by Heather Sparrows

Having successfully finished his latest assignment, Major Klaus von dem Eberbach now sat at his desk at NATO headquarters, checking his email from the last three months.

Unbelievable! What were firewalls designed for if they didn’t work?!  Were the idiots from the computer department actually unable to filter such crap and delete it? Damn! Advertisements to enlarge his penis! Thank you very much.

Internal memos: One from accounting. They asked for twenty-page forms to be filled in for the expenses of his last three assignments. He was sorely tempted to tell them to shove their forms where the sun never shines.

One from the personnel department: His accumulated holidays had taken on alarming proportions. They advised him to take some days off soon, otherwise they would be forfeited. Well – let them go down the drain. He had no time for such nonsense.

What else was new?

At least no one dared to send him so-called fun mails. The frightening sight of the decidedly not amused Major filling his doorframe one fine morning had even discouraged the most persistent self-proclaimed funny man of NATO headquarters to include the Major in his mailing list.

A memo from the Chief. Not sent by his secretary. Since when had the fat idiot mastered the art of sending emails all by himself? His first memos had not contained any text at all. This one had no subject, for a change.

The Major opened the memo. It was short and to the point: “Try this link”. Then the greeting, the Chief’s name and phone number.

Was Funny Man now sending him spam mails from the Chief’s address? If this was a pornographic website, either the Chief or Funny Man would be well-advised to have their coffins made to order. – Was it a bad joke or actually something important?

The Major clicked on the link. No sex. A website called “Sloganmaker” appeared. You were to fill in a name and the system would automatically generate a slogan using that name. Idiot stuff for people with too much time on their hands.

But why had the Chief sent this link – if it had been the Chief? He would order Agent C to investigate this. Agent C was the computer expert on his team. Unfortunately it was now late at night, and even the computer freak had gone home. The Major was fairly convinced anyway that the whole thing was a bad joke, a new method of either Funny Man or Mr Fat Bastard to needle him. Idiots!

Well, what kind of nonsense would come out if he tried? What induced the Major to put “E.” into the blank space and click the “go” button, he could not say later. Perhaps curiosity.

“Good, better, E.”

Stuff and nonsense.

“E. – with a lot of character”


“E. – Unfortunately very expensive.”

No doubt about that. Even for NATO. His accountant should be categorized as a secret weapon.

“E. likes to flirt.”

Tell me about that.

“E. reaches the limits of good taste.”

Wrong. He exceeded them by far.

“E. is an age-old mistake.”

Right. But not one of mine, surely.

“E. confuses the world.”


“E. – irresistible.”


“Enjoy E.”

Certainly not.

“E. forever.”


“E. – you see this name, you think dirty.”

Fucking crap!

“Sooner or later we’ll catch you with E.”

What?! The Major’s volcanic temper flared, but he calmed down again at the thought that he would have come to the same results had he inserted “cough syrup” instead of “E.” into the blank space.

“To love E. means to live.”

It was a bit eerie after all, though.

“There’s only one thing in the world I want, and this is E.”

At that point the Major ended the experiment. He deleted any trace of his excursion into the world wide web and all his email. After a moment of thought, he filled out a form on the intranet, asking for five days off. He sent it via email to the personnel department, with a copy to the Chief. Then he closed down all programs, switched the computer off and left his office.

He did not believe in the truth showing itself on billboards, in slogans on cars or in a silly doodle on the internet. But maybe sometimes there was no harm in trying to believe in it for a change, if you knew the truth all along. Even if “cough syrup” would have generated the same results.