There are many types of people in this world. There’s the lazy type, the date-able type, and the type that likes to stay busy to name a few. Of course, no one is limited to one type, but more than anything I am the type that likes to stay busy. I’d probably change that to *love* to stay busy.
So when I took an interest in space, it was simply to stay busy. When I built a rocket in my backyard that could jettison off into space it was, also, simply to stay busy. And when I made a probe that would transmit data out to space, collect anything it receives on any radio wavelength, transmit it back to Earth, mounted it on my space rocket and launched it into the great unknown, it was to stay busy. There were no ulterior motives to any of it; I’m simply a curious guy. Not that any government or civilian organization would believe me had my little projects gone noticed on any scale, but I live a life of solitude more or less, so none of that happened.
A year and a half after launching the probe and setting up my computer to read it’s transmissions, I received a notification on my computer that the probe had received information from an unknown source. In the first couple months I had tuned out all human frequencies, and worked out algorithms to disregard both human and natural space interference; due to the lack of activity with the project I had all but forgot about it until this morning. It took a minute or two for me to realize the message was sent on the same frequency I had broadcast a transmission packet (the sort typical of anyone potentially contacting alien life for the first time like “Hey, just wanted to see if anyone else exists past here”, and an English dictionary so maybe they can translate). I was flabbergasted- it probably took me a couple of minutes more to decide what to do (something I’ve never had to do before), and another five to clean up the mess that is my coffee I unintentionally had spilled all over the floor, my favorite mug now laying in pieces around my feet.
I tasked my computer to try to decipher the transmission which, given my less-than-state-of-the-art technology, estimated it would take the rest of the weekend to get it all sorted out, so I made myself another cup of coffee and walked outside to my porch.
“Is there more out there?” I once again thought to myself, looking up at the sky. There was still a chance it was spacial interference I hadn’t yet tuned out- some sort of radiation spike that could have passed as the frequency, unlikely, but it’ll be clear sooner or later.
There was no use standing around for the next couple of days so I decided to pack up my stuff and go on a short hunt. The deer around here were getting to be a bit of a nuisance for my garden, and while I waited for the message to be deciphered I may as well teach them all a bit of a lesson (and I needed the meat- I don’t quite like grocery shopping).
By the time I was back home Sunday evening my computer showed signs of progress. It had received the whole transmission, and by the scanning of my computer the data seemed to contained images.
“Quite peculiar,” I thought to myself as I watched the data start to be encoded. I only had the hardware to receive and send messages, not triangulate where transmissions come from, so there was really no telling where the sender was. Quietly I hoped to myself that it was indeed a signal interference from somewhere- it would be an easier, and probably less potentially stressful discovery.
It took two more days to fully encode the pictures. Yes, plural; a total of four came through to me. Until I knew what they all were I decided to not tell anyone. My time tuning the instruments to not pick up any stray data *should* have meant that nothing from already known sources would be picked up, but I didn’t want to take my chances. No point in blowing the whistle on anything like a simple signal crossing- just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it won’t ever. Once more I grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down to take a look at the mysterious images.
The first photo was definitely an image of space, no surprise there thankfully. It appeared to be pointed at a large cluster of galaxies in the distance, with vast red and purple nebulae spanning across the screen. It was beautiful, calm almost, with the stillness that is captured in every image of outer space. I ran a scan of that image against any NASA photo taken, but it came up empty- this was an original photo as far as I could tell. Whoever received my transmissions decided a photo of space was the proper thing to send as a reply- whether that being due to a language barrier (perhaps my dictionary wasn’t able to be translated for some reason… a little unsettling if we can’t communicate somehow), or some sort of space humor. I made a note to remind myself to ask whatever it is I may run into or communicate with why photos were the chosen response.
The second image was unmistakably the Milky Way galaxy, even given it’s awkward angle. I’ve been in love with space my whole life, I’d be pretty ashamed if I couldn’t identify my resident galaxy. Due to, I’m assuming, the space dust in the galaxy, and the fact I received this image from an unknown source in space, gave the image an unsettling tone by turning all ambient starlight to gray and blue colors, and the black hole in the center of our galaxy which usually shines a bright yellow/white shone a deep red, probably due to the discoloration from the ambient dust in the image.
From what I could tell the images weren’t related yet, but I did have two more to go so I jumped in without thought. I told myself I would think about what they all mean after I figure out what are in them.
The third picture was of the earth. The dark side of the planet illuminated from the signs of our species’ advancement, though seemingly unaware of extraterrestrial stalkers. Then I noticed in the same photograph I could make out the ISS and the Hubble telescope. I was pretty sure by this point that whatever was sending me these photos couldn’t possibly also be on this same planet as me. The photos also seemed to be giving a zooming in effect, from very very far away to close up.
An uneasy version of myself took a look at the last photograph loaded up on the screen. This one looked like a satellite view of Google Maps, except it didn’t have any of the Google Maps markings, once more reminding me I’m looking at a potentially alien data transmission. Part of me wondered for a moment if this was the first case of intergalactic image sharing.
Given the type of trees that donned the area I guessed that the photo was taken in the Northwestern hemisphere, the more I gazed on it the more I realized it was probably pretty close to my nearby town. The gravel road looked awful similar to the ones we have over here (though all gravel roads look the same I guess), the pond in the bottom corner also looked familiar. I froze when I saw the car- but no, I’m not the only one with a 85′ station wagon, and anyone could park it on a long gravel driveway by a pond, adjacent to a large barn house.
My hands were shaking when I picked up my coffee to take a sip. I started wondering if it was a dream, me receiving these pictures. In a year and a half nothing had come through, so why now? Why these photographs? Why photographs at all? I glanced back at the computer and that’s when I noticed the text that was transposed to the image.
The text read, “I spy, with my little eye, you. <3”
That’s probably when I passed out. Also about the time I broke my second favorite coffee mug.
Two weeks later I hadn’t received any more communication from the unknown sender. Fine by me; the only two coffee mugs I cared about are already distant memories, and I doubt I could take another shock to my brain- or to my stock of cups and mugs.
All the research I’ve done on the photos concluded that the photographs originated from at least 115,000 light years away (that’s the approximate distance from the earth the first photograph was taken), and after even more research I couldn’t find anything in the surrounding vicinity of space that could hold sentient life naturally. There were a couple minor asteroid fields, but no planets, moons, or stars that could indicate inhabitation of any sort, which left the possibility that whatever sent the transmission was a ship. An unknown spaceship sent me photographs from 115,000 light years away. Every time I thought of that my brain froze for fear of the horrors that it could mean, but I also felt full of wonder. Obviously we weren’t alone in the universe, and perhaps this traveler means no harm.
I readied another transmission. It wouldn’t be a long one; I only intended to ask the nature of the ship, friend or foe, and how they managed space travel. I decided to keep the messages short- for faster sending, but also because regardless the amount of questions I wanted to ask, my brain went blank whenever I sat at the keyboard to type anything to the ship. It’s been two weeks and I still can’t get over the fact that I made contact with an alien ship, and that alien ships *actually* exist. Eat your hearts out all extraterrestrial nonbelievers.
The message was sent. I took a sip from my new coffee mug, turned to face the window and pondered for a while. Waiting for things is something I’m not very good at- especially if it involves aliens apparently.
I yelled out in a mix of pain, excitement, panic- pretty much any emotion you could think of. I found a new coffee mug, and like the rest to this point it couldn’t take the news of an alien transmission and ended it’s life by jumping to the floor, leaving boiling hot coffee all over my chest and lap, and bits of ceramic shrapnel for me to pick up from the floor later.
The rest of the emotions were manifested by a reply transmission to my questions, though there were no answers. The contents of the message was an S.O.S., as well as coordinates. The actual message read, “S.O.S. XXX,XXX,XXX” (all the ‘x’ were actual coordinates; I didn’t want to share the physical coordinates online for obvious reasons).
My coffee mug’s suicide commenced as I realized the coordinates pointed to a location merely 50 miles from my house. Obviously bewildered, I took a quick shower and changed out of my coffee soaked clothing. An S.O.S. meant it was in trouble, but it’s an alien ship so why couldn’t it broadcast to it’s home planet, or whatever space ships did? Why choose to broadcast to a lowly earthling who probably won’t be able to help you?
The obvious choices were to go to the police, who couldn’t deny it’s alien by now with all the evidence I have, ignore it and hope that it ignores me, or to go to the ship and see what was up. The first two choices were discarded as I didn’t want the police to confiscate some of my more questionable projects (nothing illegal to my knowledge, but when you’re working on nuclear fission for your own home nuclear power things are likely to get taken away from you), and I definitely would not be able to shake the thought of an alien ship nearby from my head, so I went for the obvious, and obviously ridiculously stupid choice to see what the visitor needed.
The ship was easy to find, given I had the coordinates, but it took a good while to physically get to. I thought I was living in the middle of nowhere, but now I realize the middle of nowhere is actually 50 miles further north than my house. As I approached it I could see about 100 yards of dragging where it skidded to a stop in dense trees and brush, and it took me a couple of hours of clearing foliage before I could reach out and touch it.
For a spaceship it was pretty boring actually. It was a metallic gray mostly, with faded yellow accents on stepping panels, and a sort of a green color- it honestly looked a bit like humans could have made it, from the overall style and coloring of it. I had been expecting something totally bizarre and out of this world, so despite the fact I was standing in front of an honest to god spaceship I was a little disappointed. There were no lights on inside, or signs of life, and the hatch I found that probably was one of a couple of entrances to the ship I had seen was shut and locked tight. The slight *War of the Worlds* vibe the place was giving off started to creep me out after a while, so I setup a quick IP camera and headed back to my place again to ponder the whole thing over more. I needed to figure out if I can move it, and then move it closer to my place so I can look at it easier, and perhaps get it open and take a look at all the alien technology inside. Hopefully nothing is already in there and just waiting to be let out… I watch too many scary science fiction movies.
I stopped using my coffee mugs for a while, just until I get used to having a spaceship around. Never knowing what to expect, I’m bound to break all my mugs with all the crazy stuff around here. At least with the paper cups I only have to clean up one mess… but it couldn’t get much crazier than the door to the ship opening by itself. Which happened one night while I was watching tv in my living room, keeping a close eye on the IP camera I setup to watch the ship. Thank you, paper cups, for sacrificing yourselves for the sake of my ceramic pieces.
I decided to go inside the ship, since it’s open. I’ve always loved space, and have always wanted to see and be inside a real space ship. And I’ve always wanted to see an alien in person, so I wasn’t going to give up the only chance that’s presented itself in my lifetime.
I packed a small bag of things I thought I’d need to analyze anything that could be in a spaceship- so a radiation reader, various electronics testers and things, and stopped to write this all down before heading off to the ship- in case this is the last thing I write for one reason or another.
I’ve been sort of spring cleaning- the kind you do after what seems like centuries, after things pile up and you forget where things have been all these years- and I found this journal, so I thought I would add some sort of end to it. Leaving it where I simply find the ship wouldn’t be any fun, now would it?
To the day it’s been 2 years, 8 months, 2 weeks, and 1 day since I found the ship by Earth’s calendar. By the one I have been using it’s been 500 years, 3 months and 5 days. The easiest way to explain it for now would be wormholes and space time continuum stuff. I don’t really understand all of it, Elpis is still teaching me things, but soon enough maybe I’ll be able to travel back… to the future!! (I had to because it’s true- you understand) Enough with joking, I’m sure curiosity fills whoever’s reading this. Hopefully.
I went back to the ship with my equipment, and that’s where I found a small creature I named Elpis. The easiest way to describe him would be like an artificial intelligence that isn’t artificial. He’s a sort of a slug thing that can interact with various electronics and machines in the ship, and due to not having vocal chords, his preferred method of communication is by showing images or text up on one of the many displays that are on board. He’s a pretty intelligent little thing, practically absorbing any knowlegde thrown it’s way. One of my little games I starte playing with him was to try to stump him with questions, but so far I always wind up losing- though I ran out of questions to ask him a couple of centuries ago.
There are so many things to write about from the past centuries I’m not sure where to take you next, a brief overview perhaps. The ending- my arrival here- is far more interesting than most of the rest of the journey, as I spent a while simply being a tourist. Fairly quickly on I discovered body modifications, and I can say I sport two that Silicone Valley would die over. One is an implant that filters out any bad nutrient, disease, toxins, and repairs any damage done to my body. A side effect of that being that my aging process is slowed quite significantly. I’ve lasted 500 years so far and feel like I have another 400 years I could live thorugh. The other implant makes it really easy to learn things. I plug a cord into the crook of my arm, and Matrix style it gets uploaded into my brain. Out in space more than anywhere else knowledge is key, so I figured the faster I can learn things the better chance I’ll have at surviving- a fact that’s proven correct so far, and of all the things I’ve learned, the most fascinating has always, to me, been learning about the cultures of the different species and how they interact.
I wound up becoming a freight runner for a small trading company, which had me running around enough parts of the galaxies to start being able to do a little bit of freelance intergalactic journalism. Being that I’m interested in learning everything I wanted to take every opportunity I could to learn whatever I could, and learning about locals lives is important too, if only to understand any one species’ culture. During my time as a freight running journalist is when I started learning of the struggles and wars that rage on in the universe abound. Large corporations that own whole planets, running and ruining people’s lives, the first rate galaxies where no one wanted to know of anyone else’s pain or struggles, and a plague of creatures that destroy most of everything in their path. I learned about alot in my time up in space.
There was a war that started with what we wound up calling the Plague, for lack of anything else to call it. Everything on all the scanners would start to go dead, and then we wouldn’t hear from anything that got enveloped in the black again. A war actually would be an overstatement, because from the start it’s been a retreat. Nothing’s escaped the Plague, we don’t even know if there are actual creatures that are inside the darkness that started to grow. But that’s not really quite true.
Almost 3 years ago I warped into a galaxy that was being overrun by the Plague. Even though I was human I had been drafted into a sort of attack force that was supposed to try to figure out what this Plague was. Up to that point we had been unsuccessful figuring out anything. Our weapons would make the Plague’s advance stop for a moment is all, before it would advance faster as if to make up for lost time. This was one of the last stands we would be able to make against the Plague before it moved on to the largely more populated areas of the universe, and since the evacuation had been successful we were allowed to use a bomb I was told was more powerful than anything I’ve ever seen before. I had no reason to doubt it after everything that’s happened to me to that point so I watched as the bomb sailed slowly towards the advancing black mass. The blinding white blue light exploded across my eyes and I turned away for a moment. When I looked back at the mass, I saw what looked like a part in the inky mass and a metallic shine.
There wasn’t much else for me to do so I dove at it like a kamikazee pilot in WWII, my hope to be to pin whatever what in there to the front of my ship, and be able to fly myself out, and maybe be able to get myself to safety to analyze the thing. The thing I had seen couldn’t have been as large as the ship I had, so no big deal right?
My plan almost worked as well as I had hoped. I dove in at the shiny thing, and my ship collided with it at a speed hard enough to almost knock me out. I had engaged my warp drives for a moment, and directed all sheild power to the front in an attempt to minimalize damage. Somehow in that moment, whether it was something I did, or entirely coincidence- perhaps a combination of the two, I made it out of the Plague, and I’m possibly the first thing alive to have done it. As for the thing I plowed into, I have it locked up in the basement of my shop. When I regained my bearings after my suicide run I realized I wasn’t anywhere near where I was moments before. I stayed stranded in space for probably two days until I recieved a message from noplace it had seemed, though it contained an English dictionary.
I told Elpis to reply to it, and navigated the ship straight to the planet from where the transmisison came from. Once I was in escape pod range, I loaded myself, the thing I ran into, and one of Elpis’ offspring, onto the escape pod, erased all the ship memory of all the captains logs from the last 500 years, and ejected towards the planet.
I’m spending my time trying to figure out the Plague. I figure I traveled back in time 500 years somehow, so I may as well spend the next 500 years (or however long I have left) trying to figure out what the Plague is, so maybe we have a way to fight it when it comes to us. I haven’t really figured much out since I got back to Earth either, which is the disappointing part. Until I went to space I didn’t realize how crappy the things we have here on Earth really are, but I can’t complain about it till I can get something that’s better. Perhaps getting help from Loch (Elpis’ offspring I took with me) I’ll be able to make some better tech to use to analyze this thing.
In about 30 years I’ll probably pick up and move somewhere else, to keep myself secret. I don’t need anyone freaking out when I don’t age. Since I’m trying to save the universe I may as well try to keep a low profile while I’m at it you know? Maybe I’ll also drop in and share some stories from when I was in space- it’ll be good to reminisce, since I’ll probably never be out on the starry sea of emptiness again. The Plague is far too important to figure out how to defeat to try to worry about going back to space again.
Here’s to my past, your future, in hopes it will be better than when I lived it.