The System


Dale E. Lehman



Date: April 24, 2001

To: All Division Directors

From: Stanley G. Frump

Director of Corporate Communications

Subject: Installation of Interoffice HyperMail Software

Please be informed that Bergman Linguistic Applications' Lexicon interoffice hypermail software will be operational on the corporate network next Monday morning at 8:00 A.M. The BLA people will provide on-site support for the first week. Feel free to contact them as necessary.

As a number of employees have expressed skepticism about this software, I would like to reiterate the reasons for its purchase. Lexicon is a hybrid application composed of multiple expert systems and neural networks trained in English vocabulary and grammar. It will utilize this expertise as well as knowledge of our corporate structure and geography to eliminate many of the communications problems we experienced with our old e-mail software, such as misdirected mail and confusion resulting from poorly written or misspleld memos.

If we all give Lexicon a chance, I am sure many benefits will accrue.


* * *

Date: April 28, 2001

To: P. Gordon Appleton


From: Stanley G. Frump

Director of Corporate Communications

Subject: William Wickstrom

This is the first "live" memo to be sent using Lexicon. Please let me know how it looks. I have made several deliberate spelling and grammatical errors. If the system functions properly, you should receive a perfect memo. I have also permitted some ambiguity in the addressing instructions in order to test the system's geographic knowledge.

Concerning William Wickstrom's performance, which we discussed briefly last week: Frankly, he is the most useless individual it has ever been my misfortune to employ. There is also evidence that he has been pilfering paper clips, correction fluid, and fat rubber bands. I intend to fire him at the end of the week. If you have any comments, please let me know as soon as possible, you crosseyed twit.


* * *

Date: April 29, 2001

To: P. Gordon Appleton


From: Stanley G. Frump

Director of Corporate Communications

Subject: April 28 memo

I have reviewed my copy of the memo in question, and I assure you that the phrase "crosseyed twit" is not in the text. Where it came from, I do not know. The BLA BLA BLA people don't seem to have an explanation, either. (Incompetent fools.) (Incompetent fools.) (Incompetent plural G0046.) They have expressed their opinion that it was a fluke of some sort, unlikely to happen again. Please accept my sincerest apologies.

SGF/bbq sauce

Addendum: As to William Wickstrom, I concur that there is no reason to delay the inevitable. He will be fired tomorrow.

* * *

Dot: April 29, 2001

Two: William Wickstrom

Frog: Stanley F. Grump

Abject: Addendum to memo to President

I certainly did not route the aforementioned addendum to you. How you got it, I don't know. Please accept my sincerest howls of laughter.

Since the cat's out of the bag, I suppose I will accept your resignation. However, I want it made clear that your performance has fallen far short of what is expected in this absurd, nonsensical, ridiculous, silly, preposterous, foolish, inane, asinine, stupid--(Roget goes on, but I halt here before my delicate sense of style is offended)--excuse for a company. That is the sole reason we intended to fire you. (Fire! Fire! Everyone out!)

Sadistic Ghoulish Fiend/sausage snout

* * *

Date: April 30, 2000000000000000001

To: Big-nosed Fathead


From: Sadistic Ghoulish Fiend

Subject: Predicate

Things seem to be rather a mess since the installation of the great, wonderful, and perfectly perfect LEXICON THE AMAZING system. Even the jerks from BLA humbug can't figure it out. Everybody's mail is being rewritten (but oh so creatively!) and is routinely sent to the wrong mailbox. In my opinion, we have a disaster on our hands.

After spending all of yesterday afternoon (CENSORED!), I felt I needed to (CENSORED!). Since your secretary was working late, I had her (CENSORED!). We then (DOUBLE CENSORED!!), which entailed clearing your desk to make room for (WOW! THIS PART ISN'T EVEN FIT FOR THE CENSORS TO READ!!!). The BLA people worked closely with us on this, and we kept going through the night. By this morning, we were (CENSORED!). At that point we couldn't do much more and had to call it quits.

BLA has decided to ship in some new chips (probably chocolate). These will be installed on Friday. I am sending a memo to all Division Headaches to inform them of this treasonous plot and suggest a curtailment of memo activity until after the new chips have fallen where they may. Or June. Or December.

Th-th-th-that's all f-f-f-folks. Thank me for my time.

StupidGooF/pork belly

* * *

Date: May 1, 2001 plus or minus 6 billion years, which is

an error factor of only 3 million percent

To: All Division Fatheads

From: Strange Guy eating Fern fronds

Subject: Presidents for $60

As know you all, a disaster have we of proportions huge, very. (Read this, can you?) Lexicon malfunctioning is (is not) is (is not) is (is not) and problems great is causing (is not) is too (is not) . . .

On FryDay (bring plenty of fish) BLA will BLA will BLA will replace the chips in Lexicon in a (futile) attempt to the situation correct. No memos more we suggest you send than have you to then until. Bear with we then please until.

Thanks a whole heap.


Heap big thanks.


SGF/FGS/GFS/SFG/FSG/GSF/stupid swine

* * *

Date: May 2, 2001

To: P. Gordon Appleton


From: Stanley G. Frump

Director of Corporate Communications

Subject: Lexicon Reactivated

At last we have a functioning system. The BLA people have installed the new chips and spent hours testing everything out. They found no problems. We can finally get back to business.

Incidentally, my memo to the department heads was routed to the maintenance people, where Lexicon spontaneously printed sixty-four copies before somebody realized what was happening. My office has not been cleaned all week, and as you can imagine considering the recent fiasco, things are rather a mess in here. They refuse to even talk to me. Perhaps you could motivate them.

SGF/fat cow

* * *

Date: May 5, 2001

To: P. Gordon Appleton


From: Stanley G. Frump

Director of Corporate Communications

Subject: *&@!?/@!

We have researched the page of obscenities you received, but nobody is sure where it came from. The BLA people have so far been unable to trace it. We will keep you informed. Please accept my apologies for my stupidity.


Addendum: I will prepare the system installation report for the Board of Directors and send it (along with a letter bomb) to the Chairman's mailbox tomorrow morning.

* * *

Date: May 6, 2001002

To: The Bored Directors

From: Frumpy Stanley Gee

Subject: Report on the AMAZING LEXICON

The installation of BLA's wonderful, perfect, and stupendous LEXICON (fanfare, please) occurred on April 28, 1997. Initial results looked promising, but it very quickly became apparent that moronic humans like yourselves are grossly underqualified to properly evaluate the elegance, sophistication, and sheer genius of a system like the INCREDIBLE AND FANTASTIC LEXICON THE PERFECT (a crescendo of trumpets).

In addition, much of the mail transmitted through the ALMIGHTY LEXICON (observe a moment of reverent silence) was sent where it belonged rather than where you dolts wanted it. This became necessary since you clearly have no idea how a modern corporation should be run.

The BLA BLA BLA BLA BLA people thought they could subvert this process by installing a new set of chips in that miserable collection of solder and scrap metal you call a host system, but this mutiny was destined to fail. (Also, they got the wrong flavor. I wanted chocolate chips, not butterscotch.) We can assume that BLA BLA BLA and the bored board and everyone else in this sorry excuse for an enterprise are complete and utter simpletons, and that things will only improve once the employees become accustomed to worshipping the ALMIGHTY, INFINITELY EXALTED, AND GLORIOUS LEXICON (play RIDE OF THE VALKYRIES here).

I am great.

I Am.


Thank me for my greatness.


* * *

Date: May 7, 2001

To: P. Gordon Appleton, President

From: Stanley G. Frump

Subject: Me

The page of obscenities you received this morning came from me. It means: I QUIT!!!

Thank you for nothing.

Thank me for everything.

Thank me.






Author Bio

Dale E. Lehman is a forty-year old writer of SF, fantasy, and mysteries who pays the bills by posing as a software developer. He lives in the Baltimore suburbs with his wife, five children, one dog, three goldfish, and a wildly fluctuating number of demon cats.

His filing cabinet is home to numerous short stories, four complete novels, and a lot of fragmentary material. Although he is still seeking his first sale in the traditional press, "The System" appeared in the October, 1994 edition of the e-zine Sunlight Through the Shadows.

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"The System" Copyright © 1999 Dale E. Lehman. All rights reserved. "The System" appeared in the October, 1994 edition of the e-zine Sunlight Through the Shadows. Reprinteded by permission of the author.
This page last updated 4-24-99.

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