What's in a
ole boy, ready to go? Time to expose all your dirty thoughts.”
Bumble, chief researcher for The Project, looked up, looked annoyed
and went back to peering through the scanscopium. Damn, the luck,
leave it to his loud mouth pal to interrupt him. And just when he was
so close to being closer than he'd been all week to discovering …
can't put it off, you know. Best go and get it over with.”
heaved a disgusted sigh. “Brunswick, I do wish you …
Brunswick. I've changed it again.”
friend replied, a satisfied smirk on his cherubic face. “I'm now to
be called Horseshoe Muck.”
well, I shall call you Horseshoe Muck.” He paused. “And just how
long will you keep this one?”
don't know. Until I get tired of it, I guess.”
removed his regulation Magna-Carbohyde work gloves, placed them
carefully on the table, got up from his chair and donned his lime
green, company issued lab coat. He hated to wear it while he was
actually working, it was two sizes too big.
thought. If his dim-witted pal wants to change his name every hour,
why should I care? What did it matter? He'd been taught years ago
that names were unimportant. That was Lesson #5 in the Great Book of
10 Lessons – the first of many required readings from The
Corporation. Lesson #4 was never forget your designated registry code
(his was HA!2QBniptu?) and Lesson #5 was names are unimportant. If
you had any questions about any of the Lessons you only had to refer
to Lesson #1 – “The Corporation makes the rules and the rules
are always right.” Very simple, easy to follow. Nothing to get
perterbed about or to become unsatisfied with. Bumble liked things
simple. Life flowed much better when things were simple – although
he did think this weekly trip to the Brain Unit Testing Oxytron,
BUTOX for short, seemed to come at the most inconvenient times. Oh,
bother, best go and get it over with.
Horseshoe walked down the drab, narrow hallway and waited in line.
One by one, each man and woman climbed into the skylifter and was
transported up to the cold, impersonal room where BUTOX was waiting.
At last it was Bumble's turn. He rode up to the top level, entered
the room and after stating his name, sat down in front of the mammoth
machine. He knew the routine by heart. First you removed your
glasses, then you pressed your face into a soft, spongy kind of
substance which helped cradle your head. As you did this BUTOX read
your thoughts for the past week and examined them to determine if
your brain was operating at an appropriate level. In other words,
were your thoughts productive or did you spend too much time thinking
about those things that The Corporation deemed wasteful.
colors indicated different levels, with blue being the lowest and
orange being the highest. If you were at level orange you were
considered a credit to the system and given what The Corporation
insisted on calling “Brown Nose” points – Bumble assumed that
was because the spongy substance from the BOTOX left just a tiny
smudge on the tip of one's nose, if you pressed too hard.
He was proud
to say that he generally tested on the orange level. Moreover he
couldn't understand why his pal insisted on bringing up the fact that
he earned way too many “brown nose points” – as if it were
something he should be ashamed of. No matter. He was pleased that The
Corporation was pleased with his record
mulling this over, feeling very proud of himself as he and Horseshoe
walked back to their respective labs. Horseshoe spoke up.
guess you tested in orange again, didn't you mister “Brown Nose”
smiled. “Yes, I did. And you?” Knowing well his pal would have
tested much lower.
barely made the blue level – as if you're surprised.”
stopped and turned toward his errant pal, a stern look on his face.
“I keep telling you not to spend so much time in the
Holio-Archives. They are there to be used striclty for research and
not entertainment.” They continued walking.
Stan, you should see what I've found out about the Old World. It
would curl your hair, that is if you had any. For instance there's a
section on how females ...”
raised his hand. “I don't want to hear it, I don't want to hear
it”. He arrived at his lab door.
want to waste your time and continue to stay at the level you are,
that's your decision. After all The Corporation made it clear in
Lesson #7, 'You are only responsible to yourself and The Corporation,
no one else.' I was merely pointing out that I believe your wasting
your life – I only say this because we're friends and would like to
see you excel while you're here.
name changing under achiever, I would think you would want to give
due consideration to the fact that The Coporation has been known to
make adjustments if needed – people do get sent to other sectors.
True, you may be Zero Minus and, yes, I'm well aware that's the
highest rating you can have. Even so you'd be wise to watch your
extravagant behavior. That's all I'm going to say. He paused before
opening the lab door.
thing … if you persist in these mindless explorations – I would
advise you not to do anything stupid or reckless”. He cautiously
looked both ways and then spoke softly. “Remember what happened to
Then he went
inside and closed the door, took off his lab and sat down. Now why on
earth did I say that.
friend smiled a small smile, remarking to no one in particular,
“Stan, old buddy, if you only knew. If you only knew.” Then he
sauntered down the hall whistling some ancient children's song –
one he'd discovered while prowling through the Holio-Archives. It had
something to do with the Big Bad Wolf.