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3,600 eigenserfs and a function key

Indentured forever after July 8, 2007.

The 3,600 eigenserfs arrived on Thursday, all neatly packed in a 40-foot shipping container. “Just add water and flog hourly,” the instructions said, which I dutifully followed to the letter.

I set them milling about the stolen warehouse with nothing much to do until the megacomputer was delivered. It finally arrived yesterday, packed into 365 U-Haul trucks. The truck convoy was an amazing sight to behold. And with that many eigenserfs to do my bidding under the cruel lash of a genuine eigenbullwhip, the megacomputer was unpacked and fully assembled in a mere sixteen minutes.

It took six men to operate the “keyboard”—more of a “control room” if you ask me—so I pressed five eigenserfs into duty manning the other stations at the controls while I placed my butt firmly in front of the large metal lever labeled “F14”. I was giddy with excitement and made no secret of it in front of my poor, downtrodden eigenserfs—it was a genuine computer with a genuine F14 key! I chortled with glee, stomped my feet, and rubbed my hands together like a clichéd cartoon villain about to dispatch his hordes of wingèd monkeys to devour the hero alive.

“Ready, serfs!” I hollered, eigenbullwhip ever at the ready. My eigenassociates told me if you let your guard down for even a minute, these eigenserfs will revolt just like that! So, my guard stayed firmly up in the air.

I wrapped my cold, bony fingers around the F14 lever and prepared to throw it into the “on” position. (My fingers were especially bony this time of year because I blew all the flesh off playing with fireworks on Wednesday.) Once again I checked that all 3,600 eigenserfs were at the ready—a couple quick cracks of the eigenbullwhip across their corneas got a few lollygaggers to stop their dawdling. “Ready, serfs! …Ready …set …power ’er up!”

3,595 impoverished and desperate eigenserfs moved like clockwork to power up the warehouse-sized megacomputer. Wheels and pulleys set into motion, motors whirred, steam engines revved and brilliant white steam belched from the four separate exhaust manifolds—the IBM Mark IV ARCHAIAC megacomputer pulsed to life. The five barefoot eigenserfs seated at the controls next to me oohed and aahed as the machine hummed and lamps across the control panel blazed. I cackled madly and, with a dramatic flourish, threw the F14 lever on.

The lever clicked into place with a loud click that went click! For the first second, nothing happened. During the second second, I felt a faint electrical buzz slowly begin to fill the air in the room, which, in the third second—I think it was the third; it sort of gets all hazy here—burst into an excruciating and blinding blue explosion of melting, white-hot death that vaporized the five eigenserfs surrounding me and sent me flying into the air hundreds of feet above the computer-filled warehouse.

Briefly I wondered if my unpredictable bowels had chosen that exact moment to initiate another disastrous farting spree, but judging by the arcs of terrible blue destruction shooting from the warehouse below me—very far below me—and the flames engulfing much of my body (which was also covered in third- and fourth-degree electrical burns), I was able to rule this out quickly.

That’s when the airplane hit. I had just reached the apex of the graceful ballistic curve upon which the goddess of electricity had just so cruelly set me, and had just started to descend, when suddenly I was serving as a hood ornament for a very fast-moving and frightened-looking 767. After this, I don’t really remember much. I was probably killed or something.

I awoke in the hospital this morning, in about six pieces. Quickly collecting myself and suturing the pieces together with my own short hairs, I hobbled out of the hospital. All I remembered at first was something about an F14 key that looked more like a lever, and that I had had 3,600 illegal immigrants in my employ. Fortunately for me, the ARCHAIAC explosion seems to have vaporized all 3,600 of the poor buggers and left not a trace that even a warehouse had formerly stood on Wiggensworth Street near the stumblebum stables.

[Feetnote: From now on, I’m writing this “web flog” down on paper and asking my dear sister Plårp to send it on up the Internet tubes. After my recent explosive experience with the ARCHAIAC, I never want to go near a computer again!]