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Better With Age by J Shartzer A young couple enjoy their new home, and a barrel of brandy... [1,117 words]
Randy And Sarah by Z E S Carothers A story about two young kids. A boy that lives by himself in the forest and a girl that is his ... [3,211 words]
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The Adventures Of Archie 6 - A Peaceful Solution
The Adventures Of Archie 5a - The Army Surplus Salesman by Xoggoth Archie learns the truth they try and keep from us, that... [913 words]
The Adventures Of Archie 4b - The Great Regurgitato's Tale by Xoggoth Continued. [823 words]
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The Adventures Of Archie 6 - A Peaceful Solution
Following a Little Boy explosion Archie find himself on a desolate plain and meets two tribes who are too stupid to realise that war and bloodshed are by far the most efficient means of resolving disputes.
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The Adventures Of Archie 6 - A Peaceful Solution
Archie found himself alone in a cold and windswept rocky desert. He was just starting to panic when he noticed two little huddles of huts a few miles off on either side of a small hill.
Twilight was falling as Archie neared the tiny villages. With every hop the impression of poverty and squalor increased. The shacks were scarcely more than piles of rocks covered roughly with sticks and leaves gathered from the sparse scrubland. Around them, fields had been grubbed out of the barren soil, sprouting small and yellowing crops. Pitifully thin goats and pigs wandered among the hovels searching ceaselessly for something to dull their hunger. He was seen. Small and malnourished inhabitants gazed at him in curiosity from the doorless apertures of their miserable hovels. Archie was suddenly very nervous. He was a rabbit after all. In all his travels so far it had not seemed to matter, but here?, among these nearly starved people?
Fortunately they seemed to be unaware that rabbits are edible and made Archie welcome. He got a tiny cupful of water and a little grain, and he knew from the avid expressions on the faces of the children that he was being treated generously as befitted a guest. As he tried to sleep on his bed of twigs that night, shivering in the cold, Archie felt full of pity for these people forced to live in such an arid wilderness.
The sun shone brightly the next day and Archie rose early trying to shake the aches out of his ageing bones. He wandered away from the village to attend to his needs. Since his abdomen had been so horribly flattened by the big red lorry it had required a long daily struggle. You know when cassette tapes get broken up and all the tape comes out? You get the picture. He breasted a small rise looking for some privacy.
There below him, basking in the sunshine, was a lush green valley. A wide blue river meandered through the centre. Tall beautiful trees cast delightful shade. Everywhere was verdant and flourishing. There was no sign of any habitation. Archie was puzzled. Why were these people living up here in this cold barren wasteland when there was a paradise below? What danger could be lurking there? Was the river poisonous? Were there dangerous beasts or swarms of disease-carrying insects?
None of those it appeared. The headman of the slightly larger village explained it to Archie later. There was a dispute between the two tribes as to which one got the best land in the valley. To avoid bloodshed the wise men had devised a fair game of chance that would decide it. Once that had been done they would both be able to take up the land that fate had determined for them. Archie would be privileged to see this game played out today. Archie was full of admiration for these decent and peaceable people that they should settle things between them in such a civilised fashion despite their desperate need.
The ceremony of the game took place that afternoon. The people from both tribes gathered around a small circle cleared in the scrub. The headmen from both villages walked rigidly to the centre. They bowed low, their grass head-dresses touching the dust. The crowd chanted. An ornate bag made of chicken feathers was opened. Inside was a tiny and very worn coin. The headman of the larger village tossed the coin, caught it and slapped it on to the back of his hand. "Heads" said the other headman. "Nope, tails,” said the first headman. The crowd chanted, the coin went back in the bag and both headmen bowed and walked stiffly backwards out of the ring. Archie saw not a hint of rancour on the faces of anyone on the losing side.
Archie was disappointed that the great game had turned out to be nothing more than tossing a coin. Still, the important thing was that the dispute had been settled without bloodshed. He was the honoured guest at the short ceremony after the game. "Which part of the valley will you be taking now that you have won?" he asked the first headman. "Won?" said the headman. "Oh no! We haven't won yet. We have to keep on tossing every day until we have done it as many times as our greatest wise men told us. The one with the most correct guesses is the winner"
"Oh I see,” said Archie "so what is it? Best of three, best of five?” The headmen went to a small wooden box. They bowed. Between them they reverently unwrapped a small and very ancient piece of parchment inside. "These are the words of our first and holiest and greatest wisemen" said the elder. We must toss the sacred coin each day until we have tossed it 1,277,500 times and then the contest will have been decided.
Archie thought. He was very bright for a rabbit. "But, but, but..". He began again. "But, but, but... that means you have to toss it every day for 3,500 years!" he exploded. "That may be" said the elder "but the wise men have spoken and who are we to question their wisdom?” "But, but, why could you not toss it just once?” There was silence. Then the headmen and all the elders exploded with laughter. They would probably have laughed for ages except they were too weak with hunger to manage it. "You are a stranger here,” said the eldest "so we forgive your ignorance. I hope that you in turn can forgive us for our rudeness"
Archie paused to muster his thoughts. "I'm no expert, but statistically speaking the deviation from an exact 50/50 ratio of heads or tails, expressed as a fraction of the number of tosses, diminishes the more you toss. For example, if you toss just 4 times, the chances of all 4 being heads is quite high. If you toss four thousand times the chances of all four thousand being heads is astronomically small. To put it another way, about 1,277,400 of your tosses will tend to cancel each other out and have no relevance whatever. It isn't even an odd number, what if you got 638,750 each?"
The elders were silent for several minutes. "Oh sod it" said one headman. "Bang goes the last 3,400 years" said the other. They called in the current wisemen of the village who concurred with Archie's analysis. The parchment of the original wise men must have altered by the evil spirit of the desert. They resolved it would not happen again.
The question of which tribe had what bit of the lush valley still had to be decided. They would have to begin the contest again, but what if the sacred coin too had been got at by the evil spirit?. "What about scissors, stone, paper?" asked one of the elders. This met with general approval. "Best of what though?" asked another. The village wisemen went into a huddle. They cast bones. They threw strange powders on the fire. They killed a scrawny chicken and examined its entrails minutely. They decided. The contest would be held three times a day. That would speed things up. How many times? The wisemen conferred again. "3,832,500 times" they chorused in unison. It sounded like a lovely mystical sort of number and all the elders cheered.
Without another word, Archie picked up his tail and hopped out of the freezing squalid smoke-filled hall. He hopped up the miserable street and through the listless clusters of children with their skeletal ribs and swollen bellies. Over the rise and down into the lush green fertile valley.
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© 2003 Xoggoth
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