Day 255 – Jupiter’s Children – Part 5

Word count: 601

The scratching radio signal scraped across the frequency bands. Hissing pop music, military relays and space IT communications flittered in and out of audibility. Trying to reach home in a meteor storm was never very successful. It brought Henry right back to tuning in every night trying to find something from his father – some final messages, some last call, even if it were a distress signal, it would at least be some form of comfort to hear his voice. Though the rustling radio was a regular event in weekly updates to Earth, this particular call-in served as a particular flashback. The same sense of haste, importance and desperation glistened through his body as adrenaline pumped through his arteries.

The three of them wanted nothing more than to share their discovery. This was up there with the invention of the wheel, the discovery of electricity and of flight. For centuries humans, in primitive or current form, had looked up at the stars, a bone or smart phone in their hands, and wandered what might be out there. Today they had finally solved that question. The human race needed to know.

“Europa to Earth come in, Houston do you read me?”

They had tried the Washington comms station to no avail. Now they were working their way through all the other comms bases that they regularly checked into, but nothing was getting through. They were certainly picking up signals – random space junk and strayed music – but little that they could really understand.

“What do we do?” Tammy was antsy to tell everyone she knew. They could announce to the rest of the team based on Europa, but they wanted the glory of first informing Earth. Everyone had dreams of the President getting in contact with them – thousands of journalists after an interview. They’d be famous. Henry knew he wouldn’t be on any of the reports: he was just a lucky bystander but he was going to lap it up nonetheless. He was there when they made the discovery. He was the third person to confirm the fossil. That was a story to tell the grandchildren and for his grandchildren to tell their s.

“I guess we’re just going to have to wait,” Fiona suggested, sinking backwards in her chair.

Henry could tell that despite her initial reservations, Fiona was keen for the attention herself.

“But I really wanted to tell them now,” Tammy complained.

“C’mon Tammy, you know what these storms are like. Sometimes it can be a few weeks before we are able to hold a full conversation with Earth.”

“Christ by that time we might have discovered more!”

“If only, that would be awesome.”

“St-rvkls-one-straksfdks-ion, read me , krrackff,” the radio spurted out suddenly. Everyone turned towards it. Tammy dived on the response button.

“Come in, we read you. Is this Washington?”

“Straa-hsks one, distresskxz, low ffsssk, plsssz respond…”

“What are they saying? I can’t make it out?”

“I think it’s a distress signal?”

“From where?”

“Plssszk rsszzpond, sssstratos-one….ffffssailure…”

“Stratos one?” Henry repeated, his bloody turning to ice with fear, “Did they just say Stratos One?”

Tammy looked back at Henry and both exchanged their feelings without word. Tammy knew exactly what Henry was interested in Stratos One and she knew that there could be no doubt that a distress signal was originating from it. It was for these two reasons that Tammy’s words failed her and it was for these two reasons that Henry felt life crushing him. The Stratos One was the shuttle home. The same shuttle his wife was presently on.

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~ by S.G. Mark on June 18, 2012.

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