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Topic Started: Apr 15 2018, 08:11:42 AM (127 Views)
Black Cat
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Swamp witch

When we first heard it, it was a big deal. A really big fucking deal. The Big Ear radio telescope was the first to pick up the signal. It was like a direct message to us. Just outside of the wavelength of FM radio, this thing could have been playing Backstreet Boys for us. It was all over the news and everyone wanted to know, ďwhat does it say?Ē

When I heard it the first time, it horrified me in a way that nothing else ever had. It wasÖ Like a nursery rhyme. As if that wasnít strange enough, though, it sounded corrupted and almost, well, demonic. Someone leaked it to the public. We didn't know who and at this point it doesnít really matter.

You wouldnít believe the uproar that was caused by this single sound file, and pretty soon every telescope on earth was fixed on the source of the signal. The image that everyone was seeing was supposed to be impossible by our understanding of the universe at the time. It was ultimately confirmed when Hubble picked up a very clear image of it, like some family photo.

It was a planetoid-sized human fetus, far bigger than our moon, apparently gestating in some kind of artificial womb inside the Kuiper belt, not far from Pluto. I could sit here all night trying to tell you all of the questions that people had about the object, but I suppose you can imagine the situation for yourself.

There were riots and talk about the end of the world, but those of us in the scientific field, myself included, were more intrigued by the object than frightened of it. Up until that time we didnít have any plans on sending people out that far, nor any reason to, but people were terrified. Governments didnít know what to do, but we universally agreed that it could be a threat to our solar system.

Just think about it; A massive sentient being, bigger than a planet, floating around the edge of our solar system. If it was capable of surviving as a fetus in space, there was no reason to believe that once it was actually born it wouldnít continue to grow. Its presence alone could knock large asteroids out of their natural orbit and eventually one of them would probably be heading straight for earth.

My God, we had no idea what we were dealing with. As we studied it more, it became apparent that it was distorting space-time around itself in an unusual way, and it had an unbelievably strong electromagnetic field around it, presumably to divert stray space rocks and keep it safe. If we sent a probe or something toward it, all the electronic components in it would just get fried as soon as it got close.

The regular gestation period for a human baby is nine months, but apparently those rules didnít apply for this thing. We watched it slowly develop for quite a long time while our bureaucracies tried to form a solid plan. I was an aerospace engineer at the time, trying to perfect the technology of solar sails; basically big sheets of foil that would reflect photons from the sun, quickly propelling a craft through space without having to use any dangerous fuel source.

The signal grew stronger and more corrupted over time, and so did public anxiety. People hid in their homes and tried to forget about the thing, but once we knew it was there, there was no ignoring it. Something had to be done.

Finally, through the cooperation of several of the worldís superpowers, we secured funding to build a new kind of spacecraft. One designed to do only two things: take a team of people close to the object to study it and send back data, and then completely destroy it with nuclear weapons. Any asteroids knocked out of orbit would be dealt with after the fact.

For this mission, however, survival was not an option. You see, using my solar sails was a perfect way to propel the craft away from earth and toward the edge of our solar system, but it had no way to return. The trip there would take years, regardless. If you got on this spacecraft, you were only going one way. All the way.

It was decided by minds driven mad with fear that the object needed to be destroyed before it could complete its gestation, so building the craft and finding a crew was of paramount and urgent importance. We had already wasted enough time just watching and listening to this ungodly thing. Now it was time to act.

Even with every person we could throw at it, the process of building the craft still took over a year, and every few weeks we could see new developments in the object. By the time we were ready to gather a crew of four people for the mission, the signal had degraded to just sounds of metallic screeching and what sounded like people screaming in the background.

We knew we were running out of time, and since the craft was using my very own solar sails I volunteered for the mission. I had no family to mourn me anyway. They paraded us around like heroes the day before we left. The whole goddamn thing was pointless anyway. When that rocket took off, I was already in space. I was already facing the demon.

Under the most optimal conditions, it would take us a little over seven years to get there. We would then collect data on the object and record any anomalies for the brains back home. Then, when we were finished, we would unleash our payload of nuclear fire on it and slowly die out there in space, so far away from home.

The first few days were pretty quiet as we picked up speed from the sun, and all of our instruments were working just fine. There had been such a rush to get us into space that we barely even had time to shake hands before we left. Amanda was a physicist, young and shining. I had no idea why she had volunteered for the mission. Leonard was an old, washed-up drunk of a herbalist. His job was to manage the hydroponic gardens in the ship in which we grew both food and an engineered type of moss that would help clean the air as we breathed, taking some strain off of the CO2 scrubbers during the long journey there.

Morgan was once a chemistry professor at a prestigious university, but life and luck hadnít been kind to him and he ended up sinking his life savings into a ponzi scheme. I guess he just felt like he didnít have anything better to do than try to save the world.

There were tons of burning questions we discussed as we passed the time. How hadnít we heard the signal before? How long had the object been there without us noticing it? Surely its fairly close proximity to Pluto would have put it in view of the New Horizons probe as it took pictures on the way there.

It was like the damn thing just appeared one day of its own volition. Every few days we would tune a modified FM radio to the frequency of the signal, and the metallic screeching and screaming continued. I thought I heard whispering a few times, but it was just too hard to make out. I think after the first year, though, we decided to only turn it on once a month. Those noises would chill you to the bone. Just couldnít handle anything like that lowering our morale.

You know, people can change a lot, given enough time. People can change even more if theyíre stuck in a tin can with three other people for seven years. I donít judge any of the rest of the crew for the things that happened. That mission took its toll on every one of us. I mean, we were supposed to be saving the world, but were essentially on death row for it.

Seven years to think about that. You canít imagine how difficult it was for all of us, and we all had different ways of showing the effects it had on us. As time went on and we drew ever closer to the abomination, things only got worse. The first couple of years werenít too bad. Little arguments now and then but we were mostly friendly with each other. We tried to keep ourselves entertained. We played cards, mostly, but chess and other games were always popular.

During the third year, though, things started to change for the worse. It started with Morgan. He refused to let anyone else use the radio, and he would always play this annoying jazz music on it. During our monthly checks on the signal from the being, it became obvious that the whispering was growing louder. That damn jazz music though, it was starting to drive us crazy. One morning we woke up to find the radio smashed and in pieces on the floor. Morgan was livid, but no one confessed to doing it.

This would have been a severe hinderance on our ability to check on the sounds of the signal, but I had brought my own radio with me from earth. I decided not to tell the rest of them about it. Not at that time, anyway. I would wait until everyone else was asleep to monitor the signal quietly. One of these times was when I was first able to understand the whispering.

It was saying our names, over and over again. The being, even despite not being visibly conscious, knew that we were coming, and it likely knew what we were planning to do. It did nothing to stop us, though. At the time I couldnít understand why.

The fourth year was when we started to break, and I think the being was beginning to exert a certain amount of influence over our minds. We slept a lot and barely spoke to each other. Being aware that the object already knew about us made its influence on me less effective, I think. I couldnít just tell the others about it though, they would panic. This far into our mission already, I would do nothing to risk compromising it.

Amanda was starting to complain about an occasional itching sensation she felt all over her body. We could see her scratching a lot but didnít want to say anything to escalate the situation. The whole craft started to seem smaller as the earth days passed by. I started to feel cold constantly, and would wake up in a cold sweat, sensing a feeling of absolute dread.

Morgan started to hum his jazz tunes constantly, and sometimes in the dark I could see him sitting there on his cot, just rocking back and forth. Leonard spent most of his time alone with his plants. I think he used to talk to them sometimes, but hearing distant voices was common among all of us at this point, so I canít be sure.

Even still, we persisted, and we continued toward the wretched object. The radio signal was intermittent now, mostly static but I could still hear the whispering. I could always hear the whispering. We went on this way through the fifth and sixth years. Each of us drew into ourselves, our bodies becoming weak shells of what they once were, but still, we persisted.

Amanda had begun to scratch herself so much that she had big red patches of raw, bleeding skin all over her body. She said the itching was constant and unbearable. We tried to restrain her to keep her from hurting herself, but we were all too weak after so many years of muscle atrophy. We were only meant to be strong enough to press some buttons once we reached our destination.

The final year, our crossing over the crest of the mountain that was this terrible journey, instilled a new sense of hope in all of us. Not because we were finally going to be able to end the mission, but we would finally be able to end our suffering. We had no idea what it would be like to travel seven years through space toward the object when we first signed up, but if we had, we would have run far away from the signal and everyone who knew about it.

Amanda had large patches of skin missing, she had just scratched it off. I could see that a few of the spots were becoming infected. I feared that she may not make it much longer. I envied her chance to die early. The months passed by, and we could see the object growing ever closer every day. We would be there soon, and we would finally have an end to things.

Leonard no longer spoke. Any attempts to get him to leave the botanical station would result in a vicious, snarling, biting attack from him. He had become some kind of animal, and I wondered if there was any humanity left in him behind his glossed-over eyes.

Morgan walked back and forth, spending his days pacing from the fore to the aft decks of the ship. He mumbled to himself, and sometimes he would hum some of his jazz music, but that was only on his good days.

I seemed to be the least affected one of all. None of them noticed, of course, but besides being able to hear the thing whispering to me I maintained a pretty clear head. I knew that in the end I would have to be the one to fire the payload.

Finally, the day came for us to shed the sails and keep a constant speed directly toward the object, which loomed massively before us. I ran the computer algorithms to collect as much data about the object as possible. After all the automatic systems had run, I sent the information back toward earth and hoped they got it in time to save themselves from this thing, should our mission fail.

Now, there was only one thing left to do. We all gathered at the front windows to take one last look at the horrible thing before we fired the payload and closed the shutters on the windows for good, ready to lie down and die at the farthest point from earth which any human has ever reached.

The current velocity of our ship would be factored into the engine on the massive warhead, mounted in a protective housing on the bottom of the craft. I corrected our trajectory to make sure the bomb would hit the thing dead in the center. The alarm started to sound, telling us that we were at the correct distance from the object to begin the firing sequence.

I flipped the main switches on the console, ejecting the housing from around the warhead and decoupling it from the ship. The engine fired and we watched the missile fly quickly ahead of us toward the object. The ship slowed itself to a near complete stop and I closed the shutters on the windows to protect us from seeing the flash of the explosion.

No one knew what to expect. There was just a deathly silence in the air. After a few minutes I ran to my bunk to grab my radio. I turned it on and made sure it was tuned to the correct frequency. There was nothing. Just dead air. For a moment I felt genuinely relieved, until I heard a deep thump come through the radio, and then another.

It was a heartbeat. Suddenly a strong impact rocked the ship, making us stumble and fall over ourselves. I made my way back to the console again and opened the shutters. I could see a massive debris field of amniotic fluid and sinew. That wasnít what frightened me, though.

What frightened me was the huge black eye staring into the ship through the port-side window. As soon as I locked eyes with it all electronic systems on the ship shut down at once, I fell unconscious, and then I slowly died. Iíve known what it feels like to die. Iíve done it.

Have you ever just stopped existing? It feels like it lasts an eternity, but should you come back from it, in retrospect it will seem like you just blinked your eyes. I came back because that thing wanted me to. Maybe it wanted to prove a point to humanity, I canít be sure. I never saw Amanda, Leonard, or Morgan again. The being had already finished its work with them.

But with me? It wasnít over yet. Not at all. It decided to put meÖ Here. On this new earth, my home, but it is completely alien to me. The Great Walled City of Genesis is unique to this world. There was nothing like this place back home. Scotch still tastes the same, though. Everything is so similar, I sometimes forget that this isnít my real home.

Or was it all just a dream? I could have just been sitting here bullshitting you for the last couple of hours while you paid for my drinks. By the way, Iíll need another if weíre going to continue this discussion.

Let me ask you something though. Say that monstrosity should ever arrive here, in this universe, what would you do? It would be easy to just stay at home with your family and hope for the best. Doesnít the prospect of it intrigue you, though? Going out into the stars to face a threat far worse than anything we could imagine.

Going out into the stars to face a threat that only we ourselves could create, damning yourself to a slow death, or permanent exile from the only world you knew. I have no way to know what happened to my home. We didnít kill the thing or scare it away, we just pissed it off!

I never stopped thinking about it. The calamity we might have caused. I have to ask you though, with complete sincerity:

What would you have done?
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"If life pushes you down, you gotta push back. If you're dealt a bunch of lemons, you gotta take those lemons and stuff them down somebody's throat until they see yellow." - Frank Reynolds

SSHD - Scary Shit to Hear in the Dark
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Ef9 o shea
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Wow , I thoroughly enjoyed that black-cat

Great job
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