A dapper man picked up a penny. He tossed it the air, but it fell. He never caught it. A spankled girl kicked up her skirts. They tangled about her legs, and she tumbled. A tired child opened is mouth. He cried out, but no sound came. No sound came. Sometimes nothing falls. Sometimes nothing lands. Sometimes nothing comes at all.
It is useless to try to explain that to the Thing. They don't understand cause and effect, you see. That is another dapper man, Commander Hollis, trying to explain. They don't understand us, and we don't understand them. The Thing have been here about three years. At least that's how long it's been since they made contact with us. They may have been here longer, but didn't say anything. Like guests at a party where you don't know the host, and are not sure you're at the right house, and cannot be confident of your welcome. But maybe you like the hors d'oeuves, and the free drinks, and a warm place to spend an evening. Sometimes I think that's the way with the Thing. They looked stunned sometimes to be here, like they're not sure they're on the right planet. But it's a long way to the next one, at least the next with the things they need, water, and mercury (this is what Commander Hollis tries to explain), and phosphorus, and people. But there are elements are all over the galaxy, Lesh tried to argue once. Lesh styles himself a scientist, and he likes to brag that he knows his periodic table, and that he never forgets things. But Hollis just gives him a baleful stare, which is not unlike the stare the Thing give us, I think when they are considering phosphorus. Liquid water is key, and phosphorus has to be in a form they can use (like bananas, I thought without saying, but I'd been like that lately, having silly thought that had nothing, really, whatsoever, to do with the Thing). They want to learn from us. So they claim. Commander Hollis said this, and I thought it myself, that last bit, about claiming. Because the Thing didn't look particularly interested when we spoke, when -- I should correct myself -- our Best Scientists - spoke, to them, waving around all kinds of charts and diagrams and scatter plots. Sometimes they looked more entertained when the TV was on, and


Want to comment? Login or Join

Login Sign up

ww7 (joined almost 6 years ago)

No favorites

Story information


Creative Commons Attribution 3.0


The dapper man picked up a penny.
Prompt suggested by CraigTowsley


We like you. Say "Hi."