This is a novella: a very young scientist named Gael is transported two million years into the future. She meets a colony of future Earth creatures, pleasant folk. They are tickled pink about her presence and plan to teach her everything they have to offer – except the truth about herself.
Gael meets some pretty strange creatures on the way.
She followed the path between the tree-houses until the view became horizontal and smooth and lit with a sliver of moonlight. Gael had reached the end of the village: the desert.
She wasn’t sure what she’d expected, but frankly Gael wasn’t surprised – until a sudden sense of movement caught her attention. Shadow against moonlight revealed something sizeable, and soon enough the girl knew what it was. “I’m not going anywhere,” she told the Take-Home or Come-Back Creature, or whatever it was called. “You don’t have to keep an eye on me. I won’t run away.”
Of course it didn’t answer. Instead it bent its knees and plopped down onto the ground, lowering its head until the girl was staring right into its eyes. It smelled of dust and manure but seemed friendly enough.
Gael sat down and, to her surprise, found herself speaking out loud. “I suppose I need somebody to talk to? It’s a shame you’re too dumb to understand.”
That’s when it happened. She heard a deep voice, echoing, soft, and it emanated from the creature’s toothy mouth: “That’s rather offensive.”
The girl stood up and stepped backwards. “You can talk?”
“It would seem that way.”
“But…the Hu-people said…Mike said you were as dumb as a…”
The creature erupted with something suggesting disgust. “Oh, bother. There’re lots of things they don’t know.”
“You don’t want them to know?”
“Then why tell me?”
“You said you needed someone to talk to, didn’t you?”
“So you have a lot of unanswered questions? I have the answers.”
“Won’t you tell me?”
“I won’t tell you, no. Not directly at least. But I can answer ten yes/no questions for you.”
“That’s rather childish, don’t you think?”
“Perhaps. But I like games, and this is apt to be fun.”
The girl sighed. She wasn’t sure she liked this creature any more. “Ten questions?”
“Yes. I believe that’s what I said. And that was two questions right there. You have eight left.”