} ORACLE: Hmm. Looks like Gollum pulled off another miraculous
} stealth escape. What a talent; pity he had to fall for that "natural
} therapy" bunk and won't take his pills. I keep telling them, but no-one
} [Orrie rummages around the cupboards, eventually finding his very dusty
} PALANTIR. Giving it a quick buff with his sleeve, he settles into a
} comfy armchair and conjures up GANDALF THE WHITE.]
} ORRIE: OI! GANDALF!
} [After a short wait during which distant fumbling noises are heard, a
} very rumpled wizard bearing a marked resemblance to Sir Ian McKellen
} appears in the Palantir.]
} GW: Oh no. Not you again.
} ORRIE: Hmmph. You were glad enough to see my face when the
} Balrog had you cornered. [Squints at Palantir] You haven't been smoking
} that Rivendell Red stuff again, have you? There's good reason it's
} still illegal. Your eyes look worse than Sauron's! A habit like yours,
} it's no wonder he almost got the Ring back.
} GW: It's medicinal! Elrond wrote me a script, I'll have you know. And
} everyone says I did a fine job clearing up that pesky Ring business.
} Poor Frodo's *still* broken up about it. I've had quite a time trying
} to console him.
} ORRIE: I'll bet you have. Don't think your foot-fetish isn't
} common knowledge around here. [Interrupts Gandalf's sputtering to
} continue.] And how many times must I tell you? The One Ring is a state
} of *mind*, not a silly piece of metal one can throw into a furnace and
} be done with! Mount Doom my eye.
} GW: Yes, it wasn't one of your better Incarnations, was it.
} ORRIE: Watch it, G. No connexion between my good self and that
} disembodied force of darkest evil was ever established. And anyway,
} what of it? A little chaos, a little mayhem... Nothing you couldn't
} [Gandalf muttering: "...Oracle...does what he likes with evidence,
} doesn't he...probably turned Saruman...]
} ORRIE: All right, don't get your staff in a knot. Take a look at
} [Orrie conjures live feed of supplicant--aka GOLLUM--in the Palantir.
} Gollum is scuttling across a nondescript college park in a manner both
} twitchy and lithe, looking pale, sweaty, and slightly aged, but
} blending in well. He's headed for a dark and imposing building with a
} plaque that reads "GATES SCHOOL OF DRAMA"]
} GW: Well, well. You've got to hand it to old Smeagol. Nice to see
} he's faring so well. Now if you'll excuse me, I was just in the middle
} of a good book.
} Orrie: Please. I know all about that life-sized Bomabadil doll
} you've got tucked out of sight. You can't pull one over on The Oracle,
} GW: You know, if you're just calling to insult me -- and I'd thank
} you to acknowledge the superhuman effort I've put into maintaining
} these sparklingly, blindlingly WHITE raiments indicating the rank
} [Orrie cuts Gandalf off by thrusting Gollum's query into the Palantir.
} Gandalf takes a quick glance at it and tosses it aside, unmoved.]
} GW: Acting would suit Smeagol quite well. He's already got the
} confusion between fantasy and reality down pat, though, given his
} appearance these days, he's bound to get stuck in character roles.
} Still, I think it's a better choice than Computing, don't you? All
} those 00000s are bound to excite his Post Traumatic Ring Disorder. And
} anyway, look at his spelling and syntax -- simply atrocious. He'd never
} get his programmes to run.
} ORRIE: That's the point! Gollum is still in thrall to the Ring
} and doesn't realise he's being controlled by the Dark Lord of Mordor.
} That "acting" gig is a behavioural control scheme Sauron's been using
} to keep Gollum under his thumb.
} GW: What??? We destroyed The One Ring! I pissed on Sauron's grave
} just the other day!!!
} ORRIE: Put down that pipe and TRY to focus, G: Ring=Metaphor!
} And didn't you get the memo? Gorthaur faked his death, changed his name
} YET AGAIN, moved to Lower-Earth, forged another Ash nazg durbatuluk
} appropriate to the laws of this Time, and is currently wreaking
} destruction on a scale terrifying to behold. Corruption of innocents,
} enslavement of the weak--
} GW: No imagination, that one, just "gimme gimme gimme power power
} power scorched earth MUAHAHAHAHAH." And no -- I HAVEN'T been checking
} my inbox because I'm supposed to be enjoying my retirement! Saving the
} beings of the Fourth Age from Ultimate Evil wasn't in my contract, as
} you recall.
} ORRIE: Erm... I can offer you much better terms this time,
} GW: No! I feel quite responsible for poor Frodo as it is, and with
} that bleached floozy Galadriel pestering him day and night--
} ORRIE: Then I suggest you check your inbox regularly, GG,
} because you just might find a serious administrative problem concerning
} your pension benefits!
} [Orrie shuts down Palantir; heaves a deep sigh; opens a new
} ORRIE: Hello, Linus? You know, Lisa's awfully concerned about Steve
} these days. Apparently that business with Bill has him convinced he's
} fresh young thing with a new future ahead of him... Lisa talks about
} you all the time, you know...
} You owe the Oracle 3.17... cases of visine.