Author : K Clarke
As if crashing on this stupid planet wasn’t enough. Pad paced the cell, glaring through the one transparent wall at the creatures on the other side. As if having to survive for three months on this stupid planet wasn’t enough. I just had to get myself caught by the Space Invaders from the Black Lagoon. They probably think I’m the local wildlife. A mechanical arm came out of one wall, scanned up and down his body, and retracted.
I’m not edible, I promise you. I’ve got sticky bones, you’ll choke. The two aliens poked at their banks of electronics, chittering over a film one of the machines spit out. One of them left the room, carrying the film.
Ok, test results. You better not be planning to eat me. Pad rested his forehead on the window that separated the rooms. You got here in spaceships. You’re ugly as sin, but clearly you’re intelligent. Well, I am too. How do I show you I am too? The remaining alien leaned on the other side, looking towards the door. A claw tapped a slow tempo against the glass. Pad thought he recognized a pattern, and, on impulse, tapped it back.
The alien froze, then turned to peer at him. It tapped a more complex rhythm and Pad repeated it.
Yes, Lobster-face, I’m copying you. I’m smart. Come on, please. After a few more tries Lobster-face lost interest.
Not enough. I’m just imitating, parrots can imitate. I’m smarter than a bird. Ok, you’ve got patterns, you must have numbers. He tapped once, waited. Twice. Come on. Three. Four. Lobster-face tapped five. Yes. Six. Give me seven… Seven. All right, back and forth. Eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven. Yep, we’re counting. How high do you want to go?
Lobster-face called something out the door. Hey, I’m more interesting than that! Really yell, get some people in here. Fifteen. Sixteen.
Still not enough. All right, math, don’t fail me now. Pad tapped three, five, seven. Lobster-face jumped in and tapped nine. No! Pad slammed a fist on the glass. Well, odd numbers, close. You get points for trying. But we’re going for something bigger here.
Three. Five. Seven. Eleven. Thirteen. Seventeen. Please recognize primes. Please recognize primes. Lobster-face tapped a hesitant nineteen. Pad gave it twenty-three. It leapt to one of the masses of electronics and began squawking into it.
That’s right. You’re going to be famous, Lobster-face. You can write a book. How I Made First Contact with Humanity. A group of aliens rushed into the room, clicking at each other and pressing up to the glass to stare at Pad. And maybe you could do a sequel, How I Then Went on to Not Eat My First Contact with Humanity. I’d like that.