Universal Language

Category: , , , , , By Travis Lyle a.k.a DJ Hedmekanik
The moment we’d all been waiting for, it finally arrived. From the stars they came, swift and silent. Caught us napping, but then that’s what we do best, us humans. SETI picked up the signal from a far-flung corner of the Andromeda Galaxy, a star called 55 Cancri f, a binary star roughly 26 light years away that resembles our Sun. The tension was so thick you could’ve spread it on toast. People were running scared, people were running for the hills, and the really dodgy ones? They were running for president. The rest were, like, ‘whatever’.

Down at Ground Zero (because even extraterrestrials know that the US is in charge, of course. Everybody knows that. Even aliens.), the crowds were milling, wide-eyed and expectant. Half of the throng consisted of dodgy priests, doomsayers and endisnighers, some of them doing a swift and lucrative line in redemption at a price. At last, the assembled cluster of dignitaries and scientists made their way out onto the stage, where they were dwarfed by a monstrous projection screen set up to display the incoming alien signal. For days this pulse of Martian Morse code had been kept under wraps until at last an unbalanced Mormon on the Pennsylvanian team of astrophysicists, his belief in intelligent design finally and irreparably smote, had broken rank and confessed all. On Larry King Live. Of course.

But all that was in the past. Now, the world would have its long-awaited revelation. The signal was about to be seen for the first time.

With a fanfare of braying trumpets, the screen flickered to life and suddenly, in a blaze of light, all was revealed. Jaws gaped, eyeballs bulged. A billion throats let out the mother of all gasps.

Dave was a graphic designer; he worked for a small firm that had recently been snowed under with an avalanche of work for a client that was launching a chain of Irish-Indian Curry & Guinness health spa’s, the latest in a line of increasingly bizarre treatments which, amazingly enough, proved popular. As a result the whole alien contact-55 Cancri f Signal thing had passed Dave by, ensconced as he had been in a badly lit design bunker. As he emerged from his marathon session of design tweaking, he look up, blinking. Blinded from the glare of the giant screen, he walked right into a gaggle of cryptographers who were all twitchily scribbling at note pads, chewing on pencils and generally looking swotty. Dave had unwittingly crushed the unofficial leader of the group’s big left toe.
‘Hey! Watch out!’
‘Sorry, man. What’re you all staring at? What the hell is all this?’
‘You don’t know?’ the spotty Herbert asked, aghast, ‘It’s the…it’s…’
‘It’s a…’
‘It’s the Signal – the first signal from outer space!’
‘You what? The how?’ Dave asked.
‘It’s…the Signal.’ The lead nerd said, the reverence fairly dripping from his Stonehenge-teeth.
Dave, frowning, took a closer look, blinking to clear his head of three days of screen burn. His first impressions were that they were very neat, these extraterrestrials. A recurring symbol, plotted in differing sizes and positions was the common thread. Blank spaces were punctuated by orderly lines of an indecipherable hieroglyphs, holding untold secrets from the breathless throng. What could it all mean?

'It's an alpha-veriton glyph, I'm sure of it!' cried a slim and pimply longstocking named Lorena from MIT's Lexicography Unit.
'Hell, no! It shows similarity to Ge'ez and Cushitic character formation, I tell ya!' shouted Harold from the Dallas Institute of Obscure Intralingual Studies.

Dave looked back at the group of cryptonerds and let out a snicker of contempt.
‘You kooks don’t know shit – that there is a Brand ID manual. They just wanna make sure we don’t go misrepresenting their corporate identity. These guys are sharp; I like their logo. Can’t read the payoff line, though. Gotta get new glasses.’ And with a shake of his head, Dave was off for a long-lusted latte.

Quite obviously there was life out there, and they spoke the universal language – branding.

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