The Visit from Space

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Astronomer discovers alien ship heading toward earth.

Submitted: June 02, 2012

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Submitted: June 02, 2012

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The Visit from Space by Rolf Luetcke

 

 

The asteroid appeared on the negative of the photo of sector sixteen.  Three nights in a row I had checked and rechecked the charts and now I was certain.

The chances of even spotting it had been one in millions.  If I hadn’t been looking at a nebula in sector sixteen, I wouldn’t ever have seen it.  Over a three- week period I had been making measurements of spectral shifts of the Hirshfeld Nebula.

Suddenly, it was there!  At first it was a faint dark form against the nebulas cloud and then it took on a slight shine.

I made exact measurements and calculations and got a real shock.  The object was not distant but was approaching our solar system.

The reflectivity had thrown me at first.  Now I needed to take it to the proper people.  This object was heading straight for Earth and we needed to react now.

Three or four days and it would hit the Earth.  We didn’t have much time.  An asteroid hitting Earth would bring life, as we knew it, to an end.

If I had only taken my suspicions to Herb over at NASA two weeks ago when I had first spotted it!

Then came the ten days I didn’t have telescope access and I had nearly gone nuts waiting for the proof and now it might be too late.

I scooped up the photos and headed for my truck.

I pulled out my security pass and held it up to the guard at the center.

Herb looked over the photos and to my surprise he picked up the phone and told the person on the other end it was a code red and gave him the coordinates in sector sixteen.

When he put the phone down he turned to me.  “We’ve been wondering if this would happen and have a plan in place, priority one, in case it ever did.”

“We were just as concerned about ever being able to even see an object in direct line with Earth!  It’s absolutely astounding you ever caught sight of it at all.  What are the odds---?” and he trailed off into thought.

“Did you notice the odd reflectivity?” I asked Herb. 

“No!” and he went back to the photos, studying them closely.

“Huh, that’s odd!” he said.“Any idea about the reflection” he said.  “It really shouldn’t do that.”

“I was wondering if it could be a comet, an asteroid shouldn’t reflect the sunlight.” I mused.

“We’ll know in a couple of hours!” Herb said.

The wait was hard.  We tried to make small talk but it hung there like a fog in the room.

The phone finally rang and we both jumped because of our nerves.

Herb pulled the receiver to his ear and mostly nodded, with a grunt now and them for emphasis!  He hung up!

“It is an object and it seems to be on a direct course for Earth.  The odd thing is that it doesn’t seem to be either and asteroid or a comet.  They are still working on it.  It seems your little discovery has stirred up quite a hornet nest!” Herb said.

We were both in our own contemplations when alarms went off.  We both jumped again.

“Code Red” crackled the speaker over the door.

We could hear men running down the corridor outside.

The door flung open and General Swain rushed in.

“This is it Dr. Burk” Herb said to the General, pointing to me.

“Do you have the photos here?  We want everything we can get our hands on.” The General said.

Herb gathered the photos and handed them to the General and he left as quickly as he’d come in.

We heard the General giving orders to some men and then the voices faded.  The alarm had finally stopped but the red light was still flashing above the door.

The whole base was in turmoil as people went about their business.

I had never expected my find to bring about such immediate and drastic actions!

“What’s the policy concerning the general public in this matter” Are they to be informed or is this going to be kept hush-hush?” I asked Herb, knowing he’d be straight with me.

“This is not for public ears.  It would create a panic.  Besides, they couldn’t do anything anyway.  For now this is a government matter and on a need to know basis only” Herb said.

“Well, I guess I will head back to my lab and let you handle this.” I said.

“I’m afraid that isn’t possible.  The base is under total security lockdown and you won’t be able to leave until this whole thing is over.  Looks like you’re stuck here for the duration.” Herb said.

“What about my family?”

“They have already been notified of an emergency conference you had to attend in Norway.  By the time this is over, she may know where you really are.” Herb said.

I was very concerned about my wife and kids but I resigned myself to being stuck on the base.  The one consolation was that I would hear exactly what was going on.

”Let’s head up to the conference room, I want to talk to several people about the reflective nature of the object.” Herb said as he headed for the door.

I shook hands with several of the men I knew in the conference room and then took one of the empty chairs.

Discussions were already under way about the object.

The latest thought was that it could be artificial.

For visual contact we would have to wait for night but the other tests had all added to the suspicions of artificial origins.

The object was round, unlike what would be expected for an asteroid.

No features of a comet matched and no other objects known to science fit either.

The fact that the object could be a spacecraft was both exciting and frightening.

It was on a direct course toward Earth.  Was this accidental?  Odds were against it.

The side door opened and a Colonel walked in.  He immediately got into a discussion with one of the communications engineers.After the Colonel left the group turned to the man the Colonel had been talking to.

“So far we haven’t figured out a way to try to communicate with the object.  It’s moving at a tremendous speed and we can’t figure how we can signal it.  Any Ideas?” the shorthaired Asian man said.

“If I may interject” I said.  “We can forget the concern about a collision destroying Earth!  Now we need to try and figure whether the intentions are friendly or hostile!  I think, if your are all aware of Einstein’s musings on extraterrestrials, that if a being has the technology to travel here from another world, its technology is most likely so far advanced that ours is no match at all.  I don’t think there is much we can do, or should do.” I said to the group.

There was a moment of silence before the two Colonels in the room started discussing the military strategies set up in an encounter scenario.  The others joined in quickly.

It was if I hadn’t even spoken at all.  I shrugged and just sat back and listened.

The whole tone of the discussions had changed.  All I heard were the strategies of various warheads.  I guess none of them had ever considered anything but an offensive action.

I began to realize that everyone was government and many were military.  It would be futile for me to try and argue my view.  Herb was right in the middle.  At the moment it was being discussed whether the combined firepower of China, Russia and the U.S. were a better bet than just us alone.

My God, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  They were all nuts.  What made any of them think we could even compete with an advanced species that had mastered intergalactic space flight?

I had an urge to run screaming from the room but I also realized if I behaved like that I would be locked up and wouldn’t know any of what was going on.  I’d have to fit in for my family’s sake.

The General came back in the room and most of the group snapped to attention.

“We have decided to contact the other powers that have long range missile capability and we will all mount an attack together.  The President has been on the horn with both ambassadors and plans are already in the works for a launch to intercept the invaders at six hours to impact.” The General said.

I nearly spoke but thought better of it.

So, plans had been made and the gears were grinding toward the inevitable clash.

The group broke up and I pleaded with Herb to let me go home to my wife and kids.

We had known each other since the second grade and I think it was our long friendship that allowed him to override his government status.  He let me leave with a strict promise to keep it quiet, which I did.

We went to the gate together in my truck and he personally convinced the guard to open the gate, even without all the proper paper work.

I drove down the roads toward home.  The world looked the same but I knew it wasn’t.  Everything was different now

Life as I knew it would change forever in about 3 days.

I looked at the big maple trees on my street and saw the trees more clearly than ever before.  The sun shone brighter, the sky was bluer and the air smelled sweeter.  Knowledge was a powerful thing and this for-knowledge of impending doom changed everything.

I fought my conscience as I passed the radio station but realized Herbs thoughts about the public in general and what they would do with my knowledge, kept me from stopping.

I pulled in my driveway to strangely familiar surroundings.

Jennifer ran around the side of the house at the sound of my truck.

“Daddy, daddy, what are you doing here.  Mommie said you went to Norway!” my little girl called as I walked around the back of the truck.

I bent down and Jennifer jumped into my open arms.

“Change of plans sweetie!” I said as I walked toward the door.

It opened before I got there and George greeted me with a big laugh.

I saw Mary coming down the stairs as I walked into the living room.

“I thought you went to Norway?  What happened!  Is anything wrong?” she had a quizzical expression on her face when she saw the odd expression on mine.

After spending a few minutes with the kids, I sent them out to the yard to play and faced Mary.  By now, she knew something was wrong and a tear started to run down her cheek.  She asked if someone close had died or what else---

I gently put my hands on her knees and started to tell her what had happened this morning.

There were a lot of conflicting emotions running across her face as I told her what was going on.

When I was done, Mary immediately got up to go to the phone but I stopped her.

I finally convinced her not to call our parents and her sisters.

It took us a couple of hours to pack up the truck and we were driving up the turnpike toward the mountains.

We’d called the Spodes and asked them to open our cabin we’d be there in about eight hours.

I had tried calling Herb several times over the last 2 days but there was no getting through.

Time was getting short and I was getting nervous about any news.  I had the radio on but there was nothing about what was to come.  I had even thought that the whole thing was a dream when I awoke during the first night.

I had set up the celestron telescope and had found the nebula and even thought I had seen the object but I couldn’t be sure.  The celestron just didn’t have the power.

The two days had been hard at times.  Mary and I had to be strong for the kids but with what we knew it was hard.  Luckily the kids were having too much fun to really notice something was wrong.

On the night the bombs were supposed to explode, we got the kids to bed and went out to the clearing, where the telescope was set up.

I knew when and I knew where but I had no idea what would happen.  I was scared as the minutes counted down.  Mary stood close, her hand on my shoulder.  She was gently sobbing as I looked through the eyepiece of the telescope.

Crickets chirped in the bushes nearby.  An owl hooted somewhere in the distance and leaves rustled in the slight breeze.  Everything on Earth was normal.

I could see the faint object, which was the spot I had found on the photo nearly three weeks before and wondered if there were beings inside.

Were they intelligent?  Were they friendly, were they just visitors or were they warriors, with weapons that would char and destroy all life on Earth?  I had gone through every scenario my mind could come up with and I believed in the depths of my heart that the military was making a huge mistake.

Suddenly my thoughts ended as incredibly bright flashes blinded my right eye and I yelled.

Mary jumped at my yell and gripped my shoulder with her fingernails.

I held a finger over my closed right eye and saw the bright light even with a closed eye.  I blinked several times but couldn’t see out of my right eye.

We both looked up at the sky and saw dozens and dozens of tiny flashes in one spot in the sky.

We held each other as we watched the sparkling.  It was strangely beautiful.

I rubbed my right eye to try to get my sight back as the flashes stopped.

It was all over in a few seconds and I pulled away from my wife to look through the telescope again.  I used my left eye because my right eye had light blindness that was just as irritating open or closed.

Mary quietly said “Oh, My God!” over and over as I squinted through the lens.  I saw a big smudge in the field of view and nothing else.

Suddenly a bright little dot popped through the smudge.  The object was still there, completely undamaged.

Earth had hurled its best at the intruder and it hadn’t done a thing!

My heart sank as I thought of the ship.  “If it had been friendly, it wouldn’t be now!”

“What?” Mary said.

I guess I had been musing out loud.  “Oh, I was just saying, if they were friendly they won’t be now!”

Mary sat down and looked through the telescope.

“What can we do now?” she said as she looked at the little dot in the view slowly grow in size.

Six hours later and the sun pushed the night slowly across the sky.

We hadn’t slept a wink and watched the ship close in on Earth.  It was round and metallic but we couldn’t see anything on its surface.

Just twenty minutes ago it had become visible to the naked eye.  The ship had streaked toward Earth, seemingly on a collision course but had veered off at the last second and gone into a low Earth orbit.

I half expected more atomic bursts but they didn’t come.

The huge ship passed over us about every twelve minutes.

On its second pass, we saw something spewing forth from the ship.  As it passed over, the mist it left behind spread out over the sky.  The next pass was to the south and another vapor trail.

As the material settled over the sky we could see a sparkle, like the sky was filled with jewels.  It was slowly drifting down toward the surface.

We stood and stared up at the sparkles raining down.  We looked at each other and wondered what was going on.

We suddenly heard the kids calling from the porch.  “Look Mommie, Daddy, it’s snowing jewels!”

We could only stand and stare as the little confetti started falling all around.  The kids ran down from the porch and tried to catch the little flakes.

Jennifer was running through the flakes and George was picking up the little flakes and putting them in his pajama pocket.

We just stood and stared.

The planet had been turned upside down by the visit of the spaceship.

It was now six weeks since the ship had just as mysteriously departed, as it had come.

There had been nothing but talk of the visit on the news since that day.

The tiny flakes had been gathered by the billions.They had been analyzed and reanalyzed.  The scientists had feared some kind of poison or seed agent but it was finally found to be some kind of freeze dried organic substance.

Whole new industries had sprung up using the flakes.  Clothing lines, art objects, food additives. Everything conceivable had been made from them.

Whole new religions had sprung up.  Some were doomsayers and condemned the crystals as an evil force, sent to destroy us.  Others, the majority, believed the opposite, that it had been a gift from the gods.

I had been back to work for over a month and my family mostly ignored the little flakes.

Herb had found he could trust me, since I had done exactly as he had asked, even thought he knew I had been right all along.

“Right all along,” I had asked him over a drink one night.

Mary and I had Herb over for dinner and after the kids had gone to bed, he’d wanted to talk.

He was sworn to secrecy in a big way but his secret was about to tear him apart if he didn’t tell me.

After he was done we all laughed so hard the tears ran down our cheeks and our stomachs were in pain from all the laughing.

Herb had been kicking himself ever since for the opportunities our planet had missed out on.

Only one message had been sent and it had been such an embarrassment it was destroyed.  In fact, any trace of it was destroyed.  It was so embarrassing that it had even been contemplated that all who knew it should be killed.  Luckily that had only been contemplated and not carried out.

It turned out that the ship had indeed been on a journey to visit Earth.  The aliens had picked up our signals of life out in space and had been eager to meet us and help our fledging culture along.

They had learned so much in their evolution and were eager to share the wealth.  Our little nuclear greeting had changed their minds.  They were a kind, gentle people but were also easily insulted.

Our little antic has changed their minds about helping man and they had made a point of letting our leaders know the mistake they had made and they proceeded to evacuate their septic system over our planet.

Their message, in a nutshell “Piss on you!”

After our laughter had died down and the tears of laughter dried, we slumped into a deep depression at what we had missed out on.

The bottle of scotch helped take the edge off our sorrow and we were again able to look at it from a humorous perspective.

Maybe man wasn’t ready to join the greater culture of the universe.  If they ever returned I hoped man would be more receptive, if we were still here!

 

 

 

 

Copyright Rolf Luetcke


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