December 11, 2047
“Take a look at this.” Miriam Gordon handed the image to her boss, Carla Brucker.
“Wow. I see. That new flash in the corner, there.” Carla put on her reading glasses. She squinted in the dim light of her office. “Yeah. Definitely worth checking out.”
“Nova, do you think?”
“We'll know for sure after we point the 650's and the Reinhardts at it.”
“I know… but what do you guess it is?” Miriam almost hopped with glee.
“I don't know.” Carla smiled. “I don't want to get my hopes up before reliable numbers come in. Once I know for sure, I can get excited about it.” Carla brushed some breakfast crumbs off her clothes. “I've had plenty false alarms, thank you very much.”
“I hope it's a nova.” Miriam chortled and grabbed a donut from her boss' desk and went back to her workstation.
Miriam sat down and put on her headset. She got comfortable and spoke to the telescope satellite. “T350 dash 113?”
Two seconds later came the reply.“T350-113 responding. Hello, Miriam.”
“Hello, Teso 113. Activate all instruments and focus on these coordinates.” Miriam typed in the coordinates for the new, bright flash found on last night's sweep of the stars.
Another two seconds passed. “Coordinates acknowledged. Focusing instruments.”
“Thanks, Teso. Let me know what you see in two hours.” Miriam fidgeted. “Make that one hour.”
Two more seconds. “Notification in one hour. Stop, change, or continue current observation at that time?”
“Continue. That's all.”
Last pause in the conversation. “OK. Goodbye, Miriam.”
Miriam took off her headset and rubbed her ear a little. She needed to replace the foam cover on the earpiece. That would have to wait. Miriam started emailing other telescope groups within L5 Observatories to see if they noticed anything unusual last night. They wrote back to say they'd look things over.
54 minutes later, Miriam went back to the commlink to the satellite. “T350-113?” She drummed her fingers as she waited for the response.
“T350-113 responding. Hello, Miriam. You have one job pending.”
“Can you give me the results now?”
An eternity two seconds long… “Yes. Shall I discontinue monitoring?”
“No. Keep everything on that section of sky, Teso.”
A slightly longer pause. “OK, Miriam.”
The data from Teso came up on her screen. Nothing anomalous. Miriam panicked. There had to be something! She looked at the exposure photo of the section. All the normal stars and things were there, in their normal spots: the new bright patch, gone.
Miriam slumped back in her chair and her headset snapped off her head. She fumbled for it, clumsily managed to get hold of it. She put it down on her keyboard and slumped back, this time in properly depressed fashion. Supernova Gordon had dissolved, replaced with a minor technical glitch which would never be worthy of a name.
An email showed up from her British colleague, Les Fisher. Miriam dreaded the explanation of her gross error, after exciting all her friends with her high expectations.
She brought it up to read.
From: Les Fisher
Subject: Re: Big New Flash!
Miriam, you won't believe this, but it's MOVED!!! I can't believe it! I couldn't find anything where you told me to look, but I had a 575 scope that picked up a flash just like yours in ANOTHER part of the sky! I don't think this is a coincidence. It's UNBEFRICKINLIEVABLE!!! And the most curious thing is that it does not show signs of motion. It's stationary, then it moves, then it's stationary again.
Tell everyone to scan around for it and it's not necessarily holding still. This is SO exciting!
Maybe we should make a list alias for discussing this. What do you think?
Miriam grabbed her headset and put it on as quickly as she could, but wound up only tangling it in her hair. Cursing, she extricated the headset and took pains to be more careful in setting it up.
She waited two seconds, but there was no answer.
Miriam flew into a fit and flung herself backwards in her chair. She nearly fell over, but managed to right herself.
Strangely, her headset didn't fly off her head.
She spent two seconds pondering the significance of that and had a flash. She reached behind her computer and plugged her headset back into it.
Two seconds later came the calm response. “T350-113 responding. Hello, Miriam.”
“Teso, I have a new task for you…”