Living a Lie: The Story of the Imposter Apple
Somewhere in the Haunted Woods travels a mysterious orange. He rolls about from place to place, searching around through the trees. Rolling day and night, again and again and again. For what I am not sure, and neither is most of Neopia... until now.
This article that I, Duke Diddian, have compiled took endless research, from one end of Neopia to the other, for days and nights. (You can imagine my frustration when the Avatar with his likeness came out, and another research round was imminent.) I have interviewed countless Neopians, newcomers and veterans alike, and was even able to get an exclusive interview with none other than the family of the Imposter Apple. And now the story is finally here for all of Neopia to see.
No longer will you remotely question the strange happenings that must be about when you pluck a mask-wearing orange from Bart’s pail. All your answers are here.
WHAT WE KNOW
You lean your head into the cool barrel. You move from side to side rapidly, trying to seek out a shiny red object before your lungs can’t take it. Just as you’re about to give up and pick up a booby pri – Ah-ha! There it is! You stretch your neck further, straining to bite the apple, until finally your teeth manage to get a hold on it. Violently, you jerk your head upward, out of the barrel, and plop the golden prize into your hand.
But now that you can clearly see your prize, you realize that it’s flat. Two-dimensional. Cardboard. You’d probably hurt yourself if you tried to give it a taste. Bart is beside you, stifling a laugh as he looks down at your measly prize. Furious, you thrust your head back into the barrel and look around, only to find that no apples are in sight.
So, you think to yourself, it’s just all a clever ruse. There aren’t any apples in this! Bart is nothing but a fraud! Enraged, you storm away from the apple bobbing stand, fully intending to march straight down to Judge Hog and inform him of the situation, when you vaguely notice a small, spherical orange object rolling away in the distance.
You decide maybe not to press the situation, thank Bart, and run back home and lock all the doors.
This is a scenario that has happened to many a Neopian, and the cause has been unknown up until now. But through some careful research and digging, I have successfully put together a report that will reveal the secrets of the elusive Imposter Apple.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
When mentioned to a large crowd of Neopians in the Lost Desert, the Imposter Apple had quite an effect. Gasps of shock and horror took up the air, and the glares of hundreds of Neopets turned to me, as though daring me to divulge an answer as to why I would ask such a foolish question. I hastily explained my cause, and the group turned to each other, silently consulting through suspicious glances. Eventually, they confessed all they knew about the Imposter Apple.
“He lived here,” said one who refused to be named for this article, “right here in the middle of Sakhmet. Grew up with his family of five. None of us thought anything of him! He was a sweet little child... for an orange.”
Franny Kiko stated, “I think it was his family situation that drove him nuts in the end. That’s why he ran off. He felt like an outcast. But, then, who would blame him? He was always a bit odd, didn’t seem to mix in with everybody else in Sakhmet... Personally, I’d like to head right on over to the Haunted Woods if I had the Neopoints, and purposely pluck him from that Apple Bobbing bin just to tell him what’s what in this world!”
I took my interview all the way through into the palace in Lost Desert, and spoke privately with one of the nobles in the court, Lady Kay, a Ghost Zafara who (if she does say so herself) knows about all the gossip and private happenings that ever came to be in the Lost Desert.
“Well, if I were you,” she confided, “I’d go straight to the source. Head right back over to the Haunted Woods and wait until someone plucks out the mask. Then grab the stupid orange before he gets away. That’s the best method, I think, although no one’s accomplished it yet.”
I asked if she had met him.
“Of course!” she cried, looking as though I was an idiot. “Why do you think I know so much? I was his great-aunt! Who do you think made the mask for him? O’course, I feel like such an idiot now looking back on it... ‘Just an artsy-crafts project, Aunt Kay,’ that’s what little Gurtiltier said. Fact o’ the matter is, it’s an identity crisis. His whooole immediate family were apples. Apple Chias, originally, mind you, but some strange experiment with the lab ray and they lost their faces. Don’t ask me, it was an odd day. But he’d originally been a purple Yurble! They had just zapped him into an Orange Chia and were continuing to try to get to apple in the end. After the mishap they didn’t want to risk anything no more. Gurtiltier was left as an orange. He didn’t fit in anymore. He desperately wanted to be that apple.”
At this, I thanked the noble for her time and proceeded to walk out of the palace. My investigation in the Imposter Apple’s hometown had been complete; it was time to head back to the Haunted Woods. She called to me as I left, “Wait! Don’t you want to hear about his cousin, the Imposter Pumpkin?!”
At first I had thought it was merely a joke, and headed back to the Haunted Woods. (Looking back on the situation I know deeply regret not being able to find out more about his family. The Imposter Pumpkin is indeed out there somewhere, although his avatar has not yet made an imprint on Neopia.)
Arriving back at the Haunted Woods, I decided to talk with some of the citizens who lived around the Deserted Fairground. Unsurprisingly, many of them knew all about the mysterious Imposter Apple. I spoke first with one Dragon-Tam, a Halloween Kacheek who looked mighty suspicious that I had come to ask these questions. She revealed her secrets, nonetheless.
“I think I’ve met the Imposter Apple,” she said quietly, repeatedly glancing over her shoulder as though afraid someone would hear her conversing about the horrid orange. “B-before he made his claim to greatness, he had a habit of sneaking around in the food shops and pranking customers. That poor old shopkeeper lost so much business since then... every time someone would make the selection of a relatively normal-looking orange, he’d jump and roll off the shelves. Oh-ho, I can still hear the shrieks of those customers... certainly enhanced the aura of the fairground, right?”
As the interview continued, it came to my attention that Dragon-Tam was actually quite sympathetic for the Imposter Apple. “I desperately want his avatar,” she told me, tears brimming in her eyes. “He’s so misunderstood, probably the most misunderstood fruit in all of Neopia. Having his avatar would make so many more people aware of the situation... maybe he’d finally become a better person... Um, orange.”
Next I approached a brown pet who was marching up and down with a sign in front of Bart’s Apple Bobbing Stand. Could he, perhaps, be warning other Neopians about the false apple in the pail? I immediately came up to him and tapped him on the shoulder, readying my notebook and pencil.
“Excuse me, sir,” I asked him, “but do you know abo –”
But he had turned around and his sign was revealed: “JOIN XANDRA!” There was also a miniscule footnote at the bottom that read “This sign has been approved by Xandra, ruler and supreme overlord of the universe.”
I probably should have run on the spot at that moment, but my thirst for details got the best of me. I asked him his name (Xeriuno) and what he knew about the Imposter Apple. “Not much,” he replied. “I pulled him out once, but that was before the avatar. Grr, I would be up to two hundred and four now!” He murmured something to himself. “But you know what’s a bit more important in avatars? Xandra. If you side with the Faeries, you’ll get Fyora’s face on an avatar, and you don’t want that, do you? Wouldn’t you easily rather want the epic fa—”
I interrupted him and told him that as great as all that sounded, I wasn’t exactly interested right now. He seemed somewhat deflated, but countered, “And Xandra won’t mind! She’s not taking Neopians by for –”
I cut across him again and asked what he felt like when he pulled the Imposter Apple out of Bart’s pail. His eyes widened and his eyebrows went down.
“I felt completely betrayed. And you know who else feels betrayed? Xandra. That miserable thieving Ixi stole the same artefact from her again, and now he’s pelting her with insults that are really chipping away at her ego! I’m not gonn—”
Feeling slightly fed up, I thought the time was right to shorten the interview. I asked him if he wants to take the Imposter Apple to the Defenders if he’s ever able to catch him. Xeriuno looked at me like I was nuts.
“The Defenders have many bigger things to worry about,” he scowled. “And you know what one of them is? HANSO! They can’t let a wild thief run amok and—”
I walked away.
Another fairground resident, one Hedge Thawnay, had completely the opposite reaction to the questions I asked her about the spooky Imposter Apple; she was completely repulsed by the idea of meeting the Imposter Orange.
“Ever since my painful childhood,” she remarked, “I’ve always been deathly frightened of oranges. Seriously, they freak me out. I don’t even want to talk about it anymore. The thought brings... ugggh. Just, please. Next question.”
I thought it might be best NOT to ask her if she wanted an avatar with oranges on it, so I asked her if she had ever gone to the Defenders of Neopia about this mysterious orange. She started laughing tremendously in response to this question. I figured that was clear, resounding no.
“The Imposter Orange is my worst nightmare,” she said stonily. “Oranges? Yuck. Orange juice? Bleccch. Orange Chias? They’re oranges that can TALK. I mean, c’mon. But the Imposter Apple is even worse. I don’t know why, he just freaks me out. Don’t talk to me about it!!”
At this, she stormed away in a rage. Feeling somewhat deflated from this encounter, I continued along until I arrived back at Bart’s apple stand. “Back so soon?” he asked me. “Alrighty, it’s barely been twenty-four hours, but give it a shot! We’ll see what you come up with!”
Determined, I stood in front of the pail and readied myself. With a giant breath, I plunged my head into the icy water and scanned the entire pail. I kept reminding myself that he would not look like an orange; I continued to search at lightning speed, trying to detect one characteristic of cardboard –
There. There it was, I could see it: the Imposter Apple was right in front of my eyes. I saw the smallest speck of the color orange behind the cleverly crafted mask that Lady Kay had once created for him, all those years ago. Feeling the last few wisps of breath begin to leave my chest, I opened my mouth wide and aimed behind the mask of the apple. I felt my teeth finally sink into the orange, and I pulled my head out and triumphantly spit the orange into my hand.
As I looked down, I felt a spasm of shock.
For that day, I had been looking at none other than an extremely realistic-looking cardboard mask of an orange.
I was stunned; how could it be? The Imposter Apple had escaped me again... this time he had been replaced with an Imposter Orange! Desperately, I looked for some sign of the rolling orange, and after a moment I found it: a round shadow was tumbling down the hill; the same hill which it had the previous day, after valiantly beating me for the first time. I noticed the silhouette of an asparagus hopping along at his side (but that’s a different story altogether, of course).
Furious with myself, I whipped out a notebook from my pocket and readied my pencil again, this time approaching Bart himself. After all, it was he who had hired the Imposter Apple to cruelly prank all of Neopia in the first place. I spat the questions at him: “What do you know about this stupid little orange? Why did you hire him?! Do you know what your little orange has DONE to me these past two days?! Do you even care?! ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING?!?”
I heaved a few breaths, gasping for air as I let my anger subside. Bart was looking at me with a mixture of shock and amusement on his face. After a moment, he remarked: “I just work here, kid.”
That was it; that was the day I gave up. The Imposter Apple no longer mattered to me. I would never let it beat me again. I trudged slowly back home in utter defeat. Then I took my notebook and tore off the piece of paper. I set it next to me and began to write. I wrote about what had happened that day, I wrote about what the folks I had interviewed had said; I wrote about Lady Kay, his distant family member, or Hedge Thawnay, with the orange-phobia; Dragon-Tam, the kind soul who cared about the Imposter Apple; Xeriuno, who cared a bit more about campaigning for Xandra than anything else... I mustered up my courage and scribbled about what I had to suffer through in my attempt to stop the Imposter Apple... I folded it into an envelope, sent it to the Neopian Times, and here it is, you’re reading it now.
I wrote this article in an attempt to get Neopia to understand what it was like to confront the Imposter Apple. I didn’t necessarily write it to raise attention about the Imposter Apple. I wrote it to vent about my feelings and to hopefully make SOMEBODY understand how strongly I feel about being beaten by an animate fruit.
Hopefully you’ll never have to come across the mysterious Imposter Apple when you approach Bart’s Apple Bobbing Stand. Hopefully you’ll never have to be tricked by the cardboard mask as you make an attempt to snag a juicy red fruit. Hopefully this article will ensure your safety and you’ll never be fooled, having learned the telltale signs of the cardboard mask.
If you do, one day, one month, one year, one decade from now, run into the Imposter Apple and manage to stop him before he gets away...
Give him a BIG squeeze from Duke Diddian.
Thanks so much to dragoninthecave, ladykayk3, _hedge_, and xeriuno for letting me use their pets and dialogue!