The Start of Something Sinister...
Every neopet has an idea of what they want to be when they grow up. A lot of them want to be a whiz at the stock market; others want to be good shopkeepers or artists.
I never knew what I wanted to be. All I knew was that when I did decide, it would definitely be something that would earn me a lot of money.
I just never realised how far I would go, in order to become rich.
My name is Jeffrey, I’m a green Yurble, and my story doesn’t have a happy ending, but I don’t regret anything. So we’ll start at the beginning, when I was merely a student at the local neoschool in Neopia Central.
I was popular. I know that’s not usually how these stories start, but this is mine. Everyone enjoyed being my friend. I was kind and generous and above all I had dreams, and I was determined that my dreams would one day come true. I saved every single neopoint I had for that time when I would become the richest Neopian ever...
“Hey, Jeff, can I ask you a favour?” My best friend, Jack, a green Gelert approached me in the school hallway one early morning, I could tell whatever he was going to ask was going to be really important; his eyes were glued to the floor, and he was shuffling his feet in an awkward fashion.
“Yeah, sure, Jack, what is it?” I swung my backpack onto my shoulder and walked beside him towards our registration class.
He paused and then said, “Cassie’s only 100k away from being able to buy my Pirate Paint Brush, and I know you have all those neopoints saved for when we finish school, but I wondered if you would let me borrow them... I’ll be able to give it you back next month for definite!” His sentence was almost spoken without punctuation. I’m sure I could hear his heart thudding in his chest as he waited patiently for my answer.
“I’m not sure; that’s nearly everything I have...” I whispered. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust Jack, or that I didn’t want him to have the paint brush. I knew he’d been saving for it since we were in neonursery; and we had been best friends for ages. I was just unsure that I should be allowing him to borrow my neopoints for the sake of a couple more months saving for his owner.
“Oh, okay... never mind.” Before I could apologise and explain my reasons, he had already turned and fled down the corridor in the opposite direction. I felt this sharp pain in my gut.
I’d let my best friend down and I needed to set things right. I spent the entire day looking wistfully at his empty desk beside mine in all of our shared classes; then after school I took a deep breath and made the huge decision to borrow him my neopoints... after all, I would get them back next month.
“REALLY?! Are you completely sure?”
“Yes, of course I am; I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t!” I explained coolly, watching his face as it changed from contorted and distressed to a look of sheer excitement. His eyes almost glittered with happiness.
“Oh, Jeff, thank you so much, I’ll pay you back as soon as possible! I can’t believe I’m going to be painted pirate!” He sounded so excited, and I was so sure that I had done a good thing that I couldn’t help but smile to myself, knowing I had helped a friend achieve what he had always wanted to achieve.
Things went downhill from there.
The following day at Neoschool, Jack was parading his newly painted self around the corridors, almost gloating to other non-painted pets as he passed. Other painted pets gravitated towards him, chatting confidently and assuring him that he was well and truly accepted among them.
Weeks passed and Jack was talking to me less. I thought the effect of the paint brush novelty would have passed by now, but he moved seats in class. He no longer answered my neomails and I began to worry about my investment in our friendship.
“Jack! Can I have a word with you?!” I shouted down the corridor, almost a month after I had lent him nearly all of my hard-earned neopoints; I knew he’d heard me shout because he suddenly stopped talking and turned as though looking for the origin of my voice. I had never felt more invisible. I waved over to him and he turned to his new ‘friends’, shrugged and loped over to me with a distant look on his face.
“Uhh, yeah... sure. What do you want?” he replied, I’d never heard his voice with so little emotion, and his expression implied that he was more than embarrassed to be seen talking to such a plain coloured pet as myself. He shuffled his feet awkwardly and I was transported back to the time when he was about to ask me to borrow him the neopoints for his paint brush and I felt unnerved.
“I don’t mean to sound rude... but when am I getting my neopoints back?” I maintained eye contact and instantly saw the anger flare in his eyes.
“Don’t you think I’ve been through enough recently, what with Cassie abandoning me... I think that I deserve a little bit of compassion,” he growled with his teeth bared. I hadn’t even known that Cassie had left him on his own. I couldn’t imagine their big neohome without her singing in the kitchen or humming in the garden. But then something inside me felt nauseous. What if Cassie had left before I lent my dearest friend those neopoints? I don’t recall seeing her the day I took them over.
Had my friend been out to take all my neopoints all along?
That was the last time I spoke to Jack. I didn’t bother asking for my neopoints again. I realised that to get what I was owed, I needed to become something more than Jeff the green Yurble.
I don’t exactly remember what happened next; I remember painting myself Halloween for a more sinister look, and somewhere along the line I was no longer Jeff. I became something that every Neopian began to fear, and I targeted the rich and the famous.
I am the Tax Beast.
I knew from this moment on that there was nothing that would stop me achieving my dream of ultimate riches. Stealing 10% of every innocent neopet’s neopoints and adding them to my own personal bank account. I have no friends, but who needs friends when all they do is take advantage of you, and take everything you’ve got with merely a backwards glance at how they’ve affected your life.
If only I had never loaned my dear friend those neopoints all those years ago, maybe we’d still be friends now. Maybe I’d have earnt my riches legitimately, through hard work and perseverance. I guess I’ll never know.
There’s one thing you must understand. I do not regret the decision to become the Tax Beast. The citizens of Neopia need to know that nobody is exempt from paying their taxes!