Monday, October 30, 2006
Final Quiz Review Sheet
Before Carl's face loomed the hallway, so dark that he could not make out one detail past just a few inches. Only rarely had anything loomed before Carl, he not being a face-to-face person anyway. Carl preferred to make himself slight and scamper around, holding always before his eyes only those actions, of the greatest industry and articulation, which entailed constant production. He resembled a thick-shelled beetle, but softer and plumper. He would not bow nor scrape--he was no yes man, believing instead strictly in the truth--and he prided before all else his ability to finish the job. Behind open-faced hands it was whispered that he never slept, and would rummage through the commodious storehouses long after all the lights had been shut off and all the people gone home to their wives and beds. It happened occasionally that his co-workers would find him drowsing, shaking back and forth, on some dirty sofa in the rec-room. They would lift him up, carry him on their backs to some cot secreted in the janitor's closet, and deposit him there. Once or twice he had slept their all day. The room was, despite being so far underground, dingy, hot, and humid. Condensation as thick as blood was constantly gravitating toward the ever growing wetlands of sweet-smelling mold on the carpet. On their way, these snail-trails would salvage for themselves whatever bits of crap happened to be trying to block their path. In the top left corner of the room, facing the door, an air-duct led to airier places.
It was on one of his late nights that Carl chanced to notice the looming hallway. He must have passed by it thousands of times, never once considering it. Maybe it was because he had finished finally his various odd-jobs, that on this particular night he found himself feeling nervous, and lingered there so long. He shone his flashlight all around, but he was unable to chase away the conglomerate, jumping shadows. Because it was useless, he turned off his light, and swallowing deeply he headed straight into the darkness. Not ten steps later he bumped into somebody. He was afraid; he knew that nobody but himself stayed around so late. Pensively he called out a hello. "Hello" echoed some invisible voice. "Who are you?" asked Carl, "everybody I know went to bed long ago." "Oh, I don't ever sleep" said the voice. All of a sudden a match was lit, accompanied by the characteristic sounds and smells, the light fell to a candle, which, once lit, illuminated the face of an old man. He wore a long white beard, stained with crumbs and goo. He was leaning on a grey metal desk, and he wore a old, decaying vest and a blue silk tie. "I've worked here since long before you were born, I'm sure. I have many responsibilities. They send my meals down to me; I never leave my station I'm that busy. That's probably why you've never seen me before now." "What is your title?" asked Carl. "I'm head of information acquisition and filing," the old man replied, "but I'm sorry to cut this short, I'm afraid I must ask for you authorization. I'm not even allowed to speak with you unless you bear a signature from the chief." "Excuse me," said Carl, "I came here entirely accidentally." "Well then, you are definitely not going to get in to see the collections in that case. I am supremely important, you know, it would probably help if you bowed to me." The way the old man said this made Carl feel uncomfortable. "I guess I'll leave then." "No. Wait, it's been so long, I really want to show somebody my work. I'm not such a square that I cannot disobey a rule or two every once in a while. Besides, I'm very proud of my work," said the old man with a grin, "come on then." "Thank you," replied Carl, "I was really hoping to see it, I guess."
The old man led carl around the desk, they had to squeeze because it was pushed up so close to the wall. The old man took a key out of his pocket and unlocked a rusty iron door. As the door swung open Carl was blinded by a light which seemed to stream without any definite source from the terrible storeroom beyond. The ceiling was easily fifty or sixty feet high--"it must be pushed up right against the surface" thought Carl to himself--and the space was filled with row after row of shelves. The shelves were so cramped that one could only navigate them sideways, and they were loaded with thousands and thousands and thousands of little white boxes, each equidistant from the next, and none bearing any distinguishing sign. "What's all this for?" asked Carl. "This is my work," replied the old man, "it's great, worthy of some bowing and scraping I'd say." "What's in all the boxes?" asked Carl, with a gulp. "Everything," said the old man, "all the world's knowledge is stored here. Everything known by man-kind and individual-man alike." "Really?" asked Carl. "Yes really," said the man mockingly, "Go ahead, test it." "OK, I haven't seen my wife in over a month--my work keeps me so--and I was wondering if she hadn't yet cheated on me." "Ah, good question, let's find out." The old man took out a small crumpled notebook and, flipping seven or eight pages, finally exclaimed, "here it is!" He rushed off like a dog chasing some unseen vermin. Eventually he came to a small white box with no obvious label, Carl followed, trying to catch his breath. "It is really remarkably well organized," said the man as he lifted off the lid. "That's my bedroom!" cried Carl. "Ha! I guess it is," returned the old man with a laugh. Carl watched in wonder as a figure entered. "That's my wife!" She was followed by another figure. "That's our neighbor, Bob!" And another figure. "That's Bob's wife!" And another figure. "That's Bob's gardener..." Carl watched as all four figures began undressing. First Bob helped Carl's wife out of her clothes, while the gardener helped Bob's wife out of hers. "Oh my God!" exclaimed Carl. Then all four climbed into bed with each other. "I've seen enough" said Carl, and the old man shut the lid again. "Are you going to kill her?" he asked. "No, I'm actually not that surprised, and I'm even happy that she's found some way to keep herself busy. This gives me the opportunity to return to my work all the more diligently." "Good. Then you should get on your knees before me and humble yourself for this knowledge which I have given you." Carl did not know what to do. Slowly he got on to his knees and clasped his hands in front of himself, the old man seemed to grow taller and more ferocious looking. "Are you afraid?" asked the old man. "A little," replied Carl. The old man bent down and removed a sword from a drainage pipe under his feet. Carl tried to run, but the old man cut him down quickly. After Carl was dead, the old man cut his body into thin slices and devoured him, his mouth as big as a bulldozer.