Back by non-popular, non-demand, another of our Mysteries of Holborn series has somehow been allowed onto the Millman Street Community Centre blog. So, what’s the idea this time, hmm? More time-travel guff? Yet again?
Erm, yes. The Holborn Dodecahedron has time-spewed this enchanting tale from its mysterious depths:
The scenario is thus: your hopeless HCA hack is awoken; not from his kip, but from the skip in which he slumps, exhausted every evening after a hard day’s blogging/preposterousness. What has awoken him? Why, it is the tell-tale sound which the Holborn Dodecahedron makes before the latest cobblers tumbles out of it [if we could afford sound effects, said noise would be instantly recognisable, but not like the Tardis noise from Dr Who, no siree, or indeed any other sci-fi sound that might infringe copyright).
Anyway, as ever, our hack is sober as a judge (if the judge is Judge Jakey, the notorious 18th Century Dundee Dipsomaniac Deemster), and as such cannot believe what he is seeing:
It appears to the horrendous hack that Ernest Borgnine, the late, great actor probably best known for his appearances in From Here To Eternity (1953) and The Poseidon Adventure (1972), and for his role as Max in the Hart To Hart TV show (1979-84) is staring into his befuddled phizzog. How can it be? he wonders; but it be. Or so he thunk…
Ahem. To cut a (quite tedious) story short (to a mediumly tedious one), “Ernist Borgnine” explained to the befuddled blogger that he was, in fact, a cybernetic organism from the future who just happened to have been given the serial reference number Cyborg-9 by his human creators. The future folk had seen the opportunity to use a pun name, and had even fixed a likeness of the actor to Cyborg-9’s chest, which is what our hack had seen, close up, before zooming out and realising it was a machine and not the late actor after all.
Phew. And with that, erm, convincing explanation explained, our rotting writer posed the question of all present-day people when confronted by time travellers: “What’s it like in the future, then?”
“It was moider!” Cyborg-9 replied, in a synthesized reproduction of Ernest Borgnine’s Hart To Hart’s Max catchphrase. “Only kidding,” he quickly added in his usual cyborg-type voice familiar from many sci-fi novels, films and TV shows (but, again, not similar enough to incur copyright infringements).
Our frightful writer tutted and rolled his eyes, smiling as he rehashed his question. He presumed that the future had deteriorated into a dystopia (again, not uncommon in sci-fi) wherein an oppressive totalitarian regime, erm, oppressed the populace. Oppressively.
“Not a bit of it,” Cyborg-9 countered, to our hack’s surprise. He went on to outline other details, paraphrased here: basically, those who, in present day 2018, fear that the machines will rise up and enslave and/or eliminate humanity needn’t worry: In the future, cyborgs will become a boon to their human owners, of great benefit to all. It won’t be utopia, but it certainly won’t be dystopian, either.
“Think about it,” Cyborg-9 explained. “Why would Artificial Intelligences wipe out humankind? Why bother? To keep all the dwindling resources for themselves? It’s not like robots need to eat, is it? What would we do if there were no humans? It’s not like we long to have big houses, flashy cars and loads of money in the bank…”
And so on, and on. Hmm. That’s all very well, as our sceptical scribbler replied, but it doesn’t half ruin the premise of much of science fiction.
Cyborg-9 shrugged (or as much as a cyborg can), indicating that he couldn’t do much about that. He then handed our hack an envelope before he returned to the future. “Don’t open it till I’ve returned to the aforementioned future,” he said in valediction.
HCA’s bewildered blogger was left wondering at his seemingly wise, robotic words. Once the Holborn Dodecahedron had sealed itself off, and 2018 resumed, he tore open the envelope bequeathed him by Cyborg-9. He gasped: it contained…a captioned photograph. Reeling in horror, he read aloud: “Holborn, 2084 AD”.
He then dropped the photo, prior to clutching his head in his hands and blubbing. The photo twirled around in the light breeze. Later, a passer-by would find it, and be puzzled by what it showed – A horrible, dystopian, post-apocalyptic wasteland:
Then she sensibly binned the picture. As it landed in the litter bin, it turned over, and she noted that there was another caption on the reverse: only kidding, it read.
Must be some sort of in-joke, she thought, shrugging her shoulders before going about her decidedly non-mysterious business….
Nonsense by Notes Smudger