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Okeefenokee Moon

July 11, 2048


Miriam jumped out of her skin, the complete silence she once enjoyed now totally annihilated by the brash interloper who knew her name.

“Sorry. Did I startle you?”

Miriam turned around in her chair to look Jesus Calderon in the eye. He leaned over her cubicle wall, straining to see what was on her screen. “You blew me out of the water. Don't ever do that again.”

“What are you doing in the office on a Saturday?”

“Going over the alien stuff. Duh.

“Heh. Same here.” He kept craning to see Miriam's screen. “So whatcha got there?”

Miriam turned the screen so Jesus could see it better. He made out a bunch of numbers in and around the patches of glare. “Cool, Miriam. What is all that?”

“Running an analysis of the lunar patterns.”


“I'm trying to see if we can get an approximation of a formula to create those patterns.”

Jesus walked around into Miriam's cube to get a better view. “Uh-huh. And?”

“Well, jeez, Jesus! We're trying to make one ourselves here on earth.”

“OK. You think you got the pattern?”

“I'm close. Wanna see?”

“Sure.” Jesus grabbed an unused chair from the next cubicle over.

Miriam switched to a new window and generated a pattern. “Pretty good, huh?”

“Magnify it.”


“Just blow it up. Any section.”

“OK.” Miriam increased resolution on one spot, bringing long, beautiful Bezier curves into sharp focus. “How's that?”

Jesus laughed. “Awful.”

“What do you mean? It's very close!”

Jesus kept laughing. “Nowhere near close. That's why I'm here today.”

Miriam's face turned red. “You came here just to torture me?”

“Yes. Come over to my cube to get your full dose.”

Miriam pushed herself up from her workstation noisily. As she rose, her headset ran out of cord and strangled her for a fraction of a second before flying off randomly. Jesus only laughed more. “Shut up, Jesus!”

Jesus chuckled as he led Miriam over to his cube. “I'm doing imaging. Check this out, Miriam!”

Jesus slid smoothly into his chair and brought up a view of one of the four patterns. “See that?”

“Yeah, it's a pattern. Looks just like what my equations generated.”

“Now watch this.” Jesus brought it into closer view.

Miriam didn't get it. “So?”

“Doesn't look anything like your lines.”

“Yes it does. Those were just made with rocks.”

“Yeah, they were made with rocks, but each one is identical, down to this level of detail.”

“What?” Miriam's stomach turned. This could not possibly be good news for her equations. “You're kidding. Down to the rocks?

“Down to the rocks, kiddo.” Jesus picked up a pencil to point out details. “See those bumps there? I have to magnify those and compare them with the same magnification on the other patterns.”

“You're getting this down to the meter?”



Jesus rotated to see Miriam better. “Those aliens go over the patterns every day. They move through them, slowly. They're working on them, getting them down to the most minute detail.”

“How do you know?”

Jesus magnified the same section on all four signs simultaneously. He had four identical images on his screen.

Miriam slumped back and found a chair to plop into. “All that work…”

Jesus smirked. “Forget neat linear approximations. These guys are doin' the fancy math!”

“Oh God…”

“Dad's not here, but I might be able to help.”

“Shut up, Jesus, this isn't funny. I'm totally screwed.”

“It's like a snowflake.”

“What?” Miriam felt like hitting Jesus.

“Easy. It's like a snowflake. Basic pattern visible to the naked eye, but every time you goose the magnification, you get totally new details. And the kicker here is that they made four of them, miles wide, and they're all as detailed as the other.”

The slick, Newtonian triangles and circles created by Miriam's beautiful equation boiled into the hard vacuum of her mind, now void of ideas about how to proceed. No way could the aliens have been that deliberate.

Miriam got up and leaned over Jesus' shoulder to look at the images on the screen. “What's the best you can get on this system? How close can you take it?”

“We're close to the limit. If I borrow a good Affie scope, I can get maybe down to the millimeter.”

“Do that.”

Jesus responded to Miriam's command without hesitation. He barked commands to one of the better USAF loaner imaging telescopes. Several minutes later, the data transfer completed. After that, the computer converted the data into pictures. Four new identical images soon appeared on the screen. “You know we can't use this in public information, you know.”

“I know, Jesus. But I gotta see how detailed these clowns got.”

“Looks like they got that detailed. Damn.” Jesus lost himself in the new details revealed by the higher magnification. “It's beautiful.”

Miriam sat back down, stunned worse than a poleaxed mule. “It's like pi, or e, or a Mandelbrot…”

“Yeah, but a fractal like a Mandelbrot usually has an easy equation in the end.”

“True.” Miriam closed her eyes and rubbed her throbbing temples. “But you can't fine tune those things. Make a slight adjustment and you get something wildly different. Or maybe not. You just can't tell.” She looked up, through the ceiling, to a point a thousand miles distant. “They couldn't just set up a beacon or a stone with precise yet simple proportions. They hadda make a friggin' fractal.”

“It's a lot more beautiful than a beacon.”

“Shut up, Jesus!” Miriam thumped him on the shoulder. “Your job is over once you go over the comparisons. I gotta sit here and churn through equations until the day I die so we can build a replica.”

“Your equations came close enough.”

“No they didn't. Not if we're going to understand any significance behind it. You can build one just fine from detailed satellite images, but if we don't know the equation generating it, we can't figure out what message may be contained in it.”

“You think it's a message, too?”

“I'm sure of it, Jesus.” Miriam stared at the wild details. “Why else would they make four of them?”

“You got a good point there.” Jesus and Miriam studied the fractal images for a while. “Oooh!”

Miriam jumped when Jesus shouted. “Dammit! I told you to cut that out!”

“Miriam! What if it's not a two-dimensional pattern? What if you have to account for the top surface? Oooh! What if they got a pattern going on inside the structures they built?”

Miriam groaned and leaned back in her chair, banging her head softly against the cubicle wall behind her. “Jesus!”


“I need lunch.”

“It's barely eleven.”

“I need lunch. I can't work here right now.” Miriam sighed and sat up straight. “Come on, Jesus.”


“I'm not eating alone.”

“You buying? I'm broke.”

Miriam frowned and smiled at the same time. “Sure. Come on. How about Greek? I know this buffet place.”

“You're buying, so whatever you pick is fine with me.”

“Cool. And I'm going to get you to help me with all this crap.”


Miriam smiled as she led the way to the exit. “Revenge, Jesus.”