Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer
Three aliens floated a few dozen meters beyond the ship’s forward observation viewport. They were formless blobs approximately two meter in diameter. The center creature was glowing a faint orange-red, with numerous concentric yellow circles forming and disappearing every few seconds. The two outside creatures displayed counter rotating fluorescent red spirals on predominately blue bodies. “They’re obviously trying to communicate with us,” concluded the science officer. “I’ve been studying them for hours, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out what they’re trying to say.”

“They appear to be semitransparent,” the captain observed.

The science officer grimaced.

“You have something to report, Lieutenant?” probed the captain.

“I’m sorry, sir, but I was holding off on speculation until I had a better understanding of the physics. It appears, sir, uh, that the aliens are composed of… damn… stationary photons.”

Despite the apparent absurdity of the statement, the captain managed to maintain his professional demeanor. “You’ve got my attention, Lieutenant. Feel free to speculate. Off the record, of course.”

“Aye, sir. Thank you. As you know, in our universe all electromagnetic radiation moves at the speed of light. The instant a photon comes into existence, its traveling at the speed of light. Never faster, never slower. However, our sensors indicate that those creatures are composed of photons that are not moving relative to us, which according to quantum chromodynamics, is impossible. They appear to have a cohesive structure composed of light ‘particles,’ rather than condensed matter. It’s like their wave-particle duality is all particle and no wave.”

“How is that possible?”

“If I were to guess, sir, I’d say that they exist on a separate membrane where the fundamental relationships between elementary particles are reversed. In other words, photons move slowly, and matter must move at 300,000,000 meters per second.”

“Fascinating,” replied the captain. “I was thinking, what if… Now what’s going on?” The brightness of the creatures suddenly intensified, and their color patters began to reverse and pulsate. “Boy, they certainly seem to be pretty animated about something. Do you think they’re threatening us?”

“Unsure, sir. Look, they’re backing away.” Suddenly, the interior of the ship began to glow a bright red, which quickly changed to orange, then yellow, green, blue, and finally violet. Nausea overtook the crew, and one by one, they collapsed to the deck and lost consciousness. When they finally came to, the view outside the observation port had changed dramatically. More than half the sky was occupied by a giant spiral galaxy. “Damn,” the science officer muttered. “That’s Andromeda. It’s supposed to be 2.5 million light years away. It’s probably only a few hundred thousand now. I guess those guys were trying to warn us not to get to close. We must have temporarily entered their universe. I suspect that we traveled more than two million light years while we were unconscious.”

“Can we get home?” asked the captain.

“That may be a moot point, sir. Unless I’m mistaken, we didn’t get here by distorting space-time in the conventional sense. Most likely, we temporarily acquired the properties of the alien’s universe and our physical matter has been moving through space at the speed of light. If true, that means that although we didn’t experience the passage of time, we’ve been traveling for more than two million years. Even if we could get back ‘home,’ we’d be the equivalent of australopithecines to our descendents.”

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