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McBain, Ed [aka Evan Hunter] - [SS] But You Know Us [v1 0]

McBain, Ed [aka Evan Hunter] - [SS] But You Know Us [v1 0]

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Published by: toubib on Jun 04, 2008
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06/14/2009

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But You Know Us
By Ed McBain [aka Evan Hunter]
Scanned & Proofed By MadMaxAU
* * * *
At first, Michael thought it was another false alarm.But the blips were quite regular.Pulses at regularly spaced intervals of exactly one second. Preciseto one part in a hundred million. And yet . . .Twenty years ago, Tass reported from the Soviet Union thatGennardy Sholomitsky of the Shternberg Astronomical Institute haddetected regularly spaced radio signals that indicated we were not alonein the universe. But the signals had come from a quasar, a starlike objectthat will emit radio frequency as well as visible radiation. A false alarm,of course. Twelve years ago, the Soviets again intercepted radio signalsthey thought were of extra-terrestrial origin, signals from a possibleKardashev Type III civilization. A civilization in possession of atransmitting power equal to the energy output of a full galaxy. Tassreported that the signals seemed to be coming from a satellite. Speculatedthat it was a space probe of the kind visualized by Ronald Bracewell atStanford. Later admitted, with some embarrassment— There.Again.And again.He wondered if he should go wake up Lowell.It had been more than eleven years now since Frank Drake beamedinto space—from the radio telescope at Arecibo—his “anti-puzzle,” a“code designed to be easily broken.” Ever since, listeners all over theworld had been waiting for a sign that someone, anyone, had received itand deciphered it. The telescope Michael was monitoring possessed a
 
radio dish capable of scanning nearby galaxies at wavelengths of twenty-one, eighteen, and twelve point six centimeters. Drake’s message, in theform of a pictogram using the language of binary arithmetic, firstexplained how to count from one to ten, then went on to give the atomicnumbers for hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and phosphorus, andnext gave the components of DNA, the genetic molecule for life on— The pulses were too regular and too strong to be dismissed.Michael turned up the gain control.The screen came into blinding focus, the blip virtually leaping fromit.And simultaneously, the printer alongside the computer monitor  began clattering with a jumble of indecipherable glitches and swirls thatinstantly arranged themselves into what appeared to be Russian and thenChinese characters, and then words unmistakably French, and German,and Spanish and Italian, until finally the single word HELLO aappearedin English.Michael blinked.The blips had vanished from the screen.The printer was clattering again.HELLO, HELLO, HELLO. WE HAVE YOUR MESSAGE. BUTWE DO NOT UNDERSTAND.He stared at the printer. He thought, Lowell, for God’s sake, whereare you when I
need 
you? He thought, Oh my God, this is ...PLEASE RESPOND, YES?He put his hands on the monitor keyboard.Hello, he typed cautiously.The printer began clattering.YES, HELLO, HELLO, BUT WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH ALLTHAT, YES? CENTURIES AGO. WHAT DO YOU WANT?
 
Michael’s hands were trembling on the keyboard. Please say again,he typed. You have received the message? The pictogram?YES, YES, HELLO. WITH ITS FORMULAS FOR THYMINE,ADENINE, GUANINE AND CYTOSINE, THANK YOU. BUT WEKNOW HOW DNA IS FORMED. YOUR PICTURE OF A HUMAN IS NICE. SO IS THE ONE OF THE RADIO TELESCOPE. AND OFYOUR SOLAR SYSTEM WITH ITS NINE PLANETS. BUT WHATDO YOU WANT?Is this a hoax? Michael typed.A HOAX? NO, NO. A HOAX? NO. POSITIVELY NOT.Then . . . who . . . what . . . ?WHAT DO YOU WANT?Michael began typing furiously. He told whoever it was out therethat the space scientists on earth had always wanted
contact,
all they hadhoped and prayed for all these years was
contact,
the tiniest signal thatcould not be attributed to natural radiation emissions, a clear messagefrom space to indicate that the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence hadnot been in vain. And now this! More than contact! Communication!Actual communication! Over how many light years he could not evenhope to guess. Where
are
you? he typed, his fingers racing.
Who
are you?The printer was silent for a moment.And then the words formed.BUT YOU KNOW US.Michael looked at the printer, certain he had misread the simplesentence. The printer began clattering again.WE ARE THERE, the words read.Where? he typed. You are
where?
ON EARTH.

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