The Safest and the Bestest House

Stewart was determined to stay safe. He designed an underground fortress guarded by layers of traps and a fiendishly difficult maze. Of course there were problems with the plans, right from the start.

“How will you breathe down there?” the architect asked when Stewart showed him a modified version of part of the plans. He had a separate piece to show to an unrelated architect in another country once he perfected his newest disguise and fake ID.

Stewart snatched away the plan and looked at it. Right. Breathing was important. Not breathing wasn’t safe at all. Perhaps he could invest in a self-contained underground breathing apparatus? But air tanks could be tampered with.

Air shafts might work, but that was how all the robbers and spies got in. Well, he could set traps for them. He was good at designing traps. “I’ll be back,” he told the architect. “Maybe.”

Instead, a week later, he visited a different architect, far, far away, while dressed as a popular celebrity. Reluctantly, he handed over a modified version of part of the revised plans. The new architect looked them over.

“I don’t know, Santa,” the architect said. “Won’t these traps be dangerous for all your elves? And where will you keep the reindeer?”

“Ho ho hum,” Stewart-in-disguise said. “The elves don’t live in my house, of course.”

“This is a house?”

“Yes,” Stewart admitted reluctantly.

Why was the architect asking all of these personal questions? It was very suspicious. He considered snatching the plans and searching for recording devices.

“But how will you get in and out? It seems very inconvenient.”

“Why would I want to leave? Look how safe I would be.” And these plans didn’t even show half of the traps.

The architect laughed. “Besides delivering all those presents, of course, you may want to get food and check your mail. Pay taxes. Take out the trash.”

It all sounded terrible and completely unsafe. Stewart snatched his plans and left. On the trip home, dressed as the grim reaper so that people would keep their distance, Stewart reviewed his plans and thought about what the latest architect said. Did he need to leave the house for food?

He didn’t eat much. That shouldn’t be a problem.

Taxes? If he hid well enough, he could avoid that, but the government wouldn’t be pleased. That wasn’t safe. Besides, hiding his house meant it would be discovered the moment someone dug deep enough not knowing he was there.

Hiding might seem safer, because if they didn’t know you were there, they wouldn’t come looking. However, the traps and maze would keep everyone out. Including the mail carrier. Did he need mail? It would be nice to order in, but if he had to leave the house to get the mail, he might as well go to the store.

But were stores safe? All those people and germs and potential hazards? Maybe he needed a mail chute and a good list of places to order from. He could order in groceries. There were probably traps he could add to the mail chute that wouldn’t harm the mail, right? And he could reverse that for a garbage chute of some sort.

Stewart revised his plans, modified them to hide most of the traps, and recopied part of the revised, modified plans. He found a new architect that did video conferencing. With a little bit of programming, he presented himself as a cartoon character. He emailed the plans in an email that would delete itself five minutes after being viewed.

“Hello,” the architect said. “I don’t meet many roadrunners in my line of work. Looking at these plans, I can tell that you are concerned for your safety. Is there any particular threat you are concerned about? It may be easier to defend against something specific. It seems like you think the world is out to get you.”

Stewart thought about the last time he’d left the house. The little old woman, the little old man, the dog, the cat, the fox… everyone he met had tried to eat him. He’d had to run, run as fast as he could to get to safety. “The world is out to get me,” he said.

“Well, you would be safe from the world in a house like this,” the architect replied.

“Good,” Stewart said. It was time to start building.