10,000 Monkeys

by: Cameron Kirk

A timeless joke, a Schrödinger reference, and a team of overworked primates…

“Here it is, sir.” Marvin the Monkey placed the manuscript on the desk of his line manager, like a nurse returning a baby to his mother.

“Here is what?” said the manager without raising his head.

“The copy of Hamlet you requested. It took us a while, sir. We had some technical problems with the typewriters, but the lads have all pulled double shifts and we finally have it.”

Eliot the Monkey Manager sat back in his chair and looked dubiously at the manuscript.

“I’m dubious,” he said

“Read it for yourself, sir.”

Eliot took up the manuscript and began reading. After a few moments he said “You’re telling me there are no typos?”

“None, sir.”

“This is remarkable.”

“Indubitably, sir.”

“A fine job. Everything seems to be in order. Well, I must admit, there were a few of us in upper management that doubted you could pull it off. This is astonishing.”

“Thank you, sir. Perhaps a few extra bananas are in order for my boys?”

“I’ll bring it up with Finance. You and your monkeys, however, can take the rest of the day off.”

“Thank you, sir.” Marvin began for the door. He stopped, and turning he asked, “What is to become of it?”

“It? What ‘it’?”

“The manuscript.”

“Nothing. I mean, it’s not an original work. There are copyright issues you understand.”

“So why were we tasked with writing it up?”

“Oh I don’t know. I suppose one of the boffins on high just wanted to see if you could do it.”

Marvin the Monkey said nothing for a moment.

“My men have given the best parts of their lives for this, sacrificed everything.”

“Ours is not to reason why, ours is to do or die,” Eliot replied.

“And die.”


“Ours is not to reason why, ours is to do and die.”

“Quite so. Was there anything else?”

“No, sir.”

“That’ll be all.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Oh, and Marvin?”

“Yes, sir?”

“I realize the pointless nature of your work. Ninety percent of what we do here at the Ministry has absolutely no applicable use in the real world. It is the nature of our particular beast, if you will. I, myself, am absolutely redundant, useless to one and all. My wife left me last week. She understands the state of play.”

“Very well, sir.”

‘But we must carry on, you understand?’

“Yes, sir.”

“Do you have a cat, Marvin?”

“A cat, sir?”

“Yes, Marvin, a cat.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. First thing tomorrow go and talk to Schrödinger. He’s been banging on about gassing a cat in a box or some bloody nonsense. That’ll be your next project.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Carry on.”


Cameron Kirk is a major in literature from Otago University in New Zealand. He believes if one person enjoys his writing, he is a success. He writes for his wife. She is, thus far, unimpressed.

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