Out Here

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[Message 082010-031924]

[SulNraeu Sproec oaomleir…]

[Language decode complete…]

[Message text]

One greeting.

A century ago, a question blossomed in our awareness that has tormented each subsequent generation’s brightest scientific minds. Since other intelligent life must be out there in a universe so vast, why haven’t they found us yet? Billions of stars in our system, planets much older than ours to support intelligence, all those eons to develop the necessary tools, and, sadly, a silence so pure and final. We call this [DECODE FAIL: MISSING COMPONENT] Paradox.

Some believed we felt alone because [DECODE FAIL “Fircieon”] intelligent life existed too far apart, over too great a timespan. Some believed a great cosmic conspiracy purposefully hid everyone else from us. The nihilistic among us believed destruction always came shortly after the search.

The simplest answer was that we were alone. It was an answer many of us could not accept.

The [POSSIBLE MATCH “religion”] believed this loneliness was a signal of purpose for a singular creation.

Some of us continued the work in spite of the silence. Intrepid optimists sacrificed large amounts of capital building machines to listen for transmissions. They handed down their admiration and knowledge to a new generation of listeners who handed it down to us. Those of us tasked with this auspicious [DECODE FAIL “oKnhloet”] had accepted a life of maddening patience of not knowing but believing.

All we have known is failure.

Throughout the decades, we have listened, hearing nothing. We have looked, seeing nothing. We have reached, feeling nothing.

Yet not everyone gave up hope.

Then, by improbable chance, we stumbled across your Voyager craft floating through the darkness. We found the gold discus it contained. Its elemental etchings were radiantly clear.

We calculated the craft’s trajectory and found your planet along the path. The map you left confirmed your position. It was a moment of unparalleled elation for us, but we are saddened to say we have no name for your home, only a scientific designation of [DECODE FAIL “tT-1129”].

We had to destroy part of the discus to learn to use it. We tested its material. We built a new machine that could draw out its information but heard nothing.

We waited in disappointment, only to hear a faint, low noise near its conclusion. We retested, adjusted the sounds to our higher frequency, replayed it, and heard a thrilling burst of life.

The tones, rising and sweeping. Some falling into harmony and some fighting against one another. Some placid and some angry. Markers of such [DECODE FAIL “jMel”] and vibrancy. Each emotion carried through, miraculously recognizable from such an immense distance. The complicated music of your star.

Most thrilling was what we recognized with greatest intimacy: the undulating chorus of a thought scan. An electronic map of consciousness representing the organ propelling all other inquiries.

Your craft revealed your existence. The sounds, your life. The scan, our connection.

One prominent [POSSIBLE MATCH “religion”] leader called you our sibling. There is truth in that poetry. We live together, separated only by time and by space.

After deciphering the discus, we agreed to form and send this message. We now lack the means to send travelers to you, but we estimate the capability in fifty years, and that, by then, we will be able to move even faster than this message can travel. By all measures, we may arrive shortly after this message does.

We are renewed. We send this message with overwhelming [DECODE FAIL “laehiHm”], hope, and joy, and wish you to receive it with the same. Following this message are sounds from our planet converted to a range of 2000-5000Hz so you can hear us clearly and know us.

Seeing you after staring so long into dark infinity, hearing you after listening so long in silence, we are sure that you have been waiting, too. Let this message from your neighbors be a comfort that you are not alone in the universe. We are out here.

Scott Beggs keeps an eye on the stars. His short stories have appeared in PseudoPod, Dark Moon Digest, MYTHIC Magazine, and All Worlds Wayfarer. He moves around a lot with his family, and he wants to be Buster Keaton's best friend. Follow him on Twitter at @scottmbeggs and visit his website at ScottBeggs.com for more.