After five days the Truth Bugs had their fill. Blue and white starry gossamer’s hitched rides on the last of the Suns reflected shortwave bounce back to space, destination unknown.
A person had to be in just the right place at the right time to see this gossamer ride. On Oceans edge looking just to the left or right of the Sun rays that appeared as misty fountain plumes, almost as rainbow refracted light.
A few humans did notice. A couple of quiet achievers in two SETI astronomers that is. Dave and Barry (last names withheld for confidentiality), known as the Darry twins to workmates. These two – inseparable since MIT days. Always joint research, published papers and both held equal Beer can swilling record from the early days. They were both happily married, both with two kids and both married women from the same family. Obscure it may be, but they lived at exact opposites of town. Enough of these two inseparables and their most desired to be private lives.
Ten days earlier at the start of their sunset to midnight shift, bored (which is not unusual at SETI) with another night of sorting satellite noise from radio signals appearing to be derived from Proxima Centauri. Will this finally be proof of Aliens once we clear out all other possibilities of radio waves? Darry had spent many times postulating argument till the early morning hours on that little conundrum.
Radio chatter with a difference had spiked alarms. The WAV patterns appearing to be like human speech, not all but bits, fragments never to be connected, but the stream was continuous, not your average satellite or Earth radio feed, but bouncing through all the sensor arrays with origins on Earth. Gone it was in a few minutes. Barry insisted the stream was directed to the Moon, Dave insisted to Proxima Centauri. Both agreed it was strange indeed given the reports of the day of people trying to eat themselves and being put back together by mystery bugs that appeared to disappear on the ether. They presented the observations to the Boss, who agreed for them to focus on this unexplained chatter.
The next few days realised similar chatter, not as intense as day 1, but still there and always gone with the end of sunset. A rough theory was postulated and decision made to do the 45 minute drive to Pigeon Point Lighthouse just before sunset for observation on the days following. Would the spectrometers, magnetic and standard, pick up anything?
Now, Darry had almost lost their plume view. Sun almost disappeared to night embrace. A few vague sparkles still visible to the squinting eyeballs. Could also have been just too long peering near the Sun. Excited they were. Gut feeling was that they had watched the impossible just happen. No voices, just determined driving back to the lab and monitor room. Did what they see and what the instruments record coincide with their ten day old observations?
SETI reached, in they go. Plug in and wait for results. Silent, watching, waiting, but not for long. Confirmation of some unique light diffraction appears on the screen. Just as quickly as it appears, it glitches and streamers of blue and white are running up the screen. It didn’t stop until it decided to. Darry’s check and cross check – no data left. Magnetic spectrometer plugged in – as before it picks up anomolies to local magnetic fields as intense bending from the norm. Just as quickly it glitches, blue and white destruction on the screen before them.
Dave rips the power cords, hard shutdown not ideal. Blue and white still streams and then stops. Equipment back on, all data gone and all systems operating normally. Backups the same as if what they had witnessed never happened. But it had, just that none would believe without clear evidence. At least they had the previous days efforts. Barry checks the previous nine days data – nothing to see as if the observations never existed. Nothing to provide proof, just verbal observation and hypothesis that will never stand up to any peer scrutiny. Gone.
“But we know what we saw”, the Darry’s exclaimed in unison. Dave followed up with ” So what? No evidence is no evidence”. We know what we saw Dave, not exactly amateurs are we? But you are right. Oh well at least we didn’t get bored to death teasing satellite noise out of those far space emissions.” No more to be said and back to the normal they went, the still dedicated but frustrated Darry. From then on, forever watchful for certain signs. Maybe one day……
Apollo 22F (F for Far side ), the first manned mission since Apollo 17, parked for three days in the deep shadows of the South Pole Aitken Basin on the far side of the moon. Day of landing for Astronauts Smith, Jones and Leibowitz had proven to be far more difficult and dangerous than all the simulations and past experience had envisaged or covered. Half way through final descent, landing program stopped, started, stopped and started again. Landing thrusters coughed and wheezed as if they had caught a cold. Leibowitz’s random glance out the observation window thought he saw dust enveloping the lander. Just as the thrusters stopped coughing and the lander program started again, the vision cleared. He wasn’t sure of what had been seen.
This interface area between light and dark played around with the optics. His fellow astronauts while skeptical, could not discount the coincidence with almost catastrophic failure of the lander itself. Mission Control itself, while relieved the mission was back on track had no observations or data to add to the mystery. A few hypothesis were thrown around. Could they have been caught in a Moon fountain – the so called Transient Luna Phenomena? It was the only thing that made a measure of sense, but being where they were meant no ground observation from Earth below.
Jones is focused on the task at hand, vacuuming up some regolith yet again. Every moon mission this moon dust had been collected, but after a matter of days on earth no matter the environment, it always found a way to oxidise and strictly limited detail study. This time the lab is on board 22F. Better results will happen…
Jones trips, propelled forward and half glides/falls to a lightest kiss face plant ten metres away, in the process losing grip on the vacuum extractor. Smith, step jumps to the scene with Jones now upright, trying to de-smear his faceplate. The more he wipes, the more the moon dust sticks to the back of glove and helmet as if statically charged. Shallow panicked muffled breath over the intercom – “I can’t see a thing, this damn dust….”, tails off to silence as Smith manages to de-smear enough for Jones to see. “What happened? I look away and look back and you are sprawled over here. Where is the dust sucker”? Smith states with a just concealed behind the faceplate smirk. “Don’t know, there are random rocks buried in that moon powder, must have tripped on one of them”.
Jones starts to pull the dust sucker line tether, only to have it easily float to them without the Worlds most expensive vacuum cleaner attached. After desperate seconds, launched boot prints found. Somewhere here it must be, but it is nowhere. Much poking into the dust, but still nothing. Jones has had enough and a frustrated boot flick at the regolith just results in dust smothering him ever so slowly in the low gravity and again temporarily blinded. Smith spotted something shiny floating up in the dust and catches it. It being the tether ring of the dust sucker. “Huh?”, best materials, tested and true connections. It should be attached to the sucker. But sucker cannot be found.
Air supply has only minutes left for both. Leibowitz from the lander sounds unnaturally loud reminding both of this. “Come on, get back here, we have more than a dust sucker to worry about”. In they go, outer hatch sealed, Leibowitz all the time telling them to hurry. “Here, check this out”, as Leibowitz replays the external camera of Jones’s trip event. Slowed down, it appears as if the regolith had bubbled up, propelling him forward, not the rock trip as Jones suspected. View just catches the sucker drifting down towards the dust and appears as if dust fingers reached up and hauled it to the grey below. All three astronauts startled as the replay starts breaking up, blue and white crazy script acting like Pacman, devouring the feed until gone.
Urgent chatter coming from mission control asking if problem at their end as video feed glitching badly. They confirm that their connection to the bounce satellite is good. But, it’s gone. No visuals, just nagging off memories that as soon as Jones tries to focus are just as easily forgotten. Inside of nose is itchy, now glove free finger explores. Itching dissipates, and a vague grey smear is observed on fingers end.
They all look, startled as suits were fully sealed, should not be there. Leibowitz, nervous disposition ear lobe pull to focus once more. Thumb and forefinger smeared in grey. Smith – looking and feeling far more absent than usual, notes a dark spot obscuring his vision. He blinks it is gone. Even more surprising than the disintegrating photo feed is combined observation the grey sliding off like oil to disappear into the deck below. Gone! “What was that? What was what? What just happened?” Almost stated in unison by all three.
All three remembering now that they were prepping for lift off, not quite recalling what their last science sampling was for. No matter, focus on getting back to the orbiter. Leibowitz, wondering about the shopping list he left for the wife just before they left, hoping she wouldn’t forget the pastrami (1). He was hanging out for ‘real’ binge food. Mission Control starts reminding them of need to start procedures for lift-off. Buckle up, system checks started.
Countdown to launch commenced….in 30, 29, 28… Leibowitz was too focused on his launch task and trying to stop salivating at the thought of pastrami sandwich to snap a glance at the external monitor screens. If he had, he would most likely have screamed. Silent grey of regolith was foaming up over external parts. Ignition, engines appear to be sluggish as if moon gravity had tripled, launch thrust was there, shuddering, moving at what felt like millimetres per hour, then snap as if thrust from a catapault.
Out of control rock n roll that after what felt like minutes but was only seconds settled down to a timely rendezvous with the orbiter. All three shaken but alive and secure. Target Earth locked in. Chatter with Mission control over the launch. Mission control reported everything normal at their end. Discussion ended and so did the astronauts memories of those first few seconds of launch. The more they thought, the less remembered. None would admit this to the others though.
As they are pulling away from the Moon orbit, the three chanced to look back at the dwindling twilight moon glow, unmistakable light band and streamers appear to move in the late glow. Photos were snapped. Conversation had about Apollo 17 and what they had reported on back in December 1972. A rare treat, and a memory to be treasured.
DAY and NIGHT
Grey dust settles back to the Moon surface, de-magnetised, de-sensitised and shut down in the Moon’s blackened silence. Regolith is forever patient, forever waiting for it’s time of truth again.
4.246 light years away, the Truth data transfer ship comfortable in the cromosphere of Proxima Centuari’s Sun receives the last data stream from the regolith truth watchers. From there, information streams of the non-truth humans brains go out. It rides dark matter gravitational lenses to “Unicorn”(2) black hole, to loop back through birthing Galaxies and other black holes via the dark matter highway to a Galaxy far far away. Humans know it as GN-z11 (3). To locals it is simply “Kosong” (4).
Chatter of sorts celebrates the efforts by those on their far flung Earth moon watch post. They know the unique nature of the Earth inhabitants to argue, to ignore fact in the face of overwhelming evidence. Repeated over the Centuries, getting more extreme, the more knowledge gained, greater the separation from reality some became.
Learning they have and always, from that moment of seeding the matter of future humans 420 Million years ago on Earth. Applied their learning to the ongoing seeding and building of more Bubble Universes, planets and life. Had always been a quandary to those designing and tweaking the seeding matter engines as to what went wrong with this first attempt to diversify Universal life.
Impatience and frustration they had never known until humans had evolved to Homosapien status. A rapid learning curve it had been and still was. Was it worth these newly formed anxieties, to keep on resetting a planetary wide consciousness?
There was some relief in knowing that for now the truth has been reset, that planet Earth has some breathing space to heal. For how long? Even they cannot predict, but will continue to watch as they always have done. Next time will they act or just let these crazy humans self destruct? Maybe next time will be one time too many and gone they will be.
After all Earth is an insignificant dot in Space among the millions of dots. Only the watchers will know that it is no more.
Afterword: I have a life long love of SF, more recently alternate reality and history has been added to the reading list. This first time attempt at Fiction was fun, frustrating and sad as it encapsulated all that I find wrong with current crazy emotive, angry and plain wrong rhetoric by those hell bent on tossing knowledge back to the dark ages. I wish the truth bugs exist to do their business, for us all to reset for another chance at doing the right thing by ourselves and the Planet I love. If only……
(1) Reference to an SF classic – “Canticle for Leibowitz” by Walter M Miller. Published 1959. Amazing the impact of a shopping list. For those that haven’t read it, please do. Startling relevance still today.
(2) “Unicorn” – Closest to Earth Black Hole and a really small one, discovered in 2021. Extremely difficult to observe and is postulated that there may be many out there.
(3) Farthest known Galaxy in our Universe.
(4) “Kosong” – Malay language for Zero.