This article is more than 1 year old

V. R. R. Stob's magnificent saga A Game Of Dog-and-Bones

GUARANTEED no elves and hardly any violence. Or incest

Nasty, 'nixy, dirty digit-dabs

"Yes, very good," said Nadella, who didn't seem to be listening. "Allyne, how would you like to earn yourself some new vowels?"

Maeistor Allyne's ears pricked up. M*stors' seniority was denoted by the length of their vowels. Novices started out with a single, lowly 'a': "Mastors". The road to promotion was repeatedly obstructed by the rigorous, demanding and occasionally fatal blood-ritual known as Emseepee. Allyne was not about to sniff at a chance to gain a Maeiostorship, or maybe even a Maeioustorhood, without the ordeal of a multiple choice on SQL Server 2014 SMO object model.

"Are you familiar with the once-mighty Python, maeistor? The open sauce programming language, formerly dominant for elegant, cross-platform programs that didn't run too fast?"

"Indeed, my laud."

"But then, many years ago, they came out with proud-to-be-backwards-incompatible Python version 3. Since which time, it has writhed helplessly like a bisected worm on the forest floor of scripted programming languages."

"Very poetic, my laud. But what of it?"

"We cannot defeat the Oglers in direct combat, maeistor, but maybe we can attack the monster through an effect that it is producing, as Jon Pertwee once did at Devil's End."

"How will we achieve that, my laud?"

"First, we will confuse them by open saucing dotNET. Second..."

"What, give the smallfolk the jewels to the C# crown on a ceramic, concave container?" cried Allyne, his hackles, dander and alliterative tendency rising in trandem. "Let them get their nasty, 'nixy, dirty digit-dabs on LINQ? Pollute the precise, perfected dotNET namespaces with their loathsome, lower case abbreviations? I mislike this idea, my laud; I mislike it very much."

"And in the second place," continued Laud Nadella, ignoring the interruption, "there is an open sauce web tool that the Oglers are backing, thing called Angular.js. It is just about to be upgraded to a new version. Now, suppose that new version were to be completely backwardly incompatible, and based on our very own TypeScript..."

To the land of the Oglers

"Very shrewd, my laud, but how could such a thing be accomplished? The Oglery are not fools. They would never permit it."

"I have some ideas in that direction," said Laud Nadella. "Come walk outside with me a little, and I shall explain them." He picked up the jacket from the back of his chair and swung it over his shoulder, then paused.

"Oh, and maeistor. A word in your cockle-like. I put up with your alliterations and silly spellings such as 'ser' for 'sir' and 'laud' for 'lord'; but 'mislike' really is a bogus medievalism too far. Please stop it."

"Very well, my laud," said Allyne, in a hurt voice, as he rose to follow his boss. "But I do think you disunderstand its application. You really are being a mite mismissive."

* * *

The Ogle officer peered at Allyne over his horn-rimmed Glass, pursed his thin lips and steepled his fingers. "So tell me again: why precisely do you want to join us?"

Allyne laboured to control the quavering in his voice. "Well, earlier this year I had a bit of a crisis at work, so I took some time off, a couple of weeks..."

"Eight days," corrected the Ogler, in a bored voice.

"I took some time off, and asked myself: do I really want to spend the rest of my career, the next 20 years..."

"17 years five months."

"...making a measly 70k..."


"...albeit for one of the great corporations of America..."

The Ogler sighed, and delicately touched a button on his horn rims. "I'm sorry, but I really can't go on listening to this tissue of lies." After a moment, a very large man, dressed in the polo-necked black chainmail with the non-evil eye sigil done in red piping on his chest, appeared.

"Take him away and disemvowel him."

"No, not that. Anything but that! I'll tell you everything!"

The Ogle officer permitted himself a thin smile.

"At last, a truly correct statement maiestor, or, rather... 'mstr'!" He watched as the struggling Allyne was swept from the room.

Then he stands up and unsheaths his most dreaded weapon from its scabbard: the deadly historic present tense. And he smiles as Allyne's screams fade into the distance, and he says:

"So perish the unfortunates..."

and now he is using it to rip a hole in the fourth wall ...

"...who play and lose..."

... and now he stares out through the hole, and he is looking directly at YOU

" this Game of Phones." ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like