Neopian Times Headquarters: Issue 650 Preparations
(Huge thanks to june_scarlet for allowing me to mention her comic by name!)
"Another batch of entries for the next anniversary issue, Di!"
"Ugh, again?" a deep voice grumbled from behind a large stack of papers. Peering over the stack, the disgruntled Faerie Wocky rolled his eyes at his friend, not looking forward to reviewing them. The Wocky, named Disregret, groaned as he saw just how many more entries he was expected to look over. "Why did you all decide to give out prizes for those issues? This is ridiculous, there's too much to review!" The Neopian Times Headquarters had, once again, become overwhelmed with entries for one of their upcoming issues and temporarily allowed part-time workers in to help sort through submissions and review them multiple times before they got sent to the Chief Editor.
"Look, Di," the Grey Ogrin delivering the papers sighed, placing the newest stack of stories next to him. Running a paw through his mane, Fizz – very few knew his full name – looked to Disregret with a tired expression. "I know you're only working here part-time, as a favor to me. But would you please cut the complaining? We're all exhausted from going through the anniversary submissions. That's why the Chief Editor hired you after my recommendation. Just cheer up and try to work through it."
"Fizz, you know cheering up isn't my specialty, despite my bright pink appearance," the Wocky, laughed, unintentionally flapping his wings a little as he did. "Alright. What have we got this time? Not more articles, I hope. The last batch I helped review nearly bored me to tears."
"No, I pulled some strings and got you a stack of comic submissions."
"Comics? Fizz, you should know better than to trust my sense of humor for such a big edition," Disregret slyly remarked, a grin forming on his pink face. "You sure you want me to do this?"
"Di, please take this job seriously. At least try." Fizz sighed and left the cluttered room, mumbling something about if he saw one more entry about white Weewoos he would scream.
"Try to take the job seriously, he says. How can I take it seriously when I'm currently looking at a stack of comics that ninety-five percent of will be rejected? Bad art, bad stories, stories that aren't bad but just aren't good enough for the anniversary edition..." Disregret fluttered his wings and surveyed the mess of an office he had been given. It was a small room, the floor covered in various articles and stories, marked either "further review needed" or "rejected." The ones marked for further review would get sent to the next editor in the Times' hierarchy, until it finally reached the mysterious figure that reviewed and published the entire publication, known simply by the Times' employees as "the Chief Editor." Not much floor space was to be had, due to Disregret's rather unprofessional manner of tossing aside the entries he had been given when he was through with them. Not that he cared; he just flew over the mess day in and day out.
Hours passed, comics got reviewed – more rejected than approved, as he had anticipated, but he was certainly enjoying this far more than reviewing articles – and Disregret slowly worked on minimizing the stack of comics he'd been given. "By the time this issue is published, I'll have a half a foot of paper on the floor," he muttered, tossing aside another rejected work. He wasn't far off from that at the moment. A yawn escaped from the tired Wocky's mouth as he glanced at the dust-covered clock hanging on the wall. "A nap won't hurt. I'm already mostly done with this stack of entries, anyway..."
"Hey, Di!" Fizz called from the hallway. Disregret woke with a start, and in his surprise, jumped up, momentarily flitting about a few inches above the ground, a rejected comic stuck to the side of his face from where he had been sleeping.
"Wha- Oh, it's just you, Fizz. Give a guy a warning next time, would you?" Disregret let out a sigh of relief and landed back on the floor, annoyed as his friend laughed at him.
"Best not let the Chief Editor catch you sleeping on the job. Which is why I came here to find you in the first place," Fizz explained, still chuckling at his friend's appearance. "Our deadline's been moved up."
"How soon is our deadline?"
"Tomorrow morning," Fizz answered, his expression immediately switching from one of amusement to one of seriousness.
"T-tomorrow morning?!" Disregret fell over backwards from his surprise. They had had a few more weeks just that morning, and now suddenly they had to have everything reviewed in a night? "Why the change?"
"The Chief Editor said all entries need to be reviewed by tomorrow morning so the acceptance and rejection letters can go out. Fyora knows how those author types hate to wait." Fizz sighed, running his paw through his mane once again; it was becoming a nervous habit of his. "The Library Faerie is coming by to help us out with the reviews tonight. Best not let anyone else catch you sleeping. I'm making a trip down to the coffee shop to pick up some drinks for the rest of the crew, you want one?"
Fizz left for the coffee shop, leaving Disregret behind with the comics he had left to review. Was it just him, or had that stack grown larger? He thought he'd gotten mostly through them all. Someone must have dropped some more off while he was asleep. Sleep... "So much for getting any sleep tonight."
Fizz returned from his coffee run not that much later, and handed Disregret an Ultra Strong Coffee. "You looked like you needed it." Returning to his own work, he told Disregret to be careful and not spill it on any of the entries.
"What do I look like, a baby? I know not to spill the coffee on the entries," he mumbled, taking a sip of the rich, dark coffee. "Whoo, they weren't exaggerating when they called this ultra strong!" With his sudden burst of energy, Disregret returned to his never-finished stack of comics to review. One comic after another, a chuckle here, a shake of the head there, and hour after hour he continued the process.
After hours of work, hours of staring at comics for review all night long, Disregret lifted his head and shifted his weary eyes toward the small window in his office room. "Sunrise..." he whispered, unable to believe he'd been scanning countless comics all night long.
"Morning, everyone! Put your accepted entries into the box at the end of the hall, the Chief Editor will start going through them at once!" a voice called from down the hallway. Disregret heard the frantic sounds of his coworkers, his fellow Neopian Times reviewers dashing about, the sound of papers fluttering about, voices calling out for last minute opinions about entries.
"Done on time," Disregret sighed, relieved he had made it through the night. He began to scoop up the entries he'd accepted, wondering if these would be okay without making it to someone higher-up. "Uh... Hey, Fizz!" he called, leaning out the doorway.
"What is it, Di? You know I'm busy!"
"About these comics I marked as 'accepted'... They didn't make it to anyone higher-up than me, is that alright?"
"There's no time for that, Di! When our top comic reviewer heard of the deadline, she fainted. All those entries, that's up to you now! If you say they should get published, then by Fyora, they will be!"
"A-all up to me?" Disregret stared at the comics he'd given high marks to, wondering if he'd accepted the right ones. Had he reviewed them all? Had he really given his approval to the best of the best? He groaned, wishing he had known that it was all up to him sooner. Getting up to turn in his approved comics, he tripped over some of the papers he had left on the floor earlier, scattering his stack of papers everywhere. Frantically searching for all of them, he discovered one that had been hidden under some others, with no marks of approval or rejection anywhere on it. "There's no time... but it certainly wouldn't be fair to leave it unreviewed..."
Picking up the comic, he glanced at the title. "'Dinner With The Scarlets,' eh?" He recognized the title; it was a comic that had been running in the Times for a while now. He sat down amidst the pile of rejected comics and articles on the floor and began to read. "Issue 650 edition, 'Sketch Weewoo'..." He spent a few moments reading it a couple of times, to make sure he really wasn't just giving it priority because it was from a known series. After deciding that yes, this was a comic he thought deserved to be in the special issue, he quickly signed his approval in the margin and added it to the stack, then ran out to the hall to turn in his accepted entries.
A few weeks later, Disregret sat at home, waiting for the Neopian Times to be delivered to him. A special thank you message had been written and inserted into the issue for all who had helped with the overwhelming amount of entries that had been received. Disregret glanced through the articles, seeing one he had personally approved, and then quickly flipped over to the comics section. He smiled as all of his approved entries appeared in print.
Disregret turned and looked out the window to see Fizz standing outside, a copy of the Times clutched in his paw.
"Fizz! What brings you here?"
"You get the times this week, Di?"
"Of course, why?"
"The Chief Editor was so impressed with your reviewing ability on such short notice that she wants you as a permanent reviewer!"
"Yeah, if you're willing to take the job, that is!"
A job at the Neopian Times? Constantly fretting over deadlines, reviewing articles and stories that are at best amazing, at worst dull and badly written? Rushing around, trying to make important decisions at the last minute?
"...Just yesterday morning, I would have said no thanks and left. But... Seeing these things I approved, knowing that I made a handful of Neopian authors happy... I'll take the job."
"Great! You start tomorrow morning!" Fizz laughed, running down the street, back to the Neopian Times headquarters, no doubt to tell the rest of the crew that Disregret had accepted the job.
Disregret smiled, knowing that no doubt he would complain about the work, but anticipating it all the same.