The Lord of the... whatever, Rare Manuscripts:

The Black Gateway Closes

Before the next day dawned their journey to Microdor was over. The sewage
treatment plants and strip malls were behind them. Before them, beige
against a light gray sky, the great mountains reared their threatening

Upon the west of Microdor marched the gloomy range of Ephel Deumille, the
Mountains of Shadow, and upon the north the broken users and barren
promises of Ered Lemoi, grey as despair. But as these ranges approached
one another, being indeed but parts of the great wall about the mournful
plains of Seattle and of Redmond, and bitter inland lake of Washington
amidmost, they swung out long service packs northward; and between these
releases there was a deep pit of despair. This was Cirith Gagates, the
Haunted Pass, the entrance to the systems of the Enemy. Upon the hills
stood the offices of the lawyers, two skyscrapers strong and tall. In the
days long past they were built by the Men of Gondor® while engaged in
the copyright wars with the Wainrider Brothers. But the lawsuits of
Gondor® failed, and lawyers golfed, and for long years the offices stood
empty. Then Sauron returned. Now the legal-offices, which had fallen into
disrepair, were recarpeted and filled with ceaseless memoing.

Across the mouth of the pass, from cliff to cliff, the Dark Lord had built
a firewall in Visual Basic. In it there was a single port for TCP, and
upon its battlement netadmins paced unceasingly. Behind the firewall on
either side the rocks were bored into a hundred cubicles and maggot-holes;
there a host of flaks lurked, ready at a signal to issue forth their FUDs
and press releases. None could pass the Teeth of Microdor and not feel
their subpeona, unless they were summoned by Sauron, or knew the secret
root passwords (BILLISGOD) that would open the black gateway of his land.

The two hobbits gazed at the offices and the firewall in despair. Even
from the distance they could see in the dim light the movement of
graveyard shift upon the wall, and overtimers before the gateway. They lay
now sampling a packet stream beneath the outstretched shadow of the
northmost butress of Ephel Deumille.

Day came, and the fallow sun blinked over the lifeless dividers of Ered
Lemoi. Then suddenly the cry of brazen-throated strumpets were heard:
another wasted night waiting for programmers on all-nighters trying to fix
that one last bug. Another dreadful day of fear and toil had come to
Microdor; the programmers were summoned to their apartments and
cafeterias, and the support people were marching to their posts, for
another long day of ignoring ringing palantirs.

'Well, here we are!' said Sam. 'Here's the Gateway, and it looks to me as
if that's about as far as we are ever going to get.' Sam continued to
drone on in his self-deprecating format until Frodo was considering
sticking ell-long steel spikes through his eardrums. 'I suppose it's no
good asking "what do we hack now?" We can't go no further--unless we want
to ask the Orcs for a free upgrade.'

'No, no!' said Saddam. 'No use! We can't ping further! Spiegel said so! He
said: we'll go to the Gateway, and then we'll see! And we do see! O yess,
my process, we do see! Spiegel knew hobbits could not telnet this way! O
yes, Spiegel knew!'

'Then what the plague did you bring us here for?' whined Sam, not
realising that he was falling for the old trick of the upper class that
kept the lower classes quarreling instead of uniting and freeing
themselves. He and Saddam drifted into a long discussion as Saddam
attempted to enlighten Sam.

'Oh, shut up,' said Frodo. His face was pallid and quavering, but
dissolute. He was filthy, haggard, and bloated with worms scrounged from
the settling ponds, and he cowered still, and his eyes were muddy. He
looked the same as usual. 'Yes, I said come here, because I propose to
access the web content of Microdor, and I know no other way. Therefore I
shall send ICMP packets this way. I do not ask anyone to browse with me.'

'No, no, master!' wailed Saddam, pawing at his wallet pocket, and seeming
in great distress in hopes of winning an Oscar in the movie even if the
author of this particular chapter would never get a Pulitzer. 'No use
that way! No use! Reverse address tracing! Insecure commodised protocols!
Cookies follow your every clickstream! Don't take Propietary Information
to Him! He'll eat us all, if He decides to dominate this marketplace! Keep
it, nice master, and be kind to Spiegel! Don't let Him clone it! Or go
away, go to upstate New York, and give venture funding to little Spiegel!
Spiegel will develop it open source; he will do lots of good, especially
to nice hobbits! Hobbits retire! Don't browse the Gateway!'

'My inheritance lies in the land of Microdor, and therefore I shall go,'
said Frodo. 'If there is only one gateway, then I must connect through it.
What comes after must come.'

Sam said nothing. The look on Frodo's face was enough for him: he knew
that that wimp would never have the gumption to actually do anything. And
after all he never had any real hope of getting rid of parasitic upper
class scum so easily. Now they had come to the bitter end. Sam realised
that he would have to sacrifice himself and bodily carry Frodo up to the
attorneys's offices. His master would not go to Microdor alone. He slowly
and secretly drew his stiletto--and at any rate he would get rid of

Saddam, however, did not intend to be written out of the story yet. 'Not
this way, master!' he pleaded. 'There is another way! O yes indeed there
is! Another way, darker, more difficult, more open source! But Spiegel
knows it! Let Spiegel show you!'

'Another way!' said Frodo desperately. 'Not some stupid Third Way, I hope.'

'Yess! Yess indeedy-doo. There was another way. Spiegel downloaded it!
Let's go and see if the Redhat ftp site is still there!'

'You have not spoken of this before.'

'No! Master did not offer nondisclosure agreement! Poor Spiegel doesn't
know Master's business plan and must guesses! But other way, yess is
there! Let Spiegel show and like talk Yoda not anymore he!'

Sam frowned. The people's liberation would have to be put off by at least
yet another chapter. Meanwhile Frodo in a transparent, and pathetic,
attempt to appear resolute continued to stare at the legal office. Then
there was a brief vision of a thin wraith of a woman in the tower. Frodo
shuddered involuntarily and turned away. 'Okay, spill the beans.'

In rather pointless aside, before listening to Saddam's expository
dialogue, Frodo looked out from their hiding place toward the dark cliff
of Cirith Gagates. The cubicle in which they had taken refuge was in an
abandoned dot-com office, at some height above a long cable-filled trench
that lay between it and the outer bitstreams of the mountains. By
morning-light it was clear that all the data paths coverged on the Gateway
of Microdor. Shorter paths and more responsive systems had been abandoned
in favour of Sauron retaining absolute control of every byte that passed
through his realm.

As he gazed Frodo became aware that there was great stir on the plain.
Whole armies of fibre optical installers were busy laying cables and
wiring up the wastelands. Then he knew that the hope that he had for one
wild moment stirred in his heart was vain. The networking was not strung
in challenge to the Dark Lord, but as strategic alliances to aid him.
Finally, suddenly aware of the peril of their position, Frodo hid under an
old desk and pleaded for Saddam to explain himself.

'Yess, yess, master!' said Saddam. 'Dreadful danger! Spiegel's disk drive
shudders to think of it, but he doesn't run away! He must help nice

'I do not mean the danger that we all share,' said Frodo. 'I mean a danger
to yourself alone. Every single sentence you have uttered in this chapter
has ended in an exclamation point. Do you really think that the Academy
will accept emphatic declamation as a substitute for real emotional
development? Not only are you throwing away a chance for a Best Supporting
Actor Oscar in the movie, but now you aren't even in the running for a
People's Choice Award.'

Gollum growled and whined and made some vague comments about a canned film
festival. He grovelled on the ground could speak no clear words without

Frodo waited impatiently for a while, then he spoke again just as
urgently. 'Come now, Saddam or Spiegel or McGill or Nancy if you wish,
tell me of this other way. I am in haste to change my spoiled knickers.'

Tired of providing any further dialogue that would just be ridiculed by
the critics, Saddam demanded that the author summarise the remaining
exposition. Saddam spoke of fjords, of mooses swimming the enchanted ice
streams, of a sun that never set, and of a miraculous land of Finns. He
spoke of their industriousness and intelligence, and a peaceful easy
feeling. It was obvious to both Frodo and Sam to be a total pack of lies.
But he also spoke of a new kind of system, robust and efficient, that was
increasingly deployed on the turnpikes and bridges that networked the
land. This new system had partially broken through the barriers of
Microdor to the south at the great mall of Minas Kmart.

There was much that Saddam was not telling them. Sam speculated that this
new system would be poorly documented and only support a command line
interface to configure it. He suspected that it would appeal to expert
mountain climbers and not someone as flabby and out of shape as Frodo.
However Frodo's terror was obvious as was his desire to clutch any straws
provided. With a reluctant sigh, Sam sheathed his stiletto and nodded in
acquiescence to Saddam's plan.

Saddam continue for many more paragraphs of redundant exposition that can
safely be elided. It will all be explained in the Appendices or Intestines
anyway. When Frodo asked if the way was guarded, Saddam explained that
Microdor was powerless to deal with the system's incursion directly. Frodo
accepted Saddam's claims without close examination. All that he really
wanted at the moment was a warm meal, his bed, and his mommy.

They woke in the middle of the day at the sound of saber rattling. Saddam
was cowering in a corner as Nazdaqs patrolled Microdor's no maggot zone
overhead. A few weeks earlier the Dark Lord had appointed a new head
lackey, a Black Numenor named George of the Bungle. Stung by the laughter
and mockery of the Orcs, George asserted his authority by blasting some of
the more dangerous bushes and sinster stones near the gateway. Saddam
explained that they only need remain quiet for a few hours until George
became bored.

Then there was a sound of marching that would have terrified the timorous
trio if they weren't already on the verge of total cellular collapse.
Saddam connected to Durthangcam to see what was happening. It showed a
vast array of marching Aolholes and Warnerborgs marching south against the
compact dells to join the clone wars.

Frodo connected to his mailserver and downloaded an animated gif from
Cassiopeia. The text read simply, 'Hump me, Obi-wan Baggins. You're my
only hope.'

'Was there rational ending for this chapter?' asked Sam.

'No, no endings. What is ending?' said Saddam.

Sam stood up, putting on his electric guitar (as he always did when
'mangling poetry'), and began:

    I'm feeling just so funky
    this chapter is so junky.
    Frodo's gone all chunky
    eating all the twinkies.
    We've marched so far like slinkies
    across the feet of stinkies.
    I wish I could be sunny
    and end this chapter funny,
    then clean my nose all runny.
    But Dementia 13 is playing
    and my mind the movie is a-flaying.
    For me the killfiles are preying
    and clueless critics crying.
    Let this chapter go on trying
    and no more neurons frying.

Draft of Book IV, Chapter Two / Table of Contents / Draft of Book IV, Chapter Four
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This exciting piece of draft material is presented through the courtesy of China Blue O'Brien 2 <mlindanne-aaaaaaat-hotmail-dawt-com>. Copyright © 2000 by the author. All rights reserved. Some variance between this e-text and the original printed material by Professor Tolkien is inevitable. Using this as an electronic resource for scholarly or research purposes may lead to a certain degree of academic embarassment. All agree that the printed version of the text, available from respectable publishers such as Houghton Mifflin and Ballantine Books, is to be preferred. Gondor™ is a trademark of Saul Zaentz and Tolkien Enterprises, who hold all merchandising rights to Gondor™ and its subsidiaries. Linux versions of this chapter are not yet available.