Short story: „The Messenger”

Cateodata ma apuca dorul de scris, dar de fiecare data ma descurajez. Ei bine, dupa o supradoza de cafea la 1 dimineata intr-o sambata, am reusit sa stau treaz toata noaptea si sa scriu un short story SF inspirat din operele lui Arthur C. Clarke. Accept critici constructive si sugestii. Enjoy!

The Messenger

The messenger

Steve awoke in a frightful haze. He had that dream again. He couldn’t remember what it was about, just the feeling of losing control. It was 3AM. The witching hour. Time for a smoke.

It was a breezy 5th of July morning, 2016. The cool air made him feel relaxed as he drifted off into his thoughts. He often found himself drifting off, it felt slightly addictive. What are you thinking about Steve? Probably some weird astrophisics dilema left over on the  blackboard at work.

Professor Stephen Chamberlane, Steve for short, was an astrophysicist at the Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. Steve often believed that if you stared hard enough at the night sky, at some point, you might find someone, or something, staring back.

His morning office routine involved sipping coffee, skimming through complex data sheets and listening to Linkin Park with his headphones on. As a result, Steve didn’t hear the loud knocking on his door, which suddenly opens.

-Steve, didn’t you hear me knock?

-Too busy George. Always too busy. Steve remarked without taking his eyes off the computer screens on this desk.

-You know you listen to way too much Linkin Park.

-I know but in the end, it doesn’t even matter.

-Case and point. Listen, we’re heading over to Harpoon Willies tonight, are you in?

-Count me in. Now begone. I think I’m on to something here.

-You’re always on to something. Good luck with that.

Steve continued  sipping his coffee and perusing through piles of data as his nervous tick of moving his kneee up and down got the better of him.

Harpoon Willies made the best burgers around. George and a few others were already there when Steve arrived.

-Hei Steve, what do you think about the new Kepler planet they discovered? It’s in the habitable zone, said Max, one of his co-workers.

-We could discover 500 more like that, it’s getting there that’s the problem, replied Steve.

-You don’t think we can solve that issue in the next 50 years? Max asked.

-If not we’ll make super AI that’ll figure it out for us, added Steve.

-Don’t joke around about super AI, Max said.

-There goes Max with his Terminator theories, George pitched in.

-It could happen. We could be extinct by the end of the century if we’re not careful. It’s a serious issue. Hawking and Elon Musk both warned about it recently, pointed out  Max.

-Yes, but there’s also concern about listening in on our “galactic friends”. But we’re still doing it. I don’t see a problem with that. Are we explorers or not! Steve declared.

-Or are we dancers? Said Jimmy, one of the interns at work.

-Jimmy, I’m going to have to ask you to leave, joked Max.

Several hours later, Steve arrived home. He lived alone. A bit tipsy from all the wine, he went to bed hoping to get a good night’s sleep. No night terrors involved. Placing his head on the pillow, he closed his eyes and drifted off. It was 3AM. Upon opening his eyes, a strange sensation had occurred. His chest was expanding, then constricting, then expanding again. Confused, he tried moving his palm in front of his eyes, but realized he couldn’t see anything. It was pitch dark. Then came the task of trying to get up, which almost succeeded, before returning abruptly to the ground. He seemed to be ok with this. Trying to get up from the floor, the notion had caught up with him that hands needed to be involved. Success! The astrophisicist lifted himself into a half-push up before collapsing onto the increasingly familiar floor. This was a daunting task. He laid there for a few dozen minutes.

He finally managed to get up on both legs and walked awkwardly to the bathroom. Steve looked in the mirror. The professor was a young man, in his 30’s, tall, dark hair, brown eyes, and a medium build.

The floor expert walked over to the living room and sat on the couch. He turned on the tv and started flipping though the channels. It was an amazing experience.

CNN was showing a piece on the Syrian refugees, Discovery was showing a WW II documentary and Animal planet had a special on sharks. Intriguing. 10 AM came around and Steve was still at it. Suddenly there was a strange noise coming from the table:

I’ve become so numb, I can’t feel you there, Become so tired, so much more aware”. Startled, he jumped up. The perpetrator was a small device buzzing and whirling around on the glass surface. He picked it up and answered.

Steve, are you alright? You didn’t show up for work this morning, said George.

I …don’t …know.

Steve, are you ok?


Are you sick or something?

Sick. Yes.

Ok, well I’ll them them you’re gonna be staying home today, ok?


Take care, Steve.

Take …care.

Steve got up and picked up his laptop. He went on Google. He googled the strangest things. Aliens, alien encounters, Kepler telescope, space missions, NASA, AI, chemisty, physics, then he went into the more serious things like religion, war, famine, racism, politics, iPhone vs Android, the mumble rap epidemic, cat memes. He was enthralled with the amount of information he had access to so freely. The entire repository of human knowledge, at his fingertips.

After a while, he called back George and asked him to come over, saying that it was urgent.

A half an hour passed. George walked hastily through the door.

-Steve, how are you?

-I need your help, George. I may look like him, but I’m not Steve.

George played along. This sort of banter was normal between them.

-I’m not going to lie, I’m what you might refer to as an alien body snatcher, come to ask for Earth’s help, said Steve with the utmost poker face.

-Ok, you’re obviously experiencing work burnout. We need to get you to a doctor.

-I come from what what you call Kepler-442b in what you know as the NQ4 quadrant of space. My people need your help. I’ve taken over your friend Steve’s mind remotely. His consciousness is in a dormant state and is not harmed. I’ve studied your web and came up with what I believe is the best way to prove my claim without further doubt.

-Oh, this should be good, said George sarcastically.

-Please follow me outside.

The pair went outside and Steve placed a small object  on the ground which looked like a bunch of scrap metal and wired all soldered together in weird patterns.

-What’s the weather forecast for today? he asked George.

-Looks like clear skies all…

He didn’t finish the sentence when a stack of black clouds formed over a tiny area above them and lightning crackled into the device. The thunder followed suite. Then the clouds dissipated and the sky was clear again.

-What the living hell was that?

– The device can now be used to power up one of your households for a month. 5 billion joules, 100% energy conversion.

-Ok, lets say for a moment that I’m not losing my mind and I’ve just witnessed some sort of miracle.

-Miracles, I’ve read about that strange concept.

-So, lets say for a split second that you didn’t just David Blane some lightning in a bottle and that I believe you. Who are you? Where’s Steve?

-Steve is safe. He’s …let’s say..sleeping. I am Planar. Emissary of my planet, the one you refer to as Kepler-442b. We come asking for help. We are fighting a losing war with a savage warlike race called the Mak’Ja. They are world conquerors. It will take them a long time, but when they are done with our quadrant, they will come for you as well. We are willing to share our technology with you in exchange for asylum. There over 100 million of my people left.

-You sound like an insane person, and if you’re gonna convince our world leaders you’re gonna need a lot more than a lightning magic trick to convince us.

-I have more impressive “tricks” I can show you. In the words of your popular culture, “Take me … to your leader.”

15th of July 2016 – Washington. Martha Hues was the white house chief of staff. She didn’t have her morning late caramel machiato yet and to top it off, a staffer handed her a notification that 2 astrophisicists from the Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin were outside insisting on an audience with the president. A matter of national security.

18th of August 2016 – Nevada. Steve found himself at Area 51 in one of their interrogation rooms. Martha was outside the one sided mirror. She still didn’t get her morning latte.

-Why was I called here? she asked, irritated.

-The one right here admitted to being an alien, said general Williams.

-Really? I thought we weren’t in short supply of those. Do you pick up every nutcase with UFO claims and bring them here?

– We found in his possession a high powered energy source the size of a golf ball. We’ve never seen anything like it.

-So he’s not a nutjob?

-We’re leaning towards no. He gave him several psych evaluations, x-rays, MRI scans, the works and came out clean. He insists he’s an alien.

-And…is he? Said Martha.

-He’s showing some abnormally high brain activity, but other than that  he’s 100% human.

-What about his friend? The other professor.

-Nothing special about him. They work together at Yerkes Observatory. He’s upstairs in a holding cell. For now we’re keeping him on suspicion of terrorism.

The interrogation began. Planar…Steve…was calm.

-You have an audience today, mister Chamberlane. Higher up, from the White House.

-The president?

-No, chief of Staff. Can you repeat to me what the device you were carrying is?

-It’s an energy source. It stores energy from artificial lightning with a 100% percent efficiency, said Steve.

-So this is supposed to prove you’re an alien? Maybe you just invented this yourself and you’re looking to cause a panic with false claims of UFOs.

– I recall giving you the dates for two specific solar flares 2 weeks in advance: August 5th, 4:24AM EST, August 13th 23:57PM, EST. Did you verify them? Steve asked.

-Yes, we did. How did you do that? The interrogator asked.

-What’s he talking about? Martha asked.

-He predicted 2 highly improbable solar flares to the minute, 2 weeks in advance, said the general.

-Is that unusual?

-It’s highly unusual. So unusual that it’s nearly impossible. So far we’ve only been able to vaguely predict solar flares 2-3 days in advance. To predict two of them 2 weeks in advance, to the minute is just beyond our abilities at the present time.

-You think he might be the real deal? Martha grew anxious.

-He says he’s going to pull another impossible trick, but only if he gets to talk to the president.

-Let’s call up a meeting, see what he has to say.

25th of August 2016 – White House. In the oval office, a doppleganger of the president was waiting. The resemblance was uncanny.

The president greeted Steve.

-Hello mister Chamberlain. Or should I say Planar? Martha tells me you’re not from around here. And that you can do some amazing things, said the president’s double.

-I can and I am willing to do more, if only I can get to talk to the real president, Steve said.

-I am the real president, replied the double.

-Sir, I won’t pull your leg and I only ask you to not pull mine. I wish to talk to the real president.

The man left the room. In came the real president.

-How did you know? he asked.

-I am a man of many talents. I need to speak with you. We need your help. I saw your speeches. You believe that the only way you can survive as a species is by helping others less fortunate, because it’s the right thing to do. I come before you today, humbly asking for help. And in return we are willing to share our knowledge of the Universe with your people. I have learned that on your planet, there is a most horrible affliction that your species suffers from. You call it “cancer”. As a first grand gesture of our good faith, we can cure this “cancer”, Steve said proudly.

-You can cure cancer? Said the president stunned.

-Today, we can cure cancer forever. I can make the preparations.

-If you can cure cancer, then we can definitely talk about gathering the resources to helping your people, said the president.


5th of July 2017 – Wisconsin. A massive crowd of people were gathered at the Yerkes Observatory for a special event. The president has arrived to give a speech that would change the world.

-Long have we looked at the stars and wondered if we were alone in the Cosmos. From the time of the Babylonians we looked at the heavenly bodies and wondered what lies beyond. One year ago we received the answer to that age old question. We are not alone. One year ago, in this very place, we received a visitor from another world. His race is fighting a losing battle against a savage foe called the Mak’Ja. Along with other world leaders, we have decided to grant asylum to their people, as they so richly helped us in eradicating cancer and bringing free renewable power for the entire planet. We have constructed gateways that will allow them to travel here on Earth and in brotherhood start a new era of peace, collaboration and prosperity.

George and Steve were present in the background.

-I’ve never thought this day would come, said George. I just can’t believe it.

-Neither did I, said Steve.

-So, once the gate is open you’ll finally get to actually come in. Steve will return to normal. I can’t wait to tell him what he’s been through, George said.

-I’m afraid that won’t be happening, George.

-…and it is without further delay, that we open the gates and welcome our new friends… the president continued.

-All hail the Mak’Ja!!! screamed Steve.

The interstellar gates opened…






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