‘Going Home’ – by Rob O’Connor

 

To understand fully the reasons for recording this log, I must take you back to the beginning.

The Deliverers arrived fifty years after the Collapse. Completely unannounced. Before then, Earth had never received any extraterrestrial transmissions, no intergalactic contact. No signs at all. In fact, after 150 years of space exploration, including a manned trip beyond Mars to the rings of Saturn and countless satellites stretching beyond our Solar System, the human race had begun to accept its position as the only form of sentient life in the universe.

Odd, really. It was at this precise moment in history, as humankind reached its zenith of existential knowledge, that the Deliverers chose to arrive.

Mankind had just experienced its first population cull, two years earlier. Now there are 13.4 billion people on the planet. A tipping point. With land needed to feed our ever-growing number of mouths we have colonised whatever space we can, glistening towers of glass and steel reaching into the sky like the spokes of a wheel, cities expanding outwards into the sea on stilts and tracks of reclaimed continental shelf, the fierce ocean forever battling with the urban sprawl. Centuries of industrial influence have taken its toll. Earth’s environment is ravaged beyond repair. The human race is doomed, all resources available being used to save us from a demise of our own creation. For a while the space program has been looking for a new world. Terra Two. Our experiments on the surface of Mars have proved fruitless. It will take us decades to make the Red Planet habitable.

Then the Deliverers came. They promised us all salvation. Once again, it’s funny to think of the timing of their arrival. It is only by knowing what was yet to come that one realises their arrival was no mistake.

Their colony ship suddenly appeared in Earth’s atmosphere, seemingly from nowhere. Satellites reacted instantly, sending pictures of the colossal, conal craft beaming down to the surface. Some abandoned satellites – one hundred years old and damaged beyond repair – came back to life, reborn to herald the mysterious arrival of the Deliverers. For the first day the ship just hovered above us, so vast that it eclipsed the view of the moon. The arrival was met with confusion and concern. The military trained their weapons to the heavens. Thankfully, no one pressed the button. We had learnt from past mistakes.

It stayed this way for weeks. Slowly, suspicion dies away and becomes replaced with normality. The Deliverers waited until we accepted their arrival. In the end it was twelve-and-a-half months until they spoke to us.

Twenty-one weeks after the arrival of the colony ship, things started to happen. Responding to a new, unique radio signal, a deep-ocean science team (measuring the effects of environmental changes on the floor of the Pacific) discovered a mysterious structure buried deep into the rock of an ocean trench. The structure was communicating with the colony ship. The team ventured inside and inspected its interior. Within a day, the scientific community declared it a site of extraterrestrial importance. The Global Consortium swept in, swathing the site in secrecy and conspiracy.

Pictorial evidence from the satellites revealed that the ocean structure was made from a similar material to the colony ship. In light of this discovery, a dual expedition was launched: a team on Earth to document the interior of the ocean structure, and a team in space to gather whatever information they could about the craft. Speculation rose. Had the Deliverers been here before, on Earth?

This question was soon answered.

I was involved with the team investigating the ocean structure. An expert in marine ecosystems, I had worked in the Pacific region before, monitoring the changes in currents and marine life as a result of declining environmental stability. I am also a keen amateur historian, an enthusiast of Ancient Egyptian and Greek culture and languages. The age of the structure was quickly estimated but the initial results confounded us all. More tests were carried out. The results were conclusive. The structure had been embedded in the rock around two thousand years before the documented birth of civilisation. My personal and professional interest was piqued.

Eden is what we called it. The cradle of life, all temptation and desire born in this place.

I recall now my first trip into Eden’s interior. The shiny, black metallic rock, etched with uncanny markings. The strangely warm air. A single corridor ran for around two miles into the side of the ocean trench, thousands of capsules lining either side. All of the capsules were the shape of a standing human, but around thirty in total were much taller in size than any human, around eight foot in height. The lack of bodies within the capsules gave the interior an eerie feel, an acknowledgement of absence of life. Eden felt like a tomb. In reality, this assumption was almost correct.

I had been at Eden a week when we discovered the control room. Until then the structure had been nothing more than endless corridors, all lined with more capsules, thousands upon thousands of human-shaped pods. A macabre mausoleum. That morning, whilst examining some carvings on a wall, I reached out and touched an alien hieroglyph, one which seemed to resemble the head of an insect crudely etched by some child. I don’t recall why I was drawn to this mysterious symbol but nevertheless I reached out to feel it through the latex of my gloves. There was instantly a grinding hiss and a section of wall slid open under a cloud of escaping steam, revealing the chamber beyond. The room was lined with consoles seamlessly constructed from the same black material as the structure itself. The whole space appeared as if organically carved from the rock. There were no screens or buttons but from the removable crystals present in the crevasses of the consoles, we instinctively ascertained that this was once, at least, a craft of some kind.

The military moved in with their hordes of experts. Security was tightened. Luckily I remained on the team, military leaders aware of my dual expertise. Plus, my discovery had earned me some kudos. What followed was four months of shift work, a lonely existence beneath the waves away from family and friends, my partner seen through the haze of a computer screen. Every inch of the structure was explored and the control room became the most important sector of the site, strictly off-limits to anyone other than military personnel. I resumed my duties examining the pods and the corridors, documenting every single etch and glyph that I could find. Slowly, linguists began to ascertain some form of language amongst the crystals in the control room, certain combinations producing sound and light of particular pitch and hues. It was speculated that this was the language of the Deliverers. I was happy to be involved with the ongoing project, happy to have access to Eden, no matter how slight.

Ten months after the Deliverers arrived, contact was made completely by accident. A certain positioning of the crystals within the consoles resulted in Eden suddenly springing to life. A sound echoed around the entire structure like the song of a whale and organic lights started to shine from pods in the ceiling of the control room. The console crystals shone with an eerie purple light. At the same time, the colony team recorded activity on the ship, their excited voices replayed down to us, deep beneath the ocean. Another radio signal suddenly started, repeating the same pattern of sounds over and over again on an endless loop. It was sourced to the colony ship. Within hours, over two thousand smaller crafts materialised on the surface of Earth, a variety of shapes and sizes. They were unlocked and unmanned, lined with human-sized capsules, just like Eden.The activity from the colony ship spurred the Global Consortium into action. Although suspicious, the lack of any invasion convinced us not to retaliate. Instead we focused on the new craft and the radio signal, utilising what we had learnt from our exploration of Eden to try and decipher its meaning. The layers of the signal were stripped down and separately examined. Soon it was discovered that there were multiple languages layered on top of each other, modern and ancient, binary, morse code, most recognisable but some not present on our extensive global languages database. It was as if the signal was constructed of every language known to us, and countless not, as if the Deliverers were attempting to cover every single linguistic possibility. After several days of continuous analysis, an English translation was extracted from the acoustic quagmire.

It was words. The Deliverers were speaking, the message simple and succinct.

WE HAVE WAITED. CONDITIONS PERFECT. WE GIVE THANKS. IT IS TIME.

WE HAVE WAITED. WE GIVE THANKS. IT IS TIME.

WE HAVE WAITED. IT IS TIME.

WE HAVE WAITED…

More messages came from the colony ship over the following weeks, each delivered in the same manner. YOU MUST CHOOSE. Words of warning, advice. PLANET DYING. FOR US. PERFECT. WE GIVE THANKS. MAN. MOVE ON. Their message was easily deciphered. They were going to move mankind to other planets, recolonise us throughout the galaxy. Mankind was to start again. Our choice was to accept their offer or remain on a planet that would soon be unable to support us.

Their intent was to deliver us from evil.

The effect of these messages was strange. We had drained our resources so much that the majority of the population saw the Deliverers’ messages as salvation rather than damnation. The majority flocked to the ships willingly, seeking to survive, no matter where they ended up. There was a finite number of places. Riots and violence erupted amongst the population, everyone anxious to escape the inevitable. To ensure peace, a lottery was devised to choose those that would leave on the Deliverers’ ships. However, many chose to stay behind, to take their chances as the environment collapsed, to ignore the Deliverers’ words.

To many they were our saviours. I am not sure. Mankind’s decision was a leap of faith in the face of desperation. Not once did we ever actually see them.

I am one of the lucky ones. As Earth’s population filled the Deliverers’ ships like lambs shepherded into pens, another secret message was sent to the Global Consortium, asking for a lottery of names, the thousand most important and gifted people on Earth. Even though I personally would not have included myself in this number, once again my luck and kudos enabled me safe passage onto this special trip.When we asked why we had been chosen, the reply was simple: REWARD. PASSAGE. GOING HOME.

You see, the timing of the Deliverers’ arrival was not coincidence. It was perfectly timed. It’s funny to think now that we were looking for Terra Two. Earth wasn’t even our hundredth home. Possibly not even our thousandth. We have been crossing the universe since its birth, a tool for the Deliverers, terraforming new worlds for them to later colonise, to make their own. Earth’s time had come. We had wrecked it for our own needs but for the Deliverers it was perfect, a new home for them to rest on before moving onto the next. Mankind was to be shifted on, one ship per planet to start the process again, an exponential cycle. For so long we had believed in the theory of evolution as being a natural progression. How wrong we are. It is orchestrated, manufactured. The evolution of man is the terraforming of a new world for our intergalactic masters. Ours is a symbiotic relationship.

They have promised us passage, the lucky few, to our original home, where they found us and where our ancestors still reside. Presently we await aboard the colony ship, observing our Earth one final time. Soon we will be asleep for the long journey to a place we can not even comprehend. This is a record of the real truth. Who knows what we will find when we finally get home.

 

 

Rob O'Connor

Rob O’Connor is a Literature Studies PhD researcher at York St John University, focusing on the depiction of theoretical, social and urban landscapes in the work of China Miéville. Rob’s research interests include genre theories, contemporary literature and creative writing. He is also Director of the York Literature Festival and teaches literature and creative writing as a visiting lecturer at York St John University and in the Lifelong Learning sector.