And I tell you, girls, the votes go down with almost every digest, too. I remember when it was steadily over 100 ... nowadays it's around 70, if that.


"Why, back in my day," said Sibyl, "the Oracularities would reach a total score of somewhere near one hundred! And it was funny stuff, too. Not any of this trashy 'humour' that wouldn't be amusing to a dead dog's fleas..."

Pyth nods reassuringly, and Sibyl continues. Whilst she's ranting, Pyth turns to us and whispers, "Terribly sorry about this. Sibyl's gotten started on one of her diatribes about the 'old days.' I'm not entirely sure what got her started, but once she gets her wind she can really start gabbing. She began about --" she checks her watch -- "seven hours ago, and the only time she stopped was for a glass of water. A little thing like drinking didn't stop her from making her point, however..."

"Pyth! Are you listening to me?"

"Of course, ma'am. You were saying..."

"Rightly so. And it isn't that the Oracle has lost his touch, or at least not to hear HIM tell it..."

She turns to us again. "It doesn't help to tell her that she's wrong, that the Oracle has had slumps before. It's just better to smile and nod. But poor Cassie..." At this point we all look at Cassandra, to find that she is hanging on Sibyl's every word. "Poor Cassie is just taking it all in. There's a lot of room upstairs for it, no doubt, but still it's kind of sad seeing her being brainwashed into thinking like that. Still, it's not like she's actually going to -retain- any of that knowledge..."

Pyth sits back, tilts her hat over her eyes, and attempts to let the words wash over her, unheard, as she tries to drift carefully off to sleep. Sibyl, with Cassie as an all-too willing audience, rambles on.

"...And the ZOT staff? What kind of cheesy cop-out is that?!"