Iterative Science Fiction

Timing

Posted in Unstuck in Time by Mark on February 19, 2010

“No, Kurt. There’s a pause. Then you say the punchline.”
“I assumed the listener would want to get to the funny part as quickly as possible,” Kurt replies.
“Sometimes it’s about the journey and not the destination. Humor is hard to pin down.”
“But humor is not hard to punch?”
I laugh and nearly snort frozen cola. “There you go, that was funny.”
He doesn’t seem amused, despite his face never showing any emotion. I don’t know how I know, but you get this feeling once you’ve hung around with Second Men for long enough. The only physical difference between them might be the placings of their dents and scratches, but I think I am getting to the point where I can tell them apart without checking serial numbers.
“I was not being funny by intention. What was amusing about it?” He is standing nearby. In fact, he always stands. Guess they don’t have to get tired if they’re balanced.
“Well, it was playing off the previous comment about being a punchline.” I tried to put my thoughts into words. “You know what, never mind. It’s not funny now that I got to explain it.” I look back into the Martian street from my seat, people watching.
“This is perturbing, Ishmael. Telling the joke is funny, but explaining the intricacies of what makes it funny is not.”
“What are you, fresh off the fab unit? I thought you’d been around the sun a couple of times.”
“Sarcasm, correct? I am getting better at sarcasm, but mostly due to your body language indicators.”
We pause a moment so I can slurp more cola. It was warm outside. We sat with a few others in the shaded area outside the convenience store. Some habits die hard, even on other worlds with artificial climates.
“Sit down, go ahead. You’re making people nervous, Kurt. Relaxation is what you and I need.”
He pauses a moment before replying.
“My knees are artificial.”
Another pause.
“Ha. Ha. Ha.”
I sigh into my frozen cola.

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