They all went back to the director’s office. This time they were joined by Lieutenant Blowhard.

“Well, Pookie,” said Professor Schrodinger, “you saw it for yourself. The Earthspot is super-smart.”

“How can a black hole be super-smart?” said Dyspepsia. “It isn’t even alive!”

“Lieutenant, what’s your opinion?”

“It sure is smart, Professor. While we waited for Admiral Dyspepsia to get here, we didn’t sit around. The SEALs brought along a load of weaponry, including nukes. We figured: if they worked, we wouldn’t need to bother the admiral and her friend.”

“And what happened?” said the Prof.

“The Earthspot evaded every trap we set it. We tried to nuke it, but it ate the nuke before it detonated. That’s when we knew we couldn’t do without Captain Spookie.”

The Prof turned to Dyspepsia and said “Strictly speaking, Admiral, you’re perfectly right. An object having no structure, like a black hole, can’t be intelligent, as we know it. But intelligence is only the name we give to using our brains to predict the future. But what if the Earthspot is there—in the future… at the same time as being here—in the present?”

“Ah!” said Spookie. “Then it doesn’t need a brain to know what’s going to happen. It’s trickling down through space and time like water trickling down to its own level. We cannot bring it to an end that’s any different from the one it’s trickling towards.”

“And yet we know it is fated to come to an end,” said the Prof.

“How?” said Dyspepsia.

“Else it wouldn’t appear so smart, as we try to bring it to an end that’s different from the one it’s tricking towards.”

Dyspepsia rubbed her eyes. “I think I see…” she said.

Spookie said “Why does it come to me—of all people?”

“You’re its Momma. You made it—that’s why it comes to you. Do whatever you will—you can’t escape your appointment with it.”

“I see,” said Spookie. “I see everything.” She took a deep breath. “Well, what must I do?”

The Prof said, “It will take around three hours to descend the 10 km to the bottom of the well. That’s as fast as the CTB can sink, even in boiling water. Allow another hour of preparation time. Contact with the Earthspot is scheduled for 5 AM tomorrow, spot-on. Lieutenant Blowhard will wake you four hours earlier, at 1 AM, to go down to Level 4 and get sealed into the CTB.”

He looked at his watch. “Right now it’s 5:45 PM. I suggest you both get some beauty sleep. We’ve all had a long day.”

Back in their bedroom, Spookie got in bed without cleaning her teeth or anything. Not even licking her paw and giving her ears a quick rub.

Dyspepsia took her uniform off and hung it carefully in the wardrobe. She was rather proud of it. She liked being an admiral. She wondered if they’d let her be one again when she grew up.

In the corridor, the metallic voice said, “Earthspot minus eleven hours, fifteen minutes.” Spookie shuddered and said, “I don’t like that voice.”

“It’s only a robot voice,” said Dyspepsia.

“It’s telling me the Earthspot is getting closer by the minute.”

Dyspepsia gave her a hug and a kiss. “Try not to think of it. I’m here with you. Try and get to sleep.”

And Spookie was so tired, she did.

…to be continued.