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Credits

Ten thousand years of Roboshrub.

Fangs for the memories.




In today’s state, Roboshrub Incorporated is an entity entirely devoted
to the execution of what normal people would refer to as “bad ideas.”

It was the creator’s original idea that all concepts, whether
useful or not, contribute to the global subconscious level of progress
for the human race. Therefore, we contend that no idea is an unfit
idea, and vow to act on each and every one of them.

Roboshrub Inc.
Public Communications Department






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For your insolence, I condemn you to...

Suffer the Fate of a Thousand Bees!
(Before they go extinct)

Print Logo

6.30.2006

Give The Man A Hand

“Uh-oh, kids! Guess what time it is?”

“Time to get a watch!” they shouted in unison.

“Okay, fine.” Grant moped, contorting his lips in a humorous way as he rolled his eyes in mock anger. “But until I can get a new watch, I need you all to bear with me.”

“Grrrrr!” they growled. It all part of the show’s choreography. Every time Grant said “bear with me,” the kids would roar like bears and hold up their hands with their fingers clenched, resembling a bear paw.

“Oh no!” Grant held up his left hand. A pair of eyes were drawn on the base of his index finger, and a beard was drawn onto his thumb. Bending his hand in a certain way produced-

“Mr. Handigan!” the kids cheered. This was one of the best parts of the show.

“Mr. Handigan, did you hear a bear in the audience?”

“I sure did, Grant, old buddy, old pal!”

Having mastered the art of ventriloquism, Grant was able to project his voice directly to his hand without moving his lips at all. The effect was spellbinding. It was also cost effective, as the show was on a public access channel and props weren’t in the budget.

“Hey, Mr. Handigan, can you-”

“Freeze! Police!”

Panic broke out amid the children as four uniformed police officers ran onto the stage and threw Grant to the floor.

“Ow! Hey! What’re you-”

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will-”

“But I didn’t do anything! Ow! Hey, kids!”

“Yeah!” came a somewhat scattered reply from the children as ushers moved in to wave them out of the studio.

“Don’t try this at home!”

***

“Look man, just make it easy on yourself. Tell us where you hid the money.”

“But I didn’t hide any money,” Grant sobbed. He had been in the interrogation room for four hours now, and it was hot as the Fourth of July in there. “I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

“Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to say you don’t know what you’re talking aboot? Eh, comrade?”

Grant looked at the detective like he had lost his mind. Reaching into a manila folder, the man pulled out a stack of photos. He passed them across the table to Grant.

“Fleet International. The First Bank of Manitoba. Crestwood. And twelve others, all over Canada. Each one of them is missing millions of dollars in assets.”

Grant looked at the photos, each one showcasing an empty vault. “I’ve never been to Canad-”

“Don’t lie to me, son!”

“But I had nothing to do with any bank robbery!”

“Oh. So who told you there had been a robbery?”

“You just said...”

“Look, mister... Jacobs, is it? Mr. Jacobs, each one of these bank robberies was done late at night, after the bank had closed. We know you were involved. The floor of each empty vault was coated with a layer of fliers for your public access show.”

“That still doesn’t-”

“And your fingerprints were on every flier.”

“I... don’t...” Grant paused to gather his thoughts. How could this happen? How where his fingerprints on those fliers? It didn’t make any sense.

There was a knock on the door.

“Detective Hollings?”

“Yes,” answered the heavyset man who had just accused Grant of staging over a dozen counts of banditry.

“Your wife is on line 2.”

“I’m very busy. Tell her to call me back.”

“She says your plan to paint the house cheaply by putting dynamite in open buckets of paint ended badly.”

“Well, you can’t win ’em all, eh?” he grinned at Grant, who didn’t return the favor. “Yeah, you get it? You can’t- you know what, just shut up.”

He turned to the door. “I’d better take this. You stay here,” he pointed at Grant.

Slam.

How did it come to this? thought Grant, his mind trying to piece together the last two weeks. Maybe one of the kids had something to do with this...

“Or maybe not, ol’ buddy, ol’ pal,” came an bubbly laugh from just under the table.

“Gah!” Grant screamed, jumping up to see who was hiding beneath the mahogany. But there was no one...

“You’re sure jumpy today, Skippy.”

Grant turned his head, bringing him face to face with...

“Mr. Handigan!”

Grant’s left hand and lower arm seemed to be bobbing about completely independent of his own volition. What in the name of high school football?!

“Who are you?!”

“Mr. Handigan, you prince of panache.”

“No. Way.”

“Yes way, ya big lemming.”

It was a very disconcerting experience, Grant talking to his own self-conscious hand. I wonder if this is how Nietzsche lost his mind, Grant thought to himself.

“No. It’s not. And I can hear your thoughts,” said the sockless sock puppet. “We’re connected at the hip, so to speak.”

“What do you want?!” Grant shouted as loudly as he could at his own hand.

“Well, as a manifestation of your psyche, I want what you want: to help children. That’s why you started that low budget snore-fest, isn’t it, Bubba?”

“I don’t see how grand larceny helps the kids.” It would be entertaining to see how an alleged manifestation of Grant’s inner mind would respond to its own logical flaw.

“I’ve been funneling the money into a slush fund to anonymously pay for a computer-based charity. It’s called ‘AJAX for Orphans’ and it keeps urchins off the street by using binary and hexadecimals to teach ’em.”

Grant felt queasy. His stomach turned over in its grave.

“Then all those times I woke up on the Canadian border...”

“Subterfuge. Now, if that’s all cleared up, we have something else to discuss.”

Handigan bent over so that his poorly drawn, inked eyes were parallel to Grant’s.

“You know too much.”

***

“Mr. Hollings, the purpose of this panel is to determine whether or not you violated protocol when investigating the case of a Mr. Grant Jacobs. Have you anything to say before the proceedings begin?”

Detective Hollings stood up, a grave look on his stony face.

“I have served faithfully and in good conscience for over 15 years. In all the time I have worked for the Bureau of Deletions, I have never committed an act of brutality against a suspect greater than the required limit.”

“Mr. Hollings,” the chairwoman held up a photo. Several of the board members forced themselves to look; others turned from the horror. “This man, Grant Jacobs, was in your charge. He was found beaten beyond recognition, over sixty broken bones, his entire left arm missing. He is also in a permanent comatose state.”

“Our leading theory is that Jacobs was angering the Ottawan Syndicate by going after banks in their territory. His prints were at every crime scene-”

“This doesn’t fit the Syndicate’s profile. They go right for the jugular.”

A breeze wafted through the stuffy chamber. Outside, the panel members could hear the familiar tune of a Good Humor truck as it rolled on by. Hollings sat back in his chair, thinking about how good it would feel to run barefoot though the grass right about now...

“Motion for adjournment?” asked a bald, middle aged man next to the chairwoman. The other members looked eagerly at the chair.

“Seconded?”

“Aye!” the entire board cried, racing each other to the chamber door.

“Hey, let’s go kite flying!” Hollings called to the others as he skipped through the open door.

6.26.2006

Oxglove County Tribune OpEd Page

Idiotic Decision
I must sincerely protest the county legislature’s recent decision to purchase traffic signs of varying colours. As a senior with failing eyesight, I find it difficult to distinguish white text from yellow backgrounds, especially at night. I have lived in Oxglove County for over 40 years, and this is the first time the legislature has made a decision I disagree with. I implore all Oxglove County residents to contact their member of the legislature and protest this asinine policy decision, as traffic accidents have increased markedly in the two months since the new traffic signs were put up.

John Mittenberg, retired piano tuner
Olathe Landing


Bus Service
Beginning this Friday, the Sweitzer Lake school district will be offering bus service to non-students. The district board of trustees feels that in light of budget shortfalls, we need to “grow the brand” by offering our transportation services to members of the community. Parents will notice the immediate change in schedule, as instead of picking elementary school children up at eight in the morning and bringing them home at three in the afternoon, the bus will make its first run at 5 a.m. and last run at eleven p.m. Due to further budget restrictions and the needs of our customers, these will be the only times the bus will be able to pick up children. All questions must be forwarded to the district help desk.

Glenda Dorsendorf, district attorney
Sweitzer Lake


Broken Pipe
Four years ago, I moved into my current residence in Oxglove County to escape the “taxecutioners” of Redshaw County. At first, I was extremely happy with my house and neighborhood. I was fine until about two weeks ago, when I was awakened by a ruptured pipe. I assume it’s a sewage pipe, as the water flowing from it looks filthy. I have called on my county representative, congressman, and state senator to fix this problem, as it is a municipal pipe. I have waited anxiously for city workers to come by and repair the pipe, but in the two weeks since I first reported the problem not only has nobody come to repair the pipe, but I have received threatening letters from the county and state legislatures. I find it completely unprofessional that my elected officials would demand that I pay for the pipe, as I’ve already promised to properly dispose of my corrosive materials from now on, instead of pouring them down my sink.

Rhet Alderbahn, hydrochloric acid tester
Imperial Gardens


Issue A Retraction!
This is the first time I’ve written to the Tribune, and it will be my last, as I don’t intend to buy another copy or your non-credible paper. In your March 18th issue, you state that the manhunt for three inmates who escaped from the Oxglove County prison ended when the inmates “turned themselves into police” last Tuesday. Oh, so the three fugitives suddenly became police officers? Your lack of attention to spelling and grammar shows a lack of understanding of the English language. I only hope that my harsh criticism will prevent you from penning such misprnts in the future.

Hera Page, author, “Grammar for Dummies”
Imperial Gardens


Small Linux Problem
As the administrator of the Oxglove County Community Center, I have worked with Linux-based operating systems every day since prop 14 passed last year, requiring all county-owned computers to run non-proprietary software. While I applaud the county’s move to open source sofware, I am upset that I was not consulted on the way in which the new system would be advertised to the public. As you probably already know, the version of Linux we now use implements the GNOME environment, which is not in itself problematic, as I am familiar with GNOME. However, the county legislature recently decided to promote the new system by plastering giant posters with the words “Try GNOME! It’s fast and free!” on it throughout the center. Not many people understand what GNOME is, and when they see the posters they assume it refers to me, as I am barely four feet tall. Ever since the posters went up, my office has been inundated with calls from people who want me to do a range of tasks from painting houses to grooming cats. I find it degrading and insist that the legislature remove the posters and switch to another Linux distro that uses KDE instead of GNOME.

Lester Littleman, county community center administrator
Oxglove


Total 1337
ALL YOUR BASE@!!!!!!!!!!!11

anonymous
via e-mail


I Don’t Need Any Of You
Until last November, I had represented Imperial Gardens and North Spalding in the county legislature continuously for nearly 24 years. I understand that the voters wanted change last year, and spoke with their ballots. I can see now how the bill I introduced last spring to lure endangered bears to Oxglove county by littering the ground with bacon may have been seen by my former constituents as a tad irresponsible. To this day, I stand by my belief that it was the right decision. If a large enough number of endangered kunda bears made Oxglove county their home, we would have qualified for a state bear grant. Instead, we no longer have the funds needed to run the oxygen pump that provides half the county with breathable air. I had hoped to run for my old seat next November, but the cities I represented may be uninhabitable by that time.

Martina Glendale, former delegate
Redshaw County


Roosevelt Exhibit
As the proprietor of the Franklin Roosevelt Learning and Information Centre, I welcome all of you to participate in our Rockin’ Roosevelt barbeque this Saturday. The barbeque kicks off the opening of the centre’s newest exhibit, “Roosevelt: Man or Machine?” In the exhibit, we openly discuss the technology used to transform the United States’ only four term president into a bionic miracle capable of bending spoons with his mind. The exhibit also spans Roosevelt’s medical records, proving that he never had polio, that he had two hearts, and that he could perform photosynthesis. Vegetarian alternatives will be available at the barbeque.

Takera d’Gistoff, information archivist
Imperial Gardens


Spiritual Awakening
Are you lonely? Do you feel incomplete? Like something is missing from your life? We understand. The First Church of Tax Exempt Status has been helping people find purpose and completion since its founding in 1974. We take great pride in helping people of all faiths and walks of life by unburdening them of material woes. For as it says in our sacred text, “Lo, unto the great plains there came the roar of the mighty lion, tearing through the grasses like so many gazelles, all in search of water” (Moz 6:26). To begin your spiritual journey, simply bring your birth certificate and the deeds to any land you might own to our group caucus this Thursday. No fatties.

Reverend Fluorine Drake, pastor 1st class
Oxglove

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6.23.2006

Customer Satisfaction Survey

Synopsis: The devil is sitting at a table in his rustic cottage, trying hard to put together a ship in a bottle. Outside, I do something that create a sonic shockwave, destroying the model ship. The devil gets enraged, kicking down his front door, and seeing me at the center of the blast radius. Hilarity ensues.


6.22.2006

I am honored to have been asked to write this very special post. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I just. My heart. It...it aches for you all. In that "oh god this experience is not unlike a heart attack" sort of way. Without further ado, in honor of Robobshrub's one year anniversary:

FISHSTICKS: DELICIOUS?

YES/NO

6.20.2006

Saving Private Lions

Once again, it seems, the United States Legislature looks intent upon auctioning off our freedoms. Unless US constituents act, telecommunication companies will, in essence, gain the right to control and manipulate what people see on the internet. Goodbye, Net Neutrality.

Why do I bring this up?


Guess which part of this picture represents Net Neutrality.

Well, if you want to help (or just more information), go visit the Savetheinternet.com Coalition. Sign their petitions. Make a blog post. Make friends with them on MySpace. Buy a t-shirt.

I realize I've been "tag"'d. That can wait, though, as the first ammendment is more important. Also, Gyrobo spent the backup funding I was going to use to bribe Telcom into giving us a prime cyberspace location... so hurry! Sign the petition!

6.16.2006

Gyrobo's Divine Comedy

Partway through the series of intergalactic challenges
I found myself in a twisting, chaotic void,
For I was in desperate need of a sidekick.
  1. Starting Trouble at the Pearly Gates
  2. Limboing Without the Stick
  3. Repentance is Futile

6.15.2006

Forced Interview

  1. Other than yourself pick the contestant that remains in Last Gladiator Standing you think will win?

    The henchman. No matter how many times a henchman is destroyed, he always returns, strength renewed. James Bond found this out the hard way.
  2. What's your favorite color of Pink?

    Inner tube.
  3. What's your favorite episode of Golden Girls?

    Episode VI.
  4. If you were Anna Nicole Smith, what would you do with your child?

    Take it windsurfing.
  5. How many figures am I holding up?

    180/π
  6. Decipher this code: *66hsther;o adthaodf stop.

    "Dear Senator Lithgow, I regret to inform you that all your base are belong to us. Sincerely, Gentleman."
  7. What's wrong with this Meme?

    It lacks sawdust.
  8. Create your own question and answer it.

    When is a door not a door?

    When its appearance has been distorted to the point where it is no longer recognizable as a door.
  9. What's your wrestler name?

    The Perfunctory Fist.
  10. Do you have a man crush on Luke Cage?

    No.
  11. Are you the weakest link?

    That information is classified.
  12. Are you prepared for the Dalek invasion over here?

    I've been prepared. Where were you?
  13. Switch lives with one blogger for a year?

    No, I haven't.
  14. Who has the best sidekick in LGS?

    I might, if I can get one...
  15. If you watched the season finale of Doctor Who, what did you think?

    I think I shouldn't reveal my thoughts exactly because some people may not have seen the finale. I'm not a spoiler! Never have been. Well, maybe...
  16. Do you know who Lookwell! is?

    I came dangerously close to saying "yo mama."
  17. Tag 3 people you wouldn't share socks with(except Henchmen)

    I choose Roboshrub Incorporated, Bathroom Hippo, and your friend and mine, Happy T. Fluke.

6.12.2006

You Decide

Was the following a dream? Was there conscious thought behind it? Or maybe a little of both? You be the judge.

***

"I just don't think it's practical to build a fence on the border-"

"Get out of the pool!"

Everyone at the summit jumped up, startled.

"What is the meaning of this?!" bellowed Yob Ron. He didn't like his poolside political discussions interrupted, especially by... who was that?

"I said get out!" screamed the strange man, flailing his arms up and down.

The partygoers looked at Yob Ron, wondering why he didn't call his robotic butlers in to escort the nuisance out. "He's lost control of the situation," they whispered to each other.

"You've shamed me, and my family tree," sneered Yob Ron at the stranger. The man bowed his head in shame, and held himself in that position until Yob Ron had finished berating him.

"...furthermore, we found the floppies in the computers in the library. You know what we found on them?"

The man didn't know.

"Evidence. We have all the evidence we need to convict, friend."

"But... you need to get out of the pool."

"Why is that, my old friend?"

"There are sharks... there are sharks in the pool."

"Randal, I've swam through this pool a thousand times. Never once did I see a shark."

"The prophesy," he cooed. Randal took a pen out of his pocket and began writing big red numbers all over the grass. As he completed each one, their edges glowed bright orange.

"Yes?"

"I've been to them," he said, capping the pen. "I've seen them."

"The sharks?" Yob Ron was getting impatient.

"No. The polar bears. Global warming is making them move south. They're starting to fly now."

"Comment your lines, Randal."

"I will at that!" Randal reached into his vest pocket and cringed. Yob Ron could hear a squishing sound. When Randal removed his hand from his vest, it had a cantaloupe in it.

"This cantaloupe is yours, I believe."

"I... I don't... this is so unexpected..."

"Just do me one favor, before you accept it."

"Anything."

"Get out of the pool."

6.08.2006

€ncryptiøn Friction

**UPDATE! WITH SCREENSHOTS!**

Those of you who make regular use of the Roboshrub Inc. web product line will notice that our very own €ncryptør just got a facelift today. Well, not so much a facelift as a fresh coat of wax. Or maybe it just got its tired rotated.

The point is, €ncryptør now has the ability to save whatever has been writen into it, and even password protect the data. How important is this? Not very, if all you do is jot down small sentences. But let's say you want to write a very confidential document and something comes up. Instead of saving what you wrote in a text file or something, you can just hit the "save" button. Abra cadaver, presto change-purse! Hit the "restore" button to bring it all back later! And the "delete" button gets rid of whatever you saved.

Cookies must be enabled to save data. Consult a cryptozoologist prior to use. Roboshrub Inc. cannot be held responsible for friends lost due to hours upon hours of €ncryptiøn. Only one save per customer (at a time, not total). Results may vary.

**UPDATE:
I changed the program once again. It is now possible to save as many €ncryptiøns as you want! And now for the screenshots:These screenshots are of four of the most common browsers in use today. Notice how, while every browser made in the last five years correctly centers the bottom buttons, Internet Explorer doesn't. This bug, along with many, many others will hopefully be fixed in the next version of Internet Explorer. Until then, keep your eyes on the prize. Teddy Ruxpin.

*ANOTHER UPDATE!*
I forgot that cookies have expiration dates! Needless to say, everything you wrote in €ncryptør would be deleted the minute the browser was closed. Fixed it! The expiration date is now far in the future. This may pose a problem for those of you who wish to save files in €ncryptør and wander off for 2,700 years. Also, I added a button in the delete menu that allows you to copy saves. Carpe denim!

6.06.2006

A Day in the Life

It's about time you, the customer, got an idea of how we here at Roboshrub run things. We monitored Dr. Fickle Quantum in his daily routine to better exemplify the lives of our employees.

4:26 AM: Wakened by explosion.
4:33 AM: Returned to sleep.
5:21 AM: Had 2,000 volts run through him as part of the testing phase for the new shockwaker. Continued to slumber peacefully.
7:57 AM: Reawakened, proceeded to community bathroom.
7:59 AM: Waited in line to utilize community bathroom.
8:40 AM: Received access to bathroom.
9:02 AM: Rushed from bathroom, slipped on common room tiling.
11:24 AM: Reawakened in medical ward. Painkillers administered.
11:50 AM: Checked in for work. Entered office.
11:52 AM: Began reading "New Projects" memo.
1:22 PM: Finished reading memo, crumpled it into a ball, threw it at waste paper basket.
1:23 PM: Retrieved paper ball memo and attempted to throw it again.
1:23 PM: Placed paper ball memo in proper receptacle. Shouted three explicatives.
3:12 PM: Left Detention area, promised never to speak obscenities while on duty.
3:15 PM: Applied experimental salve for laser-whip burns.
3:46 PM: Left medical ward with tentacles removed.
4:07 PM: Passed Dr. Sibil Hyde on way back to office, come-on rejected.
4:09 PM: Returned to office, began filling out forms.
4:10 PM: Threw forms on ground, played "Tetris."
4:42 PM: Kicked chair.
4:42 PM: Left office, proceeded to Research and Design Facility.
4:50 PM: Arrived in research and design.
4:57 PM: Drew finalized hovercar schematics.
5:50 PM: Yelled at Research and Design Director Grue Jhompson.
5:54 PM: Checked out of work.
6:00 PM: Entered Cafetorium. Ordered Eggs + Broccoli Sandwhich.
6:07 PM: Sat alone, began eating.
6:23 PM: Left cafetorium.
6:37 PM: Wandered halls randomly.
7:21 PM: Yelled into the Marketing Office, beginning heated arguement with Karl Uberdale.
8:52 PM: Reawakened in medical ward, legs replaced with motorcycles.
9:04 PM: Left medical ward, passed Dr. Hyde.
9:04 PM: Offered Dr. Hyde a ride to IHOP. Was turned down.
9:05 PM: Returned to common room, searched for key to his quarters.
9:10 PM: Knocked out by shockwaves of explosion.

6.02.2006

In Memory of Nigel Stottlebottom (1852-2006)

"Please, kind sir, I know you know what happened to my dear husband." Regina Stottlebottom pressed. The harbormaster turned away. He hadn't told a single soul what transpired that cold night. And he couldn't tell her, especially.

"Ma'am, you know I can't reveal such highly classified information."

"But... my Nigel!"


She carries a photo of Nigel Stottlebottom to remember how much he hated water.

"He's... gone. And he won't be back." He turned from her once again, his vow broken. Now she knew.

They stood there at the apex of the lighthouse for a few minutes, he staring at his shoes, she gazing out onto the sea. At last she spoke.

"He was a great man."

"The greatest, I'm sure."

"No! He really stood for something!" she insisted.

"I've heard of his exploits."

"You've heard nothing!" she spat. "Only what the government let them print. You don't know, nobody knows, about Nigel's war on the water."

"I was there!" he shouted. "I know what he was planning!" twisting his head slightly he let out a sigh. "He wanted to control the ocean."

"Once again, you're wrong. He didn't want the sea. He fought the sea."

He stared at her quizically. "Ma'am?"

"Nigel hated the sea, Horation. I knew him well. He always hated water, ever since it murdered his family. Each night he dreamed of taking his revenge against the ocean. He tried so many times to conquor the water. The international anti-water organization, the lobbying efforts, even that short-lived children's cartoon."


He hated water more than anyone else alive.

"So you expected something like this to happen one day."

She watched the second hand on her watch tick away slowly. "Of course I knew it would end one day. And I knew water would be involved. So tell me," she begged, "what happened out there?"

He pulled out a package of marshmallows and threw some wood pellets onto the fireplace.

***


"Filthy sludge," grumbled Nigel Stottlebottom as he pulled the rigging free. A crack of lightning and thunder lit up the sky and nearly knocked him to his feet. Forcing his entire crew to abandon ship during a storm was arguably a terrible idea, but Nigel knew better. The water was plotting against him... and besides, he already had the doctor. He didn't need the rest of his crew now.

"Doctor, is the machine ready yet?"

"Five more minutes," came a reply from the cabin.

Soon all my carefully laid-out plans will reach fruition, the voice in Nigel's head gently laughed. Soon water will pay!

"Hurry! The wave is reaching zenith!"

"Just one more... done!" The doctor ran out onto the deck with a small metallic box.

Inside it was anything but metal.

"Doctor," said Nigel Stottlebottom, his face contorting into an unearthly grimace, "do you have any idea of what we're going to accomplish here today?"

Lightning tore through the sky, followed by a thunderclap. Waves slapped the side of the ship, rocking it back and forth. The doctor glanced over the railing. Could that be a shark?

"Mr. Stottlebottom-"

"That's President Stottlebottom. I am the president of the anti-water coalition."


"All your base are belong to us!"

"President Stottlebottom, the machine is ready."

Nigel grabbed the box from his hands. As he opened it, the doctor could see a sickly yellow glow. Reaching into the container, Nigel pulled out an emblazoned helmet. There could be no turning back now; the water must end. With the aid of the machine, vaporization would be quick.

"Doctor."

Stottlebottom waited a few moments. The wind started to pick up. Another bolt of lightning crackled through the air, landing a few metric feet from the ship. Too close for comfort...

"Doctor?"

Nigel stood up, the helmet barely clinging to his weathered skull. Gone! The insolent whelp didn't want to stick around to watch the master of ceremony, Nigel Stottlebottom, conquer water! The coward!

"It's just you and me now, ocean!" Stottlebottom shouted as he entered the helmet's keycode. "You may have destroyed everything and everyone I've ever cared about, but this old man has a few tricks up his sleeve!"


The old man vs. the sea


Another thunderclap. Nigel grasped at the railing. "You won't be rid of me so soon, Neptune! Let's dance."

***


"So he died the way he lived: fighting water. The fool."

Horation put down his cup and took a deep breath. The smell of cinamon and dampness invaded his nostrals.

"Mrs. Stottlebottom, your husband was the bravest man I ever knew. Only a true hero would put his life on the line to destroy all the water in the world."

"There's something I've never told anyone about. Something Nigel wouldn't have wanted anyone to know, Horation."

He leaned forward. "Was he... was he from the future, trying to put right what once went wrong?"

Her eyes lit up. She ran over to Horation, put an arm around his shoulders, looked him straight in the eyes, and yelled, "Are you some kind of moron?! That's not even slightly what I was about to say! Seriously, what's wrong with you?!"

Horation shifted uncomfortably. His eyes welled up. "I'm telling!"

"Calm down, Charlie Brown."

"No!" he bellowed. "Not until you tell me what Stottlebottom was up to! What terrible secret was he hiding? Was it pudding related?"

"Once again, I question your sanity."

Regina pulled a piece of paper out from the frame of Nigel's photo. It was yellowed and smelled of cabbage. "This, Horation, is a letter Nigel send me back in nineteen aught five." She let that sink in.

"You were alive in 1905? Wouldn't that make you, like, a thousand years old?! What was life like before toothpaste?! Do you have dentures?!"

"I'd like to speak to your supervisor."

"That won't be nesessary. Do go on."

"Yes, well, Nigel and myself were the last two people to drink from the fountain of youth before it was torn down to make room for a lard rendering plant. That explains why we've been alive so long."

"Yes, it does. But... why would Nigel want to keep that a secret?"

"I find myself wanting to throw you into a bottomless pit. It wasn't the fountain that Nigel wanted to keep secret; it was the real reason he hated water."

The piqued Horation's interest. "I thought that he wanted to destroy water because water killed his whole family?"

She laughed. "You actually belived the cover story. How precious."

"Then what...?"

"Nigel was water."

The storm outside exploded into another mighty thunderclap; there was no lightning. Small droplets of rain pelted the window, resounding off the air conditioner. The sound of crickets chirping was barely audible, but prevelant enough to merit mention.

"He was-"

"Sixty percent water, yes. All humans are... mostly."

"But then... why?! Why all the deception? Why spend his entire life fighting his own composition?"

"He had good reasons, Horation."

"What reasons?!"

She put the picture back on the mantle. Limping over to the rain-splattered window, she rested a wrinkled hand on the pane. Tilting her head up, she sighed.

"The communists, Horation. The communists."