Ali placed the tile but did not lift his finger from it. He examined Caleb’s face, lifted the tile, placed it again, waited and finally lifted his finger. Caleb’s expression did not change as he placed a worker on it and placed another tile next to it.
“Dammit,” said Ali.
“You made the same mistake last time,” said Caleb.
“Did I?” asked Ali. He pulled a tile from the stack, looked at it, sighed, shrugged and placed it without much thought.
“Much better,” said Caleb, but placed one of his owner worker pieces and another tile anyway.
“How can you tell?” Ali said then tossed his stack of unplayable tiles on the table. “I concede. You are the master of Flatland.”
“Good. I was getting bored,” said Caleb.
Ali started putting the game away. He pursed his lips against his irritated retort, then said, “The aliens are doing something new. There’s a press conference or something on tonight.” Caleb did not respond. “Maybe it’s about the new medicine?”
Caleb grabbed two beers from the refrigerator and brought one to Ali. “I doubt it. It has been released in Europe already.”
“Well, it’s something big enough to preempt the Series. They’re probably going to turn the UN into a one world government or something.”
“I don’t think they care about our politics at all. It’s not like we make troops of chimpanzees get along.”
Ali frowned. “Do you really think that’s how they see us?”
“If we’re lucky. If we aren’t they see us like herds of cattle, or an infestation of termites.”
They sat drinking in silence for a long time.