The Meepit Show Continues
(Setting: The Altador Stadium, as packed as a backpack that’s about half full, possibly nearer two thirds. The Yooyuball goals have been removed, and replaced with a large podium in the centre. Scattered around the stadium are scorch marks, and there are gaps in the stands, where seats have been destroyed. In a semi-circle around the podium are four stools. A Mutant Scorchio is standing on the podium, and the chairs are filled with the four contestants – from left to right, a Red Acara, a Blue Nimmo, an Alien Aisha and a Starry Zafara in orange overalls. At the very top of the stadium, neon letters read ‘The Meepit Show’. Around the outside of the stadium, there are three entrances. One entrance is marked ‘Contestants’, another is marked ‘Roan’ and the third one is labelled ‘Producxzq’. A producer stands nervously just under the latterly-mentioned exit.)
ROAN: Good morning. The sun is shining, birds are singing, and it’s looking likely to become a beautiful day today. Could anything in the world be better?
ROAN: Yes? What? Surely I couldn’t have done anything wrong with my introduction there?
PRODUCER: No, that’s the problem. Why are you in such a good mood?
ROAN: I guess I just got out of the right side of bed this morning. That’s always good – I sleep next to a wall.
PRODUCER: Does that mean we could be seeing a proper Meepit Show today?
ROAN: Quite possibly. (Pauses for a moment) No, that didn’t feel odd at all. Strange. I must be maturing. I always wondered what that would feel like. Anyway, let’s meet our four magnificent contestants today.
ACARA: Hello. My name is Athalie, and I am the official Kou-Jong world champion.
ROAN: Kou-Jong? What a delightful pastime!
NIMMO: Good morning. My name is Nabraska, and I am a freelance journalist for the Neopian Times.
ROAN: Do you do a lot of writing?
NABRASKA: Enough to earn a living.
ROAN: Interesting. Next contestant, please.
AISHA: Hello. I’m Jepsun.
ROAN: Good morning, Jepsun. And what do you do all day?
JEPSUN: I’m an astronomer.
ROAN: Fascinating. Last contestant, please.
ZAFARA: Good morning. My name is Mowe, and I’m an assistant in the Virtupets Space Station.
ROAN: (Irritably) You had to go and ruin it, didn’t you?
MOWE: Er... what?
ROAN: You had to go and destroy my fun. There I was, feeling in a good mood, nice and happy. You took the happiness, and you threw it out of the window. There is now a distinct lack of happiness.
MOWE: But... what did I do?
ROAN: What do you mean, ‘what did I do’? Isn’t it obvious?
ROAN: Well, if you don’t know, I can’t help you.
ROAN: Are you trying to ruin my morning? Just stop talking, and I might be able to recover some of the happiness.
(There is silence for a moment. Roan forces out a smile.)
ROAN: There we go. The good feeling’s returned. Let’s carry on. Now, the rules. Basically, there are some. You have to keep them; I don’t. If you don’t follow them, you get kicked off. If you do follow them, but you’re annoying, you’ll get kicked off before those who don’t follow the rules, but who are anonymous enough for me to forget that they’re there.
PRODUCER: They’re not the rules!
ROAN: They’re close enough, aren’t they?
PRODUCER: Fine, they’re not the official rules.
ROAN: Yes, but we don’t use the official rules here. We only use the official rules for special occasions.
PRODUCER: Like what?
ROAN: Like when I’m not here.
PRODUCER: Have you ever considered actually letting them play the game by the rules? You might enjoy it.
ROAN: Yes, but I’m enjoying this at the moment, and I don’t want to risk my fun. Anyway, let’s get on with the show. Athalie, what species is Bug Eye McGee?
ATHALIE: Er... who?
ROAN: Bug Eye McGee!
ATHALIE: I don’t recall the name. Is he a Kou-Jong player?
ROAN: If you must.
ATHALIE: No, I mean the game.
ROAN: Oh. No. But feel free to leave at any time.
ATHALIE: I have no idea.
ROAN: In that case, leave.
ROAN: If you don’t know that Bug Eye McGee’s a Techo, then you don’t deserve to be on this show. I was in a good mood, and I’m rapidly descending to average. And you won’t like me when I’m average.
ATHALIE: He’s a Techo?
ROAN: Correct. Good guess. Have a point. (Smiles) You’re right, Producer. Playing the game properly can be relatively fun. Nabraska, what is the official title of Chuffer Bob the Meerca?
NABRASKA: He’s an official food tester.
ROAN: Correct. Just out of interest, how did you know that?
NABRASKA: I did an article on him a few weeks ago.
ROAN: Interesting. I never thought I’d start making small talk with a contestant, and not be insulting as a result. It’s an odd feeling. But one I could probably get used to. Jepsun, who does Samrin the Petpet shepherd protect his flock against?
ROAN: You’re not going to embellish the point?
ROAN: A pet of few words?
ROAN: There’s so much that I could say about you if I were in a bad mood. Fortunately, I’m not. So, you’ve earned a point. Spend it wisely. And now... (Roan glares at Mowe) we come to the one who seems to be insisting on destroying my happiness. But he won’t succeed, because I’m too joyful today.
MOWE: Are you?
ROAN: (Angrily) Why would you say that? What possible reason could you have for being so mean and horrible? I don’t think you have any reason, and I think it’s a despicable thing to do, from a vile, loathsome, slimy little creature who thinks he’s so important because he once saw Dr Sloth, while he was emptying the bins.
MOWE: Me, or Dr Sloth?
ROAN: Does it matter? Why do you have to pick up on every little detail of everything I say? Am I not allowed to have any slips of the tongue now? Do I have to monitor every word I say, in case it damages the delicate ears of the arrogant, insolent high-and-mighty assistant over there?
ROAN: It’s not even as though you have a proper job! There are Petpetpets that are more valuable than you. Mud’s more important than you! At least things grow in mud. If anything’s growing on you, it’ll be so disgusting that nobody would want to go anywhere near it. You’re a horrible excuse for a pet, and I don’t know why you would come on this show, be unbelievably rude and unnecessarily offensive, in both senses of the word, and ruin my good mood.
ROAN: It’s no good trying to recover it now. You, with your snide comments, and your high and mighty airs and graces. I mean, that story you said about Sloth and the bins wasn’t even interesting.
MOWE: That was your story. I never saw Sloth while I was emptying bins.
ROAN: And now you’re nitpicking again. I can’t believe you have the audacity to stand there, in your stupid overalls and your glossy, starry coat that you think makes you look sleek and sophisticated, and come on my show, insult me to my face, make a mockery of the show and me, and not even bother to answer the perfectly simple questions that I pose to you. Are the points I’m offering too menial for you? Does the verbal effort required to answer them not compensate for the monotony of providing answers for my petty indulgence?
MOWE: You haven’t asked me a question yet.
ROAN: I count ten sentences I’ve said to you so far today that have ended in question marks. And you’ve answered precisely none of them.
MOWE: But none of them were for points.
ROAN: I can’t believe you! Are you seriously continuing to be overtly pedantic for no reason whatsoever? Why are you even still here? Since you clearly don’t want to be, since this show is far too low for you and your precious Dr Sloth, why don’t you just save me the last shred of dignity I have left, and leave?
MOWE: But I want to answer some questions...
ROAN: Oh, now you want to! Having turned your nose up at the pathetic offerings, and ridiculed me into oblivion, now that there’s a small chance of you losing a scrap of reputation, you’ve turned into a snivelling, whining wreck. You’re a disgrace to your species and to Neopia. You’ve destroyed my good mood and ruined this show beyond recognition. I hope you’re happy.
MOWE: Not especially...
(Roan gradually turns more and more red, as the Producer hurries across to Mowe)
PRODUCER: (Whispering) I suggest you leave while he’s pausing for breath. I apologise for Roan – he seems to be having a bad day.
(Mowe is led quickly out of the contestant’s exit by the Producer, as the floodgates of Roan’s anger open again.)
ROAN: You’re not even happy? The very least you could have done is pretended to be satisfied, but now the ritual humiliation of me was not even to your own vague amusement? How dare you show your muddy, ungrateful face on my show! Get out!
PRODUCER: Roan, he’s gone now.
ROAN: (Turning to the Producer) Not now, I’m the middle of a good rant. (Turns to face the exit where Mowe left through) Get out, before I have the Producer throw you out!
PRODUCER: I did throw him out.
ROAN: (Turning to the Producer) Don’t make me start on you!
ROAN: (Exhales deeply) Now, we’ll return to the quiz. Whose turn is it now?
ATHALIE: It’s mine.
ROAN: Ah yes. The sunlight-hating board game fanatic. Tell me, do you follow Gormball at all?
ATHALIE: Yes. I watch it all the time. It’s one of my...
ROAN: Yeah, yeah, you don’t need to elaborate. That makes that question pointless. (Lifts the question card to reveal another one) Listen to a lot of music?
ATHALIE: (Shudders) No, not really. It’s generally too loud for my ears.
ROAN: Excellent. Athalie, who is the lead singer of popular Neopian band Sticks N’ Stones?
ROAN: Wrong. You lose a point. The correct answer is Axle Roo.
ATHALIE: Axel who?
ROAN: No, Axel Roo! Come on! How could you not know that? Do you not listen to a lot of music whilst removing the top tile and moving knight to B4?
ATHALIE: Actually, from a starting position, the knight can’t be moved to B4...
ROAN: Yes, it can. You pick up the knight, and you put it on B4.
ATHALIE: But that’s against the rules!
ROAN: Against your rules, maybe. But my rulebook is empty, so I’m allowed to.
ROAN: You lose another point! Now, don’t argue or I’ll take more off for no readily apparent reason. I’m allowed to do that, see, on account of my rulebook being empty. You should try it. It makes things a lot easier. Anyway, we move on to Nabraska. Do you follow Gormball?
NABRASKA: Not really, no.
ROAN: Seems good to me. Who won the Annual Gormball Championship, Year 4?
NABRASKA: Year 4? I think I did an article on that. Was it Ursula?
ROAN: Yes, it was. You lose a point.
ROAN: You lied to me. You said you didn’t follow Gormball.
NABRASKA: I don’t. That was the only year I ever did anything Gormball-related!
ROAN: Oh. Well, you can try and recover your point with this question – who won the Annual Gormball Championship, Year 5?
NABRASKA: Ursula, again?
ROAN: You’re right!
ROAN: Yes! You do know nothing about Gormball. The answer we were looking for was Brian. You lose two points.
NABRASKA: Why two?
ROAN: One for this question, and one for the last question.
NABRASKA: But you took points off for the last question when you asked the last question.
ROAN: Are you being pedantic? Because you know what happens to people who are pedantic. (Roan points to the contestant’s exit.) They go the way of humiliation.
NABRASKA: Of course. Sorry.
ROAN: So we come on to the One Who Doesn’t Speak.
JEPSUN: I do speak!
ROAN: Very rarely, and very little. I like contestants who do that. Keep it up, and I may give you some points for staying silent.
ROAN: Yes. Sadly, you broke that silence, so you lose a point. Now, your question – what does the Gadgadsbogen festival celebrate?
ROAN: Correct. You gain a point for getting the answer right, and you lose a point for speaking. So, you break even. Congratulations.
JEPSUN: That’s not fair.
ROAN: And now that’s not breaking even. What a shame. We return to Athalie, the champion of board games. And I can understand – I get bored just talking to her.
ATHALIE: That’s not a very nice thing to say.
ROAN: But, since I’m not a very nice person, totally in character. How much does a Battle Potato weigh?
ATHALIE: What’s a Battle Potato?
ROAN: It’s a Battledome weapon.
ATHALIE: The Battledome? That horrible fighting place?
ROAN: The very same. I’m guessing you don’t frequent it often?
ATHALIE: Certainly not! It’s a ghastly place!
ROAN: So you don’t know how much the potato weighs?
ATHALIE: No idea.
ROAN: You lose a point. The correct answer is one pound. Nabraska, who won the Year 6 Annual Gormball Championship?
NABRASKA: (Agitated) I don’t know!
ROAN: That’s a shame. You lose three points this time. The correct answer was Thyassa. And, in fact, the correct answer is still Thyassa. At this rate, you could break the record for the lowest point score.
NABRASKA: Isn’t that around minus a million?
ROAN: Yes, but compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe. You’ll be catching up that record in no time. Now, Mr Silence-Is-Golden, Matt the Wocky stars in which game.
(Jepsun is silent.)
ROAN: You’re not going to answer? You’ll lose a point for it!
(The lack of noise coming from Jepsun is almost remarkable.)
ROAN: You don’t have long, you know. You don’t want to lose too many points.
(The silence is broken by Jepsun continuing to make no noise.)
ROAN: Very well. Your time is up...
JEPSUN: I can’t take it any more! Sewage Surfer!
ROAN: Commendable effort, and you will, of course, gain a point for your efforts. However, I will also deduct you one for speaking, as is traditional, and another for not answering the question within the time limit. And a third for luck. And a fourth to keep the third occupied. And a fifth, to supervise the third and fourth, and make sure they’re doing their job properly. And a sixth to help him.
PRODUCER: Don’t you think that’s a little excessive?
ROAN: Yes. You’re right. I should take more off. We don’t do things by halves on the Meepit Show. You can lose another ten points, for reasons I’m not going to go into now, because I think the metaphor has run its course.
(Loud clanging sound)
ROAN: And that sound means that there is time for just one more question for each of our contestants.
PRODUCER: Actually, it means that I dropped my bronze clipboard. (Bends down and picks it up) Sorry.
ROAN: Nonetheless, it’s an excellent excuse to give up and go home, which are sediments which I’m sure we can all agree with.
PRODUCER: Don’t you mean sentiments?
ROAN: No. Why would I mean that? Besides, what I say and what I mean are two different things. And what I think is a third. And what is true is probably a fourth, although who’s to say what’s true and what’s not?
ROAN: Don’t answer that. That wasn’t what I meant to say. What I meant to say was (in angry voice) Shut up! This is my show, and I’ll say what I want. (In normal voice) Now, Armada Ace, what is the northernmost point in Shenkuu?
ATHALIE: Oh! I know this one! That’s the Lunar Temple!
ROAN: I’ll accept Lunar Temple, mainly because it’s the right answer. Let me guess – you spend your free time there.
ATHALIE: (Enthusiastically) When I’m not playing Kou-Jong!
ROAN: How depressing. You can have a point. Your miserable life probably necessitates something good happening in your life. My next question goes to Irritating Journalist...
NABRASKA: What? What? Who won the Year 7 Gormball Championship? Year 8? Year 9?
ROAN: Actually, you were right the first time, although unfortunately I only award points for guessing the answer correctly, not the question. For getting the concept confused, you lose a point. And, for getting the answer wrong, you lose another four. How interesting.
NABRASKA: Do you want an angry article written about you?
ROAN: Please! Then I can add it to my collection. The last question of the day goes to Abbreviated Monosyllable here. What is the name of the constellation that represents the Darkest Faerie?
JEPSUN: The Sleeper.
ROAN: Correct. Have no points. And now, we reach the end of the show. Since the numbers bounced around this program so far have been far too regular for me to keep track of, we have enlisted the help of the infamous Dr Sane Enterprises prototype Scorebot 3000.
(Producer wheels out a Robot Chia, with buttons flashing on a panel in his chest)
ROAN: Scorebot, please reveal the scores for this game.
SCOREBOT: All scores inputted. Query.
ROAN: No, you’re a Chia, remember?
PRODUCER: No, he’s asking if you’ve added all the points you intend to add for this show, so he can make the result official.
ROAN: Oh. Well, for the moment, yes, I am done.
SCOREBOT: Processing scores. (Beep) (Click) (Whirr) Scores processed. Ready for score report. Query.
ROAN: I’m not sure what you mean, but I agree.
SCOREBOT: Request registered. Report compiled. Fourth place is The One That Doesn’t Speak. Score – minus sixteen. (Hiss) (Whirr) (Beep) Third place is Irritating Journalist. Score – minus ten. (Click) Second place is Sunlight-Hating Board Game Fanatic. Score – minus one. (Buzz) (Hum) Winner today is Mowe. Score – zero.
ROAN: Mowe? Who’s Mowe? We’ve never had anybody on the show called Mowe!
PRODUCER: Actually, that was the Starry Zafara.
ROAN: No, we never had a Starry Zafara.
SCOREBOT: Winner now due to accept prize. (Hum) (Click) Winner not detected in radius of Scorebot. Scorebot collect winner. Query.
ROAN: Sorry, what? Yes, whatever.
(At great speed, and with many (Whirr)s and (Click)s, the Scorebot disappears into the Contestants Entrance.)
ROAN: So, as we end the show with a slight technical hitch in the Scorebot, and with me in a much worse mood than when the day began, it’s time to end the show. Due to errors beyond our control, we have no winner this week!
PRODUCER: Actually, I think we may have a winner after all...
(The Scorebot re-enters the arena, dragging Mowe behind him.)
SCOREBOT: Winner located.
(Roan stares at Mowe for a moment before recognising him.)
ROAN: You! (He points, and starts to turn red.) You? You won the show? And you didn’t even have the decency to appear for most of it?
MOWE: (Panicky) Can I go now. (He starts to struggle, but is unable to escape the iron grip of the Scorebot.)
SCOREBOT: Winner located.
PRODUCER: I think we’ll need to shut down the Scorebot, Roan. Roan?
(Roan completely ignores the Producer.)
ROAN: You arrogant, pathetic, moronic excuse for a being! You come on here, and have the cheek to win the show! And after you’ve been absurdly rude and provocative! You’re vile and horrible, and you’re not worth the air you take up...
(As the Producer tries vainly to release the unfortunate Mowe from the grasp of the Scorebot, who is spouting technical statistics about the show, with Roan shouting at Mowe, who is trying to escape, and follow in the footsteps of the other three contestants, who have taken the wise decision to simultaneously run as fast as they can towards the door, the scene fades away and is replaced with that of a large vase of flowers, sitting on the windowsill of a nice Neohome on a hot summer afternoon, as the author desperately tries to end on a happy note.)