This week in lieu of a post I give you a short story I wrote earlier this year. My tongue in cheek look at the approaching end of the Mayan calendar and the supposed apocalypse.
Pete Lohr, an amateur astronomer in Nebraska, was one of the first to spot them. He had recently re-read H.G. Wells War of the Worlds, and in a fanciful moment had turned his telescope on the red planet.
At first he assumed his equipment was faulty, maybe he’d gotten dirt on the lenses. But after a thorough check and with the appearance of three more objects, he knew he was onto something major.
Maybe it’s a meteor that had broken up while passing though Mars gravitational field, he thought as he struggled to calmly enter his notes. He wanted everything to be perfect before calling this one in. He didn’t want to screw up anything and give someone else a shot at the glory.
As he worked he imagined the asteroid being named after himself, like the Eugene-Levy comet that struck Jupiter years earlier. Yeah, the Peter Lohr comet. Had a nice ring to it.
By the time he got through to Behlen Observatory at Nebraska State University sixteen other amateur astronomers had already called the discovery in and it was in the process of being verified. Disappointed he returned to his telescope and discovered that the six objects had grown to twenty eight.
Watching them he slowly came to realize that this could not be an asteroid, comet, or other natural phenomenon. For one thing each of the objects appeared to be the same size. For another the objects remained in an ordered formation. Had this been an asteroid or comet that had broken up the pieces would be various sizes and the debris field would be scattered across a wider area.
On his second call to the Behlen Observatory he managed to get through to Professor Schift who confirmed his suspicions without confirming or denying his findings.
As he hung up, his hands visibly shaking, his gaze found the calendar hanging on the wall. All of the days for December had been crossed out up to today, the twentieth.
Beneath the Capitol building the President was being briefed on the days discovery. A large screen filled a portion of the far wall and on it was a real time image of Mars from the Hubble Space Telescope.
Fred Bilkes an astronomer with the department of science and technology was reading from his hastily scribbled notes. His Boss had called him an hour earlier just as he was sitting down to dinner and ordered him to brief the President on what was happening. Fred didn’t know anything about what was going on so he had spent at least a half hour trying to get caught up.
“As best as we can determine Mr. President, the objects appear to be under their own power.”
“Which means?” The President asked.
“They’re alien.” Fred said.
The subdued hush of whispers that had been circling the table came to an abrupt halt as all eyes turned on Fred.
“Based on my measurements each object is exactly the same size and if you watch closely you can see several of them making minor course corrections to maintain their formation.”
“So we’re having extraterrestrials for Christmas?” The President asked.
“They’ll be here much sooner than that Mr. President. In fact the first visitors craft will be visible to the naked eye by noon tomorrow.”
“Thank you Doctor Bilkes.” The President Said. “Charlie would you see that Doctor Bilkes makes it home safely.”
One of the Secret Service agents standing in the shadows stepped forward. “Yes sir,” Charlie said.
“Doctor Bilkes,” The President said, “I don’t need to remind you that what you just told us needs to be kept under wraps until we make an official announcement.”
“No sir,” Fred said, “I understand completely.”
The President nodded and Fred followed Charlie from the room. After they left the President turned to his advisers.
“So what are we going to do?”
“What can we do?” His senior aide said. “If we attack and they have peaceful intentions we’ll likely never know. If we wait and they are hostile, we may lose our only chance at beating them. I suggest a preemptive nuclear strike while they are beyond the Moon’s orbit.”
“Have we been able to contact them?” The President asked.
“Fifteen minutes after they were spotted and we realized they were intelligent we began transmitting on every bandwidth and with every known means of communication and up to this point we have not received a response. As far as we can tell, they’re not even communicating among themselves. If they are it is by a means beyond our comprehension.” The senior Science adviser said.
“The only thing we can do then is assume they are hostile and strike first.”
Everyone in the room agreed.
“I’ll need to speak with the Kremlin first. We don’t want them thinking we’re about to strike them when we cycle up.”
Forty miles west of Dallas, Texas, Brandon and his friends were sitting around a camp fire drinking beer, and telling tall tales. Above them the stars filled the night sky.
“Hey guys, listen to this.” Greg said as he came out of his tent with his emergency radio in hand. The others gathered around as he adjusted the dial and a male voice came through the speaker
“We are a peaceful race. What are your intentions? We are a peaceful race. What are your intentions?”
“What do you suppose that’s all about.” Brandon asked.
“Who knows, could be a radio test or something.” Jeremy said.
Five hours after the initial sighting, the story was burning up the Internet. Nine One One switchboards were overwhelmed by frantic calls. Highways leading out of the major metropolitan areas were inundated with people fleeing. Riots erupted in major cities around the world as everyone assumed the worst from the approaching visitors.
Ned Fields who had a small ranch in Wyoming was sitting on his back porch enjoying a cup of coffee when from the missile silo a half mile to the south a horn began blaring. It was followed shortly by an explosion.
Ned walked to his porch railing just as the rocket engine for the minuteman missile ignited, turning the predawn darkness to day as the missile rode a tail of fire into the sky.
Inside the lead alien ship the captain turned to his first mate as alarms sounded and their instruments indicated numerous rocket launches from the surface of their destination. The third planet from the sun.
“What does it mean?” The captain asked.
“Our sensors indicate the presence of nuclear devices on the launch vehicles.” The first mate responded.
“Why are they acting like this? We left them a message letting them know exactly when we would be back.” The Captain said.
“Maybe we shouldn’t have left it with the Myans," the First Mate responded, "you know they have a twisted sense of humor.”