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Flash fiction: The eavesdropper


Tim climbed the stairs to the top floor of the radio telescope's observatory. Stopping three steps short of the platform he thought about how he used to take these same stairs two and three at a time back when he first started here.

Looking up he could just make out the faded script above the entry way. "Two possibilities" it read. Intended to be both ominous and inspiring the words alluded to a now infamous quote attributed to science-fiction author Arthur C Clarke. Either we were alone in the universe or we weren't: Both equally terrifying propositions.

A lifetime's work behind him, radio astronomy had always been Tim's calling. Today he had spent three satisfying and wonderful hours at local schools inspiring the next generation of scientists to take an interest in the Space Centre's SETI program. Tim loved the kids. Their wonder and curiosity was always so refreshing.

Today they had plotted a chart across the Milky Way, showing how far the program's radiowaves had travelled to date (120 light years to reach 10,500 of the galaxy's 200 billion stars), and then the kids were encouraged to get into groups and write their own song to be beamed out into space for the 'aliens'.

There were all sorts of great tunes created, but a rap hit sent the whole room into fits of giggles and won the day for the Year 5s. Tim still had the chorus knocking round in his head as he took those last three steps and clocked on for his evening shift.

"They say the truth is out there;

P'haps today will be the day

That they yeet the favourite yodel of a planet far away."

"They say the truth is out there

Classic tunes or teenybopper?

What will capture the attention of the alien eavesdropper?"

Tim couldn't help smiling to himself. Perhaps today would be the day! And it might just be time to update that quote above the door to something more modern.


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