The Golden Record (Flash Fiction)
Updated: Jan 23, 2019
Lightyears from Earth, a group of interstellar travelers sat in the bridge of their ship named the Esplanade. They had been searching for signs of other life for sixteen generations and had turned up empty handed. They had visited two-hundred and ninety-three habitable planets only to find bacteria. Until now.
The strange gold disc circled around on the apparatus sent with it. Strange alien voices echoed back to them many times over.
“You are certain that these are all greetings?” Captain Hernando asked.
“Yes. Fifty-five unique languages.” The linguist on board, Jeraldine McCollough beamed. “It is absolutely fascinating. It appears that they sent this out, among other pieces of cultural importance-songs, recordings of nature…they wanted someone to find them.”
“Why would they want to be found? Our last encounter a millennia ago with beings from another planet ended poorly. Our diseases wiped them completely out,” Captain Hernando argued.
“Yet, we still search, perhaps they were calling for help. They might not have had the technology to manufacture a mass exodus from their planet,” Lead Biologist Edward Thickett said. His fingers were steepled together as he thought.
“Jackson,” the Captain barked. “Have you located the origin of this voyager yet?”
The pilot shrugged in answer as he manipulated the screen before him. The disc had contained coordinates, but in a stew of galaxies it was hard to determine where their starting point was in relation to the Esplanade’s current location.
The three at the table began discussing the meaning behind the recordings. Why had this advanced civilization sent a Hail Mary pass out into the universe? Had it been to prove their existence to other sentient beings, was it hubris, or a desire to turn a global economy into an intergalactic one? It was possible that other travelers had found the vessel before them, failed to discover its secret and sent it on its way. Or were the fifty-five greetings all from the apex predators of many planets? In the vastness of the universe it was impossible to determine which possibilities were improbable and which were just that, a possibility.
“I have it!” Jackson exclaimed and the captain, linguist, and biologist crowded his console. The image only loaded for a moment before revealing the terrible truth. Nothing, only a black-hole. The only remaining piece of the solar system was a chunk of rock and ice orbiting just beyond the reach of the collapsed sun.
No one said a word as the implications sunk in. An entire world had been destroyed before its inhabitants had been able to escape. The Revelation was a startling one. The only proof of whatever shining society had been there, was the Golden Record.
Their hearts felt the chill of space creep up their spines. For all the expanse of the universe, they were alone.