500 words –
Terence adjusted the dial and listened breathlessly…
As the leader of the NASA team that designed the special instruments that could record electromagnetic vibrations in Space, he was given the honor of being the first person to activate the scanner. The team then transferred the vibrations into sounds their ears could hear.
There was no doubt it was a major scientific breakthrough and the highlight of Terence’s career. It took his knowledge and skill to take the recorded sounds, a complex interaction of charged electromagnetic particles from the Solar Wind, ionosphere, and planetary magnetosphere, and make sense of them.
He listening long into the night and went home dreaming about making contact with an alien civilization. The team all took turns monitoring the devices in 24-hour shifts which meant he didn’t get to go back for four more days.
When Terrence’s turn came up again he eagerly relieved his fellow team member who was noticeably yawning. “Maybe tonight,” he thought while putting the headphones on and pushing a row of blinking buttons on the display dashboard
As he waited to hear strange repetitive sounds he was stunned to hear a high-pitched voice speaking English!
“Surrender and we will spare you…surrender and we will…”
Terence’s mouth hung open in shock. What the hell was going on?
“…we will spare you…surrender and…”
There it went again! It wasn’t his imagination taking a sanity pause. The message was a dire warning coming from deep within space!
His first thought was, “Who’ll believe me when I relay this message?“
After a couple of hours the message went silent. Terence was afraid if he told one of his colleagues they think he was nuts. Then he calmed down and realized the whole thing was recorded He felt sheepish and vindicated. It only took minutes before he rewound the machine and played it back.
He listened. And listened…and there was no message. He played it back and began panicking. No! He knew what he heard. There must be a malfunction with the recording devices he told himself as his sanity slowly slipped into a dark place.
When his relief, Dr. Olsen, arrived the next day he found Terence huddled up in a corner of the lab speaking gibberish. “Their coming! The aliens are coming!” he babbled.
“They want us to surrender…” he went on.
Dr. Olsen went to the display panel before even trying to talk with Terence. He activated the program from the last 24-hours, turning the speakers up to loud, and then went over to Terence.
The project team covered up Terence’s insanity. No one heard threatening messages from space and concluded he just cracked up.
Somewhere in space: “I want to know who the idiot was that ran that surrender message before we were ready to invade?”