"And I don't want any more of your communist lies!" Bruce hollered.

"But I'm not a communist!" Chet protested.

"Communist lies!" Bruce screamed, tossing his hands up.

"I tell you, I'm not!" Chet cried, sobbing. "I'm not, I'm not!"

"I think you are, and I can prove it!" Bruce said triumphantly. Chet looked at him, and Bruce slammed a big, glowing, purple button on the control panel. A hole opened up in the ceiling. Chet could hear a faint scream growing louder and louder until it materialized as a man falling out of the hole in the ceiling into the tank of water. The man floundered for a bit before surfacing and coughing up the liquid in his lungs. It was Karl Marx.

"Wait, how is that possible?" croaked the electronic voice of the Mediator. "Karl Marx doesn't even exist in this universe!"

"Yeah?" Bruce snapped, "well, airborne microcomputing particles that function as a global supercomputer consciousness named the Mediator don't exist in Karl Marx's universe, so it rather balances out."

"But if Karl Marx doesn't exist here, how can communism?" Chet inquired hopefully. The Mediator rewrote that question in their minds to "Who invented the moose?"

"I don't know," Bruce said.

"What sort of device can summon people from other universes?" Chet asked. "I can't imagine how that would work."

The Mediator thought for a bit. "My temporal sensors indicate that the button has always existed and always will exist. It was as old when it arrived as it will be when our universe ends. In fact, it appears that the very presence of the device has wrapped our time continuum into a loop."

Chet raised his eyebrows. "But what is it?"

Bruce slammed the button again, and Groucho Marx fell from the hole in the ceiling.

"It appears to be a Marx Button," the Mediator said.

"That's absurd!" Chet said.

"It's the truth!" Bruce confirmed.

"What on earth is a Marx Button?" Chet asked, and Karl and Groucho waved at him. "Apart from the obvious," he added.

"An undefined number of billions of years ago, the Supervisor scattered Marx Buttons throughout all the universes," Bruce explained. "Somehow, in the Supervisor's knowledge, he foresaw that someday all the universes would require Marx Buttons."

"The Supervisor?" asked Chet.

"My father," said the Mediator.

"Good grief," said Chet. "But I can see no reason to scatter Marx Buttons throughout the universes."

"Who are you to question the foreknowledge of the Supervisor?" Bruce demanded.

Chet ignored him. "So a different Marx appears every time the Marx Button is pressed?"

"That's yet to be determined."

Chet hummed a bit as he pondered all this. "Why did you call Karl Marx from another universe anyway?"

"Because you're a communist," Bruce said. When Chet started to interrupt him to protest, he shushed him. "The Father of Communism ought to know a communist when he sees one."

The Mediator manipulated gas particles and lifted Karl Marx out of the tank. He set him down next to Chet.

"Karl," Bruce said, "try to find out if Chet here is a communist."

"Well," Karl Marx said, "do you agree that history is basically a tale of the exploitation of those who live by working, by those who live by owning?"

"I guess so," Chet agreed.

"Do you believe that society is controlled by owners, when it ought to belong to the workers?"

"Sure," said Chet.

"Do you believe that capitalists use government and religion to deceive the working class into satisfaction with the capitalist system?"

"Indeed!" Chet agreed.

"Do you agree that the only way the workers will right this wrong is by overthrowing capitalism?"

"Well, yes, I suppose that is the most to-the-point way of doing it."

"Do you think that all opposition to this viewpoint must be crushed?"

"In a nutshell."

"Do you believe that this is best accomplished by creating a dictatorship of the workers to destroy the bias towards owners?"

"I do."

"Do you believe that when capitalism is eradicated, the need for government will cease and society will become utopian?"


"Then you're a communist."

"Hang on!" cried Bruce. "Mediator, could you manipulate matter and give Chet a Karl Marx beard?"

The Mediator affirmed, and a beard appeared on Chet. "Great Scott!" Bruce screamed, "they look identical! I can't tell Chet from Karl!" Chet gasped.

"I'm the Father of Communism in this universe?" he cried.

"Apparently!" said the Mediator. "This also explains how we could know about communism before you even came up with it. The Marx Button made our timeline loop, so inventing communism now will cause it to be already invented in the past."

"So I'm Chet and Chet is me?" Karl Marx asked.

"Yeppers," said Bruce.

"Blast!" said Chet, and he dematerialized.

Karl Marx had a heart attack from the shock of this spontaneity. Bruce looked stunned. "Where did he go?" he asked. "Mediator, was this your doing?"

"My particles on the other side of the world indicate that Chet is currently slightly confused and very much on the run. But no, it wasn't me. I'm rather perplexed."

"It's my fault, fellows," said an inter-universal voice.

"Who are you?" Bruce asked.

"I'm the Supervisor," said the voice. "I'm also a communist, so I can't let you wipe out communism in this universe."

"Blast!" Bruce cried. "The Supervisor's got twisted socioeconomic values! We can't win!"

"I think we can," said the Mediator. "We can appeal to a power higher than the Supervisor."


"The Omnipotence."

"I suppose he's the father of the Supervisor?" Bruce asked.


"Hoo boy, one big happy family of abstractly powerful creatures."

The Mediator humphed and called on the Omnipotence. "Oy, Omnipotence! We could really use your help defending capitalism right now."

The Omnipotence belched in response, made some omnipresent popcorn, and sat back to watch the show.

"Blast, no help from the one person who can help!" Bruce groaned.

"We need to do something quick! Chet's writing a manifesto!"

In a burst of quick thinking, Bruce pushed the Marx Button four more times. Thus fell Chico, Harpo, Zeppo, and Gummo Marx from the sky.

"Fellows, we need your expertise," the Mediator explained. "What do we do?"

After the Marx brothers conferred for a while, Groucho delivered a verdict. "Marx my words, this is truly a pickle." Canned laughter ensued.

"The judges give you bad Marx for that terrible pun," the Mediator snapped.

"They are bad Marx. And you're not doing so terribly well in puns either. But we need some more Marxes," Bruce said.

He pressed the button some more, and Adolf Marx, Louis Marx, Erwin Marx, and Paul Marx appeared, being a music theorist, a toy maker, an inventor, and a monk, respectively. The Mediator explained the situation to them. They invented a holy toy that played music.

"That's not useful!" Bruce said, giving the toy a kick.

"Well, the Marx brothers didn't have any input," the Mediator pointed out. "Neither did Karl Marx."

"Karl's just recently died of a heart attack," Bruce said.

"His loss," the Mediator remarked. "Ah well, there probably wasn't much the Father of Communism could have contributed to our cause anyway." Bruce was about to agree, when the Mediator gave a groan. "Blast, he's finished his manifesto!"

"So soon?"

"Probably the Supervisor's doing. It might have helped to have Karl Marx list off all the basic beliefs of a communist a couple minutes ago."

"In short, we're too late to stop the spread of communism, but we can at least take down Chet Marx?"

"Aye, but it really isn't surprising that it's going to spread. I mean, time is a loop, and we know about communism, so it had to have been invented sometime in the future.

"Begging your pardon?" said Adolf Marx. "We may have come up with something useful. If the Marx brothers give their input, our combined powers will create a Marx vortex to consume all things Marx, transporting them to the Marx continuum."

The Mediator was astonished. "You have your own continuum?"

"Who doesn't?"

"I don't," said Bruce.

"Sure you do," Louis Marx said. "It's the Bruce continuum. Obviously they decided to wipe your memory of it when they sent you here."

"Oh hush," the Mediator snapped. "Will this Marx vortex consume all knowledge of Marxes as well?"

"It should," said Erwin Marx. "It ought to devour the Marx button, too, freeing your universe from its time loop. It might even expand across the time loop and devour all historical events pertaining to Marxes, too."

"But the definition of a time loop decrees that out future dictates our past. If we split the time loop, our past will become irrelevant and everything will stop."

"That or the intricacies of the properties of time will cause everything to continue as it should," Paul Marx said. "You've got to trust us. It's your only hope."

"Well, I suppose we could give it a whirl," Bruce said.

So the Marxes combined their powers into a Marx vortex. It ate them, it ate the Marx Button, it ate Chet Marx, it ate all knowledge of Marxes, it ate all historical events pertaining to Marxes, and finally, as a Marx vortex must eat everything Marx, it ate itself.

Bruce opened his eyes. "Why am I standing in the wilderness?" he asked, looking around the desolate landscape where a Marx Button complex would have been if it had ever existed.

"I really don't know," the Mediator said. "It seems like we may have just had a close call with communism, but I really have no clue."

"What's communism?" asked Bruce.

"Don't ask me," the Mediator said.

So Bruce and the Mediator went on with existence, never remembering the shenanigan which has just been related. Without any knowledge of Marxes, the Supervisor became a capitalist, since we all know that people only follow communism for the fluffiness of its father's beard. Everything was quite right, and time looped no more.


P.S. To say that time looped no more would be incorrect, since when the Marx vortex ate the Marx Button the timeline was freed from its loop, which implied that it never was in a loop because otherwise it would not have been able to escape from the loop. In short, after the time loop was eradicated, nothing that happened before ever happened. Never. Never ever. Not ever. Just trust me on this.