} The bell rang. A priest's head emerged. "Oracle, your presence is
} required!" Slowly, the Oracle rose from its sleeping duvet, padding the
} blonde gently on the head and briefly brushing against the brunette's
} cheek. It felt so groggy. When had been the last time it felt truly
} alive? No time. "Yes, yes".
} Donning its sash, the Oracle hurried down the flight of stairs to the
} waterfall room, where the petitioner waited.
} "Speak, supplicant. What is it you seek?"
} The supplicant, a pale, scrawny boy, opened his mouth:
} "Speak up, supplicant. What wisdom is it that your heart desires?"
} Try as he might, the supplicant seemed unable to speak a single word,
} mouthing words with agonizing efforts that did not form. Then,
} a bell rang. A priest's head emerged. "Oracle, a supplicant."
} The Oracle rose from its bed, a lingering look on the picture on the
} nightstand. It felt so groggy. When had been the last time it felt
} truly alive? No time. "Yes, yes".
} Fastening its belt, the Oracle hurried through the door to office,
} where the petitioner waited.
} "Hello, Mr. supplicant. What can I do for you?"
} The supplicant, an ugly miscreant with scars across its entire body,
} opened his mouth:
} "What? Speak up a little."
} Try as he might, the supplicant seemed unable to speak a single word.
} His ugly face in a grimace, he seemd to scream, but not a sound
} emerged. Then, suddenly...
} a speaker crackled. A voice shouted "Wisdom time, Orrie. Scram!"
} The Oracle jumped from its bed, only stopping briefly to tuck in its
} tattered teddy bear. It felt so groggy. When had been the last time it
} felt truly alive? No time. "Coming! Coming!".
} Straightening out its rags, the Oracle hurried up through the trapdoor,
} where the petitioner stood.
} "Most revered supplicant. How may I serve? Please, anything I can do."
} The supplicant, half human, half hydra, opened his nine writhing
} reptile mouths:
} "Please, m'lord, if you could speak up a little... I can't seem to
} understand you."
} Nine terrible heads bounced up and down, snapping at the Oracle,
} hissing without sound. Then, suddenly...
} the alarm went off.
} It had been a dream, only a dream again. That dream. That terrible
} dream. But only a dream... for now. Would the day ever come when a
} supplicant would dare to ask an empty question again? Between drops of
} sweat, the Oracle's gaze went through the dimly lit room and lingered
} on the creepy clown cannon. It was always loaded with live clowns, just
} in case.
} Just in case.