} "This note was in his pocket?" The voice of the dark figure intoned.
} "Yes, my liege," answered the little man. He was barely restraining
} himself from beginning to pace again. A bead of sweat appeared on his
} brow and traced its way down into his sackcloth robe. The silence
} seemed interminably long. The only sounds were the fluttering of the
} wings of a small moth around the single bare light bulb, and the quiet
} rustle of the note being folded and unfolded by the dark figure's
} "Any other identification?" at last came the measured tones of the dark
} figure's voice.
} "N-no, your worshipful ... -ness!" the little man replied, swallowing.
} Again the room settled into the terrible silence. The man in the
} wooden chair shifted slightly, trying to restore circulation to his
} hands. The expertly tied knots would not give, however, and he winced
} in pain. It gave his eyes momentary but unsatisfactory relief from the
} glare of the light bulb. For a brief moment, he thought he caught the
} eye of the little man, but then the little man quickly looked away and
} swallowed again.
} For the first time, the dark figure addressed the man in the chair.
} "Why did you write this note?"
} The man cried out in a strange, high-pitched voice, "it was jsut a
} warning i was tryign to helpyou o grate adn powerufl oracl --"
} His reply was choked off by the sound of a deep, disdainful snort from
} the dark figure. "It's a bit late for a grovel *now*, don't you
} think?" Though he could not see, the man in the chair sensed that the
} dark figure had moved silently closer. "I'll ask you again: Why did
} you write this note?"
} Squirming as if an escape were possible, the man in the chair began
} breathing heavily. "i'm tellng you the truht! the woodchukcs --"
} "Silence!" the dark figure bellowed, rising from his place. The little
} man somehow made himself even smaller and faded into the shadow in a
} corner as the dark figure moved ever closer. "You're a newbie!"
} "You're a stinking newbie! You read the FAQ and a couple of old
} digests and now you think you can jump right in with our beloved
} "no! i swear im' tellign the truht --"
} "Just look at this!" roared the dark figure, thrusting the note into
} the man's face. "Zadoc! W**dchucks! Lisa! Even bright red Siamese
} fighting fish! Zadoc, how long has it been since we've had bright red
} Siamese fighting fish in a digest?"
} Flipping through a worn notebook maniacally, the little man at last
} screeched, "1036-09, oh miraculously melodious one, a delightful little
} study of in-jokes in itself, with --"
} "Enough! Over 15 digests ago. Any true follower would know that
} bright red Siamese fighting fish are old hat! (Although, of course,
} they're sure to make it back after *this* sparkling Oracularity gets
} "Of course!" cried the little man.
} "of course!" cried the man in the chair.
} "Quiet!" cried the dark figure. "And what is this 'Hoi, Orrie'?
} Everyone knows 'Hoi' is addressed to Zadoc, not me! You're a newbie!
} You're one of those nasty little CS students who comes back every fall
} and drains the queue and has no clue about how to give a funny reply
} and drives all my priests and incarnations insane! You're a newbie,
} newbie, newbie! "
} The man in the chair began to sob and wail. "alright, alright, i am a
} newibie i admit it! i just wantd to belong! i just wanted to be
} coool." Great tears of anguish rolled down his cheeks.
} "Oh, for Pete's sake," muttered the dark figure. "Zadoc, get the poor
} slob a Kleenex and untie him." As the little man scrambled for a
} tissue, the dark figure flipped on some pleasant fluorescent lights,
} revealing the kind, fatherly face of the Oracle. As the man in the
} chair alternately rubbed his wrists and wiped his nose, the Oracle
} spoke to him gently. "Look, kid, we were all newbies at one time or
} another. (Well, except for me, of course.) There's nothing wrong with
} it. But you have to work up to using the in-jokes. You can't just
} jump in with both feet like that. Do you understand?"
} The man sniffed. "sure, o grate and poewerful oracel, i undersnatd."
} "So you'll go and practice with some original questions until you're
} sure you know all the characters by heart?"
} "i promise."
} "And you won't go leaving me notes like this anymore?"
} "well ... about the note, i wsa reallly tyring to hepl you out wiht the
} wooodchukcs ..."
} "Oh, come on. Do you expect me to believe this stuff about Zadoc being
} in league with them?"
} "no, see, it was'nt zadoc, it was zodac."
} "yeah, see, z-o-d-a-c."
} "Ha ha! Your own rotten spelling has tricked you, kid! There is no
} such person as Zodac! It's Zadoc, Z-a-d-o-c."
} "are you sure?"
} "Am I the Oracle?"
} "oh, yeah, rihgt. sorry."
} "Well, all right, no big deal. Now let's just forget this whole thing.
} You run along and stick to material you actually know about, you
} "yes sir mr. oracle, i wont' forgot."
} "And see that you capitalize my name from now on."
} "yes sir, Mr. Oracle."
} "And grovel."
} "Yes, Mr. Oracle, oh most mangificeint master."
} "All right. Run along before I change my mind."
} The door slammed behind the frightened young man as he ran for his life
} away from Oracle HQ.
} "I love happy endings," said Zadoc. Then, recognizing the gathering
} stormclouds of fury in the Oracle's face, he hid under the desk.
} "Worm! It's not enough that the world already knows about your twin
} brother Zodoc (remember 1001-09, everybody?)! Now they know about your
} evil little brother Zodac too!"
} "I'm sorry, master! I must have been talking as I slept at my desk
} again! Please, master, spare me! I live only to serve you, and --"
} "Enough, worm. I'll zot you later. There's plenty of planning to be
} done to squelch this uprising with Zodac and the w**dchucks. Gather
} all the priests in the war room at once."
} "And you'll be there to lead us, oh great one?"
} "No, you idiot, I'll be with Lisa in the hot tub. Those bright red
} Siamese fighting fish should be finishing off the banana ice cream
} about now, so I'll be just in time to save her and earn her eternal
} gratitude. I'll come and lead you in about an hour."
} You owe the Oracle a happy ending to the Great W**dchuck War. I'm
} pretty happy already with the ending of this scene.