AMAZORK - by Zachary Mason

Last night I was working weak and weary over amazon code with an old infocom game running in the background. I fell asleep over my keyboard? I woke up at 3 in the morning with QWERTY firmly ground into my cheek and the following file on my desktop. With an eerie thrill of recognition, I began to read...

begin file

Hello, sailor! You are in a large pink deco-gothic building adorned with anchors and caducei - the international headquarters of!

You are on the first floor in an office full of door desks, computers and software engineers. There is a large bay window here. A passage leads to the west.


You are carrying:

a blue badge.

a pager.

a Sirius Systems damping field generator.

a coffee cup.

Coffe Cup

a Dell laptop with wireless.

The coffee cup is half full of:

  acidic, viscous, luke-warm coffee.

> Leave amazork

I don't think that would be very responsible while you're carrying your pager, do you?

> drop pager

It falls to the ground with a clunk.

> Leave amazork

You head for the front door but realize that the pager has mysteriously reappeared in your pocket.

> Destroy pager

How do you want to destroy the pager?

> Punch pager

You hurt your hand. The pager seems unimpressed.

> Scream


(Do you feel any better now?)

> look at pager

The pager is a sleek black ovoid. A small green light blinks cheerily. There is a label on the back that reads:

"Frobozz Magic Pagers represent the latest in magical paging technology. In order to be absolutely certain that you receive every single important page, no matter the time of day or night, your Frobozz Magic Pager[tm] will instantly reappear on your person if you should happen to lose it. You will also be pleased to know that your Frobozz Magic Pager is entirely, totally, completely indestructible by any means! [For best results, keep Frobozz Magic Pager away from water.]"

> put pager in coffee

You dunk your pager in your coffee like its a donut.

> get pager

As you pull it out of the coffee an addendum to the pager's label emerges into visibility:

"P.S. Due to many workplace accidents, we have secured your pager against coffee related damage. Just be sure not to get it in any other kind of liquid. -Your Friends at the Frobozz Magic Pager Company."

> look at blue badge

Hunh. You don't remember being that ugly.

> sigh


> look out window

You see the shipping crawling across refulgent Puget Sound.

> west

Ok, you're in the lobby.

A dim passage leads to the east - from it emanates a dismal waft. To the west are twisty turny rows of cubicles, all alike. To the north there is a coffee bar, attended by Patricia the barista. You can also go up or down in the stairwell.

There is a cave-bear skeleton here.


> hello bear

The bear grins at you. Since its a skeleton, it doesn't have much choice.

> why is there a skeleton in the lobby?

Maybe it wouldn't fit in the closet.

> what is the object of this game?

Now there's a deep philosophical question...

Rick Dalzell enters from the west.

> give pager to bear

The cave-bear skeleton graciously declines your kind offer.

Your coffee has gotten cold. (Not that it was all that hot to begin with.)

Looking through a pile of papers, Rick Dalzell exits up the staircase. As he leaves, he drops a paper. It floats on an apparently random course through the air, bobbing and weaving whimsically, til it lands at your feet.

> get paper

As you stoop to pick up the paper you notice it has " Confidential! Do not read unless authorized!" written on top. You prudently refrain from picking it up.

> get paper

I don't think that would be very nice, do you?

> get paper. get paper.

Ok, ok. You get the damn paper.

> read it

*************************** - Confidential! Do not read unless authorized!


Since super saver shipping worked so well, we decided to further expand our delivery options by offering instantaneous delivery. Since quantum teleportation is still in its infancy as a technology, the best alternative seems to be orbital fulfilment centers with ballistic delivery systems. So far, we've successfully built a prototype magnetic railgun that serves most of the western United States. While it does deliver items within seconds, as planned, we have not worked out all of the kinks (not to mention the, ahem, liability issues.)

We have been pursuing a partnership with some contacts Jeff made in the course of his space exploration work. The technology transfer is promising but the long term ramifications are unclear.

In case what amounts to the militarization of e-commerce becomes impractical, we've also been pursuing a more conventional method for rapid distribution in desnely populated urban areas. You can go take a look at the prototype on the top floor of PAC (you'll need your "special-access" key, though.)



> North.

At the espresso stand. Various unbelievably tacky postcards are for sale here, along with some glutinous SodexHo(tm)-brand pastries.

To the west is an interview room. A programmer, bored, and a candidate, nervous, are inside.

> buy coffee

Patricia smilingly prepares a tasty, piping-hot caffeinated beverage for you.

"Well, it would depend on the terrain", you hear the candidate say, pulling on his collar. "And whether the grizzly, or 'ursus horribilis', had any genes from his larger, fiercer cousins to the north, the mighty polar bear. And let us not forget the gentle lowland gorilla's fundamentally peaceful disposition."

The programmer stifles a yawn and makes a note.

> south

In the lobby.

> up to floor 15.


After much huffing and puffing...

Ok, you're on the fifteenth floor. There is nothing here except a door to the roof.


> kick door

Using your shotokan karate training you give the door a mighty side-thrust kick. KIA!! The door breaks into flinders. Only then do you realize it was actually unlocked. Nice going, tough-guy.

> shrug


> go to roof

You are standing on the roof. It is a beautiful clear day - the sun is warm on your face. Puget Sound glitters below you. There is a sweeping Panorama of downtown Seattle.


There is a catapult here.

> look at catapult

The Catapult, apparently built by Frobozz Magic Siege Engine Company, appears to be immensely powerful, and battery operated. The aiming controls are incredibly arcane and complex. There is a label on the catapult. It reads: "Super enhanced version that overcomes the laws of physics as they apply to critical velocity of small roughly ellipsoidal objects!"

The catapult is empty.

The catapult is pointed toward the Bank of America building.

> aim catapult at water

You have no idea how to work the controls. You bravely prod at them anyway and succeed in producing a smell of ozone and the sound of grinding machinery.

> put pager in catapult

The pager fits nicely into the catapult's cup.

> logon to laptop. go to search for "catapults AND aiming AND frobozz."

You logon to the amazork website. Your websearch turns up: "Aiming Frobozz Magic Catapults for Dummies".

The A9 widget wonders whether you would be interested in links to pre-owned weasel habitats for sale at deep discounts.

Your goldbox shakes enticingly! Entice entice!!

> ignore goldbox

Ok. (You don't actually have to specify that you want to ignore the goldbox.)

> buy book

Your shipping options are: FREE super saver shipping (8 days) regular shipping (3 days) orbital railgun shipping (2 seconds)

> railgun

You have ordered "Aiming Magic Frobozz Catapults for Dummies" with orbital railgun shipping. Do you want gift wrap?

> no

Do you want to "share the [CENSORED]"?

> no

You place your order. Two seconds pass...

You are blinded by Cerenkov radiation and deafened by a sonic boom. When you can see again, you notice a hole at your feet. The cross-section of the hole is roughly the shape of a "For Dummies" book. Peering down into it you see faces peering up at you from the mailroom, seventeen floors below.

You could get in trouble for this.

> reorg

Ok, you reorganize all zero of your direct reports. Way to stay out of trouble, Hoss.

Perhaps you'd like to coin an acronym?

> feh

I don't know how to feh.

> look at damping field generator

A beautiful little machine several tech levels above anything else available on Earth. It is about the size and shape of a PDA. It has a label:

"Operating your Sirius Systems Damping Field Generator: This handy device generates a field that will reduce the speeds of even very massive objects travelling at relativistic speeds to about five miles an hour. To power it, just immerse it in any convenient source of brownian motion!"

> put generator in coffee

It fits nicely in your coffee cup.

The hair on the back of your neck stands on end. A pigeon flying past you looks as though it is flying through invisible molasses.

> buy book with railgun shipping

You place your order. Two seconds pass...

You are blinded by Cerenkov radiation and deafened by a sonic boom. When you can see again, you notice a copy of "Aiming Frobozz Magic Catapults for Dummies" at your feet.

> read book

Fascinating! And according to a promotional flier that flutters out of the book, you can get a good deal on a FrobbCard International.

> aim catapult at water

Using your new found knowledge, you effortlessly manipulate the complex device...


> remove damper from coffee

You retrieve the soggy, caffeinated field generator from your coffee.

Your hair settles back down onto your neck. Birds fly past unimpeded.

> fire catapult

As you pull the trigger, your pager goes off with a Sev 2. BEEP BEEP BEEP. Oh well.

The catapult lashes forward. Your pager goes arcing off into the distance. You follow its trajectory til it disappears toward Puget Sound. A moment of silence. Then...


A mushroom cloud of water hangs over the sound for a second, then disperses to gravity and the wind, misting over the pleasure craft looking on in wonder.

[Your score has gone up by 40 pts!]

With the pager destroyed, you are free! The wind rushing through your hair, you feel exultant. Fireworks go off over Elliot Bay. A fleet of dirigibles emerges from the far distance and flies by directly overhead! They are all trailing rope ladders and heading south. Their trajectories seem to be converging on the roof of PAC.

> look at dirigibles

There are a few huge ones with some small nimble ones darting in and out between them. One of the largest has "GOOG" written on its side (you recognize several Amazork programmers clambering up this dirigible's ladder.)

> hello dirigibles

You wave - figures silhouetted by the fading sun lean out of the gondolas to wave back at you.

The dirigibles are about to pass you by.

> grab ladder

You grab the rope ladder of one of the smaller, nimbler dirigibles. Seattle opens up below you, then, as the dirigible gains altitude, the islands, the Sound and the Cascades. Across the Lake to the Northeast you see the darkness stirring in the Empire of Portals. You turn your back on it and are whisked off toward new adventures in the fabled, glorious (and it is reputed substantially less rainy) lands to the south!!


Your score: 120/+infinity.

Your rank: Senior Algorithms Engineer.

Be sure to play the story's next exciting installment, "AMAZORK II: The VC of Frobozz"!!

Zachary Mason, an alumnus, is now the Vivian Darkbloom professor of pure and applied lepidoptery in Barra Colorado, Costa Rica. His first novel, The Lost Books of the Odyssey, was published by Farrar Straus Giroux in 2010."