Keyper

Oh no, did I get a hyperfixation for a pilot episode and just had to write a one-shot about it? Seems so. Enjoy, everybody!

My name is Keyper. I was created by Caine to give a key to The Cast after they solved my riddle so they could go on to the next room. That is my sole purpose.

My design reflects that. I look like a little golden wind-up toy, with silver springs for arms, crane claws for hands and a black ball for a leg like a computer mouse. I have big bronze turning gears for eyes with irises that look like keyholes, as well as piano keys acting as my teeth (it's a pun, get it?) in a big old smile. Finally there was the constantly turning key on top of my head which looked like an infinity symbol.

I was placed in a room decorated like a castle interior, with a small door in front of me and a massive door with a massive keyhole behind me. And there I waited for...I don't know how long.

Until that is when the small door opened and in walked Jax, Ragatha, Kinger and Gangle. I instinctively knew who they were and what I was to do.

"Greetings intrepid adventurers!" I greeted them with as much charisma as I was created to have. "I am Keyper, your first trail in the journey of the castle slash stage slash circus tent. Trademark!"

"AH! It's a minor obstacle!" Kinger shrieked.

"Huh." Jax smirked, placing his hand above his eyes. "Small enough to punt all the way to the other side. No worries everyone I've solved the puzzle." He looked like he was winding up to kick me.

"Come on, Jax, you know that's not gonna be it." Ragatha tiredly scolded him.

"Not with that attitude, Dollface. Quit stifling my creative vision."

"Um, maybe we should listen to what it says?" Gangle timidly suggested.

Jax sighed. "Fine, but I'm not gonna like it." Ragatha rolled her eye so much it nearly fell off.

"To go through the door you have to answer my riddle!" I declared, being met with a mix of a groan, a shriek, a whimper, a sigh, and something else so disturbing it haunts me. "The riddle is this: 'I have teeth but cannot bite, a-"

"Caine, final answer."

"Jax!"

"C'mon, it could be!"

I just waited until they stared at me again. "...I have teeth but cannot bite, a blade but cannot cut, a bow but cannot fire, yet I still stab. What am I?"

"Eggs! Acid? Malware!...EGGS!?" Kinger rambled off.

"Yeah, see, this is above my eternal damnation grade." Jax commented. "Folks, it's not too late to try my brilliant kciking idea."

"Oh, for-think about it for a couple of seconds!" Ragatha said, as she paced around. "Okay, teeth, blade, bow, all weapons made to hurt, but are unused yet can still stab and kill, maybe it's a metaphorical killer like depression? Oh god, Caine wouldn't let an answer like that go through would he? Unless it's some kind of psychological thinking wheel that's supposed to trap us in thisroomforpossibledaysuntilit'ssomething sosimplethat-"

"Is it a key?" Gangle whimpered.

"CORRECT!" I decared as the hatch in my chest opened and impossibly produced a key three times my size in a magic hand.

"Nice work, Crybaby, believed in you from the beginning." Jax 'congratulated' her.

"Ahhh, bloated valuable!" Kingmo marvelled as he collected the key. "Thank you, key person, I shall cherish our time together for 12 seconds."

"Okay! Bye bye!" I waved as they moved onto the next room. Jax kicked me over on his way out.

And then I was alone. For a much...much longer time.

I think Caine forgot about me. So I was just left, in that room...for seemingly forever. And the only thing I could think was that riddle, the answer, and my very first ever sentence. I stayed like that, with those same thoughts, over, and over, and over again.

Until something in my head, or code, or soul...

SNAPPED.

I literally, agonisingly, pulled myself away from that one spot, towards that small door, wrenching it open, and rolling into the main part of the circus tent.

My very first independent thought was, that if Caine caught me, he'd probably kill me. And Jax would find it hilarious. So I kept out of sight for a long time. Always hiding behind things, peeking out only when I was absolutely positively sure Caine and Bubble weren't around. Y'know he says he has thousands of eyes everywhere, but they're either blind or he doesn't keep tabs on any of them. I still believe they're real though, the dread keeps me alert.

So I just watched for the longest time. Watched the Cast talk, torment and trick each other, as well as the occasional sobbing and fetal position. My first impressions seemed pretty accurate, but I also saw Zooble, who'd probably hate me, and Kaufmo, who...would've also probably hated me, I didn't find his jokes funny. Oh, did I switch to past tense for Kaufmo? No reason.

I guess I was searching for another purpose, but that was quite hard to find when every other door led to some abstract entertainment or someone screaming, usually both. I considered revenge against Caine several times, from dropping an anvil on him, to brutally tearing off his limbs and feeding them to his eyeball juggling jaws, but I got bored of that and admitted I wouldn't last long against him. So I began thinking I should take up croquet-

"Oh it's you."

I nearly screamed as I whipped around and stared into the bulbous eyes of Kinger. Looking back on it, he is a surprisingly swift chess piece.

"...Who are you again?"

"Uh..." I stared back at him for a moment. "...I, have, teeth but cannot bite?" I hadn't been practising talking.

"ME TOO! Wow, we have so much in common! So...much...!" He pressed his wooden face up against my metal one as he said that, my key smacking his eyeball every now and then, before he stood up straight. "Let me introduce you to everyone else!"

"Wait!" I gasped in desperation, grabbing him with my claws. "You...can't tell them...about me!"

"Really?" He calmly asked. "But why?"

"Um...b-because...um..."

"OH I KNOW! It's because you're my imaginary friend, aren't you?"

"...Correct?"

"Perfectly understandable, then." He slipped out of my grip rather nonchalantly. "Not to worry, you're safe inside my head. Probably. Absolutely! Farewell." He then shuffled off as I returned to hiding.

"There you are, Kinger! Where have you been?"

"Ragatha! I was just talking with my imaginary friend! They like my insect collection!"

"...We need another intervention."

As terrifying and disturbing as that meeting was, it did give me the idea that I didn't need to completely isolate myself to the point of talking to a non-existent audience about my supposed life up until now...ahem...so I decided to pick and choose who I could talk to. Jax and Zooble were instantly off the list because of reasons, Kaufmo seemed a bit too...weird, to talk, so that left Gangle and Ragatha.

At the time, I decided on Ragatha, because, admittedly, it seemed like Gangle would spill the beans along with her tears on a bad day. But fate, *! ?# she is, had other plans. I was observing another instant of the Cast talking together staving off madness with social interaction. It's just that Jax's idea of that was unravelling Gangle, and Zooble walked off halfway in, claiming they though the whole thing was stupid.

When Gangle was slinking off clutching her broken comedy mask again, I couldn't help but wheel outfrom my hiding spot. "Um, hello?"

"Ah!" She startled, then sniffled. "Oh...you're that NPC from a while back. Erm...?"

"Keyper." I said, as I pinched their ribbon and twisted my claw, winding her body back up again.

"What are you doing here?"

"I just hang around nowadays. Do you mind keeping me a secret? If Caine finds out I'm probably going in the trash bin."

"What!? Really!?"

"Y-Yes, please be quiet. Let's talk elsewhere."

Gangle was true to her word, keeping me secret. She would occasionally come looking for me, but I'd just show myself when best. She picked up on it pretty quickly, and was more understanding then she let on. That was how it was with us.

"Keyper..." She said to me one day.

"Did your comedy mask break again?" I picked up the pieces. "Seriously, ask Caine for some superglue or gum or something. With those chompers I'm sure he's been tempted to chew something other then a dictionary."

"Have you ever found an exit?"

I paused at that. "Er, was, never really on my radar. Even when I was disgustingly birthed from code and snapping fingers I kinda knew there was no way out."

"Oh..." She sniffed at that.

"S-Sorry, that was-"

"No. It's my fault for thinking that."

I looked at her. She did that too often when she had her tragedy face, put herself down, didn't fight back. "Why'd you ask that now?"

She rubbed her ribbon arms. "It's just...well...I've forgotten how long I've been here. I just keep wondering, if I'm forgetting anything important. If I'm on the verge of Abstracting."

"Hey." I discarded the mask. "Don't talk like that. That won't happen."

"How do you know? I can't remember anything important, I'm losing more and more of myself...!"

I tapped my claw against my face in thought. "Well, um...what's your favourite colour?"

"Huh?"

"Humour me. You'll be the first in the whole circus."

"...Green."

"And what's your favourite food?"

"Spaghetti?"

"Well, see, you've got those right there!" I exclaimed.

She shook her mask. "That's not important."

"Of course it is! That's part of what makes you, really you! If you still have those, you're still yourself!" I tried my best to smile at her. "I mean, look at me! I don't have a favourite...anything! I don't know if I'm a she, he, they or it, I don't even have anything! You've still got so much!"

In retrospect this was a terrible pep talk. It was so terrible that Gangle wrapped her ribbons around me in a hug.

"...Is this...good?"

Gangle just sobbed quietly. I wish I knew what she was thinking at that moment. I really would like to know right now.


"Come ooooooon, tell me. I half-promise I won't use it for my own ambitions. Okay that's a lie I'd totally use it for my own ambitions."

I peeked out from behind an abstract block at Jax talking to Gangle. He had cottoned on something was up and really wanted details.

"I expect talking to nobody from the chess piece, but I have a tiny bit more respect for you, Crybaby. That and it would just be really, really sad."

"Knock it off, Jax." Ragatha sighed as she walked over. "We all cope differently. Better then the alternative."

"Funny, I took up knitting." Jax joked. "But alright, you've twisted my ear, just keep sane, 'kay?" With that he wandered off.

At that, the pair walked over and looked at me. "He's totally onto you."

"Is it that obvious?"

"Yeah, he just prefers to poke a nerve about it instead of ratting you out."

Ragatha was introduced next. She'd already figured out Gangle had a confidant of sorts.

"You're getting bolder with your little expeditions." Ragatha pointed out. "What were you thinking, following us on that last adventure? And I know you caused that avalanche."

"No I didn't."

"Really?"

"It was an accident."

"Zooble would absolutely kill you for that."

"What are we talking about?"

All three of us turned to Kinger, who inserted himself into the conversation. "I LOVE a night out!"

"Alright this isn't working." Ragatha said. "Caine's gonna know at this rate. If not him, then Jax."

"I've hid from them for this long!"

"You don't know how long! None of us do!" Ragatha sighed. "Listen, I think Caine would be open to keeping you around."

"And something inside me is saying he wouldn't." At that moment my hatch opened and the magic hand extended out, holding a beating heart. "Probably that."

"Maybe if we tell him you're really nice?" Gangle suggested.

"No." I denied. "I can't risk that."

"Risk what exactly?" Kinger questioned. "I mean, what exactly do you even do? Just run and hide? Not much better then the rest of us, really." Ragatha and Gangle gave him a look. "...Don't look at me! I'm a monster!"

"Well...I..." I found myself tapping my fingers together, as Kinger ran around screaming, glitching into one of the walls for a moment.

"You're our friend." Gangle emphasised.

"...Right..." I hate the fact, that it didn't help at all.


There had to be something else I could do...couldn't there?

I couldn't find an exit, I couldn't contribute to Caine's adventures...

I was beginning to ask myself what the point of even leaving that room was. I began getting more desperate. Trying to help out more in secret during fetch quests, mazes and fishing for some reason. But it didn't answer the question. And it upset me. What even was the point?

This was interrupted by a rather chaotic chain of a new arrival named Pomni, as well as Kaufmo Abstracting, which basically involved him turning into a giant eyeball monster that glitched everything it touched. I stayed out of the way around that time.

That was until Gangle met up with me. With Pomni.

"Keyper, she's had a really bad first impression."

"No joke." I said, staring at the jester girl. Her eye kept twitching as she stared right through me.

"What are you supposed to be?" She questioned.

"One of Caine's creations gone rogue." I nonchalantly rambled. "I keep myself secret...ish, just in case, helping out when I can."

"Help? How?" She said that a bit too dangerously.

"Therapy." Gangle answered for me.

"...Ahhhhhhhhhhh...!" That answer seemed to distress Pomni more.

"Okay, okay, um..." I extended my magic hand and grabbed the bag I'd stored in there. "Breath ito this." Pomni took the bag and began hyperventilating. "That's...better?"

"I'm sorry...I'm just kind of wrestling with the fact that this is all actually real and happening and I can't disassociate or I become that thing...it's a LOT!" Oh, she was curling up now.

"Yep, that is true..." I...pet her awkwardly. "It's okay to cry-"

"Uuuuuuuuuuuhhhhh!"

"Let it out...? No shame...? Soft words of understanding...?"

It wasn't much, but it was something.


Looking back, I can't really explain it in any other way except...I became more human.

Maybe it was interacting with the Cast, maybe it was my desperation and self-questioning, or maybe it was just that snapping moment, but I wanted to stay alive, for no other purpose other then...stay alive. Maybe that's why they all tried to hold on, because staying alive was better then...whatever the alternative was.

Shame I had this revelation now.

"Hey there, Keyper!"

"Jax!" I screeched to a halt as he turned the corner and leaned on the wall casually. "What are y-?"

"No point playing dumb, even if you don't need to, ya really think you're some stealth master with a giant key on your head?" Jax laughed. "So, when were you thinking about booking me and Zooble in on one of your appointments? Or are they exclusive?"

I backed away. "That wasn't my intention."

"Great! All water under the bridge then!" He said as he blocked my escape. He grabbed me by my key and hoisted me up, making my body spin around instead. "Now that we're friends we can tell each other all our juicy secrets, like why everyone is coming to you for their woes. In exchange, I'll tell you I like kiwi fruit." He dropped me to the floor, and I had to fix my head.

"What is your problem, Jax?" I questioned him as I got back up. "Why do you torment everyone?"

"That's what they say?" His smile was fixed as he knelt down. "Everyone apparently comes to you to stay sane, I do whatever I feel like. Different strokes for different folks. Plus it's funny."

My gear eyes clicked into a scowl. "All of you are in the same situation, the least you could do is support each other!"

"You are completely right, we ARE all in the same situation." I froze as Zooble also rounded the corner, apparently there the whole time. "So isn't keeping a secret like you really #*%!£/ bad?"

"No! That was my idea!"

"Wow! You admit it! My poor fragile heart." Jax swooned. "Playing favourites hurts y'know."

"Makes me mad." Zooble stated. "You thought we're so bad we'd rat you out, huh? Tried to keep us in the dark and make us look like a couple of idiots?"

"Well...you don't give the best impressions!" I yelled. "You make fun of everything, and you act like you hate everything! Are you hiding your fragile ego or what!?"

"Ouch. Rude!" Jax quipped. "Try not to be TOO scathing, Tincan. Stuff like that doesn't even faze me anymore."

Zooble meanwhile fixed the best nasty look they could. "You should just keep quiet until someone tells you otherwise. Apparently you're very good at that."

I was backed against the wall, staring them down. I felt desperate, something inside me was SCREAMING to push them back, to fight.

...So I did something really bad.

"Do you know what I think?"

They both looked at me.

"I think there's a reason you've been stuck here for so long." I tapped the side of my head. "Think about it. All this time, and nothing? Don't you think, somebody would've tried to get you out? Pulled the plug? Called the police? Anything!?"

"I think, that you're here forever, and nobody's coming to help you. Because nobody cares. Because nobody loves you, and you have nobody to love! Because you're somebody that everyone wants to forget! YOU'RE SOMEONE WHO WON'T BE MISSED, BECAUSE EVERYONE HATES YOU!"

I realised almost immediately what I'd done. Jax had a smile that was overjoyed I'd cracked, but was still strained. Zooble, somehow, looked incredibly hurt. And I realised in that moment, that everyone was there. EVERYONE.

I was yanked up into the sky. "Caine!"

"Wowee! You're a sight for sore eyes!" He exclaimed as he bit down on his own eyeballs. "I was wondering what was taking up so much space! Haha! I've REALLY got to learn to clean up after myself!"

I frantically clawed at my own head, as if trying to unscrew it so my body could run away. I didn't dare look at anyone.

"You've made quite the mess you naughty, naughty little thing." Caine scolded me. "I suppose if we fixed you up you could be a permanent edition on the show! Or..."

"Or dinner!" Bubble enthusiastically cheered as he opened his fanged mouth.

"Wait! WaitwaitwaitwaitwaitwaitwaitARRRRRRGGGG-!"

CRUNCH!

And that's what leads to now. As my body is being chewed up, broken down into useless code. I suppose this is what having your life flash before your eyes feels like.

It seems my final thoughts are...did anybody call for me? Was anybody upset by my death? Or did they just hate me now and glad I am going? I suppose, I know one thing, though...

Jax probably found it hilarious.


My name was Keyper. I was created by Caine to give a key to The Cast after they solved my riddle so they could go on to the next room. That was my sole purpose.

...

Maybe it would have been better if that was all.