Author : Helstrom

Jerry threw his notebook into a corner and rubbed the bridge of his operculum: “Fuck this, it doesn’t make any sense.”

I had it: “No. No, it makes perfect sense.”

“Sure. We need a break.”

He wasn’t one to wait for a consensus, not even when it was just the two of us. Jerry opened the fridge and fished out a couple of drinks. I was glued to the screen. He nudged me with the bottle until I snatched it from his pincer.

Jerry was agitated: “Mike, I’m telling you, we need a break. This is going nowhere.”

“Jerry, I’ve got it. I’ve really got it. Look.”

Jerry took a sip from his bottle and looked at the screen with nothing but boredom. The pink humans were crawling over each other and grunting, the same we’d seen for untold hours since we figured out how to translate the ancient code to audio-video.

“What am I looking at that I haven’t seen before?”


“Mating.” Jerry squinted, “I don’t see it.”

“That’s because they’re doing it wrong.”


“Look,” I pulled up a textbook, “Here’s how it’s supposed to be done.”

“I know the biology, Mike.”

“Yes but look. Look! They’re using all the right parts, just… A bunch of wrong ones too. Here, check this one.”

I loaded up another data file and converted it. Much the same, really.

“Dammit Mike I have a class to teach tomorrow, I can’t…”

“Look! It’s the same pattern. The male goes from here… To there.”

“That could be a religious practice for all we know.”

“It happens again here,” I loaded a different file, “But the order is reversed. And here, another orifice entirely. Here they try it with several specimen at once.”

“I don’t see a pattern.”

“That’s the point! That’s the whole point!”

Jerry perked up. He set down his drink and sidled up to me at the screen: “You’re saying…”


“They forgot how to mate?”

I started crunching the numbers: “In eighty-five percent of the samples we see seminal fluid being applied externally or even consumed by the female. Of the remaining fifteen, nearly half is injected into the wrong orifice or caught in a container and presumably discarded. None of that is conductive to procreation.”

“And this happens just a few centuries before the extinction event.”

“Do you see it now? Forget Frank and his ideas of this global data network being used for communication or trade. The data we have comprises over seventy percent of the raw information stored. This thing wasn’t built to sell home appliances, this thing was built for sexual education.”

“And it failed.”


“So how does a species forget how to mate?”

“Well,” I said and raised my drink, “I think we’ll need some grant money to figure that one out.”

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