spend their entire lives
watching others live.
they never sin,
they never get angry,
they never go crazy,
they never explore,
and they make no mistakes.
they think they’re playing it safe
by digging a hole in the ground
and hiding their seeds in it,
so that when the imaginary unjust master
comes and makes demands,
they can dig them up and say
well, look! i did nothing wrong,
i did nothing wrong at all.
BURIED SEEDS (Magic Spells from the Cosmic Dragon)
36,400,000. That is the expected number of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy, according to Drake’s famous equation. For the last 78 years, we had been broadcasting everything about us – our radio, our television, our history, our greatest discoveries – to the rest of the galaxy. We had been shouting our existence at the top of our lungs to the rest of the universe, wondering if we were alone. 36 million civilizations, yet in almost a century of listening, we hadn’t heard a thing. We were alone.
That was, until about 5 minutes ago.
The transmission came on every transcendental multiple of hydrogen’s frequency that were listening to. Transcendental harmonics – things like hydrogen’s frequency times pi – don’t appear in nature, so I knew it had to be artificial. The signal pulsed on and off very quickly with incredibly uniform amplitudes; my initial reaction was that this was some sort of binary transmission. I measured 1679 pulses in the one minute that the transmission was active. After that, the silence resumed.
The numbers didn’t make any sense at first. They just seemed to be a random jumble of noise. But the pulses were so perfectly uniform, and on a frequency that was always so silent; they had to come from an artificial source. I looked over the transmission again, and my heart skipped a beat. 1679 – that was the exact length of the Arecibo message sent out 40 years ago. I excitedly started arranging the bits in the original 73x23 rectangle. I didn’t get more than halfway through before my hopes were confirmed. This was the exact same message. The numbers in binary, from 1 to 10. The atomic numbers of the elements that make up life. The formulas for our DNA nucleotides. Someone had been listening to us, and wanted us to know they were there.
Then it came to me – this original message was transmitted only 40 years ago. This means that life must be at most 20 lightyears away. A civilization within talking distance? This would revolutionize every field I have ever worked in – astrophysics, astrobiology, astro-
The signal is beeping again.
This time, it is slow. Deliberate, even. It lasts just under 5 minutes, with a new bit coming in once per second. Though the computers are of course recording it, I start writing them down. 0. 1. 0. 1. 0. 1. 0. 0… I knew immediately this wasn’t the same message as before. My mind races through the possibilities of what this could be. The transmission ends, having transmitted 248 bits. Surely this is too small for a meaningful message. What great message to another civilization can you possibly send with only 248 bits of information? On a computer, the only files that small would be limited to…
Was it possible? Were they really sending a message to us in our own language? Come to think of it, it’s not that out of the question – we had been transmitting pretty much every language on earth for the last 70 years… I begin to decipher with the first encoding scheme I could think of – ASCII. 0. 1. 0. 1. 0. 1. 0. 0. That’s B… 0. 1. 1 0. 0. 1. 0. 1. E…
As I finish piecing together the message, my stomach sinks like an anchor. The words before me answer everything.
“ Peter- “ Her sentence is cut off by a COUGH wracking her body and sniffles in her nose. Sick is the only descriptor and she is making her best attempt not to act miserable. She has yet to ADMIT that the cold has her in its grips, but he must know. “ I don’t feel so good. “
Three months ago the beast, alien, or thing first entered our solar system. I wish I could describe it better. It was massive, almost half the volume of the sun and nearly a hundred times as dense. It was traveling a quarter of a million kilometers per hour. I don’t even want to talk about the amount of energy that is.
Our instruments and scanners were able to pick it up long before it passed Jupiter, and when I say passed, I mean it dislodged Jupiter from its orbit and sent it on its merry way to the Ort Cloud. Scientists are still debating on what effects this will have on us, but all of them agree that it will be the greatest struggle that humanity has yet to face. In other news, we get a meteor shower every night that rivals the yearly Perseid shower.
This thing, ship, giant space rock, or creature skimmed our solar system as if it were a bullet that just grazed the skin. We kept tracking it as far as our sensors would allow, looking at it as it blocks out stars in the night’s sky, and noticed something strange about its path. It was zig-zagging. The ability to move that much mass around is nothing short of impossible, and scientists are still struggling to explain it.
Surprisingly, the biologists were the first to come up with an insight about its movement. It strongly resembled the path a gazelle takes when it is being hunted by a cheetah.
That was a few weeks ago, and we have since pointed our telescopes towards the direction the thing came from, and sure enough, we were missing a skyful of stars.
OKAY IT TOOK ME ABOUT FOUR FUCKING HOURS TO DRAW THIS BECAUSE MY IPAD (Yeah I don’t have an actual drawing tablet I draw with my finger lol) DELETED IT RIGHT AFTER I FINISHED IT UGH. Anywho, yeah have this flying colors because I love these dorks omg. Artman is my ultimate bae though. I love him. Characters are rebornica’s
I am terrified. How easy is it to just pick up from where you left off? How easy is it to reconnect with someone that used to be such a huge part of your life and now just…isn’t there. We were different people back then, and to what extent different people now, we’ll find out.