Author : Andrew Bale

“Jack! Come in here a minute!”

“All right Mary, what is it?”

“Check this out. I was running down that noise on the comms channel, but it wasn’t noise. Listen.”

Mary touched one of the controls in front of her, and a crackling voice erupted from the starboard communications station.

“…the best friend I ever had, closer than my actual brothers, far better to me than I ever was to him. I spent a hundred nights…”

She turned it off.

“It’s an old radio signal from Sol! It must have mixed with one of the local oscillators and gotten upconverted into our comms band! It has to be a thousand years old!”

“If it was original and that old, we would never have gotten it at all. You have the whole message?”

“Sure, it cycled at least twenty times, that’s why it’s so clear – I was able to stack the repeats and drive the signal above the background. Want a hardcopy?”

“No, just copy it to a thumb, but… there’s a tradition. After you copy it, re-record the message in your own voice. Loop it a hundred times or so, then transmit it on the directionals. Send it back to Earth, and maybe twenty of your other favorite directions. Pick places people might catch it, other than that it doesn’t matter.”

“Okay, what frequency?”

“Same as the original signal – if you send it on the comms channels we’ll get flagged, but no one cares what goes out at radio frequency. Besides, as strange as it may sound, that mixing wasn’t accidental – it’s not in the specs, but these rigs are designed to catch signals like this one.”


“I told you – tradition. Get to it.”

“Jack, why my voice, why not the original?”

“It will be clearer than the one you received. Besides, the voice doesn’t matter, just the message. Meet me in the wardroom when you’re done.”
The wardroom was filled to capacity when Mary finally reached it. The entire comms staff was there, along with most of the older crew and a few others. Jack took the portable drive from her hand and replaced it with a glass of brandy before playing the recording to the crowd. For several minutes, the room was silent save for one scratchy voice, telling of a friend, a brother, a son. When it finally fell into static, Jack raised his glass and cleared his throat.

“Friends, tonight we heard a voice in the dark. The speaker is forgotten, but the message goes on, and we honor it. Raise a glass tonight to Jeremy Coonradt. He is not dead while his name is still spoken. To Jeremy, and to those he left behind.”

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