Day 253 – Jupiter’s Children – Part 4

Apologies for the Pink Floyd paraphrase, but I listened to Echoes (the song) whilst listening this.. and couldn’t resist slipping it in at the end. I think this is one of the ones I will turn in to a full blown novel. It’s not brilliantly written, but I have an amazing idea.

I call to you across the night.

Word count: 811

Henry couldn’t believe it. In a little over a hundred years the human race had gone from building an international space station to terra-forming Europa and standing in the shadow of the solar system’s largest planet. Technology had sky-rocketed them from crawling the face of the earth, scrounging for resources, to roaming the orbits of nearby planets. Seventy years ago Man landed on Mars and found that they craved more than it could offer. The red dust had swept them to Europa, the moon of ice. The first of the inhabitants were shipped out to pre-built houses with gardens, shops and science labs. It was an instant home to scientists, engineers and families. It was all Henry knew. Every morning he would look up and see the Giant greet him with a smile, his perennial red spot never wavering in hypnotic intensity. Jupiter was to him to the Earth’s moon. The Earth was nothing but a mysterious curiosity he seldom reflected upon. Every night when the dark descended, it was not towards Earth that he looked – it was beyond….

And now he was standing in the same room as a fossil of something, someone, who had come from just there. The scientists stood in awe at their discovery, not daring to believe it. There were but pebbles upon the edge of a landslide. From here on in, the world’s view of the universe would change. What was once science fiction was suddenly very real.

“Are you sure? Are you absolutely sure?”

Tammy nodded, “Yes, yes! Look at it again, for christ’s sake!”

“What do we do?” Fiona was pacing.

Henry looked at it through the microscope again. His eyes could not summon a powerful deception: what he was seeing must be real. Life beyond the Earth did exist: and might very well still. What might it have looked like? Where might it have lived? What would have it eaten? Did it have language? Were there other species like it?

“This is… “

“I don’t know what to say? I – I can’t imagine…” Fiona stammered, still pacing.

“Girls,” Henry said, still amazed, “Your names are going to be said on every television channel. Your names will be in every science journal. Your names will be in every history book. You are the discoverers of the first known extra-terrestial beings, albeit they’re dead.”

“I can’t comprehend it… Tammy, check again. Check it again.”

“Fiona – there’s nothing wrong with what we did. It’s not been contaminated. It can’t be from Earth… it’s not even like anything from Earth!”

“It came from a meteor?” Henry asked. “Do you know where that came from?”

“It crashed here, about fifty thousand years ago by initial readings. We’ve not been able to determine a possible trajectory. It could have come from anywhere.”

Fiona was breathing quickly in the corner. Henry went over to her.

“Fiona, what’s wrong?”

“I just… I just can’t believe it…It’s what the human race has been wanting to find for centuries… who knew that we would find it here on Europa? Who knew that it would be us? I’m… I’m not even a very good scientist! I failed half my university courses!”

Henry touched her gently on the arm, calmingly, “Fiona, none of us would be here if we weren’t good enough. Even those who grew up here…”

Fiona let out a smile, “I guess….”

A shot burst through their ears, they turned around to see Tammy standing with a bottle of champagne and pouring it into three coffee mugs.

“Dudes, we only find aliens for the first time once – quit worrying!” Tammy shouted, handing them mugs and raising her own. “To being forever remembered…as fucking awesome!”

“Fucking awesome!” They chimed together.

Henry drank his mugful in one go. He needed it to steady his nerves. While Tammy and Fiona cheered amongst themselves, he sidled off to the nearest window and looked up. Out of all this – from out of all the hope of a new alien discovery, of a new leap in human knowledge, Henry could only think of one thing and that was the journey his father had made all those years ago. A routine journey home. Exactly like the one his wife was making right that very second.

Those dark and lonely nights in caves, those sparkling lights in an inverted sea of black; the calls of ancient screaming across the lights years of space between Earth and the rest of the universe; radio waves yelling out to those who might hear; scrabbled noises of hissing distortion; the powerful and angry flare of the sun’s atomic rays; the fire and the fury; the immensity; the wonders and the dangers; the probabilities and the impossibilities….. by chance two stranger’s glances meet…. and no one called them to move on, but by God they flew around the sun.

~ by S.G. Mark on June 16, 2012.

One Response to “Day 253 – Jupiter’s Children – Part 4”

  1. I agree with you that this is already a story with a lot going for it… Henry’s relationship to Europa, his wife ‘abroad’, the way he looks at our solar system and beyond is rich for imagining…of course THE discovery… fertile ground! I’m already hooked into this character and his situation.

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