Hush-hush SETI signal “probably apocalyptic”

BOSTON: A maverick scientist participating in the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) program has broken his silence about an alarming ET signal suppressed by the program’s senior managers and high U.S. government officials. Gordon C. Murchison, professor of astronomy at Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts, startled the Boston press conference by announcing that the classified message was “probably apocalyptic.”

“I’m taking a big risk being here today,” began the paunchy, 60ish ringer for Karl Marx as his willowy graduate student aide, Christy Camomile, booted up the accompanying slide show. “So forgive me if I stumble. And if I don’t make it home tonight… you will know the truth of my words. I also have COPD and a gastrointestinal condition.”

“The message originated from star cluster M13,” the professor continued, “where the Arecibo METI [Messaging to Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence] signal was transmitted in 1974. It’s taken SETI, the NSA, and Watson the computer seven months to make sense of the complexly coded response. It was not what any of us would have expected. It was… beyond the pale. And beyond our authority to deal with.”

“So the top SETI bosses presented a transcript of the message to a special session of the National Security Council in late February, where it was decided to quarantine it. Not suitable for prime time. You heard about Dick Cheney’s sixth heart attack. It happened there, in Washington, not on his Wyoming ranch, as reported. After the message was read to him.”

“The aliens stated that their instruments, light-years beyond our Hubble and such, have completely mapped Earth’s whole biosphere. ‘Thanks for alerting us to your existence,’ they said.” The professor succumbed to a coughing fit before continuing. “They’re on their way. And I hate to tell you, Stephen Hawking was right. They want our oil. All of it.” He paused for the collective gasps to subside.

“Einstein was wrong about the speed of light. You can supercharge the space-time continuum and go a lot faster, and pull in remote signals faster, if you have the right tech, and they do. Which means they’ll be arriving soon — probably in December. Probably around Christmas. And they want our oil. ALL OF IT.” A stunned hush fell over the audience.

“But they don’t use it for their spaceships or industries. Oh no. They consume it themselves. They don’t need it for sustenance — it’s like Courvoisier or Guinness Stout to them. They get a buzz off of it. Only they don’t drink it with their mouths — they suck it up the colon straight into their bowels.” More gasps from the audience. “This species is huge and must have enormous appetites — I mean, beyond dinosaur size. They transmitted a graphic portrait, and believe you me, you don’t want to see it. Like giant hippos with rattlesnake skin and spider eyes.”

The professor coughed, grabbing his stomach with a pained grimace, unable to continue. Ms. Camomile rushed to his side with a pill and glass of water. The ironically cheerful graduate student tried to comfort the jittery crowd. “But it’s not all bad,” she said. “They don’t want to harm us. They just want our oil.”

That’s not harming us?” the professor grunted, pushing her away. “ALL OF IT! Our precious oil, sweet, finite elixir of modernity, from Greece to the grease that’s lubricated all our hard-fought progress… Now all that we have left pumped up the assholes of ugly gluttonous foreign monsters with no love or pity or courage and all that other humanities stuff — for a butt buzz! ALL OF IT!” He was red in the face and gesticulating wildly now. Ms. Camomile tried to soothe him, but he smacked her away. “Bounce, Pollyanna! It’s too late for your snowflake sniveling! They’re going to suck out all our mojo and leave us like mudskippers in a drought! ALL OF IT! In December!” He hacked violently for nearly a minute before crumpling to the floor.

Ms. Camomile commandeered the mike as security guards rushed to the dais. “I’m so sorry. It’s diverticulitis.”

The professor was flat on his back now but still shouting: “We’ll ALL have it soon! Civilizational diverticulitis! Whose bright idea was it to send that homing signal? Charlie Manson and a coven of Summer-of-Love hippies on acid?”

“But this will solve global warming!” Ms. Camomile chirped happily. “If they take our oil, we can’t burn it. Their analysis says we have enough alternative resources to sustain us!”

“That’s what Pizarro told the Incans, Bambi! Alt energy can only run a medieval economy. We’ve crunched the numbers. Seventy percent of humanity will have to give up their cars and air conditioners, their refrigerators and… their phones.” The security guards hoisted the disheveled professor to his feet, his grey beard flecked with spittle. “Now THAT got your attention, huh? All you zombies on your phones, just like in my lectures. I bet half of you missed everything I’ve said. Well, your toys will all be dead soon. No rechargee. Then what?” Two guards escorted him down the aisle, coughing and spluttering. “Maybe you’ll finally PAY ATTENTION! Idiots! Narcissistic cretins! Solipsistic imbeciles! I FLUNK all of you forever! I hope the monsters suck half of you up their butts along with the oil! That’ll save us — you’ll give them terminal indigestion!” He was out of the room now, his voice still resounding from the hallway. “EVERY. LAST. DROP!

“Whew. Again, I apologize for that,” Ms. Camomile sighed at the mike. “He’s retiring next semester and his oil stocks have made him quite the misanthrope. But I hope we can all just open our hearts and minds, along with our borders and stratosphere, and don’t fear and fight the aliens. This will be a real challenge, but also a growth opportunity for diversity. If we can just embrace a really, really different culture. If we can just raise our anti-fat-shaming and anti-lookism to a universal level. If we can just persevere through a wind turbine manual. Honestly, I’m totally juiced about it!”