The Transmission

By Christopher R. Whalen

 

“Son, I have reviewed The Transmission myself. I have put it through every known permutation and filter, and it is, at best, inconclusive.”

 

She spoke these words as she watched her son frantically working on his pod. His shirt was covered in sweat. All the while The Transmission, which he was now convinced was a distress call from his beloved, was playing on speakers above his head. To the untrained ear, and also to his mother’s trained ears, it was simply hiss filled with static.

 

Three days before it had come over the high frequency band that he and his wife had chosen to communicate with when she had left two years ago on the Keltar Mission.

 

He hadn’t heard from her, nor had anyone heard from the team she had blasted off with, in over 14 months. They had long since been presumed as dead.

 

The clanking of tools, and the standard blips and beeps and flipping of switches could be heard as he went through his pre-launch sequence.

 

His mother knew that there was nothing that she could do to stop her son.

 

As she watched him, her mind drifted back to the view from her kitchen window in 1974. The water was running and she had just dried her last dish and placed it in the drainer. As her hand subconsciously lowered the lever to shut the water off, her concentration and eyes were on her son sitting at the end of the driveway all by himself. He liked to be alone. It didn’t seem to bother him and she learned early on that her boy was more comfortable within his own reality. He sat and played with his trucks and cars. She couldn’t see his face but she knew the look that would be upon it, total focus and immersion within his current fantasy. He seemed to have the ability to actually feel and experience his daydreams, in a way that a schizophrenic can actually believe that they have experienced things, only he could control them.

 

Her mind drifted back to the current reality that her son was creating, lying under his pod.

 

He hadn’t slept in three days.

 

His wife was the only woman he had ever loved. She was the only one that had touched the deepest and most sensitive parts of him. She was the only one that had found his tired, frail, romantic heart, and had cradled it within her feminine cocoon. He had written stories and poetry about her, even before they had met. He would wake up in the middle of the night and write her love letters, not even knowing her name. He would write romantic stories about her, not knowing if he would ever meet her or if she really existed.

 

On their wedding night, he had carried her across the threshold of the home they had been sharing and walked them into their bedroom. He gently let her down and she turned towards their bed and grabbed his hand to lead him there. She suddenly stopped walking and she had the most confused look on her face. She had made their bed perfectly that morning with this moment in mind. She could not wait for the moment she would finally be able to make love to her husband.  The bed was covered with what seemed like hundreds of pieces of paper. She slowly approached the bed and picked up the first piece that she could. She began to read the first of hundreds of love letters and stories he had written for her before they met. For hours she sat with her back against him, sitting on their bed, reading all the words he had written for her and to her for so many years while he had been so alone.  When the last piece of paper had been read, and the bed was finally the way she had left it that morning, she made love to her husband as if it was the first time any woman had made love to a man.

 

His mother knew him so well, and she knew that his life had changed long before he had told her that he met someone. She noticed everything about him at all times, after all, she was his mother and she had nurtured his nature in a way that no other mother could have done for him.

 

She saw how he had slowly begun to die when the space agency had told him that contact had been lost. She saw it age him. She could almost see his soul shriveling with each passing day and it broke her heart. All he ever had wanted was to find the perfect love from one woman, only one. He had found her and then she had been taken away.

 

The love of his life had disappeared 14 months ago.  Three days ago, at 3am, he was awoken by The Transmission. For 14 months the radio lay in a state of waiting, next to their marital bed. He checked it each morning and each night, and yet each day for 14 months, he was devastated to see just a flat line on the radio’s monitor.

 

At 3am, three days ago, there was a five second transmission……..

 

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