Once upon a time, there was a tall man with long, frazzled grey hair. His white gown covered his wiry frame and his plastic goggles protected his bulging eyes. Liquids bubbled from beakers around him and electrical currents zipped and zapped through metal coils so much so that passersby would have seen a blinding light through the window. This was a mad scientist hard at work.
A small, hunched-over figure, his disfigured face covered by cowl, appeared in the doorway behind the mad scientist. The figure spoke: “Master, pray forgive me for this most rude of intrusions.”
“Ugh— what do you want Igor?”, said the mad scientist, “what was so important that you had to interrupt me while I work on my video game system?” The scientist said this while he poured neon liquids that smelled like rotten eggs into test tubes.
“It’s the villagers, master. They are amassing at the castle gates and chanting ‘off with his head!’ They demand to know what happened to all the money they gave you.”
“Yes, well, my head shall stay firmly tethered to my head. There will be no beheading today. You may ignore them.”
“Yes, master.” Igor turned his crooked back and waddled out of the room.
“Wait. I didn’t say you could go. Allow me to show you my latest creation,” the mad scientist said. He sat down in a regular office chair, and it squeaked as he swiveled around and slowly slid across the room. Then the chair stopped, half way before reaching its goal, without warning.
“What did you wish to show me, master?”
“Oh, do shut up. Wait while I get this confounded chair going again.”
The mad scientist’s chair needed some grease. But he decided instead to push his long leg against the floor, as if he was rowing, until he reached his destination. He extended his arm, his eyes sparkled in the light and he pointed toward one corner of the room.
“It’s my latest creation and my pièce de résistance.”
The mad scientist’s chair finally reached the control panel he was aiming for. He then slapped a large, red button, and a spotlight revealed a massive object hiding in the corner. The object was so tall that its tiny head almost touched the massive ceiling in the room. The rectangular body of the object seemed to stretch on forever without end. It also sported a pair of VR goggles for eyes, giant boots, boxing gloves for hands and a power-on button in the center of its chest. And of course, since it was freezing outside, it had a tiny toque.
“This killer video game system will destroy my competition and help me to dominate the video game industry from my castle.”
“So that’s where all the villagers’ money went. Master, do you think it was wise to take so much of it and invest in a risky project like this?”
The mad scientist kept talking. “Look at this system,” he gestured at the machine, “It’s a thing of beauty. It’s too big to fail. It’s going to be a great success; it has to be a great success. Now let me just press one more button, over there, to get this thing started.”
The mad scientist swiveled his chair again and pushed it wish his foot. As he glided across the room toward the second button, he let out a maniacal laugh. The laugh was so shrill it sent marauding mice, hoping to find cheese scraps, scurrying for cover in their homes. Then the chair abruptly stopped short again.
“Oh,” he glanced down at the chair with a frown, “hold on a sec.”
He propelled the chair forward with his foot and let loose another laugh. This one was about as pleasant to hear as nails scratching a chalkboard. And the chair stopped again.
“Wait, wait— I think I got I’ve got it. Yes, Yes”
The chair came to a halt in front of a massive computer. The mad scientist, rubbed his palms together and a child-like glee overcame his face. He flipped open the plastic lid and hit a massive green button with his palm.
“Mwhahahahaha!” he cackled. His insane laugh was so loud that it echoed throughout the castle and even the villagers could hear it outside.
The video game system’s started to rotate its head. It was moving.
“It’s alive! It’s alive I tell you!” yelled the mad scientist.
The system lurched forward awkwardly as it took its first steps, its baby steps.
“Yes, that’s right,” said the mad scientist, “come closer.” A grin, like the Cheshire cat’s, appeared on his face.
But then the system made a rapid move away from the scientist and closer to a wall.
“What are you doing? Stop!”
The system lifted its mighty arms, and punched through the castle walls, which crumbled like a cookie, until the twinkly stars were visible. Then the system ran. It ran far, far away into the cold, dark night.
“Nooooo! This can’t be. My life’s work is lost to the darkness.”
The mad scientist fell to the ground and beat the pavement with his fists. His tears and sweat created a small puddle beneath him.
Igor rushed over, lay his hand on the scientist’s back and gently patted his shoulder. “There, there master.”
The mad scientist sniffled and looked at Igor through bleary, tear-stained eyes.
“Everything will be okay, master. But the system didn’t work. It’s time to give the villagers back their money.”