"Heavens me!" Archibald shrieked as he choked on his tea in disbelief. His hand lost its grip on his teacup, and it shattered on the ground, echoing throughout his cave. Tears ran down his under-evolved jaw. "I do say," he panted as he dropped into his reading chair. His monocle tumbled down his face. He placed it back over his eye and proceeded to read.

"Dear Archibald,

We are sorry to inform you that your friends, Bubba and Jubjub, have passed away on the moon. Due to the high frequency of Neanderthal deaths on our space missions, we conducted further intelligence research, and the data has convinced us to terminate the Neanderthal astronaut program.

Sorry about your friends.



PS: Here is proof that they really are dead."

The envelope contained a photo of Bubba and Jubjub sprawled out on a pile of bones. "Ah, what a shame that Jubjub could not at least get a better haircut for his final photo!" Archibald whispered.

Over the years Archibald had regularly warned Bubba and Jubjub about the risks involved with the space program. They never listened to him. Their brains were simply not developed enough to see reason. "It wasn't their fault, bless their souls," said Archibald.

Archibald walked over to his scrapbooking tunnel and got to work. He spent hours rummaging through old photos of his friends, cutting them out, and pasting them on his primitive parchment books.

"Let us see. Which picture shall I select to fill this little empty space here?" Archibald asked. His eyes thoughtfully scanned through his collection. "Ah, quite," he said as he picked one and started cutting it out. It was a photo of Bubba lovingly clubbing Jubjub on the head with a mammoth tusk. In his mind, Archibald could still hear the hollow thuds resound within Jubjub's skull.

At last, as the sun was setting, his work was finished.

"Although my friends are dead, my scrapbook is not!" Archibald proudly proclaimed.

Archibald enjoyed the last rays of the sun's light as they sparkled on the surface of the lake. He reflected deeply upon the nature of existence. He remembered the times he had shared with his friends, especially Bubba and Jubjub. He was overwhelmed by the flood of memories surging through his mind.

"Is it not remarkable that I was able to be here and experience all of these extraordinary occurrences?" he thought to himself.

He thought about the Earth and the sun. He thought about the plants and the animals. He thought about the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. He thought about the nature of consciousness. He thought about life and death.

Although he had never been able to figure out the purpose of his existence, he was grateful that it had happened. "Things do not have to have a purpose in order for them to matter," he declared.

Archibald feebly gathered his strength and tottered to the edge of the lake. He gazed down at his reflection, which gazed back up at him. He was old, and he knew his time was coming to an end. A sense of gratitude for his life overcame him, although he did wish Mother Nature had provided him with a more reasonable pair of eyebrows.

"No amount of plucking was ever good enough," he sighed.

Archibald peacefully disintegrated into dust, and the wind carried him away.