TOWER OF DOOM - GOOGLEPLEX - 2032 A.D.
As he adjusted the colorful buttons on his elaborate court jester costume, Sergey came to the realization that Larry Page had gone completely mad. The thought made Sergey silently laugh and the bells on his hat tinkled. Of course, Larry Page was mad. That was hardly news. He had been insane for some time and Sergey Brin, like everyone else at Google, had no doubt about it. Larry had gone crazy long before he had begun building the giant “Tower of Doom” which Sergey now stood in. Before Page vowed to plunge the world into thousand years of darkness. Even before the disastrous purchase of France. Larry was clearly nuts a decade ago when he ordered the bombing of Apple’s headquarters and the failed assassination of Steve Jobs. It was pretty obvious Page had already lost his mind back when Google purchased Motorola and decided to get into the hardware business. In retrospect, Brin’s first indication that Larry was mad was when Eric Schmidt successfully convinced Page to steal Apple’s design of the iPhone and compete directly with Apple, which had been a valuable corporate ally. That was crazy. Really, really, really crazy.
Sergey had begged them not to do it at the time, but Larry wouldn’t listen to him, as he wouldn’t listen many times after that. Schmidt, of course, paid the price to Jobs with his head. But from the moment Android was released, Sergey knew that Google was ultimately doomed. Their subsequent embrace of evil actually worked out better than Sergey had thought, it energized the rank and file employees, but nevertheless it was just a question of time before Apple prevailed and Jobs severed each of their heads too. A tingle went through Sergey’s neck as he thought about Jobs’s sharp katana. Larry, of course, was also haunted with own nightmares of his eventual decapitation which only spurred on his recklessness.
Yes, Larry Page was mad. But lately it was increasingly clear that he was “completely” mad. That is, he was unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy. Or even worse, between fantasy and fantasy. Sergey didn’t mind that Larry ordered him to only appear before him in a jester costume. Sergey liked dressing up. And frankly, now that it was complete, the Googleplex’s “Tower of Doom,” modeled after Mordor’s Barad-dur, was really, really cool. In particular, the giant flaming holographic “Eye of Sauron,” or rather “Eye of Larry,” which glowed over it. Sergey had originally argued that they build a replica of Minas Morgul, which he thought was even cooler and less obvious, but he had been overruled as usual. Sergey had also tried to point out, that the dark lord Sauron, Larry’s new role model, was completely defeated in “Lord of the Rings,” but Larry would simply laugh and say, “Really? Are you sure? I suggest you read it more carefully.”
Brin tried to keep an open mind about the fact that Larry had begun wearing body armor and a cape clearly modeled after Marvel Comic’s Doctor Doom, absence the face mask, which didn’t blend in with the overall Tolkien theme. While unlikely, it’s at least conceivable that Sauron wore something similar, since Tolkien never directly described the dark lord’s clothing in the trilogy. What was more madding was that Larry insisted on calling Sergey “Wormtongue,” which Sergey could only guess was somewhat prompted by the court jester costume, since Grima, Wormtongue’s real name, had originally been a court advisor to Theoden of Rohan. (Though he was not a court jester.) But Wormtongue worked for Saruman the evil white wizard, not Sauron the evil dark lord. As everyone knew, Saruman, who was also defeated, lived in the tower of Orthanc in Isengard, so it made utterly no sense for Larry to keep calling Sergey “Wormtongue,” in a life size model of Barad-dur, since Grima never would have set foot there. It wasn’t just that Sergey harbored hopes of getting to dress up as the Witch King, who would be a better thematic choice as second in command to Larry’s Sauron. Sergey had come to believe that Larry was completely mixing up the two towers and couldn’t even tell the difference anymore between Sauron and Saruman.
And that bothered Sergey more than anything else.
“Wormtongue! Wormtongue!” Larry Page called out as he strode into the dark throne chamber.
“Yes, my Lord?” Sergey replied with a curtsey.
“What is the status of Project Strangelove?”
“Underway, my Lord. Nothing can stop us now.” Sergey shuddered inside. Yes, nothing could stop it. Not even Apple. Of all the hideous and unethical products that had been concocted by Google’s X Labs, Project Strangelove was the most diabolical. Back before the wars, Sergey had originally created X Labs with the hope of making the world a better place. He had big plans for Google specs, an elevator to space and understanding robot girlfriends. But under Page’s “thousand years of darkness” mandate, it had become a technological chamber of horrors with a seemingly endless catalogue of monstrous consumer goods beginning with the Nexus Q. Project Strangelove was the ultimate manifestation of this horrific use of science for evil. It had a single goal: the complete and total destruction of humanity. And nothing, nothing could stop it.
“Good. Good.” Larry Page said as his Doctor Doom armor clanked around the room. Sergey fought to conceal a heavy sigh. It was clearly Doctor Doom: gray metal armor, with a green tunic, brown leather belt, and green hooded cape. It was completely insane to mix such an obvious Marvel comics reference into a painstakingly designed Lord of the Rings setting. Page might as well have dressed up like Lex Luthor or Agent Smith. (And Larry had gone ballistic when Sergey wanted to dress like The Joker.) Brin couldn’t help but actually look forward to the world ending.
Page marched up the steps of a tall ebony marble riser and sat upon his black iron throne. Automatically, a duplicate holograph of the burning eye over the tower came alive and flared for three stories over the throne like a halo of evil. Sergey had to admit, it was a nice touch. The entire throne room was really spectacular, if a little over the top. No expense had been spared in the construction and decorations. Which made it all more heartbreaking that Page couldn’t be consistent in his choice of evil themes.
“Have you seen the You Tube video from Batyr-Aul?” Larry asked.
“You mean the one where Malick is beheaded?”
“Are there any others?”
“Well, yes. I mean, technically, hundreds. There are documentaries about Batyr-Aul, home videos by people living there, some regional cooking shows, nothing with many views but…”
“Yes, yes! I mean the one with Malick!”
“Of course, I’ve seen it, my lord. Many times. That’s how we were able to send a rapid response team to rescue him so quickly.”
“And how is Malick doing?” Page clicked a button on the arm of his throne and a huge holographic screen materialized in the center of the room. The video of Eve cutting off Malick’s head began to loop on it. Page coolly watched the gushing blood splurge up from Malick’s neck over and over as Sergey got nauseous.
“Umm… well. Good, I guess. Exactly as you wished. He seems to be responding well to the treatment. He’s waiting outside for your command.” After the beheading of Eric Schmidt, fear of Jobs’s sword had caused Larry to initiate a special program to reanimate severed heads. To Sergey’s discomfort, it worked. Along with a variety of disgusting features Larry insisted on adding on.
“And the Microsoft exec?”
Sergey’s face fell. “Oh. We didn’t bother to save him. Didn’t think it was important. I’m not even sure where his head is. Did you want us to… ?”
Page waved his steel gloved hand. “No, no. It doesn’t matter. Forget it. Who cares?” Page clicked a button and the video froze with Eve in mid-slice. “I need to talk to you about something more urgent. I have an announcement, Wormtongue. I’ve decided to take a wife.”
“Another, my lord?”
“This one will be different. This one will become my queen of darkness. She will rule over the end of the world at my side.”
“I see, my lord.” Sergey half-heartedly pretended to be interested. “And who is the lucky lady?”
Page smiled and stared pointedly at the still video frame floating in the middle of the room like a huge billboard. The image of Eve with her sword extended into Malick’s throat showed off a sexy sliver of bare side boob in the sports bra.
Sergey froze as a chill ran down his spine as if his blood had turned to ice water. No… it can’t be. Page can’t be serious this time. Is there no end to this descent into swirling insanity?
“My lord… you don’t mean…”
“I certainly do. Doctor Zachara shall be mine!” Page stood up and paced back and forth across the riser. “I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me long before. Eve Zachara is the perfect woman for me. I shall make her my bride and together we will rule over the end of times!”
“But… but she’s a lesbian.”
“She’s bisexual.” Page firmly protested.
“She prefers women. Everyone knows that!”
“I don’t care! She will be mine!”
“She works for Apple! She’s Steve Jobs’s personal protégé!”
“That’s what makes her perfect! What better way to prove my glorious superiority than to turn his most trusted lieutenant into my compliant bedtoy!”
“It won’t work!” Sergey said with increasing urgency. “We’ve already been trying to kill her for years! She’s at the top of Google’s hit list! Even if we captured her, she would never, never have anything to do with… you!” Sergey couldn’t help himself. The thought of Eve with Larry was just too much.
“You’re just jealous. You want her for yourself!”
“Yes! Admit it! Admit it! You don’t want me to have her, because you want her!”
Sergey’s head started to swirl. He found it hard to breathe. It was as if the holograph of the flaming eye was burning up all the oxygen in the room.
“Admit it. Admit it.”
Sergey fell to his knees, exhausted. Of course he wanted her. Eve Zachara was every computer nerd’s ultimate fantasy. Not just because was she beautiful, tall, blond and built, but she was a Stanford Ph.D. On top of that, she could code pretty decently, was an expert in martial arts and the bisexual thing was a huge turn on. Sergey looked up at Page, his eyes filling with tears.
“Please, Larry… don’t do this. Don’t… you’ll just embarrass yourself. You’ll embarrass all of Google. I beg you…”
“It shall be done. Wait and see. Once Eve sees this really cool tower, she’ll have second thoughts. Women like confidence, and I have plenty of confidence. Send in Malick!”
Sergey struggled to get up. His legs were too weak. He felt completely broken. He remembered back when Page and him first met in college. Larry’s idea for the page rank system in web search was pretty good, if somewhat obvious. Brin figured they could make a lot of money if they could figure out how to monetize it, which they did by stealing Overture’s business model. Billions of dollars later, they should have had it all. But deep down, they were both just pathetic nerds. Steve Jobs had dropped acid and had been getting laid regularly long before he had any money. He acted like a rock star even before he could buy and sell real ones. He was unquestionably hip and it was the force of his personality that had made Apple so incredibly cool. Jobs was an artist, like Leonardo DaVinci, John Lennon, or Frank Lloyd Wright. Sergey and Larry would have spent their lives standing in line for Star Wars sequels if they hadn’t stumbled on a untapped market no one cared about and solved it with a simple math formula. Their nerdy personalities made Google so geeky that a turn to unspeakable evil was as close as they could get to having a personality. Larry’s desperate desire to prove he was better than Jobs had doomed their company to failure. And now, Larry would humiliate and destroy them both with the oldest and most predictable demise for any nerdy geeks who stumble into a pile of money: trying to impress a girl who is simply out of their league. Doctor Eve Zachara was way, way out of their league.
“Get a grip on yourself, Wormtongue!” Larry shouted as Sergey crawled across the floor to a huge iron door. “You should be congratulating me! Not groveling in jealousy.”
“Yes, my lord… “ Sergey choked as he reached the door and dragged himself up to his shaky feet. At this point, there was nothing he could do but play out the tragic comedy to its final, absurd conclusion. Brin pulled a large lever and the iron door began to dramatically rise to reveal a strange shadowy shape silhouetted in the glow of the fake flames.
Larry’s eyes sparkled as he spotted Malick standing on the other side, looking exactly as he had hoped. Even better. “Very nice, very nice, Malick. You look much improved.”
“I agree, Lord of Darkness.” Malick said with a smile from his bluish white lips.
“How do you feel?”
“Wonderrrrrfullllll.” Malick said as his voice seemed to echo with electronic reverb. Drool rain from the corner of his lips and his tongue darted out to catch it.
“I have a mission for you, Malick. One I think you will enjoy.”
“Yes, my Lord. It is always my pleasure to serve you.”
“I want you to capture Doctor Zachara. And bring her here, to the Tower of Doom.”
“Yessss! Yeesssss, Looordddd!”
Sergey’s head fell and the jester hat dropped to the floor with a sad tinkle. The thought of this thing… this thing that Malick had become pursuing that beautiful and precious woman make his stomach churn. Much, much worse was the thought, which he tried to force out of his head, was that in some sick, disgusting way… he found it a little bit of turn on.
To be continued…
Next episode: Bite of the Apple