The octopus says so.

We walked in silence for a few minutes. I was absorbing what Brigitte had told me. Somehow, despite not knowing anything about me farther back than 2 weeks ago, and despite not knowing anything about the actual world I lived in farther back than 2 weeks ago, I knew that babies do not start kicking when they are only a few days old. That seemed wrong.

I looked at my mismatched hands.

A lot of things seem wrong.

After a while, I imagine I'm going to get sick of telling myself who am I to judge, I've only been alive a week or two.

"Doc," I said, finally. Brigitte was holding my hand. The street was quiet and wide and lined with those giant trees that loom over everything in the South.


"How is it possible for Brigitte to be pregnant? And for her baby to be kicking?"

Brigitte squeezed my hand. "Can he answer that?" she asked quietly. I heard clicks and mumbles from Doc as he floated near my shoulder. Brigitte tugged me to the right and we turned down a side street. Narrower, which made the trees seem bigger. Or maybe they were bigger, because they still loomed over the stately houses that lined each side of the street, but those houses were bigger and the fences were bigger. Everything but the road was bigger.

I cannot answer that, said Doc.

"Because you don't know?"

Whirrs. Clicks. A hum. Why would he have to think about whether he knows or doesn't know the answer to a question?

I have to trust Doc. I have to.

I cannot say that I do or do not know, said Doc.

"What does that mean? Either you know or you don't know."

I know of ways that I could answer your question but they involve an unacceptable degree of speculation.

"So you'd have to guess?"


"And you don't want to?"


Brigitte stopped. "We're here," she said. She pointed to a house on our right, 2/3 of the way down the street, which I saw was a cul de sac. It was surrounded by a giant metal fence that looked impressive and old and possibly dangerous.

"Is it dangerous?" I asked. Doc scooted over to it, but Brigitte stopped him.

"It's electrified," she said. "Don't touch it."

We went to the gate, and Brigitte held her hand up. She touched the bars as I said "Don't!" and Doc buzzed warningly, but she waved us off.

"The fence recognizes my DNA," she said. "It's smart enough." The fence, in fact, glowed bright blue for a second where she touched it, and then the gate slid to the right. A dog came running out from the front porch.

"Rexie!" said Brigitte, excitedly. I held back. Doc stayed over my shoulder. Rexie the dog came running up and barked once, twice.

"We're here to get the dirigible," Brigitte said. Rexie sat down. He barked and whimpered. "No, you can't tell Dad," Brigitte said.

"Is she really talking to him?" I asked Doc.

About 20 years ago, people finally gave up the idea of teaching dogs to talk human language, and instead learned their language. Dogs understand about 20,000 words in human, and have about 15,000 words in dog. He told me. Some humans can speak dog, but most who understand the language do not try because the accent is hard to speak correctly, making it harder for dogs to understand.

Rex growled a little. Brigitte lectured him: "I know you're supposed to guard it, but we really need to go. The octopus says so."

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