Chapter Five

John Smith: Hello, Jessica. Did you enjoy your dinner?

Subject: It’s fine. That’s all there is, right?

John Smith: We have other varieties. There is one with flattened chicken, and one with fish compressed into a cylinder. But you did not like them.

Subject: It’s fine, really.

John Smith: Good. I would not like you to be uncomfortable. As you requested, this conversation will be transcribed in your language.

Subject: Thank you.

John Smith: You’re welcome. It pleases me that you are becoming more comfortable with us. Columbus believes it is impossible to make your race understand us without [untranslatable] activation, but I believe we two understand each other quite well.

Subject: I guess so. Do you know that the screen says “untranslatable” when you say that word?

John Smith: It does? I suppose it would. We knew there was no [untranslatable] network on Earth, or we would not have been able to install our own. That you don’t even have the concept in your language is remarkable.

Subject: Well, what is it?

John Smith: How can I say it? It is a network of minds. Each of us is linked to all of the others.

Subject: You mean you can read each others’ minds?

John Smith: Read minds? I don’t understand. You read a book, correct?

Subject: It’s an expression. It means you’re psychic – do you know that word?

John Smith: That we know what one another is thinking. Yes, this is true. Though it would be inaccurate to say this is the purpose of [untranslatable].

Subject: What is the purpose of it?

John Smith: That is a large question. It is one of the foundations of civilization. Soon, humans will become a part of it. It is a means of connecting many beings into one being.

Subject: I don’t understand you.

John Smith: Each of us is only a part of the greater body of our species, and each plays the role to which they are best suited. I am suited to inquiry, and so I am sent to gather information. I go of my own volition, but my volition is that of all. And anything I learn is instantly known by all.

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