They gazed at God’s Final Message in wonderment, and were slowly and ineffably filled with a great sense of peace, and of final and complete understanding.
Fenchurch sighed. “Yes,” she said, “that was it.”
They had been staring at it for fully ten minutes before they became aware that Marvin, hanging between their shoulders, was in difficulties. The robot could no longer lift his head, had not read the message. They lifted his head, but he complained that his vision circuits had almost gone.
They found a coin and helped him to the telescope. He complained and insulted them, but they helped him look at each individual letter in turn, The first letter was a “w”, the second an “e”. Then there was a gap. An “a” followed, then a “p”, an “o” and an “l”.
Marvin paused for a rest.
After a few moments they resumed and let him see the “o”, the “g”, the “i”, the “s” and the “e”.
The next two words were “for” and “the”. The last one was a long one, and Marvin needed another rest before he could tackle it.
It started with an “i”, then “n” then a “c”. Next came an “o” and an “n”, followed by a “v”, an “e”, another “n” and an “i”.
After a final pause, Marvin gathered his strength for the last stretch.
He read the “e”, the “n”, the “c” and at last the final “e”, and staggered back into their arms.
“I think,” he murmured at last, from deep within his corroding rattling thorax, “I feel good about it.”
The lights went out in his eyes for absolutely the very last time ever.
Luckily, there was a stall nearby where you could rent scooters from guys with green wings.
One of the greatest benefactors of all lifekind was a man who couldn’t keep his mind on the job in hand.
One of the foremost genetic engineers of his or any other generation, including a number he had designed himself?
Without a doubt.
The problem was that he was far too interested in things which he shouldn’t be interested in, at least, as people would tell him, not now.
He was also, partly because of this, of a rather irritable disposition.
So when his world was threatened by terrible invaders from a distant star, who were still a fair way off but travelling fast, he, Blart Versenwald III (his name was Blart Versenwald III, which is not strictly relevant, but quite interesting because – never mind, that was his name and we can talk about why it’s interesting later), was sent into guarded seclusion by the masters of his race with instructions to design a breed of fanatical superwarriors to resist and vanquish the feared invaders, do it quickly and, they told him, “Concentrate!”
So he sat by a window and looked out at a summer lawn and designed and designed and designed, but inevitably got a little distracted by things, and by the time the invaders were practically in orbit round them, had come up with a remarkable new breed of super-fly that could, unaided, figure out how to fly through the open half of a half-open window, and also an off- switch for children. Celebrations of these remarkable achievements seemed doomed to be shortlived because disaster was imminent as the alien ships were landing. But astoundingly, the fearsome invaders who, like most warlike races were only on the rampage because they couldn’t cope with things at home, were stunned by Versenwald’s extraordinary breakthroughs, joined in the celebrations and were instantly prevailed upon to sign a wide-ranging series of trading agreements and set up a programme of cultural exchanges. And, in an astonishing reversal of normal practice in the conduct of such matters, everybody concerned lived happily ever after.
There was a point to this story, but it has temporarily escaped the chronicler’s mind.