SHORT STORY COMPETITION 2014
THE VEIL OF SECRET
(Theme: Science Fiction)
By : Salwa Nurvidya, Dakwah dan Komunikasi (Jurnalistik)
There was no other reason for me to stay in school until this late unless Mr. Hardi—the super killer astrophysicist teacher who reached legendary levels—has imposed on me the following difficult duties: to make a journal of scientific research on Andromeda with the original photo and with High Speed Photography technique. In addition, I have to record a video of Andromeda rotation. Unfortunately, those tasks must be collected in next morning at 7 o’clock at his session. Did he think it is easy to do all this in one night? It was outrageous as if he didn’t remember that I’m not a super-powered human who can work continuously without a break.
It all begins from an annoying incident in school space observatory this afternoon, because of Cory—guardian ghost of rubber tree in front of school—who appeared suddenly from the tube (contains hydrocarbon liquid from Kraken Mare) while I hold it, when passing one of the glass shelves containing liquid plasma collection tubes from outer space (one that I know is plasma water from Gliese 1214b planet). I was so shocked that suddenly my body loses balance and falls into the side until I hit the glass shelves. As a result, the glass shelves fall off, and all of plasma liquid tubes become cracked. So fast it all took place, the next incident was the sound of panic classmates and observatory staff officers.
“Reza!” Mr. Hardi calls with high voice. For a moment, the atmosphere changes into silence. No trace I will run out by this killer teacher’s wrath this time. I see Cory near the telescope was hovering then disappeared through the ceiling observatory. My position hasn’t changed since the fall. Dozens pairs of eyes look at me. “Oh, God! You've ruined an important asset of our school! Do you think that the school so easily to gather these space objects? You corrupted offhand damage!” said Mr. Hardi fiery as he looked at me with a glare. I know the real cause of all this is not because of me. But, I believe that Cory is a real culprit, even though Mr. Hardi certainly won’t believe in me. He exactly knew nobody named Cory in my class, let alone the real form of Cory—the ghost—he would not believe and thought I’m odd or crazy student.
“You shall be reported to principal. Now, let’s join me, so that we can find a solution to resolve this problem and know what appropriate punishment is for you.” A few minutes later I was sitting in Principal Office. About the solution of this incident, initially I was given a provision to pay compensation for the damages of observatory facility. But, that’s impossible because space plasma liquids are very expensive. But the killer teacher spoke up and said that he was also partly responsible for this incident. He offers another solution to Mr. Principal. As a result, I was decided not to be responsible to pay compensation, instead I was given crazy task which is not better than before. No biggie. For this time I want to do, tolerable to think of my parents could avoid the cost of expensive compensation. So, I'm willing to wait at the observatory of the night for hunting Andromeda.
This mid-November evening sky really bright, no moon or star, even none clouds tinge hanging in the sky. This is the right time for hunting Andromeda. I direct the old Spitzer to the northern sky. A bit difficult to direct the telescope lens and adjusts the focus, this junk has been retired by NASA since before my birth, 2009. Ironically, Indonesian government imported this telescope since six years ago. In this advanced age, Indonesia still importing foreign junks.
I’ve been ever controlling a telescope. My father taught it when I visited his office at the end of summer 2033 in Washington, when he served in NASA. Yeah, my parents are astronomers and members of the multinational space researcher team. Nowadays, they served in LAPAN, Jakarta since 2040.
Voila, after a long search finally I found Andromeda. From a distance of 2.5 million light years, appears blue spiral arrangement at the edges with a thin mist. I enlarge the focus of camera lens until 576 m (1.890 feet), Andromeda seems more clearly now, it structure similar alike with Milky Way. The differences, Andromeda look more densely because it has more stars and short distance of each other. My attention was fixed on the interesting object Andromeda bulge, seems like black hole, amount 26. It's exciting to be included in my scientific journal. I didn’t forget to take pictures of this galaxy with the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph. After many unsuccessful attempts, I get the perfect photo, portrait of Andromeda in a tilted position with dots of black holes in the bulge. My job was not yet finish, I must record the galaxy rotation process. Apparently not take a long time.
After finishing write a journal, print it and the photo, transfer video files from the computer, and call the school guard key holders, I immediately went home. Night like this, in and out access of the school environment that is opened only the front gate. Along the road to the front gate, I met many occupants beside school caretaker, exactly school ghosts. The sound of gamelan and philharmonic music are heard from music room when I through. Sounds of people were playing basketball at the same thunderous applause that reverberated from the indoor basketball court. At the end of the corridor that connects the laboratory space with classrooms I see pocong in the distance, right in front of me. However, this pocong is very different from the others. It doesn’t limping jump, but rolling in the vertical direction. To me. Suddenly I just glued watching that misty scene, as there's nothing hold my legs so I can’t take a step and my lips hard to make a sound. That pocong was getting close, and then his body stop rolling at the end of my shoes. Instantly, he stood up. Just a second I also stay away.
Huh, damn jerk and less work creature! I can’t believe with their behavior. What they mean to frighten humans like that? I'm curious, about the way to beat them except with prayer? Sometimes prayer wasn’t impervious to them. What about there creatures more frightening than ghosts, that can could scare the ghosts too? The main thing is, I extremely regret that they are destined to live side by side with humans.
I try to think of about what is worth being invited to work with humans to defeat the ghosts. Zombie? I guess no, because zombies actually hunt humans and their foolish creatures, may not cooperate with other creatures besides its kind. Vampires? Some of the famous vampire novels discussed the feud between vampires and ghosts. It is said that the ghost was afraid of vampires. Hmmm, it seems less convincing as well. Maybe to work with vampires instead ask for compensation in the form of fresh human bloods. It will have an impact on the number of casualties due sacrificed their blood for the vampire. And then, other alternative?
Aha! Maybe aliens. Moreover, aliens more civilized than the ghosts. Evidence of their civilization can also be described. UFO for example, until now there’s no air vehicle that compared the UFO’s speed. In science fiction movies such as Independence Day (which takes place in 1996), technology equipment shakedown result of aliens who were arrested by the air force figures in the film, much more advanced than man-made technology. That was new in the 1990s, already entered the era of 2040's today, humans haven’t been capable made of such technology like them. Aliens aren’t being less work creature like the ghosts, they are hard-working type. They used their time for sake of exploring universe to be studied or taken away its natural resources. At least in terms of jobs and activities, their goals more reasonable.
I believe in alien existence. My father told me, God created the creatures on Earth and sky. There’s a risk that without humans knowing, aliens are really exist. Once graduated from high school this year, my choice of college majors later, if not astronomical, I’ll select Ufology. It may be one day I became an UFO scientist who won the Nobel Prize for finding life beyond Earth. Then establish a cooperative relationship to promote human civilization and get rid of the ghosts. I was so engrossed with this fun imagination. I just realized that I've arrived at the front yard of the school. About ten feet, signpost SMAN 100 Jakarta has seen. Not that I was immediately able to breathe, before actually going out from school area, I had to pass through the rubber tree which is Cory’s home. Rubber tree itself actually save special memories for me. In the past, in the first day I entered this school, that's where I met that damn ghosts for the first time. Suddenly, in the north sky, a greenish light look fall to earth. Seems like fall into near of this area. It's more like a light marks of the alien arrival in movie.
“Hihihi… Hihihi…. Hihihi.” I heard a familiar laughter sound. Aaahhh, that’s Cory. What else would she do to me now? The sound source maker now is sitting in a tree that used to be her place. She was looking at me, swinging his legs covered by a long white dress. I’m bit unsure if she has feet. Suddenly, she stand up and hovering near me. When Cory has been up in front of me, a green light coming from beside me like an ellipse portal. After that, the portal suck up Cory just in seconds. I could hear clearly her horror shout. I can’t believe when turned my head to the portal light origin.
A figure aliens are busy closing a greenish glass tube. In his right hand (that only has three fingers) tucked a tool that looks like a weapon, only the shape is very different from a human-made. Hard to describe the shape of the tool, because it looks weird too. The color of his body overall dark gray, with large oval head, his eyes were as big as tennis balls rather close to each other. Under his eyes, there are two holes which seems to be the nose. Small mouth without lip. His body very short, thereabout up to 1.4 meters. His body was stocky, with thin arms and legs. His great black eyes was look at me. I feel my heart pounding, my stomach also seemed to knead when sighted him. Would he kidnapped me like what he do to Cory? Then take me out of the Earth forever? Feelings of fear began to undermine my mind. But then, what the alien do is unexpected at all. He approached, and held out his hand to me.
“Hi, don’t be afraid, I'm here not intend to terrorize you or take your life as an object of research, for that one, I've ever done it. So, I don’t need more humans.” He was speaking in English. Because so stunned, I can’t speak for a few seconds. By collecting determination, I forced myself to immediately remove the tension to be able to speak. “Hhh… Hi, I didn’t expect to see you.” I replied in English anyway. Uh forget, I’m not shake his hand. Does he often visiting Earth? Why he knows how to meet men? When my skin is in contact with him, I feel his skin surface is hard, slick, but feels chewy too if pressed.
“Anyone who saw me would be surprised, as well as the first time I saw a human. What are you doing in the night like this? Isn’t the night is the time for human’s break?”
“That’s right. Yeah, I absolutely want a break. But a task prevent me for that. I got a penalty in the form of scientific research assignment on Andromeda. This research requires the equipment space, and I don’t have that facilities at home, so I do it here. What are you doing, alien?”
“By the way, my name is Gray, please call me so. You must have a name too, right?”
“Yes, my name is Reza. You go to Earth in what order, Gray?”
“I want to take samples for research. I’m a scientist from Serpo Space Research Agency, This time the object of my research is one of the unique creatures of Earth, oddly shaped that sometimes seem sometimes not. As I've just caught. Do you know the name of this creature?” Asked him, while holding up a greenish tube to me.
“You comes from Serpo apparently?” Asked me, for some reason it seems that the planet is not foreign to me. Lest this alien... He just nodded his head.
“Wow, you guys, the Serpo aliens never held a secret exchange program with a human, right?”
“Yes. I'm representing Zeta Reticuli aliens to the United States government. The program was called Serpo Project.”
“Whoaaa, so you really Serpo aliens? Can you tell me how you, and the U.S. government can do a project like that? I would like to know more about alien life, could I? I was a great admirer of aliens. If you tell me, I'll tell you about the things that you captured earlier.”
“You seem very fond of things related to space. If you promise me for give an information about this creature, I’m willing to. Where we can discuss comfortably?”
“Yes. My father and mother were astronomers, so I've liked the world of space since childhood.” Having said that, I got the idea about convenient place to be able to discuss with Gray. What if in my house? My parents are go out of town, I don’t know when they go home.”
“Well, I agree. Now let’s go to your house now, we go there with Unisphere.” Gray said as he took a step. Hmmm, this alien is rarely mince words. Gray walked ahead of me. I struggled to match his pace. Although Gray has two legs like me, once he stepped, same as jumping about as far as seven to eight meters. I followed as he ran. Gray led me to a tree that was on the edge of a field that is in the back of the space observatory. It was the first time I saw there was a tree there, as I remembered, no one tree in this grass field.
Gray got there first, a few minutes later I caught up in the tree. Gray holds the tree trunk. Then, he pulled the tree trunk suddenly like fabric. The tree apparently is a round-shaped UFO with a diameter of about 2 meters. So, this is called Unisphere. The plane can be any object camouflaged if covered by a net, called Cloaking Camouflage. On behalf of the aircraft's open, Gray and I then enjoyed in. Gray said something in a language that I don’t understand at all, alien language. Apparently this flight is controlled by sound, fast time I don’t see any panel button everywhere. The engine is on, second then immediately drifted from the soil surface. Gray then showed a small screen on the dashboard, he says the name is Wrist-Com. It is a kind of portable computer which can show a schematic of an object or building in 3 dimensions, as well as GPS, but more sophisticated. Gray asked where my home address. Then I told him, and Gray repeat what I said to Wrist-Com in alien language. In a second, the aircraft engine was off, and the top of aircraft is open. It’s so amazing, less than a minute we’ve arrived in my house yard.
We got off the plane and enter home. Previously, Gray spread the Cloaking Camouflage to disguise his aircraft. Now, that became a tree. I noticed my surroundings. All my neighborhood was deserted. Oh, of course, my watch already exhibit numbers 10.45 p.m. When we got in my room and I relax for a while, I asked Gray to talk about his experience in Serpo Project involvement. Gray begin to tell.
“In the past, I've just finished traveling from Phobos. My way back to Serpo, cross Earth's orbit. Because I was passing too close to the Earth, my plane is attracted by Earth’s gravity. My plane crashed in a place somewhere. I felt the top of my head hurts,” Gray patted the top of his head, “I was unconscious doesn’t necessarily how long. Until then I realized, I've been lying in a glass tube bed. Outside many people wandering busy with the equipment I had never seen before, but there are also similar to our technology. Then, a man who wears white clothes, which then I know his name is Professor Zelle approached me. His face was shocked when he saw me awake. He called all the people who are busy to see me. They immediately gathered around the tube. Some among them were holding something he addressed me continuously. It looks like a weapon. I got my tools don’t know where, they may take it when I fainted.”
Gray continued his story, “I heard their conversations were saying ‘alien’ while pointing at me. After that, one of them opened the locked tube. All of them were looking at me. Professor Zelle spoke something to me. I really do not understand what he was saying. Actually I have,” Gray paused for a moment, he seemed to think, “You could’ve called Communicator, various language translation tools in the entire universe. I motioned for the given tool. The Professor would not understand what I hinted at, so he invited me to come down from the bed. I looked around to find where they keep all of my gear, including the weapon. The room was later I identified as a laboratory. In a table, I find all my stuff. I also took Communicator and activate it. And, I take a pill, in human language can be called Audio Booster, if eaten, what we’re saying in our own language would sound into the other person's language. So, I communicate with them using a language called English.”
“After that, what else happened?”
“I've fully recovered at that time, so I decided to quickly return to Serpo. Before leaving, I told them that I would visit them someday. They answer would wait for me any time. I did not forget to thank those who have been taking care of me, even fix my plane. The incident occurred in 1947, time on Earth. The name of place when I fell is Roswell, New Mexico, U. S. America. You humans are unique, living in the same Earth but places name can be different.”
“As if, in your planet, Serpo, there’s no term city, state, or something like that?”
“No, the title of our residence on any side, fairly Serpo. Not like you guys. Then what is the name of this place?” Gray asked.
“Now you’re in my house, Aster Street No. 41, Rawamangun, Pulo Gadung sub-district, East Jakarta County, Special Areas of Capital Jakarta.”
“Wah, very long name place.”
“Shortly, you just call this place Indonesia. The name of this country is Indonesia. Hey, continue your story!”
“Okay, okay. In Earth 1965, I visited Roswell. There is a branch of the U.S. government's military headquarters. Before landing, I send out a signal on the radar in the lookout towers. Because some people in the military camp had met me before, my arrival wasn’t greeted with a barrage of weapons. At that time, the U.S. government is holding the project to the Moon. They’re obsessed to defeating Russia who has succeed to space, they were in a war, the Cold War. I was asked to help them design a rocket, they named Apollo. Initially, they requested me to make alien spacecraft. Because of as construction materials for our plane on Earth didn’t found, take a long time if I go back to Serpo, finally Apollo launched to the Moon just like that. The United States government is not satisfied only there. They asked my willingness to cooperate in their project, in order to know more deeply alien and exchanging secrets. One military officer asked me to take him to Serpo. From various considerations, I also brought along 12 U.S. military personnel accompanied by three doctors, three scientists, and three linguists towards Serpo. Because I only brought a small aircraft that are not able to accommodate them all, I contacted the aircraft carrier of Serpo galactic explorers who happened to be on Mars. My friends in the aircraft carrier received the vocation to land on Earth. They’re also agreed to do this project. The landing located is in Akau Island, 750 miles south-west of Honolulu, Hawaii. So, we and the representatives of Earth's creatures fly from Roswell to Serpo.”
“When the date of that event?”
“I do not understand what it is dated, but a military personnel gave me this note.” Gray touching a finger on his left arm, his skin appeared a green paper, which is July 16, 1965.
“Oh, so that's the story.” Truly amazing secret. “When does the representatives of Earth back?”
“We drove up on Earth when their home about 1978.”
“Hey, now my turn to ask you, Reza, you haven’t explained the information about the creature I caught.” Gray demand my promise.
“Ah, I had forgotten. Creatures that you caught named ghost. In generally, the creature as called ghosts or spirits. They are strange creatures who work to scare humans.”
“For what they frighten humans?” Asked Gray curiously.
“Hmmm, sorry about itu, Gray. I don’t really know. Maybe you should ask it to her.” But Gray doesn’t get angry and want to understand. “If you kidnap all the ghosts of the earth, human life will surely calm. You can also take advantage of them, for example, you make a slave. Their strength was generally stronger than a human. I mean, spiritual strength.”
“What you say is true. But Serpo’s nation has never had the idea. From birth, we are educated foster a sense of mutual respect for the lives of all beings throughout the galaxy. We've abducted humans, but not all, and we also didn’t hurt them because we simply need for research. We are the researcher’s nation, researching everything to create all things that help life. We would rather create technology rather than enslaving other creatures, because our nation since the first was an independent nation.” I was very amazed when hear Gray’s explanation, in facts alien has feelings too and they better than ghost. They were just like that, whereas in human history there ever a time when the rise of colonization and oppression of fellow human.
“Gray, is there any other kind of alien like your kind? Who doesn’t like to colonize other creatures?”
“Not many. Our nation is also not really know other alien nation, just a few.”
“So, is there an alien race that often colonize other planets?”
“Yes, especially races that live on the planet with little natural resources. Alien also have a different lifestyle from each other. In fact, what the man call castes also exist.” He further explained. “There Annelid nation, they are a rich nation and aliens from planet that humans call PSO J318.5-22. They are clever, golden-skinned, tall body, and has the ability to change their shape. Their technology is great too. Most of them live in other planets, including Earth. Usually they disguised as resident on the planet they live. Then there was Meredin nation, originating from the planet Gliese 581d. They are famous as evil explorer nation. Technology they produce most weapons, as they like to fight and colonize other planets. There’s also the Swarott alien. This nation doesn’t have a permanent home planet, they’re nomadic alien. They’re well known as an artist. Their habit is to make unique patterns and intricate that sometimes beautiful, sometimes also weird in various places that they visited.”
“Oh, on Earth there are also many patterns that you mention, we humans call it crop circles. Whether there’s also in another planet?”
“Yes. One result of their work is the famous hill-shaped face in Cydonia Mensae, Mars. The face was actually similar to human face. You know about the appearance of Cydonia Mensae, right?”
“Yeah I know. Oh, so Cydonia Mensae is the result of an alien’s artwork too? I never thought it.” I shook my head with reflex. Suddenly, I felt my whole body ache, like there’s a thousands of needles stabbing from the inside. All of sudden I felt head ache. Shit! It’s very hurt head ache.
“Are you okay, Reza?”
“I… I’m fine. Oh, shit. Now I’m not fine. I feel pain all over my body.” I say it's the same, the pain in my body feels like a thousand swords punctured from the inside. I feel I have no energy, then everything is dark.
What happen? Where my? Vaguely I heard the sound of two people conversing. That's my parents, apparently they had back from out of town. Darkness that enveloped my vision began to ignite. My eyes slowly catching splash of light fade, now I'm stare to my parents. A broad smile spreading in their faces. What the hell?
“Honey, finally after we wait for long time, now you're changing. My son is getting perfect from time to time.” Said my mom proudly. It’s holy weird, what the hell?
“What are you talking about, Mom? I don’t understand what you mean. Tell me the truth.” I said impatiently. Then, my father motioned me to lift my hands to front of my face. I obeyed him. Oh, no! Why do my hands turn into like this?! I got up, and pay attention to my whole body. God! My whole body looks like an alien. My fingers and legs turn as frog legs membranes. My color skin changed to golden. I touched my head which was also changed dramatically, becomes doubled larger. My legs, hands, and body also increases how many meters in length somehow become. I looked at my parents. Not yet diminish my shock of what happened, they also had an instant change form. They intangible just like me. The three of us look like aliens. Then my father said calmly.
“It's time for you to know, Son. Actually, our family wasn’t human. From birth, you are an alien. You were born on Earth directly in the alien form. Type of aliens as we are, Annelid, indeed can change shape easily, but not for aliens who haven’t 17 years old. We’re afraid to invite human’s attention that can impact on our safety. We provide camouflage enzyme so that you become human.” What my father said was make me speechless. My mother continued, “However, the enzyme was only survive until you're 17 years old. Now you're 17 years old, your body will change back into your original form. Oh, after this you can be disguised in various forms as you want without the aid of anything else. Trust me, that's so fun!”
“By the way, you should be grateful to our old friend, Gray, who take care of you as long as you fainted.” My father noticed.
“How long I fainted? And, does Gray already know if I’m your child?”
“During six days. We’re home two days ago, and find you with him. About that, of course he remembers you, he ever visited us in America when you were a baby, Honey. Yesterday is the first time we see him again after decades ago. If there is free time, we will visit him.” Said my mom. “Uh, I forgot. Before he went away, he commended regards for you.”
My parents then are busy expressing their pride for my changes. I ignored them, because my mind was too busy with the extreme confusion. My life is strange but true. However, when the unbelievable veil of secret is revealed, I myself was an alien. Oh My God.
 Name of the existing lakes on Titan (Saturn’s satellite). The lake was discovered in 2007 by Cassini aircraft and renamed in 2008 from the Kraken, legendary sea monster. The lake is composed of hydrocarbons, and has the same size as the Caspian Sea.
 Gliese 1214b is a super outer solar planets orbiting the star GJ 1214. This planet was discovered in 2009 and is about 40 light years from Earth. GJ 1214 b is located in Ophiuchus constellation an outer solar planets that have both mass and radius smaller than giant gas in Solar System.
 The Spitzer Space Telescope is an infrared telescope, the fourth and last large NASA’s telescope. It name is taken from the famous space scientist in 20th century, Lyman Spitzer.
 National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the U.S. space program and general aerospace research long term. This organization is responsible for space research program for civil society, aeronautics, and aerospace programs. It head office is in Washington D. C.
 Lembaga Penerbangan dan Antariksa Nasional (LAPAN), is the government agency in charge of implementing Indonesian government duties in the field of aerospace research and development and utilization. It head office is in Rawamangun, DKI Jakarta.
 Serpo, is a planet was located in the constellation of Zeta Reticuli system and is 3.9 light years from Earth.
 Zeta Reticuli is a binary star system located about 39 light-years from Earth. Zeta Reticuli is located in the reticulum constellation, and can be seen with the naked eye on a very dark sky.
 Serpo Project is the name of a secret exchange program between the U.S. government with an Serpo aliens in 1965-1978. Over the past 30 years, the truth of whether the project ever undertaken is still mysterious.
 Mars satellite.
 Loner planet outside the solar system, floating alone in a vacuum and not orbiting any star. Located 80 light years from Earth and has a mass six times of Jupiter. The planet is located in the Capricorn constellation.
 One of the outer solar system planets orbiting the Red Dwarf Star. It is the third planet in the Red Dwarf Star system. The distance about 20 light-years of Earth.
 A regular pattern that forms mysteriously in the area of crop fields, often overnight. This phenomenon was first discovered in England in late 1970, with a simple circle shape pattern.
 The area is located in the northern hemisphere of Mars. Cydonia region consists of several "mesa" (hills on Mars). One of them (mesa) is shaped like a human face (humanoid).