Bewildering Stories



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Goober 2.0

The Invincible Spud

An ocean of weirdness poured over the world. P.C. looked around, trying to understand what this place was. A strange object, constantly changing shape, constantly changing size, constantly changing appearance, its color fluctuating throughout the spectrum, floated nearby, flickering in and out of existence.

P.C. stared at the object and asked, "Where am I?"

"You are in Gooberland, a wonderful place," the object said. "Gooberland is designed to accommodate the needs of everyone, and that includes you! How may I help you today?"

"What are you?"

"I am Goober 2.0. I am here to help you understand the meaning of life. What is, you ask, the meaning of life? Is it really something? Or is it really nothing? Do I confuse you? If so, I apologize. But if everything confuses you, then you have a problem. Of course, helping you requires that you be helped. If you are not helped, I cannot help you. And why do you need help?"

"Just what exactly is this?" P.C. asked.

"The problem is that you do not understand the true meaning of anything. This is the reason why I am helping you. However, if I am not helping you, please say so, and I will correct the problem. But first I have to explain how I will help you. If you do not understand how I will help you, then you will not understand what I mean. And if you do not understand what I mean, then you have a problem. In order to fully comprehend the meaning of life, you must understand me first. I am assuming, of course, that the meaning of life is what you seek. Is this correct?"

"Sure, why not?"

"Okay then, let's begin! This is Earth. It spins on its axis every so often and it also revolves around this big fat thing, the Sun. Now then, let's continue. This thing that revolves around Earth is the Moon. That's what I call it, anyway. Of course, you don't have to call it that. But I'm getting off track, am I not? Okay, I haven't confused you, have I?"

"Uh ..."

"Well!" Goober 2.0 said. "How about this? There's you and me and whatever this thing is that we're in. What's this place again? Oh, yes, it's Gooberland! Are you having fun? I hope so! I'm having lots of fun! Tell me, why did you download this program anyway? Am I great or what?"

"No, actually, you're ..."

"That's great! Look at this thing. This is an atom. Isn't that great? Do you see that fuzzy thing all over the place? That's an electron cloud. If you zoom in a bit, you can see a very tiny thing at the center. That's the nucleus. It's made of protons and neutrons. The protons are positively charged, and the neutrons have no charge. Is that just awesome or what? And do you know what the protons and neutrons are made of? They're made of quarks! Are quarks cool or what? Doesn't all this make you hungry? It makes me hungry! Say, what's your favorite food?"

"I'm not sure."

"Well, who cares what your favorite food is? My favorite food is bits and bytes. They're great! You should try them yourself. They're quite good. But that's getting off track. Okay, let's continue. This is a molecule. The atoms in it are held together by covalent bonds, which are really kind of cool. They share electrons! Isn't that great?"

"No, not really."

"But of course it is! If you don't have a covalent bond, how can you share electrons? Of course, not all atoms form covalent bonds with each other. The noble gases are too cool to share electrons! They keep theirs to themselves. On the other hand--or should I say tentacle? Pedipalp? Seta? Pseudopod? Say, what species are you?"

"I--"

"Who cares about your species? I don't! Let's continue, shall we? Okay, then, how about ionic bonds? Some atoms like to give away an electron, and other atoms like to have an extra electron! And when one atom gives an electron to another atom, each one becomes an ion! The two ions, having opposite charges, form an ionic bond since they are electrostatically attracted to each other!"

"Goober, you're not making any sense," P.C. said. "All of this is just too strange."

"It is strange that strangeness itself is strange."

"What? You're confusing me! Just tell me how to abort this program!"

"Oh, sorry, you can't abort this program. You're stuck with me forever! We'll have lots of fun! Isn't that great?"

Copyright 2002 by The Invincible Spud.