Friends, Part 1

Adapted to chat format from the story “Man’s Best Friend” by Evelyn E. Smith.

Me
Well what’s the matter? Who’s there? What?
Floria
Oh, turn on your annunciator!
Me
Hold your horse-spit!
Floria
There you are!
Me
Should I know you?
Floria
May I be the first to congratulate you, Mr. O’Shay.
Me
You may indeed.
Me
But what for?
Floria
Oh you haven’t heard the news?
Me
Nada de particular.
Floria
Good, then I’ve got a head start on the rest. ‘Cause I was best able to track you down first. Your address wasn’t given!
Me
I was meditating. Wait, I’ll let you in. My Autobursar didn’t pay my door bill. I’ll have to open it manually. Just a minute.
Floria
All right.
Me
Come on in. Name?
Floria
Chad Floria, that’s me.
Me
Well, as you are wearing the uniform of an upper echelon salesman; I just want to warn you, nobody can force me to buy anything. I’m a free citizen.
Floria
Get real, Mr. O’Shay!
Me
I suppose the news is, I’m the lucky winner of a Little Gem Room Expander to rearrange my furniture.
Floria
Oh no, I’m not a common salesman.
Me
I’m sorry, Come on in, have a chair!
Floria
I have been on my feet a lot.
Me
Not that chair! It’s my meditator, and it’s still running.
Floria
Thank you. Well, Mr. O’Shay, our prognosticator has just given its fortnightly prognostication! You are going to be our new ruler. Congratulations! I’m sure you will be a good one, too.
Me
But wait! Has the old ruler come up a bit short?
Floria
You’re scheduled to dispose of him sometime this month. Now, Mr. O’Shay, allow me to introduce myself fully: I am Chad Floria, vice president of the Munitions and Container Corporation.
Me
Good, I can hardly contain myself. I don’t wish to leave you hanging, so I’ll just say goodbye.
Floria
Here, I have our latest model in this case right here.
Me
I see you’ve got your munitions all right.
Floria
Yeah, beautiful isn’t it?
Me
Mm-hmm, that is really somethin’ there.
Floria
Now if you will only agree to zap Overlord Kip with this Floria Semper Fidelis Zapper, my corporation will be happy.
Me
Is one ever truly happy? A man who’s a corporation, I mean.
Floria
We can then place a substantial amount of credit at your disposal in any bank you choose.
Me
You are quite a fellow!
Floria
Six billion creds to be exact! Just sign here on the indented dots.
Me
That’s nonsense! How could I get six billion?
Floria
Oh come now, Mr. O’Shay, even a ruler can use money.
Me
For bribes I suppose?
Floria
Remunerations for government officials, bread, circuses for the Folks. That I-Owe-You Dough is a very useful commodity, Mr. O’Shay. Shall we then say, yes, seven big ones, Gervase?
Me
Sure, let’s say it. I don’t know what it means, but let’s say it. But when I said nonsense, I meant the prognosticator.
Floria
Mr. O’Shay, Ehh-hem!
Me
It’s a lot of, well, nonsense. A whole planet of supposedly intelligent folk heeding what’s really more of an Oracle. A machine can’t read the future, it’s impossible!
Floria
Dear Mr. O’Shay, that is sacrilege! You, you can’t, er, confound it, sir, you can’t talk that way about the Folk’s machine! After all, look at this reasonably! Machines can and do answer all the problems of our daily life.
Me
Many can also manufacture some.
Floria
So why shouldn’t a superior machine be able to tell the future?
Me
Behind the wires and gimmicks and whatnots of the machine age is the stuff dreams are snuffed out with, I suppose?
Floria
Exactly!
Me
Somewhere I suspect a half-mad old priestess sits delivering Delphic pronouncements.
Floria
Now, again, Mr. O’Shay, even our exalted one shouldn’t flout the authority of machinery! At least in public we shouldn’t! [Ruler Kip now appears on the annunciator screen]
Kip
O’Shay, can’t you see? I’m from the Daily Disseminator! How does it feel to be ruler-prognosticate; perhaps you’ll tell us!
Me
Oh, that’s what I get for leaving the thing-y turned on.
Floria
There’s your community to think of.
Me
All right, all right, I’ll answer it!
Kip
I understand you are the young man destined to Zappose me?
Me
Well honestly, your honorship, I haven’t the slightest wish to…
Kip
You will make it swift and painless, won’t you?
Me
If need be, whatevs.
Kip
Suppose you come ’round to the palace around one o’clock?
Me
Or so?
Kip
We can have a bite of lunch and discuss the matter together. After all, I think you’ll agree that I have been a reasonably good ruler, and so I have the right to die with dignity.
Me
Just as you ruled: absolutely, and no question about it!
Kip
I think it’s a good idea having a chat about it first.
Me
It, it is awkward to dispose of one whom you haven’t met previously. I don’t relish it.
Kip
Thank you, Mr. O’Shay!
Me
Again, absolutely!
Kip
I hope you’ll find your successor as cooperative as yourself. Bye for now!
Me
Hmm, I wonder whether he wants me to make an appointment so he’ll have a band of counter assassins ready to kill me? You know, that would save him the expense of a standby bodyguard. He’s said to be pretty tight with money.
Floria
You know he wouldn’t dream of doing anything so destabilizing.
Me
Overlord Kip does know just what’s fitting for his position!
Floria
He has a sense of duty and responsibility which unfortunately seems to be lacking in today’s generation. If you’ll excuse my speaking frankly.
Me
Oh sure, you may speak as unwisely as you wish!
Floria
I am, of course, considerably older than you, and so I feel…
Me
It’s quite all right. You have the ball, so let your running begin!
Floria
Furthermore, if he had you killed, the folks at home would probably give him a painful and lingering death.
Me
For failing a duty to destiny!
Floria
Oh, by the way, speaking of the Folks back home, the people will probably be around to hail their new leader soon.
Me
Oh that’s just great! You don’t mean “hale” as in haul me away, right?
Floria
You really should prepare a few well-chosen words for them.
Me
Well, I won’t. You can kill me a million times and I won’t. You can’t make me kill him and take over. That is flat. I am NOT the extrovert type.
Floria
I suppose you never have been. Well, in that case, the folks will probably kill you for attempting to interfere with fate.
Me
Oh, sure. I can see that.
Floria
Have a cigar.
Me
Sure. But I wouldn’t have done anything wrong to deserve it!
Floria
There are sins of omission, as well as commission.
Me
Oh come on now, be fair!
Floria
It’s true, as you alluded to earlier, a ruler’s life expectancy isn’t long, at least it hasn’t been the last few reigns. Still, it’s longer than yours will be if you refuse to fulfill your nanofest destiny per the prognosticator.
Me
But I wouldn’t make a fit ruler! Consider my origins. I wouldn’t tell this to anyone but you: I’m illegitimate!
Floria
You don’t even know who your father is?
Me
I’m a basket case. Does your firm make them, by the way? Baskets, I mean?
Floria
Sure! It’s a wise child who knows his own father. And some of the most celebrated leaders in history have been illegitimate. Take William the Conqueror!
Me
No, you take him.
Floria
That sounded decisive. You see, almost anyone can be a leader! The important thing is that he be destined for leadership.
Me
But I’m no good at it; everybody says so! I’ve never done a thing in my life. My aged mother has to work to support me!
Floria
Well, it’s time enough that you stood on your own two feet, my boy. Remember destiny is calling!
Me
I’m not in.
Floria
Excuse me. I’m due to Podcast in a few seconds.
Me
Cast away, who cares!
Floria
If you don’t mind, I will cast from here. I’ll just put my equipment here. Fine, fine here we go: My friends, allow me to introduce to you your new ruler, Gervase O’Shay. He is planning to azapinate Overlord Kip with a fine Floria Semper Fidelis zapper.
Me
Don’t put me in it!
Floria
Floria Semper Fidelis zappers retail from credit point 98 for the Peasant’s Pistol, all the way up to credit 108, and nine points for the super-deluxe Conspirator’s Model, but each is the best money can buy! Mr. O’Shay will, of course, use the Super Deluxe model, and now I give you, Mr. O’Shay!
Me
Thanks a bunch, Folks, for your, er, for your confidence men and your support hose; I only hope I prove worthy!
Floria
That’s all, thank you, Ruler Prognosticate Gervase O’Shay. [later that day]
Kip
Will you have some more wine, O’Shay?
Me
Oh no, thank you, overlord Kip. I must rebel.
Kip
It’s a delightful vintage isn’t it?
Kip
I think it was bought by overlord Jasper about seven rings ago. You’ll find the cellar is in perfect order. I’ll give you the inventory, and the key a little later, before you zap me.
Me
Must we talk of it?
Kip
One has to take ’em as one finds ’em. You know, here today, gone tomorrow. In fact, that reminds me: will tomorrow suit you?
Me
Of course. It really doesn’t make quite as much difference to me as to you, I suppose.
Kip
Or as it did earlier, right? Fine, we’ll set it for tomorrow, as that’s convenient for both of us.
Me
I’ll certainly have the afternoon calendar cleared, as will you, unfortunately.
Kip
We’ll make a public announcement a little later.
Me
Well, at least I will, if you say so.
Kip
Of course! Now we can go into my study and discuss the details at our leisure. I’ve got half a box of some wonderful cigars left over. I think you’ll enjoy them.

Look for Part 2.