Conundrumries - Harry J.

Chong - 1 of 11 In a mysterious field a ragtag team of raggedy Canadian children were knocking about, playing a rousing game of field hockey. There were a total of three: Billy, Mike, and Steve. Billy was the muscle. Mike was the brains. And Steve was the foreigner that came from a milquetoast civilian government—also known as the USA. Steve was goalie in the simulated net, which was demarcated by a rock and a hard place. Billy ran alongside Mike for the puck and body-checked him hard into the grass. Unfortunately, the grass was covering a steep incline, and Mike went rolling down a hill filled with natural debris (leaves, twigs, stones, etc) and trunk stories from distraught aspiring writers. “Mike, you okay!” said Billy from atop. There was no response. “Oh, I should’ve made that a question with a question mark… Mike, you okay?!” “I’m badly hurt,” said Mike with a groan. “My feelings are in critical condition. How could you be so mean?” “It was an accident.” “That’s what you say for everything. Remember that Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game we played where you ‘accidentally’ tipped over the board because you were losing? Huh?” “But it was an accident!” “You were an accident!” “Whatever, we’re coming down to get you.” So, Billy and Steve slowly went down the hill. There they met with Mike, who was now on his feet. He was completely fine. There wasn’t even a scratch or bruise on his body. “Jesus H. Christ,” said Steve. “I thought you died.” “Me, die?” said Mike. “I’m one of the main characters…in this group.” “Well, that is that,” said Billy. “You wanna finish our game? I believe it was one-zero.”

Conundrumries - Harry J. Chong - 2 of 11 “Nah,” said Mike, “we already played for like five hours.” “Okay, what do we do now?” said Steve. “Oooh,” said Billy, “I’ve always wanted to hunt for treasure.” “Treasure hunt here?” said Mike. “What could we possibly find?” “I dunno,” said Billy. “A body? An alien craft? Excalibur? An issue of Scientific American from three months ago.” “That would be useful,” said Steve. “We could use it for our science project.” “Alright, whatever,” said Mike. “Let’s go ‘treasure hunting.’ Got nothing better to do.” So, the trio left the foot of the hill, and went ahead for adventure. After slogging past numerous bushes and trees, they came to a fork. They picked up the fork then carried on. But after some minutes later they had to stop from wariness. All were fat and generally out of shape, despite their love of sports. “Hoo,” said Steve after wiping his brow. “Treasure hunting’s hard.” “There must be an easier way to become rich,” said Mike. “We should just become bankers,” said Billy. “What about if we invent something?” said Steve. “Oh, you know what’s a big problem these days? Transportation. What if we could travel instantaneously, like, at a speed faster than light?” “What? That’s impossible,” said Mike. “You’re just a cynic,” said Steve. “I’m not a cynic,” said Mike. “And you’re an idiot.” “What’s that?” said Steve. “Why them is fightin’ words! Let’s throw down, you Canuck!”

Conundrumries - Harry J. Chong - 3 of 11 “Come on,” said Mike. “You know you’re gonna get your ass kicked. You couldn’t fight an unfair cell-phone bill.” Then Steve lunged at Mike and the two started wrestling like lusty pirates. Billy tried to break them up to no avail. Mike pushed off Steve, and picked up a branch on the ground to defend himself. He thrust it in the same manner one would thrust a talking sword. Steve would’ve done the same too but could not find a branch that was not affixed to a tree. So, Steve took whatever he could find. He picked up a genie lamp from the ground and held it aloft. “Don’t make me use this,” he said. “I’ll smash thine skull in!” “Thou would never dare!” said Mike. “Wait a minute,” said Billy. “Steve, what’re you holding?” Steve looked in his hand, at the genie lamp. “Ah, treasure!” he exclaimed. The boys, overcome by curiosity, stopped their bickering and gathered around. Steve let Mike examine the lamp, since he was considered the smartest. Billy stared. “What is it?” he said. “It looks like some sort of Judeo-Christian artifact. They used lamps back then, right?” “Okay,” said Mike, “you’re right about that. It is a lamp. An oil lamp. But I don’t know if it’s a Judeo-Christian artifact. Speaking of Judaism and Christianity, do you know what would be funny? If communion wine literally turned into Christ’s blood and it was HIV positive. How hilarious would that be? Take that, you smug Christians!” “About the lamp,” said Billy. “Yes,” said Steve.

Conundrumries - Harry J. Chong - 4 of 11 Mike looked inside the genie lamp. “I don’t know why,” he said. “But I have a really strong feeling that it’s a genie lamp. I don’t know why I feel this way, because genie lamps seem to be a thing of fiction, but yeah, I’m going to go with that.” Steve grabbed the lamp. “I found it,” he said. “The wishes are mine.” He stood dumbfounded. “Okay, so how’s this work?” “Oh, Steve,” said Mike. “You silly Republican. You have to rub it. Do you know how to rub things?” Steve exclaimed “Do I!” and then rubbed the genie lamp with an unsettling amount of expertise. From it came a great smoke, followed by an artsy-fartsy looking genie in clothes reminiscent of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The great genie, whose name was Tim, looked upon the trio with utter contempt. “Why have you disturbed my sleep of 10,000 years?” said Tim the Genie. “You’ve been sleeping for 10,000 years?” said Steve. “Talk about unproductive.” “Quiet!” said Tim. “Well, uh, do we get three wishes?” said Billy. “Yes,” said Tim. “I am obligated to give you three wishes.” “Wow,” said Steve. “I’m gonna get myself an NES. I’m partial to vintage video games.” Billy rolled his eyes. “Wait,” said Mike. “What about the conditions? Aren’t there always conditions?” “Thanks for asking,” said Tim. “Yes. There are a couple. First, you cannot wish for more wishes. Second, you cannot wish for someone to fall in love with you. Free will, you know. Third, you cannot raise the dead. We have a no zombie policy. And fourth, no creating

Conundrumries - Harry J. Chong - 5 of 11 extraordinarily stupid things. That means: no talking cats, no sexy vampires, no wanton werewolves, and no wonton without MSG.” “Okay,” said Mike. “That’s pretty weird.” “Trust me,” said Tim. “It’s there for a reason.” “Can we have a moment?” said Billy. “Sure,” said Tim. Billy, Mike, and Steve went into a huddle. “What should we wish for?” said Billy. “We can wish for anything we want. Imagine that!” “We have to think very carefully,” said Mike. “You know what?” said Steve. “I’ve always wanted a puppy.” “DO NOT get a puppy,” said Mike. “Why not?” said Steve. “I found the lamp. I should be able to get whatever I want.” “You idiot,” said Mike. “You can wish for a million dollars and get as many puppies as you like. Do not get a puppy.” “Fiiine,” said Steve. Tim waited until the boys were ready to speak. They turned to him, and Billy said, “Alright, we’ve decided on our first wish. You ain’t gonna hose us, are yah?” “No,” said Tim. “By the way,” said Mike. “I heard that genies are actually imprisoned wizards from the Middle East. Is there any truth to that?” Tim sighed. “Yes, it is true.”

Conundrumries - Harry J. Chong - 6 of 11 “And why were you imprisoned?” said Billy. “Also, how come you got angry about us waking you up from your 10,000 year old nap? Shouldn’t you be grateful? Now you get to see the outside world.” Tim sighed again. “Every time someone calls me out of this lamp it’s not to see me; it’s just to get wishes. How would you feel if people only chatted with you because they wanted something from you? I feel so used and dirty each time I’m summoned!” “We apologize,” said Steve. “It’s okay,” said Tim. “You’re kids. I’m mostly complaining about the adults. It’s always wishes this and wishes that.” “And the imprisonment?” said Mike. “Right,” said Tim. “I was imprisoned because I was a rapist-murderer-cannibal.” “Omigod, that’s disgusting,” said Steve. “I was young,” said Tim. “Youthful indiscretion.” “Alright,” said Mike. “Can we make our first wish now?” “Okay,” said Tim. “What will it be?” “We want a time machine,” said Billy. “Just like in the movies. And don’t screw us over.” “Relax,” said Tim. “I’m not that sort of genie—or jinn, if you will.” Then he raised his arms in the air. “Now, keep in mind, children that this is going to be very extraordinary. I want you to know that if you claim credit for this, and share it with the world, you will be widely despised for ‘your genius.’ So, you may want to keep it a secret.” “Just give us the time machine,” Steve said. “I wish for a time machine!” Tim clapped his hands. A large contraption—made of metal, with a door, and buttons, and a fancy electronic display—appeared out of nowhere. Steam and lightning came from atop.

Conundrumries - Harry J. Chong - 7 of 11 “No way, man, no way,” said Steve. “A time machine!” said Billy. “You know what we could do with this?” said Mike. “We could change history. We could make the world a better place. We could go back in time and stop 9/11. Or we could warn JFK about his impending assassination. Or we could assassinate Hitler when he was a baby. Or we could tell Canada to get a better deal with the USA and not take all the frozen parts.” “We can’t interfere with history,” said Billy. “Didn’t you see Back to the Future? I don’t want my mom to get the hots for me…or do I?” “You’re right,” said Mike. “We can’t interfere with history.” “I got a good idea,” said Steve. “We’ll go into the future, get the cure to cancer, return to the present, file for a patent, take credit, get rich, and win a Nobel Prize.” “That seems kind of difficult,” said Mike. “And really iffy. Maaaybe we’ll do that later on. For now why don’t we just go back to last week and play the lottery?” “A grand idea,” said Billy. “But who will go into the time machine?” Mike and Billy looked at Steve. Steve groaned, “Aw, maaan…” And he opened the door to the time machine and went inside. Bolts of lightning shot off into the air and various dials turned; it disappeared with a flash and then reappeared in an instant. Steve came out of it nonchalantly—with a bunch of ties in his arms. Most of them keyboard themed. “What the?” said Billy. “Why do you have a bunch of keyboard themed ties in your arms? Did you go back in time or what?” “I didn’t go back in time,” said Steve. “That thing just gave me a bunch of ties for some reason.”

Conundrumries - Harry J. Chong - 8 of 11 “I knew this would happen,” said Mike with a jump. He pointed at the genie. “You deceitful wish monkey! You tricked us!” “How rude,” said the Tim. “I did what you told me. I gave you a tie machine— and a very fancy one at that—are those not ties?” Mike repeated, “A tie machine? Did you say TIE MACHINE? What! Nooo! Not a tie machine. We wanted a TIME machine, so we could travel back in time! Like in back to the future. We don’t want ties! What’re we gonna do with a bunch ties? What do I look like? Donald Hump?” “Relax, relax,” said Tim. “You have two more wishes. You can still have your time machine, if you want. Just say the words… Go on.” Mike cleared his throat. “We wish for a time machine. Not a tie machine but a TIME machine. A machine that can take us back and forth through time like in the movies. Not the crappy movies. The good ones. Back to the Future or Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Keanu Reeves was in that, if you didn’t know.” “Is that clear enough?” said Steve. “Yes, yes,” said Tim. Then he put his arms up like before and clapped his hands. When everything was all done a time machine was before the trio. A real one this time. But still Billy went over to it and made a quick inspection. “This really on the up and up?” he said. “Try it out,” said Tim. Mike stepped forward. “I’m gonna do it. I don’t want you guys messing up history, alright? I sort of like the way things are.” “Fine by me,” said Steve.

Conundrumries - Harry J. Chong - 9 of 11 “Gonna travel back a week and the play the lotto?” said Billy. “Actually,” said Mike, “I’ve changed my mind. I want to something more daring. I mean this is a historical moment in mankind’s history. TIME TRAVEL. This is bigger than the moon landing. Why not go for something interesting?” “What’s your idea?” said Billy. Mike smiled. “Dinosaurs!” “That sounds like a terrible idea,” said Steve. “Why?” said Mike. “Helloooo,” said Steve. He enunciated. “Have you ever heard of the vel-oh-see-rap-tor? Or the tee-recks?” “Okay, okay,” said Mike. “I won’t go back to dino-land. I’ll do something else. Not the future right now though, it might be pretty crappy. Alright, uh, let’s see, what’s an interesting time?” He snapped his fingers. “I know! I’ll go back and see Jesus being crucified. I have a feeling that whole thing was slightly fictitious.” “Wait!” said Billy. But Mike ran into the time machine, pushed all the right buttons, and then disappeared. Of course, it being time travel, he reappeared in an instant. He came tumbling out, holding his midsection. Billy and Steve ran to him. “Mike!” said Billy. “What’s wrong?” Mike released his arms, and all off his intestines spilled out. “A roman soldier attacked me,” he said. “Oh God,” said Steve. “Do you have any last words?”

Conundrumries - Harry J. Chong - 10 of 11 “Yes,” said Mike. “I should’ve played more video games.” And then he closed his eyes and died. Steve collapsed over him and cried, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” “Ooh,” said Billy, “for a second there I thought you were going to run out of breath.” “So,” said Tim, “what shall be your final wish? Keep in mind that I cannot bring the dead back to life. Although if you had made a wish while your friend was alive and talking, that would have worked. But it’s too late now.” “Uh, we have a time machine,” said Steve. “We can just go back in time and tell Mike not to use the time machine.” “Actually,” said Tim, “the time machine is sort of a one use thing. You can’t use it again.” “What?” said Billy. “Must I repeat myself?” said Tim. “Oh, I knew you were bad news,” said Billy. “You’re an evil genie ass.” “Well, I don’t like my job that much,” said Tim. “What can I say? But hey! You have one last wish. Would you like to use it? Maybe you can wish that none of this ever happened. Your friend could be alive. Or you could be greedy and wish for a billion dollars.” “What do you take me for?” said Billy. “A life is worth more than a billion dollars.” “I disagree,” said Steve. …And that is the story of how Steve Jobs became a billionaire. Fini.

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