Prompt: When you return to school for a conference, you bump into one of your old professors, who is rambling on excitedly about a new discovery. He asks you to follow him to his office—he has something he wants to show you. What is the new discovery? Why is your professor so excited? Write this scene.
“Medea! Is that you?” Was that Professor Cody? I turned and saw that it was. “What luck that I ran into you. Are you here for the Conference? Never mind. Come with me, I have something to show you.”
Professor Cody wasn’t quiet by a long shot, but he was being unusually talkative. It offset my taciturn attitude. He led me to his office and unlocked it, first with a key, and then a keycard. As we entered the room, he made some sort of gesture that turned the lights on.
In one corner of the room was a desk with a computer and lots of wires and electronic boxes of various kinds scattered around it. The wires snaked around the room, hugging the walls, and connected into various parts of the wall and a few into the doorframe.
“Let’s see, you just stand right here, center of the room is probably best,” he said as he went to his computer and started typing into a console. “Now, I want you to try and remain calm while I get out my little discovery.”
I wasn’t too worried about it. He was quirky, sure, but he would have to get about ten times stranger to shock me. He typed something in and hit enter. A part of the wall slid out like a filing cabinet, and a platform from inside rose up with a small orb lying on it.
It began to float. That was a bit strange, I’ll admit. He picked it up without touching it and handed it to me. It floated above my hand, but I could feel it. He looked at me expectantly. “What is it?” I asked.
“Plastic electricity,” replied quickly. “At least, that’s what the scientists are calling it. It was discovered last year at a special scientist get-together. No one got a chance to study it, and they weren’t sure how they made it, so they’ve left it alone. But I got my hands on the sample they created.”
“Got your hands on?” I asked.
He shrugged. “They weren’t using it. Anyway, I brought Silvano in to look at it. You remember Silvano, yes? He sometimes came in to help with the analysis of samples?”
“Mr. Winston?” I replied.
He nodded. “Yes, yes, Mr. Winston. He did some analysis and then hooked it up to my computer and we found the most extraordinary thing! Well, I did, he already knew it, but he didn’t say so at the time. Where was I? Oh, yes, extraordinary! Do you know what it was?”
I slowly shook my head.
“Aliens!” I stared blankly at him. “Hear me out. It puts out a signal in pulses, like Morse-Code. Translating the pulses into a visual representation produced a picture with a discernable pattern.”
“Wouldn’t it make more sense for it to be a ‘pattern’ put there by the scientists that invented it?” I asked as I handed the orb back.
“But they don’t know what it is. Silvano does, though. He’s talked to them and seen their ships. But all this is strictly confidential until they make themselves known. You didn’t hear any of this from me.”
“That’s good. You can go back to your conference now. Have fun; try not to piss off any aliens!”
I was a little concerned for Professor Cody after that, but he was always a little quirky. After a while I thought nothing of it. Obviously this was all before First Contact.