Radio Silence

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Summary

36 million civilizations, yet in almost a century of listening, we hadn’t heard a thing. We were alone. That was, until about 5 minutes ago.

Genre:
Horror
Author:
Ben Bartlett
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
1
Rating:
5.0 1 review
Age Rating:
13+

Chapter 1

36,400,000. That is the expected number of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy, according to Drake’s famous equation. For the last 78 years, we had been broadcasting everything about us – our radio, our television, our history, our greatest discoveries – to the rest of the galaxy. We had been shouting our existence at the top of our lungs to the rest of the universe, wondering if we were alone. 36 million civilizations, yet in almost a century of listening, we hadn’t heard a thing. We were alone.

That was, until about 5 minutes ago.

The transmission came on every transcendental multiple of hydrogen’s frequency that were listening to. Transcendental harmonics – things like hydrogen’s frequency times pi – don’t appear in nature, so I knew it had to be artificial. The signal pulsed on and off very quickly with incredibly uniform amplitudes; my initial reaction was that this was some sort of binary transmission. I measured 1679 pulses in the one minute that the transmission was active. After that, the silence resumed.

The numbers didn’t make any sense at first. They just seemed to be a random jumble of noise. But the pulses were so perfectly uniform, and on a frequency that was always so silent; they had to come from an artificial source. I looked over the transmission again, and my heart skipped a beat. 1679 – that was the exact length of the Arecibo message sent out 40 years ago. I excitedly started arranging the bits in the original 73x23 rectangle. I didn’t get more than halfway through before my hopes were confirmed. This was the exact same message. The numbers in binary, from 1 to 10. The atomic numbers of the elements that make up life. The formulas for our DNA nucleotides. Someone had been listening to us, and wanted us to know they were there.

Then it came to me – this original message was transmitted only 40 years ago. This means that life must be at most 20 lightyears away. A civilization within talking distance? This would revolutionize every field I have ever worked in – astrophysics, astrobiology, astro-

The signal is beeping again.

This time, it is slow. Deliberate, even. It lasts just under 5 minutes, with a new bit coming in once per second. Though the computers are of course recording it, I start writing them down. 0. 1. 0. 1. 0. 1. 0. 0... I knew immediately this wasn’t the same message as before. My mind races through the possibilities of what this could be. The transmission ends, having transmitted 248 bits. Surely this is too small for a meaningful message. What great message to another civilization can you possibly send with only 248 bits of information? On a computer, the only files that small would be limited to…

Text.

Was it possible? Were they really sending a message to us in our own language? Come to think of it, it’s not that out of the question – we had been transmitting pretty much every language on earth for the last 70 years… I begin to decipher with the first encoding scheme I could think of – ASCII. 0. 1. 0. 1. 0. 1. 0. 0. That’s B... 0. 1. 1 0. 0. 1. 0. 1. E…

As I finish piecing together the message, my stomach sinks like an anchor. The words before me answer everything.

“BE QUIET OR THEY WILL HEAR YOU”

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Further Recommendations

Artican11: You understood the story and its need very well. Which is why the choice of the writing style from first person narration that matches the character's own personality and traits. Also, you kept the interest going and attention locked on the whole story. Good job

ahangamarukshan: Good one. Simple language that everyone can understand.

Stacey: I live the ending without the epilogue. I am one of the weird ones that do not need the perfect ending. The book was a very good different. Thank you.

kaltumavanrooyen81: A great story and absolutely brilliant plot.It all falls into pieces piece by piece. Not one of the chspters leaves me confuse. I love it.i would recommend it to teenagers who love reading stories of this genre.

Brandy Vazquez: Great story..I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Anju Kumari: Amazing plot of a story, liked it and would going to recommend to my few people who would actually atleast go through an intro mentioned by me.. Let's see keep up the work good going!

Rebecca Bilyak: This book was amazing. A very good read. I couldn't put it down. Can't wait for the next book to come out.

Stephanie Hammer: Loving this book so far!

enyojookpanachi: I lovvve it .Please i advice everyone to read it...It's so good..Blair...You are a genius....God bless you...Your book made my day .M so addicted....Never wanted it to finish..

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excalibur_09: gripping storyline, nice twist.

Kirsty: The spelling and gramer wasn't very clever but fantastic book to read in going to tell my friends about it.

Catherine Bunston: Loved this story, it was very dramatic without being unrealistic. Woyld recommend to others!

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