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Just Misunderstood


by maddymoo

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Dear Citizens of Neopia,

      Ya know, it isn't a walk in the park to be a Slymook. I mean, you could probably imagine. I'm not cute like a Babaa or sweet as an Angelpuss. I'm pretty loyal to whoever feeds me and gives me attention, but no one gives two cents to the yellow ball of slime. No, it's all about the Warfs! Listen, I've met a few of those guys in my time, and let me tell you, they aren't all they're cracked up to be. "Neopet's best friend"? They bite. And bark. Loudly. That ain't exactly my idea of a best friend.

      Sorry, I get a bit... heated. The point is that I'm not that cute, and no one really knows I exist. Usually folks assume I'm a lab ray experiment gone awry. But my name is Wendell, I'm a Slymook, and I've found someone out there as angry and antisocial as I. His name is Dr. Frank Sloth.

      Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking. He's evil, we're evil, you've probably stopped reading by now. Fyora forbid Dr. Sloth has a friend! Right? Wrong. He's just misunderstood. I'm sick of my owner being portrayed as a bad guy. He's made some mistakes, but haven't we all?

      So here goes nothing. This is the story of how I met Dr. Frank Sloth.

      --

      All I can remember is a dark, smelly hole in the ground, and a light above it. I didn't know how I got there, or why I was there in the first place. There were other petpets; a Noil, a Whoot, a Cobrall... why were we all there? It was too crowded. Had we just been born?

      This was my earliest memory. Squished up against dozens of other petpets, blinded by the sun shooting down from above. I truly believed we had all just been born, or created, and dropped from the sky or something. Anyway, this story isn't about my theory of existence. I just need you all to put yourself in my shoes at that very moment.

      There was an urgent beeping noise. I crawled around between the masses of petpets in an effort to find the source of the beeping... it was coming from the hole. I slid right past the other creatures and sat at the edge of the hole for a moment, before something bumped into me and I plunged downward.

      The others had heard me fall, and were chirping madly above. I soon found myself covered in sticky, brown mud, wiggling around on the floor. There was mud everywhere, and the beeping had grown stronger. Suddenly, the sound of someone yelling masked the beeping. His voice seemed to be coming from another room, but as it grew louder, I knew he was heading this way.

      "Blast! What is this light? What is happening to my creations?!" His voice was low and indignant. I buried myself under the mud, peeking an eye out. He wasn't just any sort of tall, but tall. His skin was a dark, murky green, and his eyes were an intense shade of red.

      "The creatures I had been working so hard on... just... gone. Gone! I have to leave, I don't know what is going on, but I have to..." His voice trailed off. He had seen me flinch.

      "What... what are..."

      Maybe if I just stayed as still as possible, he wouldn't hurt me.

      "Are you... who are you? Are you responsible for the light that has melted my precious creations?" He asked sternly. He was no longer yelling.

      "Answer me!" There was no going back now, I thought. I turned around slowly, my body still partly stuck in the mud. "If it was you who destroyed my creations, I swear, it is you who will..."

      He trailed off again. He could see me struggling to wriggle free, the uncertainty in my eyes. Slowly, he bent over and extended an arm, scooping me up from the mud.

      "You... you couldn't hurt a fly, could you?"

      The blank expression on my face, one of both fear and awe, said it all.

      "Neither could I."

      --

      We walked from room to room for what felt like hours. There was only one washroom in his entire underground laboratory, at the opposite edge of where I had landed.

      Each room we passed in and out of was an entirely new world. One held dozens of screens on the walls, some with tiny green letters on them, some with blueprint designs of Neopets, some were attached to cameras and showed what was going on above ground. Yellow sun, green grass, purple clouds, a rainbow of petpets squabbling around.

      The next room's floor was covered in scattered papers, filled top to bottom with writing, some with sketches of Neopets. I assumed that in his previous fit of anger, he had thrown all the papers about.

      Another room had some sort of large ray, with a podium in front of it and a control chair behind it.

      We reached the washroom. He sighed and placed me in the sink, letting it fill up with bubbly water and scrubbing the thick mud off of me. It was nice.

      "My name is Dr. Sloth... you can call me that, or Frank, or... I don't know," he said, sounding tired. "Do you have a name?"

      A name? I shook my head.

      "Do you have a home?"

      A home? I don't have one of those, either. This lab was the only place I've ever been. What was a home, anyway?

      Something crashed outside the washroom. Sloth's soft expression quickly shifted to a sort of irritated confusion, as he muttered something under his breath and bolted out the door. The crashing didn't stop for awhile. Things kept falling, Sloth kept yelling louder each time something else seemed to happen.

      I stuck one tentacle after another to the side of the silver sink and jumped to the floor, following the sound of my new owner's voice.

      I saw him desperately grabbing papers, floor tiles, scraps of metal, anything he could find to cover the holes in the ceiling. He jumped away every time a beam of sunlight hit his skin; I could tell that the sun was hurting him. But he was the only person I knew, and all I wanted to do at that time was protect him.

      "No! My precious laboratory! All of my experiments, all of my creations! Everything I've worked for is being taken from me! You can't take my laboratory!" he shouted. The ceiling, however, wasn't listening. Chunks continued to fall, light continued to spill, and a hot wind busted in through every crevice, tearing the laboratory to bits.

      Using my slime to help me stick, I slid up the wall and onto the ceiling. It was shaking, but I tried my hardest to hang on. There was a small hole before me; I was terrified to jump, but I did it anyway, covering the hole with a thin layer of slime. It wasn't much, but it would block the sunlight for a few minutes.

      Papers were flying everywhere from the wind. I stuck out a tentacle and stretched out, trying to get a hold of one. When I did, I stuck it over the hole, and ran around it one more time to secure it with my slime.

      Sloth spotted me. "You... you're... that's brilliant!"

      He grabbed me from the ceiling and placed me on the ground, ripping out floor tiles at a rapid pace. "These will give more protection than pa- ahh!" He moved out of the way of the sunlight.

      Time was of the essence. I hopped from tile to tile, sliming each one sufficiently before my partner stuck them to the ceiling. Before long, we had secured ourselves from the light, save for a few open crevices. The wind had calmed down. Sloth gazed up at the ceiling expectantly, assuring himself that the slime would not give out. It didn't.

      Exhausted, he collapsed to the floor. "My life's work was in this laboratory," he said quietly. "My scientific experiments, formulas, discoveries... my creations,"

      I slid onto his shoulder and gave it a comforting pat with my tentacle.

      "How does one rebuild years of relentless hard work?" he asked hopelessly. "I could leave Neopia... but I would have to rebuild my spaceship. There's no doubt in my mind that all the parts are strewn about this laboratory, some broken beyond repair. What do I do now?

      "And whom shall I do this with? The creatures that I slaved over, the only companions I'd ever known... they're gone, too," he paused, taking a deep breath. "But... I have a companion. I have you. Do you have a family?" He craned his neck to look at me. I shook my head, saying nothing.

      "My experiments, my creations... they were my family."

      Sloth didn't smile after confessing this, but his face changed. It had lit up. His mouth curved upwards very slightly, but not enough to be a smile. There wasn't enough happiness for that. Instead, it was hope. He looked as if he'd just discovered a tiny sliver of hope among the ruins of his scientific work, and he would use that to rebuild himself.

      "Is Wendell a decent name?" he asked me. I grinned. I had a name. My name was Wendell.

      "Good. Wendell, you are my new companion. Welcome to my laboratory."

      --

      Sloth and I had been camping out in the room with the screens on the wall, called the control room. The vast majority of the screens had fallen and shattered, but a few remained. We paid close attention to the screen wired to the camera for a few days.

      This was a reverse apocalypse, as Sloth called it. A few days ago, Neopia was a barren wasteland, it was Sloth's. But now it was it's own world. It was being created before our eyes. Neopets and petpets were falling from the clouds; the faeries were creating them to live on Neopia. That explains where I came from.

      But I wasn't living there; not really, anyway. I was down here with Dr. Sloth, and I was happy. Something tells me I wouldn't have liked living up there with the sun and the colors and the endless land.

      However, as the months passed and Sloth's emergency supply of dried prunes, Neo crackers, and Sugarbunny Surprise wore down, I emerged to find more food.

      It wasn't too difficult. There was a tree crowded around by masses of Neopets; some dropped off food for those less fortunate, and the less fortunate pounced on anything they could get their hands on. My small size and agility served me well in this area. I even got my tentacles on some neopoints, which I always brought back to Sloth.

      Sloth was building his spaceship. Neopoints and various items I got my hands on could be traded for tools and parts. We enjoyed our simple underground laboratory, but Sloth had bigger dreams. He missed having his own world, as he did before Neopia was truly Neopia.

      There was another reason he wanted to leave. One day while I was venturing into the open world, I came across an issue of the Neopian Times. On the front cover was the face of my companion, Dr. Frank Sloth. The headline read "Evil Scientist Gathers Army".

      The article said that Sloth was an evil scientist who was building mutant and robotic Neopets to assemble an army and take over Neopia. I brought it back to Sloth, and he threw it on the ground.

      "Wendell, you don't believe this garbage, do you? It isn't true," he insisted, refusing to look me in the eye.

      "Where did they get that information from, then? You haven't been building anything besides a spaceship." I said gently.

      He sighed. "I... I have been building creatures again, it's true. But for an army? Negative," he said simply. "Where did you find that scrap of rubbage, anyhow?"

      "It was for sale in front of all the shops in Neopia Central," I told him.

      "Was it produced for the masses?"

      "Yes."

      He stopped pacing around, looking for whatever it was he was looking for. I didn't bother asking why he was making his creatures again; these days, I venture out for almost half a day. I'm not just looking for food anymore, I'm earning money. All I want is for my owner's dreams to be fulfilled, for him to complete his spaceship so we can leave Neopia and find a place where we belong. To the naked eye, sure, Sloth's pursuits seem evil. But it's all a matter of circumstance, of who's been paying attention to what.

      Dr. Frank Sloth doesn't seem like much of a softy, but I can assure you, he is. I overheard him one night, talking in his sleep: "Can't they see that I build these creatures for companionship rather than conquest? I'm not evil. Why do they think I'm evil? Not evil, not evil..."

      I won't lie, I can't stand seeing my only friend so hurt. It ain't fun. We both have hearts, believe it or not. We both need to get as far away from Neopia as possible, to escape the judgement, the criticism, the hate.

      Not to mention, the eyes watching us constantly. Who's writing those articles?! We live in an underground laboratory, for Fyora's sake! I haven't noticed anyone peering in the tiny ceiling crevices at night or anything suspicious like that. These guys must be good.

      --

      So, there you have it. The real scoop on big, mean, scary, evil Dr. Frank Sloth. Surprised? Of course you are. Doubtful? Fine, have your doubts. But let me remind you, I know him best.

      You know the Sloth is assembling a ruthless army of thousands. You know the Sloth who is plotting to take over Neopia. You know the Sloth who eats baby Angelpi for breakfast.

      I know the Sloth who sleeps with a Usuki plushie. I know the Sloth who loves when I bring home Strawberry Chia Pops more than anything. I know the Sloth who just wants to feel important, and loved.

      Sounds cheesy, I know. But cheese is cheese because it's real, its common, it's out there in our world and we're tired of seeing it. You know what? Get over it.

      Dr. Frank Sloth is a real person with feelings. This Sloth Appreciation Day, think about it. Think about what it must be like to be so lonely, you have to build your own friends. Think about what it must be like to have an entire planet think you're evil. Educate yourself. Enlighten yourself.

      Your pal,

      Wendell

The End

 
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