aylord Robinson’s fate was already
written and printed in the pages of this issue of
RED Magazine. When Robinson arrived at the University
of Utah this morning, the RED No. 162 had two surprises
in store for him.
The first was the intimidating new size of the magazine,
which wasn’t a magazine-type size at all. This
made Robinson fear that RED had transformed itself
overnight into The New York Times. But all was well,
he thought, when he saw that the RED Herring column
still existed and that this was indeed still his
“Hehe, this guy has the same name as me,” said
Robinson, according to witnesses at the Marriott Library
courtyard, until he got to the third paragraph and
came to the realization that something was terribly,
terribly wrong. (Reading the words “terribly,
terribly wrong” tipped him off.) “It isn’t
just the broadsheet,” he shouted at confused
onlookers. “The entire magazine has gone insane!”
Robinson tried to take his mind off things by looking
at the overlooked albums story, but as he opened
up the paper, it kept unfolding and unfolding and
unfolding until it was a giant, untamable monster.
Issue 162 knocked Robinson over and wrapped around
him. Insiders say that on that day, today, he decided
that he must read the end of the Herring to figure
out how to avoid his fate.
He instead found a bunch of nonsense referring
to a canceled TV show.
Onlookers described a paper and ink cocoon of a
man rolling around on the grass, warning people
away from free weekly A&E magazines with past-tense
retellings of present events. A survey made shortly
after, however, suggests that few to none of them
paid heed to these warnings.
Robinson had gone back to the top of the story
to see if there were any clues of escape there,
but instead found himself wondering where the term “to
pay heed” came from. He was happy to learn
in the next paragraph that its roots are in Middle
English (“heden”) and that heed simply
means “close attention,” with no sort
of cultural significance like other old expressions.
This appreciation soon turned to pain, as it felt
like 2,000 industrial power vacuum cleaners with
1-mm diameter tubes were all sucking on his skin.
Robinson reveled in this reporter’s strikingly
descriptive and accurate prose as the magazine closed
in and assimilated his remains into its giant, growing
mass of pulp.
Just as the last bit of skin and tissue had absorbed
into the monster of a magazine, a man who magically
gets his newspaper early every day arrived to change
the future and save Robinson. But he was too late,
just as he had read he would be in the article.
All he found on the ground was a stray issue of
RED, a bit bigger, but innocent-looking enough.
Against his better judgment, he decided to read
the magazine again, thinking, “Maybe it was just
a satirical article.” The article was the same,
but the name had changed to his own. Fortunately,
no one missed him because his show had been canceled
several seasons ago.