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Fiction Science Fiction Horror

I am a fan of physics, math and science fiction. I have seen multiple scripts imagined by the sci-fi greats. I know the symbology of physics and mathematics. I even know some of the ancient scripts including a smattering of Egyptian hieroglyphics and the symbology of petroglyphs and such.

About ten years ago, divers discovered what became known as the “porpoise school” off the coast of Cuba. A year after the discovery, National Geographic had a multi-page glorious color presentation of the find. A series of structures that were a cross between Mayan and Santa Fe-style construction had the world agog.

That was all amazing enough. Then, a few months after the article was published, a fool-hardy diver came upon a way into one of the structures and found murals of script on the walls. She photographed it all and submitted it. Another NG publication six months later.  More agog across the planet.

I perused my hard copy of that month’s publication. Page after page of their usual glossy and beautiful photography depicting flowing script. Porpoise script as it came to be called.

I carefully cut out those pages and laid them out in various sequences. I played with them for days, organizing and reorganizing them until they made sense to me. It finally hit me that there was a distinct pattern to the script, and I played with that for a couple of weeks until I figured out it was a massive love letter to a female named Xastra. 

Some amorous chap detailed their budding relationship, the pleasure of their love-making positions, his hopes for their future and the rest of that romantic/erotic stuff every literate young lover tries to express.

I emailed NG, they confirmed my rationale and translation with God only knows how many experts, published my work, and gave me my fifteen minutes of fame. End of story. Well, of that story.

Which brings us to this comfortable, stark, isolated, climate-controlled room somewhere in some desert. I know it is desert country because when they walked me from the Humvee to the building, it was hot, hot, hot and dry.

Two guys came to my apartment in Show Low about 0530 yesterday morning, politely introduced themselves as under the orders of the Governor and gently side-stepped me into my apartment.

They presented their credentials in well-worn leather wallets and introduced themselves as Agent Cartwright and Agent Kurt. As Agent Cartwright explained, the Governor’s office had need of my professional expertise for an extended period. Being a bachelor, I did not have familial obligations, but I did have contracts with the community college and the Apache Nation to teach Sociology and a few other classes.

When I expressed my concerns, Agent Kurt told me that the Governor’s office had already arranged for substitute teachers to cover my classes in both places and to ensure that my contract was officially and unbiasedly terminated as a benefit to the State of Arizona.

Between the two of them, I learned that I was being encouraged to accept a temporary assignment as a Special Government Employee for an undetermined amount of time. It was a confidential assignment and may or may not allow publication of any findings in future publications.

So, if I understood them correctly, I was going for a ride to somewhere unknown to me for a period of time to be determined by some government bureaucrat and no one I knew would know where I was or when I would be back. They both shrugged and Agent Cartwright said, “That pretty much sums it up.”

How encouraging.

So, here I am being punished for my hard-earned fifteen minutes of fame. It is supposed to be an honor to be selected to assist in top secret excitement. I just wanted to go home and live my unexciting life. I got a bucket of money for the dolphin letter and I was comfortable. I did not want more; I had plenty.

I got here last night. The clock on the wall says it is lunchtime and, magically, my door got knocked upon. When I opened it, there stood Agent Cartwright.

“Let me buy you lunch at the cafeteria,” he said. Great, now he thinks he is a comedian.

At lunch he explained we had a briefing at 1400 hours that should take us up to suppertime. A four-hour meeting? Is that all after this secrecy, traveling and incarceration?

“Incarceration?” Agent Cartwright queried. “No, no, my friend. We are keeping you protected. Well, and, of course, using your demonstrated expertise.”

“From what?”

“The fringe culture that crawls out whenever there is a challenge to their own ignorance and sense of righteousness. They want you gone so their rights to hate social differences will not be challenged. You have the possibility of furthering the knowledge of humanity like you did with the dolphin language. Remember the hate mail from the trolls back then?”

Well, yeah, there was some nasty stuff that made me spend some of the NG money on lawyers and restraining orders back then.

Cartwright continued, “That expansion of our knowledge base was fundamentally grounded on a past terrestrial civilization. We may have something totally different now.

“No, I cannot discuss it further. Dr. Annavarapu will explain all we know to you at our briefing. Be patient.”

You try to be patient after hearing that kind of speech. I paced and churned inside for the next hour. I was seated at the foot of the conference table in the meeting room fifteen minutes early so I could look directly at the speaker. I did not want that weird neck crick one gets when looking sideways for hours in a meeting.

Dr. Annavarapu turned out to be Dr. Lita Annavarapu. She was one of the scientists who reviewed my dolphin work back then. I was told that she was very skeptical about my conclusions for a long time. For all I know, she may still be.

Fourteen more people came in and sat opposite each other at the table. Agents Cartwright and Kurt sat in opposite corners in the back of the rectangular room flanking the only entrance. When Kurt closed the door, there was no outside influence to affect us in the room.

Dr. Annavarapu’s, “Thanks to all of you for being here,” brought bitter-sounding titters from several members of our cabal. “I know the circumstances under which some of you are here and I greatly appreciate your patience and compliance with what is happening.”

At that point, she stepped to a podium to her left so everyone could see the screen behind her. She started her computer presentation onscreen. 

“Two weeks ago, when our astronauts returned from their trip to the moon, we found this in one of their satchels. None of the four astronauts who were on the moon recognized it, have any idea how it got into the satchel and, most interesting of all, how it got into the satchel that never left the landing module. 

“As you can see in this view, it appears to be paper made from bark much like the canvas used by Papuan artists. It was rolled up and secured with a type of twine made of the same bark material.

“Agent Kurt, would you please pass out the folders up here.”

Agent Kurt proceeded to the front of the room and picked up folders from a table in the corner opposite the podium.  He handed each participant a nondescript manila file folder about a quarter of an inch thick.

“Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the first evidence of a written extraterrestrial language. You each have the same xeroxed copy of the found documents in the same order in which they were found. The originals are being kept in a vacuum container and will be available to view tomorrow.”

The muttering reached a crescendo as we each opened our file folder and set our eyes on the material inside. 

I did not understand it. I could not read it nor decipher it. Whatever I needed to interpret it, I did not have. It could have been Sanskrit except I have seen Sanskrit, and this was not like anything I saw before.

This was like looking at something alive on paper. A two-dimensional representation of fourth-dimensional thought. Impossible.

More impossible. In seconds, the script resolved itself into English. Two-dimensional English in my three-dimensional world.

Dumbfounded, I looked up and around the room. Everyone was looking at their files and at each other’s files and muttering about how impossible this was. A stunning example of an AI-generated hoax. A cryptic waste of time for a roomful of professionals who had important things to do other than fall prey to some sick trick.

One of my tablemates spoke up, “Dr. Annavarapu, what is the meaning of this? This is nothing more than scribbling on a page. No, on multiple pages. Why?”

“Kind sir, I am not one who plays practical jokes, nor do I condone them. I assure you, this is exactly what was found in the exact manner I explained. Please set aside your doubts about that. 

“May I suggest that we adjourn and that you take your folders with you to study at your leisure and to discuss with each other? We will meet in the morning at 0900 in this room. At that time, we will proceed to the safe room where the original is stored so that you may see those pages and compare them to the documents in your folders. 

“Thank you.”

As we trundled off to our respective areas at 1500 hours instead of the expected 1800, I could not believe that no one brought up the English version appearing. Could it be that no one else saw it?

About an hour later, I was in my room transcribing the text into my ever-present pocket spiral notebook. The knock on my door startled me. I closed my notebook, stuck it in my back pocket and opened the door.

Both Agents Cartwright and Kurt were there. 

“Sir, Dr. Annavarapu would like to talk with you right away. Please bring your file and your notes.”

I gathered up my file and we headed down the hall. We turned down a hall new to me. Agent Cartwright led the way and Kurt followed. That seemed a bit strange, but it did not occur to me to question it.

We walked up to what looked to me like a bank vault door. “This is our safe room,” Agent Cartwright explained as he put his eye up to a scanner.

There was no click as the door swung open on silent hinges. I was impressed.

“Dr. Annavarapu is waiting for us, Sir. Please proceed into the room.”

I stepped over the foot-wide threshold into a 20’ X 20’ room. It had that black cushiony floor your see in the free-weight section of gyms, indirect lighting emanating from a trough along the ceiling, a light table, and the alien document laid out on that table.

Dr. Annavarapu looked up from the document as I approached.

She started without preamble, “Sir, you did brilliant work on the dolphin language. I know of at least one hundred linguists and cryptographers from around the world who struggled with that material for months before National Geographic published it. They made no progress.  You, an amateur, translated it seemingly overnight.

“No, no,” she stopped me. “I know the story and I accept it. Your technique fascinated me and many others. That’s why you are here.

“Let’s cut to the chase. You interpreted this document in seconds today. I saw the look on your face and, frankly, the look of recognition, understanding and fear was interesting.”

“Dr. Annavarapu….” Her raised hand stopped me.

“Please call me Lita when we are alone, Sir.”

“We’re not alone. The agents are here,” I replied.

“No, they’re not. They stayed outside when you crossed the threshold. Note the door is closed and we are alone.”

I had not noticed either occurrence. I told you that door was silent.

“Dr. Annavarapu, Lita, you’re right. I did translate the document.”

I pulled my notebook out of my pocket, opened it to the first page of the translation and started to read it to her.

“Dear brother, we are coming for you. Do not despair. These other creatures breathing the same air as you won’t hurt you anymore. We see kindness in some and will spare them. Soon.”

She went pale, her knees buckled, and she barely missed the edge of the table with her chin.

“So, you see, Lita, you truly are not alone.”

August 12, 2023 01:56

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1 comment

Chuck Thompson
01:02 Aug 21, 2023

Thanks to all who read this!


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