First contact (4)
We sent messages to the aliens, to see if there were aliens. We filled the void of space with television — Nazi rallies and I Love Lucy. We filled the silence with radio signals. We launched spacecraft in search of the heavens, and we filled them with our memories, or at least what we wanted our memories to be. Gold records. Whale songs. Bach and da Vinci. Greetings from people long dead. We beamed fractals and computer programs in every direction. We called out in our own languages, in the languages of mathematics, in the languages of colours. We called out in all the frequencies we could find.
We said over and over, we are here. Come find us. Please.
And we waited for an answer. We listened for radio signals in response. We filled our deserts with Seti arrays to catch whispers from the stars. We scanned the stars and the spaces in between for laser beacons, for the slightest flicker of light that signified something. Anything. We created optical telescopes and spectrometers that had no other use than to study the atmosphere of other planets, searching for some trick of life. We waited for an answer.
It came, as answers usually do, in destruction. An asteroid storm of ice chunks that destroyed most of our satellites at once. Debris tore apart the space station and one of the secret military spacecraft. They made more debris. Our astronauts screamed their own messages into the vacuum. Our sky was ruin and blood.
But then we saw the pattern in the constellations of wreckage. The order forming out of the chaos. Signal emerging out of noise. A message was hidden in their decaying orbits. Our scientists and code breakers worked for lifetimes trying to decipher it, before the signs burned up in the fires of our atmosphere. And then we finally understood it. A new form of binary. A binary of destruction expressed in the remains of our spacecraft and the quantum emptiness they moved through. We didn’t know where the message had come from. We didn’t know what it meant. All we knew is what it said.
we were like you once