Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is positively the most zarkingly profound book I've ever read. Though far from breviloquent and incongruent to the tacit entries such as "mostly harmless" in the guidebook expounded on in a book bearing the same name but seeming to have escaped the onslaught of editors assistants, the five part trilogy weaves into the, at times, seemingly nonsensical happenings of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox and others, sage thoughts on the nature of life, the universe and everything in it. They pop out and smack you in the brain when you least expect it. You don't see it coming about as much as a blind man does a Prius under 35mph (over 35mph they are required by law to make noise so as to alert blind folks to get out of the way since it is now known that blind folks “can all see with their ears. Most just don't want to”.)
Less than three decades ago, auditory “seeing” was “discovered” by a sighted cretin named Williaminus Gothradki. He claimed that the visually impaired could in fact "see" using their two ears to collect and assemble a picture in their minds and he could show them how. The blind only needed to join his club for a nominal monthly fee (swearing of irrevocable allegiance was later found in the fine microscopic braille embedded in the membership contracts which everyone mistook for an aberration in the printer stock...he got away with it because he had sharks for lawyers but that's another story). Williaminus of course had never been blind and insisted that he must remain thus per the guru from which he learned the technique then kitschely trademarked “earsighteness”, as his “thorn-in-the-side” to keep him humble. The “guru” it turns out after much investigative mucking about, was a fly that had landed on his shoulder 2 hours into his tortuously long, 1 month prison sentence for defrauding several million seniors out of their pensions. It wasn't considered a terribly heinous crime since five out of every five governments was doing it. Getting your self labled as an unsanctioned government got the 1000 year sentence reduced to 1 month. As already was established – he had sharks for lawyers.
2 hours is hardly enough time to get processed into most corrections facilities, but with the revolving door the prison system had turned into, after much statistical analysis and beard stroking – it was agreed that the simplest thing to do was lock each inmate in a floating cell which would be launched into a giant shark tank/lake surrounded by massive concrete walls thus cutting the processing time down to 1 hour and 13 minutes (an entire hour spent waiting in the queue and thirteen minutes to step into the cell, have the door slam shut as delousing rays run you through while the friendly cartoon guard on the screen loops “have a nice stay and happy rehibilatation” every ten seconds. You then wait 7 minutes for the compressor to charge up the air cannon that launches cells out into the tank. All in all a fairly simple fool proof system of entry. Getting out is a story for an entirely different time.
The sharks for their part were a subsection of the species that had set out to be lawyers but lacking the intellectual capacity settled for the next thing with the word law in it. In their defense, it should be noted that shark law is a convoluted extension of maritime law where the proverbial waters are murky at best on issues like the move-your-dorsal fin-lose-your-seat rule for instance. In an environment where the geography is constantly moving you have to think fast and know all the best arguing tactics and case history as well as and most importantly having had speed speaking training since the time the milk hit the eggs as most all cases were decided with the following weight given to 1. He who says the most wins. 2 If it's too close to count on who bubbled more, the logic of each argument is examined in the context of cited cases no matter how arcane. Only the biggest, baddest and smartest fast talking sharks can last as lawyers because if a councilor sensed weakness from the opposition it was completely legal to rip the opponents vocal chords out rendering an easy victory (see rule 1 above). This meant that you had to be constantly on your game as a shark in the legal field. Short careers are expected and a large gamble, but can pay off nicely if you are smart and tough. The wise ones retire before they get just a little too slow or weak but most end up dead or with hideous tracheotomies and voice synthesizers which are inadmissible in shark court. The fast pace of Lamnidae Esquires society along with the high demand allowed for exorbitant prices to be charged insomuch that a couple of the most notorious Stingray Chasers had supposedly paid an enormous sum for the justice system to look the other way as they work shark skin suits, made from their fallen opponents in the court room, in the actual court room. The effect of the suit alone won most cases before opening arguments unless both sides could afford shark suited sharks to settle their disputes.
Gothradki made quite a splash since the other inmates, along with the rest of the world, had access to a live feed, reality show style, to each pod and processing center. For a second you could hear a pin drop as everyone turned their sets to the camera in the new pod. “Hey scumbag” one man shouted “I hope you got some shark eggs in your ears on splashdown and they hatch in your brain, slowly eating you from the inside.” Williaminus tried not to shudder at the thought. “What do you have against me friend?” He called back trying to sound soothing but the multiplicity of his own voice being echoed back was highly unnerving. “You bankrupted several of my rich aunts and now I'm in prison because instead of getting thirty-seven trillion credits, I only received seven trillion forcing me to hold up a taxi cab driver to pay the lease on my condo on the west end.” At this point several of the closer cells became bored with the civility of the newcomers responses and changed channels turning up the volume drowning out any possibility of continued recourse. Williaminus hated the idea of the other man having the last word so he replied in case the other man was still listening "I was only acting under the orders of my government. Please take up your grievance with my lawyers". He then promptly ripped the microphone and camera out of the wall immediately regretting it in the event the din quieted and the other man had a chance to respond. It never quieted and they never spoke again.
“My friends call me Bill. You can call me Bill” Willanimus, a young man would tell all his victims with a heart warming smile and since we are all currently victims of this man's story, we will call him Bill from now on. Bill stared at his screen. The glass on top was cracked rendering all touch sensors useless. Apparently this happened after for some inexplicable reason, an inmate had selected to watch a camera that at that time of day happened to be pointed directly at the sun. The sun of course lacks any interesting audio from a distance of 97 Million quadrats leaving only the cacophony of intermingling sound waves from other pods swelling through the narrow bars in a noise similar to what a sunbather hears on any ocean beach.
47 minutes later Bill was beginning to panic feeling out of control for the first time in his life. With no one to manipulate he tried to manipulate himself into believing that he was on an island get-a-way vacation with his married secretary, having a delightfully evil dinner of sea snake and cucumbers. He quickly gave up on this pursuit frightened at it's surprising success after snapping out of his trance with a yelp as he nearly bit his own hand off at the wrist, his bewitched mind believing it to be a large piece of sea snake steak. Eyes bugged out staring at the digital sun, slowly tilting his head as if somehow that would keep the sun in the center of the lenses fixed azimuth – this was the state an elephant fly named Seamus found Bill in upon hatching from an egg on the sot's shoe that despite a ridiculous factor of improbability, happened to escape the delousing rays. Seamus began doing what flys do, generally buzzing around, being annoying due to their stereotypical predilection for “getting into other people's shit”.
Those who attained 33rd degree in his Acoustic Television Institute, (not an easy or inexpensive feat) would finally be told the secret of when and how the guru came to Bill. “The prophet Seamus visited me at first as a quiet buzzing inside my head. As I listened to the drone I heard a message 'though we could see, we were blind'. He explained how we needed to use our hearts and our ears (it should be noted that all of the “secrets” are simply presented as “scripture” to the lesser degrees and all include a cap to each principle to the effect of “so we may be more humble and united”). “I closed my eyes and listened and there he was,” he would pause for effect, everyone had heard the story a million times coming up through the ranks but now they hung on every word waiting to see what was new. “I could see Seamus in my mind and he was telling me to overcome my situation so that I may help others overcome their own prisons.” He would look at the one or two freshly crowned 33rd degree Shearers (seers + hearers) “I was in prison but Seamus saved me and you will now have Seamus talk to you too.” The recently upgraded Shearer would blink their eye sockets in astonishment. “No way” they would gasp. Despite incarceration records being publicly available and most people joining these types of clubs have minds like those toys children have with the holes and matching blocks of certain shapes. As Bill would put his hand on the head of the individual with their hand on the 33rd rung at the top of the ladder, he would breath on them and begin a low buzzing sound getting louder and louder as the other 33rd degree Shearers in the room began to join in.
Of course all revelation was subject to the ultra clear line Bill had to Seamus, being that he was the first one to be contacted and all. Those who saw the same vision got on quite well in the institute and rose quickly. One of the things Seamus instructed Bill was that “to help the world we all needed to be blind – to race, to lust, to power, etc – fill in your favorite TV show etc. With the first few adult members, all blind but only 1/3 congenitally so, Bill formed the organization Advanced Television Institute that targeted “rebellious” passionate youngsters wishing to tell their parents where to shove their morals, advice and television sets. The youth would have their eyes gouged out in a ceremony called Prom as their renunciation of what, no one could entirely pin down, but it was something about “the core evil inside us all that must be tamed through having a career and adulting”. For a decade and a half or so it became a burgeoning sub-culture with participants engaging on those blind-leading-the-blind hikes, clothing optional concerts because “when you're blind, who cares?” (sighted people paid quintillians for the live streams), jet port pan handling “for the poor kids in Zambikistan” and of course, “spreading the good word.” After passing several stages of proving after Prom initiates would be allowed to begin tutelage under the wise "all hearing masters" who would instruct them in the way to becoming “earsighted.”
The Supreme Court had banned all such clubs inadvertently one hundred and fifty years ago as "heinous misappropriations of ocular resources" stating that “the squishy balls of nerves and whatnot should be excised not mashed to pieces with a pair of shears like they were during initiation but instead be recycled for the gourmet food industry as 'celebrity chefs are agog over poached eyeballs'”. Mashing the organs of sight however, was a tenant of the club and therefore creating an impasse driving the local chapters underground when someone sued after having their eyes gouged out against their will bringing a modicum of media attention to ATI. It was too outlandish to believe and attention generally drifted away quickly to whatever the latest zoological influenza that everyone should be afraid of consumed the 24 hour news cycle. Lower level members and local chapters mostly planned how to gather more followers by handing out pamphlets to passers by on the street as they gushed about the joy of living a life without the entanglements of sight, all in the hopes to be invited to come work at Headquarters gaining a chance to learn more and feel like a measure of holiness had been achieved. Proselytizing for the illegal club was declared free speech after what would have been a century long legal battle in human court but at the last minute was moved to Shark Court and decided for the plaintiff in under 2 hours. As protection of said free speech it was also, though at a subsequent date, ruled that all modes of transport weighing under 5972 kilos were required to generate a sound when traveling over 35mph as anything under these conditions was considered non-lethal. Maiming of zealots was also considered free speech because it was handled in Kangaroo court, an arena all the smartly dressed shark lawyers in the world are not equipped to handle.
The ATI cult fad slowly lost traction as the now younger generation (many of whose parents had gouged their own eyes out and had consequently had their children forcibly removed upon birth) found themselves occupied in sport with running over groups of pamphlet passers out on the sidewalks leading to the 35mph amendment after another blisteringly brief session in Shark Court. With everyone having “free speech” the auto-blinded bastards quickly became so rare that if you found one, recorded a video of the vehicular maiming of said bastard and uploaded it to the Galaxy wide network - you would become an instant celebrity. As for Bill, partially due to the difficulty of growing the membership base through interbreeding, partially due to the cultural shift, but mostly because it's who he was - he began to abuse his power more blatantly Three years before the complete collapse of the organization, Bill was murdered allegedly by one of his Gothradki, a cadre of four female body guards he surrounded himself with at all times. Or nearly all times. Rumor claims one or maybe more had “had their eyes opened to what kind of leader he had become” and poisoned him although this was never proven in any court of law.
Jonah a 33rd degree Shearer promoted himself to Mouthpiece the same day with as good of intentions as one in such and organization can have, but lacked the charmisma, or vision to manage the place and on a beautiful day in September three months after Bill's death, Jonah locked the door for the last time. Flanked by two Gothradki, on each side, Jonah stepped out onto the sidewalk and was promptly hit by an excited youngster filming the entire thing through the front window of his Plymouth Gargoyle wearing a smile that said “I won't be driving a Gargoyle much longer”. History has shown that within 50 years Williaminus Gothradki will be generally forgotten and the term Gothradki will in all likelihood only be known as a hip urban term related to sex and inflatable sharks.
The last remaining ATI members were rounded up by some researchers from the Institute for Basic Life Precepts, who had scooped the battered bodies off the sidewalk, nursed them back to health and placed all five into individual anechoic chambers in a museum where they screamed terrified until hoarse, laid down and shook violently until their vocal cords had recovered then repeated the cycle over again. It was in fact so much like clockwork that some planets use the phases of these four* screamers as the standard by which they derived their second.
Each phase equaled one epoch - which was determined to be the attention span of the average adult which roughly was equal to epoch / 4. The second was derived from how many times you could bounce a cricket ball against the concrete floor outside the chamber from a height of 3.7 meters at a velocity that was just shy of the ball appearing to be in every position possible between the hand and floor of the observer through persistence of observation. This sum equaled out to exactly 42 by a factor of ten to a power of 2pi bounces give or take a factor of the refresh rate of observation and staring contests acumen. Blinking always added a lot of uncertainty and here it should be pointed out that your ears do not blink.
It should also be noted that due to the statistical average attention span being only a quarter cycle almost no one ever really saw the transition and therefore took it on faith that someone else of a scientific expert type nature had and was telling the truth. Not wanting to throw off things having the smooth surface of a window, all observation was done via video cameras mounted inside the chambers. If you happened to be lucky enough to witness a change of cycle, no one would believe you despite providing video evidence of the video evidence. “You could have easily faked that” being the most typical response people have to something they feel they can't test for themselves. The only reason people even still visit the museum is to play the Shearer Shear game where you find virtual Shearers scattered around the world and run them over to gain points on a galactic scoreboard. If you go to the museum you get a wicked bonus proportional to how long you can stand to stand there. Some people try to count the cricket ball bouncing to distract themselves while their game pad is occupied racking up points but everyone sees it, or some argue hear it, at a slightly different speed and all the other voices counting makes it sounds a lot like someone turning an amplifier to 17 causing major distraction and loss of attention for all involved. To put it simply – time is relative and nobody gives a shit unless it involves getting more of something than someone else in a context where it can be recognized by peers.
*(Jonah died from an aneurism a few epochs after being installed at the museum because despite the chambers all connecting through hallways, being unable to see, he felt utterly alone in the blackness and thought maybe he just wasn't screaming hard enough. He managed to bellow so loud that the undeadened sound in his mouth ruptured some major vessel and he collapsed without a sound).
Quick tip - if you want to get famous (and probably run over or captured) gouge your eyes out and walk around handing out pamphlets describing the joys of.....You might just launch someones career as a competitive reality show hair stylist.
One last thing regarding Seamus. He was consulted via worm hole chat and speaking through a buzz filtering interpreter claimed that he was only trying to find the way out of the cage because he smelled a giant piece of shit and didn't want to fall into the stereotype by hanging around it. Unfortunately as flies are prone to do, he kept bumping into walls for quite a while before making it out the tiny window. The creature flapped its ears / wings / eyes* and began to speak but before the translator could finish smoothing out the buzz, the connection was cut short. Sheamus had pointed his trunk straight at the camera and it sounded like he either said “all those damn lenses” or maybe “Arthur Dents's”. Upon trying to ring back an error message appeared 401 “we apologize for the incontinence”
*The Elephant fly's most notable features are its trunk, it's ears and it's blindness which it compensates for with it's ears.
“Oh my aching diodes” gasped Marvin. “I would gouge out all my circuits if I had to listen to that again. Of course you didn't mention me even once in this dreadful review.” He sighed a low moan that started off like when a tone generator is losing voltage and begins to sound like a tornado siren with emphysema, clicking periodically in the background, until the tone goes below a frequency that even the blind can detect dropping out completely leaving only the click, click, click. Some say if you compared the clicks it lines up with the inexplicable bouncing of a cricket ball counting off seconds in a museum on the other side of The Universe.
*This is only a review and not intended to make any claimed to be affiliated with The Guide, it's publishers or any subsidiaries. Any likeness to any persons living or dead and or situation is quasi-coincidental (see multiverse theory) and only meant to give an idea of The Guides timbre. If you take issue with it our lawyers are hopping idly through the outback awaiting a chance to verbally spar with any opponent.