Mary the Squirrel stood still, wrapping her tail around his shoulders. “We could just leave.”

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“There. Sit there, so I can check your clog,” said Maestro while pointing to the corner of a little room.

Pippin carefully sat down on a wooden footrest next to a yellow armchair.

“Umm. No, Pippin. That is a footrest. You should sit on a chair.”

“Oh!”—said Pippin as he jumped right back on his feet—”My regrets, but this footrest looks just like chairs we have in where I come from.”

Pippin then tried ascending into the armchair but gave up after a few tries.

“Okay, Pippin. Give me your shoe, and I will fix it on my table over here.”

Pippin took off the crakow and put a pom-pom inside.

“You see, sir,”—said Pippin while handing his crakow to Maestro and pointing his finger to his another crakow—”This is how it should look like.”

“I see,”—confessed Maestro—”I will say it is not an everyday problem that you have got, but don’t you worry, Pippin. For my talent, it is an easy fix!”

Pippin observed closely as Maestro took a large white glittery tube and a large needle. The Maestro threaded the needle with see though thread. He miraculously attached the pom-pom to the crakow.

“Achieved!”—declared Maestro and kneeled down to match Pippin’s height—”Try it on for looks now.” handing him the shoe. 

Pippin thoughtfully took his crakow from Maestro’s hand and slid his foot into it. He then wiggled his crakow, and the pom-pom cheerfully bounced up and down.

“It worked! You fixed it! Thank you, thank you!” sang Pippin in joy, dancing a little jig. 

“Introduce the fifth stimuli. The sound of clinking coins.”

Maestro nodded his head and smiled.

“But wait! Maestro, wait! How should I reciprocate for your work?”

“For such troubles, I tell customers to leave as much as they wish.”

“Hmm. As much as we wish of what? Candies?”

“Ooh, sweet Pippin. You could leave candy for my grandson, yes.”

“But what do you use for trade? Not candies?”

“Well, it is usually money.”

“Oh, I see! I think my friend Mary the Squirrel might have some money with her.”

“No worries. You can come by and leave some whenever you can!”

“No, I will go now to her and bring some immediately. Thank you, Maestro!”

Maestro gave a slight bob of his head and smiled at Pippin, who rushed out of the house.

“Mary the Squirrel! Mary the Squirrel!”

“Yes, Pippin?” smiled Mary the Squirrel as she got up from the under the bushes.

“He fixed it! He fixed my Elven crakow, look!”

“Ah, sweet Pippin! They look grand!” said Mary the Squirrel as she curiously checked Pippin’s crakows out.

“Yes, they really do! I must pay Maestro, though. I wondered if you could give me some money and I can give it to you back later?”

“Pippin, I have no money.”

“Nothing?”

“Nothing.”

“What will I do now?”—bawled Pippin—”What will I do, Mary the Squirrel?”

Mary the Squirrel stood still for a moment and then sat next to Pippin, wrapping her tail around his shoulders.

“Listen, Pippin. Hmm. We could just leave.”

“Leave? To get human currency elsewhere?” asked Pippin.

“No. We could, you know… We could easily go away.”

“Go where? Away from The Maestro’s house?”

“Yes…”

“And when will I pay him?”

“Well, you see. That’s what I am saying. We could just leave and not pay, Pippin. He said you could come back later, didn’t he? Skip town. Just forget.”

Pippin widened his eyes in shock. Both sat in silence, blinking at each other.

“What do you mean skip town, Mary the Squirrel? you are telling me to lie to myself?”

No reply.

“Answer me! Answer me now! How can we play as if nothing happened, leave town and not pay someone for their work?”

“We can lie, Pippin. We can say we will go to get money and never come back. He is old and won’t remember your name.”

Pippin felt his heartbeat increasing, and his hands shaking.

“No, we can not do that!”—shouted Pippin as disappointment and chills washed his body over—”That is lying! That is lying and stealing! No elf has ever done that. It breaks my heart just to think of it.”

“Whatever, Pippin. I have no money and cannot help you. I have no better idea. Let’s just go.”

“No! I am not going anywhere!”

“This Lie would not be the first in the human world, Pippin. And you are not the first customer to lie to Maestro.”

“No! Stop saying that!” His agitation palpable, struggling to catch his breath.

“Stop. Stop! Vitals signs are climbing off the chart. Abort the experiment NOW.”

“Aborted, experiment aborted.”

Seated on a small metal chair, panting with big goggles on his head, Pippin discerned and reached up to take them off. Blinking his eyes. Breathing deeply, squinting, and looking around the dark laboratory room, he saw himself in a large mirror.

“Is the subject okay?” spoke the female voice behind the one-way laboratory mirror.

“The subject seems okay. Vitals are stabilizing,” said a young man in a black coat as he observed Pippin through the glass, “Professor… I do not think they can assimilate, you know. As a society.”

“I know. Let’s get the Elf back home,” affirmed the Professor.

The young man walked into the laboratory room and smiled at Pippin.

“Who are you now?” screamed Pippin with alarm as he jumped off the chair.

“I am the person who will help you go back among the elves, Pippin.”

“Really?” smiled Pippin.

“Really.”

“And where is Maestro? Where is Mary the Squirrel?”

“They are… gone.”

“OH, did I…?”

“Lie? No, you did not lie to Maestro or to yourself. You are true. It was all a bad dream. You did not lie, and you did not steal, and you didn’t play dumb.”

“Oh, okay then. I faced the music.”

The man in the coat nodded his head.

“Let’s go now. The hot-air balloon that will take you to your world has arrived,” said the man as he opened the laboratory doors.

Pippin stepped outside. He took one step but stopped and looked back to the man in the coat.

“Go, Pippin! I promise you will be home in no time!”

Pippin tilted his head and smiled. He then waved and rushed towards the balloon, his pom-poms bouncing in the air.

Professor stepped into the laboratory.

“Did the subject leave?”

“Yes, Professor. The balloon has just flown away.”

“Good. Write the report, please. And gather the virtual reality equipment—I see the goggles are on the floor.”

“Right away.”

Report on experiment number four (“Insincerity” ):

The subject of the experiment: An elf named Pippin.

The Elf in question failed experiment number five. Human-like behavior not observed. The Institute discontinued the experiment for safety reasons.

Final report:

We presented the subject with several human-world stimuli in virtual reality. While elves have successfully adhered to some human habits, we have found social insincerity incompatible with elves’ social values. There is little difference between will and ideal. Reliance on goodwill is the foundation of their world. 

WE&P by EZorrilla.

A report issued by The Human-Elf Interaction Laboratory

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