jexia: (Me 2015)
[personal profile] jexia
Tuesday 11 September, 2018

There were aliens on the TV last night. Mum said they came in a big spaceship. They are having a big war with lots of guns and they are the good guys and they need our help. If I was bigger I would help them. I would go boom boom boom at all the baddies.

By Billy


Tuesday 18 September, 2018

Mum said that we're not going to help. She said the big boss men had lots of meetings and they decided that we won't help. I want to help! I want to go boom boom boom! The Xrrsts are fighting the Ch'niks. I don't like the Ch'niks because they are big and scary like big giant insects. I like the Xrrsts because they are purple and fuzzy.

By Billy


Thursday 20 September, 2018

I hope the Xrrsts win. Jennifer said she hopes the Ch'niks win but that's just dumb.

By Billy


William Reynolds
79809 St. Rt. 139
Jackson, Ohio 45640

December 7, 2029

Harvard College
86 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Attn: Admissions Department

Dear Admissions Department,

There is no doubt that Harvard University has the most highly-regarded Exobiology program in the country. My lifelong dream has been to become a Exobiologist, from even before I was old enough to know the word. The Xrrsts captured my imagination at the age of seven, and though there has been no sign of them for over a decade, I still believe that one day we will re-establish contact with them, or another extra-terrestrial lifeform.

My ultimate goal is to attain my doctorate, and contribute to the growing body of research on the past communications with the Xrrsts, until such a time as more practical study is possible.

I have attached my application, as well as transcripts, an essay, and all of my letters of recommendation as defined in my admissions packet. I appreciate your time and consideration and look forward to hearing from you soon.

William Reynolds.


Subject: WOOHOO!
Date: March 28, 2030

I GOT IN! Harvard, here I come!


Subject: They're back!
Date: August 28, 2041

Jen! I don't know if you've heard, but the Xrrsts are back! It's all pretty hush-hush at the moment, but the big news is that I get to meet with them tomorrow!

It's all very exciting, but I will do my best to act in accordance with my station (*ahem*) and not leap around like a seven-year-old boy!


This message has been sent from the office of Dr William Reynolds, Lecturer (Exobiology).
If you are not the intended recipient, please inform the sender immediately.


Xrrst Incident Debriefing
August 29, 2041

Witness: Dr William Reynolds, Exobiology Department, Harvard University

Dr William Reynolds was present at the proceedings by request of Captain Jennifer Bishop, who recommended him based on his studies of the previous contact.

The following statement is in his own words:

I arrived at the base as directed, at 0800 hours, and was escorted to the briefing session. I was delighted to see Captain Bishop present (Note: connection there? Investigate.) but even more delighted at the prospect of finally meeting a Xrrst.

We were shown to the chamber where the Xrrst waited, and we observed it for a while behind one-way glass. It was smaller than I expected, but its fur was that beautiful iridescent purple I remembered. It appeared quiescent, more calm than during the previous contact, but of course it is difficult to judge until we become fully conversant with their mannerisms.

After observing the Xrrst, Captain Bishop, our escort of military guards, and I entered the room. The Xrrst greeted us, speaking through a communicator similar to the ones we saw last time. It's quite fascinating, really - in the past 23 years their communicator has reduced in size by a factor of twelve, and the translation has lost the unpleasant high-pitched tones. No-one has been able to tell me anything about the ship it arrived in, but I would be so interested to know if- oh, sorry, I'm getting off track.

We entered the room. I did wonder briefly about contamination, but as the previous contact had occurred without any problems, I decided not to raise the issue. Ha.

I introduced myself to the Xrrst, and it said its name was K'tad. Or possibly Kitan. I'll have to study the phonetics more closely. I expressed how pleased I was to meet a Xrrst at last, and it appeared quite agitated. I tried to gather information as per the recommended protocols, but it was not very forthcoming.

When I mentioned the war with the Ch'nik, it said "It was close but we won," but then- (Subject visibly upset. Interview paused for three minutes.)

When I asked about the war, K'tad's fur began to ripple and pale, and it groaned and shook. I tried to approach it, but one of the guards warned me away. As the shaking became more violent, I went over and asked if it was okay. K'tad looked at me and said "You will be, all the helpers will be", which I didn't understand, but then a purple cloud of something exploded out of K'tad and went all over the room.

And... I saw it go into them. Into Jen- Captain Bishop and the guards. But it didn't go into me. Why didn't it go into me?

K'tad died, didn't it. Are Jennifer and the others going to die, too?

(Subject too upset to continue. Interview finished 2315.)


Subject: Hello
Date: November 30, 2041

Hi Jen, how are you doing? I'm guessing you're in a little windowless room much like my own, but I am delighted to have net access again. It's been a long three months.

The General said that if they continue to detect no changes for another three months, that we will be free to go. I can't wait.

When we get out of here... would you maybe like to go on a date? With me?



Subject: Movies?
Date: March 3, 2042

Hey love,

I had a great time last night. You're such a good cook. Want to go to the movies tonight? Meet there at 7?



Bishop Incident Debriefing
March 3, 2042

Witness: Dr William Reynolds, Exobiology Department, Harvard University

The following statement is in his own words:

It happened with Jen just like it did with K'tad. We were lining up to get our movie tickets and she started to shake. She fell down shaking and lots of people stood and stared. Some people tried to help, but then she exploded in a purple cloud, just like K'tad, and it all went everywhere and into everyone (audible sobs, interview paused for six minutes).

Except the people who tried to help. K'tad said "all the helpers will be okay". What did it mean? What's happening? And why is Jen dead?

(Subject too upset to continue. Interview finished 2100.)


Subject: I miss you
Date: April 13, 2042

I miss you so much. I know you will never read this, but it helps to pretend I'm talking to you. You always listened to me.

It's spreading everywhere, Jen. Some of the people at the movie theatre left before the military locked it down. And months later, always in crowded places, they exploded too. We can't stop it.

They don't know what it is. It's a bit like a fungus, a bit like a virus, a bit like some sort of mutating nanobot. They think it's triggered by pheromones, when you get enough people in an area, but it's not been proven yet.

Other people noticed that it doesn't affect people who try to help. There's all sorts of theories about why. Some people think that the Xrrsts are trying to teach us to be helpful, to stop being so apathetic and self-obsessed. People are either avoiding public places, or being conspicuously helpful at all times.

I think it goes deeper than just teaching us a lesson. From what we can tell, the Xrrsts are incredibly long-lived in comparison to us, and they must think on scales vaster than we can imagine.

They're breeding us, directing human evolution with survival of the kindest. Next time the Ch'niks or some other force come through, the Xrrst will ask us, and we will fall over ourselves to help them. Helpful cannon fodder in waiting, keen to throw ourselves on the flames.

Human society could stand to be a little nicer, yes, but too far will be devastating. And at what horrendous cost in human life?

Oh, Jen. I don't know what to do.


Friday 10 September, 2083

Today we went to the museum. We looked at lots of stuff. Mrs Jamison really liked the extibihit show about William Reynolds. Jackie laughed because that is like my name. There was lots of words that I can't read but there were some pictures too. He looks a bit like my great unkle Billy.

Mrs Jamison said he saved the world by stopping a germ that was killing all the mean people. I don't know why he would do that. Mean people are yucky.

By Willa R.


Date: 2015-02-12 11:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is really good :)

Date: 2015-02-12 03:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Liked it. The style reminds me a little bit of Orson Scott Card, the way he opens each chapter in Ender's Game.

Date: 2015-02-12 05:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Good Lord woman! This has such Christian overtones, put me in mind of a modern day Good Samaritan story - or Aesop's fable. (Remember those?)

I love that the whole entry is done by correspondence of some sort. It's unexpected and a nice touch. Great entry! :)

Date: 2015-02-12 09:41 pm (UTC)
ext_12410: (misc fic)
From: [identity profile]
the price you pay for not getting involved! and what a long time the xrrst waited before trying to teach humanity a lesson. (in my head they look like giant purple fluffballs, cute and harmless.)

and i too really liked the way the story was told through records - letters, debriefings, what look like little-kid diary/journal entries. it's very immediate.

Date: 2015-02-12 10:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
A parable! I enjoyed the missive style!

Date: 2015-02-13 07:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Slam dunk. You may not feel like you're on your game , but this is superb. I particularly liked the progression of time, and the character development of Dr Reynolds. It is rare that personality comes through in the flow-of-correspondence short story form. David Brin did something very similar to this, but your 'Bystander Effect' has more pathos.

Date: 2015-02-13 03:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
They're breeding us, directing human evolution with survival of the kindest.

There is something grotesquely appealing about this... but it did kill Jennifer, who didn't seem like a bad person.

I liked this in its weirdness and statement on the human condition and how that would make no sense to an alien, and vice versa.

Date: 2015-02-13 05:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

Date: 2015-02-13 07:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I also got a very Orson Scott Card feel from this. Really cool way to tell a huge story! Good use of the prompt :) I was intrigued the whole way through.

Date: 2015-02-15 07:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I really liked the early letters (childish enthusiasm and exuberance), and where that led for both Billly and Jennifer.

The seeming sympathetic nature of the aliens made their plan all the more unexpected, because it did seem as if they were effectively breeding a secondary army from the human population. And that is mercenary and unfeeling and everything that contrasts with the behavior that's being rewarded. The dichotomy was a nice touch.

Date: 2015-02-15 04:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Cool way to structure your piece. Nice work!

Date: 2015-02-16 10:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
What a shame about Jennifer!

I think her death reveals the flaw in the aliens' logic --she was kind, but died anyway. It makes sense-- one might stand back because they don't want to get in the way. They might be very timid. They might need a moment to process what's happening. And someone who helps may actually be simply more confident than kind, and certainly pro-active. I've even known 'helpers' who really just like grandstanding a little.

Imagine if the aliens had actually bred humanity into incredibly quick-thinking, extroverted, leap-into-action types? They might get more than they bargained for!

Anyway, this is really creative and cool. I liked the form you chose quite a bit.

Date: 2015-02-16 09:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Loved the correspondence format, and the little details that hint at changes behind it - the email addresses and such, nice touch.

The Xrrst's heavy-handed approach to eugenics made me think of my favorite quote by CS Lewis:

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
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