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An extract from "The Aggressor"

a short story by John Sladek, 1961


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"Good luck, now."

They left him alone with the computer typewriter, which at once asked him the first question:

"C GAVE B AS MANY TIMES AS MANY APPLES AS A HAD AS B NOW GIVES C OF HIS OWN APPLES. C GAVE A ENOUGH APPLES TO MAKE A'S TOTAL 5 TIMES WHAT B ORIGINALLY HAD. WHEN C HAD EATEN ENOUGH OF HIS OWN APPLES TO LEAVE HIM 2/3 OF WHAT A NOW HAS, HE HAD LOST ALTOGETHER 4 TIMES AS MANY APPLES AS HE GAVE A. A NOW GIVES C 1/7 OF HIS APPLES, AND C BUYS AS MANY MORE AS HE GAVE B, THUS DOUBLING HIS TOTAL SUPPLY. A WILL GIVE B 1 MORE APPLE THAN C WILL GIVE B. IF B EATS 2 APPLES, HE WILL THEN HAVE 5 TIMES AS MANY APPLES AS A NOW GIVES HIM. A WILL FINALLY HAVE 1 LESS APPLE THAN C NOW HAS, AND C WILL FINALLY HAVE 1/2 AS MANY APPLES AS HE HAD ORIGINALLY. B NOW HAS 1/2 AS MANY APPLES AS C HAD AFTER HE GAVE B AS MANY APPLES AS A WILL GIVE B. C NOW HAS 4 TIMES AS MANY APPLES AS THERE ARE MONTHS REMAINING IN THE YEAR. WHAT MONTH IS IT?"

G. answered or failed to answer, and the second question came:


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