Proof of Life, Part 31

5 Oct

October 3, 2131

Hidaya sent a remote video probe to examine the asteroid. It looked pitted and scarred and old, but the chemical signature was unmistakable. After examining it closely, she decided it was not natural.

“This was obviously made, Memre’. But why? To what purpose? As a joke? A time capsule?” She snapped her fingers. “That’s it! There must be something inside. Maybe a time capsule or a coffin. Who knows? Can our scanners pick up anything about the asteroid’s center?”

“Something at the center of the asteroid seems to confuse our scanners.”

“I guess we’ll have to get a look at it another way.”

She sent a second, laser-equipped remote to gradually heat up the asteroid’s exterior, boiling the elements away. Inside was an odd, metallic spiral.

“What is that?”

“Unknown, Captain. Sensor readings do not match any material in our databanks.”

“Hmmm. There’s something about the shape, too. That spiral reminds me of a seashell.” She directed the video remote to move in more closely.

“What can the sensors tell us, Memre’?”

“The object is a golden mean; it rotates pi times; and it seems to have fractal edges at the wide end that my instruments can’t accurately measure.”

Hidaya started to tremble. “That banded exterior, Memre’, could have been somebody’s practical joke, but that shell thing –“Her voice broke, but she forced herself to continue her reasoning. “It’s probably alien, right? I mean, our fancy, high-tech scanners don’t recognize the material. It’s math inside and chemistry outside: the same kind of thing we put in our early messages to the stars. With that gaudy exterior, it clearly was meant to be found.”

She waited, hoping Memre’ would contradict her. Memre’ didn’t: “This is beyond my programming, Captain.”

Goosebumps rose on her arms. “That object could be a bomb, a piece of art, a scientific monitoring device, or something we have no word for.”

Her legs felt rubbery, and the blood from her pounding heart roared in her ears. She leaned against a cabin wall. “The universe just shifted.”

“Captain?

“I’ve come a long way toward overcoming my fear of people, but aliens?! That’s different by a whole order of magnitude! Consider what humans do to each other, regularly committing atrocities. How can we expect that aliens, with whom we will share no common bonds, will treat us better? And how will people react to this proof of other intelligent life in the universe? We have a deep-seated need to think of ourselves as the center of creation, as Galileo found out all too well.”

Her legs gave way, and she sank to the floor. “This find will not go over well back home. I have a big decision to make.”

2 Responses to “Proof of Life, Part 31”

  1. Jim Leith October 15, 2013 at 12:25 am #

    Hi! So, you are putting “Proof Of Life” out there for all to see. Were you also planning to get it published? I enjoyed reading it for the workshop and would love to see it printed in some form someday. If you are aiming for that, is it safe to put it “out there” on a blog?

    • vlsperry October 15, 2013 at 6:34 am #

      I started putting “Proof of Life” on my blog in serial form because I want my blog to have some free content. One of the speakers at a Chattanooga Writers Guild meeting highly recommended doing that. Her reasoning was that writers often blog about writing and get followers of other writers instead of building a reader base. Then, when the time comes to publish and promote their writing, they haven’t built the “right kind” of base to sell to.

      Recently, though, I’ve looked at the fine print for submitting short stories to magazines and contests; most rules state clearly that they get first electronic rights. So, I dunno…… That may mean I’ve ruled out publication of “Proof of Life” as a short story unless I self publish it or revise it extensively or include it as a short story collection much later.

      So now I guess I need another strategy for this blog. Still pondering.

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