A Coconut and the Coconut Shy
"So, let me get this straight. You just throw a ball at coconuts and knock them down? And you win Neopoints?”
Jekkoh the coconut JubJub walked along the path to the Deserted Fairground with his owner, Anna. He could tell the fairgrounds were getting close because he saw carnival lights in the distance and smelled fried foods and sugar wafting through the breeze. He decided in that moment he would be getting some Pink Spooky Floss or some Deep Fried Ghosts.
“That’s right, Jekk,” Anna responded. She had explained the coconut shy to Jekk earlier; it was a brand new game at the fairground. Coconuts were lined up in a row, and the goal was to knock them down with throwing balls.
Jekk shuddered as he thought about those poor, innocent coconuts being knocked over all day and night. Anna had explained to him numerous times that the coconuts were inanimate, so they didn’t feel things the way he did. But Jekk still couldn’t wrap his head around the idea.
Soon, they arrived at the cast-iron gates of the fairground. Many other Neopets thought the fairground was creepy and spooky, but Jekk had always loved it. Jekk was a regular at Test Your Strength, where he always won. He had figured out exactly where on the platform to hit it so that the bell always went to the top. He also was very lucky with the scratch cards.
“There is it, Jekk!” his owner exclaimed, her dark eyes shining in excitement.
Anna was pointing to a rather unimpressive cardboard game booth where nobody was currently playing. It was painted in faded red and brown stripes. A bored-looking Quiggle with a giant wart on his face and greasy hair stood behind the counter. As they approached, he brightened.
“Hello! Care to give the shy a shot?” he asked in a charming voice.
“Yeah, I’d love to!” Anna said excitedly, getting out her purse. But Jekk was guarded; he didn’t like this Quiggle. He was looking at them the way a predator looks at prey. Something felt off here. Before he could say so, Anna had already handed over enough Neopoints for six throws.
“Alright, here we go,” Anna said, palming the ball in her hand. She closed one eyes, aimed, and threw the ball as hard as she could. It overshot the coconut by about an inch and slammed into the back of the booth.
“Darn. Ok, next try!” she said, unphased. The next two throws went similarly. Finally, on her fourth throw, she hit a coconut square in the center.
But it didn’t fall. Instead, the coconut rattled on its stand, and didn’t fall down.
“That’s odd…” Anna trailed off. “I hit it straight in the center.”
“Hmm, how odd!” the Quiggle said with an easy laugh. “You must not have hit it hard enough. You have to hit them pretty hard to knock them down.”
Anna shrugged, and tried again. She missed again this time. But instead of watching her, Jekk was looking at the base of the stands the coconuts were resting on. Something about them looked a little off. Was that a nail? No, it couldn’t be. That would mean…
“Anna, stop!” Jekk said suddenly. Slowly, Anna lowered the last ball she was about to throw.
“Jekk, what’s wrong?” Anna asked.
Jekk looked at the Quiggle. “Can you give us a second? We will be right back.”
The Quiggle nodded with a shrug, looking bored again. He sat back on his chair and grabbed a magazine. Jekk pulled his owner around the tent and out of earshot. Anna looked at her JubJub, an annoyed expression on her face.
“Jekk, what was that about? I was about to win!” she complained.
“No, you weren’t, Anna,” Jekk said. “I think the game is rigged. I think that Quiggle has nailed the coconuts to the stands to make sure nobody wins.”
Anna gazed at Jekk, a blank look on her face. She blinked and a sudden realization crossed over her face. “Did he really?” she asked. “That’s awful!”
“I know,” Jekk responded. “But I think there is something we can do about it.”
Anna looked at her JubJub questioningly. Jekk grinned at her. He explained in detail to her his plan to give the Quiggle a taste of his own medicine. Jekk was close with the Mynci that ran the Test Your Strength game. He would talk to the Mynci and explain what was going on, and convince the Quiggle to entice the crooked Quiggle into playing the game and losing all his Neopoints.
Anna’s eyes lit up, and she chuckled in a surprisingly sinister way. She was usually so mild-mannered. “Let’s do it,” she said.
Five minutes later, the Test Your Strength Mynci was smiling at them. “I’m in,” he said. “That crazy coconut Quiggle always drove me nuts. You get him over here. I’ll make sure he doesn’t win.”
He handed them a Halloween Paint Brush and some of his other rare prizes, such as a Brown Evil Fuzzle. With a smile, Jekk and Anna began to execute their plan.
“Oh wow, look at all these rare prizes we won,” Anna said loudly, brandishing a Halloween Paint Brush in the air as they walked closer to the coconut shy. She saw the Quiggle perk up at the sight of the rare paintbrush. “I’m so glad I didn’t finish that coconut game, this one is way better!”
It worked. Within seconds, the Quiggle seemed to be frothing at the mouth. He sprang up out of his chair, following them. “Hey, wait up!” he called. Anna and Jekk stopped walking, pretended to be surprised that he was stopping them. “What’s this about rare prizes? Where did you get those?”
Jekk and Anna looked at each other innocently. “Oh, these?” Anna said. “We won them at Test Your Strength. There’s tons more. But don’t hold your breath – it’s impossible to win. Only really clever Neopets can figure it out.”
The Quiggle’s eyes flashed with determination. “I can do it. Can you do me a favor and watch my stall?” he asked, already walking off.
As the Quiggle and his hubris went off to play Test Your Strength, Anna and Jekk hopped behind the counter of his coconut stall, investigating the mounted coconuts. Sure enough, they saw some nails that had been hammered into both the base and the coconuts. They weren’t moving. Anna and Jekk removed the nails, and quietly left the booth. As soon as they were done unrigging the coconut shy, they started to hear enraged yells coming from Test Your Strength.
“This is ridiculous! I hit that as hard as I could!” the voice yelled. It was the Quiggle. And he was losing very, very badly. Anna and Jekk peeked over there. They saw the Mynci standing at his game looking very smug, and the Quiggle’s face red with rage. They made eye contact with the Mynci, and he winked. Satisfied with their ruse, Anna and Jekk left the fairground.
Anna and Jekk came to find later that on that day, several Neopets won at the coconut shy game, stumping the Quiggle. His coconut shy game became the most popular at the fairground – much to the Quiggle’s dismay.