Excerpt from Messages
Cranston ~Four Days before Flyby
David kept looking at his video, slowing it down and speeding it up, his friends resting on his shoulder. Earth, a space ship, and an asteroid.
“Why two triangles?” Dwight asked for the tenth time.
“I wish I knew,” David replied.
They watched the video again. And again.
“Two triangles,” David whispered, then shook his head.
“One plus one is two,” Samantha said softly.
David stopped the video. He looked at the girl, and his eyes widened. “Holy puppy poop, Cat Woman, that’s it! That’s the whole reason for the radio signals. That’s why the aliens are here. That’s what the warning is all about!”
“You lost me, Dude! A warning about what?” Dwight asked.
“Look. We know the asteroid is going to miss us, right?”
“That’s what the experts say,” Sam replied.
“What if...” He took a deep breath, “what if there are two asteroids, one right behind the other. The second one wouldn’t show up on our sensors because they’re too close together and going too fast, and the one in front is headed almost right at us, hiding the one behind it!”
“But all those science types should have seen it,” Dwight said. “They got, like telescopes and radar and tricorders and, you know...other stuff.”
“Yeah,” David said. “But they wouldn’t see the second asteroid because they’re not looking for it. If they did see it, they’d assume it was all part of the same asteroid. They’d never expect two of them.”
“Okay...so what now? What’s the real purpose of the message?”
“Did you notice in the video how the second triangle begins to move slightly away from the other, down toward the crescent that represents Earth?”
Nobody answered. He showed them the video again.
“Two asteroids. One misses us, the other one...”
“Hits us, dead on,” Dwight finished.
“How could that happen? They’re both close together. If one misses us, the other one should also,” Sam said.
“I don’t know how, but when they get closer to Earth’s gravity field, one of them gets pulled in. At least that’s what the aliens are trying to tell us. They should know, they’re right next to those rocks. Maybe the second one has more mass.”
“So the message really is a warning,” Sam said softly.
“Now that we know the whole message, what do we do? Dudes, we’re running out of time!”
“We need to tell someone, someone in authority.” David looked around for his phone, found it behind his laptop. “How do we call NASA?”
“If we call, we’ll just get a receptionist who will laugh and hang up on us,” Dwight said. “We’re just high school kids.”
“Maybe somebody else has figured out the message,” Sam said hopefully.
“We can’t rely on that. We need to talk to someone.” He did a search for NASA phone numbers. “Hey! Look! NASA’s got a Planetary Defense Coordination Office. And here’s the number.”
David called the number. As they feared a receptionist answered. “Hello. My name is David Cranston. I have some vital information about the asteroid that’s headed our way. I need to speak to someone in charge.”
“You and about a thousand other crackpots. I’m sorry, Director Spitzer is unavailable. I can take your number and he may call you back sometime next week.”
“But that’s going to be too late. He needs to know about this now!”
“I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do.”
“Is there anyone else there I can talk to? Any other departments? This is critically important. I’m not a crackpot and I’m not joking.”
“Okay, your name’s David. Who are you with?”
“With? Uh, no one. I’m a high school student.” The line went dead.
“Crap, she hung up on me.” David looked at his friends with a wild look in his eyes.
“We need to call, like, a university or something.”
“We’re running out of time. I think the missile launches are scheduled to begin in just a couple of days!”
The three students sat for a long moment, looking at each other.
Samantha sighed and pulled her phone out of her purse. “Damn,” she muttered, “I hate you guys, I really hate you. Okay,” she sighed, “let me make a call. I know someone. He’ll listen to me.”
“But can he do anything to help us?” David asked.
Samantha tapped her screen. “He should,” she said dryly as she held the phone up to her ear, “he’s the President of the United States.”