," the Draik ventured, hardly daring to hope it was that easy.
The Meerca beamed, seeming satisfied with this.
"Tell you what, kid. I'll come with you on your first day today. Make sure it's all working out, teach you the ropes and so on."
Meti looked grateful.
Several hours later found the two unlikely companions headed toward Faerieland. Meti was ashamed to admit he hid his face for most of the trip. Being seen in the presence of a Neopian villain was never good for one's reputation, but even worse when the said villain happened to be a massive, dripping, putrid Meerca. Meti walked with his head down and hoped he wouldn't run into anyone he knew.
They arrived at the Wheel of Fortune around midday. The pretty light Faerie who was the wheel guardian gave Meuka an idle wave, apparently used to seeing him lurking around here. Meti shuddered again at the sight of the Meerca waving, goo flying everywhere. They settled down on a nearby cloud, watching and waiting.
Pet after pet showed up at the wheel, several at one time, now and then so that a line formed. They won money, lost health, or were given an item, the light Faerie smiling graciously at every customer. It was well into the afternoon before things started to get interesting.
A small Island Bori trotted up to the wheel, clutching a small pawful of Neopoints. He beamed at the exquisite Faerie, paid the fee, and spun the wheel as hard as squat little limbs would allow. The colors flashed brilliantly as the sphere turned. Rapid at first, then slowing gradually until it ground to a stop, right over the skull and crossbones, the famed disease icon that made a pet ill. The Bori instantly coughed and groaned.
Without warning, Meuka sprang, sticky and gooey into the Bori's path before he could head to the healing springs.
"Bwahahaha!" He laughed, flailing his oozing arms around, much to Meti's disgust. The little Bori quivered in fear at the wobbling monster who had come from seemingly nowhere.
"I am Meuka!" screeched the Meerca. "I challenge you to a fight in the Battledome! See if you dare show up!"
The Bori snorted, trying to appear brave.
"I'll show up! I'll teach you for making poor pets like me sick!"
The Meerca laughed in a derisive fashion, taunting the Bori as he scuttled off in the direction of the Healing Springs. Meuka turned, addressing Meti.
"And that's how it's done, kiddo!"
Meti nodded firmly.
"It looks simple. Don't worry, Meuka. I won't let you down."
The routine Meerca smirked, waddling back to the nearby cloud and plonking his form down upon it, ready to observe Meti in action, prepared to see if he had learnt from the previous experience. Meti waited patiently, hoping it wasn't a massive Grarrl or Skeith that he would be required to challenge.
Luck was on his side, so it seemed. Within a half hour a dainty purple Peophin wandered toward the wheel. She indulged in idle chatter with the Faerie standing there for a moment, before paying her fee and raising a fin to spin the wheel. Again came the wonderful churning of kaleidoscopic color, the rapid speed of the spin and the sigh of misery as it landed upon the dreaded skull and crossbones. The Peophin coughed pitifully and Meti sprang out from behind the cloud.
"I challenge you!" he cried. The Peophin looked bewildered.
"Who are you?" she enquired with a sneeze.
"Meti! Apprentice to Meuka! I challenge you to a Battledome fight!"
The Peophin looked genuinely puzzled.
"Why would I want to fight you? Meuka's the one who made me sick."
This logic stumped Meti, who looked over to Meuka. The massive Meerca was rolling his eyes as if the scene was painful to watch. Which to him, it may have been. Meti frowned.
"I don't know. Because... I represent Meuka! I challenge you!"
The Peophin laughed and coughed.
"No thanks. I'm not about blaming a stranger for that disgusting Meerca's evil deeds.” She waved, and with a massive sneeze headed towards the Healing Springs. Meti looked bewildered.
"Tough break, kiddo," muttered Meuka. He then lit up. "Wait! I've got just the thing!"
Without further warning, he raised a hand and covered Meti in the disgusting, oozing substance that flowed over his own form. Meti paled in disgust and shock.
'"WHAT IN NEOPIA DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?"
The Meerca blinked.
"You need the snot look. It's snot going to work, otherwise. Get it, kid? Snot going to work!" He laughed loudly at his own joke as Meti pulled a face.
"That's REVOLTING. I'm going back to shower."
Meuka was still chuckling at his joke, waving him onwards.
"Yeah, Yeah. I'll be back soon; we can discuss more training, I guess."
Meti stomped off, muttering under his breath about revolting Meercas, trying to get some of the goo off his plushie pelt. A half hour, several tubs of water, and a big wash later, he felt back to his old self. Even a little guilty, in case he had hurt the Meerca's feelings. Glancing around the putrid house, a wave of pity washed over him. It couldn't be very nice to live like this, even for a snot Meerca. Meti grabbed a mop and started to clean, hoping to make up his earlier behaviour with a benevolent act. It took an hour or so, but by the time he was done, there wasn't a drop of snot in sight. The house gleamed.
Meti stood observing his work with pride, interrupted only by a screech of horror as Meuka stumbled into his dazzling, clean house.
"What did you DO? My beautiful snot, all gone!"
Meti looked baffled.
"I cleaned up..."
"It took me years to get the place dripping nicely! It's gone! All gone! And so are you, Draik! Get out of here!" In rage, he pointed to the now rather clean door. Meti winced, gathering his bag.
"Meuka, I'm sorry..."
"Sorry doesn't bring back my snot, does it, Meti?" Was the sobbed reply, Meti backing out the door as fast as possible.
It was with a heavy heart and dragging feet that the Draik headed back home. He was exhausted and no closer to having a job, or the desired concert tickets than he had been when he first set out on his little mission to earn extra Neopoints. Waiting for a boat that would take him to Mystery Island, where he planned to crawl into bed and sulk, he picked up the day's Neopian Times, sadly flicking to the job section. Eyes slowly lit up as he read aloud.
"Wanted! Pet willing to keep a secret and work nights! Apply to Balthazar the Lupe, Haunted Woods."
Meti grinned. He might not have done well in previous jobs, but this seemed a sign. Another chance to work for one of Neopia's most feared villains. Who knew? One day he might even write a book about the experience. It wasn't many pets who could say they had worked with such creatures. The concert was two days ago and he had nothing to loose. Quickly he glanced around. It was time to find a different boat; the Haunted Woods were calling!
To be continued...