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The International Writers Magazine: First Contact

Too Soon
J.A. Laraque

That flashing red light, it torments me. I’ve waiting been thirty seven years for this and when it is here. What do I do? I sit hunched over in my worn, leather office chair staring at my consoles. The flashing red light, the brightest of all my other indicators, on purpose of course. It’s not my only confirmation. The data being transmitted is clear even though I can’t understand it. I know what it is.

All of my research, every dollar I had I put towards this moment. Why does it feel so cold in here? I ever noticed it before. Out of twenty-six rooms, I spend most of my time in here. Hidden beneath the cellar where I keep the sunlight out. I felt the most at home here, being wrapped in darkness, surrounded by my company’s best deep-space communications technology.

Perhaps it is madness. I shunned human contact for years. Back-room deals were struck to allow me to control my own communication satellite. The global government gained exclusive rights to all my company’s inventions for that privilege, a high price. I just wanted to explore the stars, search for intelligent life beyond our planet.

But that is the problem, the dilemma I now face. My hands won’t stop shaking. The alarm I set up just in case I was asleep when I made contact has gone off. I shut it off immediately, but the light will not stop flashing until I respond or shut down. If I respond there will be no going back. I would have made contact with someone or something out there.
Something inside me yells. "You’re on the brink of making history. This signal was picked up by you and you alone. Your find will change the world. Why they hell are you hesitating?" Why, that is the question. Why did I choose to take my wealth and use it to search out someone besides my fellow man? Why did I turn away from my loved ones to scan the heavens? Why do I spend day and night in this cold dark, bunker when I could be out living life?

Again we return to my dilemma. My fear is not of science-fiction inspired aliens looking to enslave us, destroy us. My fear is what our corruption could to do them? We dream of a alien race to come to our world and bring us peace and knowledge, and yet we as a people fight amongst ourselves denying everyone peace.

How could we possibly accept an alien race when we cannot accept our neighbor? Even my own reflection staring back at me from the monitor knows that I am just as guilty. During the war my company assisted the alliance forces and even I hated who my government called the enemy. While I searched space for signs of life I helped kill hundreds of thousands. Now I want to send a message of peace to a being I know nothing about.

Do I have the right to accept or deny this discovery to mankind? Maybe I am cynical. Like my cup of coffee sitting next to my keyboard; I see it half full. Will anything change if I push that button? Can we as a people truly change or will we just continue in ignorance? Are we ready to listen to and understand this information being sent? Will we accept it? I can’t slow my heartbeat. The flash of that damn light follows my eyes up to the ceiling. I want to believe. We’ve turned our backs on forward progress before. Faith allowed us to reject science. Science allowed us to deny our spirituality. Greed slowed advancements in every field. Our environment crippled by those who did not care about their children’s future. Even life and healthy living were held captive from millions because it is more profitable to treat than to cure.
I once asked a priest why has your Jesus not returned yet. He just smiled and said. "Because it’s too soon." I didn’t fully understand what he meant until now. I am not a fool; there has to be secrets. Things kept away from children and adults alike because they are not yet ready to accept the truth.

The red light doesn’t both me anymore. Clarity has set in. I’m no longer cold. My hand steadies as I guide it to the button. I’m happy because my search has come to an end. I’ve found something out there and I know the truth. There’s no deep breath or closing of eyes. I push the button and my system short-circuits. It was a preventative measure just in case. There will be no data to recover, no sign that I even received a transmission.

I turn on the lights; it’s brighter than I remember. Now I can explore and make contact with the people here, on earth. There’s no denying that in time the transmission will be picked up by one of the government satellites. It will be a long while before that happens. For now I find my own truth, spread peace, and get some sun. I want us all to be ready and I know in my heart and my mind that one day we will, but right now, it’s too soon.

©
J.A. Laraque November 2008
jalaraque at yahoo.com

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