by Matthew Sanborn Smith
Früd, intersystem artiste, wrote his book in fire across Death Valley. Fire fed by print books. He claimed his words could be seen from space. There were people in space. None of them could see his words. A nice helicopter ride, however, revealed the story in all its glory. Or lack thereof. For when the rented choppers first flew overhead, astute critics realized:
"Hey, this book reads like ass!" and, shortly thereafter, "We burned Steinbeck for this?" The whole thing was a disaster. Until another disaster saved the day. A group of near-sighted readers kept pressuring their pilot to get closer to the words, so he got as close as possible by crashing right into to them as well as the ground directly beneath them. This miraculously changed the word "ramrod" in paragraph seventeen of chapter twenty-three, into the word "benediction" (trust me on this) and utterly transformed the story from dogshit into a song of the divine. People wept at its beauty and Früd found success that was previously unknown in his paltry existence.
The families of the near-sighted tourists and their pilot sued for a cut of his profits. Früd claimed the book itself, and not the story it told, was the work of art, and he countersued because the defendants' dead family members had vandalized his work. Früd won.
This pissed off a lot of people who, this time, made a deliberate attempt at sabotage and turned the word "avocado" in the very last sentence into the word "mahkrolish," which of course isn't a word at all. But somehow, this made the story even better. Früd couldn't lose for winning and hired his own saboteurs to make revisions until he had enough money to buy a couple of planets.
He didn't buy a couple of planets, because who wants that hassle? His dad owned an apartment building and just dealing with those people was bad enough. Instead he bought a tower, a comfy chair and a nice sandwich and read the latest edition of his book. He found the story gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, and all those other cliched organ-tormenting things that one might expect. It couldn't possibly get any better than this, could it? He called for another helicopter to find out.