Phil stared, eyes large with expectation, as he thought, Lem, can you tell what I'm thinking?

Lem squinted, then said, "Phil, did you just think the question 'Can you tell what I'm thinking?'"

Phil's eyes became enormous with excitement and he grinned, but before he could say anything, Lem asked, "Wait, did you just think 'Yes, that's what I asked'?"

"Yes! Both times you were totally right!" Phil squealed, then looked at Lem and said, "Wait, did you just think that since we totally invented telepathy, that makes us the biggest geniuses in the world?"

Lem's face lit up but he said nothing.

Phil asked, "Did you just think 'yes'?"


"We did it! We invented mind-reading technology!"

"This is huge!"

"I know! They'll probably give us our own booth at Comic-Con!"

"And a Nobel!"

"And a raise!... You're thinking that we probably won't get a raise even if we do win the Nobel."

Lem answered, "Yes, but it's sweet that you still dream."

"Hey, interesting! A minute ago, it was weird and scary that we could read each other's minds and now-"

"I was just thinking that! Or maybe-"

Phil interrupted, "You thought you were thinking that but really you were just picking up on me thinking that-"

Lem frowned, and Phil said, "Hey, I heard that, Lem, you're thinking that maybe I was just picking up on your thoughts."

Lem raised an eyebrow, and Phil said, "You're right, it will be very hard for us to know who came up with which - "

"Dibs on the next idea!" they both yelled at once.

"Dibs on the previous sentence!" they both yelled at the same time again.

"Dibs on both previous sentences!" they yelled simultaneously.

"Guys," Ted said, having wandered in, and using that slow tentative voice he had, much like when they grew tentacles on the office furniture, "What's going on?"

Lem and Phil proceeded to give each other a series of looks, followed by exasperated gasps, followed by angry growls, followed by apologetic shrugs, and finally by reconciliatory smiles.

"What was that?" Ted said.

"We were communicating telepathically," Phil said, "I know, Ted, you must feel so much envy."

"And really, Ted," Lem said, "We understand. We know how badly you want to be in our brains."

"The desperation must be killing you," Phil said, voice slick with pity.

Ted managed to keep a straight face as he said, "You have no idea."

But Veronica walked in then, saying, "What's this about Ted being desperate? You're paid to make new discoveries, not tell me 2 + 2 is 4."

"Thank you for that," Ted mumbled.

"We have invented mind-reading technology!" Phil said.

"We can use it to bring world peace," Lem added.

Veronica frowned. "No, we'll mix it with the erectile dysfunction pills and sell it as a package: We'll use the slogan, 'Some pills give you a log, only one pill tells you what angle to throw it.' We'll totally corner the lumber market!"

"Lovely," Ted said, then asked, "Hey, how exactly did you guys come up with it?"

"Lem thought of it," Phil said, just as Lem said, "Phil thought of it," and then they both said, "Uh oh."

Ted raised his brow. "Wait, did you test it on anyone else? Or did you just test it by seeing if you could read each other's thoughts?"

Lem and Phil frowned. Lem answered, "Well, it's natural that we would be the first to notice its effects."

"And it has to work," Phil said, "How else would I know that Lem secretly longs for the innocence of childhood again?"

"And how would I know that Phil is secretly addicted to Belgian shoe fetish porn?" Lem said, to which Phil nodded as if that were an excellent logical point.

"Maybe you two just... really know each other?" Ted suggested.

Phil and Lem looked at each other, had another silent conversation quickly, and then looked back at Ted and Veronica.

"Is your next sentence going to be that you've wasted my time and now you want to waste more of my time by telling me how sorry you are you wasted my time?" Veronica asked.

"Yes," they answered, and she quickly left.

"Hey, she'd be a good test subject, she's pretty good at mind-reading right off the bat," Phil observed.

"Yes, but what do you think would happen if you got a glimpse into her brain?" Ted asked.

"I think we'd break," Phil admitted, and Lem added, "If we're lucky. That place must be like living in the mouth of a time-shifting carnivorous alien."

"I knew you would bring up time-shifting carnivorous aliens!" Phil said with a smile.

Lem smiled back. "You know what, Phil? Let's get back to work. Maybe our invention wasn't perfect, but I'd say we have a great head start."

They gave each other such a sweet look of anticipation that Ted had to smile. But then he remembered that they were planning to demolish the ability of human individuals to engage in private thought, and he decided to take an early lunch. Might as well enjoy some private time while he still could.