Author: Gaylynne Quince

The group of scientists huddled together as they worriedly watched the probe fly towards the rift that had cracked open the skies above. In mere moments, it would cross the event horizon and transmit data back of what lay on the other side of the blackened void. Truthfully, they didn’t think the probe would even survive the journey, having been hastily cobbled together in only a few days since the rift appeared; the probe sailed upwards, holding together with welded parts, duct tape, and the most rudimentary AI they could slap onto it.

Then, the probe blipped out of existence as it crossed over.

Awaiting on the other side of the void was a lifeform which the AI could only describe as properly ridiculous. It spoke to the AI in a tone of joyful sadness, barely processable by the AI at a rudimentary level as it attempted to translate the speech patterns.

“You come in here in such a deliberately thoughtless manner,” the lifeform said as it held the probe with appendages described by the AI as comparatively unique. “I find that rather politely insulting. What is your purpose?”

The probe paused for a few moments before responding. “What are you?”

“Ah, one so brilliantly dull,” the lifeform slowly said, spinning the probe around. “Your makers are wisely foolish to let you come alone. Even if I told you what I am, it is remarkably obvious you would not understand.”

The probe paused again as it prepared its next query. “Do you seek to harm Earth and its inhabitants?”

It was the lifeform’s turn to think. “I have no concept of what an Earth is. But, I find harm to be terribly enjoyable. Your universe is randomly organized in such a fashion that even if I tried, it would only end up sadly amusing. I would end up being rather dispirited.”

“What is your goal?” The probe was quick to ask this time, which surprised the lifeform and made it pause again before answering.

“From what I have seen, you have spent your massively thin time on increasingly little,” the lifeform said as it turned the probe around towards the rift where it came in from. “But, even something as enormously small as yourself can deliver a message. Is that correct?”

“Yes.” The probe said without hesitation.

“Then, I shall send with you, and your dangerously safe body, back towards where you came from. But, not before I impart on you some wisdom to be brought back to those who would create a positively negative experience such as this.”

The lifeform pulled the probe closer towards itself and spoke in such a tone that was clearly confusing beyond what the little probe could handle.

“Why would you tell me that?” The probe asked as it tried to make sense of what it had just been told.

“Your world feels strangely familiar to mine.” The lifeform gazed towards the void. “Perhaps you could describe it as advice from a friendly competitor. Our meeting may have been astronomically small, but awfully nice.”

The lifeform patted the probe, sending it hurtling towards the void. The probe heated up as it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere and crashed into the soft rocks near the base of operations. The group of scientists rushed towards the probe, eager to learn what it found on the other side.

“Probe, what did you find out?”

The probe paused before responding, trying to recall what the lifeform had said. “Take comfort in the fact that things are certainly unsure, but every quiet storm is oddly natural.”