They are silent the entire way home. Gordon is rummaging around through his smartphone, Freeman is looking out the window, and the Professor is pretending to sleep. They all gather at the table for dinner.
Professor: Well, guys? What did you thinkkk?
Freeman: To be honest, Professor, I'm speechless. That was the most horrible, cruelest sight I've ever seen.
Professor: Oh, Freeman. I don't want to upset you, but Boogeys do even worse things to humans than that. You can't even imagine the true extent of the abuse of humans. It's an entire industry. People are used for various ekkxperiments and tests, many of which ckkause them inckkredible pain and suffering. And there are also flayers who provide wealthy ckklients with ekksotickk forms of entertainment. One of them is called "Heart of the Dragon."
Freeman: Dragon? What do dragons have to do with this?
Professor: I don't know, actually. Anyway, this akkktivity is ckkonsidered to be one for the strongest, the most worthy. And here's what happens: the heart is cut out of a Humie who is still alive and given to the ckklient while it is still beating. The ckklient has to eat it quickkkly. Raw.
Professor: So the extent of the debasement and exploitation of humans is really just incredible.
Gordon: The worst part is that the Boogeys don't see anything wrong with it. They say it's their work. Or that they need something to eat. That they need something to wear. Professor, with all your technologies, would it really be so hard to come up with some other food? Can you really not make materials that would easily replace leather?
Professor: Pfff, of course we can. And like I said, meat isn't even the optimal food for Boogeys. And, medically speaking, Boogeys shouldn't drink milk altogether. We aren't even mammals. It's all just relics of the past and stupid stereotypes. When we arrived, there were so many people on Earth that our leaders thought it would be a sin not to takkke advantage of the situation. Especially since the planet's population had to be reduced qkkwuickly. All of this turned into a whole industry with money swirling all around it. Well, and then everyone got used to it and just couldn't stop.
Freeman: But, Professor, your society is familiar with concepts like humanitarianism, and love, and freedom and compassion, isn't it? Why are there so few Boogeys like you?
Professor: Well, right, supposedly we’ve got all that. Respect for freedom, and compassion, and humanitarianism. But only with regard to other Boogeys and intelligent beings. And, to Boogeys, people are unintelligent. That's the problem. And since you're not intelligent, we can exploit and degrade you.
Gordon: Whoo, Professor, I think I've figured out your civilization! It's just that people can't give you the old one-two! That's why you don't acknowledge our intelligence. But in reality, you're the same underdeveloped creatures that we are. We also can understand only force much of the time. Our society also degrades and exploits the weak. And, really, level of intelligence has nothing to do with it. We kill both those like us, and cows and pigs.
The Professor thinks over what Gordon has said.
Professor: It seems you're right, Gordon. A civilization that takes advantage of its superiority over the weak can hardly be called an intelligent one.
Gordon: But we aren't animals, of course not! Although, no… I’ll take that back. After that dinner, Professor, I thought a lot about the ideas that were discussed at the table.
Gordon: You're right that the intelligent Boogey civilization, or that of humans, can hardly be compared to the wild. No one degrades anyone else in the wild. No one keeps anyone in captivity. The lion's chances of catching a zebra are equal to the zebra's chances of running away. That's the marvel of nature's balance and harmony. In nature, everything is deliberate and beautiful. Even cruelty in nature is justified and appropriate. Did you know that when a zebra runs away from a lion, it has a really high level of adrenaline? So its sensations of pain are strongly suppressed. It hardly suffers at all. As a rule, the lion kills it quickly and painlessly. Nature takes care of everyone.
Freeman stares at Gordon in surprise.
Gordon: What? What's wrong? You're surprised that I know something about the wild? I've watched some shows on TV. They're not bad, by the way. No worse than the BBC, really.
Freeman: No, I just thought that there’s no room in your head for nonsense like nature, animals or other sentimentality. I used to think that you were a self-confident lout with little chance of becoming interested in humanitarianism and problems of nature.
Gordon: That was before. What happened to us has helped me look at a lot of things from a different angle. And today's excursion forced me to rethink many of my values of life and the values of our society.
Freeman: I'm really glad that you haven’t remained indifferent to what we've seen. And as for myself, I've decided that when we get back home, I'm going to devote my life to opening the eyes of our society to the problems that the Professor has told us about and that I've seen myself.
Gordon: You want to save our civilization from destruction and chaos?
Freeman: Yes. Why not? What, you think that I don't have the guts?
Gordon: No, no, of course not. I'll go even further - will you take me on as your assistant?
Freeman smiles and extends Gordon his hand. Gordon shakes it firmly.
Professor: Friends, I am so glad that these few months have not been for nothing for you. You have grown spiritually over this time. I hope that you will manage everything you want to do in your world. And for my part, I promise to do everything I ckkan for people and for Boogeys here. You know, you've even inspired me with your optimism.
Freeman starts thinking. Gordon and the Professor relax and drink some kind of hot, fragrant beverage.
Freeman: You know what just occurred to me, Professor. We're not going back to a parallel universe, after all – we're going back to the past. And if we go back to the past and change everything there, then, perhaps, people won't be enslaved by your civilization. Isn't that right? And there won't be those farms, or the violence, or any of these horrible things. Your entire history might go a completely different way. That's the time travel paradox. Gordon, you did see "Back to the Future", didn't you?
Gordon: Yeah, of course. It's a classic!
Freeman: Then you know what I mean.
Gordon: Hmm… yes, it's an interesting question, of course. And, really, Professor, if we change the future, what will happen in your time? Will it also change? Or will they both exist as two alternative scenarios? In parallel universes?
Professor: I haven't seen "Backkk to the Future," but I understand what you mean. I thinkkk it's irrelevant. You should do what you ckkonsider to be necessary.
Freeman: My head is spinning just thinking about all this! I hope our time travel won’t trigger the destruction of the universe.
Gordon: To be honest, Freeman, our chances of changing the course of our civilization's development, and over such a short period of time, are really low. But we should try.
It takes three more months to get the time machine ready. On the appointed date, the Professor, Gordon, and Freeman arrive at Gharg's laboratory. They sit there and wait for another two hours as Gharg sets up his equipment. When everything is ready, Gharg approaches them.
Gharg: Professor, I've got everything ready. We just have to enter the exact coordinates and time for the transfer.
Professor: Yes, Gharg, we've already discussed it. Send them to the point in time five minutes after they were transported to us. But not back to the laboratory – to these coordinates.
Gharg: Okay. Well, let them get on the platform, then. And I'll enter the data for the transfer.
The Professor comes up to the scientists.
Professor: Well, friends, it's time for us to say goodbye. You are finally going backkk.
Gordon: (extending his hand to the Professor to shake) Professor, thank you so much for helping us. And for having opened our eyes.
Professor: (carefully taking Gordon's hand) No need to thank me, Gordon. Any intelligent being in the universe would have done the same.
The Professor extends a hand to Freeman.
Professor: Freeman, I wish you a pleasant journey!
Freeman: Thank you, Professor. Good luck to you!
Gordon and Freeman enter a small room, in the center of which is a platform. Above the platform, there is a sort of canopy with cryptic machinery. Gordon and Freeman stand on the platform. Gharg stands behind the time machine's control panel and shows something to the Professor.
Gharg: Well, boys, ready to go back? Be prepared for a little fall. I took some precautions, and so you'll materialize a couple of feet above the ground. I still haven't quite figured out all the details. I hope that you survive.
Gordon and Freeman take a look at each other.
Gordon: You think this Boogey calculated everything right?
Freeman: I think so. He knows he's sending real, live people, not pieces of wood, after all.
Gordon: Uh-huh… this vampire eats baked infants for dinner. I doubt he gives a crap about live people!
Freeman: Let's just hope that everything goes well.
The dome above the platform comes to life, buzzes and begins to rotate.
Gharg: Beginning the countdown. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, launch!
Gordon and Freeman lose consciousness. Gordon wakes up first. He lifts his head and takes a look around. Very close by is a highway with cars racing down it. Next to him, Freeman is lying with his face down. He rolls him onto his back and starts trying to wake him up.
Gordon: Hey, Freeman, wake up already! Well? Wake up, come on, come on!
Freeman opens his eyes.
Freeman: What happened?
Gordon: We seem to be alive. And it seems that we're in our time. At least those cars on the highway are being driven, not flown. That's something.
Freeman gets up onto his legs and then sits back down on the ground.
Freeman: Oof… my head is spinning. Now let's find out for sure where we've ended up.
He takes his smartphone out of his pocket and turns it on.
Freeman: Everything's right. We've returned home. (he shows Gordon the screen of the smartphone)
Gordon: Excellent! Now let's go to our lab and see what's left of it.
That same evening, Gordon and Freeman are sitting in their favorite restaurant.
Gordon: You don't think it's strange that the black hole in our lab didn't destroy the entire West Coast?
Freeman: I don't know. It was really small, after all, and it disappeared almost immediately. That's how we got off so easy. Only the equipment suffered.
Gordon: Yeah, and my sanity. You saw the face of the security guard who saw us at the entrance for the second time this morning. He didn't understand how we ended up outside of the lab. We didn't leave it, after all.
Freeman: We can always say it was a part of the experiment. And basically, it was.
Gordon: What are we going to do now?
Freeman: I don't know yet. We need to think everything through. But nothing will be the same now.
Gordon: That's for sure.
He doesn't notice as the waiter approaches.
Waiter: Good afternoon, gentlemen. Everything as usual?
Gordon takes a look at Freeman.
Gordon: (to the waiter) Forget the lamb!
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