Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta message. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta message. Mostrar todas las entradas

lunes, 13 de marzo de 2017

The space around

   Space has always been the same: cold, unwelcoming and largely boring to watch. That is because, despite how big it is and how many natural phenomenon happen all around, some parts, most parts, are just empty space surrounded by that black veil tinted with stars. People who decide to work there are either adventurers or simply the ones that never got what they wanted and now have decided its time to sacrifice body and mind for the greater good of humanity.

 Every “day” it’s the same thing: waking up to realize you are in space, alone and bored. Then you have some breakfast, normally one of those dehydrated foods that need some water drops to transform into something a little bit tastier. Then, it’s time for hygiene and cleaning of the facility. Most of the time, it’s all about mopping and sweeping all around, nothing interesting like discovering asteroids or observing one of the many wonders of the universe. That’s for others to do.

 Stevenson had been assigned to that quadrant and to that station almost one year ago. He was really looking forward the year to be completed because he would be eligible to be replaced and send to some other planet or station, hopefully one where boredom is not a cause of death. Inexperienced people, as he was at the start, normally get to monitor the boring areas of the universe. The ones that people know about and admire, those are normally assigned to more popular areas of the territories.

 As he sweeps and mops, Stevenson likes to put on some music and dance to it while he does his chores. Many days, not caring much about the security cameras and the visual diary he must keep, he takes off all his clothes and walks around naked, doing everything he normally does only that with not one fabric over his body. Is not really a statement or something funny to do, but just the fact that people get bored really fast and easy when nothing happens around them.

 One of those naked days, Stevenson was preparing dinner. It had been another uneventful day for him and he was looking forward to his weird sleep. For dinner, he made a sandwich, which he had to create in the microwave. When he was eating, one of the emergency sirens started. It was a very loud noise and he had never heard it. Actually there were many things he didn’t really know about the station and he normally learned on the way. He went to the command center but it wasn’t clear what had happened. The siren was turned off and no reason was found for its activation.

 However, the onboard computer declared that the siren had been activated through movement in a forbidden area but it couldn’t really tell what actually moved. Stevenson thought it was a moving cable that wasn't working anymore or maybe it was something worse. He had heard of parasites bigger than fists infesting stations all over the place. Of course, they weren’t creatures that lived in space, but they attached themselves when stations were built or launched into their positions.

 He decided to check everything before going to sleep. He spent several hours on the computer, checking everything on the corresponding monitor and holding the station’s manual on one hand to verify he was doing all he standard procedures correctly.  It took hours but at the end of it all he didn’t find any actual proof something had moved anywhere around the ship. He also found out there were no parasites. The ship was in perfect shape, working like a well-tuned clock.

 As he walked to his room, he thought about the possibility of something actually exciting happening there. He had been alone for long, so bored too, that he had been excited because of the siren. It was scary at first, but it made him feel alive and useful, instead of useless, which was what he felt every single day of his life. As he covered himself with the bed sheets, he looked one last time to his window and wondered if he would ever feel like more than just some lost guy.

 Stevenson had a nightmare: it was about him running all around the station. He was running away from something but he never saw in the dream what it was. But it had to be something really scary because he could feel on his body when it came too close. It was a very tense situation. He would scream sometimes and run. He would also get into areas of the stations that didn’t actually existed. Then, whatever was after him finally caught up with him and jumped and it was then when he woke up.

 Not only the scare woke him up, but also the fact he had fallen from his bed, covered in sweat. He took all his clothes, what he used as a pajama, and threw it on the bin that was actually a washing machine. He had never experienced that kind of nightmare. It had really been scary. He even realized his face was covered in tears when he removed his t-shirt. He decided to get into the shower, as even cold water would help getting his ideas in order and all of the bad thoughts out of his mind, at least for while. He needed to feel calm once again. But that didn’t last very long.

 As he walked out of the shower, the alarm was activated again. This time the computer was able to tell him way with one word: asteroid. He ran still naked and wet to the command center, holding a towel on one hand. Stevenson put the towel on the chair and sat on it and then pushed some buttons and wrote some words in a keyboard. He was chatting with the computer. On a screen, he got an image of whatever it was that had activated the alarm. He had to enhance the quality because it was very small.

 Indeed, it was an asteroid. It had a very classical shape and was travelling slower than most asteroids did. But that wasn’t the reason the alarm had been activated. In the last few months, he had encountered other rocks like that one. The difference this time was that all the instruments onboard the ship had detected life on the rock. Some form of life was around or inside that asteroid and he had to be able to get it for himself as that would be his ticket to a much better life.

 The station couldn’t really move but he did have a vehicle for outside exploration. He ran to the hangar, put on some piloting clothes and hopped into the small vehicle, which was shaped as a tennis ball. The idea was to grab the rock and carry it back to the station with the mechanical arms the vehicle had. It shouldn’t be hard as the rock was not that big and he only needed some pieces. So he went out inside the ball and navigated bravely towards the floating rock.

 An incredible velocity pushed it though space but it was too slow for asteroid standards. So breaking it a little bit shouldn’t be hard at all. He started doing so when a powerful sound almost made him deaf. It was coming from the station, another alarm. He had to complete his work fast with the asteroid first, so he decided to use a laser to extract a good chunk of it. His operation on the rock was successful and he was able to take a very good part back to the station, where the sound seemed to get stronger.


 Apparently, it was an urgent message and that piercing noise was the way to get it through. He was surprised to see it was not only a short written message that said, “Stand by”. He didn’t really understand. Besides, his mind was with the rock he had just brought back. But then, the alarm ended and a screen that had never worked had been turned on. There was a face there, it was his boss. He was pale and looked very skinny and tired. He declared they had encountered something and that, whatever it was, it had attacked them. He failed to explain it further. But his next phrase was the one who made Stevenson feel heavier: “The Earth has been destroyed. Don’t come back”.

domingo, 21 de febrero de 2016

Messenger

   It was the children that love to look at him more than anyone else. Maybe it was because he was some kind of a novelty in their lives, having seen only their parents all their lives. The man in the bed just lay there, having been unconscious since the day he appeared in the front lawn of their cabin, far into the tundra. They had a decent life there, maybe not very exciting but they it was consistent and it was mostly safe to raise a family and to create values that in the rest of the world we in decline.

 The man they had found had his nose broken and several bruises all over his body, as if someone or something had kicked him repeatedly. He had some older scars and he had a black eye that healed pretty quickly. Yet, he wouldn’t wake up. Mama would try different salts and medicines they had, she tried the fat of the animals they hunted and several leafs and fruits from the forest but he appeared to be oblivious to an of them. Father was a bit more violent and would yell in different volumes to try and wake him up. He would say different kinds of things including asking him if he was a soldier or a spy but it never worked.

 After the first month, they got really worried. Even the children, who love to go into that room and play around the man, were now tired of him been asleep and wanted him to live, maybe even to tell them their story. The kids, boy and girls of around ten years old, jumped all around the poor man and screamed like crazy, hoping it would work but it didn’t. They pushed him hard and were even as violent or more than their father. They cried and screamed and the kicked him and screamed again but eventually they would just make their parents crazy so they stopped.

 Outside, winter was finally over and the sun was beginning to be a little stronger. In this region of the world, winter never really ended and it was cold all year except for some days were things appeared to change. Anyway, the fact was that there was no more snow and the temperature was tolerable so Father took both kids hunting one day and retook the lessons he had been giving them before the winter. He had been teaching them about the bow and arrow and how to use them and how not to scare your prey.

 As the kids and their father bonded, Mother stayed in and cooked some deer meat she had frozen a week before. Deer meat was the best kind of food one could find in the region as it was soft but also rich in nutrients and could pass for cow meat, which they never consumed. She chopped some of the vegetables they grew on the greenhouse and put them in the pot with the meat. She realized she had forgotten to chop the onion so proceeded to do it but them a muffled voice, more of a complaint, was heard all over the house. She turned and screamed her lungs out.

 The youngest heard her and ran as fast as he could to the house, followed by his sister and Father. When they got there, the man that had been in bed for so many months was laying face down on the kitchen floor, now drooling and making a very strange sound. The Mother was livid, shaking like crazy. She was still holding the big knife she used to chop things and only let it go when her husband pulled it away from her. He then checked the pulse of the man on the floor and realized he was still alive and that his pulse was faster than before. He asked everyone to help him carry back to the room and there they tied one hand to the bed, preventing another scare.

 At dinner, everyone ate their deer in silence. They didn’t talk, ever, during meals, but this time Mother started crying and told Father she couldn’t keep living like this, with that man being captive in and improvised room. It was like keeping a prisoner and that didn’t make senses. She proposed to take him to the authorities, even if it meant travelling a full day to reach the nearest settlement. The Father did not respond, not right then at least. He had never trusted the authorities, even if it had been the government itself the one that had gave them authorization to live there.

 He finally said he would think about it. He wanted to know that man wasn’t going to die in the middle of the journey. And he really wanted to know who he was and why he was wandering so far into the tundra. Mother did not insist, changing the subject to the children not eating because of the earlier scare. She was right: they had always thought of the man in the bed as some sort of good elf but after hearing their mother’s tale of how he yelled something she couldn’t understand and then collapsed and drooled making sounds, it scared them.

 The next day, the Father tried again to make the man talk. This time, he didn’t yell or pushed him. He just sat down by his side and started reading the man in the bed the contract the government had given him in order to be able to live there. He started reading from the very beginning, with a normal pace and changing pages with a gracious move of the hand. The document consisted of at least twelve pages, detailing every single aspect the family had to take into account while living there.

 Back when he had signed the contract, it was only Father and Mother. But the contract specified how many children they could have living in that house, the dimensions of he house itself, which animals they could hunt and which ones they couldn’t, from where they could grab the water to survive and which trees they could use for heating and so on. Every single detail about living in that remote region of the world was in those pages and Father read every single one of them. But he didn’t need to as he knew them by heart.

 When he finished, he raised his head and realized the man had his eyes open. Without changing his pace or volume of voice, he asked the man who he was and what he was doing in his land. The man open his mouth but the words appeared to be trying to get out of it all at the same time. He grunted and tried again but nothing came out. He seemed to wanting to say something and he wasn’t happy at all when he couldn’t. He was certainly not happy when he couldn’t move one of his hands in order to complain. He looked at Father with red eyes, grunting.

 Kids and wife looked at Father, how he asked silence from the Man and slowly move his mouth, making soft sounds and then reciting all the letters of the alphabet. The Man stopped grunting and looked at Father. There was something dark, something mysterious in his voice. As he tried to recite the alphabet two, he started sweating and his eyes went very fast from Father to Mother and then to each of the kids. It was unsettling and combining it with the letters of the alphabet didn’t make it any better. Father continued, slowly, by spelling his name. He did it several times, pointing at himself with a finger.

 Then, he pointed at the man and fell silent. The man looked more scared that ever before and tried, again, to talk. At first, the same type of grunts returned to his mouth but then he tried to clear his mouth and a letter came out in a very deep voice. Mother let out a squeal and the kids’ mouths were very open. The letter was “D”. Father asked Mother something to write on and a pencil and she looked for them after snapping out of it. He wrote a big D and showed it the man, who nodded.

 The following letters where “A” and “N”, so they decided that his name was Dan. He started coughing like mad after he had said that last letter; coughing so hard blood came out of his mouth. Mother brought him something to clean himself with but he prevented her from coming neared. He saw the spots of blood in the covers with terror, his eyes also filled with blood. He looked at them, hopeless and guilty. Trying to calm him, the family came closer but he just said to more letters, which Father wrote.


 Something happened then that no one would ever be able to explain mainly because no person alive can really say what happened. Some say the gran began to shake, others say it was the roof that suddenly came off. All agree, however, that sound appeared to disappear for a moment in the world. Many years later they would found that house destroyed and the notebook where Father had written the word “DANGER”. In smaller writing, below, he had also written “deaf”, and that was it. No one ever knew what happened but it was clear the Man had failed to deliver his message.

sábado, 10 de enero de 2015

Scorpius

   The office was located in a very tall building somewhere in the middle of a big city. Two walls were made of glass and many parts of the city could be seen from it. Inside the room there was only a large table, capable of seating a dozen people. When the door opened, late at night, each seat was rapidly occupied by a person. Each one was identified by a small tag in front of them, on the table, with their name and position written on it. They waited a while until a woman in black came in and sat down in one corner: in front of her, she had a small table with a laptop, a remote control and the light switch.

When everyone stopped talking or arranging their belongings, the woman turned off the lights and turned on a projector with the help of the remote. The machine started making noises until it formed an image on one of the walls. Only one of the twelve scientists reunited there had to move in order to appreciate the image: a simple shot of space done by an orbiting observatory, highlighting a specific star, which bore the name Scorpius II written in read, just below the circle highlighting the star.

 The scientist that had moved to see the image stood up and looked closely to the image. The light flickered a bit but the man didn’t stop watching. It was as if the image, the name, the information clustered in one single slide was just too much not to take a moment to process it and, even, to accept it as it was.

As you know, the probe known as New Horizons has detected a signal coming from space. The transmission was sent back to Earth from the Oort cloud, where the probe now is. The source signal was also detected on Earth, days after. After some days of evaluation, we can assure the signal came from there…

He pointed to the name “Scorpius II”, glowing in the darkness of the room. The scientists didn’t say a word. Most of them had some idea of the announcement and those who didn’t, highly suspected the reasons why they were summoned to a secret office that had only be used once in the past, some ten years ago.

Any idea what the message says?
We should get there later but what I can say now it’s that the message is only half of the story we have come here to discuss.

He nodded to the woman seating in the corner, just as she pointed the remote once more to the projector. The image changed instantly, to another picture of space, this time portraying something like a stain against the black of empty space. The picture also bore the name “Scorpius II” but the magnitude of approach was highly augmented in this one. It was apparently a portrait of the vicinity of a star located far away.

This second picture, which is currently being processed to get a much better resolution, shows something rather alarming, specially considering the message we just showed you.

The various eyes in the room tried to analyze the picture rapidly but the scientist standing up gave answers to their questions faster that they could ask them.

It shows that Scorpius II has gone supernova. The star, previously analyzed, just exploded and probably affected all the system it illuminated. The various projects profiling worlds capable of sustaining life had found a super Earth orbiting Scorpius II. We don’t really know if there was something in there but we are sure it was destroyed due to the massive explosion.

The man then sat down. The woman in the corner stopped typing and turned off the projector and turned on the lights of the room. The scientists looked more confused that overwhelmed, which should have been the ideal state of mind, at least for the one leading the conversation.

Finally, someone else spoke. A young woman:

What I guess you are suggesting is that message somehow has to do with the supernova forming in Scorpius.
That’s correct.

Another scientist, a tall black man, looked confused:

Has there been any further analysis of the situation in Scorpius?
Yes. According to previous reports of the system, we can be sure that Scorpius wasn’t ready to become a supernova. It hadn’t reached that degree of maturity. It was a rather young star.

Now this had the effect he wanted on his audience. Every single person had their eyes widely opened and had suddenly chosen a better way to seat, as if their current position had not been the ideal one to receive such news.

Do you know or not what the message is about?

This was asked by a skinny and very white man, he could practically be called “albino”. He had turned slightly pink because of the recent news and because he really wanted an answer to his question.

We think we do.
What’s that suppose to mean? Do you or don’t you know?

The presiding scientist stood up again and started to pace. After a couple of rounds along the wall, he started talking.

The meaning of the message was what took longer to decipher. Actually, I was handled the last report on it as I entered the building. I read it on the lobby and, to be honest, it made me feel kind of sick.

Now everyone was truly worried. The sun was shining brightly outside and even birds could be heard. It was very strange that the world went on as usual as a small group of people talked about something as significant as what they were discussing.

We believe, and there’s no real way to be sure, that the message is a warning of some kind. We have to be mindful that the message was sent thousands of years ago, due to the distance of Scorpius. We know, because of the analysis, that the signal was actually given more power. If got to us faster than it should. Maybe it wasn’t sent thousands of years ago but hundreds and that makes a difference.

A very tanned and old man coughed before standing up and staring down at the city. Everyone saw him to this and there was a reason why: he was the oldest scientist invited and was still one of the most important astrophysicists in the world. His genius was renowned and, when his pupils saw him worry, it meant something was really hard to solve or was something to be really scared about.

It didn’t happen often, but there he was, with a very stern face, looking at the park below.

Have you sent the information to various agencies? – He asked.
Yes. At least one group in each continent has seen it. We have kept it secret too. We believe it’s dangerous to inform it to the politicians, at least for the time being.
Scorpius… What does the message say?

The leading scientist in the room sighed. Suddenly his face looked fifty years older, as if time had just realized he existed and had caught up with him.

It’s a warning about something or someone. We have concluded someone other than the inhabitants of the Scorpius planet are responsible for the implosion of the star and that they knew it. They sent the signal preventing others from the unknown danger. The signal is still travelling, though they’re all probably dead.

Now everyone seemed even more worried. What made them uneasy was the fact they weren’t able to do something to prevent or act against what had happened in Scorpius. For all they knew, whatever happened there could happen to the Sun any day.

We are waiting for another report on the event, including more information about the signal, the planet that had been detecting near Scorpius II, the star and whatever else New Horizons and James Webb can provide. When we have it, we will inform the IAU of everything and it will be them who inform everyone else.

When he stopped talking, everyone moved in their seats. But not because of what he had said, but because the sunlight had suddenly being blocked. They got scared for a moment but realized the city was in full celebration because of its birthday, and many large hot air balloons were doing rounds all over town. Sunlight came back and the scientist left, worried all the same.

Somewhere deep in space, the remnants of Scorpius floated slowly, forever denying the existence of life in that corner of the universe.