Life in Writing
Once each week I browse through the R-writing prompts on Reddit and write a quick flash fiction based off of the most interesting one I see. Then each Friday I post them here for each of you to enjoy. This week's prompt:
Earth finally deciphers a signal from an alien world. The only translated message is a dire warning.
I was asleep when the call came in. I honestly thought it was a joke when Jerry’s excited voice yelled over the phone.
“You need to get in here now Tom!” He said, “It’s finally happened, we’ve made contact!”
I didn’t even bother getting dressed. I drove to the SETI station wearing only my flannel pajamas and cotton robe. I ran a few red lights to get there too. It would have been worth getting a ticket if I’d been pulled over.
I could barely contain my excitement as I passed the huge field of satellite dishes and parked outside the monitoring station, not bothering to lock my car as I sprinted inside.
Jerry had a grin plastered onto his chubby, bearded face when I walked in.
“Listen.” He said, flipping a switch on his consul. I couldn’t believe what I heard.
A soft thrumming sound pulsed through the speakers.
“This is the real deal?” I asked.
“I spent the last hour confirming it.” He said, “It’s a signal from outer space.”
I only left the monitoring station twice over the next six weeks. Once to get a suitcase with changes of clothes, and once to pick up a mathematician to help me with the decoding.
The mathematician I picked up, Seiji Tanaka, a funny little man from Japan was odd to say the least. He stood only 5’2” and constantly smelled of sardines, but he was utterly brilliant.
By the end of the six weeks we had broken down the signal into a series of utterly perplexing numbers.
Over the next few months we tried everything to crack the meaning of the numbers, star chart coordinates, hexadecimal code, comparisons to the rate of movement of the Earth, anything we could come up with. Nothing worked.
For three more weeks we puzzled over the meaning of the numbers until, out of boredom more than anything, I finally compared the numbers to the English language. The message was simple and startling:
“Our civilization has ended at their hands. They’re coming for you next. Run while you can.”
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Daniel M. Quilter is the author of A Soul Divided. On this blog he'll interview other authors, review books, share nerd wisdom from popular sci-fi and fantasy, and occasionally share his insights on writing. See a list of his works or see what he's working on.
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