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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Saturday Night's Alright for Junk Food!

So, having dropped Matt at the airport for his journey across the Pacific to the great U.S of A, I settled in for a Saturday night of catching up with me.

From bottom left to bottom right this included: Pizza Hut Hot and Spicy Pizza, Garlic Bread, a bottle of Morton Estate 2003 "The Mercure" (beautiful, highly recommended, will be my wedding red wine), Jane Austen's "Emma", A packet of Signature Range Barbeque Kettle chips, a large bag of pick and mix Chocolate Almonds, and a large bag of pick and mix sour lollies (bears, coke bottles, and worms). Also I tried to watch superman returns, but fell asleep before the end of the first scene (Lex Luthor bores me) and now here I am, blogging in bed watching What Now, waiting for the Home and Away omnibus, trying to setup a bittorrent client.

Anyway, here's the next part in the great blog story. So far we've seen Jack Samson get lost in the desert and take wishes from a giant snake. He's about to find out what the lever does....

If you're just joining us, start the story from part one, here

“Oh, no,” said Nate. “Nothing that drastic. It just ends humanity. I call it
‘The Lever of Doom’.” For the last few words Nate had used a deeper, ringing
voice. He tried to look serious for a few seconds, and then gave up and

Jack was initially startled by Nate’s pronouncement, but when Nate grinned
Jack laughed. “Ha! You almost had me fooled for a second there. What does it
really do?”

“Oh, it really ends humanity, like I said,” smirked Nate. “I just thought
the voice I used was funny, didn’t you?”

Nate continued to grin.

“A lever to end humanity?” asked Jack. “What in the world is that for? Why
would anyone need to end humanity?”

“Well,” replied Nate, “I get the idea that maybe humanity was an experiment.
Or maybe the Big Guy just thought, that if humanity started going really
bad, there should be a way to end it. I’m not really sure. All I know are
the rules, and the guesses that Samuel and I had about why it’s here. I
didn’t think to ask back when I started here.”

“Rules? What rules?” asked Jack.

“The rules are that I can’t tell anybody about it or let them touch it
unless they agree to be bound to secrecy by a bite. And that only one human
can be bound in that way at a time. That’s it.” explained Nate.

Jack looked somewhat shocked. “You mean that I could pull the lever now?
You’d let me end humanity?”

“Yep,” replied Nate, “if you want to.” Nate looked at Jack carefully. “Do
you want to, Jack?”

“Umm, no.” said Jack, stepping a little further back from the lever. “Why in
the world would anyone want to end humanity? It’d take a psychotic to want
that! Or worse, a suicidal psychotic, because it would kill him too,
wouldn’t it?”

“Yep,” replied Nate, “being as he’d be human too.”

“Has anyone ever seriously considered it?” asked Nate. “Any of those bound
to secrecy, that is?”

“Well, of course, I think they’ve all seriously considered it at one time or
another. Being given that kind of responsibility makes you sit down and
think, or so I’m told. Samuel considered it several times. He’d often get
disgusted with humanity, come out here, and just hold the lever for a while.
But he never pulled it. Or you wouldn’t be here.” Nate grinned some more.

Jack sat down, well back from the lever. He looked thoughtful and puzzled at
the same time. After a bit, he said, “So this makes me the Judge of
humanity? I get to decide whether they keep going or just end? Me?”

“That seems to be it,” agreed Nate.

“What kind of criteria do I use to decide?” said Jack. “How do I make this
decision? Am I supposed to decide if they’re good? Or too many of them are
bad? Or that they’re going the wrong way? Is there a set of rules for that?”

“Nope,” replied Nate. “You pretty much just have to decide on your own. It’s
up to you, however you want to decide it. I guess that you’re just supposed
to know.”

“But what if I get mad at someone? Or some girl dumps me and I feel
horrible? Couldn’t I make a mistake? How do I know that I won’t screw up?”
protested Jack.

Nate gave his kind of snake-like shrug again. “You don’t. You just have to
try your best, Jack.”

Jack sat there for a while, staring off into the desert that was rapidly
getting dark, chewing on a fingernail.

Suddenly, Jack turned around and looked at the snake. “Nate, was Samuel the
one bound to this before me?”

“Yep,” replied Nate. “He was a good guy. Talked to me a lot. Taught me to
read and brought me books. I think I still have a good pile of them buried
in the sand around here somewhere. I still miss him. He died a few months

“Sounds like a good guy,” agreed Jack. “How did he handle this, when you
first told him. What did he do?”

“Well,” said Nate, “he sat down for a while, thought about it for a bit, and
then asked me some questions, much like you’re doing.”

“What did he ask you, if you’re allowed to tell me?” asked Jack.

“He asked me about the third request,” replied Nate.

“Aha!” It was Jack’s turn to grin. “And what did you tell him?”

“I told him the rules for the third request. That to get the third request
you have to agree to this whole thing. That if it ever comes to the point
that you really think that humanity should be ended, that you’ll come here
and end it. You won’t avoid it, and you won’t wimp out.” Nate looked serious
again. “And you’ll be bound to do it too, Jack.”

“Hmmm.” Jack looked back out into the darkness for a while.

Nate watched him, waiting.

“Nate,” continued Jack, quietly, eventually. “What did Samuel ask for with
his third request?”

Nate sounded like he was grinning again as he replied, also quietly,
“Wisdom, Jack. He asked for wisdom. As much as I could give him.”

“Ok,” said Jack, suddenly, standing up and facing away from Nate, “give it
to me.

Nate looked at Jack’s backside. “Give you what, Jack?”

“Give me that wisdom. The same stuff that Samuel asked for. If it helped
him, maybe it’ll help me too.” Jack turned his head to look back over his
shoulder at Nate. “It did help him, right?”

“He said it did,” replied Nate. “But he seemed a little quieter afterward.
Like he had a lot to think about.”

“Well, yeah, I can see that,” said Jack. “So, give it to me.” Jack turned to
face away from Nate again, bent over slightly and tensed up.

Nate watched Jack tense up with a little exasperation. If he bit Jack now,
Jack would likely jump out of his skin and maybe hurt them both.

“You remember that you’ll be bound to destroy humanity if it ever looks like
it needs it, right Jack?” asked Nate, shifting position.

“Yeah, yeah, I got that,” replied Jack, eyes squeezed tightly shut and body
tense, not noticing the change in direction of Nate’s voice.

“And,” continued Nate, from his new position, “do you remember that you’ll
turn bright purple, and grow big horns and extra eyes?”

“Yeah, yeah…Hey, wait a minute!” said Jack, opening his eyes,
straightening up and turning around. “Purple?!” He didn’t see Nate there.
With the moonlight Jack could see that the lever extended up from its slot
in the rock without the snake wrapped around it.

Jack heard, from behind him, Nate’s “Just Kidding!” right before he felt the
now familiar piercing pain, this time in the other buttock.

Jack sat on the edge of the dark stone in the rapidly cooling air, his feet
extending out into the sand. He stared out into the darkness, listening to
the wind stir the sand, occasionally rubbing his butt where he’d been
recently bitten.

Nate had left for a little while, had come back with a desert-rodent-shaped
bulge somewhere in his middle, and was now wrapped back around the lever,
his tongue flicking out into the desert night’s air the only sign that he
was still awake.

Occasionally Jack, with his toes absentmindedly digging in the sand while he
thought, would ask Nate a question without turning around.

“Nate, do accidents count?”

Nate lifted his head a little bit. “What do you mean, Jack?”

Jack tilted his head back like he was looking at the stars. “You know,
accidents. If I accidentally fall on the lever, without meaning to, does
that still wipe out humanity?”

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure it does, Jack. I’d suggest you be careful about that
if you start feeling wobbly,” said Nate with some amusement.

A little later - “Does it have to be me that pulls the lever?” asked Jack.

“That’s the rule, Jack. Nobody else can pull it,” answered Nate.

“No,” Jack shook his head, “I meant does it have to be my hand? Could I pull
the lever with a rope tied around it? Or push it with a stick? Or throw a

“Yes, those should work,” replied Nate. “Though I’m not sure how complicated
you could get. Samuel thought about trying to build some kind of remote
control for it once, but gave it up. Everything he’d build would be gone by
the next sunrise, if it was touching the stone, or over it. I told him that
in the past others that had been bound had tried to bury the lever so they
wouldn’t be tempted to pull it, but every time the stones or sand or
whatever had disappeared.”

“Wow,” said Jack, “Cool.” Jack leaned back until only his elbows kept him
off of the stone and looked up into the sky.

“Nate, how long did Samuel live? One of his wishes was for health too,
right?” asked Jack.

“Yes,” replied Nate, “it was. He lived 167 years, Jack.”

“Wow, 167 years. That’s almost 140 more years I’ll live if I live as long.
Do you know what he died of, Nate?”

“He died of getting tired of living, Jack,” Nate said, sounding somewhat

Jack turned his head to look at Nate in the starlight.

Nate looked back. “Samuel knew he wasn’t going to be able to stay in
society. He figured that they’d eventually see him still alive and start
questioning it, so he decided that he’d have to disappear after a while. He
faked his death once, but changed his mind - he decided it was too early and
he could stay for a little longer. He wasn’t very fond of mankind, but he
liked the attention. Most of the time, anyway.

“His daughter and then his wife dying almost did him in though. He didn’t
stay in society much longer after that. He eventually came out here to spend
time talking to me and thinking about pulling the lever. A few months ago he
told me he’d had enough. It was his time.”

“And then he just died?” asked Jack.

Nate shook his head a little. “He made his forth request, Jack. There’s only
one thing you can ask for the fourth request. The last bite.

After a bit Nate continued, “He told me that he was tired, that it was his
time. He reassured me that someone new would show up soon, like they always

After another pause, Nate finished, “Samuel’s body disappeared off the stone
with the sunrise.”

Jack lay back down and looked at the sky, leaving Nate alone with his
memories. It was a long time until Jack’s breathing evened out into sleep.

Jack woke with the sunrise the next morning. He was a little chilled with
the morning desert air, but overall was feeling pretty good. Well, except
that his stomach was grumbling and he wasn’t willing to eat raw desert rat.

So, after getting directions to town from Nate, making sure he knew how to
get back, and reassuring Nate that he’d be back soon, Jack started the long
walk back to town. With his new health and Nate’s good directions, he made
it back easily.

Well, there are probably about two or three more parts to this story, so keep reading to find out what the point of all this story telling is :)