“Well, people don’t have to think for themselves nowadays, do they?”
“How d’you mean?”
“Well, in the ‘old’ days they didn’t know the Earth was round or that it went round the Sun. Or that the circumference of a circle is pi times the diameter. People, ancient people, like the Pythagoreans, had to work it all out for themselves, actually reason stuff out! Now you just look it up online and think, ‘oh, yeah.’ You don’t question it, you just accept it as the truth.”
Sue laughed, blue eyes twinkling and the dimples in her smooth brown cheeks making her look adorable. “So who are … were the Pythagoreans when they were at home?”
“They followed the beliefs of Pythagoras, that the universe was ordered around ratios of whole numbers, look never mind all that. I’m just saying that this so-called interstellar rock, Oh-Moo … whatever, it’s got a bloody silly name, could be an alien artefact, a spaceship even.”
“But it says on the news it’s a rock. Similar to asteroids in the outer solar system.” She stretched her long tanned legs out along the sofa and reclined. “Anyway, it looks like a rock!”
“That’s an artist’s impression, you idiot!”
“Oh, are you sure?”
“Yes, of course I’m sure. No one’s taken a photo of it. For God’s sake!”
“Well it looked realistic.”
“Yes, ever wondered why governments would commission fantastic artists to paint a couple of highly realistic rocks, when they know fuck all about what it really looks like?!”
Sue put her hands over her eyes, as if wishing to shut out any doubt.
“Look it’s travelling at nearly 30 kilometres a second, that’s how they know it’s not from our solar system, it’s too fast. Then the brightness varies a lot, that’s how they know it’s spinning.”
“Why would a spaceship spin?”
“I don’t know, it might be damaged, derelict even. Or just some kind of unmanned probe.”
She drew her knees up, showing a flash of pale lemon knickers. “What, you mean like a probe to Uranus?” She giggled.
I ignored her. “Anyway, how many asteroids are eight times as long as they are wide?!”
“How should I know, I’m not interested in space stuff!”
I sighed. “Look, there’s a guy on Twitter, reckons it’s bright pink and likely titanium. That sound like a rock to you?”
She stood up, smoothing back her shoulder-length blonde hair. “Look, you ever thought, people are just making it out to be whatever they want it to be?”
“Huh, maybe. Who knows?” I clicked on Sky News on my laptop. “Bloody hell, hey, listen up! They’ve just detected another one, out beyond Neptune, same speed, same size, same rotation. You reckon that’s just a coincidence? Multiple comets, asteroids or whatever, coming from another star system?”
“Well, we’ll find out soon enough.” She smoothed a hand over her breasts, opened the fridge and extracted a bottle of lemon-coloured nectar. She poured out a large glassful. “You want one?”
Featured in the book, To Cut a Short Story Short, vol. II: 88 Little Stories
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