Weird signals are detected coming from the direction of the Virgo Cluster. Space agencies around the world report to my office for corroboration, having intercepted an intelligent transmission, easily interpreted to be:
“Sorry for the delay. Will arrive shortly.”
“Are we expecting someone?” I ask my chief astrophysicists.
“Not that we know of, boss,” answers an eighteen year veteran of NASA.
“What’ll we tell the public?” asks another long-timer.
“That’s up to the President,” I defer, “not the administrator of NASA.”
“We have an approaching set of objects, sir!” a monitor announces.
Earth’s telescopes aim at the oncoming fleet as a clearer, “louder” message arrives from them.
“THERE WAS SOME MISUNDERSTANDING REGARDING YOUR GALACTIC DESIGNATION AND WE WENT TO THE WRONG FILAMENT.”
By international conference the other heads of space agencies and I decide that “filament” likely refers to a large-scale structure formed by millions of galaxies. Yet that forces us to accept the possibility of beings capable of traversing unimaginable emptiness between galactic clusters. We must be fooling ourselves.
“CAN YOU HEAR US YET? SPEAK, FOR WE NOW MAY HEAR YOU.”
Deliberations result in my election as the designated speaker for mankind. After several awkward attempts to shout or squeeze out telepathy, we decide that I should simply speak into the transmitter as I might to astronauts in deep space.
“Please identify yourselves and state your intentions,” I request.
A nervous silence follows. Meanwhile the world learns of the approaching fleet after someone in China leaks the news.
Finally a response from the alien fleet arrives:
“WE HAVE COME TO REPLACE YOUR FORMER GUARDIANS. IT SEEMS THAT YOU’VE BEEN WITHOUT GUIDANCE FOR QUITE SOME TIME.”
Guidance? Guardians? By now the transmissions are leaking and there’s no hiding this from anyone on Earth. Suddenly ordinary devices are picking up the alien transmissions with instantaneous translation. The whole world receives the messages, even if they don’t want them. The aliens override all other communications!
Strangely, they no longer converse with us. Instead, we hear the conversation between them colloquially represented over the next tense hours:
“THE DEMIGODS HAVE THINNED OUT AMONG THEM. THEIR INFLUENCES ARE LOCAL AND SUBTLE IN MOST CASES.”
Demigods? Have they mated with us in the past?
I’m not just an administrator, I’m a scientist. I observe. And I notice subtle changes. I check with colleagues who have access to the most sensitive instruments science measures things with. I take note as the night goes on.
“THE OUTSIDE THREATS HAVE STAYED AWAY FOR MILLENNIA. OUR PREDECESSORS DEALT WITH THEM HARSHLY. IF YOU KNOW THE STORY?”
Radioactivity has stopped. X-rays don’t work. Geiger counters detect nothing. Plutonium has become harmless, suddenly and inexplicably. Nuclear submarines go dead undersea. Nuclear power plants stop cold.
“I KNOW THAT THE OUTSIDERS ARE NOT THE KIND TO FORGET AND GIVE UP EASILY. HAVE THESE PEOPLE RETAINED NO MEMORY OF THE OUTSIDERS? DO THEY NOT REMEMBER THE ONE THEY CALLED “SHANGDI?” HAVE THEY LET ZEUS, RA AND YAWEH VANISH FROM THEIR THOUGHTS?”
Food that should go bad quickly is staying fresh and even un-cooking itself. Flowers that should be wilting instead revert to healthy buds. Insects that should live their lives in hours exist twice as long as they are born, grow old, grow young and disappear.
“ONLY THIRTY-SIX % OF THE PEOPLE HAVE STARTED WORSHIPING US. FORTY-ONE % ARE HIDING OR COWERING IN FEAR OF US. THIRTY-THREE % ARE PREPARING TO OPENLY DEFY US!”
Then births themselves become questionable. Infants seem to “appear” instead of being born. Pregnancies go backwards. People seem different ages than they were before, some younger but many older as well. Then all at once fresh injuries – paper cuts, slivers, broken ankles, smashed skulls – eerily heal themselves almost instantly.
“DEFY US? WHY AREN’T THEY RELIEVED THAT WE’RE HERE? WHO ELSE CAN PROTECT THEM FROM WHAT LIES OUTSIDE?”
“THEY’VE HIT PHASE THREE. THEY HAVE FORGOTTEN THEIR MASTERS AND DO NOT RECOGNIZE US AS GODS. THEY BELIEVE US TO BE ‘ALIENS.'”
The surreal aspects of my observations have me swirling and I need an anchor for my sanity. The fleet arrives taking orbit around the entire Solar System.
“WE ARE NOW OPEN FOR PRAYERS AS WE REVIEW YOUR SITUATION AND DECIDE ON WHAT TRIALS YOU WILL UNDERGO NEXT.”
I look to my bookshelf. My collection of hardcover books has always given me comfort. This time… not so much. Some of these titles feel wrong…
Abraham Lincoln: The Second Term
America’s Women Presidents
The Einstein-Hawking Unified Field Theory
The History Of Solar System Settlement
Jewish King Jesus
The Roman States of Earth
The New Pantheon
A History Of The Worldwide Aeronautics and Space Administration
Of course we can’t “feel” the actual past any more than we can any sort of future. Both the future and the past exist only in our memories and imaginations. Is memory stronger than imagination? Can memories change? Can memories be changed?
“WHAT KIND OF GODS CANNOT REDO YESTERDAY?”
“VERY POOR GODS THOSE WOULD BE.”
It’s my job to serve the Gods. After all, I’m the administrator of WASA.
“BE AT PEACE CITIZENS OF EARTH. YOU ARE BEING WATCHED OVER ONCE AGAIN.”