A group of tired technicians crowded around a whirring little printer spitting out random blocks of numbers and punctuation, like someone clearing their throat. Everyone shifted from foot to foot with anticipation (except the printer [inanimate]). They waited for it to stop chattering nonsense and produce the first message sent three and a half hundred miles through the experimental and top secret network that would become, someday, the internet.
BUZZZZZZ went a buzzer, indicating data had successfully crawled through the patchwork system they had been fixing and inadvertently breaking for years. The printer hesitated, reversed itself, then rolled out a paper, like a scroll sent down from God.
Message from Operator 4G5XC to Operator 777LP
Hey Frank, did you get those boobs I sent you? Clipped that shit out of an ad in Juggs. Killer rack, right?
-Stan "The Blast Master"
He was a medicine man of great importance. He stood naked before the tribe, took a slow deep breath like he did before every performance, then suddenly howled and began making wild leaps and gesticulating with both spindly arms. This was to indicate that the gods were well pleased with the latest batch of human sacrifice and would now deliver the rain the village desperately needed.
The crowd shrank back as he danced, and suddenly "Half-wit" Hao reached over and stabbed a kid.
"The medicine man says the gods are angry. We must sacrifice more," said Half-wit, as the kid went through the usual post-stab rigmarole (bleeding, gurgling, dying, etc.).
The medicine man stopped dancing and grunted in annoyance. He stomped over to a nearby tree, tore off some of the bark, and scratched a crude caricature of a smiling face onto it. He began to dance again, this time with the smiley face over his face to announce the intended mood of his actions.
"Ooooooh," said the crowd.
"Sorry kid," said Half-wit, but the kid was already dead. These things happen.
Are you concerned that you may be a character trapped in a Tom Waits song? Be smart and learn the warning signs before it's too late. Also, it's too late. It has always been too late.
I'm haunted by a recurring vision of a skeleton flipping me off. To avoid seeing this terrifying image in bumper sticker form, I pay someone with a blank bumper to drive in front of me at all times.
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