“I’ve been thinking about Luther’s time on the moon,” Five says, materializing in Klaus’s room.
“Learn to knock, Five,” Klaus says, stabbing his knitting needles down into a ball of yarn and propping himself up on his elbows to look at him. “I could have been doing anything in here, and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to see my anything.”
“I was in Dad’s office and you know what I found?” Five says, pulling out a white package from his shorts pocket and pushing it in Klaus’s face.
“A white thing?” Klaus says.
“Research,” Five says, dropping the package on Klaus’s bed. “Take a look at this.”
Klaus throws him a long-suffering look.
“Just open it,” Five says.
“Fine,” Klaus says, sitting up and opening the package. “Holy shit!”
“Right?” Five says.
“Moon rocks!” Klaus says. “What the fuck, that’s so cool. I wonder how much those are worth. Hey, if there are so many up in Dad’s office, do you think Luther would notice if I borrowed some? And maybe didn’t return them?”
“Look more,” Five says.
“The moon rocks are the only interesting part,” Klaus says, peering into the package. “The rest is all papers.”
“The papers are the interesting part, idiot,” Five says, pulling them out. “Look at these.”
“Aww, he writes in cursive,” Klaus says. “What a dweeb.”
“This is a precisely detailed report the composition and variation of igneous rock formations on the moon,” Five says. “Luther did it all himself. He made his own tools and carried out experiments. He ran the calculations by hand! And he couldn’t peer-review his research up there, so he compensated by replicating everything five times!”
“And Dad didn’t even look at any of it,” Klaus says, studying the papers. “God, he told me he should have burned them. What an asshole.”
“Forget Dad,” Five says. “This is still useful, Klaus. This is groundbreaking. We need to do something.”
“Don’t look at me,” Klaus says, placing the papers on the bed and looking up at Five. “You’re the only one in this family who can do math. Well, Luther too, apparently.”
“I have an idea,” Five says.
“NASA Lunar Science Institute, how can we help you?”
“Is this the moon division?” a man’s voice says on the other end. “Is this where they study the moon?”
“Yes,” the intern says, balancing the phone between her ear and her shoulder. “Who is this?”
“Oh, don’t worry about me,” the man says. “I’m not the important one here. No, I am calling on behalf of my brother.”
“Who’s your brother?” the intern says, reaching for a pen and paper.
“My brother,” the man says, “is Luther Hargreeves.”
“Does he work here?” the intern says.
“Sir?” the intern says. “If you’d like to make an appointment with one of our researchers, I can see if—”
“Listen up, asshole, I am holding moon rocks in my hand right now,” the man says. “And oh wait, what’s that in my other hand? Why, a report about the moon rocks! A million pages about the— the, uh— the Analysis of the Properties of Composite Mineral Samples from the Lunar Equatorial Region. That’s pretty sexy, don’t you think?”
The intern scratches her head.
“Say that again?” she says.
“Analysis of the Properties of Composite Mineral Samples from the Lunar Equatorial Region,” the man says. “And I can tell you firsthand that this thing has crazy amounts of numbers in it. But I don’t need to, do I?”
“He doesn’t,” says a voice from behind her.
The intern whirls around. An immensely smug boy in a schoolboy uniform is perched on the windowsill, swinging his feet. He smirks at her and holds out a thick sheaf of paper.
“How did you get in here?” the intern says.
“Don’t worry about it,” say the boy and the voice on the phone at the same time.
“So here’s what’s going to happen,” the boy says, sliding down off the windowsill. “I am going to give you this paper, and you will read it and give it to your superiors to read, and you will marvel. The calculations are pristine and the procedures are meticulous. Trust me— astrogeology isn’t my expertise, but I know my way around a scientific paper. And then you will write to my brother and offer him a position as a research fellow. Understood?”
“No,” the intern says, taking the paper from his hands. “No, this is impossible. I don’t know who you are, I don’t know who this brother of yours is, and even if I did, I couldn’t just hire him, that’s—”
“Give her the moon rocks, Five,” the voice on the phone says.
“We do have field samples,” the boy says, reaching into his blazer pocket and holding out a handful of pebbles.
“How do I know those are from the moon?” the intern says. The kid barely comes up to her shoulder. “For all I know, you’ve faked all of this.”
“Of course you don’t,” the boy says, setting the pebbles on her desk. He produces a neatly addressed envelope from his other pocket and drops it into her hands. “It’s too complex to be understood on sight. Spend some time with it, pass it around to your colleagues, compare it to your existing data. Then when your minds have properly exploded, seal a letter into that pre-addressed, postage-paid envelope and drop it in the mailbox.”
“And if I don’t?” the intern says.
The man on the phone laughs in her ear. The boy leans back on her desk, gives her an indulgent smile, and vanishes in a warp of blue light.
The line goes dead. On her desk, the pebbles form a menacing little constellation against the wood. The intern looks down at the papers in her hand, sighs, and flips open the cover.
“Hey, I need a ride to the airport,” Luther says, hustling into the kitchen with his coat draped over one arm and a briefcase in the other hand.
“You what?” Diego says, turning away from the dishes in the sink.
“I have an appointment at NASA,” Luther says, pulling on his giant coat and dropping the briefcase on the floor next to him. “They want to, uh, they want to interview me. About my time on the moon. Apparently someone told them I had collected some data?”
“Wow,” Klaus says, propping his feet up on the table. Diego swats him and Klaus hisses at him, but brings his feet down. “That’s really something, Luther. Congratulations.”
“It’s probably nothing,” Luther says. “I’m bringing my results, but you know. It was busywork, what Dad had me doing up there, it wasn’t real research.”
“Oh, don’t doubt yourself, big bro,” Klaus says. “An analysis of the properties of composite mineral samples from the lunar equatorial region is no small thing.”
“How do you know about that?” Luther says.
“I’ll drive you,” Diego says, tossing his keys up in the air and catching them in one hand. “Come on, spaceboy, let’s go chase your dreams.”
Luther picks up his briefcase and heads towards the door. Before he turns away, he glances back at Klaus, who blinks at him innocently.
“You heard the man,” Klaus says. “Go chase your dreams.”