Havok Publishing

Comeback

By Juan Carlos Gil

“Why, look who’s here… If it isn’t the Chairman of the Science Committee himself, in my very own backyard. Well, hello Ryder, what brings you all the way to this remote location of mine? I don’t remember you being a lover of the great outdoors.”

“Hello, Franklin. It’s been a while. How are you? Nice telescope you have there!”

“Yeah, not bad for refined stargazing. The skies are just wondrous here on crystal clear nights. And if the weather holds, tonight will be quite spectacular.” Franklin surveyed the evening sky.

“Yeah, that you can say… Look at this place. Look at all this space.” Ryder followed Franklin’s gaze.

“Beautiful, yes… But I doubt that’s the reason for your presence here though. Is it?” Franklin asked, looking straight at his visitor.

“No, it isn’t.”

“So, to what do I owe the honor?”

“I need you back with NASA.”

Franklin frowned. “Is that so?”

“Yeah.”

“I thought that the rogues in charge of the White House had made it clear that I was persona non grata.”

“Well, you did humiliate the government on live national television—”

“I exposed them as the crooks that they are. They were the ones relentlessly pulling all the stops to terminally defund valuable programs and, among other things, hammer the last nail in the Agency’s coffin.”

Ryder raised a hand in an attempt to appease him. “That’s true, Frank. I won’t deny it, but… Listen, I think you could have chosen your words more wisely, but clearly the way they treated you was uncalled for. That being said… Now, all that is past. And it needs to stay in the past. Things are going to change.”

“Change? How?”

“Well, first of all, the President is not really calling the shots anymore.”

“Yeah, I got that when they nominated you. I can’t say I’m too sad about that.”

“Yeah, well, anyway, that’s not actually the real issue. Something has happened, Frank. Something way more important. And I can guarantee you that NASA is going to be fully funded again.”

“Is that so? What could possibly have happened?”

“Voyager 1 is back.”

“…What?”

“The Voyager 1 spacecraft is back,” Ryder said, looking straight into Frank’s eyes.

“…You’re serious.”

“I am.”

“Wait… No, no… What do you mean ‘back’?”

“The spacecraft was found floating nearby the ISS yesterday.”

Franklin rubbed his forehead. “Sorry, you are telling me that the Voyager 1 spacecraft that reached interstellar space years ago is somehow back here?”

“That’s correct,” Ryder said, nodding slowly.

“How… How is that even possible?”

Ryder let out a sigh, shook his head. “I don’t know. I really have no idea. That’s why I need you back. And that’s not all.”

“Not all?”

“The golden record is not there. It’s been changed. There’s a different one there instead. With some kind of message.”

“A message? What does it say?” Franklin’s eyes widened.

“We don’t know. We don’t know how to read it. We don’t know how to decode it. It’s just like nothing we’ve ever seen. Frank, we need you back,” Ryder told him.

“Wait a second… You mean ‘someone’ responded? To the golden record?”

“That’s what it looks like.”

“…And it’s definitely not some kind of freakishly elaborate prank?”

“No, it isn’t. It’s the real deal. All of it.”

“Fu…dge. Where is it now?” Frank asked.

“The alien record is in the ISS. The crew detached it. They’re beaming us pictures. And we’re coordinating a mission to go retrieve it as soon as possible.”

“Who knows about this?”

“For now, the crew as well as top command of all the partners of the ISS. It is my understanding that China, India, and the UN are still in the dark. For now. Probably not for much longer.”

“What’s gonna happen?”

“Well, I’m not sure. I guess it depends on the nature of the message.”

“Right.”

“But it has been decided to bring it back down for analysis. We’re bringing it to Canada, as a compromise between the partner nations.”

“Canada… That’s where you’re headed,” Frank said.

“That’s right. So, look, I don’t know where we go from here, I can barely wrap my head around this whole thing. This is absolutely huge. This is beyond anything I’ve ever imagined.  But I know I will feel a lot better if you are there too. We must figure out what it all means. So, Frank, the time is now. I’m asking you to forget about the past. Put it all behind. And come back. Come with me. Now. We start anew. Forget all the rest. This is the breakthrough we have dreamed of since we were kids. I don’t need to tell you that, do I?”

“No, you definitely don’t. What about Nyssa?”

“Well, I was hoping to drop by her place before we cross the border and convince her to come back too. My guess is that she will say yes.”

“Of course, she will. Wow, this is it. This is really it!”

“Yes, it is.”

“I’ll go pack my bags right away!”

“That’s all I wanted to hear, my friend.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Juan Carlos Gil is from Lausanne, Switzerland. He teaches languages and is a newcomer to the world of fiction writing. He grew up reading Ray Bradbury and William Gibson, has seen Mulholland Drive and Inception more times than he can remember, and is a fan of the Green Bay Packers.


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14 comments - Join the conversation

 

    • Thank you, Lisa! I must say that I found the “Relocate” theme really cool! In the end, Voyager 1 returning was the idea that appealed to me the most.

    • Thanks, Sparks of Ember! I have always been fascinated by the Voyager probes and it was really fun to write about V1.

    • Thank you, KnightOfHvn! I can’t help fantazing about the day “someone” out there finds the Voyager probes…

    • Thanks, Michael! The challenge I set myself was to write a short story in dialogue only, and the first version was just that. Just one single conversation. I wanted to see I could have the conversation move through all the stages of the story until the final revelation. Then Rachel Harris gave precious editing feedback and I was able to improve the story with appropriate breaks in the dialogue.

  • Oh, I like the concept of Voyager 1 returning! That’s something I like to speculate about, personally. :D

    • Thanks, Grace! I loved working on the “Relocate” theme! And since then I have been exploring what could happen next. So many doors are open…

  • Who hasn’t wondered about what will happen to the Voyager’s golden record? I like how you took it a step beyond that.

    • Thank you, ztrussell!
      I know there are scientists who have criticized the design/format of the golden record, but wondering what will happen to it when/if “somebody” finds it is still a fascinating question.

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