} It is a quiet day at 42 Delphi Drive, on Mount Olympus,
} at least from the lofty viewpoint of Himself.
} True, down in the bowels of the 42 sub-basements,
} frenetic activity unfolds at a fearful pace, but aloft,
} on high in the aerie of the executive suite, life is sweet,
} and tranquility reigns supreme.
} The Oracle, Himself, is seated in a commodious leather
} Chair, a Chair which adjusts 42 different ways, and can
} rock, rotate, swivel, or even glide around the rug on golden
} casters. At this moment, the Chair is located next to the
} Oracular Desk, a gleaming expanse of polished mahogany quite
} as large as any aircraft carrier's deck, and unencumbered by
} any shred of paper.
} The Oracle tosses an antique ivory cue ball out to the very
} edge of the Desk, with tremendous backspin, and, while the
} ball is still in the air, pushes with his feet to rotate his
} Around he spins! Once, twice, thrice, forty-two times!, and
} as the Chair slows to a stop the ball lands softly in his
} Lap. The Oracle smiles a Smile of perfect contentment.
} Much more dramatic events are about to transpire below, and
} so we shift our focus to the nethermost sub-basement.
} Here, we see a row of Priests chained to rusty metal
} lawn-chairs in front of ancient monochrome terminals.
} JonMon is playing adventure, and has got as far as the
} wellhouse but is baffled. Harold, as is his wont, is
} contemplating his toes at close range. The Lion regards
} himself in a mirror, wondering if the part in his hair is
} perfectly symmetrical. The Wumpus sleeps. A relaxed air of
} inexpectancy pervades the room.
} Shifting our focus again, having found that last room rather
} drab and dull, we examine the Cave of Demons. Here we find
} gnashing and wailing, as powerful demons bound by mighty
} spells are compelled to read an endless stream of Questions
} submitted by supplicants, and perform the first-level
} > What is the best pickup line in history?
} > Is it polite to boil people in oil?
} > could I talk to myself?
} > Why am I not happy?
} > Will the cat land on its feet?
} > why don't elephants wear tophats?
} > Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
} > Hmm?
} > why do mathematics suck?
} > Where are my car keys?
} Question after Question is deemed unworthy of further
} attention, and sent out to be answered by other supplicants;
} some are deemed so unworthy that they are forwarded to the
} Woodchuck Hole for answering; as each Question is read, a
} demon howls in pain.
} Suddenly we hear a shriek and a laugh, but such a laugh as
} few mortals have heard and lived to tell -- a Question has
} arrived, a Question of such depth and profundity and cosmic
} significance that it can be referred to higher levels!
} Perhaps this will be the One. Perhaps this will be the
} Question the Oracle Cannot Answer, and then it will all fall
} apart, the demons unbound, the palace tumbling to the
} ground, the woodchucks unleashed, the Priests unchained...
} The demon sends the Question onwards, and laughs.
} Back on level -42, a terminal beeps; as it happens, it is
} DarkMage's terminal. He scans the words in front of him, and
} whinges, "Steve, you'd best have a bludge at this cobber;
} I think this bunt might have asked The Question."
} Steve stops playing with his organ and brings up the message
} on his screen. He gasps, and his face goes pale. With
} trembling fingers, he forwards the message to the Top.
} Twenty-one revolutions through his record-setting
} ninety-ninth repetition of his miraculous feat, the Oracle
} is interrupted by the gong. He brings his Chair to a stop,
} and the ball falls unattended to the floor and rolls under
} the Couch.
} The Oracular Crystal Ball lights up, and fiery letters begin
} to glow in the air; the Oracle reads them.
} It is the One, the Unanswerable, the Final Query.
} Not for nothing, however, is the Oracle the Oracle; he has
} prepared for this moment, knowing it would someday come.
} He wrinkles his Brow, and a transtemporal channel is opened;
} he flexes his Pinkie, and a cloud of electrons flies out,
} through the channel, across time, and into the supplicant's
} The supplicant, in the act of pressing ^D, receives a shock from his
} keyboard! His whole hand smashes into the keyboard, erasing his
} Question and sending a nonsense phrase.
} The fiery letters in the Oracle's Office fade to the form of
} The Oracle reaches for his Intercom and depresses the
} mother-of-pearl activator. "Joanie! Memo to Kinzler: Why are
} you bothering me for a Nonsense Query? You and your crew are
} working double shifts this weekend."
} You owe the Oracle a new antique ivory cue ball.