This story is about mums.
I was happy to find out that you like chrysanthemums, and you didn't notice that, but... a light-bulb has immediately flashed above my head, right then I knew what my next step in the devious scheme will be.
No, you're wrong, that would be step number... ~eight, if you thought I thought about getting you a bouquet of chrysanthemums.
No, the problem is that the glass in the bathroom had two types of flowers in it = F1 and F2, as I conveniently defined them in simple and easy to understand terms.
Both of them are pretty, but only one of them is a chrysanthemum. But which one?
Naturally, I thought it was the bigger one, simply because the smaller flower was too difficult to notice. But... what if I was wrong in my judgment? Knowing that you pay attention to details and you care about tiny creatures - I could not rule out the possibility you were talking about the little yellow flower. No, I couldn't.
Nor could I make a fool out of myself by asking "so... which of the flowers do you refer to, honey?", that would make my evil plan obvious and the surprise element would be entirely removed. A truly evil plan will never, under any circumstances, be based on something everyone can anticipate.
This was a new quest for me, and I had no time to waste on speculating whether you referred to F1 or F2. I knew I had a 50% chance of guessing it correctly, but the stakes were too high and I could not afford to make the horrible mistake of showing up with the wrong flowers. That would damage my image so badly, that even Dan with his "vierme ce mananca albeata din obraz" would say "eh... you are so misguided...".
I didn't feel miserable, for I knew that people are intrinsically good creatures and that altruism is hard-wired into their brains (everything I've learned about the human psyche and the human brain actually came in handy! Weee! 1:0 for "Science"!). I told myself I'd ask around.
Friend#1 says "that's trivial, just go to a seller and ask if they have chrysanthemums", if they say "no" - you go to another seller and ask the same thing, until you bump into one that returns a non-negative answer. That's how easy it is to learn what chrysanthemums look like.
"You're right" - I thought of it myself, but I kind of expected that I was the only person in the world who didn't know what mums looked like; therefore everyone else was supposed to know.
Having visually identified the target, I decided to conduct a market research and find out which flavours of said product can be found, what the major importers are, what the average cost is, and so on.
In a while I had all the statistics I needed and I was mesmerized by the feeling I would get when delivering the right flowers into the right hands and at the right time.
Note to self and others: two wrongs don't make a right, but three rights do.
In the meantime, I've trained my time travelling skills; in fact I got very good at that. There are just a few subtle limitations:
- I can only travel into the future
- At a constant speed of 3600 seconds per hour
I'll keep on practicing, and maybe one day I will be able to improve those figures...
After a while my time travelling journey brought me to the day where I had to use the "three rights to make a right" rule.
The stats were still fresh in my mind, but the visual data were.. uhm... lost?
I found another source of various flowers and decided to use the same old social engineering trick - ask the seller innocently, pretending that I'm just a regular human being looking for help, and then have them provide me the valuable information themselves, on a plate, without suspecting anything!
Haha, ha ha ha! Mwa Ha ha ha!! Fear my 1337 social engineering skills! Mandark, Mojo-Jojo and Aku would definitely want my autograph!
I got a non-negative answer from the first attempt and I decided to go for it, even though these mums looked more like camomiles... Camomiles on steroids, perhaps? For they were larger than my previous definition of "camomile".
But hey - humans are not evil, so I decided to trust the lady, after double-checking whether she was certain about the chrysanthemuminess of the flowers.
People in the office were surprised to see someone walk in with a bouquet of flowers. It wasn't anyone's birthday, it was no holiday... "Something must've gone wrong", they probably thought of me.
"Whom are they for?", colleague#1 asked. "They are for someone whose birthday is today" I replied, giving them a classic ju-jitsu answer, reflecting almost 100% of their attack and turning it against themselves! It was a very exact and a very useless answer at the same time - looks like those math classes finally started paying off! I got another bonus point of satisfaction, realizing that this is one of those moments where different disciplines intersect - math, martial arts, social engineering... Isn't it great when everything suddenly makes sense and you think you are beginning to understand?
My primary objective was to... No, my secondary obj... No! One of my three primary objectives was "make sure those were REALLY chrysanthemums", that, and the surprise elem... Aah, four! Four primary objectives!
- make sure the flowers are indeed mums
- do NOT forget them in the office
- come up with a clever note which will be hidden in the bouquet
- deliver them to the right place, to the right person, at the right time, in a right...
Aaaarghh! Among my objectives were such items as:
- correct identification
- not forgetting said flowers in the office
- writing a clever note
- 3+1 rights, the last one being "in a right state", for my entire plan would turn into ashes if the integrity of the flowers would suffer in transit... Transit...
I filled a jar with water, no.. I found a jar, no... I paused for a while and looked at the HUD, and as the photons were projected on my retina, this is what my brain thought it perceived:
You have found yourself on the 10th floor of an office building. You are surrounded by computers and other hardware, there are no life forms in the room except a number of people, most of whom are engineers. You need to make sure the flowers you hold in your hand will survive, you need to move them closer to a water source.
Your gear is:
- 1x mobile phone
- 1x laptop computer connected to the Internet
- 1x an unknown amount of cash dispersed among your numerous pockets
- 1x PDA + headphones
- 1x blue backpack
- 1x bouquet of flowers the identity of which remains to be established
Your character is currently at level: 24
What do you do?
- [a] ask a person in the room about water
- [b] exit the room and look for water
- [c] look for water in the same room, being aware of the fact that there is no water in this room
- [d] try to buy water with your cash
- [e] look for "water" on the Internet
- [f] use mobile phone to get in touch with a water provider
- [g] find other flowers, steal their water from them OR challenge them and seize their water after you win the epic battle using honest warfare methods
- [h] convert manna into water using the "aquatic enchantment of the dolphins" [requires character level 25]
After a moment of hesitation, I began to build another plan. I knew that plans were useless, but I also knew that planning was indispensable. I clicked [b] and continued my quest.
To cut the story short - I found a jar, I washed it, I filled it with water and... I put it right there on my desk, right in front of me - in a position so evident, that only a blind person with a memory of a frying pan would forget about them.
It was high time to positively identify the flowers. I chose [f] talk to one of the humans around you and determine the true identity of the flowers.
Can you point out the not-chrysanthemum?
In just a few moments, N software engineers and M sales experts were generating an avalanche of feedback from the height of their age or the depth of their experience. The following responses were collected:
- camomiles, definitely!
- I don't see why they couldn't be chrysanthemums
- if they weren't that big, I'd say these are camomiles
- camomiles from Chernobyl
- all chrysanthemums are equal, but some are more equal than others
- your guess is as good as mine
- I don't know
- hmm... that smell is familiar
A bit later, I could see the screens of some people render graphical representations of flowers found on the Internet. Apparently, the computers were connected to a network that had many other computers attached to it, and together they formed a huge informational resource that could be searched with specialized tools, known as "search engines".
Shortly a consensus was reached and we all agreed that "I don't see why they couldn't be chrysanthemums" is the right answer. From my personal perspective, I would say that "all chrysanthemums are equal, but some are more equal than others" was also not far from the truth.
I had some time left until T-time, so I figured it would be a good idea to invest that time into work, therefore I fired up a couple of new tabs in my browser and started reading several Slashdot discussions, opened a few IM windows, started writing an email, put my headphones on... then dropped all of that and went over to a colleague's desk to have a [work related] conversation.
That day... I think my time-traveling skills were at their best, for I have realized that I was already behind schedule. I halted all the processes, prepared my gear and left in a hurry.
"Hey, you've forgotten your flowers!", says colleague#1.
Did I tell you about my amazing frying pans? They all have teflon coating and they cook meals themselves!
That day... your energy made me lucky too! As I walked, lotus flowers grew behind me, and a beam of light was making space for me - moving people out of my way. Even the dogs felt no desire to bark at me, that's how blessed I was!
I had the peace I needed to think of a message. I keep inventing them all the time, even today... Sadly, I have no chance to deliver them. I miss that.
Luck continued to haunt me while I was in transit - the integrity of the flowers was pretty much unviolated, I could stand on both my feet and there were almost no elbows or knees between my ribs. Inertia and gravity were cruel, as they always are - but I had a bouquet of flowers to hold on to.
I used my in-built map to navigate the maze and I also managed to solve a couple of secondary quests as a side-effect. Then I found you. And then no map could help me, every single atom of my body was truly lost...
They found me a few weeks later. An investigation revealed something new, something they have never heard of, something terrible. They decided to call it "Subdelectia morbus cronica". They said writing would help.
I enjoyed reading this :) A+ for humor and illustrations.
BTW, with ’subdelectia’ you found a word Google doesn’t know.
Comment from: gr8dude [Member]
Constantin, thanks for the feedback.
There are some references to other works in it (a tribute to Monty Python, one to one of the movies at the end of which I cried, to name a few). There is at least one Easter egg in there too.
That word, I made it up, but it has a meaning and it can be guessed easily.
Not only writing can help.. of course “they” can not know the primary remedy ;)
but i’m sure you can still remember the panacea ;)
Comment from: Vladiusik [Visitor]
It was really good :) I enjoyed reading it :))
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