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The Compact Tea Leaf Reader - short story
aliens, comedy, geeks, parody, mystics, short story
(The Compact Tea Leaf Reader)
Number 9 and Number 14 headed along the circular corridor of the AloeVeras' base together. An unusual event, given their complete lack of common interests, but not as unusual as the reason for their mission . . .
'Number 11's been locked in its workshop for days,' said Number 14. 'It hasn't been riding its service robot, irritating the chairentity or anything fun. It's done nothing but work.
'It hasn't even monitored the HairyMammals of Earth,' conceded Number 9, HairyMammals psychologist. It was most unusual to be agreeing with Number 14, but there you go.
'It's been working through the nights whilst it is on charge. It even made a special lengthy cable to facilitate doing both jobs at once,' said Number 14.
'And, most bizarre of all, collaborating with Number 8, our bio-chemist!'
'Aye. There's nought so queer as AloeVeras.'
They arrived at the lab in time to see Number 11, appearing suspiciously odd around the cameras, unlocking the door to admit them then pointing to a rectangular box.
'Ah, a brushed ivory finish, genuine polythene gizmo!' said Number 14.
'Not a gizmo, more of a CTL-R,' explained Number 8, co-creator of the afore- mentioned gizmo / CTL-R.
'Yes, of course,' pontifdefecated the chairentity, breezing into the room, clipboard in hand. 'What does it do?'
'A brushed ivory finish, genuine polythene CTL-R!' beamed Number 11. It appeared incapable of saying more, or of prising its gaze away from its creation.
'An interesting collaboration,' began Number 8. 'It was Number 11's idea, originally. Material things have a memory, it said. Do they, I queried. Yep, homeopathy, it replied. I made suitably doubting noises. Holograms, it elaborated. Good point, said I. So, continued Number 11, a tea leaf must remember what was said around the kitchen table! We might have to shine a laser into it like what they do to project holograms, I replied. Anyway, we decided to try it, and it works!'
Number 14 was all oggog.
'I'm all aggog,' it said. 'Though I'm not sure how you spell it.'
'We thought you might like to see the results of our trial run,' gibbered Number 11, suddenly able to articulate once more and pointing to the screen at which the CTL-R was aimed.
'I'm suddenly able to articulate once more,' it added, sounding very pleased. 'I expect I'll soon be back to normal.'
'Normal!' snorted the chairentity.
'Well. Normal for me,' conceded Number 11.
'Good!' said Number 14, and the chairentity cringed, which was immensely gratifying.
'Sheesh!' said Number 11 and stroked the CTL-R fondly.
'We can really witness events from the past?' gurgled Number 14 as the possibilities stimulated cascades of feedback between its parallel processors.
Number 11 and Number 8 crossed the digits on their appendages and nodded their noddles. 'We think so.'
'I still don't understand how you can explain maths with a story,' said Tony Bear, Kevin's labourer, during their lunch break.
'Could you explain?' asked Kevin, addressing his remark to Tony Blenn, his other labourer. 'I'm busy eating.'
'If you had an endless supply of playwrights in a room . . . ,' began Tony.
'Must be a bloody big room,' interrupted Tony.
'The room is not important,' sighed Tony.
'Bloody funny name for a room,' interrupted Tony.
'And you gave each playwright a typewriter . . .'
'Could be expensive.'
'The expense is a red herring.'
'Not on my bloody wages it ain't.' He glanced at Kevin, his employer, and ducked.
'They're hypothetical playwrights and typewriters.'
'Best bloody sort, if you ask me.'
'Which I wasn't.'
'Ha! I know this one. One of them's gonna write Hamlet by accident,' mumbled Kevin, through a mouthful of pasty.
'What happens then?'
'Sooner or later one of them is going to say, 'Bugger this for a lark,' sling his typewriter, take to the trees and develop a fondness for bananas.'
'Amazing,' said Number 14. 'You get the whole story from one tea leaf!'
'Or half a tea leaf,' enthused Number 11.
'But surely you'd just get half the story?'
'No. the whole story but with poorer resolution.'
'Ah! I'm getting the hang of this,' said Number 12. 'Poorer resolution but the HairyMammals are cured quicker!'
'Not exactly, Number 12. That was homeopathy!'
'Any chance of a CTL-RW?' asked Number 14.
'So we can make copies. . .'
'Oh bugger,' sighed the chairentity. 'It's all out of control . . .'
The AloeVeras are from the novel "Anyone for Tea", which should be available as a pdf download soon ...
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