Is there anybody there?

15/12/2015 22:24

This was written in response to the latest prompt at Blackship Books/F3. Hope you enjoy!



“Hello? Is there anybody there?”


“This is Josh. Josh Taylor. I'm conducting an experiment using my new radio. The one I got for my birthday.”

“I'm broadcasting into space. At least that's the plan, I suppose.”

“Is there anybody out there?”

“Can anyone hear me?”

“I'm going to broadcast on a different frequency every night. Hopefully, there'll be someone listening...”

“But not tonight, I guess...”

“OK, so this is Josh signing off. It's 11pm, 5th August. I'll be back again, tomorrow.”


“Hello? Is there anybody there?”

“It's Josh, again. Josh Taylor. As promised.”

“Well, you wouldn't know I'd promised because I was on a different frequency, last night. And I didn't get through to anyone.”

“As far as I know, anyway. Because nobody answered me.”

“Well, I suppose I'm drawing another blank tonight...”

“Hello? Last chance...”

“OK, this is Josh, signing off. It's 11pm, 6th August.”


“Hello? Is there anybody there?”

“This is Josh, again. Or for the first time... I'm losing track...”

“Is there anybody there?”

“Is anyone out there? Is anyone listening?”

“I really want to talk to you. To hear your voices. To make contact.”

“I've dreamed of you all my life. I begged for this radio all year. I told my parents they didn't need to get me any presents for the next five Christmases and birthdays, if they got me this.”

“Of course, they probably will get me something. But I'm not expecting it...”

“I just want to speak to you. Won't you please respond?”


“Well, I guess I'm on the wrong frequency, again. Twelve nights in a row.”

“OK, this is Josh signing off. It's 11pm, 16th August.”


“Hello? Is there anybody there?”

“This is Josh Taylor, calling out to anyone who might be listening.”

“Is anybody listening? Please, respond...”

“I'm turning the dial a tiny bit each day to change the frequency and I'm keeping them all noted down. So far, I haven't even had any static in response. But I'll keep trying.”


“Well, I suppose that's it for another night. This is Josh signing off. It's 11pm, 26th August.”


“Hello? Is there anybody there?”


“Hello? Hello? Have I finally made contact?”


“Is that your voice? I can't tell with all the static!”


“You nearly had it that time! Just move your dial a little more...”

“Gluppar pluurg bombaa!”

“Yes! I can hear you! I can't understand you but I can hear you. I'm Josh Taylor. I'm so pleased to meet you. Or, at least hear you...”

“Gluurp pluurg plog graabup?”

“I'm really sorry, but I don't understand. Don't you have a universal translator like on Star Trek?”

“Bluurg  plog name?”

“My name? My name's Josh! Josh Taylor. What's yours?”

“Plosh Pluurlor?”

“I suppose that's close enough. I can't believe I'm actually speaking to you! What is your name? Where are you from? Are you on your planet or on a space ship?”

“One gluu... question at a bl... time, Plosh!”

“I'm sorry! I'm just so excited. Nobody is ever going to believe this.”

“It is very important that you tell nobody that you have spoken to me, Plosh.”

“Well, like I've just said, there wouldn't be any point. What's your name?”

“Pluurghar, Crowned Prince of Glundar.”

“Glundar? Is that your planet?”

“No! Nobody could rule a whole planet. Glundar is on the Northern hemisphere of Plangigian. And yes, Plangigian is the planet.”

“How old are you? I was twelve earlier in the month.”

“Twelve? Twelve what?”

“Twelve years, of course!”

“How long is a year?”

“Three hundred and sixty five days. That's how long it takes Earth to orbit the sun. And a day is twenty four hours long, which is how long it takes Earth to spin on its axis.”

“I am sorry, Plosh, but your units of time mean nothing to me. I do not know your Earth, so I do not know how far away you are from me.”

“Well, we're communicating by radio waves and there's hardly any delay. I don't think we can be too far apart!”

“Well, that is a curious thing, isn't it? How long do you think it would take a radio message to travel through the vast reaches of space?”

“I... I don't know. I'd never thought about it until now...”

“Oh for crying out loud, Josh! Wake up and smell the coffee, will you?”

“You... you used my proper name...”

“Of course I did, you idiot. It's Teddy!”

“Teddy? As in...”

“Your brother, yes genius.”

“You mean I didn't make contact?”

“Not with aliens, no. You did make contact with me, though. That counts for something, right?”

“But what was all that gobbledegook you were spouting?”

“Had to make it sound authentic, didn't I? Really had you going for a while, there, didn't I?”

“That was mean, Teddy.”

“Mean? How was I being mean?!”

“I really thought I'd made contact with aliens. I was so excited, so happy. For the first time in my life I felt like I'd achieved something. And you had to go and spoil it!”

“Come on, Josh. It was just a joke.”

“I'm not laughing.”

“Don't be like that. I'll make it up to you. Take you fishing at the weekend. How about it?”

“You can't make up for smashing my dreams, Teddy.”

“Smashing... Look, Josh, I know you think that radio of yours is state of the art and it'll allow you to make contact with alien species but... Well, where do you think mum and dad are going to find the money for something like that?”

“But they told me...”

“They told you what you wanted to hear. They had no idea what you wanted it for. They don't know about your dreams, Josh. I wasn't trying to smash them. I was trying to give you something to believe in, just for a little while.”

“I... I don't know what to say...”

“Look, I'm sorry it all went a bit Pete Tong, OK? But I really was trying to do a good thing.”

“I get that. Look, it's 11pm. I have to get to sleep. We'll talk in the morning, OK?”

“No problem. Sleep well, little brother.”

“Night, Teddy.”


“Hello? Is there anybody there?”

“This is Doctor Josh Taylor, senior researcher at the Centre for Alien Communications.”

“I really, really want to make contact.”

“Is there anybody there?”

Is there anybody there?

Still trying

Date: 22/12/2015 | By: Mike

Cute story. I was excited for Josh when he finally got through, and shared his disappointment when it was just his brother. Good to know that he didn't give up on his dreams, though, and is still trying.

Anyone? Please?

Date: 20/12/2015 | By: Joyce Juzwik

What I pick up from this is a young boy seeking contact with anyone. I sense distance between the boy, his parents and his brother. Since there's little, if any, human contact in his world, he's seeking whatever he can get from anywhere.

I believe his brother's initial motive was to tease without regard for Josh's feelings, but tries to smooth it over when he realizes the hurt he caused. And the ending? Even as a adult, while he's following through with seeking other worldly communication, I believe his motivation is the same -- still no meaningful relationship in his life.

I'm approaching this from a very emotional perspective, but that kind of cloud hangs over this one. I really enjoyed this, Rose. You've presented quite the complete picture with your use of dialogue.


Date: 19/12/2015 | By: MJ

I found irritation on the rise at first, but as I continued reading, I heard voices in my head. I just hope they were your characters and not aliens.

Funny (I think?)

Date: 16/12/2015 | By: Evan Henry

Well, that was an enjoyable read! I had a hunch he wasn't talking to "real" ETs (nice job unpacking the scientific difficulties from a child's perspective, by the way). That ending made me chuckle, though I'm not sure you intended it that way. I'm pretty confident that, in the vast stretches of space, there is more life (and more intelligent life) to be found than that on Earth, but I'm not sure SETI and similar efforts are going to be successful in our (or our great-grandchildren's) lifetimes. Well done, Rose! A cute, thought-provoking but not heavy story.

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