“What are you doing?”
“Ah!” Sam jumped a foot and spun around. PJ stood behind him, an overcoat over her pajamas. Their breaths were visible under the moonlight. “Shit, PJ, you startled me.”
“You said a bad word. I’m telling.” PJ stood on her toes and tried to see over the edge of the graph in Sam’s hands. “What are you doing?”
“Testing my new robot.” Sam turned around and crouched. He spread the graph on the ground and pulled an RC controller from his coat pocket.
“Can I try?” PJ said, squatting next to him.
“Let me go first,” Sam said. He pressed the power button on the controller. Up ahead, between the dead cornstalks, he heard a series of beeps as his robot came online. He glanced at the graph, pressed down the forward button, and nudged the short control joystick north. He counted until he reached the calculated number of feet and toggled the joystick left.
“I can’t see. What’s it doing?” PJ said, squinting in the robot’s direction.
“Making crop circles without leaving evidence.” The sound of cornstalks being flattened drifted to them. “People will think that aliens did it.”
“Aliens did do it.” PJ tried to take the controller from Sam. “Let me try.”
Sam looked at PJ in shock. “What do you mean, aliens did it?”
“We’re aliens. Duh.” PJ wrested the controller away, studied the graph, and then went the wrong way with the robot.
“You’re not supposed to know that yet!” Sam panicked. “You’re not allowed to know until you’re a teenager, like me. How did you find out?” Was it his fault? Dad and Papa Lex were going to kill him.
PJ shrugged. “Daddy and Papa Lex were yelling at each other about it. They didn’t think you were resonpaple enough to know.”
Sam frowned. “I am too responsible enough.” He grabbed the controller away from PJ. “You’re ruining my design.”
“Your design is stupid,” PJ stated, snatching for the controller again. They began tugging it back and forth between them. “I want to make a cat.”
“It’s my robot. I get to decide what we’re going to do.”
“I’ll tell Grandma and Grandpa you won’t share.”
“I’ll tell them you were outside in the middle of the night in your pajamas.”
“I’ll tell them you squished all the corn.”
“The corn’s already been picked, dummy.”
“I’m not a dummy. You’re a dummy.”
“I’m smarter than you.”
“Liar. Grandpa Lionel says I’m the smartest, most bestest girl in the world. Then, he gives me a dollar to tell Papa Lex that brandy tastes better than bourbon after I dump the bottles out.”
“I’m gonna tell Papa Lex what you just said.”
“I’m gonna tell Dad what you do in the shower for so long.”
“PJ! That’s private!” Sam flushed and shoved the controller at her. “You steer, I’ll direct. Okay?”
PJ beamed. “Okay. I want to make a cat.”
“Fine.” Sam sighed, dug out a pen, and began sketching a new design on the back of the graph paper. “But it has to be an alien cat…”
FFL Timeline Updated