} "And you damn well should be. Going on vacation in the mid-twenties!
} What have I told you about using that time machine? Just look at the
} mess you've caused!"
} "I'm sollie, Orrie."
} "And what happened to your groveling? Have you endeavored to grow a
} spine on your journey? Down on your knees!"
} [Zadoc drops to his knees with a satisfying <<crack>>, head still bowed
} and hat still clenched.]
} "I'm sollie, Or - - I mean, I deeply apologize, oh honourable one, oh
} ultimately forgiving and generous boon to all that exist in this plane,
} oh - - "
} "Shut up, Zadoc." [The Oracle begins pacing back and forth in front of
} his throne, Zot staff in hand. He hardly seems to know it is there,
} however, and instead gives the impression of conducting a very harsh
} symphony as he waves it about] "I just don't know what I'm going to do
} with you. I mean, this is almost worse than the time you criticized
} Adolf's paintings, telling him he had no place in the art world. And
} what happens? He goes into politics! Or the time you commented on
} Archduke Ferdinand's dress sense, and so he arranges his tunic so that
} the whole thing slips on as one piece, making the buttons merely
} ornamental! The day he gets shot, no less! I just don't know - - two
} World Wars in two weeks! I'll never forget that holiday!"
} "I bow before your infinitely fair and wholly wrath, and await your
} call of judgement as a - -"
} "I said shut up, Zadoc. But this time..._this_ time, you surprised
} even me! Me! The Oracle! Infinite wisdom, omnipotent me! And you
} completely blind-sided me on this one! One minute, everything's fine,
} we're living in a relative paradise here in America, starting to turn
} everything around - - and then BOOM, suddenly there was a depression in
} the nineteen twenties that hadn't been there fifteen minutes ago, the
} U.S. has not only lost thirty-seven states, but is over its head in
} debt, and there is, from all reports, a recession going on. I'm very
} cross, Zadoc. WHAT DID YOU DO?!?!"
} [Zadoc is, by now, lying prone before the Oracle, mumbling praises, and
} seems a bit taken aback by the question. Before he can speak,
} "I said SHUT UP, Zadoc. I'll tell you what you did. You advise
} everyone to pull their money out of the stock market. When that
} started to go wrong, you panicked, and told everyone to pull out of the
} banks, too. The whole economic structure collapsed, and was
} practically dead in the water until the forties, when you finally
} manage to do something right for a change and get some bloke named
} Roosevelt to take the Presidency. Then you went back to the twenties
} and tried to change it back - - and only made it worse! Zadoc, I have
} decided on your punishment!"
} [Zadoc, by now, is taking groveling to a whole new level, and is so
} flat against the ground he is almost two-dimensional. As he answers,
} all that can be heard is a slight rumble as the tile reverberates the
} vibrations from his vocal chords. The Oracle understands, however.]
} "Shut up, Zadoc. You owe the Oracle a seventy-three million-word essay
} on what you've done, corrective measures that can be taken, due
} tomorrow, and written on the head of a pin. And no block letters this
} time - - I want cursive!"
} "Oh yes - - and the keys to the time machine."