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Frustration or Euphoria, maybe a bit of both

by Margaret Brennan 2 months ago in Short Story
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Repeat that, Please

Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say.

Melody laughed. “Really?” she said sarcastically. “And how would they, or anyone for that matter, with us being so many thousand miles away from earth?”

Ronald shook his head, “You misunderstand me, yet again, Mel. Even if we both stood outside this chamber and one of us screamed, the other wouldn’t hear it or so I’ve been told.”

Melody laughed again. “Well, Rolo, I certainly don’t intend to go outside and see if you’re right.”

Rolo, as was the nickname Melody Patterson had given her exploration mate, glided to her, and peered over her shoulder.

“So, Mel, what are you working on today?”

“Funny you should ask,” she replied. “This is speaker-recorder combination that we can attached to outside of this chamber to see if we can pick up anything sounds from earth and also to see if anyone on earth can actually hear us.”

“Ah, so you laughed at me but were secretly working on a similar project. Mel, sweetie, I hate to burst your bubble, but NASA is already doing that.”

“No, no, Rolo. The system NASA has is looking to communicate with ETs. I’m not trying to do that, but I am hoping mine will be seen as different. I want to design something that will go directly to earth, maybe just to prove that the space vacuum theory is just that – a theory. I mean, really, how can we know for sure that if we emit a sound from space, that no one on earth can hear it? At least, not unless we try.”

“Okay, then, sorry I made fun of you. It does, at least, sound different. What do you have in mind? Is there anything I can do to help?”

Well, “I only just started on the design. I don’t even have a clue as to what materials I might need to use. My brain hasn’t gotten that far yet, but in any case, that’s where I plan on picking your brain. I wanted to get the design on paper first – just to see if it has any merit to be attached to our little home away from home. Plus, whatever design I might think up, I don’t even know if we have any supplies we can use to create such a device.”

“Okay, move over. Let me pull up a chair and see what you have so far.”

Melody moved her gravitational chair and Roland pulled one over for himself. He sat, strapped in, and began to examine her drawing.”

“What’s this little thing?” he asked pointing to her design. “Oh, that’s our little mini recorder. I figured it should be about the size of a flat baseball. Big enough to capture sound but small enough to not take up so much room.” “Ah, good thought, I like it,” he replied.

“And this?” “That cylinder shaped device, in my opinion should be our speaker so when we flip a switch, we might be able to send out a broadcast and, well, who knows who might or might not hear us. I’m thinking it should be the size of a baseball bat. Enough to cover as much area on earth as possible at one time.”

“Wow, you sure do have baseball on your brain.”

Back home, she had been on her high school and college softball teams. After she graduated, she had the choice of looking for a local girls’ team or joining the space program. She chose the latter.

Before she blinked, she said, “I know we can’t drill holes into this craft to accommodate any wires, but we do have the entry shaft. If we can slide the wires between the metal housing and rubber gasket, it might work. We have the adhesive to reglue the gasket back in place and besides, we’d probably only need to separate one small inch sized hole.”

“So, you really think this might work?”

“We’ll never know unless we try. Besides if it does work, the Exploration of Bender and Patterson might go down in history.”

He almost missed the title of her project. “Out of my own warped, if you’ll forgive the pun curiosity, this is your invention. Why put my name first? Or at all, for that matter.”

“You, my friend, are the senior explorer here. As far as I’m concerned, rank rules! And besides, I don’t want or need the recognition. I just want to be able to contribute something.”

“Huh”, he said and thought to himself, “if this thing works, I’ll make sure your name gets a whole lot of attention. We’ll just see who’ll get the glory!”

They drew and redrew Melody’s design until both were happy with how it looked.

Roland encouraged Melody to accompany him to the storage room to look for parts they could use to build their sound system. Gathering all their necessary supplies, Roland carried the box back to their workstation and picked up a pencil.

“Okay, Mel, here’s our first step. Let’s first work on the recorder. You’re the artist. Create a blown-up schematic of it showing all the parts and they will appear in order of assembly.”

It took Melody the better part of two hours to draw, erase, redraw, and mark each piece. Finally satisfied, she stopped and began the speaker system. Once that was finished, they stopped for lunch and discussed the internal recording device they would need.

“I though about that,” Melody said, “I have that old CD recorder/player that I haven’t used in more than a year. Maybe we could incorporate that into this system.”

“I’d forgotten about that. Since we can get music piped through our own dashboard speaker, you packed that box away and haven’t touched it. You’re right, we should be able to use it. You really don’t mind if I rip it apart and rebuild it?”

“Oh, heck no! That was like a toy to occupy my mind. This is a science project that I’m much more interested in. Do what you need to do with it. I’m curious as to how you could rebuild it.”

“It’s getting late, Mel. You go and retrieve your old toy, ha-ha, and I’ll take a shower and heat dinner. Then, let’s just call it a night and start fresh in the morning.”

“Sounds like a plan besides, after working all day in the hot climate room, you do smell a bit,” she quickly added as she grinned, “not a lot, but a bit. Yeah, go shower and change.”

“Funny, girl, very funny. But I agree, this uniform is quite dirty.”

After they’d eaten, he donned a clean gray uniform and Melody headed for the shower.

Once they were showered and ready for bed, they said their goodnights and headed for their own rooms. Roland immediately fell asleep, and Melody sat at her small desk and continued to draw schematics. Finally, after about thirty minutes, and now, totally exhausted, she climbed in bed and let the world, or space as she’d have it, disappear.

The following day, they woke early and using Melody’s drawings, began the assembly of her communications device.

“Hey, Mel,” Roland said eagerly, “you’re going to need a name for this invention. Even it should fail, you’ll still need a name.”

“You’re right, Rolo. I was thinking about that last night. How about Ben-Son Communications System? Or maybe, Benz-Patt.”

“I was thinking about that too. Instead of using our names, how about using the name of the craft we’re in? Oh, maybe something like, Star Noise?”

“Oh wow! I love it. But I have another thought. What if someone can hear us but we can’t hear them back?”

“Well, we will be returning to earth in a few months. We’ll find out then, won’t we? Unless our home offices hear about it and let us know. Now, wouldn’t that be cool?”

For the next few days, Melody and Roland worked almost round the clock to build and revamp their new Star Noise system.

Finally done, even in its crude stage, they attached the monitor to the inner console and ran and attached the wires accordingly.

Donning his outdoor gear, Roland volunteered to attach the device to the outside and place the wires in their appropriate places. Once done, using the special gasket glue, he resealed the gasket around the area where just minutes before, peeled it off to run the wires through the hole.

It didn’t take long and inside again, they reglued the interior of the gasket. Melody made sure the fitting was sealed tightly and properly. Now their experiment began.

Sitting at the console, Melody, pressed the speaker button.

“Is anyone out there? Can you hear me? My name is Melody and Roland is here with me. We’re in the US Star Exploration Craft studying new stars and old ones. We’d like to say hello and hear from you if possible.”

They heard nothing and the wait began. In the beginning, Melody repeated this mantra every ten minutes. Then every hour, Melody and Roland took turns repeating their message. She was hoping they would hear something, anything that tell them their efforts were not in vain.

I sat on my lanai in Florida with a few friends. We’d just finished our barbeque and were enjoying a few beers as we stared at the many beautiful stars and full moon that were so visible on such a calm and clear night.

The weather was warm. We had only a soft gentle breeze blowing through the trees. Now and then, we’d hear a fish jump in the canal.

I quickly stood. “Did you hear that?” I asked.

“Hear what?” my husband asked.

For the next half hour, we sat in silence and then we all heard it. The voice was so far away, raspy, and faint but it was there.

The message began, “Is anyone out there?”

We stared at the sky and wondered.

We can’t all be hearing the same thing at the same time unless it was real.

Mike googled Melody and Roland and discovered who and where there were. Google showed a photo of their craft and then pointed to the sky. “I sincerely doubt we can see them, but they are there somewhere.”

Penny, using her iPhone, scurried to find any kind of contact phone number for their US space department. It only took her fifteen minutes, and she made the call.

Almost as quickly as she placed that call, we were so sure we heard a loud and resounding, “ HOORAY!” “YIPPEE” “WE DID IT” coming from the stars.

Sitting up in bed, the sun peering through my window blinds, I stretched and knew it would be a beautiful, sunny day.

I called Penny. “Wasn’t that something last night? I wonder how many others heard what we did!”

For a few seconds, I still heard silence. “Penny, are you there?”

“Uh, yeah, I’m here but what are you talking about?”

“The message from the star exploration space craft. Remember? They sent a message, and you even called the 800 number to report that we heard them. Remember?”

“Uh, I think you had a very imaginative dream. We had a beautifully quite night, great food, and conversation, but no outer-worldly excitement. And I never called any space craft or space agency. Sorry but it just didn’t happen.”

I called Mike and then Patti. They confirmed what Penny said.

My husband thought I’d lost my mind.

I googled the names of the star explorers and found nothing.

I would have sworn it was all real.

As they say, nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space.

Maybe that space vacuum isn’t in space after all. Maybe, it was just all in my head.

Short Story

About the author

Margaret Brennan

I am a 75 year old grandmother who loves to write, fish, and grab my camera to capture the beautiful scenery I see around me.

My husband and I found our paradise in Punta Gorda Florida where the weather always keeps us guessing.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

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    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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Comments (2)

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  • RD Brennanabout a month ago

    Reminds me that I need to talk to a friend of mine who said he'd once seen a UFO.

  • Mary Sullivan2 months ago

    I just love a good story, and this is definitely one of them.

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