Friday, September 16, 2016

Know It All

I haven't written on here in over three years. Heck, I haven't written in over three years. While that feels like a personal failure, it's also indicative of how busy my life has been. Anyways, I had the idea for this story on Monday and I've written and re-written it all week. I just had to get it out there. I hope you like it. Maybe there will be more on here, but I make no promises. :)


A male of the Homo neanderthalensis species looked up from flattening the tall grasses to make his bed for the night. The flash of light he saw in the sky was pretty, but didn't hold the man's attention for long.

Nearly 250,000 years later, early in the year 1610, an Italian astronomer named Galileo Galilei was watching the planet Jupiter, looking for evidence of more moons orbiting the large gas giant. Suddenly, a small circular shadow began transiting the large planet. Galileo looked up from his telescope perplexed. The object was too large to be a moon of Jupiter and it was not in the plane of the rest of the moons he had already discovered. He looked back in the telescope and followed the object. After the object finished its transition in front of Jupiter, Galileo followed it. He could see it more clearly without the brightness of Jupiter behind it. It looked like a tiny moon, but was much closer than Jupiter. Galileo abandoned his exploration of Jupiter and tracked the object over the next few days. He traced its orbit over the next few weeks and ran and reran his calculations, but kept returning to the same conclusion. He had discovered a new satellite of Earth!

Just over three hundred years later, an R-7 rocket launched from a remote part of the Kazakh SSR. Aboard was humanity's first object to be launched into space. Eyes around the world watched in wonder, excitement and worry. Little did humanity know that they were not the only ones watching.

A decade later, a rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida carrying three men destined to land on the moon. Once more, eyes all around the world watched this historic event. At a small communications relay station in Montana, Sergeant Robert Reed was watching the launch on his little black and white television as he listened for comm traffic. He heard a faint voice on his headphones. Shaking his head at being interrupted, he turned up the transmission and listened. The voice was repeating, "Stay tuned for an important transmission."

Robert cocked his head to the side. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but there was something odd about the voice. He checked the frequency to make sure he was on the appropriate military frequency. He said into the microphone, "Unknown caller, please verify your identity and location."

He waited, but the voice kept repeating the same message over and over. He shook his head again, and picked up his phone. It was a direct line to NORAD command. "Sergeant Reed, this better be good. We're watching history here," said the voice on the other side.

"I know, sir," Robert said to his commanding officer, Lieutenant Thompson. "I've got a weird transmission on the line. It's a strange voice that simply repeats, 'Stay tuned for an important transmission.' I don't know what to make of it, sir."

"You've got a direction and signal strength, Reed?" Thompson asked.

Shaking his head as his own stupidity for forgetting that, he said, "Hold on, sir. I'll get that for you."

He rotated some dials and inspected the results on his set. Shaking his head, he repeated the steps and got the same results. Into the phone, he said, "Uh, this doesn't make sense, sir. The instruments say that it's coming from straight above me and the range calculations are inconclusive."

Lieutenant Thompson wasn't listening though. The television in front of him had changed from a reporter talking in Florida to an image of a man in a white lab coat smiling. The picture was clearer than anything he'd ever seen before. The man started speaking, "Greetings humanity. My name is Frederick Malta and I am from a future that will no longer exist. My team and I live in the year 2122. We've spent the last twenty years assembling the probe we call Know-It-All. I don't know what you call it, but to you it's been nothing but a small natural satellite orbiting the Earth every six hours or so."

The man laughed a little and said, "It's kind of funny to think that I've spent my entire adult life working on a project that would guarantee that I won't ever exist. You see, the point of the Know-It-All probe was to send it back 250,000 years into the past and record all activity on Earth until such time that humanity was ready to consume the data that the probe was collecting. Although Know-It-All was designed to look like a small natural satellite, there was a small chance that it's existence would change the history of your timeline in some way as to be different from our history. We programmed the probe to watch for an event that signified the beginnings of humanity's exploration of space. In my history, that would have been the launching of the Apollo 11 mission to land men on the Moon. If you all named the mission something else, I would understand. Not everything would play out the same when we introduced a change to the timeline you all live in by sending Know-It-All back in time. Heck, maybe you haven't even sent men into space and have chosen to send robot explorers in your stead.

"But I digress. I'm sure that your leaders have begun to wonder where all of this is going. My hope would be that this event would be one of unification instead of division. In our history, the beginnings of space exploration were in the middle of a global struggle called The Cold War. It was a high tension time for the entire planet. I want the people of the Earth to know that the knowledge contained within the Know-It-All probe is not meant for one culture or nation, but for all of humanity to share and learn from. All data in the probe has been replicated six times and will be sent to what we called North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. I apologize for not being able to send the data to all nations, but even with our relatively advanced technology we still have limitations.

"In addition to the recordings of the last 250,000 years, we've included documentation, such that it is, of our history. We also have documentation of our technological achievements in the hopes that it speeds your technological evolution. Although it's not an official goal of this project, I do hope that you all repeat our project and send your own Know-It-All probe into the past.

"So, that brings me to the end of my little speech. The Know-It-All probe will split into pieces and enter your atmosphere within the next eight hours. We can't guarantee exactly where the pieces will land, but you can be assured that the contents inside will remain intact. Good luck to you all."

The transmission cut off and returned to the reporter who was staring blankly at the camera.

Two weeks later President Richard Nixon and Premier Alexei Kosygin stood in front of the assembled United Nations delegates and shook hands. Both leaders pledged a new era of cooperation and collaboration. The applause took ten minutes to die down.

Sixty years later, at the Frederick Malta launch facility located in the Azores, a technician was inspecting the rocket housing the Know-It-All 2 probe. He smiled at his little contribution to this historical achievement as he worked. He also reminisced at the stories his parents would tell of the tension and worry of the Cold War that ended late in 1969. What must it have been like back then? Today, the Azores, among many other places in the world, participated in the global government instead of a national government. How did humanity ever survive any other way? He wrapped up his inspection left the rocket. He looked back and smiled once more. It was a good time to be alive.

Just over 65 million years ago, a Velociraptor looked up from the Gallimimus corpse it was consuming just in time to see a flash of light in the sky. It meant nothing to the dinosaur as it went back to its meal.