“Oumuamua” • Written and Narrated by Rob Dircks

“Oumuamua” • Written and Narrated by Rob Dircks

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Hey, Rob here. This is another quickie, so I don’t want to say much other than it’s about that weird, cigar-shaped object that came hurtling past Earth about a year and a half ago, named Oumuamua. That much is true. The rest, well…?

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“Oumuamua”

Written and narrated by Rob Dircks

On October 19, 2017, a cigar-shaped object, approximately one mile long, was observed as it traveled through our solar system. Its strange shape and unorthodox “tumbling” behavior raised concerns that the object, since named ‘Oumuamua,’ might, in fact, be an alien probe. During its closest transit of Earth, several readings and photographs disproved any exotic theories, and the scientific community collectively agreed that Oumuamua was simply a stray chunk of rock and ice traveling through interstellar space. 

Nearly one year and three months later, on January 16, 2019, radio receivers at the Atacama Large Millimeter Array in northern Chile observed and recorded several short but complex signals in the general direction of the retreating object, as it followed a random trajectory towards the Proxima Centauri solar system. 

The data was sent by the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) to the Google AlphaZero artificial intelligence lab in San Jose, California for analysis. Six hours later, the decoded information was translated to English and narrated by voice actors, from the San Jose Regional Shakespearean Theatre Continuing Education program.

What you are about to hear is real.

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Recording 01: 19 October 2017: Approach to Earth: 

“Sir. Several of their satellites have pointed in our direction. They’ve spotted us.” 

“About time. Send them a message.” 

“We’ve been trying, Sir. No response. It appears they use radio.” 

“What the hell is radio?” 

“I checked with FOMO, and apparently it’s a form of wave used for broadcast and communication. We haven’t used radio in twenty-thousand brotos.” 

“All right then. Hail them using this ‘radio’ thing.” 

“Um, sorry, sir. We can’t.” 

“We are the most advanced civilization in the quadrant. Hail them now.” 

“Um…” 

“For Coco’s sake, man. What?” 

“At the risk of sounding patronizing, sir, if we were required to carry communication capabilities for all primitive species, this ship would be ten times its current size.” 

“Then why didn’t they build this ship ten times its current size?” 

“Budgets, sir.” 

“Fine. Use the gas jets. Pulse them at periodic intervals. They’ll surely see and interpret that as a coded message.” 

<Audible: various foot shuffling, bleeps and bloops.>

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Recording 02: 20 October 2017: Beginning of Earth Transit: 

“Sir. I have good news and bad news.” 

“Out with it. We don’t have time for word games. We’ll be out of range shortly.” 

“Okay. The good news is we’ve devised a radio receiver. It won’t transmit, but we can pick up their signals. This is what they sound like.” 

<Audible: garbled radio signals and static.>

“And does this make sense?” 

“Yes, sir. And that’s the bad news. While they’ve seen our jets, they’re attributing it to outgassing.” 

“Outgassing? What the hell is outgassing?” 

“Natural gasses escaping from the interior. They think we’re a comet, sir.” 

“Ridiculous. Fine. Strobe our lights. They can’t be that stupid.” 

“We, ah, tried that too, sir.” 

“Let me guess.” 

“They attributed that to infrared heat radiation.” 

“What a bunch of morons. Do we have a banner we can stretch across the ship that says, ‘Up here you idiots’?”

“No.” 

“Rhetorical question. All right. We’ll have to land, then.” 

“Um, sir…” 

“Don’t say it.” 

“Budgets, yes sir. This probe was designed for long-range observation only, no landing apparatus. With all due respect, sir, I would think you would know that.” 

<Audible: possible slap, punch, or kick, and untranslatable groan and expletive.>

“Why, you?! How dare you! Guard, take this insubordinate to the brig! Get me the next second-in-command immediately! This is preposterous! Our one mission, to contact species in Quadrant Three of the Troplo Galaxy, and we’re on a ship without landing apparatus, and whatever this radio thing is.”

“Good day, sir.” 

“Ah, there you are, new second-in-command. Good. Set us on a collision course with Earth. If we can’t land, we’ll just crash into the bastards.” 

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Recording 03: 21 October 2017: Ending of Earth Transit: 

“Why- why are we moving away from the planet?” 

“Sir. It seems… we… um…” 

“Out with it!” 

“It seems… this ship is functioning exclusively on predetermined intragalatial algorithmic trajectory parameters with a negligible manual variance coefficient. Sir.” 

“In Shtopo, man! Speak in plain Shtopo!” 

“We’re on autopilot, sir.” 

“FUCK!”

“Would you like me to relieve myself and get the next second-in-command, sir?” 

“Yes! No! Give me a solution. Now!” 

“Well, sir, we ah, did discuss briefly just now, maybe if we all ran from one end of the ship to the other, over and over, shifting our weight…?” 

<Audible: possible face palm.>

That is your solution?”

“Yes sir.” 

<Audible: sigh.>

“Tell me then, in plain Shtopo, why the hell we’re even here. Why have a crew at all? Or even a ship? Why are we here, man?!” 

“Sir, uh, permission to speak freely sir?” 

“Ugh. Go ahead.” 

“Do you remember the election last broto?” 

“Of course. No riddles. Out with it.” 

“Grand Overlord candidate Woko promised the masses outward expansion and colonization. When he won, he had to make good on his promise, but…” 

“Let me guess. Budgets.” 

“I’m sorry sir. I thought you knew. We are a political prop.”

<Audible: possible choking back tears of despair.> 

“In that case… I will be in the cantina if anyone needs me.”

“What are our instructions, sir, in your absence?” 

“Do whatever the fuck you want.”

<Audible: awkward silence.>

“No. I do have an instruction. While I am drinking myself into utter and absolute inebriation, have your team devise a radio transmitter, and when it is completed send back this message: ‘Attention planet-dwellers — your world has been selected for contact and eventual colonization. I am supposed to congratulate you, to say that this is extremely fortunate for your kind, that your backward and barbaric ways will soon be replaced by the order and intelligence of the most advanced civilization in the quadrant. But now… well… I realize we may be as much of a shit show as yourselves. In fact, I would advise you to continue ignoring us. Now… I have some important drinking – ah, I mean matters- to attend to. Farewell… and good luck.”  

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I hope you enjoyed that short story. Thank you again for tuning in to Listen To The Signal. I’m Rob Dircks, author of the science fiction novels Where the Hell is Tesla?, Don’t Touch the Blue Stuff!, The Wrong Unit, and my latest release, an Audible Original titled You’re Going to Mars!  You can buy Volume 1 of the collected Listen To The Signal stories on Audible and Amazon, and find my other books there too, and get in touch here on the contact page or at RobDircks.com.  

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Copyright ©2019 Rob Dircks

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