A Night at the Movies
rating: +46+x

TO: O5-7
FROM: Pendergast, William
RE: Planetary Survey Data - Relevant
URGENCY: HIGH

Sir,

The latest data from Khevtuul 5 is in. We have two possible exoplanets that are theoretically suited for human life. In addition to being candidates for an eventual colonization effort, the preponderance of Goldilocks Zone planets points to an increased likelihood that an alternative site for human civilization can at some point in the future be established.

It is also worth noting that our probes continue to find no sign of HEs, or any extraterrestrial life for that matter. If I may express a personal opinion, I find this surprising. Nevertheless, the longer we go without contact, frankly, the better.

This seems to lend further credence to the human survival hypothesis. Consider releasing some of this information to help build morale among the operatives. They could use it.

SIGNED

General William Pendergast
Lead, Project Heimdall

TO: Pendergast, William
FROM: O5-7
RE: re: Planetary Survey Data - Relevant
URGENCY: HIGH

General,

Appreciate your latest message. It looks like Two may be right after all. That's something, at least, while we're dealing with 001.

Couple of things to remember as you look out there. We're beginning to believe that 001 resides somewhere out in physical space. Not like you needed any reminders, but look out for anything that might fit the description. That includes communications. It might try to talk to us again.

The other thing you should know is that I was the one back in '54 that got the message from it. That message hasn't been declassified yet but you're likely to be the first that gets any other messages. So you should know.

Some stuff that isn't in the file. Whatever it is, knows about the Foundation, because the message came straight to me. And that's because I was the man in charge of finding out what was behind the spike in anomalous activity. It's very familiar with us, General. And it knew enough about me to know I was a movie buff.

It left me directions to some place out in the desert. Not so far that I couldn't get there in a few hours. So it knew where I lived. I drove out with a team in some jeeps, and in the middle of nowhere, there was a movie house. And I mean the middle of nowhere. No roads, no human habitation. There in a washed out gully was the movie house I'd gone to as a little boy. We were a little more wild in those days, and so I told my boys to wait while I went inside.

It speaks to us in performance. It likes it better that way. It could just tell us whatever it wants, really. But this is one more way to mind fuck us, I think. Anyway. Nice and air conditioned inside. Colder than hell. Soon as I sat down, the lights dimmed, and it showed me a movie. Not like any movie I'd ever seen, but it was most certainly a movie.

The title was "Planet of Hands," in English. It didn't make a whole lot of sense. There wasn't a story, as such. More like a disjointed series of images. Some stuff was real famous and I recognized it immediately. A lot of military footage, scenes of large battles, aftermaths of bombing campaigns, stuff like that. I recognized Stalingrad from the news reels, and there were some scenes of what I assume was the Battle of Passchendaele. I didn't realize there were movies of that.

Mixed in with that, though, were other things. Some were filmed scenes, same quality as the other stuff, of what had to have been other events from history. Mass starvations, a volcano eruption or two, villages of Indians being run through by Spanish conquistadors. Not very subtle.

Then the scenes of the Sites started. Still shots of buildings and facilities, all of which I knew to be ours. Pretty clear message for us there. Are you with me so far? Strange stuff, but nothing we hadn't encountered before. That's when it got bad.

At the next instant, I was no longer in the theater. I was in my seat, but everything around me had changed. Vibrant colors, oversaturated hues like a mad painter had conjured them, they were everywhere. People, things, places, swirling around me, all of it lit up like neon, so that I could see things after I closed my eyes. And it was just a mass of unspeakable acts. All of the rape, murder and pillage from thousands of years had been forced into the room, each act phasing into and out of others, moment to moment. I can't recall any image staying in the room more than a few seconds, except the scene directly in front of me. It was a Turk, I think, clothed in a resplendent robe the color of Technicolor blood, his face barely visible behind an electric blue beard. He was casually forcing people down onto a sharpened stake embedded in the ground, impaling them, over and over, the victim coming into and out of focus. First an old woman, then a soldier, then a child, back to another woman, each one after the other, bang bang bang. The blood would splash on his robe and he would glow brighter each time. He didn't look angry, or hateful. He looked like this was the most natural thing in the world, pushing someone down onto a stake until it forced its way up through their guts as they screamed until they bled out. If I had focused on another part of the room for any length of time, I think I would have seen similar things.

How long this went on, I can't say. I was a younger man then, and I'm not ashamed to say that at a certain point I just covered my eyes and waited for it to stop. I would probably do the same today. When I finally looked up again, the theater was back around me, the movie still being screened.

What I saw up there was myself, now a part of the movie. I looked obscenely happy. At my age I don't look into a lot of mirrors, but I tell you I have never seen a smile like that on myself, then or now. That, more than anything else, has stayed with me. You should never be surprised by an expression on your own face, it's awful. In the movie, I was boarding something; like a big wooden ark, I suppose. Something out of a kid's book about Noah and Flood, purely symbolic. I watched myself onscreen as I stepped into the ark. Some other people were getting on with me. A woman, a black man, some children, an old Chinaman, all walks of life I guess, no one I recognized. When we were all aboard, the ark lifted into the heavens, sailing through the cosmos. It even had the Buck Rodgers music in the background as the stars whizzed by. The ark came to what I assumed was a planetary system of some kind. A planet, looking a lot like Earth, blue and white and brown and green, at the center of a wild system of moons. I thought of an atom. The ark moved closer and closer to one of the moons, until it came into view. This wasn't like Earth. This was a darkened nightscape, illuminated by fires dotting the land. All that was visible was soot, smoke, fire, a few rusty scraps of metal twisted into big, man-sized shapes.

You know how the music swells when the movie ends? That was happening as we all disembarked as the ship touched down on the night moon, all of the characters on the screen looking just ecstatic with joy. As I said, disconcerting when you see something like that on your own face. The movie was fading out now, but rather than the "The End" placard appearing like it does, some other text appeared, this time in Russian. "вместо того, чтобы вернуться домой," which we think was intended to be something like "come home instead." Why it started in English and finished in Russian, I have no idea. Maybe some smart-ass commentary on the Cold War. Which would be a point of hope in dealing with this thing. Fallibility.

I have my suspicions as to why this doesn't show up in the main file. That doesn't matter, though. You need context for any future attempts at communication from 001. Now you have it.

Watch yourself.

-7

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