WAR!


Chapter Ten

 

Of the making of many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body- by Greg Hartman

As the last tenth of a percent of Greg's sanity twirled away like water down a drain, he noticed the descrambler sitting on on top one of the monitors. His eyes bugged out as he realized the problem with the descrambler.

"Hey! Wait!" he yelled. "I know what's wrong with your descrambler!"

Sam Walton's eyes narrowed. "I thought you didn't know anything about fixing cable descramblers," he sneered over the intercom.

"I don't! But that descrambler isn't broken! It's just turned off!"

Sam barged into the room and peered at the only switch on the descrambler. It was set to "Access Standby." The other position on the switch was labeled "Execute Mode Enable."

"This isn't an on and off switch--er, is it?" he said, confused. He shut off the thousands of soap-opera-spewing monitors surrounding Greg. Greg collapsed in relief.

"The cable company wanted to make it tough for people to figure the descramblers out," Greg panted, grabbing his sanity back. "Todd's too dumb to understand them himself. It's just turned off, I swear. Try it!"

"Weeelll..... I know Todd's dumb, all right. But how do YOU know what these silly settings mean?" Sam said suspiciously.

"I'm a journalism major. I, uh, like words," Greg said desperately. "Look, you don't have anything to lose; just try it!"

Sam flipped the switch. The dozens of monitors surrounding sprang to life again. Stephen Segal broke a man's arm,then smashed his head into a wall, then broke his other arm, then threw him down a flight of stairs, then bent a tire iron over his head.

"Ready to talk, punk?" he said to the rather misshapen leftovers. "Or do I have to get rough with you?"

"See!??" Greg said. "There's all the violence you wanted!"

"I don't know...." Sam said, wavering.

"And this is just the Family Channel, you know!" Greg said slyly.

Sam grabbed the remote, put the batteries back in, and flipped to Cinemax.

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"Wow!" said Sam, his eyes bugging out. "Now THAT'S more like it!"

"Could you untie me now?" Greg said, looking green. "I think I need to go somewhere and be sick."

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Todd and Jeff were high-fiving each other in Jeff's dorm room when they heard a noise out in the hall.

"Hey! Frosh!" someone yelled.

"The hazing never stops," Jeff sighed. He jerked open the door and barged out into the hall, Todd close behind.

Suddenly, they were falling.......

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Greg snickered as he watched the monitor. He made a final adjustment on the Wormhole Generator Sam had given him, along with the millions of other incredible weapons on the enormous battlecruiser that was Sam's token of gratitude.

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Todd and Jeff whoofed to a halt as they slammed into a hard steel floor. The wormhole clicked shut above them, then disappeared.

"Something tells me that old codger didn't kill Greg," Jeff said, rubbing his shoulder.

Todd sat up and looked around. They were in a round, featureless room. They were also naked. Surrounding them were a series of doors, spaced every few feet.

"I forgot; Greg just loves it when we're all naked," he sighed. "Hmmmm. 'Solipsism,'" he read on the door nearest him.

"Nihilism?" Jeff said, reading the next door.

"Polytheism? Monism? Naturalism? Panentheism? Existentialism? Deism?" they chorused, reading the rest of the doors.

"Hi!" Greg's voice boomed from nowhere.

Todd and Jeff jumped violently. "I knew it," Jeff muttered. "Why are we naked--again?"

"Tut-tut!" Greg said. "No clothes = no hidden weapons. The Wormhole Generator checked you for any surgically installed weapons and edited them out of your bodies, too. I like knowing you're helpless."

"Great. What are we doing here?" Jeff snarled.

"Well, I just finished my Philosophy midterm, and I thought you guys should share in the fun!" Greg's voice said brightly.

"I don't like the sound of this," Todd said.

"There's only one correct door, y'see," Greg continued. "All the incorrect doors open into interstellar space. Go ahead, pick one!"

"What if we don't want to?" Todd said, sitting down and folding his arms.

SSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

"What's that noise?" Jeff asked nervously.

"Oh, that'd be the nerve gas Sarin," Greg said easily. "I suggest you make your choice quickly."

"Sir?" Greg's computer asked.

Greg closed the commlink and looked away from his bridge's main viewscreen. "Yes?"

"Sir, I'm a little confused. When we built that little steel box that we're towing behind the ship and transported them into it with the Wormhole Generator, didn't we set it up so ALL the doors open directly into space?"

"That's right."

"Then how can they open the correct door?"

"They can't."

"But aren't you lying to them, then?"

"Why, no!" Greg said, smiling nastily. "I said there was only one correct door. I didn't say it was in the same room THEY'RE in."

The robot giggled.

Greg reopened the commlink. "Ready to choose yet?"

"I don't know what any of those stupid words mean!" Todd howled.

"Hey--it's not MY fault you didn't pay any attention at school," Greg said mildly.

"But I didn't STUDY philosophy!" Todd shrieked.

"Picky, picky," Greg scolded him.

THUMP! A fat reference book landed on the floor next to Todd.

"OK," Greg sighed patiently, "I think I've been about as fair as you can expect."

Todd picked up the book and opened it frantically.

"Hey!" he yelled. "This is in Greek!"

SSSSSSSSSSSSSS! Todd and Jeff held their breath as Todd tossed the book aside; the Sarin began to fill the room.

Todd darted to the nearest door and turned the knob. Jeff, thinking to hedge their bets, twisted the knob on the opposite door and yanked it open....................

continues



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