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GENRE: Science Fiction
America has splintered into various independent republics after a brutal civil war. Against this backdrop, space exploration is on the cusp of new technological breakthroughs. Jim Atteberry, a mid-30s English professor at City College in San Francisco, spends his free time listening for alien signals on the amateur radio astronomy bands. His life as a single parent to his precocious daughter is turned upside-down when he hears an intelligent cry for help from the Ross 128 system and realizes we are not alone. This signal unleashes a chain of events pitting Jim and his brilliant, mysterious colleague Kate against a power-hungry scientist with his own secret agenda. Jim must learn the truth about the signal, the strange disappearance of his wife Janet, and the meaning of true love before it’s too late in this first contact thriller.
Atteberry understood immediately what this meant. “So everything I’ve been doing on the radio, monitoring the stars, finding the Ross signal, it’s all being seen by someone else?”
“That’s my guess. I thought the glitch could be a nasty sleeper virus, so I looked into that but, no, it’s definitely a tracer.”
Atteberry felt his heart race and his fingers shook a bit when he lifted his coffee mug and drank.
“I’ll tell you what I think, Jim.” Her notes flashed in front of the screen. “You remember that late night creeper fellow you scared away?”
“Perhaps Creeper Boy came back when you were gone, broke into your house, and planted the code on your system.”
“No way, I’ve got security cameras and motion detectors everywhere. I would’ve seen something.”
“Jim,” she said calmly, “I could easily bypass your security if I wanted to. Those things are designed to dissuade teenagers and Neanderthals from arbitrarily breaking in, not those of us who know what we’re doing.”
“Listen, I’ll come over in a while once I’m dressed and bring my sniffer gear to clean up your radio and computers. In the meantime, you’d better check your equipment again for anything missing.”
Atteberry shook his head. A wave of anger, humiliation and fear washed over him. He kept putting Mary’s safety at risk, and Kate’s as well, and for what? Chasing an unknown signal across the sky? Time to drop this crazy business. His gut told him, however, that Marshall Whitt was behind it all, and he needed to find out why.
“Thanks, Kate, talk soon.”
He cut the link and held his face in his palms. The ripples of this event kept pushing outward into the dark corners, and there was nothing he could do to stop it’s spread.
David Allan Hamilton is a teacher, writer, and multipotentialite. He is a graduate of Laurentian University (BSc. Applied Physics) and The University of Western Ontario (MSc. Geophysics). He lives in Ottawa where he facilitates writing workshops and teaches. When not writing, David enjoys riding his bike long distances, painting, and knitting.
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