Pythia's frown deepened along with her concentration. She lifted an end
of the brightly-colored scarf closer to her eyes. Along the borders of
the stripes, where white met red and vice versa, a barely-visible line
of irregular black could be seen. She levered herself up and out of the
recliner with a curse that brought down the large black fly buzzing
futilely against her office window as surely as if it had been hit with
a 20,000-volt stun-gun.
She continued to mutter as she banged through the rear door of her
office and took to the stairwell. Less than two minutes later, one of
the lab technicians, a fresh graduate of OIT (the Oracular Institute of
Technology) named Melvin practically jumped out of his pale pimply skin
as Pythia almost took one of the lab's swinging doors off its hinges.
"Eeep!" was all he could manage as the infuriated researcher stormed up
to him and practically thrust the scarf down his front.
"Listen up" she all but hissed. "I've had a long day. It's
enough that I get stuck as a substitute instructor for one of Kesten's
courses on how to deal with horny otters, or that I get accosted by some
Indiana Jones wannabe who insists he's found evidence of modern
bathrooms in the center of the Great Pyramid. No, I have to end up with
this scarf that I most CERTAINLY would never have bought, and that I
have no memory of ever acquiring through other methods, AND that seems
to have line after line of microprint between the stripes!"
"Mi...microprint?" Melvin stammered, reaching down to examine the
offending garment. His eyes widened as the rough black lines came into
his view. "Well, I'll be..."
"You'll be flogged with the semi-frozen tentacle of a giant squid if
you don't tell me what that print says" Pythia concluded. As Melvin
hesitated, his adam's apple bobbing nervously, she continued. "Well?"
"I... just finished breeding that pair of siamese fighting amoeba, and
I need the microscope to watch their..."
The look Pythia gave him could have cut diamonds. "Yes Ma'am!" he
stammered, all but snapping a salute as he shoved the contents of the
microscope stand aside and aligned one end of the scarf under it. A few
moments of focusing later, Melvin turned even paler than normal.
"Oracle, save us!" he muttered.
"Arrgh... stand aside, worm!" Pythia snapped as she strode over
into the device's eyepieces for herself. A moment later, her expression
changed into one of bemused hunger. "Yes... that's what's wrong" she
muttered. "I need some dinner."
She left the lab without another word, leaving the scarf where it was.
Reassured considerably by her quick exit, Melvin moved closer and looked
into the eyepieces once again. Clearly shown in the highly-magnified
circle of light was the phrase:
YOU LOVE CHINESE FOOD.
Scarcely daring to believe what he was seeing, Melvin moved the scarf
so that the next line of microprint came into clear view.
FU LING YU SAYS: HULA DANCE IS SHAKE IN GRASS.
"I'll be darned" the technician muttered. "A Chinese fortune scarf."
Much later that evening, as the janitorial staff came through to clean
the offices, one of them was caught off guard by the enormous fragments
of a fortune cookie that had to have been at least two feet across...
(You owe the Oracle some fortune cookies with the Secrets of the