The Martians probably weren’t from Mars, but they might as well have been. They were short and green, wearing bright red spacesuits complete with glass domes covering their extra large heads.
“Pardon us,” said the shortest of the very short aliens. “Could we borrow a cup of gadolinite?”
“Sorry. Fresh out,” said Linda. “We might have some Thulium we can spare.”
The two Martians chuckled.
“Geology humor,” said Linda to Brynn.
“Delightful,” replied Brynn without smiling.
“I am Xtor the Wise, and this is my mated mission partner, Xtar the Wise,” said one of the Martians. “May we come in?”
“This isn’t about Space Jesus, is it?” asked Linda.
“Fear not.” Said Xtar. “We are followers of the Church of Overmind Nog, and the Overmind deems humanity as beneath absorption.”
Xtor added, “Also, we left our conversion parasites at home, and human brains are deadly poisonous to the poor things.”
Linda let the Martians in. They had a seat on the sofa, and Brynn served some tea and cookies. The Martians couldn’t eat through their helmet, but they hold the cups and saucers in their long, delicate fingers. Just to be polite.
“What’s in the box?” asked Linda.
The plain brown package, big enough to hold a bowling ball, sat on the floor beside Xtar.
“A gift from the greater galactic civilations,” said Xtar.
“What’s in it?”
“A device beyond human comprehension. The most advanced technological achievement in the known universe. To some, a weapon of unlimited destruction. To others, a tool of peace to rival in a new golden age. And still others, nothing important at all.”
Brynn picked up the box. “May I?”
“By all means,” said Xtar.
Brynn undid the twine tying it shut and opened the box. Inside, there was only a small silver box, not much bigger than a remote control. “Doesn’t look like much.”
“Your primitive intellect cannot understand it,” said Xtor.
Brynn flipped open a panel. “Is this the on button here?”
Xtar set her teacup down and held out her hand. “Yes, please, don’t press that unless you want to destroy and / or save and / or do nothing important to the universe.”
Brynn closed the panel, gave the device to Xtar.
“If it’s so dangerous and / or wonderful and / or unremarkable, why do you want to leave it with us?” asked Linda.
“The whole of intergalactic civilization couldn’t decide what, if anything, should be done with the device. It might be too dangerous to activate, and there are concerns that even destroying it would be a problem. No one trusts it in their own control, nor do they trust it in the control of anyone else. In the end, we held a secret ballot across the universe, and you two won.”
“I voted for Sarlok the Beneficial,” said Xtor. “No offense.”
“I told you you were wasting your vote with a write in.” said Xtar.
“How the hell did we win that?” asked Linda.
“Who knows? It was a secret ballot.” Xtar put the device back into its box and handed it to Brynn. “For whatever reason, it’s yours.”
“What are we supposed to do with it?” asked Brynn.
“Don’t ask us,” said Xtar. “It’s not our responsibility, thank Nog.”
The Martians left.
Brynn and Linda sat on the couch, studying the box.
“I say we push it,” said Brynn.
Linda picked up the box and put it in the hall closet, in the back, behind their old scrapbooking supplies and coats they didn’t wear anymore but couldn’t make themselves throw out because they might be handy to have some day.
“You know you want to push it,” said Brynn.
“We can always destroy and / or save the universe tomorrow,” said Linda.
Linda closed the closet door, and they finished lunch.