(From "The Coffee Machine at the End of the User Area"
- a forgotten draft by Douglas Adams - 2.1.88)

The story so far... Zaphod Beeblebrox has been quietly relaxing over a cup of tea while debugging his latest "Trojan megadonkey" program, when in burst two Galactic Securicops. These accidentally cause a nearby coffee machine to explode, transporting our heroes through a 'feature of space-time' to the End of the User Area itself. Our heroes awake to find themselves in a very bleak environment.

"Like, this is really weird, man," said Zaphod. "It's a User Area with no people in at all."

"Yeah. I've got a feeling about this place," said Ford Prefect. He pushed the buttons for SECURICUP in the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the User Area.

"SECURICUP," said the Guide. "A race of supremely nasty creatures with an even worse reputation than the Vogons. Ten million years of mis-evolution has resulted in a race known throughout the civilised world for its general rudeness and stupidity. Curiously there is one race that reveres the Securicups -- the sentient jellies of Userv III. These strange beings believe that Securicups are the incarnation of one they call 'The Holy Gorilla'. The best time to meet a Securicup is when you are just leaving anyway. The worst time is at a time in its life-cycle known as the Unattended Running, when it has delusions of its own power and greatness. It will demand what it regards as 'The One True Key', and will eat anyone it finds who does not possess this."

"Who's that blue-suited character over there?" asked Arthur.

"Oh shut up, monkey-man," said Zaphod. "Hey, Ford, I've just sussed it. This uncanny desolation is what they call Unattended Running. All users to be shot on sight. It's the sort of thing parents frighten their children with so that they go home and see them at Christmas."

"What Are You Doing In My User Area Stand Up Straight When I'm Talking To You I Saw You Hide That Cup You Long Haired Layabout I Shall Have To Report You What's Your Userid Where's Your Key Get Out," said the blue monster, lumbering up to our heroes.

At that moment a glum-looking metallic being detached itself from a pile of debris behind the coffee machine and wandered sulkily towards them.

"Hey, Marvin, talk to this creature, will you?" said Zaphod.

"I've just discovered a totally new Abend Code," said Marvin gloomily. "It's a bug in tsuna that nobody's been able to produce before. Even the CS isn't interested so I knew you wouldn't be. And now he tells me to talk to this creature. Me, with a project the size of the Chemistry Department..."

"Come on, Arthur!" said Ford Prefect. "The lift to the User Area isn't going to come today. We'll take the stairs."

"Probably one of the people in Applied Biology training their monkeys to use the lift," puffed Arthur Dent as the two of them ran up the stairs.

"Don't knock it, Arthur," said Ford. "Remember that's how you Earthlings started, pushing branches until you came down from the trees."

Arthur was still recovering from surprise at finding that the Earth had not, after all, been demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass, so that, by the time he had thought of a suitable retort, the two of them had reached the User Area.

They found Zaphod Beeblebrox sitting at two of the BBC Master terminals. "Hi, Ford! Oh hello, monkey-man," he said, swivelling his left head round from its terminal. "I was just getting ready to submit a job to find out the Ultimate Question. Hey, guys, we could be in the money on this one!" His right head turned away from the other terminal, where it was testing out a new Trojan Horse program, said "Hi" briefly, and went back to work.

The robot trudged up to them. "Oh hello, Marvin!" said Ford. "Nice to see you!"

"I suppose you want me to reply with some pathetic sociable remark," grumbled Marvin. "How about 'it looks like rain again'? Will that satisfy your desire for conversation?"

"Er..." said Arthur.

"'Looks like rain' indeed. If you had a brain as large as mine you would have calculated that it was going to rain in 23 minutes precisely. Shall I go out now and prepare to start rusting?"

"No, look, Marvin. I want to log on." said Ford. "Can you remember my password?"

"Here we go again," moaned the robot. "Am I likely to forget such a depressingly unoriginal password? While I've been talking to you I've had time to crack the entire password algorithm. Who do you want me to log you on as?"
"Oh, fordp will do," replied Ford. "Then go and get me a large pan-galactic gargle-blaster from the drinks machine."

"Hey, Marvin!" said Zaphod. "Get a couple for me too."

"I'll have Cola," said Arthur. "It says 'Pan-galactic gargle-blasters unavailable. Engineer notified.'"

"Yeah, who cares what you're having, Earthman?" sneered Zaphod. "Wowie! This SYMA program sure is weird. It's just told me I haven't enough credit to submit my Ultimate Question Job. Me, the most credit-worthy guy in the Universe! I ask you..."

"Let me try, Zaphod," said Ford. "I've probably got some credit left. Where's your file?"

"In ~zaphodb/FORTY.TWO, Ford. Hey, here's the robot back with the drinks."

As Marvin hobbled up, bearing 3 glasses of a liquid almost but not entirely unlike cola, Arthur looked up 'coffee machine' in his Hitch Hikers' Guide to the User Area.

"coffee machine. A branch of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation (formerly IBM) (q.v). Manufacturers of narcotic drinks. It is said that one cup of coffee contains enough energy to power a computer programmer for 6 hours. It also contains a drug known as tsunain, which causes compulsive worship of something known as 'the blessed machine'.

So effective has coffee machine drink been in producing a religious devotion to Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Mainframes that Oolon Colluphid, in his latest book 'Why doesn't God go and boil his head then?' has argued that, if God existed, he would have invented a tea machine.

Machine coffee is not to be confused with Real Coffee (q.v.), a drink made on primitive planets using beans."

"Hey, Marvin," said Zaphod. "Look at this SYMA output. Doesn't it blow your mind? What does it mean?"

Marvin groaned in a resigned way and stared at the table of random numbers on Zaphod Beeblebrox's screen. "Can't stand SYMA output," he said finally. "Correlation coefficient with reality is minus 0.3. Leave it alone: it might go away."

Zaphod raised his cup to his lips, but at that moment the doors flew open and two uniformed men with guns trained their weapons on the party.

"O.K. Beeblebrox. We got you covered," drawled one of them. "We can see you got a drink at that terminal. Put the cup down and come quietly or we gonna shoot you."

"Holy Zarquon's Trojan Fish!" swore Zaphod. "It's the Securicup squad. They're onto us. What are we going to do, Ford?"

(To be continued...?)

I LOVE SECURICUP tee-shirts are now available from Securicor Enterprises, Ursa Major, for the price of a cup of coffee.