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Date: January 10, 1999
Compose a sentence of four four-letter words, and then write a story of which that sentence is a summary, systematically omitting one letter of the alphabet.
"Did you hear about the Y1K Problem? They say it inspired the barbarous decline of the Byzantine Empire." My ill-fated effort to hearten the mood was met with stony silence; the execs' eyes remained downcast, as if hypnotized by the boardroom table's shiny finish. "Curse you, Smithers! This is no joke," rasped Mr. G. Our saturnine (but always even-handed) Chairman considered me sternly; his shock of white hair and thickly smeared spectacles made, as always, a deep impression upon me. "Curse you...and curse every man who has ever hesitated before he commences the necessary task at hand..." Tension had taken its toll, even on our Chairman. The date? It was December 28, 1999. And the state of our company? Our company, the core of which was run by a roomful of roof-tall Xerox mainframes? Let's say this: woefully unprepared. My eyes drifted to the empty chair where Alex, our former IT consultant, had sorrowfully taken his own life the week before. "There is only one course of action left to us, my soldiers," murmured the Chairman, and eyes and ears perked up around the table. "The darkest of sorceries. I thus introduce our new shaman, Carl." Keen wails of hope immediately surfaced from all about , as the narrow-lipped Carl waved his elaborately etched caduceus before us; I remained skeptical as as several men carried an enormous cauldron, hewed from black steel, into our room and onto the table. Carl initiated the ceremony by a few firm tosses into the cauldron: eye of newt, a black kitty, a handful of scabs, a variety of executive decision-makers, and at last primitive handfuls of shredded documents. Now a new low moan had arisen: "Smithers; Smithers; Smithers..." I felt hands lift and carry me, closer and closer to the pot's fearsome lip... Then a voice: "Not Smithers! I, Mr. G, shall be the sacrifice," and a flash of wild white hair, barreled past me in the air and landed with a loud, and most noble and terrible splash.
Despite all the inspired ruckus, once the furor has died down, our machines still choked over their data and died opprobriously: before the month's end the Company was belly-up. Yet in honor of our ex-Chairman, I will omit one letter from this tale...save in the instances of his own exalted name.
-- CARL: UNDO Y2K'S JINX.
Jo'burg-born Kiwi textile developer John T. Ebedesse is known worldwide for his groundbusting new sheep techniques. He first moved Down Under to pursue his vision: young sheep dyed in the wool, like the cliche goes, inexpensively yielding gorgeous pullovers with no middle step of coloring before knitting the clothes.
He sold the old Ebedesse bort mine to interested industry reps, jumping on some ship bound for NZ's green hilly shores. Within twelve months his beginning million doubled, with excited investors buying stock quickly. The cheviots he bought he divided into three groups: one he fed copper, one lithium, the third mere feed. Soon, the first herd's wool turned lovely green, while the second grew pink locks, when the colorful ions progressed through their plump bodies from their feed to be excreted in the form of fur. The third flock, of course, kept their grey-white birth-color. Our hero cropped the sheep in June to huge outcry; he couldn't meet posh designers' orders speedily enough, pulling in big bucks while his flocks' socks, tops, etc., continue to enshroud the legions of the rich.
It's difficult to conceive commitment exceeding his: Ebedesse went on to found the Ebedesse Feed-Dyed Wool Council, which keeps his efforts going into the millennium; soon, beyond. Spokespersons for the eponymous Council proudly bestowed upon this hero, upon his retirement, the only tribute fitting: the now-renowned tuft woven from ninety pounds of the first colored wool ever to be grown. In deference to my now-expired brother's other obsession, I omit from this missive the letter whose sound he could never get right, coming from two colonies' confusingly mixed phonetic stock.
-- LAMB DYER WINS POUF