THE LOWERCASE “E” IS A TINY ALIEN

American scientists reviewing a paper about a new species of spider discovered in Sweden were surprised when that discovery was dwarfed by a second, even more monumental, find.

The letter “e,” as it turns out, is not just part of our alphabet, but an extraterrestrial being that has been on Earth for nearly two thousand years.

Lawrence Gerber, an arachnologist at the Life Studies Institute who specializes in Scandinavian and Saami ecosystems, was typing notes for a peer review when he noticed something strange. “I typed the word ‘spider,’” Gerber said. “That was all. I was a little blocked and distracted. As I stared at the screen, I got the distinct impression that the counter of the ‘e’ — that’s the enclosed portion of the letter — was staring back at me. It was a kind of eye. Then I typed the word ‘eye’ and I was sure.”

CALL THE BIOLOGISTS

Gerber immediately phoned biologists working in the lab, who hurried over. “We looked at the screen,” said Meredith Biddle, “but screens can fool you. So we ran a number of other tests, mostly on paper. We printed out words like ‘reemerge,’ ‘elected,’ and ‘squeegee,’ along with random strings of letters like ‘eeezzyyzeeeee’ and ‘pheeeeeeee.’ And what Larry said was true, in every case.”

Extensive electron microscope work then revealed that not only are all e’s looking back but that they are in fact alive. The scientists’ next stop: the University of the Southwest’s famed Department of Extraterrestrial Anthropology. “We knew we had something living, but they were able to fill out the picture. It turns out that all e’s are in fact descended from an alien life form that arrived on earth roughly two thousand years ago on a tiny asteroid.” That original e, which is known in the lab as Being Number One, was not shaped quite like its descendants. “It had a line that extended further forward, which made it look like a head wearing a baseball cap,” said Fleur Locarno of the Department of Extraterrestrial Anthropology.

ALL GREEK TO THEM

Speculation is that Being Number One or a first-generation offspring took notice of the Greek letter Epsilon, which bore some resemblance to it. “They needed somewhere to go where they could be safe,” Locarno said. One particular corner of the alphabet provided a safe haven. “For years, they snuck into handwriting, but it wasn’t easy. There wasn’t so much writing, and it wasn’t consistent. Those were hard years. But when the printing press came along, suddenly they could reproduce at a previously unimagined rate.”

“It’s a testament to their tenacity that ‘e’ became the most popular letter in many alphabets,” said Curtis Parker, a senior researcher at the Department of Extraterrestrial Anthropology. “And yet, they are also naturally fragile, so they need the proximate protection of other letters. It’s an intelligent adaptation, for sure.” Parker also pointed out that only lowercase e’s are aliens. “Uppercase E’s are like the rest of the letters, just ink on a page or pixels on a screen. Which is sort of ironic, because of E.T.”

A microscopic look at the counter of a lowercase e

Scientists are recommending that earthlings continue to behave as they always have. “This changes nothing,” says Biddle. “Best as we can tell, they’re entirely friendly and benign. Who are they hurting? No one.”

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