the garden of earthly delights

Garden of Earthly Delights
At the crossroads of Dichotomous Choices are two paths. One leads to Hellbent Hotel in the City of Dis, a stygian place of despair, madness, pain and death. The other path leads to the Stately Pleasure Dome in the Garden of Earthly Delights, where dreams come true in a most delightful way. The Dome is renowned throughout the seventeen universes as a really nice place to visit. But unfortunately, as is usually the case with very nice places, every passing timeslice the Dome attracts more and more pleasure seekers from all the thirty one corners of reality. So much so that the proprietor of the Dome, a certain sorcerer by the name of Godel, employs some heavy duty guardians to stand at the Crossroads and keep the volume of traffic down to a manageable level.

Among the guardians is an orc, Balrog, and a troll, Flytax. They meet at the Crossroads every morning at six am at the start of the day shift. An ogre named Dicklicker, and a Manticore named Pustulent are the night shift guardians.

Notwithstanding their insatiable appetites, the guardians refrain from gobbling each other up when they are on duty because they understand the importance of their work and they know from bitter experience not to arouse the rage of the Sorcerer Godel, their sinister employer.

The job of the guardians is to answer the questions of foolhardy pleasure seekers. Of each pair of guardians, one always lies. The other always tells the truth.

One fine day, Balrog and Flytax are standing at the crossroads, as grumpy and bored as can be, when they notice an advance party of invading aliens advancing towards them.

When the aliens arrive at the crossroads, the chief alien, Admiral Zork, activates a translation device and speaks into the input orifice, saying "Take hiss to yor larder."

"Hov coarse, kine zir," says Flytax, grinning in a particularly gruesome way.

"Weight!" says one of the alien crewpersons, an entity by the name of Uhura, a lieutenant in the alien offence force. "Admiral Zork, zir, how tu oui know wiccan truss em? Rafter hall, their farther large, hand there thief are longun sharp, there drool mouse offputting, hand the missed of there utter answers are barebacked Hun thunder stunned her bill".

In response, Zork wraps zer pseudopods around the translation device and turns and twists the controls to maximum clarity. The device hisses and squeaks and emits purple steam that smells not very much like sarsaparilla.

"Ah, excuse me Chief," says Uhura.

"What is it now, Lieutenant?" asks Zork testily.

"If you keep it on full power it's gonna blow, zir," replies Uhura, pointing to the translation device, "I'm sorry but I forgot to pack the spare batteries when we blasted off from Proximately Sigma Six."

"You blithering idiot! How long have I got?" snarls Zork.

"Probably no more than enough to ask one question, zir, and one only," replies Uhura nervously.

"Well then, I'd better make it a good one," says Zork, thinking much more heavily than a heavily drinking drunkard. After a few billion nanoseconds, Zork's organelles of visual telemetry light up.

"You bloody reeker!" exclaims Zork, "I have found it!" Rotating to face Balrog, Zork stiffens zer seventeenth pseudopod to point in the sinister direction. "If I were to ask your esteemed companion," says Zork to Balrog, "if this is the path to the Pleasure Dome, what would zer answer be?"

Balrog takes some time answering. Orcian thought processes are notoriously slow.

While they wait, the Admiral explains zer cunning plan. "You see, Uhura," says Zork to the Lieutenant, "it's simple logic. If we get an answer in the affirmative, then we can be sure the path leads to the Hellbent Hotel, which is where we don't want to go, believe me. Now on the other hand..."

But before the Admiral can complete the explanation, Balrog growls the answer to Zork's question. Unfortunately, at that point the batteries of the translating device fail, and the Orc's answer is meaningless gobbledegook. The aliens stand around, uncertain where to go. They stand for far too long. So much so that Balrog and Flytax gobble them up for din-dins.

Watching from afar via a crystal ball the rather messy end of this sordid episode, the Sorcerer Godel smiles mysteriously, then smugly says "Up yours Roddenberry!" before retiring to his bedchamber.

Copyright © S R Schwarz 2007. All rights reserved.

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