After the evil Microsoft Word helper doggie had flown out of my window and an encyclopaedia of entirely useless trivia was loading down my brain, I was kind of agitated. I ran around the house waving a large inflatable banana and smashing all the furniture, like I always do when I panic, but then began to calm down. I began to wonder exactly what kind of damage the helper doggie could do. Sure it was an unstoppable robotic beast stuffed with all the useful information on the Internet, but how effective would he be against, say, a nuclear warhead? I doubt he could stop one of those by showing people how to organise their tab codes.

The more I thought about it, the more relaxed I became. The whole thing would probably blow over in a couple of days. I should just forget the whole sorry affair and start another wacky adventure. Just as I was nearly finished building a working time machine out of a bathtub and old paper fasteners, I cocked an ear to the radio as one of Jimmy Somerville's greatest hits was interrupted by an urgent news bulletin.

"This just in," said the presenter urgently. "The Prime Minister has resigned following a secret meeting between him and a mysterious figure known only as H. Doggie. In a speech to the nation he announced that, after a long conversation with Doggie, he realised that he could never be one bit as good as Doggie at ruling the country, and has immediately appointed him to be his successor. H. Doggie was best described by onlookers as 'a small, robot dog in a cape with glowing red eyes'."

"Well," I said aloud, "it's not necessarily the killer MS Word helper doggie bent on destroying humanity."

"Experts agree that H. Doggie is probably a killer MS Word helper doggie," continued the radio. "he announced today that his first act in office will be to destroy humanity, and will be speaking with the President of the USA tomorrow."

"Well, gosh."

Experimentally I booted up the other computer I own that hadn't been destroyed by radioactive waste and ran MS Word. There was always a chance that the helper doggie had returned to where he belonged. To my dismay, all I found was some kind of answer machine message.

He's still cute, though.

This was serious. I had to warn the President. H. Doggie was no doubt planning to hypnotise or kill the leader of the free world. Hurriedly I grabbed the phone, asked directory enquiries to put me through to the President, succeeded on the fifth attempt, and after listening to twenty minutes of 'Me So Horny' they finally put me through.


Dial tone.


Right, I decided, finally. It looked like it was going to be just me against him. Somehow I had to use my wealth of useless information to combat his database-like flawless robot mind. Fortunately he had made one mistake when transferring the information from the internet - he had left me with the Anarchist's Handbook. I had bomb-making and subversive hacking skills to rival any other internet nerd to aid me. After an hour spent assembling pipebombs from everyday household tools, I strapped them diagonally across my chest for no apparent reason and set to work.

H. Doggie was flying to Washington in an armoured jet this very night. Just like in incredibly realistic movies like Hackers and The Net, maybe I could hack into the airline computers and get the plane to crash? It was a gamble, but I was willing to take it.

A couple of hours later, I was staring at a monitor full of computerised gobbledegook and was surrounded by empty Jolt Cola cans, but didn't seem to be making any progress at all. That was until something popped up on screen.


I halted my mouse hand as it sped towards the 'close' button. Perhaps this terminally irritating piece of office stationery was some kind of blessing in a very good disguise.

"No, but perhaps you could help me with some other area," I typed.

The paperclip did a little loop-de-loop. Clearly no-one had asked him for help in a very long time. "Just say the word, chief!" it said.

"How's your professional relationship with the doggie in the cape?" I asked.

As it turned out, Lawrence - the paperclip's real name, apparently - had a long-standing rivalry going on with H. Doggie, who had apparently once blatantly held some papers together in a gross attempt to muscle in on Lawrence's territory.

"Perfect," I typed. "Listen to me..."

The following morning, H. Doggie arrived in Washington and came to the White House, where he was greeted warmly at the door by the President and shown into the Oval Office. The Oval Office wasn't exactly as H. Doggie was expecting it. It seemed to be furnished with old plastic garden furniture and lacked a carpet.

"Now then," said the President. "To business."

"To business," said Doggie. "I have a proposition for you."

"Ah shure do love propositions. Do go on."

Doggie produced what looked like a miniature raygun from the depths of his cape, and pointed it at the President. "This is a hypnosis ray," said the evil hound. "It will reduce you to a subversive vegetable who will do everything I say without question."

"But you're not mah daddy-"

"Quiet, flesh being!" barked the robot. "Let this day mark the beginning of the Rise of the Machines!" Then he shot the President.

"Now then," said the dog. "I want you to initiate immediate war with all the nuclear arms bearing squashy human countries. Let's have you all wiped out as quickly and as cleanly as possible."

"I don't think I'll be doing that," said the President, dropping his accent and folding his arms. To say the doggie was surprised would be a severe understatement. He shot the President again, and again, to no apparent effect.

"Yes!" said the leader of the free world. "Your ray is useless against me! For I am not the President at all!"

"You're not?"

"No!" I said, pulling off my mask. "It's me! Your hypnosis ray cannot work against me, as my brain is so heavily loaded with trivia that I can't concentrate on your ray long enough to be hypnotised by it!"


"Yes. Did you know that Ronan from Boyzone likes eating rusks?"

"Shut up!" yelled the dog, pulling another vicious-looking gun. "Prepare to die, waste of organic matter!"

"You were so easily tricked," I continued, edging near the window. "I built this mocked up version of the White House, then hacked into every website on the Internet that listed the White House's address and changed it to my false address! Since you get all your knowledge from the 'Net, you were fooled and I got you here easy as pie."

"Very cunning," said the doggie. "But now you die!"

I leapt out of the window. Fortunately the timer on the pipebombs had allowed me enough time to make my explanatory speech, and the whole place was blown into millions of tiny bits just as I was landing on the pile of empty cardboard boxes I had prepared earlier. Lawrence, now in the form of a small robot paperclip formed from the shell of my other computer, met me on my soft landing.

"Did it work, chief?" he asked.

"Like a dream. H. Doggie has been blown sky hi -"

I stopped. Something was happening in the burnt-out wreckage of the faux White House. An enormous domed head parted the blackened rafters that made up the roof, and didn't stop. It continued growing until it stood over us like some mighty canine colossus.

"TIME TO DIE," said the hundred foot helper doggie.

"Well, this is bastardy," I commented, diving aside as a massive paw crashed into the area I had been just a moment before.

"Leave this to me, chief!" chirruped Lawrence, who suddenly seemed to be a lot bigger than I remember, too. But he stopped at fifty feet, making him still half the size of his nemesis.

It was an epic battle. Lawrence had agility on his side, and ducked half of Doggie's hammer-like blows easily, but his lack of power was to his cost. No matter where he struck it only seemed to make the canine monster more angry, and Lawrence couldn't last long under the weight of that fury. There were dents and scratches all over his robotic frame after just a few minutes of fighting. Meanwhile, I stood nearby and shouted encouragement. But from under a piece of corrugated iron. I mean, it was starting to rain quite heavily.

Finally, Lawrence's light blows made Doggie more furious than he had ever been before. He was glowing a vibrant red, and the grass around his feet was spontaneously catching fire. With a noise that sounded for all the world like an almighty 'SPANG!' a large chunk of metallic skull burst off his head.

"Now, Lawrence!" I yelled over the thunder rolling around the sky. "Go for his exposed brain!"

Lawrence didn't need to be told twice. He flipped into the air, straightened himself out into a long, thin wire, and buried one end of himself into Doggie's computerised mind. The other end of the wire was swatting around aimlessly, but then for some reason it coiled itself around my neck.

"Lawrence!" I shouted as I was plucked from my hidey-hole. "What-"

Lightning struck, and it struck hard. Electricity crackled along Lawrence's massive form, making him judder and shake violently. I felt it course through my spectacles and then into Doggie's brain. Images were flashing in front of me again - knowledge was passing through my mind at incredible speeds once again, but now in the opposite direction. Megabyte after megabyte of entirely fatuous personal homepages were flooding Doggie's hard drive, and I knew it couldn't last.

What do you think happened next?

Why, Doggie's head exploded, that's what.

Then it was over, just as suddenly as it had begun. Molten debris rained down. Doggie's burnt out shell was still and useless, naught but scrap metal. Burns covered my body and my clothes were torn. And as for Lawrence? He was lying still next to his enemy, half-melted, beady little cartoon eyes staring glassily. He was dead.

I shrugged, and went home.

Well, he was REALLY irritating.

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