Stories

Avant-garde McDonald's Story Art

The Connoisseur

by Large Dave

Our story begins in a McDonald’s. It is not a particularly remarkable McDonald’s- not by any means, no. In fact, it is, if anything, particularly unremarkable. The Golden Arches on the sign are cracked, allowing unfiltered fluorescent light to shine through. The pavement in the parking lot is crumbling after decades of soaking up rain, Diet Coke, garbage juice, and blood from the occasional street fight. The employees are bored teenagers, working hard to save up for the latest Cardi B single.

The store radio has been on the fritz for a while now. It is not as loud as it should be, and the worn speakers crackle as they play Train’s “Hey Soul Sister” yet again. Nobody is excited to hear that song anymore. Nobody.

Towards the back of the restaurant, just before the McDonald’s Play Place where overwhelmed mothers and lazy fathers on kid duty bring their children to wear themselves out after dazzling them with a Happy Meal, there sits a balding, sour-looking man in a sweat shirt and jeans. The look on his face just screams “I am not happy to be here,” and suggests that he may not be all that happy elsewhere either. He swears under his breath as he finishes a McChicken, then he picks up a french fry. He doesn’t eat it- he examines the fry, and becomes disgusted by it.

The teenager working the register checks her iPhone to see if her friends got back to her about the Cardi B single. ‘I hope Record Express doesn’t run out of tapes,’ she thought to herself. (Is that how kids buy music nowadays? Seriously, someone help me- I have no idea.) She posed for a selfie, but before she could press the shutter button she was confronted by our friend with the sweat shirt. He held a french fry. She blinked, unsure of why he’s returned to the counter. “May I help you, sir?” The man huffed

“Let me speak with your manager.” The cashier didn’t protest. The man’s demeanor showed that he is clearly not in the mood to be nice, so she stepped aside. The manager- a young man with sleeve tattoos- took her place.

“What seems to be the problem, sir?” he asked. “Do you see this french fry?” asked the customer. He held it up inappropriately close to the manager’s face, causing him to recoil.

“I do, sir.” The manager took a step back. “What seems to be the problem?” “The end is broken.” The customer was right- the end of the french fry was broken, as so many of his childhood hopes and dreams must have been for him to complain about a McDonald’s french fry.

“Oh.” The manager wasn’t sure how to respond. “Is this what I paid for?” The customer ordered a small fries. He paid one dollar. “If you don’t like it sir, I can get you another one.” “And how long will that take?” roared the customer. “I ordered my fries with no salt, and you know that means you’ll have to make a fresh one.” He was right- though McDonald’s does keep a great deal of french fries on deck, ready to be scooped up into a

little baggy for the kids or any of their variously sized red cartons, all these fries are salted as soon as they leave the fryer. The manager was speechless. “Why can’t you just get it right the first time?”

“Well sir,” the manager interjected, “I don’t think you’ll notice that the broken end affects the taste of the french fry in any way.” This really set the customer off. His face and his bald head reddened with anger.

“Is this how you treat your customers?” he roared. “All the money I spend here, and you give me a broken french fry! You know what? Here, keep it!” He threw the fry at the manager, who winced as it bounced harmlessly off of his uniform. “You just lost one of your biggest customers!” He started for the door, his feet pounding on the worn linoleum as he went.

“Before you go sir, how much money do you spend here?” the manager asked. The customer turned to face him, still irate. “I-if you don’t mind telling me, I mean.” The customer regarded the manager for a moment, then spat his reply.

“Four dollars every other Thursday.”

Discount Intellectual Property

Snake & Tea’s Discount Movie Ideas

by: Snake and Tea

You always wanted to make a movie, haven’t you? You have everything you need, but all that state of the art equipment doesn’t mean shit if you don’t have any clue what to make your movie about. Eventually that guy who has to hold up the microphone on a boom is going to say “fuck this” and walk out if you got nothing good for him to record. Lucky for you, here at Snake & Tea we’re in the business of making your dreams become a reality. Take a gander at this list of HOT movie ideas we’ve been cooking up that are begging for a spot on the silver screen! We’re willing to let them go for dirt cheap too, even though you’re probably a rich kid. **Like more than a few? Ask about special bundle prices!**

**BARTER OPTIONS NOW AVAILABLE**

“Will it Away”

Literally about a guy’s friend named Will who has the magical ability to cure any disease. Except Herpes. Which, ironically enough, is the only disease he chronically suffers from. Told from Will’s friend’s perspective.

Price: $3.85, or one beer at a bar of your choosing

“The Pummel Horse”

A young man weasels his way into a position at a prestigious all-boys school by claiming he can drop the school’s notoriously high bullying rate. His solution? A class he made-up called “emotional gymnastics”. The intended curriculum being that he encourages the students to take notes on the range of emotions they feel every week, then openly talk about them in front of the class. However, it’s not long until he begins to have flash backs of the days he was bullied in school. As a result, he begins to force the children into break downs during class, through the use of fear-tactics and intimidation. He is fired a few weeks later. The remainder of the movie is him defending his actions in a court of law. It’s supposed to be a comedy.

Price: $9.95, or bar-style nachos at a bar of your choosing

“Mister Bucket”

What are some of the hottest blockbusters coming out of Hollywood right now? If you thought “Board game adaptations”, you were right! That’s why we came up with this red-hot concept, based on the classic 90s interactive game for tiny children. The drooling babies that grew up playing this game aren’t little boys and girls anymore; they’re grown savvy consumers with trendy haircuts, Robinhood apps, and money 2 burn! However, we’ll have to make this a gritty reboot to get their money. Not a problem, because Mister Bucket will make a perfect villain. Not only is he a terrible bucket (he just spits out whatever you put in him, what good is a defiant bucket?) but his ability to hover around the floor while flailing his arms gives him a downright satanic quality. He is a true anti-bucket.  In this suspense/thriller, an ancient Mister Bucket is introduced into an upper-middle-class family’s house in Flushing, Queens. The family’s nanny (played by Fran Drescher) is suspicious of this strange new toy, and for good reason. As the evil Mister Bucket gains more power from the children’s attention, he finally becomes completely autonomous and is out for blood. Locked in the house Fran has to protect the children (all played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) from the sentient bucket after it devours their parents in their sleep. Equipped with the ability to project something gross and/or scary out of it’s mouth (your choice i.e. bees, rats, tiny Steven Tylers), this will be no easy fight. Will they make it out alive? That’s up to you!

**Huge potential for sequels! Mrs. Bucket, Son of Bucket, Bride of Bucket the list goes on!**

Price: $86.75, or 9 pitchers of light-beer at a bar of your choosing and a ride back to our place (poster included)

“I Can’t See Me”

In a tragic and ironic turn of events, pro-wrestling super star John Cena becomes a vampire. After years of people not being able to see him, now he can’t see his own reflection. Despite his father’s (a humble hot-dog salesman who owns and operates a cart on the town green, played by Jon Voight) support of his new vampire lifestyle, John is having a hard time adjusting. Mostly due to the fact that his long time crush, and notorious vampire hater (Kate Hudson) is a clerk at the local Mirror Store. If he goes in, she’ll discover he is a vampire… if he doesn’t, she’ll marry his nemesis Pheten Dockerson (played by Jason Alexander in a toupee). What will he do? Hilarity and hot-dog eating ensues.

Price: It’s not the best, but since you read this far… this one is on the house! Cheers! We’ll still be at the bar though, if you wanted to come hang out.

 

If any of these appeals to you, please contact us! At these low prices, they won’t last for long. The barter options ARE flexible, but we would still insist that they remain items you can get us at a bar (hence the term bar-ter). Also, just to sweeten the pot a bit more, here is a little taste of what kind of movie posters we are capable of producing:

 

 

Victorian England News

Goldsworthy: Part 1

by Mick Murton

It was a rainy night in Victorian London. The dim glow of gas lights lit the streets as the shoe shine boys packed up for the evening, and gamblers made their way to the dark alleys and abandoned buildings where they conducted business. Inside of a poorly maintained pub the owner sat, reading the paper while his sole customer sat at the bar, sipping a warm English ale. It would seem that the British Empire could soon be faced with a tonic water shortage. What, then, would he sell his customers to go with their gin? He couldn’t possibly offer them gin and regular water. Would anyone drink gin and root beer? Just then, his customer spoke up.

“Pardon me, could I trouble you for a gin?” The pub owner nodded. “Of course. One gin and tonic, coming up.” Just as he reached for his ice tongs, his customer spoke up again.

“No no, not gin and tonic. I’ll have straight gin.” Straight gin?, thought the pub owner. The absolute mad lad! Why hadn’t I thought of that?

“One gin, coming up. Straight.” It would seem that he would make it through this tonic water shortage after all! The pub owner poured his customer a gin, and as he did so a rider on horseback galloped by.

The rider was cloaked in dark heavy wool to protect him from the rain. He was on the way to fetch Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, the world renowned surgeon and scientist. He knew he was headed in the right direction, but he didn’t dare check the paper he brought with the address – in this rain, it would only disintegrate. He knew, though, that Gurney’s home would be easy enough to spot as he drew near. Just then, he saw it.

Shining from the third floor windows of Sir Goldsworthy Gurney’s home was the brightest artificial light that the rider or anyone else in Victorian London had ever seen. Having been commissioned by Parliament to build a lighting system for Westminster Palace, he was currently in the process of building the latest iteration of the Bude Light – his own invention – and it would be the most powerful yet. He took a step back to admire the light. With welding goggles on and his sleeves rolled up, he wiped a bead of sweat from his brow. Truly this would be the most powerful gas light ever built! The heat was unbearable. The light was blinding.

Perfect? Not yet.

“Murton!,” Sir Goldsworthy yelled. “More gas!” His assistant, Barry Murton – a relative of mine – was hesitant to comply. He readjusted his welding goggles and, hands shaking, reach for the valve. “Do it, boy!” yelled Goldsworthy. “Give it all the gas we’ve got! I must see how my light shines!”

Meanwhile, downstairs, Goldsworthy’s butler, Mister Jonathan, was preparing a tray of fine cheeses when he heard a knock at the door. “I’m almost there!” he announced. Mister Jonathan made his way to the door and opened it to see a cloaked figure.

“Is Sir Goldsworthy Gurney at home?” the man asked. “It’s an emergency.” “What sort of emergency?” asked Mister Jonathan. “A medical emergency, across town. We need a surgeon imme-”

Before he could finish, a loud explosion from the third floor shook the house violently.

“What on Earth was that?” “That would be Sir Goldsworthy,” Mister Jonathan answered. “He’s upstairs working on a new gas lighting system.” The rider was speechless.

Back upstairs, a soot-covered Goldsworthy Gurney was putting out small fires throughout the workshop with a watering can while a panicked Barry Murton shut every gas valve he could find as quickly as possible. Just as the last flames were quenched, he heard a knock at the door. “Ah! That must be Mister Jonathan with our cheeses. Murton, clean up this mess.” Murton first looked at the destroyed Bude Light prototype, then the burnt crisps of wallpaper that had first peeled off the wall from the heat, then been incinerated in the blast. He let out a defeated sigh and grabbed a broom.

Goldsworthy opened the door and greeted his manservant. “Well met, Jonathan.” Mister Jonathan raised an eyebrow.

“Is everything quite alright, sir?” “Of course it is, my assistant is just cleaning up after our experiment.” As Murton swept, a large tube fell from the destroyed light and hit him in the head. He dropped his broom and clutched his head in pain.

“Well sir, your cheese platter is here, and you have a guest as well.” “Oh?” The rider, now no longer covered in his cloak, took a step forward. “My name is Samuel Throckmorton. Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, we need you across town for surgery. It’s an emergency.” Goldsworthy considered the man for a moment.

“Did you come by horse, Samuel?”

“I did, sir.” Goldsworthy nodded in acknowledgment. “Mister Jonathan, have the stable boys put up Samuel’s horse for the night.”“But sir, I must come with you!” protested Samuel.

“And you will. Murton! Enough cleaning, prepare the Steam Carriage!” Goldsworthy hurried out of the laboratory with Murton close behind. Samuel Throckmorton was puzzled.

“What on Earth is a steam carriage?” Mister Jonathan raised an eyebrow. “Would you like to sample any of these fine cheeses?”

Psychological Thrillers About Breakfast Food

This is Not A Denny’s

A short psychological thriller about America’s Diner, by The Big Snake

I came to in a well-lit booth, sitting with a group of people. My senses still hazy, I scanned their faces… They looked familiar, but I couldn’t put a name to them. Not a single one. Scrambling to get my bearings, I darted my head back and forth and took in the surroundings. We appeared to be in some sort of diner, nothing too fancy… each booth was accented by its own hanging light, the tables seemed relatively clean and the seats had the kind of vinyl wrap that could be wiped clean with a moist rag. No family diner would be crazy enough to splurge on outfitting their booths with a plush fabric, not with all that maple syrup getting slung around. I peer over my shoulder and see a waitress walking away from our booth.

“Where is she going?” I ask out loud. “I’m quite hungry, I would like to order soon…” I was indeed quite hungry, but I was mostly hoping that a humble diner sandwich would calm my nerves… I felt incredibly uneasy.

“She just took our order, Jacob.” said the man sitting next to me in the booth.

“Yes, don’t worry Jacob. I’m sure the food will be out soon. The service here is usually very fast.” The strange yet familiar woman across the table said, leaning forward in an attempt to comfort me.

“But… I didn’t order… did I?” I slumped down in my seat. Considering the position I was in, perhaps I did order and just didn’t remember? I still couldn’t figure out who these people were, let alone where I was. I looked down at the floor. Something felt wrong. Very wrong. “Don’t worry, we ordered for you Jacob. We know what you like here,” said the man.

“Yeah, you get the same thing every time, Jacob!” The woman chimed in right after.

I continued to stare at the ground, as a matter of fact I couldn’t stop. There was something just downright disturbing about it.

“Oh… uh… and what would that be?” I asked, still fixated on the floor.

“A ham, egg and cheese sandwich!” The man replied in a jovial tone.

Just then something hit me… the floor, the reason I felt it was so wrong and disturbing finally revealed itself to me. It wasn’t carpeted! It was tile! I have never known a diner with tile floors! I’ve never been to a Denny’s that didn’t have a carpeted floor, and I was beginning to suspect that this wasn’t a Denny’s at all.

“What did you say I ordered again?” I picked my head up to look the man in the eyes.

“A ham, egg and cheese, Jacob. It’s what you always get.”

I sat quietly, leering at the man for several minutes. He began to look nervous, I could see tiny beads of sweat begin to form on his forehead.

“You mean… A Moon’s Over My-Hammy.” I said, with a quiet intensity that made it feel more like a scream.

“Oh, ummm, yes, that’s what I meant to-” I lunged forward and grabbed the man by the shirt.

“I don’t know who you are, or where you have taken me… but you’re not going to get away with this!”

“Jacob, please… I have no idea what you’re talking about!” I slapped the man in the face and began shaking him violently.

“LIAR!” I screamed. “TELL THE TRUTH”! At this point I had whipped myself into a panicked rage. “This isn’t a Denny’s at all! Is it?!”

“No, it is Jacob, I swear! He just forgot the name of the sandwich, it is an awful hard one to remember! We’ve all had a long night!” the woman across the table interjected urgently.

“Oh, is that right?” I said as I directed my hateful gaze upon her. “What was it that you said about the service here earlier? That is was usually very fast?? Doesn’t sound much like a Denny’s to me.” I exploded to my feet. “And I’m sure as hell not sticking around to find out what it truly is!”

I started making my way towards the door, until I heard someone yell “Grab him!” I was accosted by two large men from behind. I wildly kicked and thrashed about with all my might, like a salmon swimming upstream to it’s ancestral home- except theirs is a spawning pool… and mine is America’s Diner. Despite all my efforts, the large men overpowered me and began dragging me back to the booth I had fled. I could see the disgusting, non-Denny’s egg sandwich that was ordered for me sitting there, waiting for me. What was I going to do? I couldn’t eat it, just the thought of trying to made me absolutely sick to my stomach. As they were forcing me to sit down, I got desperate. So desperate that I soiled myself with the hope that the horrible smell would encourage them to let me leave the restaurant. This did not deter the men at all, as they held me down in place.

“Comfortable now? Jacob?” Asked the woman across the table. “We were just trying to buy you a breakfast sandwich, is all. I don’t understand why you must put up such a fight.”

Without a response or hesitation, I spit in her face.

She calmly wiped my saliva from her cheek, with an evil smirk on her face.

“Now, make him eat it.” She ordered the brutish men.

“No! I won’t do it! NO!” I screeched to the heavens, as one of them picked up the vile sandwich and the other grabbed my head and began to pull my mouth open.

There was nothing I could do at this point, I had to eat it and I did. It tasted fine. But it still wasn’t Denny’s. And I never drank that much again.

Niche Propaganda

Cool Things About Boat Ownership

by: The Big Snake & Mick Murton

Here is just a quick list we figured we should whip up just to highlight few of the many perks that come with owning a boat.

1. Word Play

The word “ownership” contains the word “ship”, which just so happens to be what you own. Pretty neat, huh?

2. Cool Hats

With head-wear like that, you’d double down on the thumbs up too!

As a boat owner, you can call yourself “captain” and wear one of those hats that only real captains and live acts like “The Village People” have the luxury of wearing.

3. The Christening

Just look at the serenity in the faces of these bottle-smashing party animals.

Always wanted a low-risk way to smash a champagne bottle, but never had a Jewish wedding? As a boat owner, it’s not just OK to smash a champagne bottle over your boat, but actually smiled upon as a rich tradition of boat ownership. Smash away!

4. Floating on Top of Yummy Food

Your boat might as well be perched on top of this delicious fish pile.

Try parking your stupid land vehicle on the side of the freeway and casting out a line. The only thing you’ll catch is a whole lot of guff from the state police. In a boat? A fish so fresh you’ll just want to bite right into it. Like an apple.

5. Conquest

You know what these little islands are missing? You living on one of them and not paying your taxes.

Your new boat has the power to take you to one of those little islands in the middle of your nearest river, which you may then claim as your own. I don’t know how legal this is, but who’s going to stop you?

6. Tuna Boat Inception

Shout out to the makers of “Gimp”, the FREE photo editing program which allowed The Big Snake to create this shitty picture of three guys holding a big tuna sandwich.

A tuna boat is a type of boat used to catch wild tuna. A tuna boat is also a kind of tuna sandwich served in a hot dog roll. You can pack a cooler full of these bad boys and bring them on your tuna boat, then eat a tuna boat on a tuna boat.

8. The Houseboat

The phrase “Now you’re cookin’ with gas!” should be changed to “Now you’re livin’ on a house boat!”

If you have a houseboat (or as we call them, a true boat), your backyard is a body of water as untamed and free flowing as your restless heart. Now un-dock that beauty, and enjoy a lifetime of floating down the mighty Mississippi to the sound of your own trumpet playing.

Petty Scams

The Big Snake’s Guide to Getting Free Shit

by: The Big Snake

I sat down about a month ago and thought to myself…. when was the last time I heard “Hey bud, this one’s on the house!” And I’ll be damned, I couldn’t recall! I also couldn’t recall if I have ever actually heard that before, or if it was just said on a re-run of Cheers playing in the background of a bar where I was already very drunk.

Semantics aside, there isn’t a soul on this earth that doesn’t long to hear those words at least once in awhile. Whether it be at your favorite bar, coffee shop, or used tire shop, those few simple words make you feel like dropping your hard earned coin there is noted and appreciated. In these “hard” economic times however, fewer and fewer establishments are willing to hand out a freebie. It’s like everyone has gone stingy on us hard working folks who are just trying to live ever-so-slightly above our means. What are we to do? Ol’ Snake has a solution…. Email corporate.

Now before you say anything, I understand this tactic will not work at one of your local mom and pop stores. That’s fine. My goal is to help you supplement your daily intake of whatever this consumable item is by cutting it with the corporate version. This way you can maximize your supply with minimal funding, like a drug dealer does. It’s gonna take work though.

First let’s talk about the history of “emailing corporate”. Long a tactic employed by perpetually unsatisfied white-couples and people who are angry about something else, emailing corporate will usually get you something you want. Whether that be an apology you DO NOT deserve or a coupon for your next drink half-off, they will respond with something for you. This “I’m angry at your staff” technique, however, gets you something at the expense of the poor people who have to work in a corporate hell-hole for a pittance. It also makes you look like a total asshole (but you wouldn’t care, because you are). While being really angry is an easy way to get what you want, my new and improved technique will get you what you want through other means: Being complimentary.

As a result of the behavior discussed in the previous paragraphs, corporations now almost always have a dedicated staff of human punching bags just to handle the deluge of angry complaints from retirees across the country. In a sea of unreasonable complaints riddled with grammatical errors and pending lawsuits your nice email is going to stick out like that balding, chubby Bee-Gee next to his handsome brothers with the beautifully feathered hair (see bottom for illustrated example). I like to call this the ‘Ugly Gibbs Brother” effect.

Don’t be afraid to really heap it on too, check out my example in an email sent to convenience store chain, Cumberland Farms:

Wow, now that is some high praise. Notice how I added in a few factors here to make this email really shine. One, I made it abundantly clear that it was my birthday. Two, I asked for way more than they could have possibly given me.

If you think requesting an entire film crew was a bit too much…. you would be right, because they responded with this:

 

 

Alright, fair enough Cumberland Farms. In retrospect this was my fault for painting myself as a lonely sad-sack who wrote a convenience store chain just to let them know his birthday plan was to go to a bunch of their locations by himself. While demanding a film crew.

This initial response did not phase me however, I wanted those free hot-dogs and/or coffees. Bad. So I decided to play into the pitiful role I had already laid out with this:

 

**ADDRESS CHANGED TO PROTECT MY PRIVACY, ALTHOUGH I DO FREQUENT THIS DENNY’S** 

This follow up email did two things for me. Firstly, it affirmed to the customer service center that my first email was not just a silly prank. I was serious about this birthday gas station tour, the film crew, the whole lot of it. Second, it heaped even more pity on top of an already unbearably pitiful story. The body of that text might as well read “Please respond to my email Cumberland farms, you are literally all I have…”

Then the magic happens:

 

 

Thank you, Maureen, for saving my birthday!

Finally, I have my prize. Two coupons for a free beverage worth 99 cents or less (retail value) and it only took seven days, four emails, and hours of planning my next move. Next time someone asks me how much my time is worth, I’m going to say “One dollar and ninety-eight cents, plus tax.” without hesitation. And so should you.

This is not an exact science, but more of an art, as you can see. So if you have any trouble with getting your free drink coupons feel free to contact me directly for guidance. Or if you represent a company that would like to send me free drink coupons, you can contact me as well. Just remember to never give up, not until you have claimed what is rightfully yours. As promised earlier, I will leave you with a little picture to help you remember my “Ugly Gibbs Brother Effect” Thank you.

 

Victorian England News

The Royal Flush

A story addressing current events from almost 200 years ago, by Mick Murton

The date was June 5th, 1867. It was a foggy Wednesday afternoon in Victorian London. All throughout the streets you could see the usual assortment of tea-sipping dandies and meat salesmen going about their daily business while the women rolled expensive cigars for railroad tycoons- all in all, nothing out of the ordinary. At London Harbor, however, something unusual awaited.

Offshore in the harbor, large curtains covered an area that had been restricted from the public eye. For months workers labored- welding, tightening bolts, pouring concrete, fitting pipes, and doing all sorts of work that left the people of London wondering just what in the blazes was going on. Lately, thick black clouds of smoke and puffs of steam started erupting from behind the curtains, and the sound of running water could be heard. Was it another ship? Nobody knew, but today they would find out.

On the shore, a viewing area had been set up. Ordinary people stood, staring in awe, wondering what could be happening beneath the massive curtained area. They were promised to be shown a feat of engineering unlike anything they had ever seen, and it was certainly a big deal- rising above the crowd was a grandstand filled with high class socialites, nobles, even members of the Royal Family and Queen Victoria herself. This was a crowd that could not have been gathered except for one purpose- to view the latest engineering feat of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, a man famous throughout the British Empire as one of its greatest engineers. After the launch of the Great Eastern- an oceangoing steamship deemed impractical due to its sheer massive size- Isambard had disappeared for a few years, but today he returned to unveil what he claimed to be his greatest work ever. Most historical accounts state that Brunel had died shortly after the launch of this ship due to stress related illness, but the truth is far stranger.

On a stage just outside of the restricted area, built just for this event, he stood waiting. At 2:00 sharp, he stood tall and cleared his throat. All eyes were upon him. “Behold,” he began, “my greatest creation of all time!” He walked over to a decorative rope and gave it a tug…

———————————————————————————————————–

July 4th, 1864. Brunel, in his workshop, dips his fountain pen into an inkwell and begins maniacally scribbling out more designs. His assistant, William Livingston Murton- a relative of mine- watches dumbfounded. He picks up a discarded sheet of paper and attempts to interpret the madly scribbled technical drawing.

“What’sis, guv?” asks William. Brunel stops scribbling, startled. A single bead of sweat drips down his forehead. Heart racing, he takes his handkerchief and wipes his brow.

“Schematics, William. We’ve gone over this.”

“But this don’t look much like a ship, Izzy.” William squints and turns the paper a few ways.

“It’s not a ship!” Brunel roars, slamming his work desk with both fists. The inkwell jumps, splashing drops of ink on an unused section of the paper. He pauses to be sure that the ink isn’t going to spread, then resumes his drawing.
“What is it, then?”
“My greatest work yet, William. Something so large, so powerful… By the beard of Thor, the world has never seen anything like it!”
“Looks like a swimming pool, innit?” Brunel chuckled.

“No no no, my dear boy. What you see here is no pool. I have a plan to build something of such great utility that every city in the world will be clamoring to buy one from me!”

William simply stood there, mouth agape.

“Aren’t you going to ask what it is?”

“A machine that lets people talk to one another across long distances?” asked William. Brunel shook his head.

“Stupid boy, such a thing would never work. This is going to be the world’s largest toilet!” He grabbed a series of rolled up documents from a holder behind him and rolled them out before his assistant.

“How powerful is it, guv?”
“Powerful enough to change the world,” said Brunel. “And I have to finish it soon, before that fool Robert Stephenson finishes his.” (In truth, Robert Stephenson had no plans to build such a thing.)
“Yours will be bigger?”
“Yes,” Brunel stated confidently. “If I know Stephenson, he will be using locomotive engines. We’re using something much more powerful.”

“Oxen, guv?”
“What in the blazes are you- No William, steamship engines! By the Crown of Britannia, what do I keep you around for?” William had no answer for that.

————————————————————————————————————–

Back in the present day, Isambard Kingdom Brunel gave the rope hanging from his cordoned-off work area a strong pull. “Behold!” he roared, as the curtains dropped off from around his greatest work yet. The crowd gasped in awe.

“Good heavens!” a nobleman declared, his monocle falling to the ground. His wife fainted in her seat next to him.

In the front row, a commoner leaned in to the man next to him. “It looks like a big ol’ toilet, innit?” And indeed it was- standing at over 300 meters tall and made of steel reinforced concrete, this was in fact the largest and most powerful toilet ever built.

Thick black smoke poured from smokestacks in the boiler column behind the toilet. Having been burning all day, the steam pressure was finally sufficient to drive the engines. Massive steam pistons turned, driving pumps that filled the toilet’s enormous tank. With each back and forth motion of each engine’s individual pistons, a puff of saturated steam was emitted, letting out a discernible chuff. The crowd stood, in stunned disbelief, unable to believe what they were seeing.

“As you can see,” Brunel began, “around the entire edge of the toilet bowl is a catwalk.” He motioned towards the rim of the bowl as he spoke. “Stalls are placed at regular intervals so that you may do your business in private- yes that’s right, you- this toilet is open to the public.”

Up in the grandstand, the Archbishop of Canterbury approached the Queen’s seat. He took a knee before her. “Your Majesty, I do hate to be so forthcoming as to make a request, but… please! This is as absurd as it is obscene, you must do something!” Queen Victoria considered the request, then stood up.

“Give us a demonstration!” That was not what the Archbishop had in mind.

More than happy to oblige, Brunel signaled a worker atop the toilet’s tank. He waved in acknowledgement and turned a wheel, opening the valve that operated the flushing mechanism. As the massive valve opened, thousands of gallons of water poured into the bowl. A mighty roar of rushing water echoed throughout London as the bowl filled, and then it reached critical mass- now the toilet would drain, directly into the harbor.

Had he been more careful or less shortsighted, Isambard Kingdom Brunel would have realized his fatal error here. So massive and powerful was this toilet that each flush introduced enough water into the harbor in a short enough amount of time that the effect is as if the tide came in multiple times, and all at once. As the water in the harbor rose, anchored boats and ships crashed against their docks. Workers fled as the waters then rose above the docks, climbing higher still until even those ashore were not safe. Harbor water flooded in through the sewers and began bursting up through manholes. Spectators in the standing area now began to flee, and those in the grandstand watched in horror as the ever-rising tide drew near. The streets ran like rivers, and even London’s brave meat salesmen abandoned their wares as they sought refuge. As the tide came out, boxes of tea, fruit stands, and many racks of top hats awaiting purchase were washed out into the harbor.

Brunel himself was shocked- he didn’t expect this result. He had been too preoccupied with the magnificence of his creation to ever consider a consequence like this. He surveyed the wreckage, and then gazed towards the grandstand. He could see Queen Victoria still there, looking greatly irritated. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest. He reached up and removed his hat, holding it before him. He opened his mouth to apologize, but before he could, the Queen stood and issued an order, backed by the full authority of the Crown.

“Off with his head!”