by Andrew Murphy
Winner, ST Comedy Writing Contest

D I S C U S S I O N  F O R U M  |  R E T U R N  T O  S T  O N L I N E



To: Weezewob, Poet Laureate of the third moon, Krang, of the planet Shoopiwopp
From: Flightless Bird Publishing House
CC: Flightless Bird Publishing House Legal Dept.
Attch: 'The fable of Luck ammendments.doc' 53Kb

Subject: Reluctant refusal

Dear Weezewob,

I'm afraid I have to refuse your submission for our upcoming anthology of Universal Fables. You may not be aware of this, but our primary market are the carbon based sentient life forms on the Boobies Planets of Ultimate DOOOM!1 lolz!. As I'm sure you well know, they are a species of limited perspective and knowledge and many of the references and allusions you make will be beyond their comprehension. This is why I cannot accept your submission. However, I have reattached your submission with several footnotes that, if woven into the fable without disrupting the flow, may make it suitable for our main audience and therefore the publication itself. If you can, please resubmit and I will reconsider.

All the best.

PS. I loved your poem 'Ode to the unnamed shade of purple that refracts from the third ring of Krang on nights when the hundred year long storms end and the feeling I get looking at them when I've drunk too much'. I thought it was both descriptive and emotional.



It was a quiet evening on Earth II1. The tidal mountain ranges were just starting their slow drift up towards the red sun. Long thin shadows fell over the face of an old Hrungg by the name of Thul, who was sat on his porch watching his grandson, Mixxou, wave a stick around while pretending to fight.

The stick snapped suddenly, shocking a flock of crystal pigeons into iridescent flight.

"Ah! I have all the luck of a parasite on the anus of a Space Worm!" whined Mixxou.

"Ohh," Thul's tone was low and gently mocking as he leant out towards his grandson. "As bad as all that?"

"Yes. My games are always ruined when I'm having the most fun. I was just about to slay the Robot Overlord of the Graxitan Sado-Prison planet and rescue this year's winner of Ms. Strangely Alluring Invertebrate. Curse my luck!"

As the tidal mountains crept higher, the shadows on Thul's face grew deeper. His voice lost its mocking edge. "You should never curse your luck."

"Why not, Grandpa?"

"Because your luck might curse you."

Somehow, this did not have the intended effect on Mixxou. He started to dance around and throw his limbs around in joyful worship of himself.

"Nonsense, Grandpa. We can't be cursed by luck. Each Hrungg is the master of his own destiny. Our religious texts say so."

"Stardust!" retorted Thul. "Those are just tales they tell young Hrungg to turn them into hard working, miserable, collective contributors rather than contented, fatalistic slackers."

"Like you, Grandpa?"

"Exactly like me. I haven't had to do a day of work in my life and I'm damn happy.

"Tell me, why are you a Hrungg? Why were you born on Earth II with all the faculties needed to enjoy its great bounties? Why weren't you born on the industry planet of Adeedas where children are alive only moments before they're working on the production lines2 for just enough money to keep paying for the carb-protein slush they pump into them intravenously2, without hope of ever leaving2? And when they die they get turned into shoes!2"

Mixxou had stopped dancing. "Well, I don't know. I just was."

"It was luck. That's what it was." Thul's voice softened again. As he leant back in his chair, Mixxou was drawn towards him, like a fish submitting to the pull of a master angler. "Listen, young Hrungg, and I'll tell you about a being that never cursed his luck, but was, in fact, cursed by Luck.

"There have been a lot of unlucky beings in the universe, even unlucky planets, but there has never yet been a being more unlucky and wretched than TQ!RXD3. TQ!RXD was a member of the Naa race."

"I've never heard of the Naa, Grandpa. Are you making all this up?"

"You know I'm lazy, Mixxou, lazier than the moss that grows on the stomach of a giant sloth, so why would I bother making a fiction when the Universe is as weird as it is?"

"Sorry, Grandpa."

"Anyway, you haven't heard of the Naa race for good reason, but I'll get to that later. For some scientifically inexplicable reason4, the evolutionary path of the Naa had given them weak and irritable bowels and had also left them shaped like the Human letter 'C', with their excretion organs situated directly above their heads. Consequently, they were always shitting on themselves. Also, and equally as inexplicably, they had some of the most sensitive sexual organs ever evolved—so sensitive that they would break off after one use!"

Thul let this fact sink in before he continued. "TQ!RXD was born with the largest sexual organ of any Naa. It was so large its tip dragged on the abrasive surface of their planet. While impressive, this meant he was in almost constant agony. Due to the one-time nature of sexual intercourse, the Naa had no concept of masturbation, so TQ!RXD dragged his burden without any hope of relief. Every sexless day he pulled himself through the dirt, wiped thick green excrement from his face and thought very little about the Universe except: 'Bugger.'

"That is, until the day the Naa noticed another star in the sky. A star that was slowly getting bigger, and the bigger it got, the faster it got bigger. The greatest minds the Naa had pondered this phenomenon endlessly. Finally, an analogous thinker likened the new star's growth to staring directly up at their own falling excrement—the consequences became suddenly very clear and, at the same time, very messy."

"What do you mean, Grandpa?"

"Can't you work it out? Are you stupider than a shit swilling Naa?"

"Cut it out. Just tell me what you mean."

"It was a bloody great meteor! It was going to slam right into their planet and wipe them all out."

"Like the dinosaurs on the Boobies Planet of Ultimate DOOOM!1 lolz!?"

"What is this sudden rash of foolishness, Mixxou? You must know that meteor tale is a myth and the dinosaurs were killed by marauding Leprechauns changing the climate.

"To continue, hopefully without further pointless interruption, this was a time of great joy for the Naa—believe it or not. Their religious tradition said that after their death they would be resurrected in a new form, without any memory of their previous lives except an eternal gratefulness at just being clean. Nonsense, obviously.5

"However, nothing spreads faster than nonsense, so it was decided that a single Naa would be sent to spread their religious teachings in a glorious messianic mission. Naturally, no one wanted to go. Being constantly covered in shit meant that no single Naa had enough ego to want to either run or maintain a government, so this decision was made the same way all major decisions were made, by drawing straws. Out of the seven billion and one Naa, TQ!RXD lost.

"The reason only a single Naa could be forced to go was that there was only one ship on the planet. It had been abandoned and left generally unmolested after its pilot stepped outside and laughed himself to death—for reasons that were unclear to the Naa."

"What were they, Grandpa?"

"The ship was run by a Yossenburg oscillation utility 2 engine..."

Mixxou's jaw dropped. "A You26 engine?!"

"A You2 engine," Thul repeated.

"So the pilot had gone crazy..."

"Exactly, now you're thinking. Of course, the Naa had never heard of a You2 engine or its terrible effects, so they sent TQ!RXD away without a single flicker of conscience and waited with open arms for their apocalypse, which came shortly after.

"The ship that TQ!RXD was on had been programmed to travel to the next nearest inhabitable and inhabited planet, which happened to be Xtal. But on the way there something terrible happened, worse even than the musak that slowly eroded TQ!RXD's sanity."

"He was boarded by pirates and they flayed his skin!"


"He was bombarded by Murphy7 radiation?"


"What's worse than Murphy radiation?"

"What's worse is never knowing why your ship's infallible computer suddenly became fallible and directed your course a mere thousand miles to the left8, resulting in a five year longer journey than originally calculated. And after those five years," Thul continued, "crash landing on a desert island where the only company were biting flies with needles for legs and a fetish for excrement! It can always get worse.

"TQ!RXD spent days dragging his sexual organ over the hot sands, looking for any other sentient life to talk to. Finally, in the distance, he saw another figure; it was emaciated and its old eyes were grey and filmy, but it was intelligent and definitely alive enough to listen. Despite the discarded and sad atmosphere that hung around the figure, TQ!RXD approached and started to share his tale of woe.

"TQ!RXD poured out his heart, describing every throe of melancholy and pain he had ever experienced. His life with the Naa, the paradise stolen from him—twice!—and the unexpected musak of the last five and a bit years. When TQ!RXD finished with a sigh, he locked eyes with the other figure and waited, expectantly.

"The other figure punched him in the face."

"No!" exclaimed Mixxou. "Who could be so heartless?"

"Who indeed? Except a being who, until that moment, believed itself to be the most unlucky being in the Universe. You see, after punching TQ!RXD in the face, that being experienced a moment of Schadenfreude so pure that it caused it to cry tears of unsullied joy until the moment it died several days later from dehydration. Still, that was preferable to TQ!RXD's lot, which was to stay on that island until the flies ate him."

"That's horrible, Grandpa!"

"It gets worse!"

"How can it get worse?"

"Haven't you listened? It can always get worse."


"What would you have done, on that island, if you were TQ!RXD?"

"Well, every day I would have woken up and cursed luck until I could speak no more. Then I would write messages in the sand cursing luck until I could move no more. Then I would curse luck in my mind until I could think no more and fell asleep. Then I would dream about my day and cursing luck until I woke up. The next morning, I would do it all again. I would curse luck until the moment I died."

"And then, young Mixxou, you would be within your right to do so. But what if you had no conception of luck, didn't even know what it was?"

Mixxou was struck dumb.

"The Naas didn't have a concept of luck! TQ!RXD had never heard of it! Maybe that was why it chose him to curse. But the point is, TQ!RXD had nothing to curse, no one to rally against, no one to blame! I've heard you curse me and your parents, which is the proper and natural thing to do. But TQ!RXD had nothing! Nothing except his suffering and a lifetime to think it over. And it gets worse!"

"No Grandpa, it can't!"

"I can always get worse, especially if you're cursed! Now you know the story of TQ!RXD, you know never to curse your luck. In some small way, that shit covered little monster has made the Universe slightly better. His life has had at least a bit of purpose—which is an enviable thing. But because of his curse, one day a creature will be born with even worse luck than him!"

"How would that make him any more unlucky?"

"Because then no one would bother telling his story anymore. He will be forgotten forever! That is the very nature of luck—it can always be worse! And it will never end either, there will be a succession of beings with worse and worse luck, as long as there's a universe and things living in it. And then there's probably an entire other universe with luck even worse than this one! So never curse your luck and it may never curse you—but only if you're lucky!"

The tidal mountains reached their highest point, washing Earth II in night, leaving only the chuckling voice of Thul in a darkness almost as black as his sense of humour, which if TQ!RXD had possessed, it would have made him the luckiest being alive.


1) Despite its name, Earth II was not settled by humans. It had been discovered by Grabulag of the Hrungg species even before human ancestors had lost their gills. Grabulag thought the name had a nice ring to it. However, this point was later ignored by the Human Empire who started a long and bitter legal confrontation with the Hrungg species that left several billion dead on each side. The conflict was finally resolved after the Human Empire shifted to internet polling for all their governmental referenda, and the planet Earth, including all numerical derivatives in the Human Empire, were renamed 'Boobies Planet of Ultimate DOOOM!1 lolz!'.

2) Allegedly.

3) TQ!RXD is impossible to pronounce properly without at least three lungs and a gullet flexible enough to accommodate an entire snooker set, including the table. The closest approximation would be the sound of fingernails on a black board, if the black board was a hundred feet high, crammed inside the skull of the listener, and the fingernails had at least three types of incurable fungus. In fact, the name is so horrific it creates its own measurable force; the force responsible for the tone of voice self-righteous beings use when they say something that is technically correct but also as socially inadequate as rape, in an orphanage, for terminally ill children.

4) In fact, there was a very simple explanation for the Naa's evolutionary quirks. A bitter and alcoholic creator-God had won custody of their souls from His creator-God-Wife in one of the Universe's most questionable lawsuits. A few generations later, after the alcoholic God's design had been revealed, there was a speedy appeal and it was decided that, after death, the Naa's souls' fate would belong to the Wife.

5) Thul's dismissal of the facts stemmed from a successful propaganda attack instigated by the Universe's largest organised religious crime family (now revealed but still largely believed). The campaign was started against the Naa religion after cosmologists discovered that the planet Xtal, known informally as 'the planet of infinite repose and chocolate so good it'll melt your face', appeared, ex nihilo, and with fully evolved eco-systems and sentient life, the exact moment the Naa's home planet was destroyed.

6) The You2 engines were the first 100% safe and reliable engines ever created. They were the brain child of the famous scientist Rodan of the Moozhart race. By harmonizing with waves of naturally occurring radiation, they were capable of faster than light speeds—even better than that, Rodan claimed they were totally emission free—and even better than that, they were cheap and easy to produce. It turned out that Rodan had been wrong. Several industry planets had to be melted down after less than a few years of production due to the massive legal costs6a of ships running You2 engines. The You2 engines, it turned out, did indeed have emissions—they produced faint and tinny musak that could not be silenced or dampened.

6a) The legal costs of running a ship with a You2 engine were incurred by the 100,000% increase in all cases of homicide, cannibalism and wearing socks with sandals that the musak was culpable for. Not a single plea of temporary insanity was rejected when a ship's crew had been listening to You2.6b

6b) Rodan was excused for making the original claim and any subsequent legal costs after tests showed that the whole Moozhart race was, oddly enough, deaf to the precise wavelengths of musak produced by the engines.

7) Murphy radiation is emitted whenever a being unwittingly offends someone in conversation, it is also released in lethal amounts if a piece of toast lands butter side up. It is a little known fact that only planets obeying Murphy's law - a much misunderstood phenomenon—can sustain sentient life. This is partly because all research was hushed by the Universal Syndicate of Governments after it was discovered suicide bombers were smuggling toasters onto political ships, being easier to conceal and construct than actual bombs.7a

The effect of Murphy radiation is to cause a sense of embarrassment so acute and humiliating that the sufferer's organs stop working. In very high exposures, total spontaneous combustion is not rare. In either case, these anti-intuitive survival techniques have been clinically proven, with ethically dubious trials on sentient plasma beings without organs or combustible material, as preferable to the intense psychological damage that would otherwise be suffered.

7a) This is no longer an issue as Murphy field generators are now standard on all ships capable of interplanetary flight.

8) The reasons for the ship's miscalculation have recently been calculated. It seems that the cause was the procession of one quite improbable8a event by another nearly impossible8b event.

8a) The quite improbable event was a Hrungg working out the exact equation of the Chaos Theory, which once formalised and written down would have afforded her complete control of the physical universe. This may seem surprising, but it was once quite easy to work out the Chaotic Formula; that is until the famous anarchist, Odo, worked it out. Instead of manipulating it to redress all social, political, economic and social inequalities, she used the Chaotic Formula to make the Chaotic Formula impossible to work out. This impressed all of her anarchist friends, but made her pretty much the most hated person in the Universe—except for the boy living at 3 Lawrence Grove on the Boobies Planet of Ultimate DOOOM!1 lolz!, who is unequivocally the most hated being in the Universe9.

8b) The nearly impossible event was the same Hrungg slipping on a banana peel and fatally, though comically, falling.8c

8c) The reasons for the banana peel being there in the first place are yet to be calculated.

9) Official winner of the 'Most Hated Being in the Universe by Virtue of Their Virtues Alone, but Not of Their Actions—which is Another Matter Altogether' Award three years running, and winner of the 'Hated for the Other Matter Altogether' Award 2006 and 2007.




Copyright © 2008 Andrew Murphy

A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R:

Andrew Murphy: I'm twenty and I've accepted a place at Leeds university for a joint honors course in maths and philosophy starting this September. Writing is one of my ways of dealing with an existence I can't even being to understand and a method of trying to drag others into my confusion as well.

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