I saw a sly smile on my face.
(This confusion of pronouns is really getting to me now.)
“What makes you think there’s only one of us??”
“What? Look, there’s only one…”
And then it struck me.
“You mean – ”
The sly smile again.
“But – ”
The sly smile widened a little.
“Look – ”
The sly smile was now a grin.
“Oh, wipe that silly grin off your face!!”
The grin disappeared. Literally.
“I didn’t mean that!! Get it back. GET IT BACK!!”
The grin came back. Literally.
“Let’s just say we’ve evolved a little longer than you have.”
That was news. If there are super-evolved sentient beings who can change appearances – and do it on a whim – then, it meant…
“No. We don’t.”
“Wha- How? Did you -”
“No, we can’t read minds, yet.”
I heaved a sigh of relief. And then the processing yielded the obvious question.
“Yet? You mean…”
“Well, we can read faces. As much as you can. Basic mentalics, you know…”
There was a silence. I wouldn’t call it uncomfortable, because one of me was still smiling. And it wasn’t me. I (the real me) did not know how to break it.
‘What the heck,’ I said to myself (the inner self, not the outer DNA-replicating-impostor, please) ‘let me try, anyway.”
I cleared my throat.
“So let me get this right. You are super-evolved sentient beings who can replicate whatever basic building blocks of life, simply by coming into contact with them. And yet, you accost me in this dark alley like a thug and scare the wits out of me. May I ask this simple question: What do you want from us?”
“I meant humanity. I think I speak for all humanity. You wouldn’t be able to understand us if we spoke all at once anyway.”
Nothing? NOTHING?? All this scaring, and displaying of power, and DNA-based replication capability for nothing?
“But you must want something! World Peace! Galactic War! Inter-planetary Trade! Something!”
“Well, we carry our world with us, and we’re at peace. So that takes World Peace out. The next Galactic war isn’t due until a while – strike that, too. And inter-planetary trade – we don’t need it. We derive our energy from the Parent-star. You guys don’t seem to be using yours, anyway.”
“Yeah, we’re still trying to figure that one out.”
“It’s quite simple, really. You see-”
“I SAID, WE’RE TRYING!!”
How do you sustain conversation with (a) super-evolved sentient being/s with instant-replication capability and a desire for nothing? Simple answer: You can’t. Elaborate answer: You try, but you still can’t.
“Okay, if you want nothing, I might as well leave. No point in me hanging around, right? Toodle-doo, pip-pip!” And I started to move.
“Don’t you want anything?”
“Me? I want world peace – can you give me that?”
The other me opened my mouth to answer.
“No wait. Wrong choice of question. Discard that.”
The open mouth quickly closed shut.
“You can give me anything?”
“Well, almost anything.”
“Just like that?”
“Just like that.”
“Ah, I knew it!! There had to be a price!! Everything has a price! There’s no such thing as a free lunch!”
“Name your price! I won’t disclose what I want until you name your price! NAME IT!!”
“We’ve already taken. We’re here to give.”
“Huh? What? How? When?”
“You needn’t worry about that. You’ll never even notice what we’ve taken. Clearly, you didn’t notice it when was there…”
I was puzzled by that intriguing statement, but I was also exhilarated by the choices made available by that statement. I had the power to make a decision that was usually the honor of the privileged few.
“Wait a second, why do I get to make the choice? Shouldn’t you be talking to someone else? Someone in power? Like the President, maybe? Or Hugh Hefner?”
“Just ‘No’? No further explanations?”
So that meant I also had to be responsible with my choices. Damn!
“Okay, can you give me some time?”
“Is that what you want?”
“NO! NO! I meant, I want to think before I make my choice!”
Phew. Close call.
I quickly formed a list of what I needed the most. A sweet girlfriend, a secure job, a fat pay-cheque, a cozy home, and a great retiring pension. Kinda selfish, ain’t it? It suddenly hit me that whatever I would ask for, would leave a long-lasting impression on – not just me, but – the entire of mankind. Like, the huge-leap-and-not-small-step kind of an impression. I would have to be R-E-A-L careful…
World Peace, then? Nope. Too abstract.
Scientific Progress? Can’t hand it on a platter…
Smarter Politicians? Erm…
Upgraded Sensibilities? Eradication of Poverty? Peaceful International Relations? Humanitarian Beliefs? Utopia? Asking for one of them meant forgoing the others.
A whirlwind of thoughts buzzed through my head. I couldn’t settle on anything. Each option seemed equally favorable, and all options seemed equally necessary.
It didn’t help that I was standing in front of my favorite Pizza place. I could easily have asked for an order of my favorite pizza with my favorite toppings – and gotten it.
And, then it struck me – clear as day. It had to be THE choice.
I simply looked at me. Basic mentalics did the rest.
I (the-impostor-me) looked puzzled at first and then I (the-impostor-me) smiled.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I guess…”
“Well, that is indeed unique. But if that is your choice, so be it,” the impostor-me said and smiled. I smiled in return. And, with that, the impostor-me vanished. Disintegrated. Disappeared, in a puff of smoke.
I could see the sign on the door of my favorite Pizza place. The sign that had helped me save the world.
The sign that simply said:
“Thank you! Visit again!”
Ta-Da!! I FINISHED IT!!
I know it’s not good at all. I have been out of touch, I guess…
Thanks for being patient. :)
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