Gregory A. Holbus

Gregory A. Holbus

The teacher turned to her class and smiled, which freaked the hell out of her students, because
the Novilis species doesn’t have mouths. Their teacher, however, was born with a rare genetic
mutation, and she liked to taunt her students from time to time by making weird faces with her freakish cavity.

Ms. Frapples (the name I made up for her, since the Novili language cannot be written with Latin
characters, nor can it be pronounced by human tongue) then asked her students to turn in their
homework. The students in the back of the class extended their amoeba-like tentacles to the students in front of them, and injected a tri-helical strand of ONA (oxyribonucleic acid). Those students then did the same to the students in front of them, and so forth until all of the ONA had been passed to the front of the room. The students in the front row then extended their tentacles into Ms. Frapples, who accepted their homework assignments.

Ms. Frapples began to process and grade her students’ work. She scanned each strand of ONA,
which incorporated the identity of each pupil and his/her nucleotide-encoded essay.

“Eric,” said Ms. Frapples, “where is your assignment?”

Eric melted (literally) into his seat. “Uhh, my radioactive pet borple mutated my homework.”
The other kids laughed at his pathetic excuse.

As Ms. Frapples continued to grade the homework, the students engaged in idle chitchat.

Linus leaned over to his [unrequited] love interest, Julie. “Say, Julie, how would you like to go
on a date with me to the black hole near the Snuffaghetti system? We could engage in some pre-mitotic plasma exchange in the singularity, if you catch my drift.”

“Puh-lease!” rebuked Julie, “like I would ever be caught dead in your pathetic dinghy. That thing
only does Warp 37. It’s so lame. My 840 minute old grandma drives a faster spaceship than that!”

Other kids heard Julie’s jibe, and began to laugh at Linus. His best friend, Samuel, tried to
console him. “Hey, buddy, don’t worry about it. You can join me and my girlfriend this weekend. We’re going to stay here on Novi, visit the northern plateau, drink malted polysaccharide shakes, and play in the rain. You should join us – it will be fun.”

Linus vibrated his cytoplasm in disagreement. “No,you know how my exomembrane reacts to
liquid methane. Plus, I’m allergic to malteds. No, I’ll just stay home and play some Bjork-ball.”

Samuel sighed in exasperation. “Don’t be such a nerd, Linus. Only geeks play sports. Do
something cool, like read some ONA novels, or build a quantum state observation machine.”

“I’m not a nerd!” Linus protested. “I just want to do something important with my life. We only
live six times.”

Ms. Frapples finished scanning her students’ ONA.  “I am very disappointed in all of you. None
of you paid any attention during our field trip to  Earth earlier this afternoon.” Her students shifted
uncomfortably in their seats. “Julie – you wrote that earth was created in six days by an invisible man named ‘Gahd’.”

Julie stammered. “But I cited the natives’ most widely-used reference book.”

Ms. Frapples shook her… let’s call it her head. “That kind of research may cut it with more
reliable species, like the Xhindhari,” scolded Ms.  Frapples, “but with humans, you can’t rely on any of their resources. You must do your own research. I warned all of you about this before we went on our field trip. Bob, your essay refers to local flora  called marijuana that you claim is poisonous. Linus, you wrote that humanity’s greatest accomplishment was something called ‘American Idol’. Samuel, you asserted in your essay that Herman Cain was President of the United States. None of you did any of your own research, you just relied on the native’s  so-called reference materials. I don’t think we have any choice. We’ll have to make a return trip to Earth until you all get it right.”

The class collectively moaned. None of them wanted to go back to Earth. It smelled funny.