Thursday, November 22, 2007

In the Kingdom of Nouns

It is an open secret in the Kingom of Nouns that the King himself has a half-wit, good-for-nothing brother. His name was expunged from the official rolls long ago and everyone calls him null.

null is a true oddity in the Kingdom of Nouns. He is a second-class citizen. This is no doubt due to the fact that he is completely and utterly incapable of even the most trivial of actions. Whenever he is asked to perform a task, he responds by taking Exception and throwing a tantrum. Every other citizen in the Kingdom is expected to at least know his Class and how to present himself to the public. Not null, though.

The residents of the Kingdom take pride in order, so you might imagine that null's behavior would make him an outcast in the Kindom of Nouns. In fact, he had been disinherited by every single family in the kingdom!

null desperately wanted something to do. People would assign him mundane tasks like standing in for a citizen that was shortly expected to arrive or standing at the end of a line as a sort of marker. Occasionally when a request came from the castle, null would return to deliver the news that no one was able to satisfy the request.

Not everyone was impressed by null's `ability' (so to speak) to take up space. Sometimes, you just need a member of the right family or someone that is capable of performing a well-defined task. Requirements like these were spelled out explicitly in the contracts that people made: (TaskManager applicant) or (IMowLawns teenager). But because null was the king's brother, he had a special dispensation to ignore these restrictions. He'd walk right on in and pretend to be the manager or the teenager. Of course as soon as you asked him to do something, like start the mower or even tell you his name, he'd take Exception and throw another tantrum.

Some people just tried to pretend that null didn't exist and hope that the king or somebody would catch him as he threw his tantrum. Others took the time to proofread their contracts and add extra clauses everywhere to exclude null or deal with him in some ad-hoc way.

Unfortunately, there is no happy ending to this story. null continues vex and irritate the citizens of the Kingdom of Nouns and no relief is in sight.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I enjoyed that. The setting reminded me a little of the "kids'" story of the mysterious murder of an army of size n in (log2 n) steps (near the end of :)