Chapter Four

The White House

President Hayward took his seat behind the Oval Office desk made from the timbers of HMS Resolute that every President had used since Gerald Ford.

 “Bill,” the President said, “I guess it’s just going to be the two of us. I understand you asked Jonathon not to attend.”

Director Clarkson sat facing him, folders on his lap, his hands shuffling the file with the black stripe from top to bottom and back as he decided in which order to discuss the files.
As the President turned his full attention to him he made his decision, setting all files but one on the chair next to him.

The NSI director opened the file and gathered his thoughts.

“Yes, Mr. President. I apologize for the apparent break in protocol, but I need to brief you on one issue in private.

The President reclined back in his chair, and rested his chin on his thumb of his right hand, his elbow supported by the arm of the chair. “Bill, I’ve been looking forward to meeting with you. Valenzuela had some nice things to say about your service to our country.”  As he spoke, the President shifted, resting his left hand on the other arm-rest, and his left elbow against the back of the chair. A politician’s smile guaranteed his confidence that he could handle whatever news Clarkson was to deliver. This was the famous Hayward pose that hung as a painting in the hall of Presidents. It meant you had the President’s full attention. It also meant you better have something important to say.

Clarkson was sure what he was about to say qualified.

“Mr. President, on July 7th, 1947 an alien spaceship crashed in Roswell, New Mexico. Eight bodies were recovered from the crash. There were no survivors. All the parts of the ship and the bodies were removed and shipped to the United States Air Force Air Combat Command at Barksdale Air Force Base, in Louisiana. The airship was shot down by an F-84 Thunderjet using its machine guns. All findings were declared “Top Secret” by President Truman.”

Director Clarkson could hear how dry and mechanical his account sounded, but he knew no other way to present this information. 

“We intercepted a radio message sent by the airship just before it was shot down. It has never been deciphered, but it was repetitive, leading our experts to believe that it was some form of an S.O.S. signal.” He paused and looked at the President’s face for any reaction, and found none, before continuing. “In 1988 a return signal was received by the Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico. This signal was also classified “Top Secret” by then Vice-President Bush after it was found to contain similarities to the ’47 outgoing message…”

“Director, did Valenzuela put you up to this?” The President interrupted, the certain smile replaced by a look of incredulity bordering on anger, “ You better tell me now if this is a joke or if you are serious because you must know how ridiculous this sounds.”

Director Clarkson was not taken aback by the President’s eruption. He couldn’t believe he had gotten this far into the narrative.

“Unfortunately, Mr. President, this is all true,” he said, a little rattled. "Only Presidents Truman and Kennedy, and then Vice President Bush have been briefed on this matter. The information has been disbursed only on a need-to-know basis.”

The President leaned forward with his elbows on his desk, still unsure if his leg was being pulled, “So Reagan didn’t know? Clinton? GW? Johnson?” He asked.

“No sir,” The director replied, “ No other President has been briefed.” Clarkson held his gaze steady, meeting the President’s eyes.

The President stood up and walked around his desk to the empty chair next to the director – He felt like the heavy desk before him was getting in the way of fully understanding what he just heard - He lifted the remaining files resting on the chair, tossed them on his desk, and sat down. “Continue.” he said.

Director Clarkson leaned toward the President. He had his full attention. “Since the second signal, a signal has been received approximately every five hundred and twelve days,” Clarkson resumed his dry ‘just the facts’ tone, “To date, we have received fourteen signals, each varying only slightly from the previous one. Since 1998, we have managed to learn much from these signals, based on the time between the first and second signal and then the time between the repeating signals. This, added to knowledge garnered from the alien bodies, has allowed us to pin-point the exact planet the signals are coming from. It has also allowed us to understand the alien numeric system and decode part of the messages repeated.”

“How?” the President asked, incredulous.

The director turned over a few pages in the folder and handed one of the sheets to the President.


__________________________________________________________________________________                                                                                 (Page 2)
Date: Oct. 18, 2009

Doc Num:     0317-097-13
          Project:    MAJWell-Met
Classification: TOP SECRET (SCI) (SAP) NTK

1. The messages are most likely being received from a planet named Gliese 581C, located approximately 20.5 light years from our solar system. This finding is based on the direction of the message received coupled with the time between first outgoing transmission and first incoming response transmission (Approx. 41 years).
2. The aliens use a base eight numeric system. This finding is based on the four (4) digits per hand of the alien corpses. The timing between the repeating messages may also support this finding.

3. We know a full revolution of the Gliese 581 Sun by the Gliese 581C planet is approximately thirteen (13) earth days. (one (1) Gliese 581C year = thirteen (13) Earth days.) The 512 days between messages is divisible by 8 64 times. We assume that 64 x 13 rotations is therefore an important date construct for them, perhaps similar to the importance of one calendar year is to us.

4.   The Glessians are expected to be several decades ahead of us in technology, given their space traveling ability, 0.5 x the speed of light and [Deleted] moreover, the practical uses [Deleted]

5.  [Deleted]

6. The aliens mounted a second expedition to Earth sometime after the first incoming message in 1988. This finding is supported by the repeating messages.
7. The reason for the second expedition has no current finding Notes: Deleted sections opened on Need to know. (NTK) ________________________________________________________________________________________________


The President handed back the paper and slowly shook his head, as if to reorganize everything he had taken for granted as real in his brain.

“ Jesus, Bill. I am having trouble accepting this. How many people know about this? What does it mean?”

“Less than a dozen people in this country and two dozen world-wide know,” The NSI director replied, “And what it means is what I have to discuss with you next. Some decisions need to be made.”

The President stood up and turned his back on Bill Clarkson. He looked out the windows behind his desk and watched the leaves dance with the wind, the threat of snow clear in the cloudy skies. His hands spread out and swiveled forward on extended arms as he asked, “ What else do we know?”

Bill Clarkson closed the file and thumbed the felt stripe nervously as he leaned back on his chair.

 “We know when they arrive.”


Chapter Five