55. An alien encounter

55alien

At last it happened! The moment was both terrifying and exhilarating. It was the first officially verified landing of aliens on earth. The great craft, shaped more like a gigantic wine bottle than a saucer, had gently lowered itself down in the middle of Boston Common.

Hundreds witnessed the event.

A hatch opened on the side and out came three of the oddest cosmic beings imaginable. They were not at all like the aliens we had come to expect. Each had three limbs. A sort of mouth contraption was positioned near one end. They were unclothed but covered with long grey string-like fibre which presumably was part of their anatomy. They seemed asexual.

It was the sound that emanated from their mouths that caused the biggest surprise. It seemed as if their incomprehensible language was made up entirely of vowels. It was beautiful, lonesome, evocative.

OOOOEIOAIEOOUUIOAE! OIIEUIEAAEIAIA! IEEEAAUUIUOOUIUEAEUIAE!

All three seemed to speak at once. The Mayor of Boston led the welcome, and although it may have sounded gibberish to the aliens, he gave full vent to a heart-warming string of vowels. What else was one to do?

AEIOUAEIOUAEIOU!

Suddenly, the aliens collapsed. They were dead. The hatch closed. The space craft lifted and disappeared. Apart from three dead aliens, left behind was something that was not unlike a Planet Earth CD. When viewed later, it contained indecipherable digital information.

The encounter changed forever the way Earthlings viewed intelligent aliens. The whole world came to master the pronunciation of the alien greeting. People in the street would call it out to one another. Presidents, popes and prime ministers used it as an exchange of peace.

OOOOEIOAIEOOUUIOAE! OIIEUIEAAEIAIA! IEEEAAUUIUOOUIUEAEUIAE!

Scientists, linguists, almost everyone, worked on the CD’s digital information and on the words the aliens had uttered. Harvard University offered an honorary doctorate to anyone who could break the code.

Within fourteen years the code was broken. The CD’s digital information, translated, read:

Greetings!
We have watched you for eons from afar, but until now have lacked the ability to travel over vast space. We think we have at last mastered the technology, and are sending up three dogs ( ʤ¢ëĄҖ ) by way of experiment.
Have a nice day.

I delight in having my dull life coloured by your intelligent perceptions, your wit, and your vivacity.

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