An interlude of achievement. Not just signals. Contact and Communication had been achieved.
There was a great deal of excitement. Much chatter between the explorers on the team, the programmers at base and the theoreticians, elsewhere. Below the mutual congratulations the subtle game as to who could claim the bulk of the credit for the first successful translation of signals into images.
Meanwhile Captain Mazehof seconded from Military Psychological Observation was left to stare at a face and read runes. All by himself. No one had thought to have a team. A mix of folk, various working knowledges of physical signals across Life’s myriad options. There were other officers; communications, logistics and of course security all dropped in with little advanced training on the project. They were military, they could adapt. Right?
Not any option. If someone wanted him to stare at a face, he would stare at a face. An interlude. A face in a picture. He was supposed to work out deep secrets from one snapshot, estimate an entire civilisation and race. He didn’t know if he was supposed to know, but truth be known amongst all the exultation, congratulations and edging for credit no one was exactly sure just where or when the signals which formed the image had originated.
Mazehof had been musing upon the face for three days, studying each feature in detail, returning to gain further insight. When the image had first appeared upon the scan the team had been surprised, some relieved to see similar to human features, although it had to be admitted in those high cheekbones, wide eyes, the slight protrusion of the nasal and jaw areas and ears with a peak there was a distinct difference. Opinions on comparisons differed; feline, canine, or maybe the more delicate of the ruminants. His mind was open on the matter; his concern being, was this a message directed to Humanity or a chance image which the scan had captured? No one was chasing him for results, which was a relief. Maybe they had forgotten him, as they pondered on the mathematics and the readings.
You had to think of this image as a person, and what was the mundane in their lives if you were going to get anywhere in this vague mission. The turn of the lips to the right. Was that friendly or a warning? Dogs had managed to work out a human smile was not the barring of teeth challenge, there again they had that incredible sense of smell to let them know humans simply had quirky muzzles. When he thought about it on that level he was at a distinct disadvantage, for staring at this enigma had been causing his mind to wander. Starting off, sure you could just stare intently. However because of the nascent size of the task, trying to encompass time and space within the context of another being? Or perhaps the answer was a distressing one, being beyond comprehension, so you just drifted off.
He sat back, startled. The face had moved, one blink of an eyelid; causing Mazehof to catch his breath. The head inclined to the left, giving him the impression he was being examined. He ordered himself to stare back, while options of physical reaction crowded through him. For who was to say what might be seen as hostile?
The concern was clouded by subsequent thoughts returning to the question of Time and Distance. All current knowledge indicated the events he was witnessing were not taking place; they were of the Past.
Nonetheless, when one arm moved slowly upwards, and the hand opened into a palm displayed, followed by the mouth arcing into a smile, he could not help to respond in like manner. Never mind the unavoidable and overwhelming possibility the being was now dust.
‘What a relief. I found you,’ the words were clear, the accent lyrical, heavy with an emphasis.
‘Me?’ Mazehof failed to contain the squeak as all musings of the variabilities on Time and Distance were distilled into the notion of being sought out. One grain of sand on a beach?
There was a distinct grin there, never mind what the twist of the mouth conveyed, the eyes sparkled in humour.
‘I should have focused my accuracy of explanation,’ there was a strange sound Mazehof took to be a clearing of a throat ‘To be precise, I have enacted the correct location relevant to your society,’
Mazehof felt a quirk of disappointment at being downgraded but was equally swift to put such a vanity to one side and be sober.
‘For what purpose?’
‘To place you in perspective. Have you any direct experience of dealing with the dimensions encountered in Quantum Physics?’
‘No,’ Mazehof said but felt he needed to add something ‘I have a rudimentary knowledge of Space Time,’
‘This will be of assistance,’
‘Before we proceed. Might I ask you, your name and how you are reaching out across vast tracts of Space Time as if we were in the same room?’
‘Firstly. Know me as Vestnesis. For the other part, there are dimensions beyond the perceivable four,’
‘I have heard of theories. Are there facts now?’
‘Indeed. I am fortunate not to be involved in the mathematics or the mechanics, simply a herald,’
Not a time to interrupt Mazehof reckoned. And try not to think about the implications in the increase in the blinking of the eyes, concentrate on information.
‘Beyond Space Time, after much effort a way was found into the Fifth Dimension. This acted as a conduit into other dimensions, a gateway and viewing lens. Utilisations led to the Sixth Dimension, which afforded a mapping of the parts of Creation previously hidden. By adapting to these two advances, navigation of the vast distances between stars was made possible along with prompt communication. Matters were allowed to stay there while physical exploration and settlement of near solar systems was conducted. But progress ever seeks many ways. Thus once a full working knowledge of the Fifth and Sixth was achieved amidst myriads of possible worlds, the Seventh Dimension was uncovered, a location where a long suggested aspect of Time was found. The revelation being Time was indeed not flowing as a river, but was a sea with its own tides to be navigated and journeyed along,’ Mazehof witnessed a long exhalation as if this was all a great effort, then the intake for another ‘The Eighth Dimension’s own nature could be used as the craft to travel,’ Vestnesis paused searching for Mazehof’s comprehension, which came quickly, the feeling he had been waiting for someone to tell him this. And where had that come from?
‘Therefore,’ he said slowly choosing his words ‘It does not matter where we both are, or when we are?’
The hand which Mazehof now noticed had longer fingers than normal, extended in a sign of acknowledgment. Briefly he wondered on the factors which had caused the physical diversions of Vestnesis’ people. He held back from asking though, not the right circumstances.
‘The task of explaining to you I am located in your future is easier. Yes?’
‘I suppose so,’ came the reply, his own suppositions made form were rushing into his head ‘You were grateful of locating me? Why was this necessary?’
‘You will appreciate a sea is not something easy to navigate without landmarks at some stage,’
‘I am one?’ that was overwhelming, a slight shake of the head eased his heartbeat.
‘No, only your location. Now we know exactly where to send the rations of information to enable the progress to ensure our societal status. Inject readings into devices, leave salient suggestions in academic environments,’
‘Wait please. This sounds circular. You are human from my future, engaging in your past to ensure your present?’
‘You are very swift on the uptake Mazehof,’
‘Thank you,’ what else do you say? ‘I have to ask. I have been staring at you for three days. Did you have the same experience?’
The pinched expression was universal in the human lexicon. Consideration of the answer.
‘I am not truly versed in the matters, but I think this is something to do with the interfacing of the varying temporal tides,’
Mazehof was finding the conversational exchanges growing easier, something of the circumstance settling within him.
‘I appreciate there is a factor of stealth involved here. Balancing Cause and Effect is always difficult. However I will have to report something to my superiors. You understand this?
In response there came a soft wheezing, which judging by the sparkle in the eyes had to be an empathetic laugh.
‘I too sit in a similar construct. My commanders will be anxious to have something positive to pass onto the Governance at this innovative time,’ definite irony slipped in ‘There could even be an advancement for this humble servant,’
‘Oh yes. For Ten Generations the Human Confederation has been satisfied with a centralised decision making process of a council. Once there was a certainty of no interlocking with alien civilisations and the extension into the Seventh and Eighth dimensions made it was felt there should be other progressions. Thus to ensure Humanity had room to flourish it was felt a certain allowance should be made to points of view from varying sectors of civilisation and if these were found acceptable to let them endeavour with government. Should these proponents be found wanting the populations could replace them. It is all very exciting,’ Vestnesis paused again ‘I witness doubt on your face Mazehof,’
‘Yes,’ he drawled ‘We have this system. I will give you a message from the past. There will be arguing. There will be disappointments with those you select because they cannot be all to everyone. Do not trust anyone who says they have simple solutions to problems. Avoid anyone who tries to blame one part of your societies for all the problems. Expect planets or collections of planets to want to go their own way. Above all seek out as much history as you can and learn from that. Nothing is straightforward,’
Vestnesis seemed to sit back, eyes wide.
‘You speak with some insight Mazehof. Have you taken part in governing?’
‘No, but I, as have many, have wished some of those who have governed had never been given the option,’ Mazehof felt a certain confidence and urgency to advise those descendants’ that naivety and excitement were not the right qualities to have at this juncture. ‘Be wary Vestnesis. A great responsibility will rest on all. I know you are only one in a vast population I cannot begin to imagine, however this must start somewhere. Spread this, Choose With Care,’
‘You speak cautiously Mazehof. Neither of us should spread information too quickly,’
‘We should probably not speak anymore Vestnesis, other folk less sanguine might overhear us,’
‘Wise words from the Past,’
The screen blurred and blanked.
Disappointment with resolve resulted.
Mazehof’s report was prompt and quite bland in comparison to the information given to him. He spoke vaguely of Human sort of beings. He suggested the images came from the distant past. He speculated there would be others out there and if Humanity managed to travel into the stellar depths there might be the remains of ancient civilisations to support this. He grew adept at giving vague answers which many thought was a sign of great insight gained in his short tenure. Thus he left the military and lectured in social sciences at a small college. Some of his work on the Nature of Speculation was considered influential in many fields.
Vestnesis was buoyant at his success in finding a location and in turn his superiors promoted him. From there he bided his time, musing on Mazehof’s words.
He took up a career in politics, when others asked him where the inspiration for his successful creed had originated from, he said ‘The Collected Wisdom and Mistakes of Our Histories’. His insight became a byword.
This is an offering for the February #BlogBattle, (Keyword :Interface) . Always a place for interesting short stories.
The insight expressed here is probably my favorite part of the story. Mazehof’s warning about simple solutions and blaming one part of society for all problems certainly ring true in past, present, and future. Some similarities with my story made it particularly interesting. 🙂 Enjoyable read!
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Thanks very much. The antics of some recent politicians being a regrettable inspiration for that part.
Rachael finally convinced me to contribute, and it’s fun to be outside of my comfort zones of long involved fantasy works with no serious time limit on finishing.
I’ll be looking forward to reading yours along with everyone elses…last month I had quite a buzz from experiencing the various approaches, narratives and images invoked.
Thanks again for stopping by.
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Good for Rachael! Hope we get to see your work every month. No pressure…. 🙂
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Just extracted this from spam….WP decided half way through my first reply yours was spam…….WP and I have a fractious relationship…..
Anyway….Yeah, I’m enjoying this, gets me out of my bubble.
Looking forward to next Friday’s word.
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I’m sorry it took me a while to get over here but better late than never. I mean (ehmr) I was here the second you published this post but the way your time works, it makes it seem like it took me a while.
“Do not trust anyone who says they have simple solutions to problems. Avoid anyone who tries to blame one part of your societies for all the problems. Expect planets or collections of planets to want to go their own way. Above all seek out as much history as you can and learn from that. Nothing is straightforward,’” Like AE, I thought that was awesome!
I also noticed the similarities between your and AE’s stories. Isn’t it amazing how we can come up with such alike or different stories? Why is that?
You’ve done a great job writing about ‘a guy trying to figure something out’ in such an engaging way.
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Thanks Sam, I’m glad you got a ‘buzz’ from that.
Yeah when I read AE’s I thought ‘Oh man…That is far out. Like talk about vibes man,’ (I often revert to my teen years of the 1960s).
How two folk can come up with similar stories and no contact…who knows? Once I have the word from the blog I go into a sort lock down to avoid inadvertently taking someone else’s idea.
Again…who knows? Maybe whole swirls of ideas coalescing into similarities?
‘A guy trying to figure something out’ was based on my 40+ years in the UK Civil Service. Either working with a confused or puzzled member of the public, or trying to make sense of the latest dictate from on high…. It was a weird Alice in Wonderland world.
Thanks again Sam.
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I do the same – go on ‘lockdown’ that is so that my prompt response is all ‘mine.’ But, sometimes, somehow, we still arrive at point Z while driving through C, and K…
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Yep, with stop offs at Q for snacks.
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Hahahah! You know it!
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