I once worked as a Test Engineer at an android factory.
We’d been struggling to debug a new product line, a female pleasure-housekeeping model. The units met almost all the design specs, rating particularly high on the obedience scale–but they consistently failed the housekeeping tests. They all had a irrational fear of vacuum cleaners.
Turned out that some idiot Design Engineer had specified the integration of select brain functions from the Canis lupus familiaris species–the domestic dog–to boost the model’s obedience index.
We finally fixed it–although the final product could be a bit balky at times.
Author’s Note: Lest anyone question it, idiotic Design Engineers are quite common. Take it from me.
The young monk Aris teetered at the cliff’s edge, arms outspread. Surf crashed into the jagged rocks far below.
“Aris!” Father Petrod called out. “Do not tempt God, my son! What you are contemplating is a mortal sin.”
Aris turned his head and smiled at the abbot. “No one in the monastery understood me, Father. They mocked the intensity of my passion for God’s most perfect creation, His holy sheep. You alone were kind, saying, ‘Only by your faith shall you be lifted up.’ Farewell!”
For the eternity of a moment, Aris felt his wings fill with God’s redeeming breath.
Author’s Note: One hopes that Aris’s faith preserved him. But one also wonders if he would’ve been better off without it.
Everything Eddie Nelson knew, he’d learned in Kindergarten:
- The other kids are all wimps, and you can easily make them do what you want by intimidation.
- Only share your toys if you can steal something better in return.
- Naps are for sissies.
“And what is your recommended response to North Korea’s latest provocative action, General Nelson?”
Eddie’s mind snapped back to the Situation Room. The new President was just another wimp. He was limp prey, all the way.
“Nuke ’em,” Eddie said. “Now!”
He smiled as the President called for the “nuclear briefcase” to be brought in.
Author’s note: I’ve always wondered about who the real behind-the-scenes power wielders are. (And yes, Dr. Strangelove is indeed one of my favorite movies.)
Professor Rolfson invited his academic rival, Schmidt, to visit his estate, ostensibly to reveal a new discovery. They went into the garden, where Rolfson proudly displayed his novel rose hybrid.
“Very nice,” Schmidt said. “But I don’t understand why you persist in these mundane pursuits. With my new research, we can genetically create pigs that fly, cows that produce gasoline, sheep that excrete fine cloth. And you only cultivate roses.”
“Not so, my friend.” Rolfson pointed behind Schmidt.
The Venus Fly Trap was gigantic, and when it snatched him up, Schmidt realized just how much Rolfson had always hated him.
Author’s note: I am not an academician, but I suspect many of them have these kinds of wish-fulfillment daydreams.
The dig foreman raced into the base camp, breathless and sweaty. “Señor Henderson, come quickly! We’ve found something!”
Despite the many disappointments he’d suffered over the years, Professor Henderson allowed his heart to light up. No one dug in the Sonoran Desert; it was a fool’s pursuit–so they’d all said. He felt differently.
They reached the dig site and the elderly archeologist descended into the latest test pit.
“What’ve you got, Manuel?”
“Ancient treasure, Señor! Look!”
Henderson took the garishly colored object from the digger’s trembling hands. He sighed. “It’s crap. Just more cheap, imported plastic crap. Keep digging!”
Author’s note: What will future archeologists seek within our own strata of history? I think they will all be disappointed and disheartened.
The clock ticked down to zero. The bomb didn’t detonate.
Oppenheimer, the Project Director, tore off his blast-goggles. “Crapola! Send some techs out there to investigate.”
Tilson and Jowolski’s jeep bounced across ten miles of rough Alamogordo desert and arrived at Ground Zero. They climbed the rickety suspension tower and opened an access panel on “the gadget.”
“Heck,” Jowolski said, “here’s your darned problem.”
He reached in and retracted a tiny, wriggling mouse.
“Cute little bugger,” Tilson said. He extended his own hand into the device. “Looks like he was chewing on this wi–”
The Atomic Age sprang forth.
Author’s note: I love “Secret Histories.”
Dear Mr. Jehovah,
I am a new occupant of Heaven. In my brief time here, I’ve noticed various problems.
I am saddened that you appear to be incognizant of all that happens under Your Holy Nose, such as cheapjacks selling shoddily constructed wings and halos, unfulfilled cloud-smoothing services, nonfunctional devices which purport to facilitate communication with still-living loved ones below, etc. Shysters and scammers abound here!
Unless you attend to this, Sir, I may be forced to seek residence elsewhere.
Jacob Tweedy, Esq.
Dear Mr. Tweedy,
Have a nice trip and watch out for that door behind you.
Author’s note: I once heard someone remark: “If gold rings started raining down from the heavens, some folks will complain that they couldn’t find one to fit.” I wish I knew the original source for that. Nevertheless, I have a plaque on my kitchen wall that says: “Happiness is wanting what you get.” True ’nuff.
Mandi Sue giggled as she ran along the surf’s margin, her luscious, bouncing breasts threatening to pop free from her bikini top. Ken chased after her, pretending to be too slow to catch up.
“Almost gotcha, Mandi!”
He tripped in the sand and went down hard, cracking his Virt-chip implant.
Mandi stopped and turned. “Poor baby! Are you okay?”
Ken looked in dismay at the disgusting, ropy liquid that oozed over him, the purple haze of pollution that stretched from horizon to horizon, and the refuse-strewn beach.
Then he looked at Mandi Sue, the most horrific sight of all.
Author’s note: The epitome of weltschmerz–the sudden realization that the world ain’t what you thought it was. A concept explored exquisitely by P. K. Dick. And for all the fans of the movie Matrix: would you take the blue pill, or the red pill? Unfortunately, the choice is not always there for us. Me, I haven’t been quite the same since Walt Disney died.
19 July 1924
Eher Publishing GmbH
c/o Landsberg Prison
Landsberg am Lech, Bavaria
Dear Herr Hitler,
Thank you for sending us your manuscript titled “The Lust Maidens of Planet Omega.” Although reasonably well-executed, we are sad to inform you that it is simply not a good fit for us.
For your information, Eher Publishing presently focuses on non-fictional works relating to history and political philosophy, being especially keen on personal or even autobiographical themes. If you wish to send us something more along those lines, we will be happy to look at it.
Author’s note: I’ve always wondered about all those myriad unknown “inciting incidents” that turn an ordinary schlub into A Person To Be Reckoned With.
K’ral the Barbarian finally figured out how to navigate the revolving doors in front of the First National Bank of Chicago. He strode into the lobby. Sweat glistened on his bare, bulging pectorals.
An attractive wench suddenly appeared at his side. “Good morning, sir. Would you like to open an account?”
“Where is your gold? A wizard majicked me to this odd land, saying I would find untold wealth here. Want gold!”
“No gold here, sir. Only cash, CDs, financial instruments…”
“Bah! Methinks I’ve been played for a blasted fool yet again!”
Frowning, K’ral stormed out of the bank.
Author’s note: Which is, to wit, my sarcastic commentary on all dopey S&S books and movies.