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But an amateur like Macklin could wipe out an entire chunk of reality simply by neglecting to build a special model railroad while he went to work for a bunch of aliens disguised as quacking elephants.

"POLYDOOR!" yelled Vlod. "Fire up Sparkles the Wonder Computer please. I'm going to use the Macrohard Angst database to secure the past."

"You mean Macrohard Riddle, master?" said Polydoor. "The hideously complex software that mangles stored data-- "

"Precisely."

"Isn't that risky, master? Angst is a brand new version of a fiendish operating system, and Riddle has already consigned hundreds of stored facts to oblivion."

"The people at Macrohard have assured me that Angst is very stable and never crashes," said Vlod. "Everyone in the world will soon be using it."

"It'll never happen," quoth the raven.

"Why don't you just delete the aliens, master?" said Polydoor. "It would save time."

"Too risky," said Vlod. "I'd have to scan them in first. They might suspect something."

He sat at the input device in the rec room, beside his latest coffin--the off-road unit with GPS and a sonar device.

Vlod's input device was a medium size organ purchased from a bankrupt church.

He hesitated at the keyboard for a moment, his eyes resting on a picture of Lenore McBeauty.

Then he began playing variations on' How Much is That Doggie in the Window?'

The actual command, of course, was expressed in Caledonian, an old, but efficient computer language, once used to program Scotland's Mars Shuttle, the Bonnie Haggis.

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