“Here’s the ‘science stuff‘ you wanted,” Eugene sighed the phrase. The round man in a white labcoat walked into Wallace’s lab carrying a milk crate’s-worth of shiny electronic components. The spacious lab was crowded with waist-high speakers pointed at a stocky, grey-haired researcher. He was hunched over working on something with his back toward Eugene; but, looked up when he heard his friend’s voice. He hopped up from his knees and trotted over to his colleague. He started to rummage through the buttons and wires with purpose. “How are you smarter than me without being smarter than me?” Eugene asked. Wallace shrugged.
“Give yourself some credit, Genie.” he smiled. “I said ‘science stuff’ and you knew exactly what I needed.” Wallace grabbed the crate from Eugene’s hands and placed it atop one of the speakers. “C’mon I’m about to fire it up.” He tilted his head toward the control console on one side of the room to get Eugene to follow him.
“What about the science stuff?” he asked Wallace once they reached the control panel.
“It’s for the next version if this doesn’t work. Ready?” Wallace reached for a large red button but Eugene grabbed his wrist.
“No. You’ve been working on this for weeks and I still have no idea what it’s supposed to do. Every time I ask you dodge the question. So I need to know what it does before you turn it on.” Wallace chuckled and relaxed his hand; Eugene released his wrist.
“I don’t know what it’s going to do,” he smiled. “But, I can tell you what it’s supposed to do. I’m hoping this sends out a signal.”
“A signal? To where?” Eugene asked. Wallace’s dark brown eyes sparkled and he placed a hand on Eugene’s shoulder.
“The universe,” he whispered with playful awe.
“What? Like…,” Eugene pointed upward with a finger. “out there? We already have people that do that.” Wallace shook his head.
“Not…,” he pointed upward with a single finger to mimic Eugene. “…up there.” He kept his right index finger up in the air and put his left index finger next to it; then, he separated them by about an inch. “Right here.” He repeated the motion by bringing both fingers together, then he pulled them apart again. This time he added a second hop after the first to show more distance. Eugene looked around the lab in confusion.
“Parallel universes!” Wallace’s tone was almost a shout.
“Ohhh. Huh. What does your signal say?” he asked. The two had been best friends since childhood and remained so through graduate school. In all that time Eugene learned that Wallace would do anything he set his mind to; and, Wallace often set his mind to do some relatively amazing things. He could have explained that the speakers would somehow bring the dead back to life. Eugene would not have been shocked with the purpose, nor surprised when it worked. He occasionally regretted taking credit for some of Wallace’s more useful work, but his friend insisted. Wallace wanted to play with science stuff; he did not want to run the science department. Wallace grinned mischievously at the question.
“I’m ordering a pizza,” he replied. Eugene accidentally laughed in his face.
“HAHAHAwhat? You’re going to make first contact with an alternate universe…,” Eugene already accepted this part as fact. “to ORDER A PIZZA?!” Eugene’s tone was definitely a shout. Wallace leaned back in retreat.
“Yeah,” Wallace nodded without dropping his smile. “I call it the M.P.D.T.- Multi-verse Pizza Delivery Theory.”
“Of course you do,” Eugene sighed. “Alright, let’s hear the theory.”
“First contact is what it’s all about, right? That’s what you were worried about.” Eugene nodded. He was about to agree verbally but Wallace kept talking. “Right. So since it’s so important the question is this: Do we want our first contact to be with someone as clueless as us? Wouldn’t it be better to get in touch with someone who already has standards in place for this kind of thing?”
“Yeeeaaaahhh?” Eugene half-asked. He did not know where Wallace’s explanation was taking him.
“And we definitely don’t want to risk meeting a hostile Earth, right?”
“Riight.” Eugene nodded.
“So what could be more non-hostile and mundane than pizza delivery? Anyone that can’t deliver the pizza won’t. Invaders will ignore the signal since we’re broadcasting so openly. They’ll think we’ve got a handle on things already. And if we get some kid from another universe delivering a pizza; well then we’re in business.” Wallace grinned. Eugene closed his eyes and sighed.
“My lab, my rules,” Wallace smashed the red button. The speakers rumbled; various low tones repeated in a cycle and shook the lab. Eugene covered his ears but it did nothing to block out the sound. Every bone in his body vibrated with the low roar. After about 10 seconds the room went silent.
“Did it work?” Eugene asked. He looked around the room for anything new or out of place but saw nothing. Wallace shrugged.
“They’ve got 30 minutes.” As soon as Wallace replied Eugene grabbed his head and turned it around to face a black portal that opened in the center of the speaker array.
A young, silver-haired girl walked out next to a slightly older dark-haired boy.
“Hi!” the girl waved. “Did someone order a pizza? Your Earth isn’t in the system yet.”
“I hate you a little bit,” Eugene said as he patted Wallace on the back.