THE CHRONICLES OF KENDAI: WORK EXPERIENCE PRIEST

Let's face it - constant abject grovelling is hard work. Not everyone is up to the task. But we at Oracle HQ pride ourselves on our many work creation programs, our on the job training and the countless opportunities offered through our participation in the government's YTS (Young Thugs with Spots) scheme. So if those aging knees ever give out, not to worry - we've got a younger pair already broken in.

Source/Digest:
1. Fax the French   AIWWTRA (#977-09)
2. Potato Soup   AIWWTRA (#978-06)
3. Much Zadoc about Nothing   Jeff Lee
4. The Case of the Gardening Gimboid   Steve-o
5. Sweetening the Devil    
6. Kenstarr   Francis Heaney
7. A Touch of Blackmail   Dave Hemming
8. The Interim Oracle    
9. Dream Team    
10. The Rosicrucian Solar Temple   Jim Evans
11. Tokay or not Tokay   Michael Thompson
12. The Winning Bid    

AIWWTRA: An Incarnation Who Wishes To Remain Anonymous
Where no author is indicated, answers are the work of AIWOKAM (An Incarnation Who's Otherwise Knows As Moi)

 


1.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> Where can i find a gateway that will take my email and convert it into 
> a fax message for France?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

Worthless Supplicant, your lack of grovelling should be immediately punished with a *ZOT*. However, since your email is important enough to be sent to 60 million people, duty will prevail.
ZADOC!!
(Enter Zadoc the Priest, wringing his hands while bowing, in a particularly snivelling manner)
Zadoc: Yes, your munificent munificentness?
Oracle: Oh stop kissing my feet, you blithering idiot. Get the photocopier. We have some copying to do.
Zadoc: Certainly, Master. How many copies will Your Grace be requiring this time? 10?
Oracle: No I'm not sending a fax to Maria's lawyers this time. Here we have a Supplicant who has an email so important it must be sent to the whole population of France. We need 60 million copies.
(Zadoc blanches)
Zadoc: 60 MILLION!?
Oracle: That's right. And I suppose you'd better call the service engineer as well, seeing as we only have 30 million copies left before the next service is due.
Zadoc: I'm going to need some help with this one, or you won't get served dinner until Saturday. KENDAI!!
(Enter Kendai. He is dressed like Zadoc, but cannot be more than 16 years old. He is chewing gum and looks bored.)
Oracle: Kendai? Who he?
Zadoc: He's our new Work Experience priest, Master.
Kendai: Yeah? What d'you want?
Zadoc: Kendai! You must grovel to His Omniscience!
(He slaps Kendai)
Kendai: OW! What was that for?
Oracle: It is the way of the world. Lisa slaps me, I slap Zadoc, and Zadoc slaps you.
Kendai: And who do I slap then?
Zadoc: You slap nobody. You must grovel here for 30 years before you get to slap anybody.
Kendai: What, now? That'll take er... (scratches head) ...thirty years!
Oracle: Kendai, you may take grovelling lessons from Zadoc after this task I set you. Believe me, you will find no better Master of the Grovel. Zadoc, while you're at it, enroll the Supplicant as well. He obviously needs a few lessons.
Zadoc: A wonderful idea, Glorious Fountain of Knowledge!
Oracle: Right you two, enough yabbering, I want 60 million copies by 5pm. Can you do it?
Kendai: (shrug) Suppose...
Oracle: Right, Photocopy! Photocopy like the wind!
(Fast forward to 5pm. On the Director's Cut, perhaps show a clock with the hands spinning round. Enter Kendai, still chewing gum and bored. He is followed by Zadoc.)
Kendai: OK, what do want us to do with the copies?
(Zadoc slaps him)
Kendai: I mean er.. what do you want us to do with the copies, GUV?
Oracle: Zadoc, get your nose off the floor. I assume you've addressed all the copies and stuck the stamps on?
Kendai: (sniff) Yeah, we did that n' all.
Zadoc: Ush. Oo need to gut un automatic shtamp licker, Mashter.
Oracle: Right, post them! It's about time the Priests in the Post Room had something to do.
Kendai: Whatever you say, Guv.
(Exit Zadoc, bowing. Exit Kendai, slouching.)
You owe the Oracle a better Work Experience Priest. And an automatic stamp licker.

 


2.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> > i"M sTILL wAITING1111
>
> And in response, thus spake the Oracle:
>
> } Oh, sorry, B1FF. Here you go:
> }
> } *** ZOT!!! ***
>
> Thanks. I needed that! Why did I have to wait so long?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

Hmm. Looks like trouble in the Admin department. KENDAI!!
(Enter Kendai, the spotty Work Experience Priest)
Kendai: Yeah? Er...Your Bossness...
Oracle: I see Zadoc is still having trouble teaching you the finer points of the pathetic subservient grovel. Never mind, I'm sure that will come in time. Now, do you recognise this?
(Hands Kendai a slip of paper)
> > i"M sTILL wAITING1111
>
> And in response, thus spake the Oracle:
>
> } Oh, sorry, B1FF. Here you go:
> }
> } *** ZOT!!! ***
>
> Thanks. I needed that! Why did I have to wait so long?
Kendai: No, never seen it before.
Oracle: No?
Kendai: No! Er... Maybe. (Oracle arches his eyebrows) Er, yeah.
Oracle: We pride ourselves here on a fast turnabout, boy. Remember that "Answer in 24 hours or your gift to the Oracle back" promotion we did last year? If you'd been around then I'd have had to send Lisa on to the streets to procure our needs.
(Kendai sniggers)
Oracle: I mean, to BEG, boy! (slap) Now, what happened here?
Kendai: Er... well Mr. Zadoc had me peeling spuds all day Monday. He took down me to the pantry, showed me where the sacks of spuds were, and told me to get peeling. I asked him what I was supposed to learn about Priesting, spending all day peeling spuds, and he told me my job was to do all the crappy jobs he didn't want to do. Anyway, he didn't actually specify exactly how many spuds needed peeling...
Oracle: I think I'm getting the drift here. If I remember correctly (and I always do, as I'm Omniscient) Monday evening we had potato soup, followed by roast potatoes in a potato sauce and a side dish of fries. For desert, we had pureed potato. I thought it was a little odd at the time. So you thought you were supposed to peel every potato down there?
Kendai: It wasn't my fault! Mr. Zadoc never told me when to stop!
Oracle: You might be a moron, boy, but at least you've got time to learn. Zadoc, unfortunately, does not have that luxury. Let me take a wild stab in the dark here. Your next job was to sort the incoming questions?
Kendai: No! Mr. Zadoc always does that! He says he has to weed out all the Make.Money.Fast! emails. I reckon he just wants to know about the latest porn sites spammed to the net.
Oracle: Ah, the cynicism of youth. Please, continue, boy.
Kendai: Well, Mr. Zadoc was caught ill on Monday night while sorting though the in-tray, if you remember. He said something like, "If I ever see another potat... Bleeaarrgghh!" just before rushing to the bathroom.
Oracle: And what does this have to do with a late response?
Kendai: Um... well... thing is, Mr. Zadoc told me that after peeling the spuds, my next job was to make sure there was toilet paper in all the bathrooms. And of course, on Monday night I hadn't had time to do it, seeing as I spent all Monday afternoon peeling spuds. So he was sitting there, having a dump when he realised there was no paper in the bathroom. And the only bit of paper he had was an email he holding was holding when he was caught short.
(Oracle starts holding the email at arms length)
Kendai: So, my job on Tuesday, was to dry and clean the email before it got passed to you. It wasn't pleasant, I'm telling you!
Oracle: At last, we get to the bottom of this little mystery. Hmm, maybe I should rephrase that?
(Kendai slouches out)
So, Supplicant, I hope that provides the answer. You were probably lucky to get a response at all.
You owe the Oracle a four-pack of luxury Andrex.

 


3.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> [Zadoc and the Oracle discuss the day alone in the Oracular garden.
>
> Enter Kendai
>
> Kendai
>   My lord and Oracle, God save you.
>
> Zadoc
>   Good den, brother.
>
> Kendai
>   If your leisure served, I would speak with you.
>
> Zadoc
>   In private?
>
> Kendai
>   If it please you: yet The Wise One may hear: for what I would speak of
>   concerned him.
>
> Zadoc
>   What's the matter?
>
> Kendai [To the Oracle]
>   Means your lordship to be married to-morrow?
>
> Zadoc
>   You know he does.
>
> Kendai
>   I know not that, when he knows what I know.
>
> Oracle
>   If there be any impediment, I pray you discover it.
>
> Kendai
>   You may think I love you not: let that appear hereafter, and aim
>   better at me by that I now will manifest. For my lord, I think he
>   holds you well; and in dearness of heart hath holp to effect your
>   ensuing marriage,-surely suit ill spent and labour ill bestow'd.
>
> Zadoc
>   Why, what's the matter?
>
> Kendai
>   I came hither to tell you; and, circumstances shorten'd (for she hath
>   been too long a talking of), the lady is disloyal.
>
> Oracle
>   Who, Lisa?
>
> Kendai
>   Even she; Og's Lisa, your Lisa, every man's Lisa.
>
> Oracle
>   Disloyal!
>
> Kendai
>   The word is too good to paint out her wickedness; I could say she were
>   worse: think you of a worse title, and I will fit her to it. Wonder
>   not till further warrant: go but with me to-night, you shall see her
>   chamber-window enter'd, even the night before her wedding-day: if you
>   love her then, tomorrow wed her; but it would better for your honour
>   to change your mind.
>
> Oracle
>   May this be so?
>
> Zadoc
>   I will not think it.
>
> Kendai
>   If you dare not trust that you see, confess not that you know: if you
>   will follow me, I will show you enough; and when you have seen more,
>   and heard more, proceed accordingly.
>
> Oracle
>   If I see anything to-night why I should not marry her to-morrow, in
>   the congregation, where I should wed her, there will I shame her.
>
> Zadoc
>   And, as I woo'd for thee to obtain her, I will join thee to disgrace
>   her.
>
> Kendai
>   I will disparage her no further till you are my witnesses: bear it
>   coldly but till midnight, and let the issue show itself.
>
> Zadoc
>   O day untowardly turn'd!
>
> Oracle
>   O mischief strangely thwarting!
>
> Kendai
>   O plague right well prevented! so will you say when you have seen the
>   sequel
>                                                                           [Exeunt.

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

SCENE IV. The next morning.
[Enter ORACLE, ZADOC and OG.]
Oracle: The trap is set; remember well your parts.
Zadoc: I shall indeed, O Master strong & fayre.
Og: Og hit with club!
Oracle:                           Then goe, my trusted friends;
The hower cometh swift, and we must needs make haste.
[Exeunt Og and Zadoc.]
[Enter KENDAI.]
Oracle: How now, thou thin and slouching Priest.
Kendai:                                                              How now!
I see thy bow'r stands emptie; hast heeded then my words?
Oracle: I haue in deede; the brydeall is now off.
Kendai: And Lisa, then, hath fallen from thy grace?
Oracle: I trusted not thy wordes; I doe admit that plaine,
For no man woulde with cuckold's horns himselfe
Adorn (although the mirrour plainely shew
Their mark to all eyes but his own). And so,
Disguising mee as Lisa's seruing-mayde,
I took me to her chamber late at night.
Before my disbelieuing eies I saw
Her ope the door to some man I knewe not.
Kendai: (aside) Beshrew me! I hadde thought to plant the seede
Of doubt, but find already here a full-growne tree!
Oracle: And so, full wroth at this deceite, I swore
I'de marrie no one that was prou'de a whore.
[Enter ZADOC]
Zadoc: O wise & pow'rfull Master, I doe beg
Thy swift forgiuenesse for intruding thus;
Thou art as splendid as the Sunne, and all
The wits of this great Age doe pale when seen
In Thy penumbra; why, Bacon is but rind --
Oracle: Vp, off thy knees and speke. What news dost bring?
Zadoc: From Lisa's quarters haue I come just now --
Oracle: Ay, thou and dozens more, I'le bet.
Zadoc: -- where, thinking to obteyn the ring thou bad'st
Me ask her to return, I found the door
Ajar --
Oracle:            Ay, like her legs.
Zadoc:                                      -- and, thinking it
Deserted, found myself emboldened then
To enter, for to seek the ring.
Oracle:                                              Then tell,
What didst thou find?
Zadoc:                                 O Master, promise me
That in thine anger thou wilt spare my soul
From punishment, for I am sure this news
Will strike thine ears most grieuously.
Oracle: I promise thee, that wrath is naught to what
Shall strike, if thou tells't not mee right awaie.
Zadoc: O Master, I did finde (and still cringe at
The sight) the body of thy late betroth'de,
Her hand still on the daggers hilt which, plung'de
Betwixt her breasts, did robbe her of her breath
And carry her, on Death's swift horse, to that
Vile doom, which she hath wrought herself.
Kendai: (aside) O happy day! My plans themselues surpass --
Oracle: What say'st thou there?
Kendai:                                    Why, nothing, Lord; I did
But mutter my surprise at these euents!
Oracle:                                                          Thou knaue!
Thou liest in thy throate, I charge; I heard
Thy words of exultation at the death
Of my fayre bride!
Kendai:                             And all th'omniscience
In the world cannot bring her return.
Oracle: A curse I lay: that centuries from now,
This story shall be acted to the world;
Though well-respected actor play my part,
Thy role shall be fill'd by Keanu Reeves.
Kendai: O most vnrighteous! is thy hart so hard,
That thou condemn'st me to such euil fate?
I shall not suffer more ill-wrought disdain,
And seek asylum far from here, in Spain.
[He flees, but, opening the door, is struck down by Og.]
Og: Og hit with club. Og hope Or-a-cle like.
Oracle: Well done, my friend; thy spiky club struck true,
And Zadoc, thou didst boldly tell that tale.
Now to the church let vs make fast our way;
Fayre Lisa waits on this our wedding day.
                                                      [Exeunt omnes]

 


4.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> Would you care to elaborate on that?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

        "Yes, I did speak to her, but I told her that I wasn't allowed to talk to supplicants. That was it."
        The stress was getting to me. I had been in the holding area for three hours now. The detectives kept asking me the same questions over and over. Did I kill her? Did I recognize the pruning shears that were used to cut her into pieces? And, most importantly, where was Kendai?
        "Mr. Zadoc, your lawyers are here."
        In walked two figures I had seen many times, none of them good. The first was Nyar Lathotep, a rough character. He had a face like a chiffon pie made with ground up hobbits. His voice was grating and irritating; not the way the Spice Girls were grating and irritating, more like the way sitting on a pitchfork was grating and irritating.
        The other was Yog Shothoth, who worked defense on just about every criminal case in history. He made his name defending such characters as David Berkowitz, John Wayne Gayce, and the Bob's Big-Boy Slasher. I knew that if the Oracle had chosen them to represent me, my chances weren't good.
        "We're going to trial," Shothoth said. The thought made me shiver.
* * *
        "The court will now come to order," the bailiff shouted. "All rise. People versus Zadoc, case number 250624. The Honorable Lance Ito presiding. You may be seated."
        The judge sat smugly at his podium. He barely reached the top of it. From where I was sitting, I could scarcely see his eyes.
        "I've read your statements. The prosecution may call its first witness."
        "Thank you, your honor," the prosecuting attorney, Lance Conwell, was hamming it up for the Court TV cameras. He had the kind of rugged good looks you'd find in the pages of a Cabella's catalog. "The state would like to call Uncle Floyd to the witness stand."
        Uncle Floyd mosied up to the stand. He was dressed in a red flannel shirt and jeans covered with grease spots. He wiggled in the seat, clearly uncomfortable, like he'd rather be parked on a bar stool at some greasy trucker stop chowing down on pork rinds and sow belly.
        "Now, Mr. Floyd, you were staying at the Oracle's Mansion on the night of April 3rd, of this year, is that correct?"
        "You got that right boy, woo-eeh, I tell ya, there was a party goin' on like nobody's business. The people there were thicker than flies on a fresh grizzly kill."
        "So there was drinking going on?"
        "Drinking? There was enough wine there to choke a' elephant."
        "Where were you at around 8:33 p.m.?"
        "I don't right recall."
        "Were you with a Ms. Alverez, the Oracle's maid? That's what she claims in her deposition."
        "Um, yeah, I reckon. We was playin' per-cheezy."
        "Where were you at that time?"
        "In the guest room, over yonder."
        "So you had a good view of the yard?"
        "I reckon."
        "Did you see the defendant in the yard at that time?"
        "Well, it was darker than the inside of a beaver."
        "Don't try to protect Mr. Zadoc, did you or did you not see him in the yard?"
        "I reckon." Uncle Floyd's face fell to his chest. I could see the bald ring left by his ever-present John Deere cap.
        "And what was he doing?"
        "He was trimmin' tha' hedges."
        "Trimming them? How?"
        "With shears."
        "The prosecution would like to enter 'Exhibit A,' the pruning shears found at the crime scene. No more questions your honor."
        Lathotep rose to his feet and glided over to the witness stand. He paused before Uncle Floyd, scratched his chin, then walked back toward me, his hand clenched in a fist in the small of his back. Suddenly, he wheeled around on one foot.
        "Mr. Floyd, how long have you known the defendant?"
        "Right on about a buncha years, I reckon. I known him since he was a' altar boy at Sister Mary Bob's."
        "In that time, have you ever known the defendant, Mr. Zadoc, to have any violent tendencies?"
        "Nope. He's as soft as a farm hand on a boneless chicken ranch. Wouldn't harm a spider."
        "Was there anything unusual about Mr. Zadoc trimming the hedges late at night?"
        "Nope. That Oracle, he kept Zadoc hoppin' like a june bug on a griddle."
        "No more questions your honor."
* * *
        The grilling kept up for another two hours. Witness after witness was called to the stand, each testifying the same thing. I had been seen pruning the hedges that night. I had also been seen talking to the supplicant who had been murdered, alone. Lisa, the Oracle, Val, Og, all called to the stand, one after another. The situation looked grim. Finally, the prosecution rested. Conwell shot a smug look at me, running his index finger across his throat as he did.
        "The defense would like to call Mr. Zadoc to the stand."
        The sickening taste of bile filled my mouth. I swallowed hard and took the stand.
        "Mr. Zadoc, do you recall the events on the evening of April 3rd, of this year?"
        "Yes, I do."
        "Would you please recount them for us, beginning with the statement you made in your deposition, 'The Oracle was cranky that evening'?"
        "Well, he was cranky. Earlier that week, the priests had thought it would be funny to post a fake digest, as a sort of April Fools joke. None of the Rhodites got it, but that's not unusual. They don't get a lot of things.
        "Anyhow, because he was in a particularly foul mood, he handed me a list of chores to do before I could attend the party. It was written on a register tape. Needless to say, the party started without me. My last job was pruning the hedges. After I had finished, a young lady with a glass of champagne approached me in the garden. She introduced herself as a supplicant. I told her that I wasn't allowed to associate with the supplicants. After that, I went to bed."
        "Did anyone see you when you went bed?"
        "No."
        "No further questions your honor."
* * *
        My head was throbbing as I returned to my seat. Shothoth shuffled a pile of papers. I felt tears well up in my eyes. I bit my tongue to fight them back. I scarcely noticed when a page came in and handed Lathotep a piece of paper.
        Lathotep read the paper intently. He scratched at his chin lightly while he read. He looked at the door, then handed the paper to Shothoth. Yog gasped when he read it.
        "If I may, your honor," Lathotep said, walking toward the bench. "If the court would indulge us, we would like to call a previously unexpected witness."
        "Very well, Mr. Lathotep," Ito said. "But, I must remind you that your client is in a very precarious position. Do not try my patience."
        "The defence would like to call," Lathotep said, pausing dramatically. Then, he pointed his finger at the door and said, "Mr. Kendai to the stand."
        The crowd in the courtroom gasped. The doors opened and Kendai entered. He looked like he had been dragged behind the master's chariot again. His clothes were torn and his hair was a mess. He shuffled down the aisle and took the stand.
        "Mr. Kendai. Are you aware that the police have been looking for you for two days now?"
        "No," Kendai said, his voice dry and hoarse. "I wasn't."
        "Can you kindly tell the court where you've been?"
        "Tied up in the Oracle's tool shed." The crowd gasped again. A mumbled buzzing filled the courtroom.
        "Tied up? Do you know who did that to you?"
        "Yes I do."
        "Is he in this room?"
        "Yes." Another murmur from the audience.
        "Can you point him out for me?"
        Kendai paused, looking directly at me. He looked down at his feet, then back up again, at me. Slowly he raised his bony, half-starved arm, one finger pointing steadily at the figure fixed in his sight.
        "That's him," the audience gasped again. Kendai was pointing directly at Lance Conwell, the prosecuting attorney. Lance fell into his seat.
        "No further questions for this witness, your honor," Lathotep said. He drifted over to his table, picking up a few pieces of paper. "The defense would like to call Lance Conwell to the stand."
        "Your honor, this is highly unus.." Conwell started.
        "But not without precedence your honor," Lathotep said, cutting him off. Conwell blinked.
        Ito nodded to Lathotep. "Proceed counselor. But no games."
        "Mr. Conwell, what were you doing at the Oracle's party on the night of April 3rd, 1998?"
        "The Oracle entertains many people. I attended with an invitation given to my firm."
        "Did you have fun?"
        "Um," Conwell swallowed, hard. "I guess."
        "Does this look familiar to you, Mr. Conwell?" Lathotep said, handing him a piece of paper.
        "It's a Juno Email stamp."
        "Doesn't it look really familiar?"
        "Should it?"
        "Your honor, the defense would like to enter 'Exhibit B,' an Email sent from Mr. Conwell to a friend of his, which is clearly marked with a Juno stamp. Now, Mr. Conwell, would you kindly state to the court why you changed your name in 1994?"
        "I don't know what you're talking about," Conwell shot back.
        "You don't? Conwell isn't your real name, as 'Exhibit C' will clearly show. In fact, you're not even human, are you?"
        "Excuse me?"
        "In fact," Lathotep said, rushing toward the stand. He grabbed Conwell's hair and pulled. Conwell's face came off, revealing a furry, rodent face. "You're a woodchuck! You killed that supplicant, didn't you Mr. Woodchuck?!"
        Conwell leapt to his feet, his whiskers twitching. He jumped over the door to the stand and ran down the aisle. The bailiff grabbed him.
        "Let me go!" he shouted. "Let me go! I'll get you, Internet Oracle! I'll get you! And your little priest too!" He cackled at this last remark. The courtroom was a madhouse, people running everywhere and shouting.
        "Order!" Ito said, banging his gavel. "Order in the court. Due to the evidence before this court, it is my finding that Mr. Zadoc is innocent! Arrest that woodchuck!"
        Shothoth put his hand on my shoulder. I felt tears welling up again. Lisa, the master, Og, Val, Uncle Floyd, everyone ran over and hugged me. I hadn't felt such joy since the master took me back.

 


5.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> With devotion's face 
> And pious acts we sweeten 
> The Devil himself.

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

Do we indeed? Well, it's worth looking into. Zadoc! Come here, and bring that wretched assistant of yours!
[Enter Zadoc the Priest, shuffling on his knees as custom demands, followed at a short distance by the truculent, slouching form of Kendai, the teenage work experience priest]
Zadoc: You bellowed, O Summit of Smarts and Pinnacle of Pretty Damn Clever?
Kendai: Yeah, whatcher want?
[Zadoc slaps Kendai]
Kendai: Ow! Whazzat for?
Zadoc: General uncouthness. Now, what comes after "yeah, whatcher want"?
Kendai: Yeah, whatcher want... guv!
Zadoc: I beg your forgiveness, Master, but after 3 months training I still can't get him beyond monosyllabic grovels.
Oracle: Never mind that now. Stand in the corner, I need you for an experiment. I'm about to summon up the Devil.
Kendai: No shit?
[The Oracle begins chanting a spine-chilling incantation and weaving his hands in mysterious patterns, causing green sparks to fly from his fingertips. Slowly, the room becomes filled with a dense, clammy fog. A giant form seems to coalesce within the fog, but the only clear things a casual observer could have made out are two pinpoints of red light, looking disturbingly like two malevolent eyes]
Devil: WHO DARES TO SUMMON ME FROM MY REPOSE? PREPARE TO HAVE YOUR BODY RENDERED LIMB FROM LIMB AND YOUR SOUL DRAGGED OFF SCREAMING TO ETERNAL TORMENT.
Oracle: Hi, Satan old chum.
Devil: Oh, it's you Orrie. Why didn't you say so in the first place? I wouldn't have bothered putting on the macho voice act.
Oracle: Have you heard the expression "With devotion's face and pious acts we sweeten the Devil himself"?
Devil: Vaguely.
Oracle: Is it true?
Devil: No idea.
Oracle: That's what I thought, so I want to put it to the test. Stop cowering you two, and come here.
[Zadoc and Kendai hesitantly approach]
Oracle: Okay, here's what we do. You, Zadoc, will do your usual grovelling and cringing business before me, and you, er, whatsyourname, will lick Satan to find out if he's getting any sweeter.
Kendai: No way!
[Zadoc slaps Kendai again]
Kendai: Sorry. No way, guv!
Zadoc: You never argue with the Master!
Kendai: Watch me!
Devil: If it's all the same to you, Orrie, I'd just as soon that kid didn't lick me. His acne looks positively lethal.
Oracle: Oh, very well. Zadoc, you do the licking and thingummy here can do the grovelling.
Zadoc: At once, O He in Whose Service I Would Gladly Cut Out My Own Tongue and Feed It to the Marmots.
Oracle: Get on with it, then.
[Zadoc dutifully makes his way through the fog and licks the Prince of Darkness's cloven hoof]
Oracle: Well, what's he taste of?
Zadoc: Sulfur, ordure, pestilence, bile, prussic acid and, er, a hint of oregano, I think.
Oracle: Fine. Okay, er, kid, make with the devotion.
[Kendai looks around uncertainly]
Zadoc: Go on, do as His Stupendosagacity demands.
Kendai: We haven't got to this bit in the training yet.
Oracle: Just grovel, worm!
Kendai: Right, er, yeah, okay. Well, um, guv, er, I mean, your really, really cleverness and all them other things Mister Zadoc's always calling you...
Oracle: Stop squeezing your zits while you're addressing me!
Kendai: [flustered] You're making me nervous!
Oracle: I'll make you a blot on the floor in a minute!
Kendai: Okay, okay! I'm on it. Oh great oracle, boss of, um, well, all us priests for a start and probably much else I don't know about yet on account of the crappy training I get here, um, you're well cool and smart enough to know your Blur from your Oasis, and er...
Oracle: Excellent. How's he tasting, Zadoc?
[Zadoc, who has been assiduously licking the Father of Lies throughout, is beginning to look extremely uncomfortable]
Zadoc: I zink id's still du sabe, Mabter, bud by tasde buds are goig nub.
Devil: I can't say I feel much sweeter.
Oracle: Try and put a bit more piety into it, sonny.
Kendai: Giz a break! I'm doing the best I can.
Devil: How about if the snivelly one here did both the grovelling and the licking?
Oracle: Good idea! Zadoc, take over the grovelling.
Zadoc: Id a bidut, Mabter. By togue has jus caugt fire.
[Zadoc rushes out of the room with smoke coming out of his mouth]
Devil: Is this going to take long? Only I've got several million souls that need char-grilling.
Oracle: Hmm, yes, perhaps we'd better reconvene tomorrow. Thanks, Satan.
[The dark mist begins to swirl around the room and suddenly disperses, leaving behind a slight whiff of sulfur, oregano and evil]
Oracle: And as for you, er...
Kendai: Kendai!
Oracle: Yes, as for you, er, sonny Jim, put in some extra sycophancy practice. I mean, you see Zadoc doing it all the time. What's so hard about it?
Kendai: It sucks!
Oracle: Look, kid, do you really think you're cut out for this line of work? Why do you want to be a priest, anyway?
Kendai: Mister Darkmage said that fully-fledged priests get to spend every other weekend with the oracular groupies in the temple hospitality suite!
Oracle: Did he indeed?
Kendai: And Miss Chevalier said that the clothes allowance alone was worth the continual humiliation!
Oracle: Come with me, my fine young fellow. I think it's time I had a little chat with my priesthood.
Kendai: There's not gonna trouble, is there?
Oracle: Perish the thought. I'm all sweetness and light.
Kendai: Really?
Oracle: No, not really...

 


6.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> Oracle, I am as nothing in the shadow of your towering intellect. I come to
>you as a self-admitted unworthy supplicant, and beg you to answer my questions,
>although I know full well that I am as an insect to you. Who, or what, is this
>creature called Kenstarr?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

At first, I thought you wanted to know who Kenneth Starr, the lawyer soon to be running around Washington wearing a sandwich board reading "Will Perpetuate Right-Wing Conspiracies For Food", was, but then I realized I had misread your question. You want to know about Kenstarr, the half-brother of Kendai, our work experience priest. I am happy to oblige.
Kenstarr and Kendai are opposite sides of the same coin. Whereas Kendai is surly and unhelpful, Kenstarr is friendly, cheerful even when cheerfulness is dreadfully inappropriate, and seems quite competent. Emphasis on the "seems". For instance, I received a complex supplication this afternoon...
Oracle: HOI, ZADOC!
[Enter Zadoc, effecting the most craven posture possible.]
Zadoc: Yes, oh swankiest-of-the-swank?
Oracle: I just received a somewhat labor-intensive question; why don't you take it down to the lab and work on it for me?
Zadoc: Oh, this is a tremendous honor, your Savviness. [He takes the question.] "If all the grains of sand in the Gobi Desert were the size of boulders, and also had legs, oh, and were carnivorous, with huge pointy fangs, snap snap snap, how would life on Earth have developed?" Yikes. This is going to be lots and lots of work, sir...are you sure you don't just want to reply to it yourself, since you already know the answer?
Oracle: What? Oh, yeah, I, um, could answer it, since I am omniscient, as I'm fond of remarking, but, ah, I think this is a good opportunity for you, and why am I bothering to explain myself, worm? Do my bidding or suffer the consequences!
Zadoc: Immediately, he-who-is-filled-with-phronesis. But I'll need to bring in the work experience priests; this is a big job.
Oracle: Whatever.
Zadoc: Hoi! Kendai! Kenstarr!
[Kendai shuffles in, hands in pockets, chewing on a toothpick. Kenstarr zips in on hands and knees, but soon pops up, unable to contain his excitement.]
Kenstarr: Wow! I've never been in the Oracle's room before! Gosh, sir, I hope this isn't presumptuous, but can I have your autograph? I have an 8-by-10 glossy of you that I always keep in my priest's robes, right next to my heart!
Oracle: [flattered] Why, sure, kid.
[The Oracle whips out an expensive Pilot pen and signs the photo. Meanwhile, Kendai spits something disgusting onto the floor. Zadoc quickly runs over and covers it with his shoe while the Oracle is distracted.]
Zadoc: Well, anyway, you two, I need you to take this question down to the main computer and analyze it. There are a lot of complex variables, so it could take a while.
Kendai: [looking cursorily at the question] That's flippin' impossible. You mean you want us to stay down in the computer room playing cards for a week with the door closed so no-one can tell we're not working and then come out with some answer that sounds good, right?
Zadoc: What? Ha-ha, good lord, no! [He holds the paper on which the question is written up so that it blocks the Oracle's view of him and nods "yes" surreptitiously.]
Kendai: Whatever. [He picks his ear.]
Kenstarr: Golly, Kendai, you're such a pessimist! [He snatches the question from Zadoc.] It'll be fun to be shut in a windowless room without sleep for days, writing code for an insoluble theoretical problem! And maybe someone will also ask a question about the effects of Jolt Cola abuse, and we can kill two birds with one stone! I can't wait! Let's go! [He zips out of the room.]
Kendai: [grunts, follows slowly.]
[A week later.]
Zadoc: [Knocks on door.] Are you guys done in there? [No reply.] Guys? [Pause. He opens the door to find Kendai fast asleep on a pile of empty pizza boxes and Kenstarr typing furiously at the computer.] Kenstarr?
Kenstarr: No problem-o, chief, I think I've finally got this thing under control! There were a few bugs in my last program, since I forgot that I don't actually know how to program a computer, but you've got to think positively, that's what I always say! So I've been teaching myself BASIC all week, and I think I've mastered how the "goto" command. Just another day or two and I should definitely have an answer for you! [He resumes typing furiously.]
Zadoc: Yeesh. [He prods Kendai.]
Kendai: Gnn. Oh, hi. So anyway, tell him the rocks eat everybody and take over the world.
Zadoc: Right.
You owe the Oracle a fact-checking department.

 


7.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> I've got it right here. The pictures. You'd love to have it, wouldn't
> you? But it's not going to come easy. For once, I'm not gonna grovel.
> YOU are. Unless, of course, you'd like these leaked. You may have
> thought that you made a judicious choice, the perfect spineless lackey,
> that priest Zadoc. Well, guess what? I've got EVERYTHING here. Every
> woodchuck. Every one of those girls Lisa never knew about. You and Lisa.
> Your grand Oracular Parties. The other deities will give you Hell if
> these get out. Literally. So, it doesn't look like you've got much
> choice, do you? And don't even bother with your Staff of Zot. It won't
> hurt me anymore. Doesn't matter if you find some other way to bump me off
> either, not for you it doesn't -- everything WILL be released if I
> disappear. So. Here's how this works, from now on: I'm setting up my
> own Oracular operation. I know how you work yours: cheap, cheap tricks.
> From now on, every other week, you're coming here, and spending your time
> as MY loyal groveller, minion, lackey, and priest. That's right. I
> expect to be hearing from you soon. That is, unless...

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

Kendai: "Whatcha writing, boss?"
Zadoc: "Yipe! Don't sneak up on me like that!"
Kendai: "Why are you trying to cover the monitor? Let me see!"
Zadoc: "No! Get off! Oh, bugger."
Kendai: "Crikey, you're not planning to have a go at the Big Guy, are you?"
Zadoc: "Errr... No?"
Kendai: "So, you've got some incriminating photos and you figure that your ZOT-resistant hide makes you immune to retribution, is that it?"
Zadoc: "Well, I wouldn't have put it quite like that..."
Kendai: "No, you'd have taken three pages. I think there's something you ought to know about, though... Have you been down to the basement recently?"
Zadoc: "Not since we moved the French Oracle out, no. Why?"
Kendai: "There's a whole tribe of Neanderthals down there. Seems the Big O has been hiring them out as enforcers, bouncers, third grade teachers - anything that doesn't require too much in the way of intelligence, but allows you to hit people with big sticks. They seem to enjoy that."
Zadoc: "What's your point? Oh."
Kendai: "Exactly. He doesn't even use the ZOT staff any more. For major offenses, they break limbs, and for minor ones they just deliver a monologue with no pronouns or articles."
Zadoc: "Ack... Urk... Ugh...!"
Kendai: "Oh, you've met them then."
Zadoc: "Har Har. Still, I can see this needs a bit more thought. Best get rid of this note then - which of these buttons is delete?"
Kendai: "No! Not that one! That... sends it. Uh-oh."
Zadoc: "Oops."
* * *
You owe Thag, Og, Zog, Ug and Urk brand new spikey clubs. I've got a special job for them...

 


8.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> To:
> The Internet Oracle
> 42 Delphi Hall
> Bloomington IN 42042
>
> Mr. Oracle,
>
> This letter is written in order to notify you that your immortality is hereby
> being withdrawn.
>
> For further details, please call 1-800-DEITIES and follow the instructions
> there.
>
> Reply to:
> Galadrael, The Immortal Report Sorters.
> 666 Hades Lane,
> Asgard, NO 57889

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

WHAT!!! How's that possible? Zadoc! ZADOC, get in here, you globule!
[Zadoc the Priest shuffles in at impressive rate of knots]
Zadoc: I came as fast as my knees could carry me, O Primus Inter Cognoscenti!
Oracle: What's the meaning of this, you bucket of slime! Have you forgotten to despatch my Norse Pantheon membership dues on time again?
Zadoc: [studies the letter] Oh dear me, this is a perplexing doctrinal conundrum.
Oracle: "Doctrinal conundrum"! You dare call your impending dismemberment a "doctrinal conundrum"?
Zadoc: Please try to see the bigger picture, Your Labile-Temperedness. You see, if you're no longer immortal, then it follows that you cannot be a deity and, as such, you are no longer a suitable object of veneration.
Oracle: Za-Zadoc... What are you DOING?
Zadoc: [gets to his feet] I should have thought that was pretty obvious, myself. In fact, come to think of it, that was a really dumb question. Looks like your omniscience was contingent on your godhood as well. Clearly, you cannot continue to function as the Oracle.
Oracle: But... I AM the Oracle!
Zadoc: [to himself] What to do, what to do? Well, there's nothing for it - I'm best qualified to take over in the interim until someone supremely clever can be appointed. Vacate that throne, please, there's a good fellow.
[The Oracle is so stunned by the turn of events, he obeys without thinking. Zadoc the Interim Oracle sits down on the throne, slings his legs over one of its arms and surveys his domain with satisfaction]
Zadoc: First order of the day, I'm going to have to appoint a new head priest and sycophant-in-chief.
Oracle: Look here...
Zadoc: Oh no, you wouldn't do at all. I need someone young and fresh, with lots of promise. Kendai! Kendai, get in here!
[After a brief delay, Kendai the Work Experience Priest slouches in, picking his zits]
Kendai: Yeh, whatcher want?
[He stops and looks in amazement at Zadoc on the throne and the ex-Oracle standing impotently next to it]
Zadoc: Yes, Kendai, there's been a bit of a boardroom coup here. I'm the big cheese now. How would you like to be promoted to the position of Interim Oracle's Personal Right-Hand Man?
Kendai: Is the pay any good?
Zadoc: Don't be silly - you don't get paid!
Kendai: Oh - about the same, then.
Zadoc: Well, come on? Do you want this colossal honor bestowed on your unworthy self or not?
Kendai: [considers awhile, then sniffs loudly and wipes his nose on his sleeve] Yeh, alright.
Zadoc: Excellent! Now then, let's have a look at the question queue...
Oracle: [who has been rereading the letter] Who's this Galadrael, anyway?
Zadoc: Hey, no queue-jumping! Wait your turn like everybody else.
Oracle: I'm just asking. Who's Galadrael?
Zadoc: [blows out his cheeks] Er, hum, he's the bloke who wrote the letter, obviously. And what's more, you didn't grovel...
Oracle: I'm not a supplicant, damn you! I just want to know who Galadrael is! It's not any Asgardian I'm familiar with!
Zadoc: Ah, well, the fact is, he's, er...
Kendai: It's a she, innit? And it's Galadriel. She's in "The Lord of the Rings".
Oracle: I see. So you're telling me this letter is from a fictional character, is that it?
Zadoc: [beginning to panic] Well, naturally we shouldn't jump to any conclusions about something as important as...
Kendai: You bet. Somebody's prolly pulling your leg. And you two fell for it! Ha ha ha, whatta pair of twonks!
Oracle: Well, Mister Zadoc, Mister High-and-Mighty Interim Oracle I Think Not, what is your esteemed opinion on them apples?
Zadoc: Erm, ha ha, that's, uh, quite something, someone trying to, ah, hoax the One and Only All-Singing All-Dancing All-Knowing One like that. Uh, good thing you, er, saw through it right away, eh, Merciful Master? No telling what might have happened otherwise.
Oracle: Hand me my Staff of Zot <tm> if you please, Zadoc.
Zadoc: At once, He Whose Beneficence Is Outmatched Only by His Unquenchable Sense of Humor. [He picks up the staff] Oh look - it's all grubby and unfit to be handled by One so Divinely Clean as Yourself. Bad, bad Zadoc for not having spotted this before now! As punishment, I shall issue forth at once and polish it to such a state of sparkliness that a brief glimpse would be enough to blind the unwary. Expect me back in a month or so!
[Exit Zadoc the Once Again Priest at a speed that Ben Johnson, even on steroids, would have found difficult to match. Especially on his knees]
Oracle: And as for you, er, what's-your-name...
Kendai: Kendai!
Oracle: Yeah, and as for you, er, sonny Jim, "twonk" is not an appropriate form of address for a lowly priest to use when referring to the Oracle, got it?
Kendai: Sure thing, big guy.
Oracle: Good. Then begone - I have a 1-800 number to fry.
Kendai: How're you gonna do that without your staff thing?
Oracle: Damnation! I'll do for that Zadoc!
Kendai: [under his breath] Whatta twonk.

 


9.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> When the Wise Oracle speaks the whole city is a scene of enthusiasm
> and rejoicing and thanksgiving and festivity of the populace. Only
> an old grouser would sit still at home, grieving and groaning and
> sulking over the many public successes of the grand Oracle!
>
> Do people ever get other people's dreams by mistake?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

An intriguing hypothesis. In order to test it, I had four of the priests sleep in the lab last night and, after each dream, Kendai woke them up and recorded what they remembered of it. In the interests of scientific objectivity, the individual priests will remain anonymous and are here identified by initials only.
<transcript of recordings begins>
Subject TC (00:53)
It's not very clear. Something about trying to catch a train. I was running after it as it started off. It was full of goths. They were singing the Monty Python spam song. I think I was naked. Is this making any sense to you?
Subject PK (01:26)
I'm in a great hall of white marble. It's huge - the walls are so far away I can't see them. Everywhere there's a bright white light. I'm in heaven! That's it, I've died and gone to heaven! God and all his angels appear, only the angels are bright red Siamese fighting fish and God is a South American ornamental horned frog. I know it's God because it has, milligram for milligram, the biggest halo of anyone there. God says, "Do you recognise me, son?" I say, "You can't be God, you died. You fell in the bath and drowned." And God says, "Yes, but I rose again on the third day. Didn't it occur to you to draw any conclusions from that?" It kind of gets hazy after that.
Subject AW (01:44)
I'm on a long road. It's very big, like a highway - a superhighway! And I built it, or I think I did. I must follow my highway - it's going to lead me somewhere wonderful. But wait! What's this? The pavement is starting to crack ahead of me. Something's coming through. It's a bush! The bush is blocking my way! I try to fight my way through, but it just keeps getting bigger. The bush is going to get to the wonderful place instead of me!
Subject ID (01:48)
BUGGER OFF, YOU SPOTTY GOIT! SOME OF US ARE TRYING TO SLEEP!
Subject TC (02:12)
Ooh... Lisa... Oh yes, yes... A little lower please... Oh, oh, ohhh... Wha - what? No, I wasn't dreaming. Absolutely not. Uh-uh. Must be a glitch in the equipment. Go away.
Subject AW (02:39)
This is very weird, but I have a wife. I must be a man in this dream. My wife has just given birth to triplets. She's going to call each of the babies Bill - or did she say Bell? I'm not sure. I don't like it, anyway. Then we're sitting down to dinner. We're eating a great big pie in the shape of Judge Jackson. I get to carve the pie into several pieces. I feel really, really good as I raise the knife. The pie turns into a mirror, and I can see myself. I look like Yoda from "Star Wars". That's pretty scary.
Subject PK (03:11)
Let's see now... There was a river, and a waterfall... And then I was watering the garden, and it was raining, and... Oh, and a dam burst, and... Say, would you excuse me for a minute?
Subject TC (03:20)
I'm in a town. It's a beautiful city. It's... Pittsburg. Yeah, I know, I know - it's a dream, for Chrissakes! Then suddenly, I'm not there anymore, I'm in another place. It feels like home, but I don't recognise it. Ugh! It's full of deadly snakes and spiders! They all have Rolf Harris's face, and they're going to sing! No, not "Stairway to Heaven", anything but that! Then you woke me up, thank God - not a moment too soon.
Subject ID (03:51)
LOOK! IF YOU WAKE ME UP ONE MORE TIME, I'M GOING TO SHOVE THAT MICROPHONE SO FAR UP YOUR KHYBER PASS YOU'LL BE ABLE TO SNORT COKE THROUGH IT!
Subject TC (04:33)
Shit! The snakes and spiders came back. They sang "Stairway to Heaven" fifteen times! Fifteen effing times! I thought my brain would explode! If I find out you were playing it to me while I was asleep, I'll have your guts for garters, you little creep!
Subject AW (04:41)
I'm kneeling by a grave. I'm very, very upset. It's Tim's - I mean, Subject TC's grave. Apparently his brain exploded. I feel it's my fault somehow. I might have been Joan of Arc. Were you humming "Stairway to Heaven" just now?
Subject ID (05:02)
RIGHT, THAT DOES IT!
<transcript ends abruptly>
Well, it looks like your hypothesis is unfounded. All these dreams sound perfectly normal to me. And something tells me Subject ID is due for some leave again.
Try and walk with your legs a bit closer together, Kendai.

 


10.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> Oh great and all seeing Oracle, who knows the difference between time and
> space, who can calculate the length of my arm using only a ruler, who can
> find any television show with only a TV Guide and a remote control, whose
> feet are so mighty they can squash milk cartons, who can surf the internet
> using nothing more than a PC and a dial-up connection, please tell me....
>
> I don't really have a question for you, oh might one. I just wanted to use
>
> ---RST
>
> in a question. I've seen someone else do it and I thought it was funny.
>
> ---RST
>
> I like that. Weeeeeeee!
>
> ---RST
>
> Ok. I'm done.
> Thank you for your patience.
>
>
>
>
>
> ---RST
>
> Ok, that was the last one. I promise.
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> ---RST
>

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

Kendai stared at the message on his terminal and didn't know what to make of it. Of course, Kendai frequently didn't know what to make of the things that appeared on his terminal, as they hardly ever moved, played loud music, or were accompanied by violent special effects. But this one he knew even less of what to make of it than the others.
He did what he usually did when something particularly baffling appeared on the screen. He stared at it until Zadoc came into the room, looking for his "Garfield" mug.
"Uh, Mr. Zadoc, uh, sir?"
Zadoc had recovered his mug and was looking at it warily. It had been placed suspiciously close to the brushes used to clean the inflatable sheep.
"Yes, what is it, Kendai?"
"Uh, you wanna take a look at this?"
Zadoc shuffled over to Kendai's terminal. He peered at the screen.
"It's like, not really a question, and stuff," Kendai mumbled, "and then I saw it had all this 'RST' stuff in it, and like the Oracle said to like, let him know if anything like that came through..."
Zadoc's mug smashed to the floor as he gaped open mouthed at the message on the terminal.
"All-Mighty Oracle! Kendai, this is terrible! You did the right thing by calling this to my attention!"
"Uh... I did?" said Kendai. Zadoc usually yelled at him for bothering him with things on the screen, calling him all sorts of multi-syllable words and then giving him a long list of complicated instructions. After which Kendai usually just shrugged and deleted whatever had confused him.
"Yes, Kendai! Look here! You know what 'RST' stands for, don't you?"
"Um," Kendai thought. "Round, uh, something, uh... something?"
"No, Boy! It is the Rosicrucian Solar Temple! A secretive sect of Illuminati bent on destroying the Oracle and his most benign influence on the human race! They have long sought to drive his Most Rotund Worthiness mad with endless woodchuck questions! It is their goal to gain complete control over the world's grapefruit supplies!"
"Huh?"
"Listen, Kendai, it's all very logical... I've managed to piece it together from conversations I've overheard between the Oracle and Lisa! By controlling the grapefruit, the Rosicrucians plan to drive the world to the brink of scurvy from lack of Vitamin C, and then fulfill the final prophecies of the Comte de Saint-Germain by... Never mind, this is all clearly lost on you! Do yourself a favour and listen to the Burt Baccarach/Elvis Costello album backwards, that is where I found the key to their fiendish plans! Quickly, we must warn the Oracle!"
"Warn me about what, Zadoc?"
Zadoc leaped nearly a foot and a half in the air, half knocking Kendai out of his chair.
"Oh Sublime and Ever-Stealthy Master of All Knowledge! I did not hear you come in!"
"That's because you were raving like a degu on crack about Vitamin C and Burt Baccarach. What is it? Some problem with young Kendai here?"
Kendai made an effort to sit up straight and look clueful. Zadoc pointed at the message on the terminal.
"Oh Most Noble and Unfairly Persecuted Sage of a Thousand Pithy Quotes! It is a message from the followers Rosicrucian Solar Temple, blatantly taunting your Immense Power with veiled threats!"
"You are a degu on crack, aren't you, Zadoc?"
"Undoubtedly you are correct, Mighty One, but look here! This questionless message with a false grovel, and sprinkled liberally with the cryptogram R-S-T!"
The Oracle barely restrained himself from reaching out and swatting Zadoc upside the head. Such displays of petulance are unseemly. At least in front of Kendai.
"Zadoc you cerebrally-bereft sea cucumber... This is just another question from one of those pathetic excuses for food-to-excrement conversion in rec.humor.oracle.d. This 'Rosicrucian Solar Temple' of yours is just a product of your vapour-addled excuse for a ganglia."
Zadoc blinked in bafflement.
"But.. Most Cryptic of the Unknown Seers, your notice to alert you when one of these messages arrived in the queue! Those conversations with Lisa about the grapefruits..."
"NEVER MIND anything you heard about grapefruits!! I've warned you about lurking around outside Lisa's 'studio'."
Zadoc dropped to his knees to grovel for forgiveness, and winced painfully has he landed on a shard of Garfield's ear.
"As for my memo," said the Oracle, "I've been waiting to zot this one," he pointed to the initials on the screen, "for a while." He rubbed his hands together with malevolent anticipation.
"Kendai!"
"Uh, yes, your, um... Big-ness?"
"Care to come watch really good zotting?"
"Dude!"
"Come along, then!"
Kendai sprang out of his chair, using Zadoc as a foot-stool, and followed the Oracle out of the room.

 


11.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

> Oracle most wise, who knows the intricacies of, well, everything,

> Why Tokay?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

(*SSSSSSSSUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKK*) Hey man, why not toke, eh? Heeheeheeheehee, that's cool.
Hey, Kendai! Stop bogarting, man! Pass it. Hey, dude, you sure this Oracle jerk isn't gonna find out we're partying in his pad?
Relax, man. (*SSSSSSSUUUUUUCCCCCCKKKKKKK*) Here, you can have the rest, man. Nah, Orrie isn't gonna know. He's, like, off with his chick, Lisa on vacation. In the Bahamas, man. He left me in charge.
Wow! (*SSSSSSSSUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCKKKKKKKK*) (*COUGH*) (*COUGH*) Smooth. Hey, like this is some pad, man! Lookat all these computers and other junk! Y'think he'll miss a couple?
Hey, leave that alone man! The guy's freaky about his gear, man. Yeah, he'd miss it. He's supposed to be om-nish-ent, or sumthin' like that.
Hahahahahahahha. Om-nish-ent. Heh. What's that, man?
Gimme that roach, you're wastin' it! (*SSSSSUUUCCCKKKK*) (*GAG*) <holdingbreath>It means he knows everything man! (*POOF*)</holdingbreath>
Oh, yea? Like, what am I thinkin' right now?
<deepvoice>You're thinking that you need to get out of here before The Oracle comes home and finds you smoking weed in his chambers and uses this Staff of Zot(tm) to reduce you and anybody with you to your component atoms.</deepvoice>
Hey, Kendai!! That was freaky, man! Do it again!
Uh, man. DUCK!
Wha?
< * ZOT * > !

 


12.

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply.
Your question was:

>
> Greetings,
>
>       As the auction has now closed, it would appear
> that I have turned out to be the lucky high bidder for
> the 'Mint Condition Staff of Zot' you advertised on
> EBay. If you would be so kind as to provide shipping
> directions, I will send my winning bid (4 sheep, 2 horses,
> 1 girls gymnastics team, 2 kegs of Atlantean Wine, A small
> king's ransom, Napoleon's hat, the ceiling of the Cistine
> chapel, a working model of DaVinci's Ornithopter, Washington's
> head from Mt.Rushmore, 2 lost Mozart operas, the Holy Grail,
> proof the Illuminati exist, a vial of water from the fountain
> of youth, the original source code for windows <ok.. ok.. it's
> just an old Apple OS>, a 3 dollar bill, and a mint condition
> Magic 8-Ball) to you straightaway.
>
>       Upon receipt of my payment, please forward the
> aforementioned Staff of Zot to my return address with due haste.
> Thanks! Always good to do business with you.
>

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

Kendai, do you recall last week, when I told you the Master's Staff of Zot had gone missing and you said you didn't know anything about it?
Yes, Mr Zadoc.
Well, a funny thing happened this morning. I was doing my customary trawl through all the temple's waste paper baskets and I found this letter addressed to you, which... No, first tell me again where the sheep came from.
The sheep, Mr Zadoc?
Yes, the sheep, Kendai. The 4 sheep you supplied for the priesthood because you said you thought the inflatable one was getting beyond repair. The ones you said you found wandering around outside.
Oh, those sheep, Mr Zadoc.
You didn't really find them wandering around outside, did you, Kendai?
No, Mr Zadoc.
Or the horses either?
No, Mr Zadoc.
I thought not. This brings us onto the girls gymnastics team.
They defected, Mr Zadoc!
Not one of them speaks Russian.
They defected from Nebraska, Mr Zadoc!
They did nothing of the sort!
Ummm... No, Mr Zadoc.
Now, as to the... Take that Napoleon's hat off, Kendai, it makes you look silly.
Yes, Mr Zadoc.
And the way you've decorated the ceiling of your cell is entirely inappropriate for a novice priest. I want the whole lot whitewashed by tomorrow morning.
Yes, Mr Zadoc.
Good. As I was saying, the giant bust of the Oracle in the temple forecourt... Did you know it was one of the proudest moments in my career when you put that up? As your mentor, I felt I had taught you to raise the art of brown-nosing to dizzying new heights. All the other priests were sick with envy. But then I got to thinking...
Did you really, Mr Zadoc?
Yes, I know it doesn't happen often. But it did bear such a striking resemblance to the first president. Combined with the news of Mount Rushmore being vandalised... Well, it isn't really a giant bust of the Oracle, is it, Kendai?
No, Mr Zadoc.
Then there's the matter of the lost Mozart operas...
May I say something, Mr Zadoc?
Go on then.
I just wanted to say: Stuff you, you grovelling old fart - I quit!
I see. It's like that, is it?
Yeah! I'm gonna take my king's ransom, my Holy Grail, my Magic 8-Ball and all the rest of my loot, jump into my ornithopter and just buzz straight on out of here. So what're you gonna do about that, prat-features?
I'm going to read you a section out of the contract you signed when you enrolled in the Oracular novitiate, that's what I'm going to do. Fortunately, I brought it with me for just such an eventuality. Ah, here we are: "I, the undersigned, do hereby willingly and voluntarily sign away all my wealth, worldly belongings and personal freedom, both the things I own now and anything, tangible or intangible, valuable or worthless, that may come into my possession or attach itself to my person at any time in the future, for the rest of my natural life". Unquote.
Where's it say that!?
Right here, under the words "Small print" and "Fnord".
You bastard!
That's "You bastard, Mr Zadoc".
Errrm... You bastard, Mr Zadoc. Bugger bugger bugger bugger bugger...
Never mind the cursing. Hand over the Staff of Zot.
Here, Mr Zadoc.
Thank you. Now you must give back all the stuff this buyer from the EBay auction has paid you for it. The kegs of Atlantean Wine, the 3 dollar bill, the original source code for Windows, Elvis with Hitler's brain transplanted into his body and the tattoo saying "Malaclypse the Younger wuz here" - everything.
Couldn't I keep just my vial of water from the Fountain of Youth?
What on earth do you want that for? You're already committed to a lifetime of craven servitude and nonstop humiliation. Do you really want to extend it?
Good point. No, Mr Zadoc.
Now you're talking sense. Crate the whole lot up and send it back where it came from, together with a letter of apology. And for punishment, you'll take over from Mr McGee reviewing all the answers from the "Christopher Robin Hood" incarnation for the foreseeable future.
*gulp* Yes, Mr Zadoc.
Pity about the sheep, though. That one with the black face and the long, soft wool - she was really cute...
Um, Mr Zadoc?
What is it now?
How about if, when I crate the stuff up, I put in the old inflatable sheep instead of the black-faced one? Maybe the buyer won't notice.
Kendai, that's brilliant! You're a genius! I hereby rescind your punishment.
Thank you, Mr Zadoc.

 


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