THE SIGNAL – A very short story

This is the last (finally) of the THREE IN THE MORNING collection. I thought of this after I heard about the WOW Signal.
Please note that I do not intend any blasphemy. Rather, I intend to show that religion is probably universal.


As I sit here in my home I can smell the smoke from the fires burning unchecked, overlaid with something else. Something rotten – or still rotting.

And it all started so well.

FIRST CONTACT they called it.

After so long alone in the universe, a signal was received by one of our Radio Telescopes, a series of clicks, too regular to be anything but artificial, originating from a source thousands of light years away.

The news media brayed, pretentious presenters pontificated and, by virtue of radio waves and satellite communication, news of the signal rushed to the most far flung outposts of the planet. Soon there was almost no one who hadn’t heard it.

Membership of Astronomical clubs doubled overnight and groups could be seen staring at the night sky as if by magic they could see the signal’s birthplace.

Our “Great Brains” analysing the signal discovered that the clicks were, in fact, a compressed version of the complete signal, similar to what I believe is called a “Burst Transmission” which, whilst used primarily to reduce transmission time also acts to hold the message together, reducing the risk of portions of it being corrupted or lost altogether. When the clicks were opened a host of data about the signal’s originators was discovered, biological and physiological, together with mathematical formulae.

With startling originality they called it “The Blue Sickness”. First the lips, then the extremities, turn a purplish blue, and then the body begins to wither like a dying plant. The authorities imposed a news blackout to prevent panic, and then put in place measures to maintain public order –and then there were too few of the authorities left to do much about anything.

It was inside the message. When it was opened it released….something. Now, my world is dying – killed by a CLICK.

I cannot believe that the originators of the signal intended this to be the result. What would be the point? The ones who put it together, their Great Brains, are either immortal or long since dead. No, it was intended as a gesture of friendship, a hand extended across the vast distances. I wonder how many other civilisations it has touched on its journey here and how many more it will reach on its endless journey.

Apparently, the originators inhabit a small planet in a distant corner of the universe which they call, for some reason, Earth, which is orbiting a star they call Sun. They must be in blissful ignorance, no doubt anticipating a reply with continuing enthusiasm.

I have noticed that my extremities are turning a rather delightful shade of purple and am not sure how much time I have left so I must close this account with a quotation from our ancient prophet

“Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

The End

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Published in Senior Chatters