} "Another supplicant thinks he's being funny, eh? We'll soon see
} about that... Zadoc! YO, ZADOC!! GET IN HERE!!"
} [Zadoc the Priest enters in one quick hurry, his knees a blur as
} they propel him across the highly-polished hardwood floor. Somehow,
} he manages to maintain traction. Perhaps it's the fact that his
} priestly robes are nearly invisible beneath the colorful coating of
} smooth and dimpled paper chips from old computer punchcards, Florida
} election ballots, and Teletype paper-tape punches].
} ZADOC: "You projected voluminously, O Founder of the Very Idea for
} the Temple of the Screaming Electron?"
} ORACLE: "Hmmm... not bad. Though I'm surprised you'd even mention those
} blasphemous hacks in the Oracular Temple... what's with the robes?"
} ZADOC: [His eyes averted, explains with a tremble in his voice] "O
} Wondrous and Mostly Benign, but sometimes forgetful, Prognosticator
} of Protonic Particulate Pathways, it was your ruling that the all
} the priests go clothed while on duty..."
} [The Oracle's eyeballs roll skyward] "No, offspring of a third-class
} blivet! I meant that ridiculous coating of paper punch-outs!!"
} ZADOC: "OH! A thousand apologies, Master! I returned from a Holy
} Retreat in the now-equally Holy City of Chad just last week..."
} ORACLE [wincing]: "I'm sorry I asked..."
} ZADOC: [waxing enthusiastic] "...and they had all these leftovers
} from the New Year's celebration..."
} ORACLE: "ENOUGH, worm! Take a look at this question..."
} ZADOC: [Looks at the screen, being careful not to gaze at the
} Oracle, even in the reflection off the glass of the CRT. The somewhat
} contradictory effort produces a facial tic that, if hitched to a blade,
} would make a dandy drive for an electric shaver. After reading the
} question, he backs away almost as fast as he came in, crossing himself
} and muttering benedictions in Swahili].
} ORACLE: "Oh, chill out! Just tell me what this one did wrong."
} ZADOC: "Master! That... that... collection of synthetic crocodile snot,
} daring to call itself a supplicant... he STOLE YOUR PUNCHLINE!!"
} ORACLE: "And...?"
} ZADOC: [His adam's apple bobs, and a feverish gleam comes into
} his eyes]. "Master... no grovel!"
} ORACLE: "Right on both counts! And he wants to know how a ventriloquist
} throws his voice? Well, I think we can arrange that!"
} [Zadoc, his eyes widening in anticipation of what's coming, gets
} clear of the Big Green Circle with Target Crosshairs engraved on the
} floor, his knees miraculously propelling him backwards this time.
} As for the Oracle, he grabs a large tennis racket in one hand,
} and the Staff of ZOT! in the other, raises them both high overhead,
} lifts his head skyward, and bellows...]
} "BY THE POWER OF THE ALMIGHTY DONUT SEED... I COMMAND YOU TO APPEAR!!"
} [One brilliant flash of green light, and a big cloud of even greener
} smoke later, you find yourself standing dead center in the middle
} of that target circle, dressed in nothing but your bathrobe and
} Bill-the-Cat undershorts. You aren't alone either. Besides the Oracle
} and Zadoc's cowering form, Paul Winchell appears, neatly dressed in
} tux and tails.]
} PW: [blinks] "How did I...?" [looks around] "Oh! Hi, Orrie!"
} ORACLE: "Hi, Paul. Just come from a show?"
} PW: "Yes indeed. Brought the house down. Fortunately, most of the
} audience got out unscathed. I kept warning Madison Square management
} about those roof supports, but no, they wouldn't listen..."
} ORACLE: "Yes, I'm sure it was very frustrating. Paul, I'm sorry to
} rush, but do you remember that neat little trick I showed you all
} those years ago?"
} PW: [with a wicked gryn] "How could I have become so famous without it?
} I still can't thank you enough..."
} ORACLE: [waving a hand] "No problem at all. What we have here,
} though, is a supplicant ... and I use the term loosely ... who not
} only didn't grovel..."
} ZADOC: [growls incoherently]
} ORACLE: "...but also stole my punchline. You being the world's greatest
} ventriloquist, I was hoping that you could show the worthless pile
} of... what was it, Zadoc?"
} [The reply comes, apparently, from Zadoc's mouth, but it's another
} voice altogether] "All-natural rotting rhino intestines?"
} ORACLE: "Good enough. Anyway, you can see the question for yourself
} on the screen. Maestro Winchell, would you care to demonstrate exactly
} HOW you throw a voice?"
} [Winchell's gryn gets even wider. In three quick strides, he's in YOUR
} face, supplicant, reaching his hand towards your throat. The effects of
} the Mighty Circle of Fate keep you from moving a muscle as a diffuse
} blue glow surrounds your throat and Winchell's hand. In the midst of
} this glow, a bright yellow blob detaches itself from your throat with
} a sensation like someone just extracted a cork from your adam's apple.]
} PW: [The yellow blob expands as Winchell backs away, cackling happily,
} until it's about the size of a volleyball.] "Ready, Orrie!"
} ORACLE: [Throwing off his robes to reveal a body that would make Kevin
} Sorbo jealous, clad in a tight pair of Royal blue Speedos]. "Right!
} Game starts in five minutes on the beach!"
} ZADOC: [Still groveling in the corner] "Master, I beg of you! Let the
} priesthood play? We've been sooooo very devout of late..."
} PW: [Who, somehow, has managed to change into beachwear himself][Cups
} the glowing yellow blob in one hand, and looks at the Oracle for
} approval. Upon receiving a nod, he yells] "SERVICE!" [and whops it,
} volleyball style, towards Zadoc].
} ZADOC: [Yelps with joy as his knees go into a Road-Runner-like blur
} of motion, complete with Warner Bros. sound effects. He zips under
} the glob and double-hand whops it towards the door where the rest of
} the priesthood is already gathering].
} [As they all head outside, a startled voice -- yours, supplicant --
} can be heard issuing from the glob as it gets whopped, spiked, and
} otherwise flung overhand, underhand, sidewise-hand, and any other
} hand you can think of].
} "Hey, what do you think you're... OW! Hey, come on, it was just
} a YOWP!"
} [...as your body gets released from the grep of the Oracular Circle of
} Fate, and you pursue the missing part of yourself outside, you have
} to wonder if you can insinuate yourself into the game long enough to
} get your voice back...]
} You owe the Oracle a set of earplugs.