THE MESSAGE
A Short Tale
by
Shannon Gray

Lieutenant Evans stared blankly at the red light that had earlier flared into life on his console. "Excuse me, Colonel, you should take a look at this."

"What is it this time?" asked Colonel Hollingsworth, a touch of annoyance invading his voice.

"That, sir." Evans pointed at the glowing light. "It came on about ten minutes ago. I've checked for any system failures and bad circuits, but everything is in perfect working condition. That means this has to be real…but it just can't be."

"That's wonderful, Lieutenant." Full blown irritation surrounded every word accompanied by a hit of sarcasm. "Now would you mind telling me what that little light signifies so I can determine just how real it is?"

"That's the signal beacon indicator for Voyager. It means that Voyager has somehow re-entered our solar system."

"You're right," said Hollingsworth, his attention now fully engaged. A slight frown wrinkled across his forehead. "That is impossible. That satellite left our system years ago. Try to pull up images from its camera to see for sure if it's really back."

Evans flipped on his monitor and waited. A moment later an image filled the screen.

"What the hell! Evans, see what you can do about that picture."

Evans went to work manipulating the image. It moved, then jumped into crystal clarity. Voyager appeared to be in a large room with horizontal rows of lights extending from a few feet above the floor to a few feet below the ceiling. Strange computer-looking platforms formed a semi-circle of three to Voyager's front. Cables extended from each platform to the satellite.

Then the creature came into view.

Two huge unblinking compound eyes set into either side of an oval face. A small lump with large vertical slits where a nose would be were positioned just above a slightly open mouth filled with huge needle-like teeth. Brown, scale-covered skin adorned a vaguely humanoid body with disproportionately long arms ending in hands that appeared to have two thumbs. Its long legs were jointed like those of a horse and ended in three-toed feet with large black claws.

Hollingsworth took two stumbling steps backward as he tried to cope with the surge of panic coursing through his body. "Jesus Christ-we're being invaded! Evans, put that up on the main screen and keep monitoring it. Let me know if anything strange happens. Get me NORAD on the horn!"

Exactly one hour after the discovery at NASA, the Unioted Nations called an emergency meeting. The satellite footage had been patched through so the representatives from each country could see for themselves the threat that had suddenly presented itself. All agreed to put their full military on alert and say nothing to the public to avoid chaos.

***

The ship had managed to reach Mars in just under a week. It had been detected by several spy satellites long before that. Its massive size was slightly larger than Earth's moon. Hundreds of smaller vessels surrounded it. Upon reaching Earth, it parked itself in orbit and sent out the smaller vessels to completely surround the planet.

A high frequency wave of energy assaulted every orbiting satellite. Computers connected with them froze as their hard drives, memory circuits and all data storage media filled with what resembled static noise. Hours later it was determined that the energy wave had transmitted a condensed block of information to Earth's computers.

The world's top programmers and scientists frantically went to work retrieving the information. By noon the next day they still had no answer and the ships had not moved. Another day came and went. Still no answers or movement from the ships. After four days of utter frustration on the part of the programmers and inactivity from the ships, they finally achieved a breakthrough. One programmer had managed to construct a decryption program that provided an inroad to unlockiing the information stored in the computers. In a little over six hours a tiny fragment of the message had finally been deciphered. As the program progressed it worked faster, but for now all they had was the ominous statement that read, "Inhabitants of Earth. We have come to take-"

The world waited impatiently for the rest of the message to be translated, but their attention was soon diverted. At seven o'clock in the morning on the fifth day, the tracking station at NORAD detected movement in the formation of the ships. A large craft launched from the main ship took a direct course for Washington, D.C.-the White House lawn to be specific. The President was immediately relocated to a secret bomb shelter. Troops set up a perimeter with enough fire power to take out a city. All civilians in a twenty mile radius were ordered to evacuate.

***

After slipping through the outer atmosphere, the craft descended downward in a straight path to the White House lawn. It was shaped roughly like a manta ray without the tail. It floated down, making no more noise than that of rustling dry leaves. A large hatch opened near the ship's front and a ramp extended downward. The standby-to-fire order was quickly sent through the ranks of the assembled military force. Two aliens appeared at the door of the ship, then started down the ramp. One wore large metallic braces on his forearms adorned with pulsing lights and five large buttons. The other carried a device in its hand that buzzed and chimed as he pointed it toward the few visible people. The General in charge of first contact stepped forward. "On behalf of the President of-"

The alien with the device in his hand pointed it at the General. There was a loud whistling noise for a brief instant. The other alien lifted one arm toward the General and punched a few of the buttons on the brace. A beam of bright light streaked toward the General, surrounding him in a glowing aura.

Shots rang out. Bullets tore through the aliens' bodies spraying bright pink blood across the lawn. A barrage of rockets and smaller arms fire hit the ship. Flames exploded from one of its wings knocking it to the ground with a thunderous crash.

Beams of energy leaped from the ship instantly vaporizing vehicles and advancing ground troops. The ship tried to lift off, but was caught square in the underbelly by a volley of tank rounds. It blossomed into a huge ball of fire and twisted metal.

Several satellites belonging to various nations shifted into alignment. Their armament of nuclear warheads launched out in a coordinated attack to destroy their mutual enemy.

The aliens retaliated in full force. Squadrons of fighters descended on Earth. Bombs composed of ionically-charged plasma fell like rain incinerating everything in a two hundred meter radius of their point of impact. Earth's forces sent out jets to engage the alien fighters, but they proved no match. Bright violet beams of searing energy danced from the nose of each alien fighter vaporizing each jet they struck. While the fighters kept Earth's military occupied, the mother ship began to glow with such an intensity that it looked like a second sun in the sky. Now Earth's forces remembered the massive ship that hung in orbit, but it was too late.

A blast of energy the size of Antarctica slammed into the continents of Europe and Asia. Waves of crackling energy swept around the planet, penetrating miles deep into its interior. Buildings, plants and lower forms of animal life remained untouched, but creatures with developed frontal lobes to their brains-mainly humans-experienced total nervous system shut down. In a matter of seconds all human life on Earth was extinguished.

***

A large brown rat sat on a desk eating the doughnut left behind by the now dead human. A sudden beeping startled the rat and it spun around to look curiously at the flashing computer screen. It glanced at the words moving across the screen, then picked up what was left of the doughnut and scurried away. If it had been able to read, then at least something on Earth would have received the complete message the aliens had sent.

Inhabitants of Earth. We have come to take you into a new age of science and exploration. We have many wondrous sights to show you and technologies to share. We will be landing soon at the residence of the leader of the nation that sent the satellite we encountered. We wish to discuss many important things with you, but we cannot form the sounds of your various spoken languages. Please select a representative from among you whose brain waves we can scan so that we may use our mental communicator. Once we have fine-tuned our instruments with him, we will be able to communicate with all of you. We look forward to a long and peaceful coexistence with you.

The message repeated over and over.

© 2006 Shannon Gray



All content copyright © Samantha Gentry.com 2006-2011. All rights reserved.
Site by Psyche Designs.