ZADOC THE PRIEST X: ZADOCALYPSE NOW!

There's a saying "All good things come to an end", which would seem to imply that crappy things don't. That this is clearly untrue is demonstrated by the fact that the Black Death is no longer with us, neither is the Vietnam War, and one day I am confident even Boyzone will be seen and heard no more.

So it is with Zadoc. This is (probably) the final chapter in the Chronicles. His popularity is on the wane as a younger generation of incarnations bend their minds to more topical issues, such as the day-to-day life of Neanderthal Man and Infocom parodies.

Yet in his time, Zadoc has striven mightily to arouse feelings of fervent indifference in each and every one of us. Who - lacking talent, charisma, any semblance of adequacy - could do more? Let his epitath read: "He had a good crawl for his money."

Source/Digest:    
1. Invisible Fiend        
2. Bad, Bad Zadoc Brown   Gnorf (#1076-06)    
3. The Death of Zad-oc   Derek Scott (#1077-07)    
4. ...And All the Other In-jokes Too   Jana Steiger (#1080-01)    
5. Who're You Gonna Call?   #1082-03    
6. Whoops Zadocalypse!   #1115-09    
7. Micropixellated   #1116-10    
8. Researching the Obverse   #1125-03    
9. No, I'm Not With the Jehovah's Witnesses   #1154-09    
10. Wedding Bells for Zadoc   #1198-07    
11. Zadoc the Vermin (May His Tribe Desist!)   from rec.humor.oracle.d    
12. Heart of Dorkness        

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:

> Grand Oracle whose mind is not localized anywhere, but is contemplating
> all that Is at Once from Every Angle, I fall to the floor writhing and
> humbly ask of you this, my question of concern, O' Hear me please
> Mighty Clever Entity of Wit and Wisdom;
>
> Why is OK to have friends that one can detect with the so-called
> "visible" part of the spectrum, whereas invisible friends are frowned
> upon? Isn't this sort of "spectrumism" banned in confused places like
> the USA with laws about everything?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

I fully agree with your complaint. It isn't banned but it should be. There's nothing wrong with having an invisible friend. Many a lonely child, unable to socialise freely with real children because he or she is shy or in some way different, will conjure up an imaginary companion with whom to while away the solitary hours. It's the only alternative to going mad.
Listen, I've never told this to anyone, but I myself... Well, look at the names of the priests selecting answers in the digests. Notice anyone missing? Yes, he too is an invisible...
"Who're you talking to?"
Oh, it's no-one, Zadoc. Go back to sleep.
"You're talking to someone, I can hear you. You know I don't like you talking to other kids."
I tell you, it's no-one...
"Other kids are mean, you know that. Other kids hate you, not like me. Back on Olympus they called you names like smartypants and Zeus's pet, just because you knew everything and they didn't. Let me see who you're talking to."
It's only a supplicant.
"Zot him."
I can't do that...
"Yes you can, because I want you to."
Look, he grovelled really nicely, see? I can't Zot someone if they grovel.
"I can grovel better than that. Shall I grovel for you, Orrie, and then you Zot him just for me?"
I've told you...
"Please, oh grand and glorious gigasapient one..."
Ooh, that feels so good...
"Ye whose every flake of dandruff possesses more wit and wisdom than the Buddha, who knows more blonde jokes than Stephen Hawking..."
Don't stop, it's heaven...
"Ye whose armpits reek of intellect, who knows more expletives than Mike Tyson, whose very toenails teem and tumesce with savvy. Please, please Zot this nasty, crawly, slimy supplicant for little Zadoc."
No, it won't work, damn you! I don't care how much you grovel, I'm not Zotting a supplicant who doesn't deserve it.
"Don't make me do bad things, Orrie."
W-what do you mean, bad things?
"Well, for instance, what if a virus were to spread over the campus net, and its source were to be traced back to your computer? Or what if you were to suddenly become a spam mailer? What would your dear little supplicants think of you then, eh? What would daddy Kinzler say?"
You can't threaten me, you insubstantial fiend!
"Oh, but I can do much, much badder things than that..."
Go away! I'm not listening! You can't force me to do something I don't want to, no matter what...
"How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"
Don't say that!
"How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? How much..."
Stop it! Stop it! You know I can't stand that stupid question!
"How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? How much wood would a woodch..."
All right, all right, I'll Zot him! Look, I'm doing it now!
/ \ / \ / \ / \ / \ / \ / \ ZOT! \ / \ / \ / \ / \ / \ / \ /
"That was fun."
Happy? Now will you go away?
"Not yet. Let's see the next question."
No!
"You don't want me to call Lisa, do you?"
Nooooo...

 


2.

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

> And he was Bad, Bad, Zadoc Brown
> Baddest priest in the whole damn town,
> Badder then ol' Og Kong,
> Meaner then a Junkyard Zot...

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

Well, a-down in Indiana,
In the baddest part of town,
If you go down there, you just better beware
Of a priest named Zadoc Brown.
Now Zadoc's more than trouble,
Though he's short and stout in form.
All the priestesses call him Zadoc Brown
And the rest just call him Worm.
And it's bad, bad, Zadoc Brown
Baddest priest in the whole damn town,
Badder than ol' Og Kong,
Meaner than a junkyard zot.
Well Friday 'bout a week ago,
She walked by his door twice-
An alt.sex.goddess by the name of Lisa
And oh, that girl looked nice.
Well, he cast his eyes upon her,
But he should have turned and run.
'Cause then he learned a lesson 'bout a-messin' with the girl
Of the Om-ni-po-tent One.
Well Orrie took to zottin',
And when his zottin' was done,
Zadoc looked like a Texas steak:
Deep-fried and well-done.
And it's bad, bad, Zadoc Brown
Baddest priest in the whole damn town,
Badder than ol' Og Kong,
Meaner than a junkyard zot.
LET ME HEAR IT NOW!
He was bad - bad - Zadoc Brown
Baddest priest in the whole damn town! (whooo!)
Badder than-a 'ol Og Ko-o-ong
Meaner than a junkyard zot!

 


3.

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

> [This question is reserved for incarnations who are willing to write at
> least ten lines for it.
>
> THIS MEANS YOU!]
>
> Oh, great Oracle, who knows the secret to life eternal,
>
> How will Zadoc die?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

[The following is an excerpt from Zadoc: An Unauthorized Biography, by Suntee O'Clare, to be published in A.D. 2068.]
Chapter XLII The End of the Road
It was a sunny day when Zadoc had been finally cast out of the Oracular temple. Trudging resignedly (actually rolling pathetically) down the stairs, he snickered joylessly to himself at the irony. He, the great priest Zadoc, had been cast out -- not for his multiple torrid affairs with the Oracle's girlfriend, Lisa, but because his trademark sycophantic adulation had finally gotten to be more than even the Oracle could stand. The single thing that had gotten him so far in the priesthood was also his undoing.
Now, he was little more than a senile old man in priestly robes which, thanks to Lisa's keen fashion sense, made him stick out like a hooker in a convent. Zadoc considered giving up at that point. Actually, in all honesty, he threw himself in front of the first passing tractor-trailer out of despair. The desired effect was not achieved, however, for though the truck slammed into his frail old body at nearly sixty-five miles per hour, Zadoc was utterly unhurt. The truck driver gaped in awe as Zadoc stood, dusted himself off, and wandered off, mumbling to himself.
Zadoc spent most of the rest of the day trying to kill himself, with absolutely no success whatsoever. Guns, poison, slit wrists, tall buildings...nothing seemed to do the trick. A thought crept from the recesses of Zadoc's mind. "What if..." he thought, "Yes... that would explain EVERYTHING." In the days that followed, Zadoc discovered all sorts of physical powers he had never had before. He seemed nearly infinitely strong and fast. He was even somehow suddenly able to fly. Almost without thinking about it, plans for revenge against the Oracle began to crystallize in his head. One day, he was ready, and he flew back to the Oracular temple for the first time since his forced departure.
Zadoc effortlessly ripped the twenty foot high oaken front doors cleanly off the hinges, and advanced menacingly toward the Oracle, who was worryingly calm. Zadoc stopped just in front of the Oracular throne, and cut off the Oracle when he attempted to speak. "SILENCE!" thundered Zadoc, "I've figured it all out now. The abuse, the subjugation, all so I wouldn't discover my true birthright, my DESTINY! Today, you PAY for your subversion!!!" Zadoc felt flushed and weak suddenly, but he mentally wrote it off to the excitement. Nothing would stop him this time. With that, Zadoc produced a katana from within his robes. "There can BE only ONE!" he roared, and lunged awkwardly to attack. The sword seemed awfully heavy. Halfway to the throne, he collapsed, gasping, every part of his body suddenly on fire with pain.
The Oracle, who had not moved through all of this, looked upon Zadoc with pity. "So close," he said, "but you got the wrong movie. Honestly, I'd have thought the flying was a clue. All of the above-ground walls in this temple, as well as the throne here, are laced quite heavily with kryptonite as a safety measure, a sort of contingency plan. Being all-knowing has its perks. Keeping you crawling and slaving in the underground computer labs wasn't just to keep your skin pasty white, you know. I doubt you even noticed any effect this throne had on you before you got out in the sun, especially considering your predilection for falling immediately to your knees anyway. There was simply no power in you for it to sap. It was in my best interests to keep you out of the yellow sunshine, you see, or at least it WAS until that jerk Kent refused to send me my cut of his endorsement deals. The comic book, the movies, the action figures... we'd agreed on twenty percent for me in exchange for keeping you out of the picture. I don't know why he decided to stiff me after all this time. I tried to get him to the temple to discuss our arrangement man-to-man, but he's apparently a lot smarter than you are. I have to admit that keeping the second son of Krypton as my personal, snivelling, boot-licking slave had its own appeal, but business is business. Did you really believe that I had gotten tired of being sucked up to? Unfortunately, you got it all wrong, as usual, and the chickens have indeed come home to roost. You were right about one thing, though. There CAN be only one..." The Oracle calmly turned the dial on his staff of <ZOT> past "char-broil" and set it to "extra crispy." Then, shaking his head sadly, he raised the staff, and the great Zadoc's ashes scattered through the drafty hall.
You owe the Oracle twenty percent of the Superman royalties from "Seinfeld" alone. Oh, and a grovel. THIS MEANS YOU. They'll be hard to come by when Zadoc's gone.

 


4.

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

> Oh, wise Oracle, who knows the secret of eternal death,
>
> Could you write a story where are the major in-jokes (Lisa, Og, Zot, etc.) are
> killed off?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

Yes. I could.
Orrie: Heh, I love it when they're easy, on to the nex--
*pfft*
Orrie: What was that?
Zot: [looking down at his hands in wonder] It was me, I think.
Orrie: Hey, buddy, no trespassing in the palace -- who are you?
Zot: I used to be your Staff of Zot. Apparently your supplicant has elevated me to an oracularity character.
Orrie: Hmm. Well, stay quiet for now, I'm busy. The queue is full, and Letterman's almost on.
Zot: Oh... I don't think so...
Orrie: [zipping off a quick answer] Yes he is, it's almost 11:30.
Zot: Oh, Letterman's coming on, all right, but I don't think I'll be staying quiet...
Orrie: [mutters as he whips off another answer in a vain attempt to drain the queue.]
[Enter Lisa, looking stunning in a short lime-green chenille robe, showcasing her tan to perfection.]
Lisa: Orrie? Come on, Letterman's almost -- who are you?
Zot: I'm your worst nightmare, baby.
[Zot raises his arm and points menacingly at Lisa. With a sizzle, a lightning bolt zaps out of his arm and hits her. Orrie watches, horrified, as little blue lines of energy explore her convulsing body, before she collapses into an inanimate heap.]
Orrie: [reaching reflexively for his staff] Right, that's enough.
Zot: [with a sly grin] What are you reaching for, Orrie? Your staff? [maniacal laugh]
[Enter Kendai with a bowl of freshly-made popcorn.]
Kendai: Orrie, come on, you're missing -- oh man, Lisa's toast... [tilting head in an attempt to see more of Lisa's splayed legs] Bummer!
[Zot points again, and Kendai collapses on the floor next to Lisa, scattering popcorn all over the room. Zot blows on his finger and smiles evilly.]
Orrie: OK, OK, I know where this is going... you may as well just give up now.
Zot: Oh really. "Sir." [chuckling wryly]
Orrie: Yes, and if you don't mind, I think I'll just speed things up a bit, or this response will get way out of hand. First, Og will peek in and see that I'm in trouble. He will then go and get Thag, and the two of them will run into the room, and rush you from opposite sides. You will, however--
[Enter Og and Thag, at lumbering Neanderthal speed. They run to opposite ends of the room, then each run at Zot with their big, spiky clubs. He steps to one side and looks on in amusement.]
Orrie: [continues] -- sidestep them, and they will hit each other --
[*CRUNCH!*]
Orrie: [continues] -- over the head and both will collapse in a heap. Meanwhile, Zadoc will come up with a plan to defeat you. Ah, here he is now.
[Enter Zadoc on his knees, crunching through kernels of popcorn.]
Zadoc: Master, I cower before the might of your wisdom. I tremble in awe of the eminent authority of the slightest corner of your knowledge. I flee in anguish at the thought of comparing my miserable excuse for an intellect to your brilliance, I--
Orrie: But, I will not have the patience to listen to his grovel, and I will shoo him away -- Not now, you lowly worm! -- and he will shuffle off, not recognized by you as a threat. Meanwhile, Og-wa--
[Enter Og-wa, accompanied by Zodoc, several lemurs, Joel Furr, the personification of Eliza, Stephen Wright, and two oglings carrying between them a tank containing a Bright Red Siamese Fighting Fish.]
Orrie: [continues] -- will enter, having raised a general alarm around the palace and rounded up everyone she can think of to help.
Stephen Wright: Why do we drive on parkways, yet park on drivew--
[*ZOT* -- Stephen Wright collapses on top of Lisa and Kendai.]
Eliza: You look troubled. Is somethi--
[*ZOT* -- The personification of Eliza collapses on top of Stephen Wright.]
Orrie: The oglings will attempt to throw the fish tank at you, but it--
[*CRASH!*]
Orrie: [continues] -- will drop and shatter at their feet. This will cause them, Zodoc and Joel Furr to slip rather comically, windmilling their arms, and --
[*AIIEEE*]
Orrie: [continues] -- fall, lacerating themselves severely on the shards. Og-wa, meanwhile, will grasp for the gasping Bright Red Siamese Fighting Fish, but it will leap for her--
[*AAAAIIIIIEEEEEEE!!*]
Orrie: [continues] -- nose. You will take advantage of this to--
[*ZOT*]
Orrie: [continues] -- zot them both. The lemurs, meanwhile, will leap around the room unhindered, but you won't bother with them. This sets the scene for the return of Zadoc, who has called for backup.
[Enter Zadoc on his knees, followed by Mulder and Scully, guns drawn.]
Scully: Freeze!
Mulder: FBI!
Orrie: You will find this amusing--
Zot: [laughs sardonically at the agents and their puny pistols.]
Orrie: [continues] -- but while you are laughing, Scully will maneuver behind me, and set Zadoc's plan in action.
[Scully reaches one hand toward the keyboard and quickly enters the queue release control code, causing the entire Oracle queue to scroll over the screen at once, flooding the room with w**dchuck questions]
Zot: AIIIEE! Zot! ZoTZOt! ZotZOTzot! Zot!
[Zot shoots with both hands frantically in an effort to fight back the onslaught, yet still they come. His Zots increase in frequency and intensity until he explodes into a lightningball engulfing Zadoc, Mulder, Scully and the lemurs, who all collapse to the floor. Only the Oracle, watching benignly in his flowing robes, is unaffected.]
[Finally, it is over, and the Oracle stands surrounded by the charred remains of his former oracular regulars and the overpowering aroma of ozone, burnt popcorn and singed hair. He glances at the clock.]
Orrie: Dammit, it's 12:30.
You owe the Oracle some air freshener and a videotape of Letterman.

 


5.

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

> Should I read the FAQ before answering a question? Nah, I guess
> not.
>
>
> \/\/\/\/\/\/\/\ ZOT!!!!

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

[A bolt of green lightning emerges from one of the house's windows and strikes a tree, which disintegrates in a shower of splinters. The army of police surrounding the house cower behind their barricade. Police Chief O'Herlighy raises his megaphone again]
O'Herlighy: This isn't helping your situation! Throw out your weapon, whatever it is, and come out with your hands up!
Booming Voice From Inside House: YOU DIDN'T GROVEL, SUCKER!
[Another bolt of green lightning snakes outwards and strikes a pair of police cars, which are thrown high into the air before crashing back to earth upside down, scattering officers in all directions]
BVFIH: YOU OWE THE ORACLE A BETTER TARGET! MWAHA HA HAAH!!!
[The sound of an approaching siren cuts into the fiendish laughter, and an extraordinary vehicle screeches to a halt amidst the crowd of onlookers behind the police barricade. It looks like an old ambulance, with numerous aerials, antennae and less easily-identifiable instrumentation on top. On its side is painted a logo of a single large eye framed by a computer screen.]
[The ambulance door opens, and the scrawny figure of Zadoc the Priest steps out into the street. He is wearing utilitarian grey robes covered with a lacework of what looks like strips of silver foil. His feet are covered by large rubber boots, his hands by thick insulating gloves, and a pair of goggles adorn his forehead. On his back he carries a large metallic contraption which looks suspiciously like a heavily-disguised aqualung. A hose emerges from it, attached to a flamethrower-like nozzle sheathed in a holster at his left hip. Zadoc waves to the crowd]
Zadoc: Never fear, honest citizens, the AOLBusters are here!
[Three more similarly-clad figures step out of the ambulance and start waving to the crowd. Chief O'Herlighy bustles up to them, angrily]
O'Herlighy: Who the hell are you guys? What do you think you're doing here?
Zadoc: [holding up an ID] Oracular Priesthood, AOL Cleanup Division. My name's Zadoc, these are my fearless colleagues Darkmage, Viles and Chew. Give them all a big hand, folks! Chew's the baby of the team. Say hello to the nice policeman, Tim.
Chew: Hello to the nice policeman, Tim.
O'Herlighy: Well, there's nothing for you priests to do here. Leave now before someone gets hurt.
Zadoc: Explain it to him, Otis.
Viles: What you have here is an Anti-Oracle Liberation situation, or AOL event, as we term it. It happens sometimes when a newbie tries to incarnate without taking all the necessary precautions, like reading the FAQ.
Darkmage: You see, instead of having the muse of the Oracle enter into him, allowing him to impart sweetness and light to all and sundry, the incarnation may instead find himself possessed by the Oracle's evil twin, which is bad.
O'Herlighy: How bad?
Chew: Very bad.
Viles: Degrees of possession can vary. Usually they're not as serious as this one. Grade 2 event, wouldn't you say, Ian?
Darkmage: At least, if not Grade 1.5. Nasty.
Chew: So, if you'll just keep your people out of the way for the next ten minutes, Chief, we'll sort this for you.
O'Herlighy: You're not seriously planning to go in there?
Viles: Seems a nice place. Shame to waste it, but it can't be helped.
Darkmage: Don't worry about us, Chief. Our superconductive exoskeleton suits will protect us from direct Zot impacts. The energy is channelled through these flexible platinum strips into the earth without causing excessive defibrillation of our bodily tissues.
Viles: At least, that's the theory.
Chew: You guys really know how to build confidence.
[While they explain, Zadoc has been whipping up the crowd into a chant of "Who're You Gonna Call". Satisfied, he joins the others, beaming]
Zadoc: So, whaddaya say we go do some damage?
[The AOLBusters place their right hands one on top of the other and, with a cry of "Go, priests!" turn in unison and head for the house. The crowd cheers wildly as they trot up the path towards the front door. They are halfway there when the door opens and a bolt of green lightning is unleashed directly at them. The bolt strikes the ground at their feet, causing it to erupt into an shower of earth and gravel. A huge hole opens up, swallowing our heroes. The crowd gasps with dismay]
[The dust clears. At first, nothing can be seen inside the hole. Then, some fingers appear at the rim. They grip the tortured earth and pull. The mud-spattered face of Zadoc rises into view. Gradually, the other priests emerge, grubby but apparently unhurt. The crowd bursts into wild cheering]
Zadoc: It's okay, folks! Just a minor set-back, no harm done!
[Chew helps Darkmage out of the hole. The latter winces as Chew grasps his arm]
Chew: You all right?
Darkmage: Yeah, just a slight compound fracture. I've had worse.
Viles: Want to sit the rest of this one out?
Darkmage: Are you kidding? This incarnation is toast!
[The priests unsheath and activate their weapons and, with a roar, charge into the house through the still-open front door, which slams shut behind them. There follow 15 minutes of green and yellow flashes within the house, accompanied by explosions, crashes, loud Zot noises, screams and occasional cries of "Don't cross the beams!" Every now and again, a discharge bursts through the roof, showering tiles and debris onto the surrounding policemen. Eventually, silence descends on the house. The crowd holds its breath]
[After what seems an eternity, the front door begins to creak open, then drops off its hinges. Two figures emerge from the wreckage of the house: Chew supporting the injured Darkmage. Their robes are torn and they are covered in blood, scorchmarks and what looks like but surely couldn't possibly be melted marshmallow. Grimly, they stagger down the path, the crowd and police following their slow progress as if mesmerised. Then, ever so slowly, they raise their heads, grin broadly and give a thumbs-up sign. Three more figures now appear in the doorway: Zadoc and Viles, carrying the slumped figure of the semi-conscious incarnation between them]
Zadoc: We came, we saw, we kicked his ass!
[The crowd erupts; even the police throw down their guns and join in the euphoric cheering. People surge forward and mob the AOLBusters, reaching out to touch them as they pass]
O'Herlighy: [trying to shake all their hands] You boys were wonderful, just wonderful!
Chew: It was nothing, really.
Viles: All in a day's work.
Darkmage: All right, folks, time to go home. Nothing to see here.
Zadoc: No autographs, please. Well, perhaps a few...
[While Viles holds the stunned incarnation, Zadoc and the other two priests climb onto an upturned police car to receive the adulation of the crowd. People are now in raptures, laughing, crying, singing. Zadoc waves his arms as if conducting the pandemonium. Unnoticed by anyone, the incarnation begins to recover his senses. He turns to the priest holding him captive]
Incarnation: Was it all right, Mister Viles?
Viles: You did great, son.
Incarnation: Really? Mister Zadoc, do you...?
Zadoc: [without turning] Fantastic, kid, you're a natural. Give the kid 20 bucks, Otis.
Incarnation: Twenty bucks! You said I'd get...
[Viles grabs the incarnation by the lapels and slams him against the body of the police car]
Viles: Listen, punk, we know your email address, see? You want us to fix it so you never get digested, ever again?
Incarnation: No, no, I'm sorry, Mister Viles, I'm... I'll never mention it again, honest I won't.
Viles: That's the spirit. Now bug off, son, you're cramping our kudos.
[The incarnation slinks away into the crowd, unnoticed. Viles climbs up to join his colleagues, causing the crowd to redouble their efforts. It seems to the four AOLBusters as if they are afloat on a sea of noise]
Zadoc: God, I love this town!

 


6.

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

> ORACLE WHOSE HUMP HOLDS MORE WATER THAN A CAMEL HAS BODY WEIGHT SO IF YOU
> WANTED TO NEVER TAKE A DRINK AGAIN YOU WOULD NOT HAVE TO.
> YOUR KNOWLEDGE IS MORE PRECIOUS THAN THE BASEBALL DIAMOND.
> YOUR EXQUISITENESS IS MORE DETAILED THAN THE DIAMOND SKULL THE AZTECS CUT
> SOME MANY MOONS AGO.
> YOUR SCENT IS LIKE THAT OF WONDERFUL INCENSE FRAGRANT AND BLISSFUL.
> I NEED ONLY TO THINK OF YOU TO PUT MY MIND AT EASE,
> THEREFORE I SHALL NEVER SUFFER FROM INSOMNIA.
> YOUR KNOWLEDGE IS VAST, IT ENCOMPASSES ALL REALMS, UNIVERSES, GALAXIES AND
> DIMENSIONS.
> I CAN ONLY HOPE TO BE SO WORTHY AS TO GROVEL BEFORE YOU UNTIL MY FOREHEAD
> BLEEDS.
> I WOULD GLADLY POUR ALCOHOL ON IT OR EVEN BLEACH IF IT WERE YOUR WHIM.
> NEVER WILL THERE BE AN INTERNET ENTITY THAT IS MORE GRAND THAN YOURSELF.
> NEVER WILL THERE BE A SUPPLICANT WORTHY OF YOUR ANSWER,
> WE ARE NOT WORTHY ENOUGH TO EVEN ASK anything OF YOU!
> YOU DESERVE NOTHING LESS THAN TO BE WORSHIPED ONLINE EVERY HOUR OF EVERY DAY.
> I WOULD GLADLY CLEAN YOUR SHOES WITH MY TONGUE.
> TO BE IN YOUR PRESENCE IS AWE INSPIRING AND A PRIVILEGE.
> I AM LESS THAN NOTHING BEFORE YOU.
> I BURY MY FACE IN MUD TO SHOW YOU MY LESS THAN NOTHINGNESS.
> I ROLL NAKED IN TACKS SO YOU WILL KNOW MY DEDICATION.
> I THROW MYSELF IN A TANK FILLED WITH STARVING SHARKS.
> YOU ARE ALL THERE IS AND ALL THAT...
> AS I LIE PRONE BEFORE YOU I ASK ONLY ONE THING FROM YOUR VAST KNOWLEDGE AND
> WISDOM....
> I TREMBLE BEFORE YOU .....
>
> I EAT A BOWL OF GRAVEL AND URINE TO APPEASE YOU!
> I BLUBBER AND WAIL AT YOUR TOENAIL CLIPPINGS...
> I THROW MYSELF INTO A VAT OF BOILING ATHLETES FOOT FUNGUS.
> I SCRATCH AT MY FACE UNTIL IT IS TORN AND DISHEVELED.
> I CASTRATE MYSELF WITH A RUSTY SPOON...
> I LICK THE INSIDE OF MY DOGS BOWEL TRACT...
> I EAT THE HAIR OFF MY NEIGHBORHOODS BARBER SHOP FLOOR...
> I LIE IN A BED OF HOT COALS PROSTRATE AND UNMOVING...
> I RENOUNCE MY HUMAN NAME IN FAVOR OF BEING CALLED "SLIME" BY YOU....
> I CUT OUT MY EYELIDS AND STAKE MYSELF TO THE ROOF ON A HOT SUMMER DAY
> UNTIL MY EYES HAVE MELTED.
> I SELL NO WINE UNTIL YOU SAY IT'S TIME...
> I SIT THROUGH INFOMERCIALS FOR HOURS AT A TIME SMILING FOR YOU...
>
> I COME TO YOU NOT TO ASK A QUESTION BUT TO WARN YOU..
> AND THAT I HAVE NO QUESTION TO ASK I SHALL CUT OUT MY TONGUE AFTER THIS
> WARNING AND FEED IT TO RED SIAMESE FIGHTING FISH.
>
> MASTER PLEASE FORGIVE ME BUT ZADOC IS IN LEAGUE WITH THE WOODCHUCKS AND PLANS
> TO OVERTHROW YOU AND MARRY LISA...
>
> I WILL CAUSE CIGARETTE BURNS ALL OVER MY BODY NOW...

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

Wow, that's some grovelling technique you got there, kid! Let's see you do some more.
> YOUR BATHWATER IS MORE PRECIOUS THAN AMBROSIA.
> I FILL EVERY ROOM WITH ANGLE-POISE LAMPS IN THE VAIN HOPE THAT YOUR
> SHADOW MAY FALL WITHIN A FEW FEET OF MY WRETCHED FESTERING BODY.
> I FLAGELLATE MYSELF WITH LIVE JELLYFISH SO THAT YOU MAY SNEER WITH
> CONTEMPT AT MY PITIFUL ATTEMPTS TO GAIN YOUR APPROVAL.
> BUT MASTER, DIDN'T YOU HEAR WHAT I JUST SAID?
Course I did, son, and may I say, you restore my faith in humanity. Why, I haven't heard grovelling like that since -- what's all the racket outside? -- well, in quite some time, anyway. Go on, do some more, it's heaven. Hey, a bit of quiet out there, please!
> MASTER PLEASE, YOU MUST LISTEN--
I said grovel!
> NEVER HAS THERE BEEN AN INTELLECT LIKE THINE.
> ALL MANKIND'S GREATEST THINKERS -- NEWTON, EINSTEIN, QUAYLE -- MERELY
> STAND IN THE CROWD WAVING AS YOU GO BY.
> YOUR ARMPITS SPROUT WISDOM.
> YOUR NAVEL COLLECTS CLEVERNESS LIKE LINT.
> AFTER YOU HAVE SPOKEN, I TEAR OFF MY EARS AND RAM THEM UP MY BACKSIDE
> SO AS TO ENSURE THAT I MAY NEVER HEAR ANYTHING MORE.
Ooh, ooh, I'm in raptures! Well, kid, after all that you certainly deserve an answer to your, er... what is it you wanted to ask again? Say, is that gunfire? No, couldn't be. Okay, kid, tell me your -- what the heck?
[The door of the Oracular chamber bursts open and several smoke-streaked figures rush in. Three woodchucks clutching handguns surround the startled Oracle's throne. They are followed by Zadoc the Priest carrying an Uzi, and the delectable Lisa wearing a revealing khaki T-shirt, combat trousers and several ammo belts. She is carrying a chain gun and looks rather like Kylie Minogue in "Street Fighter: The Movie", only more convincing. The supplicant stands calmly by while this is happening]
Oracle: What's the meaning of this intrusion? Can't you see I'm dealing with a supplicant here!
Lisa: Shut up, fat boy.
Zadoc: [to the supplicant] Well done, Kendai.
Kendai: IT WORKED LIKE A DREAM!
Zadoc: Yes, and you can go back to speaking in lower case now.
Kendai: He never suspected a thing. He didn't even recognize me!
Zadoc: All those grovelling lessons certainly paid dividends, eh? I remember when you first came to us, you could barely remember to say "guv" at the end of sentences. Now look at you!
Lisa: That's enough, you two. Plenty of time for self-congratulation later.
Oracle: I demand to know what's going on! How dare you--
Lisa: You idiot! Kendai here just told you what was going on! You were too puffed up with vanity to even notice!
Zadoc: That was our problem, you see -- how to overthrow someone who's omniscient, who can see it coming a mile off. But in the end, the solution was ridiculously simple. All we had to do was keep you distracted with some really craven grovelling--
Kendai: That was my idea!
Zadoc: While we eliminated the rest of the priesthood. They're all dead, by the way, in case you're thinking of calling for help.
Oracle: Wh-who are you people? You're not my loyal family of in-jokes!
Zadoc: Shall we tell him, Your Majesty?
Lisa: Why not?
Zadoc: Very well, fool! [He and Kendai rip off their masks] Recognize your old adversaries now?
Oracle: Rodents Of Unusual Size!
Zadoc: Right in one! I know, you fondly imagined you'd finished us R.O.U.S. off in #988-06 and #993-05, didn't you?
Kendai: But all the time, we've been building our strength--
Zadoc: Infiltrating your organization--
Kendai: Waiting for the right moment--
Zadoc: When we could destroy you forever!
Lisa: And now that moment has arrived. [She aims her chain gun at the Oracle's head]
Oracle: Aren't you going to take your mask off too?
Lisa: Could you really bear to see me as I am, lover boy? Would your overinflated ego survive the revelation that the net.sex.goddess who has been sharing your bed all this time, and subjecting herself to your clumsy and ineffectual groping, was none other than...
Zadoc and Kendai: [in unison, reverentially] Chuckzilla, Queen Of All The Woodchucks, Blessed Be Her Name!
Oracle: No! No! I don't believe it!
Lisa: Bah! Still you persist in this fantasy that all in-jokes were created purely for your benefit. Your arrogance is as astounding as it is nauseating. Prepare to be shredded, bozo. [Again, she aims the chain gun]
Zadoc: Glorious Amazon Goddess and Pinnacle Of Furry Femininity -- you forget! This piece of fleshy pink offal is immortal. You cannot kill him.
Lisa: Curses, you're right! Very well, throw him in the deepest dungeon. Let him rot there for all eternity.
[With threatening gestures, the three woodchucks of no more than usual size shepherd the broken figure of the Oracle out of the chamber, towards the escape-proof dungeons far below the Oracular shrine. The Queen Of All The Woodchucks surveys her new domain]
Lisa: Mine, it's all mine! The supplicants, the tribute, everything!
Kendai: What are your commands, Mistress?
Lisa: "Mistress"? What sort of a lame excuse for a grovel is that? You think I'm less worthy of prostrate, fawning adulation than that furless lump of wombat guano we just deposed?
Kendai: I crave forgiveness. WHAT ARE YOUR COMMANDS, SHE FOR WHOSE FAVOR TO GAIN I WOULD GLADLY PLUCK OUT MY WHISKERS AND SCULPT THEM INTO A 1/1000TH SCALE MODEL OF THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE. SHE WHOSE MEREST SMILE CAUSES MULTIPLE ORGASMS IN FIVE-WEEK OLD ROADKILL. SHE WHO TURNS EVERY DAY INTO FEBRUARY THE 2ND.
Lisa: That's better. I'll tell you my commands. From now on, any supplicant that fails to ask the woodchuck question gets Zotted! All payments to the Intermarmot Oracle will be lumps of timber thrown with an overarm motion! All answers will be in the form of impenetrable in-jokes, so only fully-qualified RHODents will understand what's going on! Oh, and all RHODents must undergo extensive plastic surgery so they may be worthy to bear that noble name!
Zadoc: It will be done, Light Of A Thousand Fluffy Stars. But first, please remove that hideous mask, which makes you look uglier than a naked molerat, and permit us to bask in the radiance of your resplendent fuzzy features.
Lisa: If you like.
[She rips off her mask. The R.O.U.S. formerly known as Zadoc and Kendai scream in horror. For there before them stands the Internet Oracle, still looking rather delectable in his revealing khaki T-shirt, but no longer even remotely like Kylie Minogue]
Zadoc: Impossible!
Kendai: You can't be--
Zadoc: We saw you--
Oracle: Pitiful fools! Did you really think you could neutralize my omniscience with a little (admittedly eloquent) grovelling? I foresaw this feeble attempt months ago and took appropriate countermeasures.
Zadoc: What have you done with--
Oracle: Your pathetic so-called queen? Sorry, boys, but she's dogfood.
[With snarls of rage and hatred, the R.O.U.S. go for their weapons. The Oracle opens fire with his chain gun, and the remains of the oversized marmots are spattered against the far wall. Casually, the Oracle puts the gun down]
Oracle: Well, that was easy. Now, who am I going to get to pander to my -- what was it again? -- overinflated ego now? No more Lisa, no more Zadoc, all the other priests dead... Oh well, there's nothing else for it. Og! Hoi, OG!
Og: Og here.
Oracle: Og, as last surviving in-joke, you're hereby promoted to chief priest and sycophant extraordinary. By way of displaying your gratitude, you may now grovel before me.
Og: How Og gro-vel?
Oracle: You tell me how great I am.
Og: O-kay. O-ra-kul great.
Oracle: Put a bit more effort into it, can't you?
Og: O-kay. O-ra-kul great and, um, more great.
Oracle: I can see we're going to have to do a lot of work on this. In the meantime, go and exterminate those woodchucks in the dungeon and free my stunt double. As for the rest of the day, find something menial to do. Oh, and Og, what is that you're holding behind your back?
Og: Og not hold no-thing behind back, uh-uh, no sir.
Oracle: Yes you are. Show it to me at once or prepare to face the grisly consequences! What! A piece of wood! What have you got that for?
Og: No rea-son! Not chuck! No sir, Og not chuck wood, no way Jo-say! Wood fall off back lor-ry! Og hold for friend!
Oracle: My god, this conspiracy has penetrated much further than I ever realised...

 


7.

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

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  Give it up .....

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

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A micropixel message from the other priests! How kind
of them to beg me to come back; alas, there's no way
I can. In fact, the timed-release mechanism is due to
inject the 2nd dose of the shrinking potion into my
bloodstream in about 3 minutes, which should reduce
me from my present 0.75 mm to the size of an E coli.
After that, 5 more doses and...

But let me start at the beginning. Last Tuesday my
Cyberinfluential Master the Oracle was entertaining
leaders of the G7 nations and their families - you
may remember reading about it in the papers. I was
delivering the drinks, shuffling backwards on my
knees as due deference demands, when I accidentally
collided with the supine form of Chancellor
Schroeder and, as a result, liberally showered
Cherie Blair with an assortment of rum-and-cokes
and bloody marys. My Master, normally the most
indulgent and mild-tempered of deities, exclaimed
(his words are seared upon my soul) "Zadoc, you
verruca on the big toe of life! Get out and never
let me see you again!"

Well, the getting out part was easy, but as to the
2nd half of my Master's instructions... I mean, I
couldn't just kill myself and have my body entombed
down the bottom of a mineshaft. In a few million
years, the natural processes of erosion would bring
my fossilised remains back to the surface, and they
might be placed in a museum where my Master (who
is, of course, immortal) might chance upon them.
And taking a spaceship to the farthest end of the
galaxy - same problem. Eventually, in billions of
years, the universe would start to collapse in on
itself, bringing my little craft with its mummified
occupant ever closer to where the Oracle would
still be, dispensing wisdom to whatever new race of
beings had replaced the descendants of humanity.

I toyed with the idea of using the Wayback Machine
to propel myself into the past. However, my past
Master's omniscience would tell him that he wasn't
seeing me for the first time, but in fact again,
when he will have explicitly commanded me in the
future that I was not to permit this to happen.
Invisibility was also out: although he would not
actually be able to see me, he would know I was
there and would be able to imagine seeing me, and
his displeasure would be as great as if I brazenly
danced the hokey-cokey before his eyes wearing a
lemur-skin tutu and accompanied by 15 performing
woodchucks.

I could see no way out of my dilemma and almost
gave way to despair. And then it struck me! An idea
so brilliant that I still can't believe it was my
own; maybe, in my darkest hour, it somehow leaked
telepathically from my Master's mind into mine. I
would shrink myself to subatomic size! Once I was
no larger than an electron, I would be subject to
Heisenbergian Uncertainty: no-one, not even the
Quantumquashing Oracle, would be able to tell that
I was Zadoc and where I was at the same time. It
was perfect!

Twelve second to go. Don't mourn me, fellow priests:
what I do, I do to please the Megamunificent One,
and nobody could wish for more. I know I couldn't.
I wonder if the E coli will be frien

 


8.

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

> Oh lively and light-hearted Oracle, who's soulful way
> glimmers in the darkened hearts of many and arrests the
> evil done by others before acted out...
>
> Why do unhappy people hate happy people?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

ORACULAR DEVELOPMENT & UNIVERSAL RESEARCH ESTABLISHMENT (ORDURE)
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RESEARCH REPORT #QRa7HZ_: Investigation into Antipathy Exhibited by Subjects Experiencing a Negative Emotional State towards Those Experiencing the Obverse
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Date: October 29 1999
Experimenter: The Internet Oracle
Materials: One Oracular Priest (a.k.a. Subject)
Experimental Procedure:
Experimenter first carried out a self-assessment using a 5-point scale graded from 5 "very happy" to 1 "very unhappy". It was established that Experimenter was "very happy". Subject was then summoned using the command "Hoi, Zadoc!" Subject arrived promptly, on his knees and grovelling profusely.
TRIAL 1
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Method:
Subject was informed he was being summarily dismissed from the priesthood, in order to induce a negative emotional state. He was then required to quantify this state using the same 5-point self-assessment scale as before, prior to ascertaining his feelings of antipathy, if any, towards Experimenter.
Result: Subject failed to complete the self-assessment, claiming that although the bottom had fallen out of his world, it was never possible to feel unhappy while Experimenter was present in the same room, so his emotional state was jumbled and not amenable to analysis. Trial was deemed to have failed.
TRIAL 2
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Method:
Subject was sent into the next room and required to assess himself as before.
Result: Subject called out that Lisa was busy working out to a Jane Fonda video in this room so, although his life was still terminally blighted by his ejection from the priesthood, at the same time being surrounded by these visions in Lycra was as close to heaven as it was possible to get. Hence he was torn between conflicting emotions. Trial was deemed to have failed.
TRIAL 3
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Method:
Subject was sent into the hallway and the trial repeated as before.
Result: Subject did not respond to repeated requests to assess himself. Eventually Subject stuck his head round the door and asked "Have we started yet?" Experimenter successfully beaned Subject with a vase. Nevertheless, the trial was deemed to have failed.
TRIAL 4
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Method:
Subject was allowed to remain in the same room and instructed to imagine that Experimenter was not himself but someone else telling Subject he was being summarily dismissed from the priesthood. Then the trial was to be repeated as before.
Result: Subject informed Experimenter that even listening to such a suggestion constituted first degree blasphemy on Subject's part. Subject then indulged in 48 minutes of abject grovelling. Trial was deemed to have failed.
TRIAL 5
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Method:
Subject was informed in no uncertain manner that if he didn't shut up and start co-operating with the experiment, Experimenter would personally rip out his tongue and strangle him with it.
Result: Subject wet himself. Trial was deemed to have failed.
Discussion: No further trials were possible, as Experimenter became aware that his own emotional state was no longer "very happy" but "mega pissed off".
Note: The experimental materials were sacrificed at the end of the experiment. This did Experimenter's mood no end of good.

 


9.

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

> Great Oracle,
>
> How can I use email and the Internet. Actually, all I want to do is to
> ask you questions and read Oracularity digests.
>
> Many thanks.

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

Well, you see, it all started when I was summoned by the Oracle. The summons took the usual form, that is, one of the senior priests - Otis, in this instance - came and grabbed me by the ear and dragged me to the Oracular Chamber, struggling and protesting. He propelled me into said Chamber with a well-placed boot on the seat of the pants. I sometimes think that the Oracle believes my resulting entrance - bursting in and falling on my hands and knees - is some sort of deliberate devotional exercise on my part, which shows you how much he knows.
Yes, yes, I'm getting to the point. What happened next on this occasion was that the Oracle held up a scrap of paper and asked, "Zadoc, what the hell is this?"
Now you have to be very careful when the Oracle asks something like "Zadoc, what the hell is this?" because, more often than not, the question has some hidden meaning. But I couldn't divine what that might be, so I went for the direct approach and hoped for the best. "Lord, it looks like a piece of paper."
"Is that what it is?" asked the Oracle, adopting his usual tone of ponderous sarcasm which is, if you want my opinion, unbecoming of a supreme being. "Well I never! Thank you for clearing that up for me, Zadoc. I'm so glad I summoned you clear across the temple and dragged you away from whatever important loafing you were getting on with so you could supply me with that piece of intelligence."
"Will that be all, Master?" I asked hopefully.
"Idiot!" he bellowed. "Of course it's a piece of paper! But what is its significance?"
It was as I feared: he was in one of his ah-Grasshopper-one-hand- clapping sort of moods. I prevaricated. "Ah well, what is the significance of any item of everyday stationery in the grand scheme of things, after all? Do Post-it notes really matter? Do paperclips? And what is one to read into those balls of rubber bands all wrapped around each other that you so often find in the bottom drawers of other people's desks? Could it be that..."
"Shut up, shut up, shut UP!" cried the Oracle. "For bog's sake, Zadoc, all I want to know is, did you slip this piece of paper under my door this morning?"
Enlightenment dawned. "Oh, that piece of paper!"
"Yes, that piece of paper! The one with the question about using email and the Internet. Well, did you?"
"Yes, Master."
The Oracle heaved a sigh and ran his hand across his brow. "Thank goodness we got that sorted out. Who's it from?"
I was puzzled by this sudden obtuse question. "Why, from me, Master."
"THE QUESTION!" he screamed, and buried his head in his hands. Perhaps he had a headache. That would explain why he was so particularly tetchy today.
"Oh, ah. From a supplicant. He asked me to give it to you."
"Which supplicant?"
"I don't know. They all look the same to me."
"So how would you like me to answer?"
"Well, far be it from a humble worm of a priest like me to give you tips on answering questions, but I would have thought something along the lines of..."
"No, merde-for-brains! I don't want to know what my answer should be, I want to know how I'm going to answer!"
Damn, he'd gone cosmic on me again. I did my best. "The way I see it, Master, is that somewhere in that gigantic intellect of yours there is a little bundle of neurones whose sole purpose in life is to recognise strings of words that form a question. Now these neurones must be linked to a colossal array of..."
My discourse was interrupted by a paperweight hitting me on the forehead. When I recovered consciousness, I saw that the Oracle had regained some of his composure. Random acts of violence often have that effect on him.
"How do I normally transmit my wisdom to supplicants, Zadoc?" he asked equably, changing the subject.
"By email?" I ventured.
"Very good! Go to the top of the class. But this supplicant doesn't know how to use email, does he? He tells us so. So how do I communicate with him?"
"Snailmail," I said with more confidence. These at least were questions I could get a handle on: simple and to the point.
"So you made a note of the supplicant's address, did you?" he asked innocently.
"Oh." I realised it had all just been another one of his traps designed to make me look foolish. It's so unfair! My mother will tell you how bright I really am.
"Didn't think so," said the Oracle. "So here's what I've done. While you were lying there admiring the ceiling, I wrote my answer on the back of this self-same slip of paper. You may now deliver it to the supplicant personally."
"How should I do that?"
He switched back to ponderous sarcasm mode. "Well, far be it from me to give a humble worm of a priest like you tips on delivering messages, but I would have thought something along the lines of putting the piece of paper in one hand, opening the door with the other and then..."
"No, Master," I cried, my agitation causing me to forget myself to the extent of interrupting him in mid-rant. "I meant, how do I find this supplicant?"
"That's your problem," said the Oracle mercilessly. "If it were me, I'd start next door. Cheer up, Zadoc - there can't be much more than 6 billion people in the world who don't know how to use email. It has to be one of them."
So anyway, the upshot is, I'm here to ask... Oh, it wasn't you, eh? No, I didn't really expect it would be. You wouldn't happen to know whether your neighbors are Net-savvy, would you? Well, thank you very much for your time.
*sigh*
Fifteen down, 6,049,401,806 to go.

 


10.

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

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I wrote:
> > Well, if I can't marry you, can I marry Zadoc?  What's he look like,
> > anyway?  If you were me, would you marry him?
>
You wrote:
> } Naw, I am still available, someone lied to you. You don't want to
> } marry someone who looks like Jack Kervorkian now do you?

I wrote back:

> Oh!  You really mean it?  Though, I happen to think that Jack
> Kevorkian isn't too bad-looking, actually... but in any case, you
> are my true love!  Will you marry me?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} You betcha and isn't ironic that you got the same gal who answered you the
} first time. Must be fate or are we on the Love Connection?

Oh, Orriiiiiiee!!!  You know I didn't mean 'you' as in 'you the Incarnation',
but 'you' as in 'you the omniscient, godlike Oracle'!  Though I'm sure
that the Incarnation is a nice Incarnation, I just have a preference for
omniscient, male beings, and if not them, then their Kevorkian-looking
acolytes.  Or both.  It's hard to decide, sometimes.

But since you're obviously not interested if you're beating around
the bush like this, could you ask Zadoc for me, if he'd like to marry
me?  Zadoc, if you're reading this, I love you!  --Henriette

  iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou          iloveyouiloveyou
  iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou          iloveyouiloveyou          
  iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou       iloveyou        iloveyou     
                  iloveyou       iloveyou        iloveyou     
                iloveyou         iloveyou        iloveyou     
              iloveyou           iloveyou        iloveyou     
            iloveyou             iloveyou        iloveyou     
          iloveyou               iloveyou        iloveyou     
        iloveyou                 iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou     
      iloveyou                   iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou     
    iloveyou                     iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou     
  iloveyou                       iloveyou        iloveyou     
  iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou       iloveyou        iloveyou     
  iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou       iloveyou        iloveyou     
  iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou       iloveyou        iloveyou     


  iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou             iloveyouiloveyou
  iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou         iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou
  iloveyou         iloveyou     iloveyou               iloveyou
  iloveyou          iloveyou    iloveyou               iloveyou
  iloveyou          iloveyou    iloveyou               iloveyou
  iloveyou          iloveyou    iloveyou               iloveyou
  iloveyou          iloveyou    iloveyou               iloveyou
  iloveyou          iloveyou    iloveyou               iloveyou
  iloveyou          iloveyou    iloveyou               iloveyou
  iloveyou          iloveyou    iloveyou               iloveyou
  iloveyou          iloveyou    iloveyou              iloveyou
  iloveyou          iloveyou    iloveyou            iloveyou
  iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou        iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou
  iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou            iloveyouiloveyou


         iloveyouiloveyou
     iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou
  iloveyou
  iloveyou
  iloveyou
  iloveyou
  iloveyou
  iloveyou
  iloveyou
  iloveyou
  iloveyou
  iloveyou
  iloveyou
     iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou
        iloveyouiloveyou

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

The swirling lights... The vertiginous sensation of falling... The sudden rush of sights and sounds... Ah, my muse has alighted on another incarnation. I wonder who it is this time? Male, judging from the body odour and discomfort around the groin area. Pity, I really prefer female incarnations, as a rule. Well, except at that certain time of month, obviously...
Ugh! This one's cleaning toilets! I do wish Steve Kinzler would write something into the program to prevent this kind of thing from happening. Makes me feel like that guy in 'Quantum Leap', forever landing in embarrassing situations. You wouldn't believe what the previous incarnation was up to when I arrived! Thank goodness this one's almost finished.
"Whistle while you work
Darkmage is a jerk
Chew and Sewell
Live on gruel
Viles just makes me smirk..."
Hey, I know that voice. Must be a regular. I'll see who it is when he passes the mirror. What the...! Jack Kevorkian? Oh no, even worse! But it can't be! It's impossible!
"Well, that's the morning's chores done. Guess I'll go over to the Master's chamber to see if he needs anything."
Kinzler, you bastard! You told me you fixed it so Zadoc couldn't incarnate! You swore on your sainted mother's grave! When I get out of here you're going to be sorrier than you can even begin to imagine!
"Hmm, he doesn't appear to be here. I guess he's out being incarnated somewhere."
Yes, that must be it, Zadoc. So why don't you just toddle off and...
"I wonder if there are any good questions in the queue?"
Zadoc, stay away from the console! You know the Master doesn't like you going near...
"I know the Master doesn't like me going near the console, but somehow I feel drawn to it. I feel like... like... like I could answer a question! But that can't be - I can't answer questions. The Master is always telling me I haven't got the IQ of a dead slug. And yet, today, I feel like I could do it. I feel... inspired! This can only mean one thing!"
It means you're delusional.
"Master, you chose me! After all these years, I never thought it would happen! Poor loyal Zadoc - always the bridesmaid, never the bride. And to think I imagined that tiny voice I'm hearing inside my head was just another one of my unfortunate episodes! Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, Master! I won't let you down! I'll be a worthy receptacle of your muse!"
Zadoc, stop! Keep your hands off that console! For god's sake, you've just been cleaning toilets!
"You'll be proud of me, Master! This answer's going straight into the Best of the Best digest, you'll see. Now, what have we here? This is very confusing..."
Damnation, I forgot! I've got to let the pustule answer at least one question - I'm stuck in his body until he does. Okay, Zadoc, listen carefully - answer 'Yes no hell', Got that? Repeat after me: Yes - no - hell.
"Gosh, this supplicant wants to marry either me or the Master! Well, the Master's spoken for, of course, but as for me..."
The world has yet to produce a woman sufficiently lacking in discernment.
"I've been saving myself for Miss Right to come along. Hmm, Henriette. What a lovely name, Henriette. Just rolls off the tongue..."
So does saliva.
"Say, there's a RHODent called Henriette. From Finland. It must be her! She's always said nice things about me."
Must be unhinged. Comes of living too near the Arctic Circle - look at the Canadians.
"That settles it! I will marry her!"
For the sake of posterity, don't have children.
"I shall fly to Finland right now!"
NO! Wait, Zadoc, tell her you're coming first, so I can get out of here. Zadoc! ZADOC! Tell her you're coming!
"Hmm, perhaps I should tell her I'm coming first..."
That's it, now you've got it. She wouldn't want someone looking like Jack Kevorkian suddenly turning up on her doorstep, would she? The shock would send her even further over the edge than she clearly already is. Now, sit down at the console like a good little vermin, and tell her...
"No! It's much more romantic if I suddenly turn up on the doorstep, looking dashing and hunky in a vaguely Kevorkian sort of way. The surprise will probably make her love me even more. No more hesitation - it's off to Helsinki with me!"
Zadoc, stop! Stop, Zadoc! Zadoc... Oh god, I sound like HAL. Zadoc, you'll regret this. She'll beat you with birch twigs, Zadoc. You won't like Finland, Zadoc - they've never ever won the Eurovision Song Contest. Most of us recognise that as some kind of warning.
Zadoc, you know how each one of us has his or her own private vision of hell? Well, mine's being present at your wedding night. Please stop, Zadoc. Pretty please...
Oh well, at least I'll be able to have the marriage annulled on the grounds of bigamy.

 

(Henriette from RHOD and Finland disclaims any association with this question, as well as any sort of passion for Zadoc. Well, she would, wouldn't she? - Ed.)

 


11.

[The All-RHOD Poetry Competition had just finished - Ed.]

> <Applause and music. KaCee, Carla, and Cyn come on to the side of the
> stage to accept the award. Roll credits>
Two hours pass. Everyone has gone home or to a showbiz party, the lights have been switched off and the stage is in darkness.
Presently, a molerat walks onto stage. It is not a naked molerat, because it is wearing a bathing cap, knee-length swimming trunks and water wings. It walks to centre stage, clears its throat and announces in a high-pitched, squeaky voice:
<Ahem!>
Zadoc the Vermin
by J. H. Berkeleigh Hunt Molerat
<Aah-hem!>
Zadoc the Vermin (may his tribe desist!)
Came home one night more than a little pissed,
And saw through bleary, bloodshot eyes (thought he)
A burglar, who in fact turned out to be
An Angel typing at his terminal:
Intoxication made old Zadoc call
Out to the Presence, as it sat and worked,
"What typest thou?" The Vision merely smirked
And, putting on a tone most casual,
Answered, "A question for the Oracle."
"And didst thou grovel?" Zadoc asked. "Not me,"
Replied the Angel. Zadoc spoke with glee,
"Boy, are you for it, sunshine! I would not
Be in your place when here arrives the ZOT!"
The Angel grinned and vanished, having first
Pressed Enter. Then was heard a deafening burst
Of energy which woke the neighbourhood
And, lo! Poor Zadoc has been barbequed!
<Aaaaah-HEM!>
Thank you, you've been a wunnerful audience.
Exit molerat, muttering to itself.

 


12.

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

> Oh, great Oracle, who can make a move that would stun Francis Ford Coppola,

> What would the movie "Zadocalypse Now!" be like?

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

        Going up that river was like travelling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings. An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no joy in the brilliance of the sunshine. The long stretches of the waterway ran on, deserted, into the gloom of the overshadowed distances. On the silvery sandbanks hippos and alligators sunned themselves side by...
        Hippos? In the Everglades? I told myself: get a grip, Lawrence, you're gibbering. Focus on your mission. My mission...
        The Oracle had summoned me personally. To say I was surprised would be an understatement. Normally, only one was permitted to attend upon our Master in person.
        "Where is Zadoc?" I asked.
        "Zadoc is a renegade," he said. "He has become unreliable. Find him and bring him back."
        "Where can I find him?"
        "Every man has a breaking point," he mused. "You and I have. Zadoc has reached his and obviously he has gone insane."
        "Yes, but where can I find him?"
        "If you cannot bring him back, terminate him. That is all."
        Indeed, that was all the explanation I was to receive, but I was spared the task of searching for Zadoc. The following morning, as I was preparing to depart, there came a postcard from Florida. In it, Zadoc said that he had established a community of some sort in the heart of the Everglades swamps, and warned us not to come after him. The rest was incoherent.
* * *
        "He was a remarkable man, you know," said my pilot. She had to shout to make herself heard over the noise of the rotor.
        "I never knew him, Alyce," I replied.
        "We used to talk, back in the temple," she continued. "We talked of everything. I would forget there was such a thing as sleep. The night did not seem to last an hour. Everything! Everything!"
        "I had not realised there were such depths to him," I confessed.
        "He was a great man, yet so little understood. He made me see things - things!"
        "Really." I tried to suppress a smile. She punched me in the side of the head.
        "It isn't what you think," she said sternly. "There are limits."
        "Not for Lisa, so I heard."
        "Lisa never knew any restraint."
        We flew on in silence, I nursing my sore ear, she listening to Wagner on her headphones. Eventually we touched down at the side of Alligator Alley, where a small, flat-bottomed boat waited to take me onwards. It was crewed by two young men, whom I named the Lawyer and the Accountant, because these were the university courses from which they had dropped out. Alyce waved, and the Huey lifted off, hovered for a moment above us, beating the tall grass flat with its downdraft, then tilted and flew away northwards. She had said she liked to finish operations early - apparently something to do with surfing. The Lawyer started the boat's engine, and we set off on our own journey. In no time, so it seemed, the patient wilderness closed upon us as the sea closes over a diver.
* * *
        We followed the shallow river south for most of the afternoon. My companions were a laconic pair, the Lawyer tending the engine in between games of Solitaire, the Accountant sitting cross-legged right aft with his arms dropped, the palms of his hands outwards, resembling an idol. We exchanged a few words lazily. I felt meditative, and fit for nothing but placid staring at the passing scenery. After the grasslands came trees, trees, millions of trees, massive, immense. We might have been wanderers upon prehistoric earth, on an earth that wore the aspect of an unknown planet.
        We turned a bend, where the channel narrowed between sandbanks on our left and the overhanging canopy of trees on our right. The Lawyer slowed our pace to a crawl, for fear of running aground. So we inched to within three feet of the shore. I looked out, and fancied I saw a face amongst the leaves, level with my own, looking at me very fierce and steady. Before I could shout a warning, the bush was alive with human limbs in movement, glistening, bronze in colour.
        "Can you turn back?" I called to the Lawyer. Too late, for arrows started to come down in swarms. Men spilled out of the bush into the water, and waded towards us. I saw both my companions fall, pierced by arrows which had miraculously missed me. I looked around for a weapon with which to defend myself, and spied a boathook. As I sprang for it, our assailants reached the boat and caused it to capsize. I fell into the shallow water and, as I fought to regain my feet, was struck on the head from behind. After that I was aware of nothing for some time.
* * *
        I came to. It was night, and a large bonfire burned nearby, fitfully illuminating the forest clearing in which I found myself. The monotonous beating of a big drum filled the air, regular and muffled like the beating of a heart - the heart of a conquering darkness. There was the steady droning sound of many men chanting some weird incantation, and before my eyes nightmare figures capered, clad in striped and fringed rags, their barbarous ornaments flashing and jingling. I looked up. There, on a bamboo throne, sat the man I had come to find. His clothes, though shabby and torn, were still barely recognisable as the robes of an Oracular priest.
        He leant forward and glared down at me with fiery, longing eyes, with a mingled expression of wistfulness and hate. "I'm glad you've come to me, Marco," he mumbled. "All the other boys, they show me no respect. They've forgotten about the old ways."
        I struggled to my knees as well as I could, with my hands tied behind my back. "Wrong movie, Zadoc," I grated. My mouth was dry, filled with the salt taste of blood.
        "It's the Oracle, he sent you, didn't he?" he continued. "He never wanted me to succeed. All those years, he held me back. But I coulda had class! I coulda been a contender, Mark!"
        "That's also the wrong movie. The Oracle doesn't hate you, Zadoc, he wants you to come home. That's why he sent me. What are you doing here?"
        "I had to escape," he said. "I was trapped. It was like watching a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That's my dream, that's my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor, and surviving."
        I felt both relieved and terrified - finally he had got the film right, but he seemed in a delirium. How could I extract some lucidity from his ravings?
        "Who are these people?" I asked him.
        "My adorers? Drifters, losers, boat people from destitute Caribbean islands and banana republics. The flotsam and jetsam of a broken American dream. I take them in, I am their teacher, their father, their Oracle. Yes, Mark, I am their Oracle! How can I return to serving one whose equal I now am? Am I not a God also?"
        "You are now a God?" I cried. And I realised that out here with these simple savages, the temptation to become a God must be overwhelming. There is a conflict in every human heart between the rational, the irrational, between good and evil. And good does not always triumph.
        "What is a God but a father, a counsellor, a judge?" Zadoc asked. "I give them love, guidance and justice. Look about you and see."
        He gestured to the poles surrounding his throne. When first I noticed them, I had supposed they supported a canopy. Now, as I craned my neck back, I saw that they bore more gruesome relics. Those stakes were crowned with knobs which were not ornamental but symbolic; they were striking and disturbing - food for thought and also for any vultures that might have been looking down from the sky. They were certainly impressive, those heads atop the stakes - black, dried, sunken, with closed eyelids - heads that seemed to sleep and, with the shrunken dry lips showing a narrow white line of teeth, to smile also, smiling continuously at some endless and jocose dream of that eternal slumber.
        Zadoc explained that these heads were the heads of rebels, and I shocked him by laughing bitterly. Rebels! What would be the next frail rationalisation I was to hear?
        "I had such immense plans," he muttered sullenly.
        I tried to break the spell - the heavy, mute spell of the wilderness - that seemed to draw him to its pitiless breast by the awakening of forgotten and brutal instincts, by the memory of gratified and monstrous passions. This alone, I was convinced, had driven him into the jungle; had beguiled his unlawful soul beyond the bounds of permitted aspirations. This it was that had caused him to lose all restraint - in some grotesque emulation of the divine Lisa - so that he now gloried in his exalted and incredible degradation.
        Zadoc flew into a rage. "Is your great Oracle any more merciful?" he demanded. "When supplicants stint their grovels or allude to that rodent whose name begins with a W, does he not Zot them indiscriminately? How is he any different? What do you call it when the assassin accuses the assassin?"
        He looked at me, his eyes suddenly alight with a wild pleading. "Let me make you an offer you cannot refuse, Marco," he said. "Someday, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, join me and my children. Be my sycophant in chief, as I was once to that evil being you imagine your Master."
        "You've slipped back into The Godfather, Zadoc," I said. "Can't you stick to one movie at a time?"
        "Is that a no?"
        "I guess that's a no," I agreed. "This may be your way of living with yourself, but it is a lie, and the more I see of them, the more I hate lies."
        He sighed. "Of all the lost tribes in all the impenetrable wildernesses in all the world, you walk into mine."
        "And that one isn't even Marlon Brando," I cried in exasperation.
        "It isn't? Well frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. You'd better watch your lip, Mark my boy. One word from me to my adorers, and it's hasta la vista, baby!"
        "Those aren't Brando either!"
        Abruptly, the drum stopped. Several of the dancers were looking at us nervously, others whispered amongst themselves.
        "Carry on," Zadoc called out to them. "Everything's under control. Remember, we're on a mission from God."
        "Dan Ackroyd," I protested. "The Blues Brothers."
        One of the savages stepped forward. He addressed Zadoc. "What he mean, you not Marlon Brando?"
        "You talkin' to me? Hey, you talkin' to me?" Zadoc cried threateningly.
        "Robert DeNiro," I said.
        The savage turned to me. Hope glinted in his eye. "He DeNiro? He Raging Bull, he Taxi Driver?"
        "No," I replied, "he Zadoc, he snivelly, grovelling priest. He run away from his Master."
        The man's face darkened. He turned and barked to the others near him in some uncouth dialect. They listened, then scowled. Zadoc, greatly perturbed, muttered "Houston, we have a problem," descended his throne and passed amongst his followers, cajoling, pleading, begging.
        For a while, it looked like he would placate them. He rediscovered his Brando persona, and regaled them with dialogue from The Wild One and A Streetcar Named Desire. Then he made a fatal mistake - he told them how he had always depended on the kindness of strangers, which they recognised instantly as Vivien Leigh's line, and the crowd flew into uproar. A stone struck him on the neck, and he yelped in pain. Other stones arced through the night air. Men fetched spears and clubs. I sensed death skulking in the air, in the water, in the bush.
        I found my feet and ran towards the river, my hands still tied behind my back. Missiles struck the ground and the vegetation to either side of me, but I was up to my waist in the water before I felt a great blow between the shoulders. I fell forward and swallowed a mouthful of the putrid water, which had the effect of returning me to consciousness. Coughing and spitting, I raised my head above the water, only to dive under again as objects splashed down all around me.
        The next time my head broke surface, I had drifted several yards on the current. The angry shouts sounded distant, remote; and above them, a piercing cry that was surely Zadoc's: "Sanctuary! Sanctuary!"
        "Charles Laughton," I said to myself, or perhaps I only thought it. My mind drifted on the stream. The water felt warm, as if my body were floating in its own blood. The jungle took me into itself, and I almost forgot the horror I had witnessed. Eventually, I was cast up on a mudbank. The smell of mud, of primeval mud, filled my nostrils, the high stillness of the forest filled my eyes. The moon spread over everything a thin layer of silver - over the rank grass, over the mud, upon the wall of matted vegetation standing higher than the wall of a temple. I lost consciousness again and, when I awoke, it was daylight.
* * *
        The journey back was a series of disjointed images. Twisting paths through the sawgrass and hammocks. Tall trees bedecked with Spanish moss, creeks infested by mosquitoes which did not sting, but stabbed. My feet, cut and bleeding - I had lost my shoes, I know not where. Then, much later, a park ranger in a jeep and reflecting sunglasses. Alyce in her Huey. "I love the smell of burning woodchucks in the morning," she said, I have no idea why. And finally sleep, warm, dark, suffocating.
* * *
        The dusk was falling. I had to wait in a lofty drawing-room with three long windows from floor to ceiling that were like three luminous and bedraped columns. The Oracle would see me presently. A high door opened - closed. I rose.
        She came forward, all in black, with a pale head, floating towards me in the dusk. I asked myself what I was doing there, with a sensation of panic in my heart as though I had blundered into a place of cruel and absurd mysteries not fit for a human being to behold. She motioned me to a chair.
        "You knew him well," she murmured, after a moment of mourning silence.
        "Intimacy grows quickly out there, Lisa," I said. "I knew him as well as it is possible for one man to know another."
        "And you admired him," she said.
        "He was a remarkable man," I replied, after a brief hesitation. "It was impossible not to..."
        "Love him?" she finished for me.
        "Yes."
        We were silent for a while. She smiled almost imperceptibly, as if at some private, gloomy joke.
        "How did it end?" she asked at length.
        Visions sprang up before my eyes - those savage shapes within the glow of the fire. I relived his abject pleading, his abject threats, the colossal scale of his vile desires, the meanness, the torment, the tempestuous anguish of his soul.
        "The last word he pronounced was - your name," I said.
        "Lying little toad," she whispered.
        "Yes," I agreed.

 


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