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David Bowieman yawned. Traveling to the outer solar system was not as exciting as it had seemed at first. The ship was fully automatic, so there was nothing to do but wait, and the trip took months!
Fortunately, Pal was there. Pal (short for Probably ALgorithmic) was the ship's computer, and Bowieman's only company on the long trip. He controlled everything on the ship, including the espresso machine. This left Bowieman with nothing to do. He passed the time playing scrabble with Pal.
Pal was good at scrabble. Anyone would be good at scrabble if they were built for pattern matching and had memorized the latest edition of Webster's Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language.
They were in the middle of a particularly exciting game when Bowieman
noticed a draft.
"Pal! What's happening?"
"I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I was concentrating so hard on the game that I forgot to hold the airlock doors closed," said Pal. "By the way, we've caught up with the monolith. If you just let go of that chair, you can float out and have a look at it."
"No! I'll die without my space suit! I can't breath (gasp) without air, you know!"
"Oh, I forgot about that. Silly me."
Then the airlock doors slammed shut and Bowieman fell to the floor.
Once he was back on his feet, it didn't take him long to run over and climb into his space suit. Finally, something was happening!
"I'm ready," he said as he put his helmet on.
Seconds later, David Bowieman floated silently out of the airlock towards the mysterious object waiting in front of him. He was half expecting it to zoom off again, like it had done to Dr. Floyd on the moon. But as he approached it, something even stranger happened. Like a giant book, the plate started to open.
And inside it, he saw something he had never expected...
"It's full of buttons!"
Part IV: Enlightenment
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