“Don’t be shy, have a seat. You must be hungry,” Theo said.

“Can I… Can I have a glass of water please?” I managed to say with a considerable effort. Suddenly, my tongue felt like dry sandpaper.

“I have a better idea. Why don’t I get you a beer?” replied Theo cheerfully. Offering beer at 6 AM? He must be either an alien, a loonie, or an alcoholic. Without waiting for my reply, he went back into what I assume was the kitchen, and was back out in a few seconds with a tall can of Guinness Blonde. Not my favourite beer, but not a bad one either. He walked towards me, gave me the sandwich and the beer, and sat on the chair across from me, stretching the legs onto the bear skin while keeping his brown eyes on me. His stare was curious but calm. He was clearly gauging my reaction.

“Thanks for the beer,” I said. “And the sandwich.” I waved one, then the other, to unnecessarily illustrate what I was talking about. As if he wasn’t the one that just handed them to me.

Despite the ridiculousness of the whole situation I realized that I was really hungry, and even more thirsty. So I decided I could react later, after some long overdue nourishment. Besides, I really didn’t know what to say. How do you respond to something like that?

“You’re most welcome,” he said. “Good. I see I’m not mistaken in you, you’re taking it reasonably well. Let me get you up to speed while you eat.”

I mechanically chewed on my sandwich – which happened to be expertly made with a whole grain artisan bun, very tasty ham or prosciutto of some kind, lettuce and an unidentified sweet and sour dressing. As soon as my brain felt like it was getting some energy from the sandwich, it kicked into gear. I am a fan of Occam’s razor principle which basically states that out of different possible explanations, the one that requires the least speculation is usually the best. So, while I had seen a very bizarre artifact it wasn’t a conclusive proof of alien life. A secret new human technology would be a much more likely and less far-fetched explanation. And the rest of the weirdness is fully explainable by a thorough and wide data breach of car autopilots, CCTV surveillance networks, public transit systems etc. Granted, this had to be a huge hacking job, but the news about critical data breaches aren’t even always making the headlines anymore. Thus, no aliens or supernatural powers were required to logically explain what was happening. Needless to say, I was not inclined to accept such an outlandish (pun intended) claim without some serious proof. Although a part of me really wanted to believe.

“I know, it sounds too wild to be true, but just oblige me for a moment and consider the possibility of what I’m saying being the actual truth,” Theo said as if reading my mind. 

I contemplated this for a couple of seconds and decided it wasn’t good enough.  I would hate to be fooled by an elaborate practical joke, or worse, to take a psycho’s delusions seriously. I needed a more tangible proof. So I politely insisted,

“Listen, Theo. I’m sure you understand that your claim is so wild that while I want to believe that the truth is out there, as every sci-fi fan in my place would, your word is just not good enough. I’m sure you have some piece of alien technology here, or maybe you can show me an alien communication device or computer interface, or anything at all that could support your claim? I’m not saying that you are not telling the truth, but come on, this is not something that you can claim without any supporting evidence.”

He thought about what I said for a bit, concentration showing on his face, and then appeared to come to some kind of a decision.

“I really am an alien, the little green man in a flying saucer kind. I do have a slight problem with proving this directly, though, because technically we are here on a scientific expedition. As anthropologists studying primitive cultures we are not allowed to have any visible technology with us on Earth besides our camouflaged shuttles, one of which you have stumbled upon earlier. It is also worth mentioning that our interfaces are not anything like you have. We interface with our technology directly with our minds, without the help of television sets, typewriters, or mice. We only visualise our interfaces when we need numbers or hard data, and even this still happens in our minds. Somewhat like with augmented reality devices you have. But for the most part we actually feel our interfaces. It is difficult to describe this but when we pilot a ship we feel all the forces and controls and the way the ship flies. We don’t need to look at gauges or screens to know that we are flying too fast, for example, because we simply sense the approaching limits and it just feels right to be back in the green zone, so to speak. That is how our technology works. It is designed to be felt, not looked at. So I have nothing major here that I could demonstrate to you. 

“How convenient!” I thought to myself.

“However, I can show you a couple of things that I hope will help you to believe in the veracity of my statements. Biologically, I am virtually indistinguishable from an ordinary human, but there is more to life than pure biology. We have designed ourselves to manipulate forces, the very existence of which you can only suspect. For example, I can do this…”

The beer can rose from my hand, floating in the air, levitated to a position directly in front of my face and started rotating along its vertical axis. Letters and ornaments slowly travelled in front of my eyes, as if this were a computer-rendered beer commercial. I gaped at the floating can.

“Please feel free to wave your hands around the can, just to see that there are no strings or other tricks,” he added, totally sounding like a cheap magician at a kid’s birthday party. I’ve been to many such parties so I knew the rules. I obliged, not finding any strings indeed. He carefully landed the can back in my hand and suggested to continue consuming my beverage. Yes, that’s literally how he said it. I looked at the “beverage” carefully, holding it with two fingers and looking at it like it could mutate into a lightsaber or something. Theo patiently waited. I realized he actually wanted me to continue drinking. I tentatively sipped the beer, making sure it tasted the same as before. I have to say I was impressed. Maybe he hasn’t proved yet that he was indeed an alien, but he definitely wasn’t delusional.

Theo continued his speech.

“While I have to concede that this little show does not truly prove that I am an alien, it does demonstrate that I possess more abilities than an average human and therefore what I am telling you is at least worth taking seriously. The leap of faith from ‘more than human’ to an ‘alien’ does not seem that big. Would you agree with that?”

I nodded uncertainly, sipped my beer, then nodded again, more vigorously this time. He had indeed managed to get my full and undivided attention. Well, maybe just a tiny little bit of my attention was still paid to the beer and the sandwich, because as I realized even an alien lecture will not fill an empty stomach. So there was no reason to stop eating while Theo continued.

“A few of us have been living on Earth for a while. Mostly studying and observing. But not just that. I will try to explain, but please understand that I will have to grossly oversimplify things. It goes without saying that we are much more advanced, both technologically and socially, compared to humanity. You don’t have the math, vocabulary, and a general understanding of the Universe to fully comprehend what I am talking about. Imagine explaining to a Neanderthal how modern computers work. You would have to use many badly suited analogies and simplifications just because there is no good way to describe it using a language he understands.”

He must have realized that didn’t come out right. 

“No offense.” He added hastily. 

“No offence taken. Assuming that you really are an alien I would not expect it to be any different,” I said with my mouth full. And added, waiving my half-eaten sandwich in the air, just to appear cool and in control, “By the way, you make an awfully good sandwich for an alien. I think all those years studying us humans have paid off.” 

Frankly speaking, it might not have sounded as cool as I hoped, but at least I made an effort.

He acknowledged my weak attempt at humour with a polite and slightly condescending smile, and continued talking in a calm and well-articulated voice. 

“Our species are also just different. Very different. Don’t let my human appearance mislead you – I am sort of a self-made hybrid between our species, so I’m much closer to you not just physically but mentally. 

There are many sentient races in your sector of space. Most of them are more advanced than humanity. There is no Galactic Empire, no interstellar wars, no heavy star cruisers, no lightsabers, and all that nonsense. There are no plans to conquer Earth for its precious real estate, or cultivate humans as livestock for our perverse culinary tastes. And most definitely we don’t abduct humans to conduct weird experiments on them. However, nobody’s perfect. We do have local conflicts and tense relations between races sometimes. The point is, we are not saints. However, you would not understand moral values and aspirations of most races, as they are dramatically different from yours, and often even incomprehensible. The very way of thinking of any alien race is different from yours. But one thing you would understand: for the most part alien races agree that the ultimate value is a sentient being itself. The worst crime one can possibly commit is to take a sentient life. Causing undue suffering comes as a close second. Now, we’re stepping into a difficult territory.”

He paused dramatically. Actually, his entire speech seemed a bit overdramatic. On the other hand, if what he was saying was true, perhaps a bit of drama was warranted… After the long pause became so saturated with suspense, even Theo must have realized he was overdoing it, he continued, looking directly into my eyes.

“Every living sentient being is in a way a symbiosis of biology or flesh and blood, and what you usually call a soul, for lack of a better word.”

  • Konstantin Medvedev
    Posted at 15:56h, 26 June Reply

    Beer at 6AM?

    • roman
      Posted at 17:01h, 26 June Reply

      It’s not a bad judgement to soften the shock.

      • Konstantin Medvedev
        Posted at 11:01h, 27 June Reply

        Finally – not. I dont mind.
        What I am trying to stress is that the offer of beer at 6AM is not usual scenario for humans. Not in our tradition. Then it is a reason to add a few words.
        You could make a point like
        a) Only alien can offer can offer beer early morning
        b) Art hesitated because it is not in his habit to drink beer at the beginning of the day even though he is Russian. But after everything that had happened he was ready to drink even a full glass of vodka … bla-bla-bla

        You stress again how abnormal the situation is.

        BTW. Art is not usual Russian name. Eh?

        • roman
          Posted at 11:21h, 27 June Reply

          Good idea. Will be online when I publish the next revision.

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