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“You know that your Dad will kill us when he finds out, don’t you?”

“He won’t find out because he has completely forgotten about it. It’s been sitting in the garage for the last three years. It was literally full of dust, dude.”

Mark and Spencer were two smart and brilliant kids who loved to break the rules, like all teenagers.

They met when they were both six, when Mark had moved to Austin, next door to Spencer. They didn’t get along so much in the very early days; well, they didn’t get along at all. Mark was a stubborn, bossy kid and Spencer was even bossier than him.

The first time they tested their tempers was the day after Mark had moved in. Spencer had been outside on his bike, but stopped to stare at Mark as he helped his father bring some boxes inside. Mark doesn’t like people staring at him, especially strangers, so he had approached Spencer with a wide toothless smile.

“You know that you’ve got a very nice bike, don’t you? What’s your name?”

“I’m Spencer. You?”

“I’m Mark, nice to meet you.” He stretched out his arm to shake Spencer’s hand.

“Nice to meet you too,” Spencer replied, stretching out his arm as well. “I got this bike for my birthday. Do you want to ride it?”

“Yeah, I’d love to!” He grinned, still shaking hands.

“Well, you can’t because you’re a stupid scumbag!” Spencer tried to bike away, but didn’t realize that Mark still had a tight hold on his hand.

“I’m a strong stupid scumbag, you little kid!” Mark pulled him away from his bike with such strength that Spencer just dropped to the ground, hitting the pavement with his right shoulder. Mark kicked the bike and ran back to his house.

That was their first encounter.

“Did you bring the corkscrew, stupid monkey?” Mark was walking through the park, lighting the way with a torch. Spencer fumbled through his backpack, searching for a corkscrew.

“Here we are.” Mark paused to look around. “Let’s sit over there, under the lamp post.”

Mark and Spencer were at summer camp. They weren’t allowed to wander around after 11:00pm, but had decided to sneak out anyway. To make matters worse, they had a whole bottle of red wine just for themselves.

“Spence, I told you to grab the corkscrew at the canteen! Why don’t you just follow my orders, soldier?” Mark slapped the back of his neck.

“Shut up, idiot! I’ve just lost it. Maybe I dropped it when we jumped the fence.”

“You should have dropped your brain instead.”

“Wait, I’ve found it.” Spencer took out what looked like half of a corkscrew.

“Are you stupid or what? Without the cork part, that screw is as useless as a fork for soup.” Mark grabbed the screw and pulled away.

“Stop it! You’re too narrow-minded to get it. I think outside the box – I’ll show you how a screw can transform into a corkscrew.”

Spencer took the screw back, stuck it into the cork and put a hand in his pocket, searching for something.

“Ta-dah! My magic wand.” He proudly raised his Swiss Army knife.

“Look at you! What the hell are you going to do with that? Are you unscrewing the bottle?” Mark laughed and passed him the bottle. “Show me your tricks, you wizard.”

Spencer twisted the screw in about two-thirds of the way. “I’ll show you some magic now.” He opened the plier on his Swiss Army knife. Then he used the neck of the bottle as a fulcrum and began to push the plier down. Little by little, the cork was coming off the bottle.

“Okay, I need your help now. Grab the bottle and don’t let it go. I need you to hold on tight.” Spencer levered the bottle with the plier, twisting and pulling. The cork began to squeeze out of the bottle.

“Spencer, you’re great! Don’t stop now, keep going.” Mark was bending over the bottle, grasping it between his legs when Spencer tore off the cork from the neck, scratching his forehead.

“Are you crazy? You almost popped my eyes out with that thing!” Mark put his hand on his forehead protectively. “Look at that, you even didn’t manage to pull the whole cork out!” He pointed at the half-cork stuck in the bottleneck.

“It’s okay, I’ll just push it inside. That was the original plan.” Spencer pushed the cork until it just sunk into the wine. The bottle was finally open, more or less. “See? Now we can drink!” Spencer raised the bottle and took a deep sip.

“Look at you, alcoholic. Leave some for me!” Mark snatched the bottle back and took a longer sip.

They were drinking their wine sitting on a wooden bench, under a solitary buzzing lamppost. The night was dark and silent, and the camp was far in the distance.

“Have you seen Gerard? His ass is so fat that he couldn’t even jump the rope three times in a row this morning.” Mark raised the bottle against the light, searching for leftover bits of the cork.

“He’s not fat, he’s just got big bones!” They both laughed loudly, breaking the silence. The kids were drinking and laughing, then drinking again. They had gotten pretty tipsy already.

“Hey, let’s finish the wine already. It’s quite late and I’m on the breakfast shift tomorrow. The last sip is yours. Take it and then let’s head back to...” Spencer suddenly saw a small globe of light in the distance, heading towards them at a very high speed. “Oh geez! Look at that, we’ve been targeted by a nuclear missile!”

“Spence, you’re drunk. There is no damn missile coming here. Look!” he turned his head and pointed at a random point in the air. “There’s nothing there, we’re fine.”

“You can’t even see where you’re pointing. Look at THAT!” Spencer grabbed his shoulder and turned him toward the light. Now they could both see the strange shiny thing. “You see it?”

“It’s pointing at us! Let’s get out of here!” They got up to run, but the flying object stopped in mid-air all of a sudden.

“Wait, it stopped.” Mark grabbed Spencer by his jacket.

“Let me go! I want to get out of here.” Spencer tried to free himself from his friend’s grasp.

“Relax, let’s just see what happens. That thing is landing. It’s not a missile, it’s a UFO!”

“I don’t care what that damn thing is, I want to leave!” Spencer freed himself from Mark’s grip and started to run away.

“You coward! I’ll get a closer look. Maybe it’ll give us a fancy alien lightsaber!” Mark began to head in the opposite direction, towards the light.

“Mark, where are you going?” His friend disappeared into the dark, leaving Spencer alone. “Stupid idiot, I know you’ll get us in a deep trouble this time.” Spencer stopped and turned on his heels. “I know I’m gonna regret this,” he sighed, before running back to his friend.

The light stopped its descent and froze in mid-air, silent and unmoving. Mark made his way through the spiky shrubbery until he reached the light. Spencer was just a few feet behind him.

“Mark, don’t get too close, I’m coming!” Spencer shouted in the distance. “Wait for me, you fool!”

Mark was astonished by the perfection of the glowing sphere. It was the most perfectly round thing he’d ever seen in his whole life. He was hypnotized by the strange object. He didn’t realize that Spencer was shaking his right arm.

“Mark, wake up, let’s get out of here!”

“Quit acting like a baby, can’t you see it’s safe? Can’t you feel it? Stop whining and take a proper look.”

“I don’t want to look at the damn thing, I just want to get out of here.”

The sphere emitted a low and deep energy pulse that stunned the kids, who suddenly fell on the ground. When they got up, the sphere was floating just two inches above the ground, emitting no sound at all.

“Mark, I think we’re just drunk as hell and this is a dream... or a nightmare. Tomorrow, we’ll wake up with terrible hangovers and I’ll be late for the breakfast shift!”

“Shut up and let’s see if that thing is real or not.” Mark kicked the sphere. It buzzed and shook in the air. “Okay, maybe you’re right. We’re just drunk. Let’s go.” He turned his back, but the sphere emitted a kind of screech. Then the upper part floated up and the lower half sprouted four tiny legs that grew till they hit the ground.

“Dude, you’ve broken the UFO!” Spencer laughed, still sitting on the ground.

A small greenish light began to pulse between the two halves. “ਅਸੀਂ ਕਿੱਥੇ ਸਥਿਤ ਹਾਂ?”

“It can talk! Mark, did you hear that?!”

“What the hell did it just say? Hey Mr. Spaceman, can you understand us?”

“Peb nyob qhov twg? Waar is ons? Gdzie jesteśmy? Unde suntem?”

“Spence, I think it’s broken.”

“Hvar erum við staðsett? Cá bhfuil muid lonnaithe? Hvor er vi placeret? Where are we?”

“Yeah, where are we! Where are we! Did you hear that, Mark? It just needed to tune into our language, I guess.”

“Language detected: English. Confirm correct language?”

“Yeah, that’s right. Can you understand us? My name’s Mark and he’s Spencer. What’s your name?”

“Greetings, Mark. Greetings, Spencer. My name is P4U7. I am a scout probe sent by a Class-E mothership. Our goal is to find planets that we can convert into outposts.”

“Oh cool! So, you’re a kind of sentinel searching for a place to rest, right?”

“No, Mark. We are searching for a place to conquer and use until we have drained all the available resources.”

“That means you’re going to kill us all? You know that we have armies and nuclear missiles, right? What do you have, you stupid robo-probe?” Spencer jumped up, putting his hands on his hips.

“We do not kill species with superior intelligence. We respect intelligent life. That is my purpose, to test whether there is intelligent life on this planet. Can you speak on behalf of your species? Are you allowed to be tested?”

“Yes, we are, P4U7. We are two of the smartest inhabitants on this planet.” Mark laughed at Spencer’s words.

“I am happy to hear that. We can start the test now. I will ask you ten questions related to the human level of cultural and technological development. If you can answer six questions correctly, your species will be considered intelligent and we will leave. If not, we will take the planet. You are not allowed to use any external devices and all communication has been blocked for five miles. Are you ready for the test?”

“Yes, we are,” they answered in unison.

“Question number one. Which is heavier: a pound of straw or a pound of pure gold? It’s the volume that’s different. You have fifteen minutes to answer.” P4U7 was glowing with a yellowish light.

“Obviously, pure gold is heavier!” Mark answered proudly.

“Are you drunk or just stupid? They have the same weight, you idiot! From now on, I’ll be the one who gives the final answers, okay?”

“Twelve minutes left.”

“We are ready to answer, P4U7.”

“What is your answer, Spencer?”

“The answer is: they have the same weight, but you’d need a lot more straw than gold.”

The probe glowed with a blueish light. “Your first answer is right. Let’s move onto the second question.”

“Phew, you lucky little kid!”

“You fool, stop answering! You’re too drunk. I don’t want to exterminate all humans because of your crazy answers.” Spencer grinned at his friend.

“The second question is: it dives into water, but it doesn’t get wet. It runs into fire, but it doesn’t burn. It goes into wine and it’s ruined forever. What is it?”

“Dude, he just said wine! He knows we’re drunk as hell!” Mark was so messed up that he couldn’t stand on his feet.

“Look, I know this isn’t real, but please help me and let’s end this dream. I want to wake up already!”

“Okay, I’ll concentrate really hard so my nose bleeds wine.” Mark couldn’t help but laugh at his own silly joke.

“Let’s just brainstorm. There is something that doesn’t get wet and doesn’t burn, but it’s spoiled by wine. What’s that?”

“It’s my liver!” Mark exploded into a hearty laugh.

“You are useless, you donk!” Spencer was upset at his friend’s behavior. “Fine, I’ll do it all by myself, just stay there and shut up. Well, let’s start with fire. Basically anything can get burnt. Anything but fire! But fire can’t go into water... Okay, it’s not fire.” Spencer was walking in a circle mumbling hypothetical answers.

“Ten minutes left.”

“Great, five minutes wasted because I’m stuck with a drunk idiot.”

“I know the answer – it’s water! Water doesn’t get burnt! Let me answer, Spence.”

“I told you to shut up! Does water get wet if you put in more water? Yes it does, so it’s not water.” Spencer silenced his friend. “Let me think. Air! Air can’t get burnt, and air doesn’t get wet if you put it into water because it’s a gas so it’ll just float away in bubbles. But the wine bit? It doesn’t make any sense...”

“Six minutes left.” The light from P4U7 turned from yellowish to orange.

“Damn, it’s orange! Six minutes left and no clues. Think, Spencer, think! Maybe it’s a brick, or a bottle, or some kind of alien material! What the hell doesn’t get burnt, doesn’t get wet, but is ruined by wine?!” Spencer became more and more anxious, and didn’t notice that Mark had been waving around his hand for a while. “What the hell do you want?!”

“I know the answer, and it is... water!”

“Oh geez, can you just stop?! I’m trying to solve this riddle and you keep saying the same stupid stuff.”

“No, Spence, I’m right. Last Christmas, I heard my Uncle Wilson saying ‘Don’t spoil the red wine with that stuff, it’s a very expensive French bottle’.”

“Dude, I don’t get the link between an alien riddle and your drunk uncle.”

“It’s water! But like really cold water, the frozen stuff... What’s it called when water is really cold?”

“ICE! You are a genius! It doesn’t get wet, it doesn’t get burnt – and if you put ice cubes in wine, the wine gets watered down and ruined.” Spencer hugged his friend. “I knew you weren’t totally stupid!”

“Three minutes left.” P4U7’s light turned from orange to red.

“I’ve got the answer: it’s ice.”

The probe glowed blue. “Your second answer is right. Let’s move onto the third question.”

“Phew! Man, that was close. Thanks, Mark. Hang in there.”

“The third question is: is it possible to draw four equilateral triangles of the same size, with just six segments of the same length?”

“That’s easy! Leave this one to me, Spence. I’m the master of geometry.” Mark staggered to his feet for twenty seconds, then fell down again. “I’m too drunk to stand up, I’ll help you from here,” he announced, patting the soil with both hands.

“Okay, let’s do it together, it’ll be easier. It’s all about geometry and drawing. We can use twigs like pencils to draw on the ground. We need to draw as many combinations as possible.”

They started to draw all kind of triangles in different combinations.

“Six minutes left.” P4U7’s light turned from yellowish to orange.

“Come on, dude, think of something! It’s already turned orange.” Spencer was scribbling frantically on the ground with his twig.

“I’ve got it!” Mark shouted, quickly drawing shapes in the dirt.

“Mark, I thank you so much for your efforts, but these aren’t right. The first one has four equilateral triangles but they are made of nine segments; the second one has four identical triangles but they aren’t equilateral; the third one has six equilateral triangles and a hexagon. We are missing something, I know, but what?”

“Three minutes left.” P4U7’s light turned from orange to red.

“Is this even possible, Spence? Maybe it’s a trick and it’s just impossible. Yeah, maybe the probe is tricking us! Just say it’s not possible and let’s see what happens.”

“One minute left.” P4U7’s light turned from red to purple.

“Purple? We’re screwed! I’m sure it’s not a trick, we’re just missing something. But what?!” In a fit of anger, Spencer stabbed the twig into the ground. He was about to give up when he suddenly looked at the twig again. “Wait, it can be done! P4U7, our answer is yes, it is possible to draw four equilateral triangles with six segments of equal length.”

The probe glowed blue. “Your third answer is right. Let’s move onto the fourth question.”

“I can’t believe you! Lucky monkey, how did you figure it out?”

“Look at that.” Spencer pointed at the twig. “What do you see?”

“I see a twig stuck in the ground. What do YOU see, Spence?”

“I see the third dimension! We were thinking inside the box, but I live outside that damn box! A tetrahedron was the answer – a 3D figure formed by four equilateral triangles, made out of six edges of the same length.”

“Boom! That’s mind-blowing!” Mark laughed in amazement. “My brain has literally melted.”

“We’ve got three out of three. I’m on fire, my friend!”

“The fourth question is: what happened at the Moore’s Pub in Liverpool, between Clarence Street and Brownlow Hill at 2:34pm on December 25th, 1960?”

“A pub in Liverpool in 1960? What kind of question is that? Mark, do you know what happened in Liverpool in 1960?”

“Of course I do, I was there.” Mark replied sarcastically.

“Liverpool 1960… The only thing I know about Liverpool is that it’s where The Beatles are from. Maybe it was a special day for the Beatles, or the day they met for the first time?”

“Spence, this is definitely a dream. Where else would there be an alien probe asking about Beatles trivia?”

“Maybe they studied us and realized it’s a big part of our music history. I bet it’s some important Beatles event.”

“Yeah, but what kind of event? We can’t even search online. We’re completely cut off!” Mark put his head in his hands.

“Look, we’re not stupid, we can get through this without the internet. We just need to think about the question! It was a pub, in Liverpool at 2:34pm, in 1960.”

“If I was John Lennon, I would’ve asked for a pint.”

“You’re a drunk, stupid monkey even in your own imagination.”

“Six minutes left.” P4U7’s light turned from yellowish to orange.

“Time moves very quickly when you don’t know the answer, eh Spencer?”

“Why don’t you just shut up? It’d be the greatest gift to my mental health right now.”

“Greatest gift…,” Mark mumbled drunkenly under his breath. “GREATEST GIFT! Spence, I know the answer!” He laughed so loudly that some birds flew out of the nearby trees.

“Three minutes left.” P4U7’s light turned from orange to red.

“What is it, Mark? Let’s hear your latest dumb answer.”

“Come on, I can’t believe you haven’t figure it out yet. What happened in that pub and in the whole city of Liverpool on December 25th, 1960?”

“If I knew, I would’ve answered twelve minutes ago. Please just tell me already!”

“Christmas Day!” Mark shouted, raising both arms in victory.

“You’re right! That stupid probe gave us a lot of useless information to hide the only fact we actually needed.” Spencer turned to the probe and gave the answer.

The probe glowed blue. “Your fourth answer is right. Let’s move onto the fifth question.”

“Spence, who cares about the internet when you’ve got this?” Mark pointed at his own head.

“Yeah, a head full of wine!” Spencer replied, grinning.

“The fifth question is: I’m everywhere in outer space, but if you call me, I will be nowhere.”

“Okay, that one’s a thousand miles away from my skills. I quit, Spence.”

“I know you’re drunk, stupid and tired, but I still need your help. We just need to answer two more questions right and we’ll be out of this!”

“I’m not stupid! I’m just drunk and tired.” Mark snarled.

“Let’s just think about the question. We know that all the questions have been tricky so far. We just need to focus on exactly what it said and we’ll figure it out. Let’s start with the first part: what is everywhere in outer space?”

“The universe, of course.”

“Yes, the universe is everywhere, but if I call it, I won’t make it disappear, will I?”

“No, you won’t,” frowned Mark.

“No, I won’t. So stop spitting out the first thing that pops into your mind and let’s actually focus for a minute, thank you.”

They were silent for a couple of minutes, trying hard to solve the riddle in their minds.

“Six minutes left.” P4U7’s light turned from yellowish to orange.

“Don’t get distracted by the time, Mark! We can do this.”

“Three minutes left.” P4U7’s light turned from orange to red.

The kids were sitting with their heads in their hands, still trying to figure out the right answer.

“Spence, I’ve got a terrible headache.”

“That’s because you’re drunk. Just shut up and let me think.”

“One minute left.” P4U7’s light turned from red to purple.

“Sixty seconds left and we still have no clue! Spence, I think this time we’re going to lose.”

“Which part of ‘shut up’ don’t you understand? I’m trying to think, but every time you say something stupid, my concentration just vanishes. I need silence!”

“But the silence is killing me,” groaned Mark. “Please just say something to that probe.”

Spencer felt a spark in his brain. “Concentration... vanish... thinking... silence!” He turned to the probe and shouted, “It’s silence!”

The probe glowed blue. “Your fifth answer is right. Let’s move onto the sixth question.”

“I can’t believe it! You’re a crazy genius, Spence! How did you get that?”

“Well, I’m lucky that you’re so noisy and made me wish for more silence. That’s it, we’ve got five out of six. Just one more and we can end this!”

“Let’s do it, bro!”

“The sixth question is: what is the largest living being on Earth?”

“That’s easy, Spence! We just need to think about big now.”

“Wait, Mark. First of all, let’s think about the question: is there a trick here? Does it mean biggest or just largest?”

“Is there even a difference?”

“Largest is more about length, but biggest is more about size and volume.”

“So, a California Redwood is the largest, but a whale is the biggest? That’s what you mean?”

“You got it,” nodded Spencer. “That’s exactly what I mean. I think there’s another trick here.”

“I think it’s talking about a tree. Remember when we studied the natural wonders across the USA? There was that Pando, do you remember that, Spence?”

“Pando? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Yeah, I made the joke about Pando and Panda. You remember that? The teacher kicked me out of class after I kept making jokes about it.”

“Oh yeah, the Pando! The 80,000 year-old clone forest – that’s the largest being on Earth, they told us. Thank god you made that joke, Mark.” Spencer turned to the probe and gave the answer.

The probe glowed with a deep red light. “Your sixth answer is not right.”

Spencer couldn’t believe his own ears. “What? I can’t believe that, you lying probe! What’s the right answer? Is this another filthy alien trick?”

“The largest living thing is the armillaria ostoyae, a mushroom,” the probe answered. “With its root structure, the mycelium, it covers 2,385 acres of the Malheur National Forest in Oregon. The Pando covers only 103 acres, it is the heaviest organism, not the largest.”

“Stupid mushroom, I’ve never heard of it!”

“It’s fine, Spence – it’s only our first mistake anyway. We’ve already got five out of six, we just need one more!”

“You’re right. P4U7, next question please!”

“The seventh question is: what is the smallest length in the Universe?”

“I know that! It’s the size of your brain.” Mark rolled on the ground laughing.

“I’ve never seen such a stupid human being. No wonder the probe wants to destroy our planet.”

“Sorry Spence, I had to say that. Anyway, everybody knows that atoms are the smallest things in the universe. We covered that in science last semester, remember?”

“Yeah, but they also told us that Pando was the largest living being on Earth, and look how that went!”

“Well, you didn’t ask the teacher whether that meant length, weight or surface area. That’s your fault.” Mark winked at him.

“Maybe you’re right and maybe you’re not. But I don’t know what’s smaller than an atom.”

“Oh hold on, Spence! I forgot that an atom has three smaller particles: protons, neutrons and electrons. So, which one is the smallest of those three? Let’s pick one of them, then bingo! We have our smallest length in the universe.”

“That’s a good point, dude. But which is bigger? I really don’t remember anything about that. I don’t like physics much.”

“I just remember that there was one with a plus, one with a minus and the other with nothing. The particle with the minus was always smaller, I think?” Mark shrugged.

“Okay, we just need to remember the name of the minus particle. Well, neutron sounds like neutral, so that’s probably out?”

“Yeah, I think that’s right,” nodded Mark.

“What about the other two? They sound the same to me. What do you think? You like physics more than I do. Time to dig deep into your memory, please!”

“Well, just let me think. The first letter of proton is a P, like plus. Electron reminds me of electricity and that’s bad if it hits you, because it hurts and that’s a negative feeling, so it could be the minus.”

“So, you’re just guessing, right? Without any scientific reason at all?”

“This is the best you’re gonna get from a drunk kid in the middle of nowhere, trying to save the human race from an alien probe in a dream. Is that a reasonable enough explanation for you, sir?”

“Fair enough.” Spencer turned to the probe. “The smallest length in the universe is the size of an electron.”

The probe glowed with a deep red light. “Your seventh answer is not right.”

Mark sprung up from the ground and walked towards the probe. “Okay, you stupid probe, tell me right now what could be smaller than the smallest thing I’ve ever heard of!”

“The smallest length in the universe is the Planck length, which is equal to 1.6162310−35 meters. This is much smaller than the length of the electron, which is only 2.8179×10 -15 meters.”

“You are really clever, Mr. Probe. Did you hear that, Spence? The Planck length. It was so easy.”

“Mark, two mistakes in a row. I’ve got a strange feeling that the questions are getting very specific. I’m afraid of what’ll be next…”

“The eight question is: what is the ATP?”

“Is that a tennis thing? I don’t have a single clue about what it’s talking about,” Mark huffed nervously.

“Neither do I. I think we’ll have to pass,” Spencer sighed deeply before he answered. “I don’t know.”


The probe glowed with a deep red light. “Your eight answer is not right. ATP stands for adenosine triphosphate, which is an organic compound that provides energy to drive many processes in living cells.”

“I still don’t know what that stuff is! Do you, Spence?”

“No, but that’s three in a row. Two more and we’re dead!”

“You’re too serious for a dream,” Mark rolled his eyes. “Don’t worry, it’ll be over soon.”

“The ninth question is: what is the average distance between the sun and Jupiter?”

Mark and Spencer looked at each other and started to laugh.

“I think it’s time to tell the probe that we’re just two kids in high school.”

“Yeah Spence, let’s finish this game and wake up already.”

Spencer stopped laughing to answer the question. “The average distance is five hundred miles.” Then they both exploded in a loud laugh.

The probe glowed with a deep red light. “Your ninth answer is not right. The average distance is 484 million miles.”

“That’s roughly one million times more than your answer. Good job, dude!” laughed Mark.

“I’m sick of this! Let’s answer the last question and head back to camp. Or wake up, I still don’t know if this is real or not.”

“The tenth question is: what is a hemoglobin?”

“Hemoglobin? An emotive goblin?” Mark couldn’t help himself.

“Dude, you’re too funny! I’m sad we’re all gonna die after this,” Spencer cleared his throat before turning to the probe. “Our final answer is an emotive goblin.”

They started laughing so loudly they didn’t notice that the probe had started to pulse, making a creepy metallic noise.

“The tenth answer is not right. A hemoglobin is an oxygen-transport metalloprotein in red blood cells. Your species did not pass the test. As per standard protocol, I am now authorized to exterminate all life on this planet, and to establish an outpost where the test was conducted.”

“Spence, I’m still wondering who’s dreaming? Me or you? Maybe both!”

“Oh, it’s totally your dream. This is too crazy and nonsense to be mine. It’s time to go. Say bye to the alien.” Spencer starting walking back to the camp.

“Goodbye, Mr. Probe, nice to meet you,” Mark held out his hand. “Don’t be rude, Mr. Probe! Let’s shake hands.”

In less than one second, a laser burst out from the probe and cut off his hand. It was so quick that Mark didn’t realize what had happened until his hand landed on the ground.

“Aaaaaaaaah! He cut my damn hand off! Spencer, help me!” Mark fell on the ground, writhing in pain, completely helpless.

Spencer ran back to his friend, who was still screaming. “Oh my god! Mark, this isn’t a dream at all! It’s for real! You damn probe, why did you do that?” His face was completely covered with tears. “WHY?”

“Your answers were wrong. I am authorized to exterminate all inferior life forms on this planet.”

“We’re not inferior! Just because we don’t know the exact distance between Jupiter and the damn sun, that doesn’t mean we’re not smart. We are humans! We have art, music, cinema, friends, family, love! What do you have on your planet, you stupid probe?”

Spencer went to kick P4U7, but he was stopped by an invisible force. “You bastard, let me go and show me your laser! I’ll crunch your stupid metal head and kick you back to your stupid alien planet!”

“I will exterminate you.”

“I don’t care!” Spencer cried.

“Will you die for your human friend?”

“Of course I will, stupid alien. He’s my best friend!” The invisible force suddenly vanished and Spencer fell down.

“Humans are primitive and limited to their own vision, so you will never become a truly intelligent society. But you have just showed that your species has a different kind of wisdom. My species is hundred times smarter than yours, but we do not have such a strong feeling of mutual solidarity and we never will. I must admit that humans deserve to live. I am not authorized to exterminate an intelligent species.” The probe closed suddenly. Without making any sound, it flew away at a crazy speed.

Spencer went over to his friend, who was already passed out. “I won’t leave you alone, my friend. Never.”

The night was dark and silent, and the camp was far in the distance.



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