Caleb read the document a third time, then leafed through it and examined it as if he could find some hint in the paper or fastener that would reveal it to be a hoax. The alien — alien robot, technically — stood patiently in his small apartment waiting for him to finally say, “No fucking way.”
“Your shock registers as delight, and we are glad,” said the alien robot in the kind of light, airy, accentless tone that made Caleb think the aliens had learned English by watching cable news.
“I meant no. As in, I am refusing,” said Caleb.
The robot cocked it’s head in an intentionally overly dramatic expression of surprise, confusion and dismay. It was generally humanoid in shape but with an insectile motif in its segmented thorax and the shape of its limbs. It’s carapace appeared to be dull white plastic. “I am sorry for the miscommunication,” it said. “We are still parsing the English human language. Please repeat.”
“Fuck off and get out,” said Caleb. He repeated himself a few times of repeating and tossed the document into the hall before the robot left.
Later he and Allie were recovering from brief but intense mutual masturbation on her couch and he said, “I am not going into space.”
“Okay,” she said.
“It is a ridiculous idea. Between the time dilation and the genetic modification, anything that defined me would be unmoored.”
“Don’t worry about it,” said Allie as she pulled on her shirt and pulled up her pants. “It’s going to be all celebrities and Nobel Prize winners anyway.”
He looked at her. He was still sitting pantsless on the couch. “No. I was selected. They came to my apartment today.”
Allie laughed, then she didn’t. She sat back down next to him and turned his face to meet hers, peering deep into his eyes. “Tell me you are joking.”
“I don’t joke–”
“I fucking know you don’t joke!” she roared. “Are you kidding me with this Aspergers, self indulgent idiot bullshit?”
“What? I don’t–”
“You don’t say ‘no’ to this, Caleb.” She looked like she was ready to cry and he could not parse why. “They are only asking one in every million people on Earth! You are fucking going.”