Through The Wormhole, Literally

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Summary

If the Voyager 1 space probe was picked up in outer space by extraterrestrials, what would happen? Here's your opportunity to find out. The Voyager 1 space probe was launched by NASA on September 5, 1977, to study the outer solar system and, ultimately, interstellar space. It carried a gold-plated audio-visual disc in the event that it might be found by intelligent life-forms from other planetary systems. It was discovered by goopmutt bandits who towed it through interstellar space at superluminal speed. Eventually, they abandoned the probe in the Centaurus galaxy where it was picked up by two itinerant spacecombers from a small circumbinary planet known as Morys Minor. The discovery of the golden record attached to the Voyager probe raised expectations of harmonious relations between inhabitants of the two planets, but, following extensive study, the Mortians decided the planet exceeded volatility thresholds and deemed it unsuitable. During smolin9's brief sojourn sojourn on Earth, he met life coach, Melinda Hill of Camden in London. This story charts the events arising from this encounter.

Genre:
Humor / Scifi
Author:
davewinship
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
7
Rating:
4.0 1 review
Age Rating:
13+

Chapter 1: THE WORMHOLE REPORTS

The Voyager 1 space probe was launched by NASA on September 5, 1977, to study the outer solar system and, ultimately, interstellar space. It carried a gold-plated audio-visual disc in the event that it might be found by intelligent life-forms from other planetary systems.

The disc carried photos of the Earth and its life-forms, spoken greetings from people including the President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, and a medley of sounds from Earth, including whales, a baby crying, waves breaking on a shore and music, including works by Mozart and Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”. It got picked up by two itinerant spacecombers from Morys Minor.

One of them, smolin9, was subsequently dispatched to Earth to assess the suitability of the planet for colonisation…

Planet Investigation

Investigator: smolin9

Target Planet: The Pale Blue Dot

Date Investigator Assigned: 12.19.18.11.6

Investigation Scope:

The investigation will focus on the suitability of the target planet for colonisation. The objective of the investigation is to determine the credibility of the referral source (Jimmy Carter, Voyager 1).

Investigator Diary 12.19.18.11.6:

How are you all doing back on Morys Minor? This is smolin9 here with my first wormhole report from the Pale Blue Dot. First of all, it’s ridiculously easy to get in here. Nobody stopped me to ask for ID. I could have been a green-snouted goopmutt from Ynonmaq Decimus for all they knew. Their wormhole controls are an absolute joke. I came in under a Mark II Craterkite cloaking device. Hell, that was cheap, supplying me with equipment like that! Tell polkingbeal67 I’ll have his blips for belt-nozzles when I get back. There are other illegal aliens too. I’ve seen a whole army of those ant-like chillok creatures from Oov. I wonder what they’re up to.

Anyway, I’m here. According to my research, a lot of earthlings believe this planet was created in six days – frankly, I’m surprised it took that long. I haven’t found this President Carter yet. Do you think he’s human or some other life form? You never told me there were so many species on this damn planet.

I managed to get one of our foxp2 speech-conversion implants into a small furry creature with a prehensile tail that I’ve just identified as a mouse. He hasn’t had too much to say for himself yet. Just keeps asking for chocolate and cheese. I hope I haven’t wasted an implant. When I work out what chocolate and cheese are, I should be able to do a trade. More of him later, no doubt.

Chances of finding intelligent life here? Pretty remote, I’d say. There’s no evidence that the life forms can even control the basic elements. I did a reccy around one of the bigger land masses earlier today. A house caught fire every 45 Blue Dot seconds. No, it wasn’t the same house! Ha ha. Tell polkingbeal67 that was a joke. No don’t bother, he wouldn’t understand.

I’m going to follow this mouse for a while. Perhaps he’ll lead me to Jimmy Carter eventually.

Okay, that’s the end of this report. Keep the wormhole open.

Investigator Diary 12.19.18.11.10:

Smolin9 here again with another wormhole report from the Pale Blue Dot. I definitely wasted a foxp2 implant on that mouse. He still hasn’t welcomed me to his planet and won’t talk to me unless the subject is chocolate or cheese. I’ve tried to widen my circle and meet new Blue Dot life forms. I’ve deciphered some primitive datagrams on my microwocky and made 202 friends on something called Facebook. I don’t know what species they are yet. I think it’s a combination of humans and farm animals. Some keep poking me but others are quite friendly. I thought they’d be alarmed to encounter an alien life form from a distant galaxy, but they say they like my status. Not many mice on there. I’m not surprised.

Tell polkingbeal67 he might be right about earthling humans. What I’ve seen on Facebook suggests they haven’t got enough neural circuits in their brains to power a standard phase one microwocky. I offered my Facebook friends the chance to share reflections on the more challenging aspects of string theory and gluon particles, but the only reply I got suggested I go and seek sexual congress with someone. I really fail to see how unleashing primitive biological urges contributes to the debate.

Anyway, this planet is a mess. Who does the planetwork here? The land masses have got forests growing all over them. Yuk! There’s snow all over the mountains and nobody’s brushed the deserts for eons. You’d at least expect them to organise and label things. It’s impossible to find your way around. I thought Morys was bad until I saw this. Perhaps they only clean up at the end of each epoch like they do on Oov. Lazy devils!

Speaking of Oov, you remember I wrote about seeing some of those ant-like chilloks? I think they were plotting to take over the planet. It backfired on them big time. Dozens of them got ’oovered up yesterday by a bear-like creature with a long snout.

Next time, I’ll tell you more about eating habits here. Gross! The heterotrophs eat each other. They even eat the autotrophs! Can you believe that? What a hideous vortex of entropy! I can’t wait till I finish my mission and get back to Morys.

No sign of President Carter yet. I’m going to sign off now. Say hi to polkingbeal67 for me. Tell him I’ll bring him back a stick of rock.

Keep the wormhole open.

Investigator Diary 12.19.18.12.9:

Smolin9 here again, reporting from the Pale Blue Dot. I’ve just had a tangy vitalmados micro pill for dinner. The dopamine release is so cool. Just love the way it conjures up that feeling of cruising along the Daladax in an orbiter during a triple eclipse, while your primary tongue dips into the force field of an Oovian zeptotransmitter. Can’t wait for the next one in 17 Blue Dot days! I’m still trying to get information out of the mouse with the foxp2 implant. Unfortunately for him, vitalmados always gives me wind. I just had a significant nitrogen mishap and he was gone - took off like an unstable tachyon! Just a blur of tail and whiskers. Never mind. I’ll catch up with him later.

You’ll be pleased to hear I’ve made some progress in tracking down President Carter. Well, it’s sort of good news and bad news. I’ve been using telepathic communication with some of the life forms here. I picked up on a weird pollinator with a furry striped butt. She was broadcasting mental images of a cellular structure remarkably similar to our revered leader’s palace on Morys Minor. Well, I tried out polkingbeal67′s “tried and tested” mirror technique on her. You know the thing: she flicks her antenna, I flick my fingers above my head; she waggles her abdomen, I waggle mine. According to polkingbeal67, the life form is supposed to get fooled into believing we’re in sync, that we’re connected on a subconscious level. Well, hey, it doesn’t work! She just led me to a clump of flowers and tried to sting me when she realised I wasn’t another pollinator. Charming!

The behaviour of these life forms is so confusing and unstructured. They can’t compete with me on an intellectual level so they resort to intimidating me physically. Don’t worry, I haven’t lost heart. I’ll keep trying.

Keep the wormhole open.

Investigator Diary 12.19.18.13.1:

Smolin9 reporting again from the Pale Blue Dot. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Hmm. I know our code dictates that we shouldn’t imitate non-human life forms except to protect ourselves under duress, but I was getting nowhere trying to find Jimmy Carter by telepathy. So I decided to use my biomimetic mutator to transform myself into a female mouse so that I could try out a honey trap on that stupid rodent with the foxp2 implant.

We started to gel straight away. I gained his confidence with some cheese and we hung out together for a while. I really went for it. He said he was into gadgets. I asked what kind of gadgets. He said he was getting into things like ladders and spinning wheels. I said that was amazing because I loved ladders. I think he was hooked at that moment. We had dinner together. After a while, the conversation stopped and our eyes met. His pupils kind of dilated. We both knew what was happening. We leaned towards each other. We kissed, tentative at first. Then he was sucking my lip and licking my whiskers. I thought – we’re there: cue intimate relations, followed by intimate revelations of the President Carter kind. But it turned out he was only after cheese crumbs. I felt like giving him a blast with my micro beam plasma projector. I would have done too, but you just can’t operate the gun when you’re transformed into a mouse. All you’ve got is that prehensile tail and those ridiculously tiny feet!

Well, so much for flattery and so much for the honey trap. Preposterous rodent! I hope it rains cats and dogs! Ha ha. Tell polkingbeal67 that’s a joke. There again, don’t bother.

Anyway, I’ve just about had it with mice. I’m going to reverse the configuration on the mutator, go back to my old form and find something on this planet that’s a little higher on the evolutionary tree. Uh oh! Something’s wrong with the mutator settings. And now what is that mouse doing? Excuse me a moment. How do I get tech support? You know, I think that damn mouse is making amorous advances. Hey! Too late now, pal! Ugh! It keeps sniffing me. I’ll have to get back to you.

Keep the wormhole open.

Investigator Diary 12.19.18.13.18:

It’s me, smolin9, reporting again from the Pale Blue Dot. Guess what? I was trying to avoid that crazy libidinous rodent when I picked up a disturbance in the time vortex. Something came through the inter-dimensional doorway, hoovered up the mouse and disappeared with it. That’ll teach me to leave the door open. And, damn, I’ve lost a perfectly good foxp2 implant!

However, I have made some progress in my investigation – President Carter is not a dolphin. It’s a shame really. Dolphins are such nice, smiley creatures and it would have been fun to get to know them better. I know we’d have just clicked. Anyway, amazingly, I think Carter may be a human. At least, his language patterns match those of humans. I must admit at first I completely dismissed the idea that earthling humans could be responsible for Voyager 1. They’re such an irrational, superstitious species with traits that should have disappeared from their gene pool eons ago. They have vestigial tailbones, superfluous toes and teeth, not to mention strange little clumps of hair on their bodies that serve no purpose whatsoever. Their feet have 250,000 sweat glands and, let me tell you, they are seriously smelly. You’ll laugh but some parts of their faces, like their noses and ears, never stop growing and they drill holes in them!

Get this! Earthling humans spend a third of their lives sleeping! Oh yes, and they’ve evolved a reddening of the face that lets other earthling humans know when they’re guilty of something. But it keeps malfunctioning, so sometimes they go red when they’re not guilty. Ha ha. And boy do they breed! If the population of one of their larger land masses walked past you in single file, the line would never end because of their rate of reproduction! Their brain chemistry is similar to mice, so it may not surprise you to hear they get totally obsessed with idiotic activities like wacking balls into various receptacles. Different coloured balls, hard balls, soft balls, misshapen ones, large ones, small ones with dimples. Very odd.

I can’t tell you how far they are along the path of civilisation. It’s hard to make out. Some seem to have progressed beyond tool-using and cave-painting, but most of them are happy just taking in nourishment, expelling waste matter and wacking balls around. It seems gravity only became apparent to them when an apple fell on somebody’s head!

Any idea how I can get the mouse back? I need to retrieve the foxp2 implant so I can embed it in an earthling human and continue the investigation.

Keep the wormhole open.

Investigator Diary 12.19.18.14.19:

Hi, smolin9 here, still trying to make sense of things on the Pale Blue Dot. I’m not at my best today. My endorphin levels are depleted and I weep for our species when I think about polkingbeal67 and what he did to me. I suppose you know he sneaked through the inter-dimensional doorway with a cloaking device and stole my mouse? Just to satisfy his delinquent curiosity. Yes I know he returned the pathetic creature, but everyone knows you’ve got to give rudimentary life-forms a homeodynamic disruption antidote before they can pass through the portal. Polkingbeal67 forgot. If you could only see the poor thing now. Its epithelial cells have turned fluorescent and it looks like a quivering glob of radioactive jello. With whiskers.

And now you say you want to set up a two-way communication channel between me and polkingbeal67, using the wormhole? That’s just terrific. I don’t see how my reports will make sense to him. The amygdala part of his brain was damaged when he used a modified plasma beam to get rid of his acne. He’s physiologically incapable of feeling or understanding emotions. It’s unnerving to say the least. Come to think of it, you could probably replace him with a simple piece of software.

Anyway, I’ve recovered the foxp2 implant. Now I’ve got to find a suitable human recipient. I’m still trying to get over the shock of finding out President Carter is not a dolphin or a chimpanzee. According to my research, chimpanzees were travelling in space well before earthling humans.

Actually, these earthling humans crack me up. Perhaps there’s more to them than meets the eye. Perhaps the nut doesn’t reveal the tree it contains. But they’re still trying to figure out why quantum mechanics and general relativity aren’t compatible. Some believe in string theory and some argue for loop quantum gravity. So you either get stringy humans or loopy ones. Good grief. According to a telepathic survey I conducted yesterday, most humans think neutrinos are some kind of breakfast confectionery! Let’s see now: how many earthling humans would it take to change a light bulb? The answer is two - one to hold the bulb and one to rotate the universe. Ha ha. Hey, that’s the sort of thing I wouldn’t be able to share with polkingbeal67.

At least the implant won’t need much reconfiguring. Earthling human brain chemistry is actually very similar to mice. I know I had a bad experience with the mouse, but I’m using the biomimetic mutator again and I’ve been fine-tuning my new earthling human look. I’ve decided to simulate a young Caucasian male. I’ve got me some big Bermuda shorts and a skateboard. Do you think I’ll get along okay without eyebrows?

I’ve sorted out a geographical location. I’ve been doing some research and I like the look of the land they call Egypt. I’ve heard pyramids are great for skateboarding. Their culture is fascinating. All those mummies – they’ve really got it wrapped up! Sorry, but I’ve got to get all this humour out of my system before I start reporting to polkingbeal67.

Right, shorts on. Skateboard. I’m ready to navigate unknown waters as an earthling human. I’m sure I’ll blend in perfectly. The nut will not reveal the tree it contains! Egypt, here I come.

Keep the wormhole open.

Investigator Diary 12.19.18.15.13:

polkingbeal67:

Greetings, smolin9. This is a holographic image of myself, polkingbeal67, and we are communicating using a telepresence channel in the wormhole between Morys Minor and the Pale Blue Dot. Please proceed with your report.

smolin9:

Earth.

polkingbeal67:

Earth?

smolin9:

The human inhabitants of this planet don’t call it the Pale Blue Dot like we do. They call it Earth. I’ve found out a lot of stuff since my last report.

polkingbeal67:

Earth? Couldn’t they come up with a better name than Earth? It sounds like someone being punched in the belly. Anyway, how do I look as a hologram?

smolin9:

Oh, you look resplendent. Like the first gleam of dawn on Omega Kasan.

polkingbeal67:

Thank you. No, wait, are you using that earthling humanoid sarcasm thing I’ve been warned about?

smolin9:

Okay, let me take a proper look at you. Smile!

polkingbeal67:

Like this?

smolin9:

Oh, stop! That’s really terrifying! And, by the way, are you going to apologise for what you did to my mouse?

polkingbeal67:

Oh yes, sorry. I remember. I had a little mishap getting him through the portal, didn’t I?

smolin9:

Mishap? That wasn’t just a mishap in a portal. That mouse had been slammed into the timewarp equivalent of a revolving door. I thought we were here to analyse these life-forms, not annihilate them.

polkingbeal67:

I said I was sorry. Anyway, you’d better get on with your report. You said you’ve learned things since last time.

smolin9:

Well, yes, according to what I learned on the microwocky during my journey to Egypt, earthling humans believe they constructed the pyramids themselves! Ha ha! A pyramid comprises about two million blocks of stone, each one weighing two and a half Earth tons. And this would have been approximately 5000 Earth years ago! Y’know, I’m starting to like these earthlings. They’re so unpredictable. When I used telepathic broadcast to tell them the pyramids were built by green-snouted goopmutts fleeing from Ynonmaq Decimus, they seemed to find it funny. So I explained how the renegade goopmutts had been banished for converting Ynonmaq’s oceans into liquid vitalmados. And I made it clear they were doomed to spend the rest of their days as itinerant stone tent dwellers…

polkingbeal67:

Yes, yes. I know all about the goopmutts. I don’t need a history lesson from you.

smolin9:

Yes, but the point is .. they just laughed! One of the great tragedies of intergalactic chronology! And they couldn’t take it seriously. They just kept asking me if I was the doctor.

polkingbeal67:

The doctor?

smolin9:

Apparently, in their culture they worship a Time Lord called Doctor Who. I couldn’t believe my telepathic receptors! Earthlings engaged in time travel? But then I looked it up on the microwocky and discovered this so-called Time Lord is supposed to wander around the universe in a Type 40 Mark 3 TARDIS with a faulty chameleon circuit. There’s no such thing! I checked the intergalactic database and there is no record of such a time capsule, authorised or unauthorised. This doctor has completely fooled them.

polkingbeal67:

Interesting. What else have you learned?

smolin9:

Well, it’s easy to make bad mistakes here. The earthling humans in Egypt didn’t think much of my Bermuda shorts.

polkingbeal67:

Curious. By the way, why exactly are you squirming around like a hyperactive flamingo on a Venus lava flow? Have you aggravated your old microwocky injury?

smolin9:

No, that’s the result of something else I learned: pyramids are not for skateboarding. Gotta go now. Keep the wormhole open.

Investigator Diary 12.19.18.16.14:

polkingbeal67:

Smolin9! Smolin9, where are you? I bet he’s forgotten how to configure his microwocky for the new hyper spatial wrinkle coordinates. Typical. I knew he’d be trouble. Why on Morys did they have to go and choose him? Just because our intelligence community thought there was a high probability President Carter was a dolphin and the cognitive processing centres of smolin9′s brain are genetically similar to those of Blue Dot dolphins. So we entrust the very survival of our species to a bumbling bubble-head who thought the Egyptian pyramids were for skateboarding! Now we know Jimmy Carter is not a dolphin, and our revered leader still sticks with that sad apology for a transgalactic scout. It really worries me. We’ve only got one Blue Dot year to see if this planet is suitable for colonisation. Smolin9! Smolin9!

smolin9:

Is that you, polkingbeal67? It’s a bad line. I think we’ve got a missing neutrino. Well, you look amazing today. Are those butterflies or can I smell cherry blossoms woven into the long tresses of your hair?

polkingbeal67:

What? Yes, I’m sure you smell nice too. Please submit your report. Hold on. I haven’t got any hair. And you can’t smell anything. This is a hologrammatic image!

smolin9:

When I look into your eyes I see spiral galaxies pirouetting slowly…

polkingbeal67:

Have you been at the vitalmados again?

smolin9:

Valmados talmados shalmados. Can I share saliva with you? It’s what earthling humans do. It’s so lovely.

polkingbeal67:

Oh god! You have been at the vitalmados! That’s it! I’m going to terminate this connection and recommend, once again, that you’re replaced immediately!

smolin9:

No, no, wait! Really, I’m coming round. It’s just been so lonely here. Have some pity. Our revered leader told me he’d send me to Oov as a census collector if I fouled up on this mission. I promise you I can do a great job here.

polkingbeal67:

Smolin9, you’ll never attain true greatness if we keep lowering the bar for you.

smolin9:

You don’t know what it’s like down here. One false move and they’ll be harvesting my organs.

polkingbeal67:

No one’s going to harvest your organs.

smolin9:

Don’t you be so sure. Let me tell you what happened to me when I left the pyramids.

polkingbeal67:

Yes, do tell.

smolin9:

Do I detect a little disinterest there? Well, anyway, once I discovered I didn’t really fit in with my skateboard and my Bermuda shorts, I redefined my image using the biomimetic mutator. I tell you, I could not have looked more like an earthling human. Not without using recombinant DNA technology anyway. So there I was, mingling happily with earthlings near the pyramid of Khafra, when all of a sudden I saw the Great Sphinx move!

polkingbeal67:

It’s an ancient monument. It can’t move.

smolin9:

I know, I know. But it did move. I found out afterwards it had been covered with a billion Oovian chilloks who mistook it for one of their gods. Anyway, the shock got the better of me and I fainted.

polkingbeal67:

Go on. What happened next?

smolin9:

Well, they took me to what humans must think of as a hospital. You’ve never seen anything like it. They conduct operations without microwave visors and actually cut people up to repair them. It’s barbaric! I didn’t have my microwocky with me and had to use telepathy, so I couldn’t understand everything that was going on. They thought my skin looked funny. Y’know, it doesn’t matter how careful you are with the mutator imagemaker, earthlings still think you’re made of Teflon.

polkingbeal67:

Interesting. Did they cut you?

smolin9:

No. But I couldn’t sneak away because I’d left my cloaking device at the pyramids with my microwocky. And there was this doctor who said something to me a couple of times before doing something truly horrible. I know my telepathy translations aren’t the best, but I thought he was saying: ‘Get ready. We’re going to get you to the nebula’. For a brief moment, I thought he was one of us and he was offering to give me a tour of a cosmic gas cloud somewhere. I found out what he was really saying when I got hold of my microwocky later.

polkingbeal67:

So, what was he saying and what horrible thing happened to you?

smolin9:

Turns out he was saying: ‘Get ready. We’re going to give you an enema’. I admit I screamed like a Goopmutt. He told me he was sorry but he needed a stool. So I fetched one and hit him over the head with it. Believe me, I needed some vitalmados after that! Keep the wormhole open.

Investigator Diary 12.19.18.17.5:

polkingbeal67:

What is it? Why have you summoned me for an extraordinary transmission?

smolin9:

I’m livid!

polkingbeal67:

Thanks for the update. Goodbye.

smolin9:

No, wait! Something’s happened. And it’s made me angry. It would make you angry too, if you were capable of emotion.

polkingbeal67:

Didn’t I tell you I’ve been seconded to review new supra-planetary trade operations? And didn’t I tell you this is also my day-off?

smolin9:

You did.

polkingbeal67:

Didn’t I make it clear you’d have to make other arrangements for your reports?

smolin9:

You did.

polkingbeal67:

So?

smolin9:

I didn’t.

polkingbeal67:

Well, I’m here now. So what’s happened?

smolin9:

I’ll tell you, but first of all, you should know that there’s a red light on my microwocky indicating a problem with the telepresence feed.

polkingbeal67:

I know. I’ve got one at my end too.

smolin9:

So shouldn’t you, you know, check for problems with the telepresence feed?

polkingbeal67:

It’s been there for ages. It’s just a warning light.

smolin9:

Isn’t that all the more reason to, you know, check for problems with the telepresence feed? Whoever put it there obviously thought it necessary to warn you.

polkingbeal67:

It’s just a light.

smolin9:

The feed’s definitely not working now. It’s really unnerving. Your eyes are where your mouth should be and vice versa. You’re blinking every time you speak.

polkingbeal67:

But I don’t have eyelids.

smolin9:

Exactly.

polkingbeal67:

Okay, let me try this. Is that better?

smolin9:

Yes.

polkingbeal67:

Please proceed with your report.

smolin9:

Okay, well, basically, I intercepted some primitive earthling datagrams using my microwocky and guess what? They’ve discovered our planet!

polkingbeal67:

Do tell.

smolin9:

They’re calling it Kepler-22b.

polkingbeal67:

I quite like the name. Why are you livid?

smolin9:

Really? You like it? I think it’s ridiculous! Apparently, they named it after the telescope that spotted it. So, y’know, if an earthling discovers a pimple on the chin using a shaving mirror, what would he call it? Something like ikea-2c?

polkingbeal67:

Earthlings give names to their pimples?

smolin9:

No, they don’t give names to… Never mind. They’re also on the verge of discovering what they think is the final elementary particle, the one that gives mass to matter. They call it the Higgs bosun. Probably because it was spotted by a senior deckhand of a merchant ship captained by someone called Higgs.

polkingbeal67:

Now you’re being silly. So what is it? You’re mad about the name they’ve given our planet?

smolin9:

No. The thing is – they’re being incredibly rude. A number of their so-called scientists have been saying our planet can only support single-celled organisms. Bacteria, nothing else! They’re saying the only life on Morys is alien pond slime.

polkingbeal67:

Alien pond slime? Alien pond slime! Okay, that is rude.

smolin9:

The feed’s going funny again. Oh!

polkingbeal67:

What is it?

smolin9:

You’ve transformed into a muddy puddle on the ground.

polkingbeal67:

[splutter!] [gurgle!]

smolin9:

You’re nothing more than an unsightly thick green sludge, with a few bubbles forming. Better leave it there for now. Keep the wormhole open.

Investigator Diary 12.19.19.0.7:

smolin9:

I see you’ve sorted out the problem with the telepresence feed. It wasn’t easy talking to you when you looked like a pile of regurgitated pizza.

polkingbeal67:

What is pizza?

smolin9:

It’s a government-enforced source of nutrition here on Earth.

polkingbeal67:

Government-enforced?

smolin9:

Yeh. If the people don’t go out to eat it, it gets sent round to their dwellings. There’s no way they can avoid it.

polkingbeal67:

Interesting. Have you examined it?

smolin9:

I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but I tried to ingest some when I first landed on the planet. I was hungry and didn’t have time to prepare a food tablet.

polkingbeal67:

You tried to ingest it? How? Are you mad? Their digestive systems are nothing like ours!

smolin9:

Yeh, I soon found that out. Pizza doesn’t work very well as a suppository.

polkingbeal67:

Humans have stomach acids to dissolve their food. We don’t. I can’t believe you did that.

smolin9:

Believe me, I wish I hadn’t. It took me so long to pick out all the sticky cheese!

polkingbeal67:

According to our test results, the human stomach contains hydrochloric acid strong enough to dissolve metal.

smolin9:

Frankly I’m more surprised it can dissolve that cheese!

polkingbeal67:

You crazy prokaryote! Anyway, I told our revered leader about earthlings discovering our planet. He was not pleased to hear them describe it as ‘capable of sustaining nothing more than alien pond slime’. Not pleased at all. After what happened at Roswell, he said it was the last straw. So he took the invisibility cloak off the two planets vandalised by goopmutts after the Cassiopeia supernova party.

smolin9:

Oh! That explains something.

polkingbeal67:

Explains what?

smolin9:

I picked up some stuff on my microwocky – earthlings reporting the discovery of two roasted Earth-sized planets orbiting a sub dwarf B star …

polkingbeal67:

Oh, so they noticed then? Interesting. Do they know the planets were inhabited by humans?

smolin9:

I don’t think so.

polkingbeal67:

I don’t know why we have to be so sensitive about it anyway. It was collateral damage. A few green-snouted goopmutts had a few drinks and decided to go out shooting stars. These things happen.

smolin9:

Please try to remember we’re thinking of establishing a colony on Earth. It wouldn’t be very good diplomacy to ask them if they could put us up for a few eons and, by the way, we’re sorry their brother and sister planets were microwaved during an inter-galactic party we were hosting.

polkingbeal67:

Point taken, but actually I think the earthlings have got colonisation plans of their own. As you know, they set foot on their moon a short time ago. According to my microwocky, the words that marked the momentous event were: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind (Neil Armstrong).” Well it seems that it was thinly disguised code. It’s an anagram for: “Thin man left planet, ran, makes a large stride, pins flag on moon. On to Mars!”

smolin9:

But Mars is totally inhospitable to human life. It doesn’t have a molten core any more. But it feels like I have. Ew! Gotta go. Found some more cheese. Keep the wormhole open.

Investigator Diary 12.19.19.1.8:

Melinda:

Hello?

polkingbeal67:

smolin9?

Melinda:

No, I’m Melinda.

polkingbeal67:

Melinda? I don’t understand. Where’s smolin9?

Melinda:

He’ll be along shortly. He asked me to tell you to stick around till he gets here.

polkingbeal67:

Oh? But who are you?

Melinda:

I’m Melinda.

polkingbeal67:

Yes I know. You said. But… wait, are you an Earthling?

Melinda:

Yeh. Hi. Um, welcome to our planet, Sir. This is so erratic, isn’t it? Insane. Literally. Your alien buddy and I sort of made friends a few days ago and, well, you know.

polkingbeal67:

What? No, I don’t know. Okay, better wait for smolin9 then. Well, what shall we do in the meantime? What’s the protocol for this? I don’t have a flowchart for such an encounter. Er, do you want to exchange pleasantries?

Melinda:

Yeh. Isn’t this erratic? Literally.

polkingbeal67:

Okay. I’ll start. Um… Yo, s’up.

Melinda:

Ha ha! Insane! That’s really good. But relax. Literally. You don’t have to talk like us. Just be yourself. Y’know, I should really let smolin9 tell you this himself, but, well, we’re thinking of getting married.

polkingbeal67:

What! You can’t!

Melinda:

I know. I know. Literally. We hardly know each other. But…

polkingbeal67:

Never mind that. Your liaison is a flagrant breach of intergalactic law and conventions. A marriage is totally out of the question. You cannot do this!

Melinda:

But wouldn’t it be good for, y’know, interplanetary relations?

polkingbeal67:

Preposterous! He’s not like an earthling human. Did you know that? He’s using a biomimetic mutator, er, a device that transforms his appearance. You know what? You should both see somebody, urgently.

Melinda:

See who?

polkingbeal67:

A psychiatrist? I don’t know. An intergalactic, interspecies, inter…, inter…

Melinda:

Interferer?

polkingbeal67:

Intermediary. Oh help! I refuse to discuss this any further with you.

Melinda:

You want to go back to chitchat?

polkingbeal67:

Yes.

Melinda:

Okay.

polkingbeal67:

Okay. How are you? Specifically, please disclose the genetic weaknesses that run in your family.

Melinda:

Excuse me? Listen, can I get you a cup of tea or something?

polkingbeal67:

I’m sure you can. You appear to have moderate humanoid dexterity. However, I wouldn’t be able to drink it. This is a telepresence simulation. I’m a hologram.

Melinda:

Oh dear, I’m so sorry. That’s insane. It must be awful.

polkingbeal67:

No, no. There’s nothing wrong with me. It’s just, er, this isn’t really me. I’m not what I seem.

Melinda:

Yes, you seem a bit erratic. I hope you feel better soon. So, what’s the weather like there, on your, er, planet?

polkingbeal67:

Um, not bad. A few methane showers.

Melinda:

Right. Is that like…rain?

polkingbeal67:

Methane is an odourless gas produced by decomposition of organic materials in subsoils.

Melinda:

Right. Insane. Literally. So not really like our rain then. Anyway, it’s been good talking to you. Smolin9′s here now. I’ve got to go and wash my hair.

smolin9:

Oh good. You’re still here. And you’ve met Melinda.

polkingbeal67:

Yes, what on Morys Minor is going on? You bumbling bubble-head! You left me talking to an Earthling! Who is she? What’s going on? She’s been talking about marriage! Oh help! What just happened? I don’t feel well.

smolin9:

Calm down, p. It’s all good news. It’s fantastic! Melinda is the missing link.

polkingbeal67:

Between humans and apes?

smolin9:

No, between us and Voyager 1 verification. I’ve taken her into my confidence. She now understands all about us and she’s been very co-operative. I’ve managed to get incredible breakthrough information. I knew I was on to something when I heard her in the bathroom singing ‘Johnny B. Goode’ – the song that’s on the Voyager 1 golden record!

polkingbeal67:

I hate to tell you this, but I’ve done my research and there’s no way that woman is Chuck Berry.

smolin9:

No? Oh.

polkingbeal67:

And what’s all this marriage nonsense?

smolin9:

Well, we’ve become quite close in the short time we’ve known each other. She’s introduced me to all kinds of earthling culture. I’ve been reading their literature.

polkingbeal67:

Like what?

smolin9:

I read War And Peace – only took me five hours.

polkingbeal67:

Big deal. It’s only three words.

smolin9:

No, it’s… Oh, never mind. Anyway, there are strategic advantages to this marriage…

polkingbeal67:

You’ve said that before. Remember when you fell for that jellyfish?

smolin9:

Yes, I admit that was a mistake. But you get stung and you move on. Listen, Melinda played me samples of earthling wedding music and one of them was Bach’s Gavotte en Rondeau. The Voyager 1 golden disc again! It’s got to be a sign. But that’s not all. Believe it or not, Melinda says she knows Jimmy Carter and she’s going to introduce me to him! Put that in your microwocky and process it! Anyway, Melinda and I are going to a party. I’ll get back to you straight afterwards. Keep the wormhole open.

Investigator Diary 12.19.19.2.4:

Melinda:

Hello?

polkingbeal67:

Hello Melinda. Where’s smolin9?

Melinda:

He’s on his way. Before he gets here, there’s something I should tell you. Literally.

polkingbeal67:

Oh? How did the party go, by the way?

Melinda:

So erratic. Well, it was a fancy dress party and…

polkingbeal67:

Fancy dress? What did smolin9 go as?

Melinda:

Himself. Y’know, as an alien. Literally. Insane. He wore a full length cloak, but otherwise he was… well, he was smolin9.

polkingbeal67:

Oh no. Oh help. Did he cause panic and uproar and…?

Melinda:

No. No. It’s all right. There were three others who looked just the same as him.

polkingbeal67:

Oh yes, I see. Interesting. So, what was it you wanted to tell me?

Melinda:

Well, smolin9 and I are… well, we’re no longer an item.

polkingbeal67:

What? What does that even mean? You’re not on a list? You’re not a piece of information or news?

Melinda:

Ha ha. Insane! No, we’re not… well, put it this way – we’re not getting married any more.

polkingbeal67:

I’m not capable of unrestrained expressions of joy, but if I was, I’d be jerking my limbs about haphazardly and singing ‘Johnny B. Goode’ at the top of my voice. Er, sorry. What happened? Did you come to realise a union between different organisms of different species from different planets could never work?

Melinda:

No. He just got on my nerves. Literally. It all started at that party.

polkingbeal67:

Do tell.

Melinda:

Well, I introduced him to Jimmy Carter like he asked me to. I don’t know Jimmy very well. He’s just someone who lives on our estate. He sold my cousin a knock-off Xbox a while back. Literally. Anyway, Jimmy introduced smolin9 to another guy who turns out to be a real low life.

polkingbeal67:

Arthropod? Fungi?

Melinda:

Arthur who? You know him? Smolin9 thought he was a fun guy. I certainly didn’t. Literally. Anyway, this Arthur guy has been a really bad influence. Smolin9 has started behaving like him and talking liking him. Wait, here he comes. You’ll see for yourself. I’m off. It’s been totally erratic meeting you. Insane. Literally.

polkingbeal67:

Goodbye Melinda.

smolin9:

S’appenin bro? Mel tell yah ’bout us? Shame, innit. Know wot ah mean? Don’ worry. We’re cool. No yellin’ or ‘ittin’ or nuffin. Yah diggin’ me?

polkingbeal67:

What?

smolin9:

Ah is finkin’ dat stuff on da golden record maht be a bit iffy. Know wot ah mean? Ah mean, dat Jimmy Carter. ‘E knows nuffin’ ’bout Voyager. Nuffin’!

polkingbeal67:

I can hardly understand a word you’re saying. Is there a problem with the telepresence feed?

smolin9:

Nah! Don’ fink so. Hey p, ah is finkin of resignin’ ma job as spesh envoy and investigatah.

polkingbeal67:

Resigning? You crazy prokaryote! You can’t do that.

smolin9:

Why can’t ah den? Ah’s depressed abaht dis Jimmy Carter fing an’ all. I wants to jus’ do some chillin’ on da Erff fer a bit.

polkingbeal67:

Out of the question. You can’t quit now. I’ve stuck up for you all through this wretched mission. Against my better judgement, I might add. Ever since you and I first found the Voyager probe while we were spacecombing with that Mark III Zeplock mineral spotter, I’ve tried my best to keep you on the right path, but you keep letting me down. I’ve persuaded our revered leader to keep you in post despite all your vitalmados abuse. Don’t you see? Our reputations are at stake. Besides, I’ve done research and, curiously, humans don’t have unique names. So you see, your Jimmy Carter may not have been the right one! You must not give up now. Our planet is depending on you.

smolin9:

Wossup wiv you bro? Chill. Join me. It’d be bonkers down ‘ere on Erff knowin’ all da stuff we know, innit.

polkingbeal67:

Pull yourself together. Think of the great heroes of Morys Minor. Would achilles12 have given up on an assignment like this?

smolin9:

’Oo? Oh yeh, ’e waged war massive on dem Oovian chilloks and died of gangrene when dey burrowed into ’is ankles.

polkingbeal67:

And what about Joan5 of Ork?

smolin9:

Captured by carnivorous skavaks ‘n’ burned as a steak.

polkingbeal67:

Okay. What about custer3? Did custer3 quit at the Battle of the Greasy Crater?

smolin9:

Listen, bro. ‘E was torn to pieces by a fousand screamin’ goopmutts.

polkingbeal67:

Oh. Yes. Well, at least he didn’t quit.

smolin9:

Okay, okay. Ah’ll fink abaht it. Keep da worm’ole open.

Investigator Diary 12.19.19.3.12:

This report was not submitted on the due date.

The following is a note from the investigator’s colleague, polkingbeal67:

I can’t imagine what’s happened to smolin9. At the time of his last report, he’d fallen into bad company and was talking about resigning his post as special envoy and investigator. So it’s possible he could have defected. Not satisfied with being just a crazy prokaryote, he may now have become a traitorous collaborator. He could be helping a combined force of earthlings and chilloks prepare for an invasion of Morys even as I write this.

I knew this would happen. All this getting clingy with other life forms – it never comes to any good you know. Frankly, I don’t see why he can’t be like the rest of us and conduct relationships without getting all emotionally entangled. Well, I warned our revered leader against sending him to the planet. Obviously, it should have been me. Not that I’m bitter or anything. It’s just that, well, smolin9 is too sensitive. He has all that idiotic empathy thing. I’m from the mean craters of Morys Minor where even the goopmutts fear to tread. Speaking of goopmutts, here’s an example of why it should have been me and not smolin9:

There we were, spacecombing in the Centaurus galaxy shortly after we’d salvaged Voyager 1, when a young cadet called yukawa3 arrived. Our revered leader had sent him out to check the Voyager artifacts we had stowed away in the hold of the ship. He also warned us there had been reports of marauding goopmutts in the vicinity. That night, I was woken by the unmistakable sound of a warlike goopmutt scream. Yukawa3 and I jumped out of our sleeping pods and saw the crested silhouette of a goopmutt in smolin9′s pod. We were about to zap the pod with a couple of micro beam plasma blasts when we heard strains of ‘Johnny B. Goode’. It turns out smolin9 had intended to disguise himself as a goopmutt in the event that we came under attack. So he’d configured the settings on his mutator so that he only had to flick the ‘confirm’ switch and he’d promptly assume the appearance of a goopmutt. Meanwhile, he’d settled down with some vitalmados pills and was listening to the Voyager 1 golden record when Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 13 in B flat suddenly morphed into a trumpeting elephant. Smolin9 dropped the pills, knocked the mutator switch and got transformed into a goopmutt lookalike. His pathetic swearing was translated into the goopmutt screams that woke us up. Hardly a good example to set for a young cadet. But I’m not bitter.

I remember when we took Voyager back to Morys and our revered leader gave us the job of investigating the Pale Blue Dot. Obviously there was a lot of research to be done before we could make any sort of contact with the planet, so we tapped into communication networks and did our homework. Eventually, we abducted a mouse for analysis. According to the information we’d acquired, we should have been able to plug the thing into a computer as a pointing device. When we clamped its tail to a microwocky connector, however, the mouse started making high-pitched squeaking sounds and the cursor got stuck. Smolin9 felt sorry for it and wouldn’t let us disassemble the thing to get to the trackball. Right there, our revered leader should have known smolin9 was going to be a problem. But I’m not bitter. Really, I’m not.

Goodness knows what life-forms he’s empathising with now. Before he even got involved with earthling humans, he’d fallen in love with three dolphins, a baobob tree and a jellyfish. The bumbling bubble-head! He’s even started to resemble an earthling human without using a mutator. The last time we communicated via telepresence feed I swear I spotted incipient nails and some nasal hair. Which is strange because we don’t have noses.

Follow-up note from the investigator’s colleague, polkingbeal67:

In one of smolin9′s early reports, he mentioned deciphering primitive datagrams on his microwocky and communicating with earthlings using something called Facebook. After a bit of trouble, I found smolin9′s facebook page. Things are more serious than I thought. His last few status updates seem to dwell on the breakup of his relationship with Melinda. The last update he posted says he’s in a black hole staring into the abyss. So, it seems he’s left the Pale Blue Dot in some sort of craft and made a rather serious navigation error. I don’t know if we’ll ever hear from him again. But I’ll keep the wormhole open.

Investigator Diary 12.19.19.4.12:

polkingbeal67:

Smolin9? Is it you? You’re back! We thought you… I can’t believe… How did you…?

smolin9:

Hello p. Calm down, old buddy. What are you blathering about?

polkingbeal67:

Your facebook status said you were in a black hole staring into the abyss! How did you get away? We feared the worst, I’m afraid. I’ve just come from a meeting with our revered leader where I reported your untimely demise.

smolin9:

I didn’t know I was untimely demised. What does that even mean? Is it because I missed the last report? Listen, when I wrote about being in a black hole, I was talking metaphysically.

polkingbeal67:

You mean the age-old mystery surrounding the nature of matter, time and space at the heart of cosmology?

smolin9:

Uh, okay, in that case, I was talking metaphorically.

polkingbeal67:

You’ve lost me. Anyway, you’re obviously okay. So, why did you miss the last report?

smolin9:

Yes, I’m sorry about that. I was at the football.

polkingbeal67:

Football? Football! You neglected to deliver a report that’s vital to the survival of our species because you were at the football! It’s inconsequential! Football is irrelevant!

smolin9:

An elephant? Ha ha. An elephant is an earthling creature. You crack me up, p. No, football is a game in which two opposing teams of eleven players defend goals at opposite ends of a field, with points being scored by kicking the ball into the net attached to the opponents’ goal posts. Elephant! Ha ha.

polkingbeal67:

I didn’t say elephant, you crazy prokaryote! I know it’s a game. It could just as well be cricket, it doesn’t matter, the point is…

smolin9:

I see how you’re getting confused now, p. Cricket is a game but it’s also an earthling creature.

polkingbeal67:

You crazy… Wait, are you mocking me? You are, aren’t you? Instead of mocking me, don’t you think you should just submit your report so I can have something sensible to take back to our revered leader?

smolin9:

Okay, okay. Here’s my report. No, wait, mocking you is a lot more fun!

polkingbeal67:

Please!

smolin9:

Well, like I said, I was bonding with some earthlings and we went to this football match. It was strange. There was no atmosphere.

polkingbeal67:

It was isolated from the protective layer of gases that sustains life on the planet?

smolin9:

No, I mean… well, people usually like it when their team scores goals. But this was different. We were watching a team called Manchester City. By the way, you should check out their mascot! Where does that come from? Anyway, when a City player scored a goal, he seemed to be upset about it and revealed a message on his undershirt saying ‘Why always me?’ The supporters were also disturbed about it. They put their arms around each other and turned their backs to the pitch as if they couldn’t bear to look. What do you make of that, p?

polkingbeal67:

Interesting. Perhaps it’s some kind of collective emotional turmoil. Speaking of which, are you now compos mentis and dedicated to your investigation of the planet?

smolin9:

I don’t know. Why don’t you ask this duck I brought along with me?

polkingbeal67:

What duck? I don’t see a duck.

smolin9:

No? Has he gone? I must join him on the great migration.

polkingbeal67:

What?

smolin9:

I don’t think I’m completely recovered yet.

polkingbeal67:

Well, I notice you’ve at least reverted to talking properly. I could hardly understand a word you were saying last time. I’m sure you’re getting back on track. I look forward to your next scheduled report.

smolin9:

Ah. I can’t make the next one.

polkingbeal67:

What? Why not?

smolin9:

I’d miss the Arsenal match! Keep the wormhole open.

Investigator Diary 12.19.19.5.3:

This report was not submitted on the due date.

The following is a note from the investigator’s colleague, polkingbeal67:

Smolin9 said he’d miss this report. Well, he has. Apparently, watching earthlings dribbling spherical objects on a patch of monocotyledonous green plants is more important to him than securing the survival of an entire species of advanced sapient beings threatened with imminent extinction. He’s a loose cannon and he’s blown his last chance. If that crazy bubble-head thinks Mario Balotelli’s undershirts hold the clue to our successful colonisation on the Pale Blue Dot, well, he… I don’t know, words fail me! We can no longer entrust smolin9 with the sole responsibility for this planetary assessment and, thankfully, I’ve managed to persuade our revered leader that the mission requires the skills, expertise and objectivity that only I, polkingbeal67, possess. For the record, I entreated our revered leader to let me replace the bumbling prokaryote, but, apparently, for the sake of balance and alien affinity, I’m to join him and we’re to work together for a minimum of two uinals.

I’m preparing myself for wormhole travel tomorrow. I refuse to adopt smolin9′s low-key approach and I shall, of course, arrive wearing full Morys Minor battle dress with sherg-encrusted helmet. I intend to forge a new path for our people in a new world, a world of hope and optimism and boundless opportunity. It may be like looking for a needle at the tip of an iceberg, but I will find Jimmy Carter and we will smoke a pipe of vitalmados essence while we discuss the future of our peoples. I’ll get an official apology for Roswell! I’m so excited about it, I’m experiencing an unsettling release of endorphins and I’ve started talking in clichés and, as you know, I usually avoid clichés like the plague.

As for smolin9, I will curb his behaviour and rectify his errors. He won’t like it, but I shall put my foot down with a firm hand.

Set the controls for the Pale Blue Dot and keep the wormhole open!

Investigator Diary 12.19.19.5.18:

polkingbeal67:

This is polkingbeal67 reporting back to the mother planet from the Pale Blue Dot.

smolin9:

And me.

polkingbeal67:

And you?

smolin9:

I’m also reporting back. I was here before you, remember? I’m the one who did all the groundwork, patiently studying the life-forms and building up a network of useful contacts before you came blundering on the scene in full battle-dress and no cloaking device, terrifying two earthling humans and a dog walking in the park!

polkingbeal67:

That was no dog. It was a mutant goopmutt.

smolin9:

What do you mean? Of course it was a dog! It had five toes on its forefeet and four toes on its hind feet, with non-retractile claws. It was a domesticated carnivorous mammal of the family Canidae. It had a tail and it barked. It was a dog!

polkingbeal67:

It growled and bared its teeth, just like a goopmutt.

smolin9:

That’s what dogs do when they’re scared.

polkingbeal67:

You crazy prokaryote! It was a mutant goopmutt! Let me explain to you. If it was just a dog, why did the humans worship it?

smolin9:

What?

polkingbeal67:

They followed behind and collected its excrement. If that’s not worship, I don’t know what is!

smolin9:

So, you thought it was a mutant goopmutt, eh? Is that why you ran away?

polkingbeal67:

May I remind you that you ran too? In fact, you ran first.

smolin9:

I’m scared of dogs!

polkingbeal67:

You would never have outrun it anyway.

smolin9:

I didn’t need to outrun it.

polkingbeal67:

Why not?

smolin9:

I only needed to outrun you.

polkingbeal67:

Eh? Anyway, it was ridiculous – two proud warriors from Morys Minor running in abject terror from a mutant goopmutt!

smolin9:

Dog.

polkingbeal67:

Whatever.

smolin9:

Well, what I want to know is – why did it just keel over and die like that? You never told me. What did it die of?

polkingbeal67:

Oh, nothing serious.

smolin9:

Nothing serious? It died, didn’t it? I think that makes it quite serious for the dog.

polkingbeal67:

Goopmutt.

smolin9:

Did you shoot it?

polkingbeal67:

What? Of course not. Er, I used mind control. Have you never heard of psychological warfare?

smolin9:

You can’t actually physically kill something using psychological weapons!

polkingbeal67:

Bubblehead! I didn’t use mind control on the goopmutt. I used it on you.

smolin9:

Me?

polkingbeal67:

Yes. I fooled you into believing it was dead.

smolin9:

What!

polkingbeal67:

Okay, okay, I shot it! It kept coming up behind me and sniffing me!

smolin9:

I expect it was only trying to worship you!

polkingbeal67:

Okay, signing off. Keep the wormhole open.

Investigator Diary 12.19.19.6.16:

polkingbeal67:

This is polkingbeal67 reporting from the Pale Blue Dot. I don’t know where smolin9 is.

smolin9:

I’m here.

polkingbeal67:

You’re late. Where’ve you been?

smolin9:

You remember Melinda?

polkingbeal67:

Oh help. The earthling woman you nearly married?

smolin9:

Yes. We’re getting back together and we’re… you know, going to get married again. Well, not married again. You know what I mean. I know you don’t approve, but I still think it could be a defining moment in our alliance with this planet.

polkingbeal67:

Defining moment? I’d define the moment as demented, cracked, crazy, preposterous, screwball. And please remember I’m exercising a great deal of restraint here.

smolin9:

So you’re slowly coming round to the idea?

polkingbeal67:

You crazy prokaryote! I said restraint, not consent!

smolin9:

There’s a problem anyway. We may not be able to get married.

polkingbeal67:

Interesting. Why not? Not that I’m encouraging you or anything, but it should be easy enough. You meet her father, offer him six goats and a microwocky. Job done.

smolin9:

Well, there’s the physiological incompatibility thing. I mean our biological responses to each other are so, y’know, so irregular.

polkingbeal67:

What biological responses? I trust you’re not contemplating any kind of primitive carnal intimacy? What, without a test tube? I had low expectations of you, but this is just… Oh help. What will our revered leader say?

smolin9:

No, no, not carnal … whatever. But, as you know, earthlings rely on their sensory neurons and we use telesthesia. And when Melinda touches me, my energy field emits copious quantities of ammonium sulfide. The aroma of bad eggs hangs around for hours. Kind of ruins the mood.

polkingbeal67:

Well, let that be a lesson to you. I’ve always said feelings are like chemicals.

smolin9:

The more you excite them, the more animated you get?

polkingbeal67:

No, the more you analyse them, the worse they smell.

smolin9:

Well, anyway, what have you been up to? I haven’t seen you since the last report.

polkingbeal67:

While you’ve been enjoying your smelly liaisons, I’ve been putting this project back on the front foot.

smolin9:

You’ve been doing things back to front?

polkingbeal67:

I found Jimmy Carter and discovered he’s no longer President of the earthlings.

smolin9:

So the objective of our mission is rendered null and void? We have no one to negotiate with? Your idea of being on the front foot is clearly at odds with mine. Anyway, why didn’t you take me with you?

polkingbeal67:

There are times when you’ve just got to act on your own initiative and work independently without the input of your peers.

smolin9:

Well, did you speak to him?

polkingbeal67:

No point whatsoever. I’m so disappointed in him. Where’s the grand palace with its guards and white elephants and golden statues? This so-called earthling leader lives in a little single-storey structure in a pitiful little one-horse town called Plains, Georgia. He lives there anonymously with his wife Rosalynn. Just an anonymous couple in an anonymous house in an anonymous street that goes pretty much nowhere at all. The two of them sit together, anonymously promoting human rights. They hold hands a lot, teach Sunday School, publish poetry, memoirs and children’s books. Anonymously pathetic.

smolin9:

I don’t know. He sounds like a really nice earthling.

polkingbeal67:

Nice? Come on. What sort of leader is that? What would he have done if his planet had been invaded by hostile goopmutts? Apparently, during his term of office, he didn’t fire a single bullet. Never went to war. Never dropped a bomb. Never killed a single person. A completely dismal record.

smolin9:

Doesn’t that sound like someone you could negotiate with? I still think I’d like him.

polkingbeal67:

Bubblehead! War is its own reward. History shows you have to fight to achieve anything. Even peace. You really need to rediscover your dark side, smolin9. Well, now we’ve got to find the new leader and threaten him with the most despicable acts of violence. Then we’ll barter with him and discuss our people colonising his planet. By the way, where’s my tangy vitalmados pill? We left two of them here after the last report. One each. I’ve been really looking forward to it.

smolin9:

Ah, yes. Well, y’know, there are times when you’ve just got to act on your own initiative and work independently without the input of your peers. I never lost my dark side. Keep the wormhole open.

Investigator Diary 12.19.19.7.5:

polkingbeal67:

Please confirm you are the earthling leader.

President:

Who are you? How did you get in here? How did you bypass my security?

polkingbeal67:

We are envoys from a planet in the constellation of Cygnus. Your security was no match for our Craterkite cloaking devices. This conversation is being transmitted in real-time to our mother planet by means of a specially configured dark energy wormhole channel. Now will you please confirm you are the earthling leader, successor to Jimmy Carter.

President:

I am President of the United States of America. I am regarded as the Leader of the Free World.

polkingbeal67:

Only the Free World? Who is leader of the, er, captive, bit? Who captured them? Was it the goopmutts?

President:

The Leader of the Free World is a colloquialism. The United States of America is the main democratic superpower on Earth, so its president is effectively the leader of all the world’s democratic nation states. You people haven’t got Michelle, have you?

polkingbeal67:

Your shell? Are you a part-time crustacean?

smolin9:

He’s talking about his wife, p.

polkingbeal67:

His wife has a skeleton on the outside of her body? Wait! It rings a bell. Let me see. Ah yes, here in the briefing notes on my microwocky it says “serious issues include health insurance, unemployment and Shell.”

President:

Actually I had more problems with BP.

polkingbeal67:

Blood pressure? Interesting. No wonder you’ve got problems with health insurance.

President:

You know, you guys remind me of a famous movie of ours. Do you have droids? There was this droid called, I think, yes, R2-D2. I loved that little guy. I can do a passable impression, too. Would you like to hear it? Beep beep beedle beep whirr squeee pop beep beep beedle bop whirr.

polkingbeal67:

Leader of the Free World, you say?

President:

Er, yes, sorry. We’d better move this on. Shall we? What are your demands?

polkingbeal67:

Demands? Ah yes, well, we come from a planet called Morys Minor and our entire race is threatened with extinction at the end of the katun cycle. We’re responding to an invitation from your predecessor, Jimmy Carter. He sent us a golden record by space probe. It wasn’t properly addressed. We found it drifting around aimlessly in the Centaurus galaxy. It’s a wonder we found it at all. Anyway, we want to colonise your planet and if you resist we’ll blow you to bits!

smolin9:

Give him a chance, p! Oh, and ask him if I can have a souvenir from the White House. An ashtray or something?

President:

Hang on. President Carter extended the hand of friendship to you and you want to take that hand and bite it?

polkingbeal67:

Oh, don’t tell me you don’t want to fight! Oh help. You’re just as bad as Carter. What is wrong with you earthlings? Whatever happened to blood and glory? Take over, smolin9 – do it your way. I’ve tried to reach out to these people in a spirit of honourable hostility and mutual loathing, but it’s no use.

President:

You know, you should be aware that I don’t necessarily oppose war. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to defend my people against threats from foreign, er, worlds. But, you know what? I’ve been going through an evolution on this issue and, you know, we could absolutely embrace visitors to this planet provided we share common principles of justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human, er, humanoid beings.

polkingbeal67:

Unlikely. But go on.

President:

You know, it’s interesting. You’ve made several references to things on your planet that are peculiar to us here on Earth. Katun cycles, for example. That’s a reference to a calendar, right? Something to do with the Mayans – an old and famous civilisation right here on this planet. Oh yes, and the name of your planet. Well, it appears to share its name, rather bizarrely I suppose, with a small British car, now obsolete. You know, it seems to me we have some curious things in common.

polkingbeal67:

Preposterous! Our calendar was introduced by our revered leader shortly after he appeared on Morys about two thousand Earth years ago. We rename our planet at the beginning of every katun and we often use information gleaned from abductees for this purpose. We ask them to name things they’re most proud of.

President:

So you do abduct people? I always thought those people were fantasists.

polkingbeal67:

Oh help, of course we abduct people. And not just from your planet.

President:

Anyway, I think we have some common ground. How would it be if I was to set up an International Negotiating Committee for a Framework Convention on Interplanetary Integration? After some exploratory meetings, we could have a series of summits at the United Nations to establish the terms of reference for establishing a road map for peaceful transition.

polkingbeal67:

Oh no! Oh help! Are you sure you don’t want to fight?

smolin9:

Mister President, could we get all this committee integration thing done quickly?

President:

Not till after my election. After my election I’ll have more flexibility.

polkingbeal67:

Out of the question. We can’t wait that long! Sir, you should prepare for war! My people will have revenge for Roswell! I don’t know how you earthlings make these things official. Ah yes, I know – terms and conditions apply! There, I’ve said it.

smolin9:

I suppose an ashtray is now out of the question?

polkingbeal67:

Come along, smolin9. Terminating this report. Keep the wormhole open.

Investigator Diary 12.19.19.7.18:

smolin9:

Are you there, p?

polkingbeal67:

Well, you’re looking at a virtual-holographic representation of me. Does that count?

smolin9:

Yeh, I’m pretty sure I know why, but, for the sake of clarifying things for the readers of this report, perhaps you’d like to explain why you’ve left Earth and you’re now back on Morys?

polkingbeal67:

Well, I… I was recalled by our revered leader, uh, summoned for an urgent special consultation. So, yeh, hi.

smolin9:

Special consultation, eh? Let me see. Would that by any chance have something to do with you declaring war on Earth without, you know, any authorisation whatsoever? I’m sorry. This must be so embarrassing for you.

polkingbeal67:

Not at all. Why are you smirking like that? I was quite within my rights. Anyway, the war became irrelevant after I shrewdly deduced what is really happening on that god-forsaken globe of rubble you’re so fond of.

smolin9:

What do you mean? What is going on?

polkingbeal67:

Well, if you didn’t have your silly bobbly head immersed in football and skateboarding, you’d have noticed that any attempts by us to colonise the Pale Blue Dot would be undermined by Oovian chilloks.

smolin9:

Chilloks? Are you kidding? What are you talking about?

polkingbeal67:

As I informed our revered leader, the chilloks have infiltrated the Pale Blue Dot in their billions and they’re poised to seize control at any moment.

smolin9:

Chilloks! Seize control? Are we talking about the same things? FYI, the chilloks have been on Earth for several millennia. They’re tiny, meek, docile, unassuming creatures that pose no threat whatsoever. Their mutator technology is primitive and they can’t transform themselves into other life forms. Even earthlings can control them with insecticides, like ant powder! Are you serious? Did you really use the chilloks to pull the wool over the eyes of our revered leader? You must have been really desperate to avoid a charge of unauthorised warmongering. What did he say?

polkingbeal67:

You crazy prokaryote! If you must know, our revered leader thanked me effusively and presided at a banquet in my honour. Between you and me, I think I’m in line for an Oppenheimer938 Prize. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure there’s a footnote about you in my acceptance speech. Mm? You’re welcome. Our revered leader totally agrees with me about the chilloks. Their mutator techniques are improving, you know. Already they can carry more than their body weight.

smolin9:

So you’re saying there are going to be mut-ants that become gi-ants?

polkingbeal67:

What? Yes. Anyway, there are about one million of them to every human! Who knows how powerful they can become?

smolin9:

And our revered leader actually believes they’re a threat to the planet?

polkingbeal67:

Oh help, yes. He totally expects them to claim the Pale Blue Dot any time now. He made a speech – something about the meek inheriting the Earth. Besides, there are other factors. The Milky Way galaxy is on track to collide with the Andromeda galaxy.

smolin9:

Yes. But not for about four billion years! By that time, our descendants will probably be able to steer it!

polkingbeal67:

I’m appalled you can be so dismissive. Look, it’s really serious.

smolin9:

Yeh, now there’s a thought – maybe I should encourage my descendants to be lawyers. Galaxies colliding? Just think of all the whiplash injuries! Wait, does that mean my mission is finished?

polkingbeal67:

I was coming to that. Uh, you might want to sit down.

smolin9:

Why? Oh no, I can sense the onset of a colon-hyphen-left-parenthesis moment.

polkingbeal67:

Huh? Your orders are to return to Morys immediately. After a thorough de-briefing, you’ll be sent out to assist yukawa3 who’s investigating a planet in the Kolosimo 922 system.

smolin9:

But I was going to get married on Saturday! I must speak to Melinda.

polkingbeal67:

Bubblehead! It’s out of the question! It’s so unnatural. Absurd. Stop thinking with your heart! It’s ridiculous. Do my eyes speak? Do my hands see? Do my feet smell?

smolin9:

Well, since you mention it…

polkingbeal67:

What? You know that whole interplanetary relationship thing gives me nightmares! Anyway, you’ve got a whole lifetime of asinine relationships ahead of you. How can you expect to be truly happy with a woman who insists on treating you as if you were a perfectly normal human being? The portal is all set for your return. Please prepare immediately.

smolin9:

Couldn’t I stay here and be like king of the ants? I’d be really nice and kind-hearted to my subjects. I wouldn’t be a tyr-ant. Ha ha. No, I wouldn’t walk all over them. Ha ha ha ha. Okay, okay, I’m getting ready. But I’ve got unfinished business here, so keep the wormhole open.

Investigator Diary 12.19.19.8.3:

This is not an official report by the investigator. It was transmitted by an earthling a short time after the planet investigation was terminated. The Commission decided to retain it as part of the record for reasons that will become clear.

Hello? I don’t know if anyone can hear me out there. My name is Melinda Hill and I’m speaking to you from Camden Town. That’s in London on, um, Earth. Yeh, erratic, isn’t it? I’m a friend, well, fiancée actually, of smolin9′s. He left this microwocky thingy behind when he left. I used to watch what he did with it when he used to send his reports. So, I know it’s insane, but I’m hoping to get a sort of message through to him. He said he used a wormhole or something, but to be careful with it because it involved sub-atomic forces – like radiation and stuff. Wow! How erratic is that! There must be some bright worms out there! Ha ha. In more ways than one! It does my head in, all this time travel and so on. Perhaps none of this has actually happened yet! Literally. Totally erratic.

Anyway, you don’t want to hear me wittering on, so I’ll get to the point. Since I met smolin9, I’ve contacted other people who have met aliens like you. Sorry, do you mind if I call you aliens? I know you come from a planet called Morys Minor, so maybe I should call you Mortians or Minors or something. Ha ha. Insane. Mortians! I’ve spoken to abductees and all sorts. I think they’re incredibly brave to come out about their encounters. I know for a fact the American President has met smolin9 and polkingbeal67, but there’s no way we’ll ever get to hear about it. It’s like, y’know, you’re so tempted to share your experience with other people, but, well, let’s just say they’d give you such a hard time over it. Lots of the abductees seem to have had bad experiences, but I must say, in your defence, well, you guys are really cool. Yeh, mostly. I mean polkingbeal67 is a bit like a gorilla on amphetamines, but I suppose he’s okay when you get to know him. Anyway, it’s totally erratic to know there’s intelligent life on other worlds. Sometimes I wonder if there’s any intelligent life here on Earth! Ha ha. Totally. I love all you guys up there!

Anyway, if this message gets through to you, smolin9, I want you to know I feel terrible about being a jilted bride, but I’m not angry with you. I can’t possibly understand your life but I know you’d have been there if you could have been. And I know it will have been as hard for you as it has been for me.

Obviously, I got to know your human transformation best, but right now I’m thinking of you as your true self. Literally. I’m thinking of those big, soulful, inky-black eyes and I’m imagining I see tears in them. We have a famous film here where one of the characters is a tin man who goes off to find a wizard who might give him a heart. The wizard tells him he’d be better off without one and in the end the tin man says: “Now I know I’ve got a heart, ’cause it’s breaking.”

Well, I know you didn’t like us much to start with, but, eventually, you said you wanted to be more like us. It’s insane, but I came to understand that you already were quite like us. You had whatever that thing is that we call humanity. You just had to tap into it. Literally. And it was beautiful. And I bet, like the tin man, you’re wishing you hadn’t found it, ’cause it’s hurting you like hell now.

Ugh! Sorry, there seem to be ants everywhere here! So, anyway, I’ve got to go – I left something cooking. And no, it’s not a frying saucer! Ha ha. Insane. I’m glad you touched my life. Totally. It was erratic and I loved every moment. Oh, what’s that?

smolin9:

[crackle] [hiss] Hello?

Melinda:

What? Is somebody there? Hello?

smolin9:

[crackle] Is that you, Melinda? We just picked up the signal. I’ve been tuned to your hyper spatial coordinates for ages waiting for you to make contact!

Melinda:

Wow! Erratic or what? Hi, how are you?

smolin9:

I’m fine. Listen, we’re all set up to get married over this wormhole comms link. Our revered leader is here and he’s happy to officiate. And polkingbeal67 is here as a witness.

Melinda:

What? But I… I haven’t…I’d have to get my dress and…

smolin9:

We haven’t got time for any of that. This has to happen now. Are you happy to go ahead?

Melinda:

No. Well, yes. Okay. This is insane, but go ahead, yes!

polkingbeal67:

Can I just say I object most strongly to this union? As far as I’m concerned, smolin9, something terrible must have happened to you during the quantum entanglement process of your visit to the Pale Blue Dot. Are you sure your electrons are okay?

smolin9:

I’m positive. Let’s get on.

Leader:

Do you, Melinda Hill, take this interdimensional being, smolin9, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better and for worse, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till wormhole DNA mutation or death do you part?

Melinda:

Wormhole DNA what now? Okay, whatever. I do.

Leader:

Do you, smolin9, take this earthling woman, Melinda Hill, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better and for worse, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till wormhole DNA mutation or death do you part?

polkingbeal67:

Please don’t.

smolin9:

I do.

polkingbeal67:

Oh help.

Leader:

By the power vested in me by intergalactic law, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now transmit a holographic image of yourself to kiss the bride.

Melinda:

This is just unbelievable. Literally.

smolin9:

Keep my skateboard polished till I get leave to visit Earth again! You’d better free up the channel now.

Melinda:

No, you hang up! Ha ha. Literally. Keep the wormhole open!


INVESTIGATION CLOSED

2

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