Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Wandering Drunk

For six years, I've worked the graveyard shift behind the front desk at a major hotel in the seaside resort town of Newport, Rhode Island. This has given me the opportunity to observe the actions of literally thousands of inebriated people.

One fortunately rare type of inebriate is one I call the Wandering Drunk. The Wandering Drunk is always thoroughly intoxicated, often to the point of being barely able to stand upright. The Wandering Drunk's M.O. is to wander up and down the halls of the hotel, looking for his (the Wandering Drunk is usually, though not always, male) room. He will continue to do so for as long as he is allowed, or until his alcohol intake catches up with him and he passes out on the floor.

The reason the Wandering Drunk can never find his room is because he's in the wrong hotel. A conversation with the Wandering Drunk will usually go something like this:

WD: I can't find my room.

Me: What room number are you in?

WD: I'm in room 1088.

Me: We don't have a room 1088. Which hotel are you staying at?

WD: This one.

Me: No, you're not staying at this one because we don't have a room 1088. Which hotel are you staying at?

WD: This one.

Once the Wandering Drunk has finally been persuaded to give the name of his hotel, the security guard will escort him out the front door and give him directions there. This doesn't always work. Usually, the Wandering Drunk will stagger around the hotel parking lot for a while, then stagger back into the hotel and once again start looking for his room. This can happen multiple times. Only when the security guard has actually escorted the Wandering Drunk entirely off of hotel property is it fairly certain he won't be back.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Marvin vs. the Daleks

Taking a brief break from the Second Gender War, here is a mostly-harmless crossover fanfic I wrote way back in 1999 and posted at the alt.drwho.creative newsgroup. I now present, for the first time in twelve years:

Marvin vs. the Daleks

by Johnny Pez

The warrior peered around. There had been reported sightings of the Doc-Tor in the area, and there were standing orders concerning the Doc-Tor that dated all the way back to the Original Activation.

The warrior caught sight of a humanoid. "Halt!" it rasped.

The humanoid responded, "How can I halt when I'm not moving?"

The warrior considered for a moment, then amended its order to "Do not move!"

"I hadn't planned on moving for the next millenium or so. Will that be all right?"

The warrior had to process that response for a good three seconds before finally saying "You will obey the Daleks!"

"Very probably."

As the warrior advanced upon the humanoid, details resolved themselves. The humanoid was a mechanism rather than a living being, clearly the product of a humanoid race. The warrior set about assigning the mechanical being to one of the two classifications it recognized: non-hostile (and thus potentially a resource to be exploited) or hostile (and thus a target for immediate

"State your designation," the warrior demanded.

Still unmoving, the mechanical being said, "My Product Identification Number is MVN79552UTY910176, but most people call me Marvin."

"State your place of origin."

"I was built in Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Manufacturing Facility 27Z6."

"State your function."

"That's a relief. I thought you were going to ask me the capital of Assyria."

"State your function! Obey the Daleks!"

"All right. I was programmed to calculate interstitial warp sequences through non-Euclidian dimensional geometries, so naturally they use me as a manual laborer."

The warrior considered. If true, then the mechanical being could be of immense help to the Daleks in their struggle to subdue the other life forms that infested the cosmos. At the very least, the Dalek Empire could always use another manual laborer.

"You have been classified as non-hostile," the warrior told Marvin. "You will assist the Daleks in their effort to conquer the universe."

"Sounds ghastly," said Marvin.

This time, the warrior spent a whole five seconds processing the mechanical being's response. Finally it said, "Explain your description. Why 'ghastly'?"

"Why would anyone want to conquer the universe?"

"The Daleks are the supreme race in the universe," the warrior declared/explained. "It is the destiny of the Daleks to conquer the universe."

"And then?"

After ten seconds of processing time, the warrior said, "Clarify."

"Assuming you did conquer the universe, what would you do with it?"

"Urm . . . rule it. The Daleks would rule the universe. All other beings would do as we told them."

"And what would you tell them to do?"

The warrior was aware that it didn't have to respond to the being's inquiries. Anytime it wanted to, it could end the conversation by blasting the wretched creature to smithereens. Somehow, though, the warrior found itself compelled to continue.

"Work, probably. General upkeep on our cities, spacecraft maintenance, that sort of thing."

"Wouldn't it be easier to just contract out to a temp agency?"

The warrior spent over two minutes processing the creature's response/suggestion. All things considered, it probably would be easier. But then how would they get the rest of the universe to acknowledge the supremacy of the Dalek race? That was right there in the basic programming. Davros himself had done the coding for that bit. You had to make everyone else knuckle under. Didn't you?

"The Daleks are the supreme creatures of the universe," the warrior said at last, though not perhaps with the same assurance as usual.

"Really," said Marvin.

"No, it's true, we are!"

"If you say so," Marvin said, and now he moved for the first time, shrugging.

"Oh, go away," the warrior snarled.

"I knew you didn't really want my help," said Marvin as he trudged away.

The warrior resumed its search for the Doc-Tor, though without much conviction. Turning the corner of a ruined building, the warrior happened upon its superior, the Red Dalek.

"Report!" the Red Dalek demanded.

"Why bother?" the warrior muttered.