Editor's Note: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night
Oct 31, 2003, 23:30 (8 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)
How to Help Your Business Become an AI Early Adopter
By Brian Proffitt
Managing Editor and Keeper of Tales
The wind crawled over the cold desert, caressing the deadwood,
the grasses, the occasional creature that scampered in the night.
It swept towards the tiny light, a long beacon shining in the chill
As the wind passed the old man, he shivered slightly as he
haunched over the fire. But it was not the wind that chilled him
this night--it was the tale he was telling to his companion. He
licked his dry lips and hacked out a small cackle before resuming
"And then, after the master craftsman built the castle with its
many rooms, the king and his court were greatly satisfied. The
castle was beautiful and functional, and would serve the kingdom's
"But there was one who was dissatisfied with this castle's
perfection. One of the master's apprentices, who had wanted the
castle to be built his way, with his designs, was jealous of the
acclaim and praise his master had received. His master had shared
the credit with all of his workers, and was generous with the
rewards he received, but for this apprentice, it was not
"He wanted all of the credit for the castle, and the ability to
change the castle to his liking, regardless of the needs of the
king and the kingdom.
"So, quietly, carefully, the dark apprentice began to spread
whispers about the quality of the castle. 'The workmanship in this
room is shoddy,' he would tell others. 'That wall will not do well
defending against outsiders.' The lies were small at first, almost
believeable. As time went on, the lies became more outrageous, as
more people listened to the dark one.
"Soon, the master heard of the tales being spread about his
creation, but did not know from where the lies were coming from.
The apprentice was careful, always showing complete obisiance to
his master, all the while enjoying how his own tales brought misery
to the man who possessed all the apprentice desired.
"After a while, though, even the lies were not working well
enough to suit the twisted youth. After all, the castle had not
actually fallen apart as the lies predicted, and people began to
put such accusations aside in the light of reality. Angry, the
apprentice wanted to eliminate the master once and for all.
"So the apprentice went out into the dark forest to seek out the
wizard who lived there. He knew the wizard coveted the kingdom
itself, so he asked the magician to help him in an evil plan. In
exchange for a poison that would kill the craftsman, the apprentice
would use his newfound influence to help the wizard regain access
to the castle and begin his own plots to take the kingdom.
"The wizard agreed, and gave the apprentice a most insidious
poison. It would affect the master craftsman slowly, eating him
away from inside until nothing would be left but a cold... dark...
Silence. Then: "Wait, that's it?" The young man shifted near the
fire, pushing his glasses up his nose in frustration. "That's the
The old man glared at the youthful puppy sitting across the fire
"You did not like my tale, young man?"
"Well, er, I mean, it's not that it's bad--I mean, it's just
that it doesn't have much of an ending, you know?," the boy
stammered, suddenly wary of where he was and who he was talking
"Hmmm... I suppose it did lack a certain... climax. But perhaps
you will not find the tale so weak when I tell you the name of the
The young man stood to go. "Uh, sure dude, whatever you
"You see, the apparentice's given name was... Darl."
The wind came by again but it was not what froze the young man
in place. His legs gave out as he flopped down on the ground next
to the fire, his face a portrait of dread.
The old man looked at his companion's expression and cackled on
The wind carried the sound out into the dark, cold, night.