When the message came it was not what they expected. Scientists had been monitoring the electromagnetic spectrum for decades, but what came were gravitational pulses. Astronomers puzzled about what could be causing them, searching the skies for new comets. Then a series of prime number pulses showed it was a message, an alien intelligence trying to communicate.

Linda had joined the analysis team straight from Princeton. She spent hours listening to the pulses transformed to sound. There was an underlying thump, steady and rhythmic, always there. A heartbeat, she called it. There were many layers of other rhythms that had been filtered out to show the prime number message. Just noise, everyone said.

But Linda listened to the plaintive beats, over and over again. The others joked about her late night listening sessions. It’s lonely, she said, it wants to be heard.

After two years of research there was still no clue where the message came from. Now the most bizarre theories were being considered. One day Linda ventured hers:
I think it’s not alien at all: I think it’s the Earth.
She knew she would get enough flak for this, so she didn’t add:
I think it’s in pain. I think it’s screaming.

* * *

T. Mastgrave’s philosophical story challenge: What does it mean to be an individual?

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I like blue.

6 thoughts on “Heartbeat”

  1. Interesting. Not what I had in mind when I wrote the challenge, but I like it. The tension that you give the main character, her certainty that everyone will think the idea is ridiculous, is very good as well. It makes the entire story feel more plausible.

    1. Maybe I wasn’t explicit enough. The Earth in my story is an individual, even a conscious one, of which we are all parts. That leaves us with a paradox, or at least something rather strange…
      Thanks for the challenge.

      1. No, I got that. I was talking about the doubt on the part of the pov character. The fact that she realizes that the earth is conscious and trying to communicate, but that she realizes that no-one would believe her brings realism to the story. The reality of your pov character makes the ultimate premise seem more plausible.

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