“No, it can’t be…”
“What is it?”
“I.. I don’t know.”
Schuster and Moreau, first contact 2058/7/3
“My name is Wilhelm Schuster, particle physicist at CERN. I am writing you today because we have stumbled upon something I’ll admit has given us a bit of anxiety.
“First of all I should inform you that we have checked all of our systems at GravDet and found no errors in our machinery. We have successfully repeated the experiment with similar, but not identical results.
“I will admit that we are having difficulty believing what we are seeing. And we invite you to join us in determining exactly what the hell is going on. If I could write “WOW!” in big red letters on my data, it would be an understatement….”
Excerpt from an email sent to
50 biologists, 46 linguists, 300 physicists,
7 international government officials, and
Every member of SETI.
Science, like most interesting things, is nothing like you see on TV. In fact, though TV would have you believe that a Marine Biologist can easily figure out the complex chemistry of Geothermal vents and then harness this energy to bring a submarine back to the surface and thus save the day- the truth is, in reality, that biologist would probably die. A Physicist is actually extremely unlikely to understand much of the subtleties within Organic Chemistry in much the same way a Biologist really can’t be expected to understand Cosmology. The actual solution to problems in science is to contact experts, people who actually know something about the problem. These experts then not only help to solve the underlying issue, but learn a great deal more about how their own field connects to the rest of science as a whole.
But in 2058, Moreau, Schuster, and their entire team were faced with the ultimate dilemma of the modern age: who do you contact when your experiment stumbles upon what seems to be someone else’s conversation? Their solution: contact everyone.
2058/9/3 CERN. Dr. Moreau Lecture “The Voices” Attended by a variety of government- appointed individuals of various disciplines:
“This is GravDet. Our facility consists of interferometers of 5 km in length in an L formation. We work in conjunction with the SaharaNet facility roughly 3,000 km away for a difference in arrival times of ten seconds for the gravitational waves. This is similar to the old LIGO system in America. Our target was a frequency of 10‾² Hz; the goal was to detect gravitational waves as a result of supernovae explosions. For some reason just off that frequency we received a strange signal. I will let you hear the first signal momentarily. I want you to pay attention, these signals appear to be happening in dilated real time- as if, though traveling great distances, they are somewhat immune to the effects of general relativity. Since Gravitational waves travel at the speed of light, this signal appears to be impossible, yet we are receiving it. Here is the recording.”
A strange set of gurgling noises and plosives blasted from the speakers. It sounded nothing like static, but eerily like speech from a mouth with lips but no tongue. It was followed shortly by a clicking and popping sound full of hisses and what a Marine Biologist, who had little understanding why she was present, thought sounded like whale calls. In the end was human speech as follows:
“No, it can’t be…”
“What is it?”
“I.. I don’t know.”
“Before we contacted anyone we sent our data to seven other observatories. each returned similar, but not identical recordings to the first one. we are still recording at this frequency now and have compiled roughly two months worth of data. As you may have noticed, this message contains some repeating elements that seem-”
“Grammatical…” said a linguist in the front row. His eyes bulged as if he was surprised at at his own mouth.
For a moment everyone was silent in the room, each one shocked. Extraterrestrials. This would change everything.
“Exactly,” Moreau continued,
“From what we can tell the signal is inconsistent, non-repeating. However it is always coming from the same two opposing directions, never interrupting, and for some reason, despite the orbit of the Earth changing our location, we seem to be right in the middle of it.
“It appears to be one consistent message from each side respectively; our linguists argue that it is two separate languages. The signal is intense with no background noise.”
“Sounds like a phone call.” came the voice of a Biologist.
“Essentially yes, but it looks like several of them. Or one really long one. There are subtle changes that appear to be a change in voices- as if someone else is taking the phone.”
“Has anyone tried to say anything? Maybe they don’t know we can hear them.” said a Canadian representative.
“Never mind the fact that we don’t know how, it seems they were counting on us hearing the conversation. The signal is following Earth’s orbit, as if it is bouncing off our planet to get to its destination. The truth is, none of this makes sense. Gravitational waves would pass right through Earth, so there is no need for bouncing. This signal is deliberate…”
Moreau continued on for another hour, at that point completely unheard by a lone man who until then considered his scientific interests a hobby. Schuster brought him in as a “linguist”, though he was really just an old friend from University. His name was Mpendulo from South Africa.
He was actually a linguist, but in the same way one could be called a human. Born in Johannesburg, his childhood was an exposure to a bombardment of languages from all sides. His true profession was in the communications field, and on the third of September 2058, he decided to quit his job and focus only on one thing: Answering that message.
This story has been sitting on the back of my head for quite some time. Originally a book idea, I found I couldn’t wait to put pen to paper. If you feel robbed of an ending, good! That is my intent. This story will be a series of stories published under the tab “The Call.” Each of which I hope to be flash fiction length. Read part 2 here!
I love creating stories like this, but I can’t continue to make them without the help of people like you! Check out these books if you’re interested in helping me continue to create content like this for you!