This story is based on the television version of Dilbert, and not the comic.
The Last Test
After a long night's rest, Dilbert wakes up and stretches his arm to silence the alarm clock on the nightstand next to him. Only tomorrow, then it's the weekend, he thinks to himself, before letting out a sigh of relief.
- - - -
After walking downstairs to the kitchen, he stops at the entrance looking inward.
There are two cloaked men at the table, sitting across from Dogbert, who was talking about something to them, and still is.
"... and for that reason, you have made the right choice to colonize this planet." Dogbert finishes. He looks over at Dilbert, and says to the men again. "If you will excuse me for a moment." Dogbert hops off the table, and walks to Dilbert.
"Dogbert, why do you conduct your meetings in the most inconvenient places?" Dilbert asks, glancing over at the two men who talk among themselves.
"Where else do you think I could bring them? Your house isn't exactly the perfect example of humanity." Dogbert responds, matter-of-factly.
"And the kitchen is?" Dilbert retorts.
"Easy access to coffee." Dogbert responds again.
"... Alright... Who are they, anyway?" Dilbert asks again.
"They're from another universe, from the Inter-Dimensional League. They want to colonize Earth, and asked me for permission." Dogbert says, matter- of-factly again.
"What? Assuming that the last statement was not entirely hubris, why would they be asking you?" Dilbert asks again.
"You really don't have a high opinion of me, do you?" Dogbert says, raising an eyebrow to him. Letting out a tired sigh, he continues. "Besides, I've been there a couple of times. Nothing too impressive to report. You go now."
Dilbert raises an eyebrow as well. "Fine. I have to get to work anyway. Could you at least get me some coffee?"
"'Me, me, me. Always has to be about YOU, doesn't it?" Dogbert responds, and lets out another tired sigh. Dogbert turns back to the men. "Could you pass me the thermos of coffee?" Aside, to Dilbert. "Lucky for you, I saw this coming."
The thermos hovers through the air, and lands in Dilbert's grasp.
"Thanks." Dogbert says.
"No problem." One of them responds.
"Just make sure they don't change my presets on the television. There was a show I was meaning to watch." Dilbert says.
"Your living room is included with the 'example of humanity' explanation I gave." Dogbert coldly responds.
Dilbert furrows his brows, shrugs, and walks out the door.
Just as Dilbert leaves, Ratbert walks into the kitchen and hops up onto the counter. Looking over at the new people, he waves. "Hey guys."
"Hey Ratbert. How's the exercise?" one of them responds.
"Can't complain." Ratbert says cheerfully. Turning, he goes to get his thermos that was sitting on the counter. "... HEY! Where did my energy drink go!? I spent a while grinding up the fish and pickles into it!" Ratbert complains.
Dogbert smirks, and hops up onto the table. "So now, gentlemen, where were we."
- - - -
At the Office, everything goes on as normal. Dilbert, Alice, Wally, Asok, and Loud Howard are all gathered up in the meeting room, sitting at the table. The Pointy-Haired Boss (PHB) sits at the head of the table.
"As you all know, the Gruntmaster 6000 has gone through every regulation testing and phase which-what. I see no reason to get it set out into the market immediately..." The FBD says.
On the inside, Dilbert jumps for joy. He has been expecting this for months now, and his dreams will be finally realized.
"... Except that we will do non-regulation testing on it." The FBD finishes.
"What!?" Dilbert says. "But you said that you had finished all the tests! Why are we giving it any more testing?!"
"I thought you knew that we want to make our customer safe. It might suddenly swerve off the road and pop a couple of children, if we don't do this test!" FBD exclaims.
"It's an exercise machine, not a car!" Dilbert says again.
"All the more reason to do more testing. Now, I had spoke it over, and made it that this test will be the most important one. Anything, anything, goes wrong, and the Gruntmaster 6000 will be scraped." FBD says again.
"What you're saying is that even through we went through all the conventional testing, done everything we could to make the Gruntmaster 6000 safe, and you want us to do a test that is not only unconventional but essential to the success of it?" Dilbert says.
"Weren't you paying attention?" FBD says. "I believe I just said that. You should get into the meeting more."
"It won't be that bad," Alice says. "We've already gone through the hardest stuff. How much harder can it get?"
"Which reminds me, I need you to see Mr. Catbert, Director of Human Resources, and ask him for a test we can do." FBD says again, sitting back in his chair.
"Wait a minute! You don't even have a test you want us to perform?!" Dilbert exclaims.
"Not to mention ask someone that is entirely outside of this field for a test to procure." Asok adds timidly.
"MAYBE THE TEST WON'T BE SO BAD." Loud Howard says (Or yells).
"Well, you have your objective. I'll leave you to it." FBD says, before getting up and leaving the room. The rest follow, talking amongst themselves.
- - - -
"I don't understand why we need more testing that we don't even need to do, let alone find the test in question." Dilbert grudgingly complains.
"Calm down, Dilbert. We're not the ones who have to make up the test." Wally says. "Although, anymore work would also stress me out... I'm also against the new test." He adds at the end.
"Quiet. We're here." Alice says, just as all three of them stop at the door to Mr. Catbert's office. The sign on the door reads, 'MR. CATBERT, EVIL DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES'.
Dilbert picks up the knocker on the large, wooden door, and knocks on it.
Through a slot at the top of the door, a green face from the Door- Guarding Troll. "Who wishes to see Mr. Catbert, the evil Director of Human Resources?"
"We're sent from the boss to ask Mr. Catbert to give us a test, that we really don't need to do but are doing anyway." Dilbert responds.
The face disappears from the door, just as it clicks open, the Door- Guarding Troll holding it open. "Don't take all day. Mr. Catbert will see you now."
All three walk in, just as the door slams shut behind them.
- - - -
"Let me get this straight," Catbert starts, sitting behind his desk and looking out at them, the surroundings looking dark and imposing. "You want me to give you a test that you don't need to do?"
"Yes! That's exactly what has happened. Maybe you could tell the Boss that this isn't necessary." Dilbert says, from his spot in front of Catbert's table.
Catbert's tail sways, as he smirks. "It's about time they took my recommendation to heart." He coldly responds.
"You were the one who wanted the new tests?" Alice says.
"I have been trying to get it through for years now. Now that it has, I feel that my life is one step closer to being complete." Catbert says, sitting back with a look of content on his face.
"... So, could you give us a test to perform?" Dilbert asks.
"A test... A test... Let's see, you've done endurance testing, market research, and product testing." Catbert says to himself. "... I know. How about you let me test the product itself?" Catbert says.
On the inside, Dilbert starts to cry. Catbert's idea for the test would most definitely cause the Gruntmaster to go bottom-up. This felt like a tragedy.
"I'll test the product tomorrow. Monday isn't a good day for me." Catbert says, marking that down in his appointment book. "You may go now." Catbert presses a button on his desk, and the floor opens up underneath the three of them long enough to let them drop, before closing back up.
They fall through the ceiling, outside the door of Catbert's office. After getting up, they look uneasily at each other. Except for Wally.
"Don't you see what this means? We could sabotage the Gruntmaster enough to get rid of Mr. Catbert! And it would all look like an accident." Wally says, as they walk back to Dilbert's cubicle.
"Sabotage my own project? Not only is it morally wrong to murder another person but also the Gruntmaster would not pass the test. I have not seen it to this optional level only to have it taken out of the running." Dilbert says.
"For once, Wally has a point." Alice says. "We would be ridding the world of a great evil. What's one little product compare to that?"
"Thanks for making the Gruntmaster seem like it was made for the sole purpose of failing and murdering someone." Dilbert says.
"Slammed that baby down." Wally says, to Alice.
"No. The Gruntmaster will not be the tool of destruction for another, and that's final."
"Fine..." Both Alice and Wally respond, before walking away from the cubicle.
Dilbert sits down in his chair and stares at the computer, thinking about what they were suggesting. For the next while, he turns on the computer and types in it.
- - - -
Just as Dilbert gets home, he looks in the kitchen to see if those men are still there. Seeing that they aren't, he walks into the living room.
There, on the couch, is Dogbert, Ratbert, and the two men. They are all watching television.
"Dogbert, I thought you said that you weren't going to use this room." Dilbert asks.
Dogbert looks up at Dilbert. "That was then. This is now. You might want to be concurrent with the times at hand, my friend." He coldly states.
"Alright. Never mind. I need to see you upstairs, anyway." Dilbert says.
Dogbert sighs. "Fine. Another moment, gentlemen." Dogbert says to them, as he gets up and walks off with Dilbert to the upstairs area of the house. When they reach that area, Dogbert sits down on a desk and looks at Dilbert. "What problem do you need solved now?" Dogbert asks.
"It's about the Gruntmaster. They want us to do another test on it, only this time Mr. Catbert is going to do the test himself. I am sure that he is going to fail it, but my co-workers say that I should sabotage the Gruntmaster so that it would destroy Mr. Catbert and do the world a service. Even though it is morally wrong to murder another human being, I wanted your opinion on it." Dilbert explains, leaning against the desk beside Dogbert.
"Hmm... I say that you should off him." Dogbert simply says.
"What? You're in on that, as well?" Dilbert asks.
"Why not? He's not exactly human. The tail gave it away, I think. Let's also remember how much trouble he has spread to everyone who comes in contact with him. He still owes me five hundred dollars from a few years ago, and I do not think he will be giving it back." Dogbert states.
"... Why do I have a feeling that you want him dead for just that last reason?" Dilbert asks again, raising an eyebrow.
Dogbert wags his tail. "Did I sound too open with that?" He says, giving a slight grin.
"Well, you have my opinion. Now, let me get back to my meeting with those guys. Who knows what Ratbert is doing with them while I am not there." Dogbert says, still sounding cold.
Downstairs, Ratbert is sitting on the opposite end of the table, playing Monopoly with the two other men. "Aha! You landed on my Ventnor! Fork over the cheese!" he exclaims, before jumping up and laughing.
The dice roll that was thrown suddenly turns over to a six instead. "Whoops. Seems as though I was supposed to 'Visit Jail'. Tough break, Ratbert." The man says, moving the piece.
"Oh... So close, too!" Ratbert says, and sits back down.
- - - -
Dilbert goes to pull out of the driveway in his car, only to be stopped at the entrance. The garbage truck was sitting there, with the Garbage Man filling the truck with the refuse that is always there.
"Why do we have to do this every time there is a garbage day?" Dilbert asks, leaning out of the window of his car.
The Garbage Man walks over. "It's not a question of why, but how." He responds in a monotone voice. "Assuming that you are correct, each time this happens you have a problem that you ask me. Tell me the problem." He says again.
Dilbert furrows his brows, before looking up. "I have to decide if I should sabotage the test of the Gruntmaster, so that I could do away with an incredibly maleficent being. Or I could not, and probably have the Gruntmaster fail anyway. What should I do?"
"The Gruntmaster is an exercise machine. Catbert is a fountain of evil. The Gruntmaster, if it succeeds, will be replaced by a better model sometime later. By then, the window for such an event like the destruction of an evil being will be gone. So you have to ask yourself, do you want the Gruntmaster to die from being done over by another product, or to die for the task of bettering humanity?" The Garbage Man responds.
"Well... When you put it that way..." Dilbert thinks to himself.
"Did I put it that way, or is it the way you wanted to hear it?" The Garbage Man asks.
"I have made my decision. Thank you for your opinion." Dilbert says.
"No problem. It's what I'm here for." The Garbage Man responds, just before going back to finish loading the rest of the garbage.
- - - -
In the testing area, within the warehouse, most of the company has heard about what is happening and are now standing in the bulk of the area. Refreshments are also being served to these people, who eagerly wait for the test to happen, all thinking that Catbert will be killed. Dilbert works his way past all these people and gets up onto the stage where the Gruntmaster is. The team is standing up there, with the PHB.
"I can't wait to see the fur fly! Reminds me of the time when I tested my flaying skills on a family of rabbits. That was a bunch of fun, I believe." PHD says to Asok.
Wally and Alice walk over to Dilbert. "So, you ready to start the execut—I mean, the testing?" Wally says.
"I have decided that I will NOT sabotage the Gruntmaster." Dilbert confidently says.
The entire warehouse goes silent.
"Even though it will be replaced by something better, the reason why I made it was because it was the one thing that I wanted to make it. The Gruntmaster was like a child to me, and I will not betray it by letting it go for a cause such as murder. Murder itself is wrong, no matter whoever the person is! Even though it would look like an accident, I will not allow the death of Catbert through the destruction of my pride and joy." Dilbert says, now looking out over the crowd, who are now standing there in shock.
The crowd immediately yells out their complaints, while they start leaving the area altogether. Within seconds, the entire area is empty except for the team.
"Good job, Dilbert! I was charging admission." Wally says angrily.
"LOOK! IT'S MR. CATBERT!" Loud Howard yells, pointing towards the door.
Catbert walks into the area, followed behind him by a trail of fog and orange lights. He walks up onto the stage, and looks up at the Gruntmaster. "Let's get this over with. I have a very tight schedule." Catbert says, as he climbs up into the seat.
Dilbert goes to the controls. "All you have to do, Mr. Catbert, is to sit there and let the gravitons flow around you."
"Spare me the details. Just throw the switch." Catbert says.
- - - -
Dilbert activates the Gruntmaster 6000. A slight whirring sound can be heard. The ring around the Gruntmaster starts to move, slowly turning around the seat. It gradually speeds up, before going so fast that it disappears from sight. A blue light emanates from inside of it surrounding Catbert, the gravitons moving from one side of the ring to another, going through him in the process. The fabric of space and time itself contorts and bends around Catbert, making him look like he is being stretched and squashed like in a fun-house mirror.
"Just so you know, Dilbert," Wally whispers. " I had sabotaged the machine with Alice before you came in. Just a little heads up."
"What?!" Dilbert says.
Catbert disappears in the flash of blue light. The light continues outward until it completely envelops the ring but not any further. Dilbert tries to shut the machine off, but it has already gone through its main phase.
"Congratulations, Dilbert." Alice says. "You're a hero."
"I am not!" Dilbert says, watching the light. "This was all a mistake!"
"And you wondered why I was charging admission." Wally says.
"That looks fun! Perhaps you should let me have a try at it afterwards." PHB says while watching.
The light starts to fade off, and the rings start to slow down. Eventually the light disappears. The rings come to a stop in their standby position. All of them look at the seat with surprise.
Catbert is sitting there.
"Well, I don't feel any different. We don't want to be putting a useless item such as this on the market. The Gruntmaster 6000 has not pass- "Catbert starts, but while hopping off, he actually leaps thirty feet into the air, and descends on the other side of the area. "...Well... Looks like your invention does have good qualities after all. It has passed the test. Congratulations." Catbert says, before walking out. While he goes past the door, it breaks out of its hinges through the strength he used to open it.
The team kinda droops, seeing that Catbert had not only survived, but also was improved. Dilbert jumps up into the air. "Yes! The Gruntmaster works!"
"Well, I guess that means that the Gruntmaster 6000 is going public." PHB says, while walking off the stage. "Be sure to take the rest of the day off."
"We only have ten minutes of work left." Asok responds.
"Really, now? In that case, you can leave FIVE minutes early. All of you have deserved it." PHB says, like it was a great service. "And to commemorate myself on a job well done, I believe a nice little week-long vacation should do the trick." He says quietly and quickly, so that they wouldn't hear. As well, he leaves before they have a chance to voice their opinions.
As they all walk back out to their cubicles, Dilbert walks out with a sense of accomplishment in his mind. The Gruntmaster 6000 succeeded.
- - - -
At home, Dogbert is sitting at the table, reading the newspaper.
Dilbert walks into the house. "The Gruntmaster passed the test!"
"Congratulations. One more exercise machine for human kind to see in an infomercial, but never really buy." Dogbert responds, taking a sip from his coffee.
"I have never felt so accomplished in my life. The product is going out on the market in two weeks." Dilbert says, before looking around the room again. "Where did those men go?"
"They left for their own universe again with an example from Earth. I think they'll be back in a few days." Dogbert responds, still reading the paper.
Dilbert sits down at the table as well. "Sure... What did they take, however?"
Dogbert gently smirks again.
- - - -
"Council, I bring to you a shining example of Humanity that the other Universe has to offer," The man says, standing beside a small table, which is flanked by seven podiums, all holding people. The entire room is darkened, except for white lights that shine down on the podiums and the table. "Ratbert."
Ratbert waves to them all from the table. "Hey guys!"
The Council all wave back, saying greetings in response.
"As a representative of Earth, I offer you this dance." Ratbert says.
- - - - - -