Papyrus felt his conscious return as he opened his eyes and found himself staring into his darkened room, the familiar nightlight shining upon his bedside table emitting a little light to help him see. Grinding his teeth, Papyrus snuggled into his bed and let his vision wander about the room, admiring its layout. However something felt a little off though he couldn't quite understand what it was and his half awakened mind wasn't helping him one little bit.
Pushing himself up he reached for his alarm clock to check the time but his hand hit a solid surface. "Nyeh... what?" He was still very tired and tried to see what he had hit. It surprised him him to see it was the wall his bed was propped up against. "I reached for the wrong side," he mumbled, feeling a little silly.
Wait... the wrong side? The wall was supposed on the right side of his bed not the left. In fact now that he realised that he soon noticed that the alarm clock was now on his right side. With his mind now almost fully awakened he scanned his room as best he could and to his shock he found that everything was out of place. Well, they were all in the right place but at the same time they weren't.
The whole room had somehow been reversed.
Papyrus climbed out of his bed and looked around, his eyes now fully adjusted to the dark. How did this happen to his room? How did everything switch around like this? Was this some sort of trick that Sans had pulled on him? "I have to say if he did this then he really outdid himself this time," he mused.
He then noticed something from over by his bedroom door, lights and shadows were dancing underneath the gap of the door. What was going on out there? It looked like some sort of party lights and he was certain he could hear whispers coming from the other side.
"Sans?" Papyrus called out his brother's name and hoped he'd respond. He walked closer to the door and tried again. "Sans, was this your doing?" Still no answer. Slightly annoyed Papyrus stepped even closer and reached for the door knob. "Sans I don't appreciate you rearranging my bedroom without my consent!" He flung open the door, expecting to see his brother standing there with his usual sly smile...
Papyrus' soul nearly leapt out of his bony frame and exploded as a screams and cheers echoed loudly all around him and he was almost blinded by a bright light. He jumped back with fright and tried to shield himself from the dazzling lights and the overbearing noise as best he could. Strange music began to play and it sounded a little cheesy if not catchy. Eventually he forced himself to look ahead to find out who was blinding him and found himself somewhere he did not recognise.
"W-what? What... WHAT HAPPENED TO THE LIVING ROOM!?"
He should've been standing on the landing overlooking the living room of his home, instead he was staring at what looked like some sort of brightly designed stage surrounded with enormous audience seats. He was unable to see who or how many were on those stands due to the bright lights that shone around him but from the loud cheers and claps he could tell there were a lot of people out there.
"W-who let you in here?" he shouted, "this is not the appropriate time to have a large amount of guests, and what happened to the living room?" The people in the stands laughed and clapped again. "T-this isn't funny," stuttered Papyrus, his cheeks flushing a little, "where is the TV? The couch? The kitchen? Where did everything go?" His demands were met with more laughter and Papyrus was starting to get annoyed. "I'm serious! What did you do to our home?"
The music came back and spotlights started dancing on the floor. A loud voice filled the air around him, almost deafening the confused Skeleton. "Good evening dear guests and welcome to a long awaited brand new show! Now let's introduce our fabulous host!" The spotlights started speeding along up a flight of stairs that seemed to have appeared from nowhere.
"Please welcome to the stage: Umai!"
The spotlights sped up until they finally landed upon a tall thin figure standing atop the high staircase, his appearance hailed with even more cheers and applause. Papyrus could only gape up at the mysterious figure as he was still very much confused with what was happening. Confetti rained from the sky and the stranger atop the stairs waved as madly as his outfit. As the stranger became to descend the staircase whilst waving to whoever was applauded him, Papyrus could only stare at his flamboyant getup.
This Umai fellow was wearing a brightly coloured tuxedo like outfit with bright colours arranged in a way it would catch anyone's attention even if you tried to avoid looking at him, mostly red and purple with hints of blue but sometimes a new colour could be seen before you realised it. Crimson gloves and glossy turquoise shoes, with a ridiculously large red bow tie. If none of those were eye catchers than that large purple top hat he wore was definitely a magnet for attention. It was big, like really big, so big that Papyrus could only barely see the stranger's thin neck from underneath it. In fact with the way it had that huge smiley face crudely painted onto you'd think it was his actual head.
When he finally reached the stage, the tuxedo wearing person gave him a curt wave before he pulled out a mic from his sleeve and all spotlights suddenly focused on him. "Hello and good evening my beloved audience, welcome back to our fabulous show that I put together just for you!" The cries of delight grew even louder. "It's been a while and I assure you this one will be just as grand as the previous one!"
Papyrus stepped back a little, his nerves getting to him as well as his ever growing confusion over what was happening. He tried to return to his room in the hopes there would be some sort of clue in there that could help him understand what was happening, but when he spun round he saw nothing but more blinding lights blocking his way.
"Aw, our special guest seems to be a little nervous folks!" Papyrus turned back to see the stranger was pointing at him. "Lets be polite and give him a proper welcome!"
Umai walked over to him and Papyrus just noticed how tall he was. They were both roughly around the same height but that large hat he wore added a few extra inches. Once Umai was standing right in front of him he offered a hand towards the bewildered Skeleton. "No need to be shy Papyrus," chuckled Umai.
"How did you know my name?" gasped Papyrus.
"Simple," replied Umai, "because you're the guest of honour!"
The loud cheers came back along with flashing neon lights and ringing bells. Right above them was a large flashing sign with Papyrus' name, flashing in all the colours Papyrus could think of and exploded with even more confetti. Umai jumped up and down as he applauded, encouraging the hidden audience to cheer even louder. Papyrus felt his cheek bones burn when he realised that he was the star of this bizarre show though he wasn't certain why. Underneath all that confusion was a slight giddiness that all this was put on just for him.
"Alright, alright, that's enough," announced Umai, simmering down the excitement in the air, "let's get on with it!" He ushered Papyrus to follow him where a comfy looking chair sat next to a flashy desk, similar to that talk show Mettaton had. "Come Papyrus, we have so much to discuss before we begin."
Papyrus didn't really have a choice but he did seem eager to sit down. "Um, before we start I would like to know how you set all this up in the living room," he asked, his hands latched onto his knees.
Umai laughed. "This isn't your living room silly, this is my grand and glorious show and you are the star!" More applause followed before Umai calmed them down.
"So... am I in a studio?" queried Papyrus, not even wondering how he ended up in one. "Wait, is this like Mettaton's show? Do I get to meet Mettaton?"
There was some amused laughter from the audience and Umai chuckled. "Sort of, a little and no," he answered, "this show is much, much, much more better than Mettaton's, and do you know why?" Papyrus shook his head. "It's because YOU are the star of show and I am your glamorous host, Umai!" He extended his long arm for a handshake which Papyrus politely returned as the crowds continued to cheer. "Trust me you're gonna love this show."
A show where he was the star? This sounded like a dream come true, it was a fantasy of his to be a star on a show. Papyrus felt insanely giddy now and his teeth chattered with excitement. "I-I've never been on a show before," he said, trying to keep himself composed. "I'm a little nervous." It was even more nerve wracking considering he was still in his pyjamas.
"No need to be," chuckled Umai as he pulled out a mug filled with an odd tea mixture and a straw, "you'll be fine. Now, before I explain the rules of the show let's talk about you." He leaned over his desk and Papyrus could not help but stare at the painted expression upon that large hat. "So Papyrus, apart from working as a sentry and making puzzles and spaghetti all day, you live with your big brother huh? Or should I say little big brother?" The audience laughed at that little joke.
"Yes, I live with my brother Sans," confirmed Papyrus, "together in Snowdin."
"Must be fun to live with a sibling, huh?" asked Umai, dunking a finger in and out of his tea.
"Hardly," scoffed Papyrus, "he leaves his socks all over the floor and lounges around when he needs to do work."
"Sounds like living with him is a chore in itself," chuckled Umai, "but enough about him, tell us about your dreams for the future! What does Papyrus want to be when he's older."
"That's easy," replied Papyrus as he leaned back into the plush chair, "I wish to be a member of the esteemed Royal Guard."
Umai made a whistling sound and the crowd made sounds of awe. "The Royal Guard? Wow, that's quite the aspiration." The crowd around them made sounds of agreement.
"Oh it is," agreed Papyrus as a dreamy look filled his face.
"So why the Royal Guard Papyrus?" asked Umai, "what was it about the King's army that made you want to sign up?"
Papyrus was a little stunned at first upon realising that nobody had ever asked him that question before. Sans never questioned him when he announced his intentions and Undyne didn't question him either. "Why so I can protect the Monsters of the Underground of course," answered Papyrus.
Umai tilted his head. "Is that the only reason?"
"And to get popular and praised by all," confessed Papyrus, blushing a little.
"Anything else?" asked Umai, his tone of voice almost sounded sly.
"Those are the only reasons I wanted to join," declared Papyrus, though a part of him was slightly conflicted. He said it so many times as to why he wanted to a member of the Royal Guard; to be loved by all and serve the Monsters of the Underground. It was a simple reason and it was more than enough.
Umai sat up and rested his hidden chin upon his arms. "How very interesting," he mused, "well let's finish this little segment with one last question." He then leaned over his desk so he could shove his mic into Papyrus' face. A single spotlight shone down upon Papyrus as Umai asked his final question...
"Who are you?"
The deathly silence that filled the air was a little unsettling. The question was a simple if not puzzling for Papyrus, and even though he should know the answer straight away he felt that the very question caused his voice to get lodged in his throat for a moment. "W-well... I'm Papyrus," he answered with a grin.
"And who is Papyrus?"
Umai's questions were getting a little peculiar despite their simplicity. "I'm sorry, I don't understand the question," said Papyrus.
For a moment Umai was silent and as still as a statute. It was a little unsettling especially with those painted eyes upon his hat that seemed to be staring at him. Papyrus couldn't deny this disturbing feeling that was trembling through his bones.
Then after what felt like an hour or so Umai finally sat up with a shrug. "Well that's more than enough, lets start the show!"
The crowd cheered loudly again and a large scoreboard dropped down from out of nowhere, scaring Papyrus a little though he was relieved that the questions had ended. Umai trotted over to the scoreboard and started to explain. "Here's how it works; you get seven tries, seven go's, seven chances! You heard me, seven attempts at winning. I will present you a challenge to complete and if you successfully completed said challenge then you win the game!" The crowd applauded. "However if you fail then you get six more attempts. Fail all seven and you lose." The crowd uttered disappointing noises. "Easy to understand, right?"
The rules of the game seemed simple for Papyrus. All he had to do was win one of the seven challenges and he'd win the game, so it didn't matter if he failed the first six as long as he won the last one. Not that he was planning on failing the first challenge. He was actually starting to get real keen on getting the game underway.
"I understand completely," confirmed Papyrus with a confident smile, "and I think you needn't worry about the other six challenges, I believe I can pass this first one with ease!"
"Excellent," exclaimed Umai as he clapped his gloved hands together, "so lets kick off with our first challenge! Is everybody ready!?" The crowd roared once more as Umai twirled over to another spotlight were two glittering podiums stood with flashy boxes atop of them. "Are you ready Papyrus?"
"Yes," answered Papyrus, jumping up and walking over to join the glamorous host.
"Wonderful," responded Umai, "now I like to start things off easy so this first challenge is super simple!" He patted the two boxes before lifting them up, revealing what they were hiding. Under one box was a plush doll in the shape of a bunny and the other one was a plush only it was shaped as a duck.
"Wowie," gasped Papyrus as he clasped his own face, "they're so cute!"
"Oh I know," agreed Umai, "I could just run off with both of them but that's not going to happen! Now here is your first challenge Papyrus..." Another hush entered the studio as a drumroll built up the exciting tension.
"The bunny or the duck?"
The very words he uttered appeared as large flashy lights above them with the crowd cheering them on. Umai stepped back and said, "good luck!"
Papyrus was a little surprised at this challenge, though he had been expecting something slightly more difficult. He had to choose between two different plush toys and that seemed to be the gist of it, nothing more and nothing less. It didn't seem like that much of a challenge but maybe there was more to it. He looked between the two dolls, wondering which one was the right choice. He kind of wanted a hint but Umai looked like he wasn't going to give him one.
"Which one is it?" he murmured to himself.
The bunny was definitely adorable with that big blue ribbon and those large beady eyes that almost shimmered, but so was the duck with the cute little sailor hat and pink scarf. They were both too cute for mere words. Was there a trick to this challenge? Papyrus stood there gnawing on his thumb as he tried think of which one was the right choice.
It was then that he noticed that the audience was chanting something.
"Pick the duck..."
"Go for the duck..."
"Duck, duck, duck..."
"It's the duck..."
The crowd chanted for the duck over and over again, their voices resonating around the studio. He couldn't see them but it almost sounded like they were right behind him. Their low voices starting to rise up until Papyrus could not help but notice it. Was the audience trying to help him? Was the duck the correct one? Maybe it was... yes it had to be, why else would the crowd call out for it? It had to be the right answer, it just had to be.
"Are you ready to make your choice Papyrus?" Umai jumped up and down on his toes.
"Y-yes," stammered Papyrus.
"Excellent," squealed Umai, "so which is it?"
Papyrus looked back at the toys, the crowd continuing to chant until it was almost deafening. "I choose... the duck!" declared Papyrus confidently.
The studio suddenly became silent, deathly silent. Papyrus stood there after declaring his choice, waiting for Umai to say something but the host just stood there and stared at him, at least he assumed Umai was staring at him. Was this the part where they built up the dramatic tension before declaring him the winner?
Umai finally spoke...
A loud buzzing sound filled the studio and the crowd moaned in disappointment. Papyrus was stunned at the announcement. He was wrong? He could've sworn that the duck was the right option, the crowd was rooting for it.
"It... it cannot be," he mumbled, "I lost?"
"You did indeed Papyrus," confirmed Umai, pointing to the score board where a single cross appeared. "Too bad! I was kinda hoping you'd win!"
Papyrus slumped miserably. "I was so certain," he whined.
"Were you?" asked Umai, his body language displaying his confusion as he tilted his head, "what made you so certain?"
"It was obviously the right choice," sighed Papyrus as he glanced at the toy, "why wouldn't it be?"
Umai made a tutting sound. "You sure? Because I'm fairly certain you were just listening to the audience."
Papyrus flinched a little. "Well the duck is clearly the popular one, why wasn't it the correct choice?" He had hoped that the audience would join in to defend him but they remained silent, much to Papyrus' grief.
Umai stood there and Papyrus was certain that the painted smile upon the hat grew a little. "This isn't about what they wanted Papyrus... it was about what you wanted... but you chose what they desired, ignoring what you craved for the sake of pleasing a faceless crowd of people you've never met... what exactly did you gain from it?"
Papyrus was getting unsettled by Umai's voice as it started to sound cold and emotionless. He wasn't acting like the friendly host he only met moments ago. Even the mood of the room changed and Papyrus was actually getting the chills. Umai continued as he slowly paced back and forth, the painted face upon his hat was locked on him and Papyrus was compelled to follow its gaze.
"You didn't gain anything... instead you got nothing... nothing... you lost a challenge over the wants and needs of strangers. You didn't accomplish anything by making this choice Papyrus... the audience doesn't even care... why should they? They couldn't had cared less if you chosen the bunny... you didn't actually think that by choosing the duck that they'd like you, did you?" Umai laughed and clapped his hands together.
The words Umai spoke stung Papyrus and he felt his arms wrap around his thin frame, as if he was trying to shield himself from those horrible words. What was this? Why was Umai telling him these cruel things? Twisted emotions began to rise up and Papyrus trembled as these words continued to stab at his very soul. He chose what he thought was right because... it was the right choice... it had to be... so why did it suddenly feel so very wrong? It was just a game but now he felt like he had just been attacked in a cruel joke. He actually wanted to cry.
"Oh well, there's always next time!" Umai suddenly returned to his previous behaviour and spun around in an eccentric fashion, giggling like an innocent child devoid of all sin. "You still have six more attempts to win the game Papyrus, so don't feel down about it, ok?"
Papyrus was thrown off by this change of personality, even with the crowds cheering more and the bright lights blinding his vision. He wanted to ask Umai what he meant by those horrid things but he couldn't get his voice to work, he still felt an unusual sensation of shame.
"Thanks for playing Papyrus," chuckled Umai, "we'll see you next time when you have a go at our second challenge! See you then!" Bye bye!"
Umai waved at him and the crowds continued to cheer. Before Papyrus could even utter a word he suddenly found himself back on his own bed within his room.