Prompt Six

Prompt Six

A Story by wolframdioxide

The analyst stared deeply into his coffee, looking for patterns in the white foam and brown drink. A small part of his brain noted the irony, if that was what that was called, that he couldn't stop doing his job, even while absently drinking his coffee. He elected to ignore that voice in his mind, at least, for the time being. Today was not a day for absent thoughts. Not when everything had stopped making sense, or, at least, when something had stopped making sense.
The White House Situation Room was a hive of activity. He could see, at the other side of the room, the Secretary of Defense and the Director of the CIA. Why, he thought, would they be called in for this? It certainly didn't seem that important. Merely weird and interesting, perhaps somewhat alarming, but not enough to call in the Secretary of Defense and the Director of the CIA...
He blinked, surprised, as the President entered. Even over the din of keypresses and papers rustling, he could overhear the words, "Can someone tell me what the hell is going on?"
A slideshow began on the screen. The images displayed on the screens were drawings, in crayon, pencil and more. All of them displayed the same thing - an abstract shape, with sharp lines and curves, like a piece of machinery. But the most shocking thing was the captions below the drawings - they were cities around the world, and timestamps, all within the past three hours.
One of the military brass at the table begun to speak. "About three hours ago, children around the world began to draw this design, repeatedly. Many of them have been drawing, continuously, for the past three hours, without pause for water or bathroom break. There has been remarkably little variance in the design - in fact, the only variance has been from the materials that they were drawn on and with - crayons, pencils, pens, et cetera - and the drawing skills of the drawers. Compare these two, fairly detailed, drawings, for example." 
He pressed a button, and the screen displayed two nearly identical drawings. "This one," he said, indicating the one on the left, "was drawn by a ten- year- old in a remote village in Afghanistan, eighty- three miles southeast of Kabul. The one on the right was drawn, at the same time but on the other side of the world, by an eleven- year- old in Titusville, Florida. The two have never come into contact, they have no means of communicating, and they don't even share a language. Nevertheless, they have drawn these detailed, near-identical, images."
He zoomed in on both. "Consider this orange wire," he declared. "It is located in exactly the same place on both drawings, and curves at an identical angle. The same is true of the other wires in the image, and, in fact, every single other feature of the image." Moving to another spot, he indicated an unobtrusive bit of writing, reading "DO NOT EXIT THE CHAMBER UNTIL IT IS FULLY EMPTY". "The writing," he commented, "is in English, even in drawings made by children who did not know English. It doesn't correspond to any known writing - it turned up zero hits on any search, until this morning."
"So we don't know what they're drawing."
"No, ma'am."
The president adjusted her glasses. "While this is certainly very interesting, I'm not sure that childrens' drawings are this important. Call me when you have something more definite than this."
"Understood, ma'am."
As the regular national security briefing began, the analyst's computer began to beep angrily. He blinked twice, and looked at the screen, which had been displaying images of the drawings as they came in. The drawings had, simultaneously, all over the world, stopped. 
Instead, the children had begun to write a message, each in their own language. While he could not read the others, he clicked on the picture of the English version, and began to read:
It has long been thought that it was impossible to send information backwards in time. Several hours ago, we proved that theory wrong, on accident. One of our psychics sent an image of the equipment he was using at the time, a sensory deprivation tank and only later did we realise what had truly happened.
But today we shall do on purpose what we did on accident a mere few hours earlier, for there is a danger in your future which has consumed us, and if we can, by any means, help you avoid it, we will. Seventeen years, three months, eight days, and twenty- eight minutes after you receive this message, an alien spaceship will crash in Australia, in Rinyirru National Park. Do not attempt to make contact - that will be interpreted as a hostile act. Should you leave well enough alone, you will be rewarded. Should you not, as we did not, you will be attacked, and be forced to fight a losing war.
Also, to my past self: Don't switch majors, you're onto something big. You know who you are, but in case you don't, here's a clue: your diary entry for yesterday contains, among other things, a three- armed stick figure and the word 'embarrass', spelled with only one 'r'."
The analyst read over the message twice, then knocked on the door of the Situation Room.
"I think," he pronounced, "that you should all look at this."

Seventeen years, three months, eight days, and twenty-six minutes later, the area around Rinyirru National Park in Australia was evacuated, ready for the arrival of the aliens. The ones who had come to watch were waiting, a hundred kilometers away, ready. The analyst sat atop a rock, in the middle of the desolate outback, watching and waiting.
He held his binoculars up, watching for the first sign of the spacecraft, as were, he knew, a million other people. 
And as the craft came down, streaming orange flame behind it, and landed in the Park, he thought back to that day in the White House Situation Room, so long ago.

© 2015 wolframdioxide

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Added on March 23, 2015
Last Updated on March 23, 2015



Houston, TX

Amateur author and animator. Mainly focussed on science fiction and urban fantasy. more..

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A Chapter by wolframdioxide