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A World All Her Own

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AUDIO RECORDINGS//DOCTOR HOWARD//Initial Discovery and Interaction (Henceforth referred to as DAY ZERO)

At 2230, LANDSAT 8 detected a sudden and massive thermal spike in the Colorado State Forest. The anomaly was short-lived, lasting just over eight seconds, and produced a small, non-lethal amount of radiation. Though unremarkable for its effects, the sudden nature of the phenomenon piqued the interest of authorities higher than us, and we were dispatched to investigate. We were loath to get on the helicopter, feeling it to be a waste of time; the anomaly was probably a brushfire by some meth head trying to cook up his own supply. Maybe he scored some isotopes from a hospital or something, who knew.

Erring on the side of caution due to the small amount of radiation, we arrived on scene at 0310 clad in clean suits and wielding Geiger counters. The anomaly had a clear epicenter, with all of the grass and foliage burnt away starting from the epicenter and extending outward for twenty meters. The trees were bent away from the epicenter, as if impacted by a shockwave.

Our team took samples from the soil beginning at the epicenter and then every half meter outward. Samples were also taken from the surrounding foliage and trees. Total collection and observational recordings took approximately one hour. During this time, one of our team came upon a remarkable, though admittedly odd discovery.

A lagomorph was found approximately thirty meters from the anomaly epicenter, huddled inside the twist of roots at the base of a tree and wearing a peculiar sort of garb. Our first thought was the lagomorph was a victim of animal abuse, as all four limbs appeared broken and elongated, and because of the aforementioned clothing the animal was wearing. Upon closer inspection, each paw was divided into four fingers, including an opposable thumb. Not only that, but its entire anatomy appeared all wrong and its overall structure was more humanoid than anything.

Doctor Kildale believed the lagomorph to be deceased and began trying to remove some of the costume in order to sex the animal and take blood and tissue samples before bringing it back to the facility. The moment he tugged at the outer layer of the clothing, the lagomorph sprang to life and immediately kicked him in the face, rebounding off his clean suit’s visor and landing itself in a defensive posture – on two legs! Its anatomy was not a matter of mutation or abuse, but actual evolution! The way the legs pivoted from the hips, how the arms fiercely jutted out from its shoulders, how the eyes sat forward in a head that was supported by a strong, muscular neck; this lagomorph was bipedal, and not only that - vocal, too! It actually spoke! English! I nearly wet myself the moment it told us all to back off!

Sensing the discovery of a lifetime, and perhaps with a mind made hazy by the excitement of the find, I made a rather brash decision: I informed the lagomorph to come quietly and there would be no trouble. To emphasize my point I waved my Geiger counter ominously, as if it were a weapon. Doctor Kildale, bless him, picked up on my attempt to intimidate and acted as though he held a weapon as well. The lagomorph examined all of us, no doubt seeing it was surrounded, and somberly dropped its arms with a sigh.

After the lagomorph was secured using plastic binders, it accompanied us on our helicopter without further incident. It remained quiet during transit and would not make eye contact with any of our team.

Upon our return to the facility, the lagomorph and each team member were subjected to the same decontamination procedures, while the lagomorph was given extra scrutiny and walked through a detector suite; no foreign pathogens or contaminants were found upon it. The animal was then transferred to a holding room. Ahead of our arrival I had instructed a bed, dresser, and desk be added in order to lessen the stark nature of the room. The lagomorph willingly entered its makeshift cell and no further interaction was recorded.

I briefly toyed with the idea that it may be an alien lifeform. I might have flown with that hypothesis, but its anatomy was far too reminiscent of a terrestrial lagomorph while being strikingly similar to ours; it must be of this world. I cannot imagine something so eerily familiar evolving on another planet. I cannot overstate my excitement at the prospect of interviewing this being tomorrow.

DAY 1

I must preface this entry by stating that I fear vanity has gotten the best of me. Though there are labs, think tanks, and facilities better equipped than we are to deal with intelligent lifeforms, I confess I am unable to let them take the reigns on this discovery, if not for my own benefit, than for the safety of this lagomorph – Subject One. It is clearly intelligent, beyond any shadow of a doubt. I cannot in good conscience relinquish it to a study group that will poke, prod, and perhaps even vivisect it.

Of course, with that in mind, I must admit to a modicum of hypocrisy; I will need blood and tissue samples at some point, but only after I have gained this being’s trust, and only after it agrees to cooperate. In order to build trust, the foundations of a friendly relationship must be established.

When I walked into the interrogation room Subject One was visibly taken aback by my appearance. I am not horrifyingly unattractive, nor am I a stunning example of the masculine form, so my only guess as to Subject One’s reaction was that it had never seen a human before.

Our first interaction was tense, and the lagomorph was not forthcoming with much information, if any at all. Upon closer inspection it was revealed that its garb was, in fact, a uniform with what appeared to be a police badge pinned to its breast. I suppressed my inner laughter at the thought of a rabbit cop and began the session by being the first to divulge information.

Firstly, I apologized and told Subject One that the ‘weapon’ I had threatened it with back at the anomaly was not a weapon at all, but simply a Geiger counter. It appeared unfazed, so I continued. I gave Subject One my name, age, occupation, a vague idea of our location, and the name of our planet. I suppose I threw in that last one just in case it was an alien. Why not cover all my bases?

At the mention of Earth, Subject One seemed confused and said this was an impossibility, as 'things’ such as myself did not exist on Earth. I pulled up an interactive 3D image on my smart phone and gave it to Subject One. Without my informing it, Subject One intuitively used its pointer finger – or, it’s equivalent, anyway – and dragged it across the screen, spinning the 3D model of our Earth. It did not recognize our planet, and said the colors and size of landmasses were similar, but the placement and overall shapes were different from its own Earth.

Curious as to how it knew how to use a smart phone, I inquired if it knew what a smart phone was. It huffed flippantly at me and then fished out its own smart phone from a pouch on its belt. Instead of an apple logo on the back, it had a carrot, and was a tad smaller than my own. Honestly, it was sort of cute, though I did not dare say this out loud for fear of diminishing it.

I asked to see this…carrot smart phone, but Subject One grew distressed. I had hoped to flip through the images and videos to glean more information about Subject One’s Earth, but the lagomorph was unwilling to part with the device even temporarily. Not wanting to push the subject any further, I instead tried again to ask Subject One’s name and occupation; after all, maybe its get-up was simply a costume.

But Subject One did not hear me and sank into the carrot smart phone, presumably thumbing through images of friends or family from its own Earth. Subject One became unresponsive and I decided to end the session there.

Despite Subject One’s reluctance to talk, the smart phone with a carrot logo would seem to imply it comes from a civilization with equal or near-equal technological capability as humanity. If two different realities that have never interacted with one another grow along similar technological lines, does this hold true for all realities? Is there some optimal path of technological evolution upon which nature always advances? If a bunch of lizards somehow gained intelligence would they eventually invent smart phones as well? Why a carrot logo? Would this imply Subject One’s Earth is inhabited by nothing but other lagomorphs and the Carrot brand reigns as supremely there as the Apple brand does here? Is the stereotypical bunny, thinking of nothing but carrots, actually a reality on the other Earth?

I keep saying other Earth, our Earth...henceforth, and until other evidence shows otherwise, I will not say extraterrestrial, but other-terrestrial. Call me crazy, but I am inclined to believe Subject One is from a different reality. I despise myself for delving so earnestly into pop science, but I have some physicist friends who know far more than I do about these things; I’ll ring them later without divulging the context of my inquiries.

For now, Subject One is more or less comfortable in a holding room, furnished with a bed and dresser full of clothing that should fit; most of it is children’s clothing, so we have removed the tags and any indicators that they are for children. We are not trying to minimize it.

DAY 2

I figured Subject One must be hungry, and I still had some basic rules I wanted to lay out, but I had to step carefully. I wanted it to be absolutely clear that Subject One was not a prisoner by any means, and that no harm would come to it – no exceptions. It could try to escape, it could punch me in the gut or talk about my mother – it would be entirely safe and never be hurt. To this end I have turned into a micromanaging asshole, according to my team. I agree with them, but I need Subject One to know this is not a prison. Any time a meal is ready, it must be presented to Subject One in person, with the door wide open, and with kindness. If anyone tries to slide a dish under the door then I’ll have their head.

I rapped on the door of Subject One’s holding room. I received no answer and allowed myself in. I entered with a single unarmed escort by my side. Subject One looked at me expectantly, then down at the tray in my hands. On the tray was a plethora of vegetables and fruits; most of it was greens, as a terrestrial rabbit’s diet consists mainly of greens with only a small supplementary helping of fruits and veggies. Of course I had no idea if Subject One had the same diet, but this is what I went with without first having asked Subject One.

Regardless, Subject One dug in earnestly, though it seemed to favor the fruits and veggies. If this was the normal diet, it must have evolved a way to better metabolize the sugars found in these items, as sugary treats like carrots or apples are detrimental to a terrestrial rabbit’s health in large amounts. I asked if this is how Subject One always ate, and it nodded. For future reference, more fruits and veggies, less spinach and cabbage.

While the other-terrestrial lagomorph (just trying it out; has a bit of a ring to it, if I might say so myself) was eating, I had my escort step out into the hall and bring back a simple doctor’s scale. Subject One’s ears perked when the scale was brought in, and then asked me what the scale for. I said it’s a tool to measure weight. The rabbit scoffed and said it knew that, but why bring it into the room? I explained that I only want some simple readings during Subject One’s stay: weight to make sure it was not being under- or overfed, and a height record just to make our data thorough. The rabbit did not seem to object any further as the scale was installed by the door.

Subject One finished most of the food and retired to the bed, its forlorn face buried in its smart phone. I chose to end the session there as Subject One became visibly distressed during its use of the device.

DAY 5

I saw when I walked in that Subject One was still in its costume. When I asked why, it said it did not feel like it had enough privacy, and being in a holding room made it feel as though it was being observed. I made no effort of hiding the cameras in the interrogation room, but I tried to explain there were no cameras in the holding rooms. Subject One did not believe me.

Sensing a way to gain its trust, I offered to let Subject One change in the team member dormitories. I reasoned that the watchers had no reason to watch their own sleep; it seemed to agree with a wordless nod. Under light, unarmed escort, Subject One was taken to the team dorms with a change of clothes in hand – paw? – and allowed to change inside. A few moments later it stepped out wearing a pair of blue jeans and a baseball shirt featuring a smiling head of cabbage with exaggerated eyes. Again, I had to mentally chastise myself for thinking 'cute’.

I felt I had done Subject One a service, and thought now would be a good time to ask its name, if only so I could stop saying Subject One over and over again in these damned entries.

We stopped while walking the hallways back to Subject One’s room.

Judy, it said, after a long moment of hesitation. My name is Judy.

Of course I should’ve been happy with just that breakthrough, but being a perfectionist I had to make sure; I asked if Judy was female. I had an inkling, an inference, but at the risk of squandering whatever goodwill I had just gained, I had to hear Judy say it. Upon my question Judy looked rather offended, but that quickly passed and she nodded. I smiled and we walked back to her room in what felt like a not-unfriendly silence.

Her name is Judy. Progress is progress. Henceforth I will no longer refer to her as Subject One.

DAY 7

Nothing notable occurred on day seven of Judy’s stay with us, but I wanted to make an entry anyway in order to cap the week and provide a brief summary.

As things are now, progress appears slow-going, but I hope that will change as Judy grows more comfortable around us. My ultimate goal is to discover how she arrived on Earth, as travel between dimensions or realities would open up a new frontier for mankind–one that would offer truly unlimited potential, beyond the comparatively measly offerings of the sea or the torturously slow pace of space exploration. The physicist friends I contacted earlier in the week still have yet to get back to me.

Along the way, however, I would like to get Judy back to her home if we ever figure out how. Staying within this facility forever is a fate not even I could endure and we clearly cannot release her to the general public. Her life would never have any semblance of normalcy, and I’m sure the more religious people of the world would throw a hissy fit of biblical proportions over the fact that another species has been given the gift of intelligence, something they thought reserved only for humans.

Our tertiary goal is to decipher her biological tree. Perhaps map her genome, try to fit Judy into our own taxonomy. I’m a little hazy on this goal as I have no idea how to apply our taxonomic model to a lifeform not of Earth, or even if we could. I think, in a pinch, we could throw her somewhere along the lagomorpha line, far ahead of modern day rabbits. She’d be at the very tip of her branch on the tree of life, much like Homo sapiens sapiens.