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The Longest Joke in the World

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Lost in the Desert

(Author unknown)

So, there’s a man crawling through the desert.

He’d decided to try his SUV in a little bit of cross-country travel, had great fun zooming over the badlands and through the sand, got lost, hit a big rock, and then he couldn’t get it started again. There were no cell phone towers anywhere near, so his cell phone was useless. He had no family, his parents had died a few years before in an auto accident, and his few friends had no idea he was out here.

He stayed with the car for a day or so, but his one bottle of water ran out and he was getting thirsty. He thought maybe he knew the direction back, now that he’d paid attention to the sun and thought he’d figured out which way was north, so he decided to start walking. He figured he only had to go about 30 miles or so and he’d be back to the small town he’d gotten gas in last.

He thinks about walking at night to avoid the heat and sun, but based upon how dark it actually was the night before, and given that he has no flashlight, he’s afraid that he’ll break a leg or step on a rattlesnake. So, he puts on some sun block, puts the rest in his pocket for reapplication later, brings an umbrella he’d had in the back of the SUV with him to give him a little shade, pours the windshield wiper fluid into his water bottle in case he gets that desperate, brings his pocket knife in case he finds a cactus that looks like it might have water in it, and heads out in the direction he thinks is right.

He walks for the entire day. By the end of the day he’s really thirsty. He’s been sweating all day, and his lips are starting to crack. He’s reapplied the sunblock twice, and tried to stay under the umbrella, but he still feels sunburned. The windshield wiper fluid sloshing in the bottle in his pocket

is really getting tempting now. He knows that it’s mainly water and some ethanol and coloring, but he also knows that they add some kind of poison to

it to keep people from drinking it. He wonders what the poison is, and whether the poison would be worse than dying of thirst.

He pushes on, trying to get to that small town before dark.

By the end of the day he starts getting worried. He figures he’s been walking at least 3 miles an hour, according to his watch for over 10 hours. That means that if his estimate was right that he should be close to the town. But he doesn’t recognize any of this. He had to cross a dry creek bed a mile or two back, and he doesn’t remember coming through it in the SUV. He figures that maybe he got his direction off just a little and that the dry creek bed was just off to one side of his path. He tells himself that he’s close, and that after dark he’ll start seeing the town lights over one of these hills, and that’ll be all he needs.

As it gets dim enough that he starts stumbling over small rocks and things, he finds a spot and sits down to wait for full dark and the town lights.

Full dark comes before he knows it. He must have dozed off. He stands back up and turns all the way around. He sees nothing but stars.

He wakes up the next morning feeling absolutely lousy. His eyes are gummy and his mouth and nose feel like they’re full of sand. He so thirsty that he can’t even swallow. He barely got any sleep because it was so cold. He’d forgotten how cold it got at night in the desert and hadn’t noticed it the night before because he’d been in his car.

He knows the Rule of Threes – three minutes without air, three days without water, three weeks without food – then you die. Some people can make it a little longer, in the best situations. But the desert heat and having to walk and sweat isn’t the best situation to be without water. He figures, unless he finds water, this is his last day.

He rinses his mouth out with a little of the windshield wiper fluid. He waits a while after spitting that little bit out, to see if his mouth goes numb, or he feels dizzy or something. Has his mouth gone numb? Is it just in his mind? He’s not sure. He’ll go a little farther, and if he still doesn’t find water, he’ll try drinking some of the fluid.

Then he has to face his next, harder question – which way does he go from here? Does he keep walking the same way he was yesterday (assuming that he still knows which way that is), or does he try a new direction? He has no idea what to do.

Looking at the hills and dunes around him, he thinks he knows the direction he was heading before. Just going by a feeling, he points himself somewhat to the left of that, and starts walking.

As he walks, the day starts heating up. The desert, too cold just a couple of hours before, soon becomes an oven again. He sweats a little at first, and then stops. He starts getting worried at that – when you stop sweating he knows that means you’re in trouble – usually right before heat stroke.

He decides that it’s time to try the windshield wiper fluid. He can’t wait any longer – if he passes out, he’s dead. He stops in the shade of a large rock, takes the bottle out, opens it, and takes a mouthful. He slowly swallows it, making it last as long as he can. It feels so good in his dry and cracked throat that he doesn’t even care about the nasty taste. He takes another mouthful, and makes it last too. Slowly, he drinks half the bottle.

He figures that since he’s drinking it, he might as well drink enough to make some difference and keep himself from passing out.

He’s quit worrying about the denaturing of the wiper fluid. If it kills him, it kills him – if he didn’t drink it, he’d die anyway. Besides, he’s pretty sure that whatever substance they denature the fluid with is just designed to make you sick – their way of keeping winos from buying cheap wiper fluid for the ethanol content. He can handle throwing up, if it comes to that.

He walks. He walks in the hot, dry, windless desert. Sand, rocks, hills, dunes, the occasional scrawny cactus or dried bush. No sign of water. Sometimes he’ll see a little movement to one side or the other, but whatever moved is usually gone before he can focus his eyes on it. Probably birds, lizards, or mice. Maybe snakes, though they usually move more at night. He’s careful to stay away from the movements.

After a while, he begins to stagger. He’s not sure if it’s fatigue, heat stroke finally catching him, or maybe he was wrong and the denaturing of the wiper fluid was worse than he thought. He tries to steady himself, and keep going.

After more walking, he comes to a large stretch of sand. This is good! He knows he passed over a stretch of sand in the SUV – he remembers doing donuts in it. Or at least he thinks he remembers it – he’s getting woozy enough and tired enough that he’s not sure what he remembers any more or if he’s hallucinating. But he thinks he remembers it. So he heads off into it, trying to get to the other side, hoping that it gets him closer to the town.

He was heading for a town, wasn’t he? He thinks he was. He isn’t sure any more. He’s not even sure how long he’s been walking any more. Is it still morning? Or has it moved into afternoon and the sun is going down again? It must be afternoon – it seems like it’s been too long since he started out.

He walks through the sand.

After a while, he comes to a big dune in the sand. This is bad. He doesn’t remember any dunes when driving over the sand in his SUV. Or at least he doesn’t think he remembers any. This is bad.

But, he has no other direction to go. Too late to turn back now. He figures that he’ll get to the top of the dune and see if he can see anything from there that helps him find the town. He keeps going up the dune.

Halfway up, he slips in the bad footing of the sand for the second or third time, and falls to his knees. He doesn’t feel like getting back up – he’ll just fall down again. So, he keeps going up the dune on his hand and knees.

While crawling, if his throat weren’t so dry, he’d laugh. He’s finally gotten to the hackneyed image of a man lost in the desert – crawling through the sand on his hands and knees. If would be the perfect image, he imagines, if only his clothes were more ragged. The people crawling through the desert in the cartoons always had ragged clothes. But his have lasted without any rips so far. Somebody will probably find his dessicated corpse half buried in the sand years from now, and his clothes will still be in fine shape -shake the sand out, and a good wash, and they’d be wearable again. He wishes his throat were wet enough to laugh. He coughs a little instead, and it hurts.

He finally makes it to the top of the sand dune. Now that he’s at the top, he struggles a little, but manages to stand up and look around. All he sees is sand. Sand, and more sand. Behind him, about a mile away, he thinks he sees the rocky ground he left to head into this sand. Ahead of him, more dunes, more sand. This isn’t where he drove his SUV. This is Hell. Or close enough.

Again, he doesn’t know what to do. He decides to drink the rest of the wiper fluid while figuring it out. He takes out the bottle, and is removing the cap, when he glances to the side and sees something. Something in the sand. At the bottom of the dune, off to the side, he sees something strange. It’s a flat area, in the sand. He stops taking the cap of the bottle off, and tries to look closer. The area seems to be circular. And it’s dark – darker than the sand. And, there seems to be something in the middle of it, but he can’t tell what it is. He looks as hard as he can, and still can tell from here. He’s going to have to go down there and look.

He puts the bottle back in his pocket, and starts to stumble down the dune. After a few steps, he realizes that he’s in trouble – he’s not going to be able to keep his balance. After a couple of more sliding, tottering steps, he falls and starts to roll down the dune. The sand it so hot when his body hits it that for a minute he thinks he’s caught fire on the way down – like a movie car wreck flashing into flames as it goes over the cliff, before it ever even hits the ground. He closes his eyes and mouth, covers his face with his hands, and waits to stop rolling.

He stops, at the bottom of the dune. After a minute or two, he finds enough energy to try to sit up and get the sand out of his face and clothes. When he clears his eyes enough, he looks around to make sure that the dark spot in the sand it still there and he hadn’t just imagined it.

So, seeing the large, flat, dark spot on the sand is still there, he begins to crawl towards it. He’d get up and walk towards it, but he doesn’t seem to have the energy to get up and walk right now. He must be in the final stages of dehydration he figures, as he crawls. If this place in the sand doesn’t have water, he’ll likely never make it anywhere else. This is his last chance.

He gets closer and closer, but still can’t see what’s in the middle of the dark area. His eyes won’t quite focus any more for some reason. And lifting his head up to look takes so much effort that he gives up trying. He just keeps crawling.

Finally, he reaches the area he’d seen from the dune. It takes him a minute of crawling on it before he realizes that he’s no longer on sand – he’s now crawling on some kind of dark stone. Stone with some kind of marking on it -a pattern cut into the stone. He’s too tired to stand up and try to see what the pattern is – so he just keeps crawling. He crawls towards the center, where his blurry eyes still see something in the middle of the dark stone area.

His mind, detached in a strange way, notes that either his hands and knees are so burnt by the sand that they no longer feel pain, or that this dark stone, in the middle of a burning desert with a pounding, punishing sun overhead, doesn’t seem to be hot. It almost feels cool. He considers lying down on the nice cool surface.

Cool, dark stone. Not a good sign. He must be hallucinating this. He’s probably in the middle of a patch of sand, already lying face down and dying, and just imagining this whole thing. A desert mirage. Soon the beautiful women carrying pitchers of water will come up and start giving him a drink. Then he’ll know he’s gone.

He decides against laying down on the cool stone. If he’s going to die here in the middle of this hallucination, he at least wants to see what’s in the center before he goes. He keeps crawling.

It’s the third time that he hears the voice before he realizes what he’s hearing. He would swear that someone just said, “Greetings, traveler. You do not look well. Do you hear me?”

He stops crawling. He tries to look up from where he is on his hands and knees, but it’s too much effort to lift his head. So he tries something different – he leans back and tries to sit up on the stone. After a few seconds, he catches his balance, avoids falling on his face, sits up, and tries to focus his eyes. Blurry. He rubs his eyes with the back of his hands and tries again. Better this time.

Yep. He can see. He’s sitting in the middle of a large, flat, dark expanse of stone. Directly next to him, about three feet away, is a white post or pole about two inches in diameter and sticking up about four or five feet out of the stone, at an angle.

And wrapped around this white rod, tail with rattle on it hovering and seeming to be ready to start rattling, is what must be a fifteen foot long desert diamondback rattlesnake, looking directly at him.

He stares at the snake in shock. He doesn’t have the energy to get up and run away. He doesn’t even have the energy to crawl away. This is it, his final resting place. No matter what happens, he’s not going to be able to move from this spot.

Well, at least dying of a bite from this monster should be quicker than dying of thirst. He’ll face his end like a man. He struggles to sit up a little straighter. The snake keeps watching him. He lifts one hand and waves it in the snake’s direction, feebly. The snake watches the hand for a moment, then goes back to watching the man, looking into his eyes.

Hmmm. Maybe the snake had no interest in biting him? It hadn’t rattled yet -that was a good sign. Maybe he wasn’t going to die of snake bite after all.

He then remembers that he’d looked up when he’d reached the center here because he thought he’d heard a voice. He was still very woozy – he was likely to pass out soon, the sun still beat down on him even though he was now on cool stone. He still didn’t have anything to drink. But maybe he had actually heard a voice. This stone didn’t look natural. Nor did that white post sticking up out of the stone. Someone had to have built this. Maybe

they were still nearby. Maybe that was who talked to him. Maybe this snake was even their pet, and that’s why it wasn’t biting.

He tries to clear his throat to say, “Hello,” but his throat is too dry. All that comes out is a coughing or wheezing sound. There is no way he’s going to be able to talk without something to drink. He feels his pocket, and the bottle with the wiper fluid is still there. He shakily pulls the bottle out, almost losing his balance and falling on his back in the process. This isn’t good. He doesn’t have much time left, by his reckoning, before he passes out.

He gets the lid off of the bottle, manages to get the bottle to his lips, and pours some of the fluid into his mouth. He sloshes it around, and then swallows it. He coughs a little. His throat feels better. Maybe he can talk now.

He tries again. Ignoring the snake, he turns to look around him, hoping to spot the owner of this place, and croaks out, “Hello? Is there anyone here?”

He hears, from his side, “Greetings. What is it that you want?”

He turns his head, back towards the snake. That’s where the sound had seemed to come from. The only thing he can think of is that there must be a speaker, hidden under the snake, or maybe built into that post. He decides to try asking for help.

“Please,” he croaks again, suddenly feeling dizzy, “I’d love to not be thirsty any more. I’ve been a long time without water. Can you help me?”

Looking in the direction of the snake, hoping to see where the voice was coming from this time, he is shocked to see the snake rear back, open its mouth, and speak. He hears it say, as the dizziness overtakes him and he falls forward, face first on the stone, “Very well. Coming up.”

A piercing pain shoots through his shoulder. Suddenly he is awake. He sits up and grabs his shoulder, wincing at the throbbing pain. He’s momentarily disoriented as he looks around, and then he remembers – the crawl across the sand, the dark area of stone, the snake. He sees the snake, still wrapped around the tilted white post, still looking at him.

He reaches up and feels his shoulder, where it hurts. It feels slightly wet. He pulls his fingers away and looks at them – blood. He feels his shoulder again – his shirt has what feels like two holes in it – two puncture holes -they match up with the two aching spots of pain on his shoulder. He had been bitten. By the snake.

“It’ll feel better in a minute.” He looks up – it’s the snake talking. He hadn’t dreamed it. Suddenly he notices – he’s not dizzy any more. And more importantly, he’s not thirsty any more – at all!

“Have I died? Is this the afterlife? Why are you biting me in the afterlife?”

“Sorry about that, but I had to bite you,” says the snake. “That’s the way I work. It all comes through the bite. Think of it as natural medicine.”

“You bit me to help me? Why aren’t I thirsty any more? Did you give me a drink before you bit me? How did I drink enough while unconscious to not be thirsty any more? I haven’t had a drink for over two days. Well, except for the windshield wiper fluid… hold it, how in the world does a snake talk? Are you real? Are you some sort of Disney animation?”

“No,” says the snake, “I’m real. As real as you or anyone is, anyway. I didn’t give you a drink. I bit you. That’s how it works – it’s what I do. I bite. I don’t have hands to give you a drink, even if I had water just sitting around here.”

The man sat stunned for a minute. Here he was, sitting in the middle of the desert on some strange stone that should be hot but wasn’t, talking to a snake that could talk back and had just bitten him. And he felt better. Not great – he was still starving and exhausted, but much better – he was no longer thirsty. He had started to sweat again, but only slightly. He felt hot, in this sun, but it was starting to get lower in the sky, and the cool stone beneath him was a relief he could notice now that he was no longer dying of thirst.

“I might suggest that we take care of that methanol you now have in your system with the next request,” continued the snake. “I can guess why you drank it, but I’m not sure how much you drank, or how much methanol was left in the wiper fluid. That stuff is nasty. It’ll make you go blind in a day or two, if you drank enough of it.”

“Ummm, n-next request?” said the man. He put his hand back on his hurting shoulder and backed away from the snake a little.

“That’s the way it works. If you like, that is,” explained the snake. “You get three requests. Call them wishes, if you wish.” The snake grinned at his own joke, and the man drew back a little further from the show of fangs.

“But there are rules,” the snake continued. “The first request is free. The second requires an agreement of secrecy. The third requires the binding of responsibility.” The snake looks at the man seriously.

“By the way,” the snake says suddenly, “my name is Nathan. Old Nathan, Samuel used to call me. He gave me the name. Before that, most of the Bound used to just call me ‘Snake’. But that got old, and Samuel wouldn’t stand for it. He said that anything that could talk needed a name. He was big into names. You can call me Nate, if you wish.” Again, the snake grinned. “Sorry if I don’t offer to shake, but I think you can understand – my shake sounds

somewhat threatening.” The snake give his rattle a little shake.

“Umm, my name is Jack,” said the man, trying to absorb all of this. “Jack Samson.

“Can I ask you a question?” Jack says suddenly. “What happened to the poison…umm, in your bite. Why aren’t I dying now? How did you do that? What do you mean by that’s how you work?”

“That’s more than one question,” grins Nate. “But I’ll still try to answer all of them. First, yes, you can ask me a question.” The snake’s grin gets wider. “Second, the poison is in you. It changed you. You now no longer need to drink. That’s what you asked for. Or, well, technically, you asked to not be thirsty any more – but ‘any more’ is such a vague term. I decided to make it permanent – now, as long as you live, you shouldn’t need to drink much at all. Your body will conserve water very efficiently. You should be able to get enough just from the food you eat – much like a creature of the desert. You’ve been changed.

“For the third question,” Nate continues, “you are still dying. Besides the effects of that methanol in your system, you’re a man – and men are mortal. In your current state, I give you no more than about another 50 years. Assuming you get out of this desert, alive, that is.” Nate seemed vastly amused at his own humor, and continued his wide grin.

“As for the fourth question,” Nate said, looking more serious as far as Jack could tell, as Jack was just now working on his ability to read talking-snake emotions from snake facial features, “first you have to agree to make a second request and become bound by the secrecy, or I can’t tell you.”

“Wait,” joked Jack, “isn’t this where you say you could tell me, but you’d have to kill me?”

“I thought that was implied.” Nate continued to look serious.

“Ummm…yeah.” Jack leaned back a little as he remembered again that he was talking to a fifteen foot poisonous reptile with a reputation for having a nasty temper. “So, what is this ‘Bound by Secrecy’ stuff, and can you really stop the effects of the methanol?” Jack thought for a second. “And, what do you mean methanol, anyway? I thought these days they use ethanol in wiper fluid, and just denature it?”

“They may, I don’t really know,” said Nate. “I haven’t gotten out in a while. Maybe they do. All I know is that I smell methanol on your breath and on that bottle in your pocket. And the blue color of the liquid when you pulled it out to drink some let me guess that it was wiper fluid. I assume that they still color wiper fluid blue?”

“Yeah, they do,” said Jack.

“I figured,” replied Nate. “As for being bound by secrecy – with the fulfillment of your next request, you will be bound to say nothing about me, this place, or any of the information I will tell you after that, when you decide to go back out to your kind. You won’t be allowed to talk about me, write about me, use sign language, charades, or even act in a way that will lead someone to guess correctly about me. You’ll be bound to secrecy. Of course, I’ll also ask you to promise not to give me away, and as I’m guessing that you’re a man of your word, you’ll never test the binding anyway, so you won’t notice.” Nate said the last part with utter confidence.

Jack, who had always prided himself on being a man of his word, felt a little nervous at this. “Ummm, hey, Nate, who are you? How did you know that? Are you, umm, omniscient, or something?”

Well, Jack,” said Nate sadly, “I can’t tell you that, unless you make the second request.” Nate looked away for a minute, then looked back.

“Umm, well, ok,” said Jack, “what is this about a second request? What can I ask for? Are you allowed to tell me that?”

“Sure!” said Nate, brightening. “You’re allowed to ask for changes. Changes to yourself. They’re like wishes, but they can only affect you. Oh, and before you ask, I can’t give you immortality. Or omniscience. Or omnipresence, for that matter. Though I might be able to make you gaseous and yet remain alive, and then you could spread through the atmosphere and sort of be omnipresent. But what good would that be – you still wouldn’t be omniscient and thus still could only focus on one thing at a time. Not very useful, at least in my opinion.” Nate stopped when he realized that Jack was staring at him.

“Well, anyway,” continued Nate, “I’d probably suggest giving you permanent good health. It would negate the methanol now in your system, you’d be immune to most poisons and diseases, and you’d tend to live a very long time, barring accident, of course. And you’ll even have a tendency to recover from accidents well. It always seemed like a good choice for a request to me.”

“Cure the methanol poisoning, huh?” said Jack. “And keep me healthy for a long time? Hmmm. It doesn’t sound bad at that. And it has to be a request about a change to me? I can’t ask to be rich, right? Because that’s not really a change to me?”

“Right,” nodded Nate.

“Could I ask to be a genius and permanently healthy?” Jack asked, hopefully.

“That takes two requests, Jack.”

“Yeah, I figured so,” said Jack. “But I could ask to be a genius? I could become the smartest scientist in the world? Or the best athlete?”

“Well, I could make you very smart,” admitted Nate, “but that wouldn’t necessarily make you the best scientist in the world. Or, I could make you very athletic, but it wouldn’t necessarily make you the best athlete either. You’ve heard the saying that 99% of genius is hard work? Well, there’s some truth to that. I can give you the talent, but I can’t make you work hard. It all depends on what you decide to do with it.”

“Hmmm,” said Jack. “Ok, I think I understand. And I get a third request, after this one?”

“Maybe,” said Nate, “it depends on what you decide then. There are more rules for the third request that I can only tell you about after the second request. You know how it goes.” Nate looked like he’d shrug, if he had shoulders.

“Ok, well, since I’d rather not be blind in a day or two, and permanent health doesn’t sound bad, then consider that my second request. Officially. Do I need to sign in blood or something?”

“No,” said Nate. “Just hold out your hand. Or heel.” Nate grinned. “Or whatever part you want me to bite. I have to bite you again. Like I said, that’s how it works – the poison, you know,” Nate said apologetically.

Jack winced a little and felt his shoulder, where the last bite was. Hey, it didn’t hurt any more. Just like Nate had said. That made Jack feel better about the biting business. But still, standing still while a fifteen foot snake sunk it’s fangs into you. Jack stood up. Ignoring how good it felt to be able to stand again, and the hunger starting to gnaw at his stomach, Jack tried to decide where he wanted to get bitten. Despite knowing that it wouldn’t hurt for long, Jack knew that this wasn’t going to be easy.

“Hey, Jack,” Nate suddenly said, looking past Jack towards the dunes behind him, “is that someone else coming up over there?”

Jack spun around and looked. Who else could be out here in the middle of nowhere? And did they bring food?

Wait a minute, there was nobody over there. What was Nate…

Jack let out a bellow as he felt two fangs sink into his rear end, through his jeans…

Jack sat down carefully, favoring his more tender buttock. “I would have decided, eventually, Nate. I was just thinking about it. You didn’t have to

hoodwink me like that.”

“I’ve been doing this a long time, Jack,” said Nate, confidently. “You humans have a hard time sitting still and letting a snake bite you – especially one my size. And besides, admit it – it’s only been a couple of minutes and it already doesn’t hurt any more, does it? That’s because of the health benefit with this one. I told you that you’d heal quickly now.”

“Yeah, well, still,” said Jack, “it’s the principle of the thing. And nobody likes being bitten in the butt! Couldn’t you have gotten my calf or something instead?”

“More meat in the typical human butt,” replied Nate. “And less chance you accidentally kick me or move at the last second.”

“Yeah, right. So, tell me all of these wonderful secrets that I now qualify to hear,” answered Jack.

“Ok,” said Nate. “Do you want to ask questions first, or do you want me to just start talking?”

“Just talk,” said Jack. “I’ll sit here and try to not think about food.”

“We could go try to rustle up some food for you first, if you like,” answered Nate.

“Hey! You didn’t tell me you had food around here, Nate!” Jack jumped up. “What do we have? Am I in walking distance to town? Or can you magically whip up food along with your other powers?” Jack was almost shouting with excitement. His stomach had been growling for hours.

“I was thinking more like I could flush something out of its hole and bite it for you, and you could skin it and eat it. Assuming you have a knife, that is,” replied Nate, with the grin that Jack was starting to get used to.

“Ugh,” said Jack, sitting back down. “I think I’ll pass. I can last a little longer before I get desperate enough to eat desert rat, or whatever else it is you find out here. And there’s nothing to burn – I’d have to eat it raw. No thanks. Just talk.”

“Ok,” replied Nate, still grinning. “But I’d better hurry, before you start looking at me as food.

Nate reared back a little, looked around for a second, and then continued. “You, Jack, are sitting in the middle of the Garden of Eden.”

Jack looked around at the sand and dunes and then looked back at Nate sceptically.

“Well, that’s the best I can figure it, anyway, Jack,” said Nate. “Stand up and look at the symbol on the rock here.” Nate gestured around the dark stone they were both sitting on with his nose.

Jack stood up and looked. Carved into the stone in a bas-relief was a representation of a large tree. The angled-pole that Nate was wrapped around was coming out of the trunk of the tree, right below where the main branches left the truck to reach out across the stone. It was very well done – it looked more like a tree had been reduced to almost two dimensions and embedded in the stone than it did like a carving.

Jack walked around and looked at the details in the fading light of the setting sun. He wished he’d looked at it while the sun was higher in the sky.

Wait! The sun was setting! That meant he was going to have to spend another night out here! Arrrgh!

Jack looked out across the desert for a little bit, and then came back and stood next to Nate. “In all the excitement, I almost forgot, Nate,” said Jack. “Which way is it back to town? And how far? I’m eventually going to have to head back – I’m not sure I’ll be able to survive by eating raw desert critters for long. And even if I can, I’m not sure I’ll want to.”

“It’s about 30 miles that way.” Nate pointed, with the rattle on his tail this time. As far as Jack could tell, it was a direction at right angles to the way he’d been going when he was crawling here. “But that’s 30 miles by the way the crow flies. It’s about 40 by the way a man walks. You should be able to do it in about half a day with your improved endurance, if you head out early tomorrow, Jack.”

Jack looked out the way the snake had pointed for a few seconds more, and then sat back down. It was getting dark. Not much he could do about heading out right now. And besides, Nate was just about to get to the interesting stuff. “Garden of Eden? As best as you can figure it?”

“Well, yeah, as best as I and Samuel could figure it anyway,” said Nate. “He figured that the story just got a little mixed up. You know, snake, in a ‘tree’, offering ‘temptations’, making bargains. That kind stuff. But he could never quite figure out how the Hebrews found out about this spot from across the ocean. He worried about that for a while.”

“Garden of Eden, hunh?” said Jack. “How long have you been here, Nate?”

“No idea, really,” replied Nate. “A long time. It never occurred to me to count years, until recently, and by then, of course, it was too late. But I do remember when this whole place was green, so I figure it’s been thousands of years, at least.”

“So, are you the snake that tempted Eve?” said Jack.

“Beats me,” said Nate. “Maybe. I can’t remember if the first one of your kind that I talked to was female or not, and I never got a name, but it could have been. And I suppose she could have considered my offer to grant requests a ‘temptation’, though I’ve rarely had refusals.”

“Well, umm, how did you get here then? And why is that white pole stuck out of the stone there?” asked Jack.

“Dad left me here. Or, I assume it was my dad. It was another snake – much bigger than I was back then. I remember talking to him, but I don’t remember if it was in a language, or just kind of understanding what he wanted. But one day, he brought me to this stone, told me about it, and asked me to do something for him. I talked it over with him for a while, then agreed. I’ve been here ever since.

“What is this place?” said Jack. “And what did he ask you to do?”

“Well, you see this pole here, sticking out of the stone?” Nate loosened his coils around the tilted white pole and showed Jack where it descended into the stone. The pole was tilted at about a 45 degree angle and seemed to enter the stone in an eighteen inch slot cut into the stone. Jack leaned over and looked. The slot was dark and the pole went down into it as far as Jack could see in the dim light. Jack reached out to touch the pole, but Nate was suddenly there in the way.

“You can’t touch that yet, Jack,” said Nate.

“Why not?” asked Jack.

“I haven’t explained it to you yet,” replied Nate.

“Well, it kinda looks like a lever or something,” said Jack. “You’d push it that way, and it would move in the slot.”

“Yep, that’s what it is,” replied Nate.

“What does it do?” asked Jack. “End the world.”

“Oh, no,” said Nate. “Nothing that drastic. It just ends humanity. I call it ‘The Lever of Doom’.” For the last few words Nate had used a deeper, ringing voice. He tried to look serious for a few seconds, and then gave up and grinned.

Jack was initially startled by Nate’s pronouncement, but when Nate grinned Jack laughed. “Ha! You almost had me fooled for a second there. What does it really do?”

“Oh, it really ends humanity, like I said,” smirked Nate. “I just thought the voice I used was funny, didn’t you?”

Nate continued to grin.

“A lever to end humanity?” asked Jack. “What in the world is that for? Why would anyone need to end humanity?”

“Well,” replied Nate, “I get the idea that maybe humanity was an experiment. Or maybe the Big Guy just thought, that if humanity started going really bad, there should be a way to end it. I’m not really sure. All I know are the rules, and the guesses that Samuel and I had about why it’s here. I didn’t think to ask back when I started here.”

“Rules? What rules?” asked Jack.

“The rules are that I can’t tell anybody about it or let them touch it unless they agree to be bound to secrecy by a bite. And that only one human can be bound in that way at a time. That’s it.” explained Nate.

Jack looked somewhat shocked. “You mean that I could pull the lever now? You’d let me end humanity?”

“Yep,” replied Nate, “if you want to.” Nate looked at Jack carefully. “Do you want to, Jack?”

“Umm, no.” said Jack, stepping a little further back from the lever. “Why in the world would anyone want to end humanity? It’d take a psychotic to want that! Or worse, a suicidal psychotic, because it would kill him too, wouldn’t it?”

“Yep,” replied Nate, “being as he’d be human too.”

“Has anyone ever seriously considered it?” asked Nate. “Any of those bound to secrecy, that is?”

“Well, of course, I think they’ve all seriously considered it at one time or another. Being given that kind of responsibility makes you sit down and think, or so I’m told. Samuel considered it several times. He’d often get disgusted with humanity, come out here, and just hold the lever for a while. But he never pulled it. Or you wouldn’t be here.” Nate grinned some more.

Jack sat down, well back from the lever. He looked thoughtful and puzzled at the same time. After a bit, he said, “So this makes me the Judge of humanity? I get to decide whether they keep going or just end? Me?”

“That seems to be it,” agreed Nate.

“What kind of criteria do I use to decide?” said Jack. “How do I make this decision? Am I supposed to decide if they’re good? Or too many of them are bad? Or that they’re going the wrong way? Is there a set of rules for that?”

“Nope,” replied Nate. “You pretty much just have to decide on your own. It’s up to you, however you want to decide it. I guess that you’re just supposed to know.”

“But what if I get mad at someone? Or some girl dumps me and I feel horrible? Couldn’t I make a mistake? How do I know that I won’t screw up?” protested Jack.

Nate gave his kind of snake-like shrug again. “You don’t. You just have to try your best, Jack.”

Jack sat there for a while, staring off into the desert that was rapidly getting dark, chewing on a fingernail.

Suddenly, Jack turned around and looked at the snake. “Nate, was Samuel the one bound to this before me?”

“Yep,” replied Nate. “He was a good guy. Talked to me a lot. Taught me to read and brought me books. I think I still have a good pile of them buried in the sand around here somewhere. I still miss him. He died a few months ago.”

“Sounds like a good guy,” agreed Jack. “How did he handle this, when you first told him. What did he do?”

“Well,” said Nate, “he sat down for a while, thought about it for a bit, and then asked me some questions, much like you’re doing.”

“What did he ask you, if you’re allowed to tell me?” asked Jack.

“He asked me about the third request,” replied Nate.

“Aha!” It was Jack’s turn to grin. “And what did you tell him?”

“I told him the rules for the third request. That to get the third request you have to agree to this whole thing. That if it ever comes to the point that you really think that humanity should be ended, that you’ll come here and end it. You won’t avoid it, and you won’t wimp out.” Nate looked serious again. “And you’ll be bound to do it too, Jack.”

“Hmmm.” Jack looked back out into the darkness for a while.

Nate watched him, waiting.

“Nate,” continued Jack, quietly, eventually. “What did Samuel ask for with his third request?”

Nate sounded like he was grinning again as he replied, also quietly, “Wisdom, Jack. He asked for wisdom. As much as I could give him.”

“Ok,” said Jack, suddenly, standing up and facing away from Nate, “give it to me.

Nate looked at Jack’s backside. “Give you what, Jack?”

“Give me that wisdom. The same stuff that Samuel asked for. If it helped him, maybe it’ll help me too.” Jack turned his head to look back over his shoulder at Nate. “It did help him, right?”

“He said it did,” replied Nate. “But he seemed a little quieter afterward. Like he had a lot to think about.”

“Well, yeah, I can see that,” said Jack. “So, give it to me.” Jack turned toface away from Nate again, bent over slightly and tensed up.

Nate watched Jack tense up with a little exasperation. If he bit Jack now, Jack would likely jump out of his skin and maybe hurt them both.

“You remember that you’ll be bound to destroy humanity if it ever looks like it needs it, right Jack?” asked Nate, shifting position.

“Yeah, yeah, I got that,” replied Jack, eyes squeezed tightly shut and body tense, not noticing the change in direction of Nate’s voice.

“And,” continued Nate, from his new position, “do you remember that you’ll turn bright purple, and grow big horns and extra eyes?”

“Yeah, yeah…Hey, wait a minute!” said Jack, opening his eyes, straightening up and turning around. “Purple?!” He didn’t see Nate there. With the moonlight Jack could see that the lever extended up from its slot in the rock without the snake wrapped around it.

Jack heard, from behind him, Nate’s “Just Kidding!” right before he felt the now familiar piercing pain, this time in the other buttock.

Jack sat on the edge of the dark stone in the rapidly cooling air, his feet extending out into the sand. He stared out into the darkness, listening to the wind stir the sand, occasionally rubbing his butt where he’d been recently bitten.

Nate had left for a little while, had come back with a desert-rodent-shaped bulge somewhere in his middle, and was now wrapped back around the lever, his tongue flicking out into the desert night’s air the only sign that he was still awake.

Occasionally Jack, with his toes absentmindedly digging in the sand while he thought, would ask Nate a question without turning around.

“Nate, do accidents count?”

Nate lifted his head a little bit. “What do you mean, Jack?”

Jack tilted his head back like he was looking at the stars. “You know, accidents. If I accidentally fall on the lever, without meaning to, does that still wipe out humanity?”

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure it does, Jack. I’d suggest you be careful about that if you start feeling wobbly,” said Nate with some amusement.

A little later – “Does it have to be me that pulls the lever?” asked Jack.

“That’s the rule, Jack. Nobody else can pull it,” answered Nate.

“No,” Jack shook his head, “I meant does it have to be my hand? Could I pull the lever with a rope tied around it? Or push it with a stick? Or throw a rock?”

“Yes, those should work,” replied Nate. “Though I’m not sure how complicated you could get. Samuel thought about trying to build some kind of remote control for it once, but gave it up. Everything he’d build would be gone by the next sunrise, if it was touching the stone, or over it. I told him that in the past others that had been bound had tried to bury the lever so they wouldn’t be tempted to pull it, but every time the stones or sand or whatever had disappeared.”

“Wow,” said Jack, “Cool.” Jack leaned back until only his elbows kept him off of the stone and looked up into the sky.

“Nate, how long did Samuel live? One of his wishes was for health too, right?” asked Jack.

“Yes,” replied Nate, “it was. He lived 167 years, Jack.”

“Wow, 167 years. That’s almost 140 more years I’ll live if I live as long. Do you know what he died of, Nate?”

“He died of getting tired of living, Jack,” Nate said, sounding somewhat sad.

Jack turned his head to look at Nate in the starlight.

Nate looked back. “Samuel knew he wasn’t going to be able to stay in society. He figured that they’d eventually see him still alive and start questioning it, so he decided that he’d have to disappear after a while. He faked his death once, but changed his mind – he decided it was too early and he could stay for a little longer. He wasn’t very fond of mankind, but he liked the attention. Most of the time, anyway.

“His daughter and then his wife dying almost did him in though. He didn’t stay in society much longer after that. He eventually came out here to spend time talking to me and thinking about pulling the lever. A few months ago he told me he’d had enough. It was his time.”

“And then he just died?” asked Jack.

Nate shook his head a little. “He made his forth request, Jack. There’s only one thing you can ask for the fourth request. The last bite.

After a bit Nate continued, “He told me that he was tired, that it was his time. He reassured me that someone new would show up soon, like they always had.

After another pause, Nate finished, “Samuel’s body disappeared off the stone with the sunrise.”

Jack lay back down and looked at the sky, leaving Nate alone with his memories. It was a long time until Jack’s breathing evened out into sleep.

Jack woke with the sunrise the next morning. He was a little chilled with the morning desert air, but overall was feeling pretty good. Well, except that his stomach was grumbling and he wasn’t willing to eat raw desert rat.

So, after getting directions to town from Nate, making sure he knew how to get back, and reassuring Nate that he’d be back soon, Jack started the long walk back to town. With his new health and Nate’s good directions, he made it back easily.

Jack caught a bus back to the city, and showed up for work the next day, little worse for the wear and with a story about getting lost in the desert and walking back out. Within a couple of days Jack had talked a friend with a tow truck into going back out into the desert with him to fetch the SUV. They found it after a couple of hours of searching and towed it back without incident. Jack was careful not to even look in the direction of Nate’s lever, though their path back didn’t come within sight of it.

Before the next weekend, Jack had gone to a couple of stores, including a book store, and had gotten his SUV back from the mechanic, with a warning to avoid any more joyriding in the desert. On Saturday, Jack headed back to see Nate.

Jack parked a little way out of the small town near Nate, loaded up his new backpack with camping gear and the things he was bringing for Nate, and then started walking. He figured that walking would leave the least trail, and he knew that while not many people camped in the desert, it wasn’t unheard of, and shouldn’t really raise suspicions.

Jack had brought more books for Nate – recent books, magazines, newspapers. Some things that would catch Nate up with what was happening in the world, others that were just good books to read. He spent the weekend with Nate, and then headed out again, telling Nate that he’d be back again soon, but that he had things to do first.

Over four months later Jack was back to see Nate again. This time he brought a laptop with him – a specially modified laptop. It had a solar recharger, special filters and seals to keep out the sand, a satellite link-up, and a special keyboard and joystick that Jack hoped that a fifteen-foot rattlesnake would be able to use. And, it had been hacked to not give out its location to the satellite.

After that Jack could e-mail Nate to keep in touch, but still visited him fairly regularly – at least once or twice a year.

After the first year, Jack quit his job. For some reason, with the wisdom he ‘d been given, and the knowledge that he could live for over 150 years, working in a nine to five job for someone else didn’t seem that worthwhile any more. Jack went back to school.

Eventually, Jack started writing. Perhaps because of the wisdom, or perhaps because of his new perspective, he wrote well. People liked what he wrote, and he became well known for it. After a time, Jack bought an RV and started traveling around the country for book signings and readings.

But, he still remembered to drop by and visit Nate occasionally.

On one of the visits Nate seemed quieter than usual. Not that Nate had been a fountain of joy lately. Jack’s best guess was that Nate was still missing Samuel, and though Jack had tried, he still hadn’t been able to replace Samuel in Nate’s eyes. Nate had been getting quieter each visit. But on this visit Nate didn’t even speak when Jack walked up to the lever. He nodded at Jack, and then went back to staring into the desert. Jack, respecting Nate’s silence, sat down and waited.

After a few minutes, Nate spoke. “Jack, I have someone to introduce you to.”

Jack looked surprised. “Someone to introduce me to?” Jack looked around, and then looked carefully back at Nate. “This something to do with the Big Guy?

“No, no,” replied Nate. “This is more personal. I want you to meet my son.” Nate looked over at the nearest sand dune. “Sammy!”

Jack watched as a four foot long desert rattlesnake crawled from behind the dune and up to the stone base of the lever.

“Yo, Jack,” said the new, much smaller snake.

“Yo, Sammy” replied Jack. Jack looked at Nate. “Named after Samuel, I assume?”

Nate nodded. “Jack, I’ve got a favor to ask you. Could you show Sammy around for me?” Nate unwrapped himself from the lever and slithered over to the edge of the stone and looked across the sands. “When Samuel first told me about the world, and brought me books and pictures, I wished that I could go see it. I wanted to see the great forests, the canyons, the cities, even the other deserts, to see if they felt and smelled the same. I want my son to have that chance – to see the world. Before he becomes bound here like I have been.

“He’s seen it in pictures, over the computer that you brought me. But I hear that it’s not the same. That being there is different. I want him to have that. Think you can do that for me, Jack?”

Jack nodded. This was obviously very important to Nate, so Jack didn’t even joke about taking a talking rattlesnake out to see the world. “Yeah, I can do that for you, Nate. Is that all you need?” Jack could sense that was something more.

Nate looked at Sammy. Sammy looked back at Nate for a second and then said, “Oh, yeah. Ummm, I’ve gotta go pack. Back in a little bit Jack. Nice to meet ya!” Sammy slithered back over the dune and out of sight.

Nate watched Sammy disappear and then looked back at Jack. “Jack, this is my first son. My first offspring through all the years. You don’t even want to know what it took for me to find a mate.” Nate grinned to himself. “But anyway, I had a son for a reason. I’m tired. I’m ready for it to be over. I needed a replacement.”

Jack considered this for a minute. “So, you’re ready to come see the world, and you wanted him to watch the lever while you were gone?”

Nate shook his head. “No, Jack – you’re a better guesser than that. You’ve already figured out – I’m bound here – there’s only one way for me to leave here. And I’m ready. It’s my time to die.”

Jack looked more closely at Nate. He could tell Nate had thought about this – probably for quite a while. Jack had trouble imagining what it would be like to be as old as Nate, but Jack could already tell that in another hundred or two hundred years, he might be getting tired of life himself. Jack could understand Samuel’s decision, and now Nate’s. So, all Jack said was, “What do you want me to do?”

Nate nodded. “Thanks, Jack. I only want two things. One – show Sammy around the world – let him get his fill of it, until he’s ready to come back here and take over. Two – give me the fourth request.

“I can’t just decide to die, not any more than you can. I won’t even die of old age like you eventually will, even though it’ll be a long time from now. I need to be killed. Once Sammy is back here, ready to take over, I’ll be able to die. And I need you to kill me.

“I’ve even thought about how. Poisons and other drugs won’t work on me. And I’ve seen pictures of snakes that were shot – some of them live for days, so that’s out too. So, I want you to bring back a sword.

Nate turned away to look back to the dune that Sammy had gone behind. “I’d say an axe, but that’s somewhat undignified – putting my head on the ground or a chopping block like that. No, I like a sword. A time-honored way of going out. A dignified way to die. And, most importantly, it should work, even on me.

“You willing to do that for me, Jack?” Nate turned back to look at Jack.

“Yeah, Nate,” replied Jack solemnly, “I think I can handle that.”

Nate nodded. “Good!” He turned back toward the dune and shouted, “Sammy! Jack’s about ready to leave!” Then quietly, “Thanks, Jack.”

Jack didn’t have anything to say to that, so he waited for Sammy to make it back to the lever, nodded to him, nodded a final time to Nate, and then headed into the desert with Sammy following. Over the next several years Sammy and Jack kept in touch with Nate through e-mail as they went about their adventures. They made a goal of visiting every country in the world, and did a respectable job of it. Sammy had a natural gift for languages, as Jack expected he would, and even ended up acting as a translator for Jack in a few of the countries. Jack managed to keep the talking rattlesnake hidden, even so, and by the time they were nearing the end of their tour of countries, Sammy had only been spotted a few times. While there were several people that had seen enough to startle them greatly, nobody had enough evidence to prove anything, and while a few wild rumors and storied followed Jack and Sammy around, nothing ever hit the newspapers or the public in general.

When they finished the tour of countries, Jack suggested that they try some undersea diving. They did. And spelunking. They did that too. Sammy finally drew the line at visiting Antarctica. He’d come to realize that Jack was stalling. After talking to his Dad about it over e-mail, he figured out that Jack probably didn’t want to have to kill Nate. Nate told Sammy that humans could be squeamish about killing friends and acquaintances.

So, Sammy eventually put his tail down (as he didn’t have a foot) and told Jack that it was time – he was ready to go back and take up his duties from his dad. Jack, delayed it a little more by insisting that they go back to Japan and buy an appropriate sword. He even stretched it a little more by getting lessons in how to use the sword. But, eventually, he’d learned as much as he was likely to without dedicating his life to it, and was definitely competent enough to take the head off of a snake. It was time to head back and see Nate.

When they got back to the US, Jack got the old RV out of storage where he and Sammy had left it after their tour of the fifty states, he loaded up Sammy and the sword, and they headed for the desert.

When they got to the small town that Jack had been trying to find those years ago when he’d met Nate, Jack was in a funk. He didn’t really feel like walking all of the way out there. Not only that, but he’d forgotten to figure the travel time correctly, and it was late afternoon. They’d either have to spend the night in town and walk out tomorrow, or walk in the dark.

As Jack was afraid that if he waited one more night he might lose his resolve, he decided that he’d go ahead and drive the RV out there. It was only going to be this once, and Jack would go back and cover the tracks afterward. They ought to be able to make it out there by nightfall if they drove, and then they could get it over tonight.

Jack told Sammy to e-mail Nate that they were coming as he drove out of sight of the town on the road. They then pulled off the road and headed out into the desert.

Everything went well, until they got to the sand dunes. Jack had been nursing the RV along the whole time, over the rocks, through the creek beds, revving the engine the few times they almost got stuck. When they came to the dunes, Jack didn’t really think about it, he just downshifted and headed up the first one. By the third dune, Jack started to regret that he’d decided to try driving on the sand. The RV was fishtailling and losing traction. Jack was having to work it up each dune slowly and was trying to keep from losing control each time they came over the top and slid down the other side. Sammy had come up to sit in the passenger seat, coiled up and laughing at Jack’s driving.

As they came over the top of the fourth dune, the biggest one yet, Jack saw that this was the final dune – the stone, the lever, and somewhere Nate, waited below. Jack put on the brakes, but he’d gone a little too far. The RV started slipping down the other side.

Jack tried turning the wheel, but he didn’t have enough traction. He pumped the brakes – no response. They started sliding down the hill, faster and faster.

Jack felt a shock go through him as he suddenly realized that they were heading for the lever. He looked down – the RV was directly on course for it. If Jack didn’t do something, the RV would hit it. He was about to end humanity.

Jack steered more frantically, trying to get traction. It still wasn’t working. The dune was too steep, and the sand too loose. In a split second, Jack realized that his only chance would be once he hit the stone around the lever – he should have traction on the stone for just a second before he hit the lever – he wouldn’t have time to stop, but he should be able to steer away.

Jack took a better grip on the steering wheel and tried to turn the RV a little bit – every little bit would help. He’d have to time his turn just right.

The RV got to the bottom of the dune, sliding at an amazing speed in the sand. Just before they reached the stone Jack looked across it to check that they were still heading for the lever. They were. But Jack noticed something else that he hadn’t seen from the top of the dune. Nate wasn’t wrapped around the lever. He was off to the side of the lever, but still on the stone, waiting for them. The problem was, he was waiting on the same side of the lever that Jack had picked to steer towards to avoid the lever. The RV was already starting to drift that way a little in its mad rush across the sand and there was no way that Jack was going to be able to go around the lever to the other side.

Jack had an instant of realization. He was either going to have to hit the lever, or run over Nate. He glanced over at Sammy and saw that Sammy realized the same thing.

Jack took a firmer grip on the steering wheel as the RV ran up on the stone. Shouting to Sammy as he pulled the steering wheel, “BETTER NATE THAN LEVER,” he ran over the snake.

THE END

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Comments

121 Responses to “The Longest Joke in the World””

  1. Marc Says:
    January 17th, 2008 at 12:25 am

    What about teh percentage of people who started reading the joke then stopped part way through because it sucked?

  2. Shad0wfire Says:
    January 18th, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    very nice. it took me an hour to read this but i did it anyway. i even laughed at the end!^^

  3. Shafty Says:
    January 21st, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    Clever joke, good story, and a great psychoanalysis at the end. It always seems to me that these are the best tests for personality — if a subject knows that he’s being tested, it’s difficult to think honestly about responses instead of rationally. Tests that aren’t revealed as tests until the results are calculated, like this one, are the most accurate kind.
    Plus it feels good to have taken only half an hour to read through it.

  4. Robin Sure Says:
    January 22nd, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    I would add another group. Those who saw the punchline being nothing but a poor pun, and the story having little narrative merit after reading the first few paragraphs.

  5. Anonymous Says:
    January 25th, 2008 at 8:53 am

    WTF??

  6. grapes Says:
    February 16th, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Um..funny, it was a bit more like a short story with something funny in it not a long joke.

  7. Jordan Says:
    February 21st, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    After the first couple paragraphs i actually forgot it was a joke… lol.

  8. Alex Says:
    February 23rd, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    Ha… I actually enjoyed the story more than the joke aspect. Hoping to get a philosophical view on lever to end the world question. Quite enjoyable though – I think I’ll memorize it and use it in conjunction with my “super cool ninja joke” that goes for 20 minutes at a time :)

  9. chicken Says:
    February 24th, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    I found it more of a sentimental short story with a bad punchline at the end.

  10. Ninja Says:
    February 27th, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    i thought that it was more of a short story, not only that but i wish it would have gone on longer and said more about sammy and jack

  11. qqqq Says:
    February 29th, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    that was the longest most boring joke i have ever read. though it was a very interesting story

  12. Anonymous Says:
    March 15th, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    I liked it.

  13. Anonymous Says:
    March 15th, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    bleh… stopped reading once i got to where the snake gave its name… Heard the joke before without the stupid lost in the desert part.

  14. D Says:
    March 15th, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Bad, bad, bad. A long joke, like a long story, needs to deliver a big return on all the time and energy it asks from the audience. The return on this joke is pathetic and annoying AT BEST, and the story suffers because of the intentionally drawn out descriptions and filler dialogue. And because who would drink windshield washer fluid? Come on.

  15. BunkytheDuck Says:
    March 15th, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    AHAHAHAHA. . . I get it. Better nate than lever, ’cause the punchline is delivered better late than never. . . Not funny.

    I did like the story a lot though.

    Also, from the looks of the timestamps on some of these other comments, I must say GOONS GOONS GOONS.

  16. Eli Says:
    March 28th, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Took me a while to get it! Ha ha. Cool story though!

  17. Tamber Says:
    March 29th, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    That is soo sad. T_T

  18. AnonEMoose Says:
    April 10th, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    The joke isn’t that the pun is any good, but that the bad pun is a joke on the reader after a great story.

  19. Moe Says:
    April 29th, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    I enjoyed that quite a lot.

    the story was pretty good.

    and i laughed at the end.

    very good.

  20. Awsum d00d Says:
    May 30th, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Yeah, it’s not even supposed to be funny because it’s a good joke. The joke is that the punchline is so bad after such a long story. Kinda like dead baby jokes, the humor is in the reaction of the hearer/reader rather than in the joke itself.

  21. Sparty Says:
    May 31st, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    Wow… great story, but the pun was the biggest groan-inducer I’ve ever SEEN.

  22. Dajayman Says:
    June 8th, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    EPIC LULZ!!! This joke is full of win and doesn’t afraid of anything!

  23. jusmee Says:
    June 22nd, 2008 at 1:42 am

    omg that took me an hour to read!
    i actually read it like a week ago so i didnt read it again i was just showing my friend but i didnt know it was a joke i just thought it was a story but i found it very interesting.

  24. Unholy Says:
    June 25th, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    GOD that was awesome…reminds me a lot of the conehead joke. Good story, and I love how this can be seen as a multi-layered joke (the overly long buildup to a bad pun, how its a pun on the fact that it’s better for the punchline to be late than never, the reactions other people would have to this, ect.)

  25. Missy Says:
    July 9th, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    OMG IM SUCH A LOSER FOR READING THAT >.>
    i only read it cause my friend thought it was funny
    wow….. very time consuming
    but good story i guess
    not a funny joke though -_______-

  26. Anonymous Says:
    July 20th, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    haha, all that for a freakin’ pun.

    i liked the story though.

  27. Anonymous Says:
    July 21st, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    *facepalm*

  28. Andrew Says:
    July 21st, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    I grinned at the joke, then burst out laughing at the time it took to read the damn thing!

  29. Sam Says:
    July 21st, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    This Is very good.
    The story Is awesome And the end was clever

  30. Timmy Says:
    July 23rd, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Epic joke

    Epic punch line

    even if it did take 30mins to read

  31. Kayla Says:
    July 26th, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    wow, that was the longest jokei ever read and totally worth it. maybe. :] i dont know i liked it alot, very clever

  32. hALFpASTsEVEN Says:
    July 29th, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    this story is teh pwn

  33. Kage Says:
    August 1st, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    LOL.

    BAD pun at the end. REALLY bad pun. Bad pun is BAD. But still, I laughed. x3 Nice, kudos to whoever made that thing.

    I’m not sure if I want the time I spent reading that back, or if it was worth it. LOL

  34. Squig Says:
    August 13th, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    WHY!?!?!?! *sob* i couldve done anything!!! i couldve stopped! i really couldve! *slams head on desk, sobbing silently*

    good story though

  35. Sam Says:
    August 18th, 2008 at 5:25 am

    U kol that a joke? Paaaliiizzz!!!!

  36. Dottie Says:
    September 23rd, 2008 at 3:09 am

    Comment For The Comments:

    Get a life lololol, some person cleverly took the time to write a very good story, with an excellent joke at the end. It suprises me that this joke got so much hate mail. Lighten up people, you didn’t have to read it, and if you didn’t, don’t comment because you didn’t get the full effect. Honestly whoever wrote this, Thumbs up :] I loved it! I cried at the end because Laughter just didn’t seem good enough :L

  37. Taz Says:
    September 23rd, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    Good story but the joke could have been better.

  38. Ormick Says:
    October 6th, 2008 at 1:36 am

    *facepalm*

  39. Anonymous Says:
    October 6th, 2008 at 7:05 am

    Oh my God, this was brilliant! totally worth it!

  40. Jac Says:
    October 9th, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    The final line (“Better Nate than lever”) isn’t the joke. The sheer amount of extraneous information (so much so that it becomes a narrative) is the joke. If you’d like to make the stretch, it’s funny for the same reason “Why did the chicken cross the road?” is funny*. There’s no reason the thing crossing the road has to be a chicken; anything crossing the road is doing it to “get to the other side”. The “chicken” part is unnecessary, just like the 23 pages of story is unnecessary. Hence, funny! Shut up it makes sense.

    Not only that, but I LIKED the story, but I my tastes are “unrefined”.

    *Okay, well, it’s not funny anymore. But it used to be!

  41. dan Says:
    October 16th, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    all those people trying to sound smart are weird. just saying.

  42. Francis Pumphandle Says:
    October 23rd, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Cheese balls are one of my all-time favorite foods. I always seem to meet the most interesting people when I’m around them, too. In fact, cheese balls bring to mind the time I met Bob Barker, star of the most popular morning game show. He’s an emcee, a host, and a celebrity all rolled into one. Anyway, eight months ago — it was Tuesday the 17th, I believe — or it might have been the 18th … no, no, it was definitely the 17th, because it was precisely one week after my aunt Lucretia’s birthday, which is the 10th. Aunt Lucretia’s quite a woman. Loves to cook. She prepares a fabulous war shu a. That’s a Chinese duck dish. I love Chinese food. I once went to a party where they served Chinese food and cheese balls. Now that was a Catch-22 situation. Catch-22 was a movie, you know. It was long, very long. They say the book was better, but it was a novel and I never finish reading those things. Of course, a lot of people don’t read much nowadays. They watch television. I caught a program on PBS last night. A very good show on chimpanzees in the media. They had a clip of J. Fred Muggs, the chimp from the TODAY show. But it was Fred’s chimpanzee girlfriend that had me stumped. I couldn’t remember her name, so I looked it up. Her name was Phoebe B. Beebe. Anyway, as I was saying, eight months ago, Tuesday the 17th, I went downtown on a nice, relaxing stroll. I love to relax. In fact, relaxing is a pastime of mine. Some people play golf. Others like tennis, horseshoes, bridge, canasta, and other such fancy hobbies. Now, another hobby enjoyed by many is knitting. My grandmother was a great knitter. Knitted this sweater I’m wearing. It’s red, which is not my favorite color. I prefer mauve or mustard yellow. Now, don’t get me wrong: red is okay for ties and suspenders, but with sweaters I prefer more neutral colors. But when I’m relaxing, I don’t care what I wear: long pants, Bermuda shorts, T-shirts, or formal attire. You name it, anything goes. Now, on the 17th, during my relaxing stroll, I recall wearing my herringbone jacket, my Laughlin, Nevada, souvenir tie, and my charcoal gray slacks. Or was it the navy slacks? Oh, I suppose it doesn’t really matter. What matters is comfort. You know, I love comfort. It goes along with that pastime of mine, relaxing. Now, for me, there is nothing more relaxing than a nice leisurely stroll, like the one I took eight months ago on the 17th. It was a bright, sunny day, which of course is the optimum condition for relaxed strolling. And as I walked along, I found myself humming a haunting melody. I kept humming and humming and humming and humming. I couldn’t get the tune out of my head. I racked my brains to come up with the title, but to no avail. You see, I’m not terribly musical. And yet, I’d always wanted to play an instrument and be like my musical hero, Leo Sayer. But who can compete with Leo? I think I was just scared that I’d fail. Well, I decided right then and there to go buy a musical instrument. So on the particular Tuesday the 17th to which I was referring, I went down to the Sixth Street Music Emporium to buy a new tambourine, a terribly soothing instrument, contrary to popular opinion. And as I was strolling along, I detected a wonderful scent in the morning air. “What could it be?” I asked myself. So I went toward that marvelous scent, distracted by its aroma from my musical mission. The odor was a mix of orchid flowers and bologna, which of course is one of the world’s most under-appreciated luncheon meats. That and pimento loaf. I love a good pimento loaf and mayo sandwich — the more pimentos, the better. Why, just the mention of pimentos makes my taste buds stand up and say, “Howdy.” Now there’s an interesting word: “Howdy.” Is it from “How are you” or maybe “How you doing”? “Howdy”‘s one of those strange words that really has no origin. I like saying “How do” more than “Howdy” — more formal, I think. Not too flowery. But the flowery aroma of that particular morning carried me on my fragrant quest. Now, the smell was actually less bologna and more orchid — the beautiful flower found on the island state of Hawaii. Of course, I wasn’t in Hawaii, so I needed to search out the location of the nearest orchid. So, I visited every florist shop in town. Well, to make a long story short, not a single flower shop in town had any orchids in stock, which seemed mighty curious to me. Now, as we all know, curiosity killed the cat, but since I’m not a feline, I wasn’t too worried. Felines are funny creatures, don’t you think? I had a cat once. It used its claws to tear my living room couch to shreds. It was a comfy couch, too. Had a sleep-away bed in it with a foam rubber mattress. Now, I bought the couch and the mattress at Levine’s Department Store on Third Avenue, the very same afternoon of that relaxing stroll aforementioned. I also bought myself a lovely tambourine on that same shopping expedition. Anyway, I didn’t want to pay extra for the delivery of the couch, so I decided to carry the couch home myself. It was quite cumbersome. And getting it through the store’s revolving doors was a bit of a challenge. And just as I emerged onto the street, by accident I bumped into a well-dressed man with an orchid in his lapel. It was Bob Barker, and he was eating a bologna and cheese balls sandwich.

  43. Better nate than lever : Hmongism: A New Look, A New Generation Says:
    October 24th, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    [...] I’m reminded of a joke that is making the rounds around the ‘Net.  Not spoiling the joke, you can read it for yourself here. [...]

  44. HotGuy372 Says:
    October 28th, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    After reading those comments, I decided that there’s no need to waste my time reading all that when I can laugh at 30 different jokes with approximately the same amount of time.

  45. jayden Says:
    November 10th, 2008 at 4:45 am

    you lost me after i read “So, there’s a man crawling through the desert.”

  46. Urine Says:
    November 29th, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    Number 43′s blog says ‘Not spoiling the joke’ yet the punchline is the title?

    Anyway, I enjoyed it a lot, the whole idea of the humour is that of ‘trolling’ the joke trolls you, and if you are the kind of person who can laugh at yourself when someone pulls a practical joke on you, you will get the joke.

  47. Elizabeth Says:
    December 8th, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    wow. lol, it’s funny but not that great. a good short story though.
    For the record, it took me 20 minutes to read. =D

  48. er Says:
    December 9th, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    Dang!!!!!!!!This joke was so long that i did not even finish untill it a hour and 30 minutes.

  49. Cody Says:
    December 10th, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Read it and chuckled the whole night, but because it was really funny, but purely because a huge masterpiece is expected, and when something that my dad could come up with turns out to be the ending…well let’s just say it made me laugh. Here is something from another site that I found out about the joke.

    Taken from innocentenglish.com
    (http://www.innocentenglish.com/best-funny-jokes/longest-joke-ever.html)

    This joke was also a personality profile test…

    It was the subject of a recent Educational Psychology Master’s Thesis, soon to be published, which investigated the way that someone responds to a webpage such as this correlates to certain personality tendencies.

    The research confirmed a statistically significant correlation which strongly suggests a dependably predictive positive relationship between how a person responds to this page and certain aspects of his or her psychological profile. Thus, it is called the Personality Profile Assessment Test Hypothesis.

    While the actual results looked at several complex factors, and depended heavily on questionnaires filled out by volunteers upon completion of their experience, I will simplify the results by discussing three main groups and their profiles. While these profiles may not be exactly fitting of each person within each group, they do strongly suggest a statistically significant likelihood of profile similarity.

    11% of those who see this page take their time, enjoying the joke as they read it, enjoying the build up to the punch line, and even if the punch line itself wasn’t particularly humorous, they tended to enjoy the process.

    56% begin scroll down to the punch line either before starting to read the joke or within a short period of time- usually 20 seconds or less. The vast majority of this group choose not to read the joke.

    33% read at least 1/3 of the joke, with the intention of reading it all, but then begin to question their decision and the investment of time they are making. They go back and forth between deciding to continuing or to skip to the end (this vacillating may be unconscious at the time, and happen in a matter of moments). The vast majority in this group give up before finishing ½ of the joke, and scroll to the end.

    People in the first group, who read the entire joke, tend to enjoy the journey of life, and take their time as they move towards a goal. When traveling, they tend to thoroughly enjoy the process, and are not uptight or stressed about single-mindedly getting to their destination. They also tend to be very attentive, patient and long lasting lovers, and enjoy intimacy and physical connectivity whether or not it is carried to completion.

    Those in the second group, who scroll to the end before reading more than a few sentences of the joke, tend to avoid surprises and the unknown. They prefer to have a regular schedule and not to step out of their routine. They tend to be efficient, but are often lacking in enjoyment, spontaneity and passion. They tend to be less patient and more interested in the destination than the journey. When on a trip, they tend to focus on getting where they are going, rather than enjoying the process. During intimacy, they tend to not be able to enjoy it unless they are certain it will be taken to completion. The idea of just “playing around” a while, engaging in physical intimacy without the promise of full completion is, rather than simply enjoyable and connective, considered to be “cruel” and a “teasing” and is met with resentment. This group’s ability to enjoy depends largely on their need to know what is going to happen. They tend to be more self-focused lovers, and tend not to last very long in satisfying the other partner if their own satisfaction has happened or is within easy reach.

    The third group, who decided not to read the entire joke after reading a third or more of it, tend to be commitment-phobic and lack the ability to move forward to completion when things become challenging. They are often procrastinators and frequently give up on tasks when they become more difficult. They tend to prefer to have big dreams than act on them in the real, challenging world. A significantly higher percentage of this group had Cesarean birth, and may not have had the benefit of that early experience of struggle and effort being rewarded with accomplishment. This group tends to not take big vacations which would take more effort to plan and implement, and tends to stay close to home or even stay home during time off. Promotions and career moves which are within reach but still require some effort and focus are frequently not fully tried for, although the perception will be they were passed up. In intimate relationships, this group tends to start out romantic and passionate, but it quickly fades and is replaced by lackadaisicalness and indifference, characterized in part by a sense of feeling it is not worth the effort to continue having a passionate, energized and complete experience during intimacy. There is a tendency to “peter out” both in intimacy and in other aspects of life, and to take the easier road, even if it leads to a less fulfilling life.

    Disclaimer: This summary of the thesis results is not intended in any way to offer advice or therapy, nor is it intended to infer anything about whether anyone reading this page does or does not fit the personality profiles described.

  50. Anonymous Says:
    December 13th, 2008 at 1:26 am

    its actually a really good story…you forget its a joke and just enjoy it

  51. Jesse Says:
    December 27th, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    The whole point of the joke is that you sat through the it all.

  52. Shaun Says:
    January 2nd, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    WOW
    THIS IS A GOOD STORY TOO ME. DON’T KNO WHY IT HAS TO BE SO DAMN LONG. LIKE GEES. MY EYES ON THE READING THE WHOLE NIGHT. I ONLY LAUGHED AT THE PART WHEN JACK SAID TO NATE, “ARE YOU SOME SORT OF DISNEY ANIMATION?” CLASSIC. OTHER THAN THAT THE ENDING WAS ALRIGHT.

  53. McJ Says:
    January 15th, 2009 at 9:23 am

    That was absolutely brilliant.

    Not to mention I absolutely LOVE wordplay! ITS THE BOMB!

  54. Sykermeetikko Says:
    January 15th, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Actually, very interesting story, and the “better Nate than Lever” was kinda funny.

    I also liked the “lever that’ll end up humankind” a lot, and the way Nate spoke and answered was totally awesome =D

    In fact, I don’t have feeling that I lost time at all, it was great way to spend time!

  55. Anonymous Says:
    January 15th, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Absolutely stunning. :D I read the whole thing, and actually really enjoyed it as a story. Believe me, I forgot it was a joke about halfway through.

    Honestly, the end is worth it, even if you only chuckle at the punchline a little bit.

  56. razvan_4356 Says:
    January 18th, 2009 at 4:17 am

    God that was so worth it!!! I have rarely had a higher sense of fulfillment after reading something. Awesome!

  57. Ned Says:
    January 26th, 2009 at 1:50 am

    At the end, I didn’t laugh at the punch line, but I smiled at the story… I loved it.

  58. Lieutenant Sandstorm Says:
    January 28th, 2009 at 9:20 am

    Somewhere in the middle you forget it’s a joke then when you get to the end you start cracking up from joy of finishing the story and the fact that you read all of that for just that silly punchline.

  59. Anonymous Says:
    February 4th, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    You know, until the end, I completely forgot it was all meant to be a joke xD I got so wrapped up in the story, and the music I was listening to just added to it, I got to the end and I facedesked so hard

    Definitely one I will be keeping hold of <3

  60. Dan Says:
    February 20th, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    That was rubbish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  61. Domenic Says:
    March 7th, 2009 at 6:30 am

    After reading the entire joke I wanted to punch the person who posted it. I realized the amount of time I had wasted, and hoping throughout the whole story for the joke that would keep me laughing for years. I read the end, and I almost cried, I almost laughed, I almost screamed. And now I am planning on sending it to someone. Oh how unfortunate they are.

  62. pixi Says:
    March 13th, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    mas vale narde que tunca???

  63. Sir Seth Wald Amadeus Wolfgang Bartfast Schuller III, son of Harald V, Son of OLav the IV, heir apperent to the throne of Norway Says:
    March 29th, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    It reminds me of the purple roses

  64. Nick Sumbles Says:
    April 17th, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    LMAO!!!! That was WORTH IT. It was so much funnier because the story was sooooo looonnng.

    The writing was fantastic BTW.

  65. Mark Says:
    April 17th, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Oh god… I laughed so hard.

  66. Ste Says:
    May 16th, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    the story is absolutely awesome. I think you should of carried on with the story and give it a proper ending instead of a crap punchline n calling it a joke.

  67. Nathan Says:
    June 4th, 2009 at 12:36 am

    so fricken pointless
    a wonderfully worth it waste of time …

  68. JohnnyB Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Oh god. It took me about an hour to read it and i didnt get the joke. Someone please explain it to me.

  69. vikram Says:
    July 19th, 2009 at 3:00 am

    this is apretty nice story i liked it and it did not
    seem like a joke too, even with that puchline in the end, I WISH SOMEONE WOULD MAKE A PART TWO

  70. Matt Bevis Says:
    August 17th, 2009 at 12:14 am

    very nice. a good story, nice plot and a funny ending.:P

  71. damon miller Says:
    October 7th, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    i loved it plain and simple, occupiedme for a lil bit n made me lol

  72. Lisa - Marie Says:
    October 9th, 2009 at 3:36 am

    It Took Me Half An Hour To Read It :L

    It Was Okay, The Punch Line Was… Kinda Rubbish Though.

  73. Ashish Says:
    November 27th, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    Ok I guess. Not that funny but a great time pass.

  74. Kenyyyyy Says:
    November 27th, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    That wasn’t a joke, that was a story. And an amazing one at that! So well said. Absolutely loved it. So funny too! The pun was awful though.. But so bad that it was funny. Worth reading!

  75. billy Says:
    November 29th, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    what the heck

    better nate than lever?

  76. montugar Says:
    December 9th, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    lol i spent 20 mins to read the whole thing and i laughed at how long it took. im sending this to ppl if i want to either:

    1. have them read a good short story
    or
    2. waste their time

  77. Anonymous Says:
    December 12th, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Not worth the time. Awful ending. The pun ruined it.

  78. Anonymous Says:
    December 14th, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    I approve.

  79. Unknown Says:
    December 15th, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Good story,bad joke :-P

  80. lolbifrons Says:
    December 29th, 2009 at 9:00 am

    I’m so glad this is documented online. Thank you, gaius.

  81. ImpostorZim Says:
    December 30th, 2009 at 2:00 am

    I was intriguied by the idea of The World’s Longest Joke Ever, so when I started reading I had high expectations. Even after noticing how drawn out the narrative was and how long the scroll bar would be, I read on. Mostly due to the fact that I was actually attracted to the storyline and I get this terrible feeling whenever I don’t see something to the end.
    As for the punchline, priceless. Never saw it coming. I don’t think anyone did.

  82. Anirudh Says:
    January 30th, 2010 at 3:42 am

    OK like the story was cool type and i think the joke sounded funny cuz it got so sentimental in the story

    it’s a good story to annoy someone to no end
    i wont mind reading another one

    three cheers

    Nice one

  83. Nakari Says:
    March 7th, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    I think that this is the best pun in the world.

    There are small nuggets of humor hidden in the entire story, which, if you are expecting humor, makes even reading the story worthwhile.

    The story itself is captivating, interesting, and rather philosophical, not to mention long.

    The pun at the end is cringe-worthy, but it is lovely. It wouldn’t be nearly as funny if the joke was simply, “So, this guy knows of a snake named Nate who lives near a lever that ends humanity, and the guy has to choose whether to kill the snake or pull the lever, so he kills the snake, shouting, ‘BETTER NATE THAN LEVER!’”

    The joke is funny because it’s long.

  84. Me Says:
    March 11th, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    NO…I want that well-spent [/sarcasm] hour of my life back.

  85. Toby Says:
    April 10th, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    Haha I’d say I love it. This is really great because the joke is long, And the joke it took me a while to understand or “Decode” it. He shouted “BETTER NATE THAN LEVER!” After a couple minutes I understood it. Better Nate than lever to Better Late then Never, Clever.

  86. Anonymous Says:
    May 3rd, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    The story is fantastic, I read the entire thing without skipping any, but the pseudo-psychiatric evaluation at the end is utter crap.

  87. joke master 101196 Says:
    May 5th, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    It was ok i thtought the main conflict was shaky but over all it was funny. If me or a couple of other people had two hours to waste i would read the joke.

  88. Titanium Dragon Says:
    June 5th, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    This is like one of my dad’s jokes – the joke is better the longer it goes, and when you get to the lame punchline at the end you can’t help but laugh because you’ve spent so long on it.

  89. Anonymous Says:
    June 14th, 2010 at 6:22 am

    nice story

  90. Anonymous Says:
    June 14th, 2010 at 6:23 am

    not a joke but an interesting story

  91. Jessi Says:
    June 16th, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Haha, I thought it was funny! I love puns

  92. Anonymous Says:
    July 5th, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    haha took me awhile to figure it out. i read it on another website n they didn’t have the punchline in caps. i was very mad after spending an hour to read this and not laugh but i did get a chuckle, i guess, after realizing they switched the first letters of each word. i don’t recommend this to those looking to laugh

  93. Pat Says:
    July 17th, 2010 at 11:49 am

    I just read the entire thing. about 45 minutes. And just as I read the ending i said out loud “What the $#*&”
    I was really starting to get into the story too. I loved it. Although, I don’t really know how it would continue if it happened any other way than it did.
    All together, it was a good story. B+

  94. Pat Says:
    July 17th, 2010 at 11:51 am

    curse my dyslexia. I just read a comment above me, and then I read the ending once more. That gave me nice chuckle. A- :)

  95. Celso Says:
    July 18th, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Took me 45 minutes over two days to read. I laughed at the cheap pun at the end out of sheer disbelief. The story was interesting but the promise of a joke made me antsy through the whole thing.

  96. heyyyyoswald Says:
    July 30th, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    very dumb joke. there was too much unnecessary information added just to make readers antsy. this really could be improved and cut in half.

  97. heyyyyoswald Says:
    July 30th, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    You know what? I changed my mind. The best joke ever! I reevaluated. The ending was genius. But I stand by my statement about halving the details.

  98. Anonymous Says:
    August 7th, 2010 at 5:42 am

    stupid

  99. Max Says:
    August 28th, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    EPIC.

  100. Mr. McAwesome Says:
    August 30th, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    100th!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  101. lindsey Says:
    September 1st, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    that was soooooooooo lonnng
    it took me 2 hours

  102. anoymous Says:
    September 22nd, 2010 at 10:15 am

    stupid

  103. Tamata Says:
    September 28th, 2010 at 5:51 am

    Was going ‘wtf’ when I realised I was reading a story about a man sending emails and keeping in touch with a giant talking snake in the desert.

  104. klimpaloon Says:
    October 6th, 2010 at 1:47 am

    so i was in a chatroom and a friend started telling this joke…then someone made him mad because they refused to relay the joke to another friend so he refused to finish the joke. out of anger i googled the joke which lead me to this site. after reading the entire joke i was mad at the friend for starting me on this stupid waste of time but i was also laughing because of how it ended. not really the ending itself but the thought “i seriously just spent half an hour of my life to read about a man and a talking snake”. i wanted to stop reading halfway through but i kept telling myself “no, the ending will be worth it” well…im partially glad i didnt stop. i cant stand not knowing things! but now i want to know what happened to jake! how long does he live? does he continue life with sammy? *sighs* stupid joke wasnt long enough..

  105. Mel Says:
    October 6th, 2010 at 2:27 am

    The “joke” is a masterpiece. Notice I used quotation marks there. That’s because it’s not technically a joke, the title says it’s a joke but it’s actually a misguiding title. It’s a personality test. Anyway, I won’t say more, read comment 49, by Cody… there’s the answer. Some of you will feel proud of yourselves, like me, when you read that comment; some others will feel ashamed… that is, if you manage to read the whole comment Cody posted. Against, excellent joke, amzing moral lesson.

  106. Anonymous Says:
    October 20th, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    ThAT was a really good story. A horrible joke though. I’ve never liked the word plays as jokes. However the story de-escalates as the punchline gets really close.

    I geuss he/she thought the joke was funny enough.

  107. No one at all Says:
    October 20th, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    I really enjoyed it, and even though I’m usaully a procrasinator I was part of the First Group of 11% of people.

    And you know based on the thesis (That I finished reading) It means at lot of people probably won’t read that either to the end… so… eh.

    Awesome story, Horrible joke.

  108. No one at all Says:
    October 20th, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    This would make a really good series you know?

    I mean a man and a rookie snake, travelling the world with the key to humanity in their hands.

    It would be like one of my favourite series.
    Tales of the Castaways. It is about the Flying dutchman’s cabin boy being cursed with immortality like the rest of the crew but kind hearted enough to have god allow him to leave the ship with his dog also immortal.

    It is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

  109. Daphne Gann Says:
    November 21st, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    I can’t believe I actually read all of that. I’m a a terrible procrastinator and should really be doing my homework, but that story killed about 30 minutes for me XD
    This would probably make a great book if more time was put into it =]
    I’m sure someone could shorten the joke up though.

  110. sindy Says:
    November 24th, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    damnnnnnn i cant even read this much in my own book damnnnnnnnnnmm

  111. felix a Says:
    November 28th, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    it was even more bizarre an ending if you’re british because we say lever like leever, not levver.

  112. Anonymous Says:
    December 4th, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    hmmm what takes longer to read? the joke or the comments?

  113. Anonymous Says:
    December 26th, 2010 at 11:19 am

    last time i read this, at the end it said it was like a personality test, if you read the whole thing you had a certain personality, if you skipped right to the end you had another, or if you read like half then went to the end you had abnother… i read the entire thing..

  114. Anonymous Says:
    December 30th, 2010 at 2:56 am

    Personally I find that half the joke’s entertainment value is due to the fact that it plays out like a story then ends abruptly with a small pun. The fact that it took so long to reach a 4 word punch line is the funny part.

  115. hackman Says:
    January 2nd, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    i had to read the whole thing 3 times until i got the joke lol

  116. SAM Says:
    January 3rd, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    WOW 113,000+ VIEWS

  117. Nate Says:
    January 26th, 2011 at 9:55 am

    I didn’t want the story to end :(

  118. Declan Says:
    March 1st, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    I was at camp and my counceler took an hour to tell this to us. I was so pissed at the ending, but I kind of like it now haha

  119. Rory Says:
    March 21st, 2011 at 7:49 am

    it wasnt even that funny, waste of an hour and a half

  120. Kay Says:
    April 7th, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    My friend read this to us in AP GOV…we were all so mad at him >.>

  121. Sir Puschki Donaldworth Engleman Fits Herbert Anderson Gerald Tuschkan Nabal Aimian Wolfbane Commenter Von Cescher The III Says:
    June 10th, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Funny

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