Once upon a time there were two children who were very smart and very obedient but whose parents had made a very serious miscalculation. The parents had allowed the children to become addicted to television.
Every morning upon awakening the children would demand television. They would demand to have it before breakfast, and when they were told they could not have it before breakfast, they would demand to have breakfast WITH television, and when they were told they could not have breakfast with television, they would collapse on the floor in tears and refuse to do anything at all for the rest of the day.
The parents were beset by offers from friends and neighbors to break the children of their unhealthy reliance on the glowing storybox, but the parents, being an odd sort of parents, saw in their kids' affliction an opportunity.
One morning when the children awakened they were greeted not with the normal trip to the breakfast table but to a strange room that they had never noticed in the house before. Inside were stacks of cards, each identical to the next, with a drawing of a snake wrapped around a staff, and the signature of the mother and father in the bottom left and right corners, respectively.
The children were told that from now on in order to watch one television program each child must remit one card to either the father or the mother. The cards were acquired by doing chores - one card for sweeping the kitchen, two for cleaning out the shed, and three for planting a berry bush or suchlike improvements to the home.
At first the children worked only for the television they wanted to watch each day, but soon Ruby, who was older, said to her little brother "Luke," for that was her brother's name, "we should spend a day doing chores so that the next day we can spend the ENTIRE DAY watching television."
The prospect of an entire day of doing nothing but watching television so inspired the little one that he did twice his normal work - though it was still a fraction of what his sister could do - and the two saved enough cards to make their dream come true. They could hardly contain their excitement as they lay their heads down to sleep.
When they awakened they did not demand television before breakfast but ate their fill, knowing that a glorious day of television watching lay ahead of them. After finishing their meal they sat down and watched all their favorite movies, and all the best episodes of the very funniest shows.
At lunchtime they ate thoughtfully and talked about their cards. They loved television but they loved the power of the cards as well, and they didn't want to be without television the next day. In the end it was decided that they would go to a friend's house for the afternoon, and use their cards to watch television the next day.
As time went on the children began to acquire so many cards that they could not imagine ever using them all. It was then that things began to get complicated.