ZIP Beep #3

It's that time of year again. Let's all sit around the bonfire and talk about scarey stuff. Goblins and witches are nothing compared to Mutually Assured Destruction. But there are other things to worry about ...

*We will get sick of seeing endless ripoffs of the Ghostbusters logo in the coming months.

*Your employer would like to replace you with a robot. But there probably aren't any robots that want your job.

*You are the new coffee generation.

*We know dogs can't understand what we say. But we talk to them anyway.

*You are growing older as you read this.

*Bozo the Clown is running for president. Really.

*If he wins, nothing much will change.

*People get mad when other people drive 55.

*Video games are fun.

*ZIP Beep is free. What are we up to?

ZIP Beep #3

We all have people we can look up to. They are modern idols. And my older relatives tell me there's darn few of 'em, too, dadblame it!

Still, there are those few ... the few that have shaped our lives in ways we don't fully appreciate yet. Let us not cast shadows upon them. Let us not bring them down to our level. Let us glorify them. Let us enjoy the myth. Let us make up facts. Let us make them into our new superheroes!

In this spirit, here are a few theories on the origin of Ward Christiansen. Remember: don't bother us with the facts and we'll all be better for it.

ORIGIN #1 - Ward Christiansen grew up on a farm near Pella, Iowa. His father was not strict with him by community standards, but young Ward was rarely allowed outside of the closet in which he was born. All this changed when he turned 18. Young Ward grew up believing all children spent their early years in closets like his, and it shocked him to learn otherwise. Ward found it hard to face the world. After a disastrous stint in the army, he returned to his closet to recapture the only happiness he ever knew. As the years went by, Ward added a chair, a sink and other furnishings to his little corner of heaven. Then he bought a telephone and computer through a mail order catalog. Shortly thereafter, Ward invented the Christensen Protocol, and now runs a successful business with a large staff operating out of closets across the nation. Ward hopes to be the first person to go into a closet in space.

ORIGIN #2 - The year is 3207. Hypergalactic police on Xynon IV are closing in on Ward Christiansen. Three lowlifes from the wrong side of the light rail are leaving a moloca bar when Christiansen bumps into them. There is a moment of tension. The lowest of the three whips out a photon gun and growls something in his slimey, Gragon III dialect. At the same instant, the hypergalactic police appear from around the corner. Two photon guns slash the night at the exact same instant. An almost impossible event occurs. The combined effects of the photon gun at that instant and intensity open a hole in the time vortex. Ward Christiansen feels himself spinning, spinning, spinning ... he awakes in the late 1970s on Earth. How can he return to his own time to save Biff, Sparky and ther rest of the good people in the 45th Quadrant? Ward Christiansen sets to work at once. He begins devising on a way to communicate across the years, across the parsecs, across space and time itself. Then he gets bored with that and decides to hang around here for a while. He can just lay low, take it easy for a change, impress a few hackers with elementary Xynon IV computer knowledge. But wait! Isn't that the deathly Waluvian Comet approaching? That isn't due for another 150 years! Something strange is going on here....

ORIGIN #3 - Ward Christiansen was found on the doorstep of the Funnyplace Farms Home for the Harmlessly Mixed up when he was but a babe. He was raised by the staff. They were a little mixed up, too, and named him after the Christiansen Ward, their favorite part of the Home. Ward was not allowed to leave the Christiansen Ward, and grew up thinking it had been named after him. He also believed large, awful green things lurked outside, and was happy to stay put. When he was about 16 years old, he was given a computer and telephone. It was then that he learned the truth: poor Ward realized he was surrounded by blockheads. "I'm surrounded by blockheads," he said, and ran out the door. Some years later, he regretted his hasty departure and decided to return to the Home of his youth. All of his favorite blockheads had died. Greatly saddened by this, Ward devoted the rest of his days to inventing a way of transferring data, which he called block transfers after his old friends.

ORIGIN #4 - Ward Christiansen is a nice normal guy with a nice normal wife, two and a half nice normal children, and a very very very fine house with two cats in the yard. He developed the Christiansen protocol in his spare time. Now he just wants us to leave him alone.
ZIP Beep #3

Step 1. If you are alone, open Guerrilla 1 packing box and remove CPU, keyboard and monitor. If you are not alone, train your rifle on whoever is with you and force that person to open Guerrilla 1 packing box and remove CPU, keyboard and monitor.

Step 2. Insert Disk A into Drive A. Note: Disk A is labeled "Disk B" for counterinsurgency purposes.

Step 3. Now you are ready to proceed. Your Guerrilla 1 computer has an Intimidation Operating System (IOS), so you must boot it to get it started. If it doesn't start after you boot it, a sharp rap on its side with the back of your hand is often effective, although you may have to resort to attaching a generator to your Guerrilla 1.

Step 4. Comandeer a local police station. Get the name and address of one of the policemen. Fill out the enclosed warranty cards in his name.

Step 5. Many good software programs are available for the Guerrilla 1, but they may not indicate this on their packages. Requisition any that look interesting. Try them. If one doesn't work, don't give up. Reload it, then reload your rifle. If it still doesn't work, remove the diskette from the Guerrilla 1 and riddle it with bullets (there is no place for it in a free world).

Step 6. After you have finished using your Guerrilla 1, attach a sizeable portion of gelignite to the power supply board. Insert a fuse and light it.

Step 7. Send photographs of the explosion to local newspapers and any foreign correspondents in the area. Include a note from a prominent local government official claiming responsibility for the neutralization of your Guerrilla 1.
ZIP Beep #3

The cortex on the TARBABE continued moving up and down, then eased to a halt.

"We've landed, "the Doctor said. "But where?"

He opened the viewing hatch and saw a large group of people staring back at him.

"Hello, I think we've dropped into the middle of something."

"I hope so," Romeovera said. "This story was getting off to a slow start."

"Slow start! Slow start!" The Doctor grimaced as he shouted at her. Then, more quietly, he said, "Well, maybe a little." He stuck out his lower lip, then jumped up suddenly. "But we're rolling now!"

Outside the TARBABE, a dozen men sat transfixed. Each was robed in a long white garment. They sat at a donut-shaped table that completely encircled the area where the TARBABE had materialized.

The Doctor emerged from the TARBABE, followed by Romeovera.

"Hello, everybody," he said. "Er, I suppose you're all wondering why I asked you to meet--"

"Save it," Romeovera said.

One of the robed men looked at another. "What do you make of this, Jay-Bee?"

"It bears some study, Arr-El." All of the men nodded. "We must try to work it into the agenda at some future meeting." They all nodded again.

Another robed man spoke. "Gentlemen, gentlemen. Can we get back to the business at hand?"

A murmur of assent went around the room.

"Quite right, Gee-Pee." Jay-Bee hit the table with his gavel.

"Now, does anyone have anything else to say before we put the question to a vote?"


"No?" Jay-Bee cleared his throat. "Alright, all in favor of postponing a decision on executive haircut schedules signify by saying aye."

Ten "Ayes" were heard.

"All opposed please signify by saying nay."

"Nay." Everyone turned to look at one of the robed men.

"Eff-Zee, why must you always be so contrary?" Jay-Bee asked.

"Because I know you don't like yes men, Jay-Bee."

"True," Jay-Bee said quietly, "true."

"Doctor," Romeovera said, "This is madness!"

"Oh, I don't know," he answered, "maybe a little, but who's to say? The universe is a mysterious place and everything in it has its purpose."

"I know," Romeovera said, "but still...."

"Pish-tosh, Romeovera, pish-tosh!" The Doctor waved his hand casually, as if he were waving small flies from his face. "I say, there, Jay-Bee. Would you mind if we just had a little look around, see what's here and all that?"

"Well," Jay-Bee said, "it's highly unusual. Most of our future meeting subjects don't ask to look around. But I'm sure we won't be able to fit you into the agenda for a few years. Sure, I guess that would okay. But don't leave the planet."

"Yes, yes," the Doctor said, waving his hand again. "Darn these flies."

"So," Jay-Bee said, "it's decided that we will postpone the decision on executive haircut schedules."

"Jay-Bee," Eff-Zee said, "I move we make it unanimous."

"So moved," Jay-Bee said. "Do I hear a second?"

"These people are crazy," the Doctor mumbled.

Suddenly, an alarm sounded. The men around the table looked concerned but continued their meeting.

"What's all that about?" the Doctor asked, motioning toward the source of the noise.

Jay-Bee glared at him. "The subject of the future meeting will resist speaking in this one."

"Oh, come on!" the Doctor shouted.

"Very well," Jay-Bee said, "we're so far off schedule now that I suppose it wouldn't hurt to tell you. It appears the citadel is under attack, and the attackers have made it past the last blocade."

"Oh, that's all, is it?" the Doctor asked sarcastically. "Just a little revolt! Just a little political turmoil--"

"Which will be dealt with at some future meeting," Jay-Bee said.

"Now, can we get on with it?"

Just then, the main door burst open. Twenty men and women dressed in wild colors ran into the room.

"Square-dancers!" The men at the table all said it at once.

"Oh, this is terrible," Jay-Bee said.

The men at the table watched as a tall fellow jumped into the center area. He wore blue jeans, a sequined orange shirt, bright red scarf and western straw hat. "Grab your partners," he called as a man with a fiddle joined him. The square dancers let out a whoop and formed four groups.

"I guess we can leave now," the Doctor said to Romeovera.

"What about all this?" she asked.

"Oh, they'll get along fine. It's a perfect symbiotic relationship, actually. The universe is a wonderful place, don't you think the universe is a wonderful place, Romeovera? Square dancers, round table discussions, empty talk, bad taste ... good clean fun all around, I should say."

"You would," Romeovera said as she followed him into the TARBABE.

Next: Part III - TURMOIL

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