In September of 2018, the Sunspot Solar Observatory in New Mexico was suddenly and inexplicably put into lockdown. At first it was a total media blackout, but information eventually pointed to an apparent FBI investigation.
For eleven days, the FBI continued their work while providing very little justification for what was going on aside from a ‘security threat’. All the while the internet proceeded to lose it’s collective shit theorizing about aliens and conspiracies. After the smoke had finally settled, the official story claimed that there was a janitor on the premises who had been found to be harboring and distributing child pornography. This was true, but was also a convenient scapegoat. The real reason was something else entirely.
A good friend of mine; Sam worked for the observatory for nearly a decade, and after hearing about this event on the news I immediately tried to contact him. He didn’t reply to my messages for quite some time. When I finally heard back, he told me that he resigned after the events. It took me awhile of convincing, but eventually he agreed to meet me.
A couple days later and I met him at an unremarkable motel in a small midwestern town. I left my phone in my car as he requested, and asked the front desk girl for Sam’s room under a different name he had provided beforehand. His insistence upon secrecy and shady destination had me quite curious, and I could tell even before I got there that whatever he was there to tell me was serious.
The girl gave me the room info, and I made my way down the poorly-lit hallway to find Sam. I found the room, and placed five knocks upon the door. I waited a second, and spoke the code word that Sam had provided beforehand. Footsteps then emerged on the other side. The knob turned, the door opened, and there he was.
“Hey Sam.” He nodded back, sporting a pair of aviator sunglasses, despite the darkened room. Even they couldn’t hide the apprehensive look on his face though.
“You bring your phone?” I shook my head.
“Good.” Sam gestured me inside, and I did my best to swallow the butterflies rising in my stomach. I’ve known Sam for years, and have always known him to be smart and incredibly charismatic. He wasn’t anything like the Sam I knew when I met him. He was jittery, anxious, kept tapping his foot on the ground. He kept the sunglasses on as we began talking, and refused to make much eye contact. I don’t think he’d been sleeping too well.
We spent a few minutes catching up before he told me what he knew. Sam was a radio analyst at Sunspot for about 8 years, and told me that he had resigned his position during the FBI’s investigation. He explained that his team at SSO is primarily tasked with observing the sun for activity and changes in behavior. They mostly monitor for solar flares, radiation bursts and other solar phenomenon like that.
He said in late February of 2018 was when it first began. Their transit photometry equipment picked up what appeared to be a blank spot on the sun’s photosphere. It was assumed to be a normal sunspot at first, but then it moved.
Prolonged observation seemed to indicate the object was moving rather quickly across the surface of the sun. Not long after they that they found it wasn’t a sunspot or anything on the sun itself, but instead something else that was blocking a small fraction of the sun’s light from reaching earth.
There was no definite shape of the object, and it’s appearance seemed to fluctuate as it drifted by. Mercury and Venus being somehow responsible was ruled out right away, as they were nowhere near the vicinity at the time. A comet or asteroid too seemed just as unlikely.
Some believed the object was a gas cloud, but whatever gas comprised it would’ve had to have been incredibly dense to block the sun’s rays like that. They thought perhaps it was a cluster of meteors, but that would’ve likely yielded much more sporadic lighting patterns. Some even suggested the possibility of a black hole, but again the lack of gravitational anomalies seemed to rule it out as well. None one really knew what to make of it, and they could do little but watch.
About two months after it was first seen the object suddenly began to fluctuate it’s form, as if it was being torn at and stretched by some unseen force. The images then returned from the telescopes and displayed an immense bright light where the object had previously been. The light vanished within a few frames, and the blank spot was gone as well.
They thought it was over then, and were left with many more questions than answers. With the object now gone, they turned to their radio equipment, in hopes of picking up sound waves from the aftermath. They ended up getting a lot more than they bargained for when the signal was first heard.
It was garbled, horrible quality and consisted of little more than odd blips of sound accompanied by a shrill ever-present sort of grinding noise. It became clear almost immediately that it wasn’t a natural hum of the cosmos, but a transmission.
A pattern was noticed soon after, one that went on for about one minute and thirty-seven seconds before repeating itself over. The team began to analyze the frequency in hopes of deciphering it further.
Needless to say, the sheer profundity of what they thought they thought they had discovered would’ve been immense. The first ever radio signal that had originated from somewhere other than earth. The team was ordered to not speak a word of the discovery to anyone, in fear that the accolades would be lost to another.
“We should have stopped listening.” Sam suddenly stopped his excited storytelling. He just sat there in the hotel chair, staring at the floor with a blank expression for almost a minute.
“You okay?” He pondered in silence for a couple more seconds before seeming to snap out of it.
“Yeah, yeah sorry man… for all of this. It’s just… well, honestly it’s hard to even process.” He took a quick peak out the shut blinds of the window, and I saw the sunlight beam momentarily on his pale face.
“You sure no one followed you here, right?” He asked. I chuckled and shook my head.
“Sam, why would anyone be following me?”
“Because you’re talking to me.” I just stared into the lenses of his aviators for a couple seconds before he took a deep breath and continued.
Sometime later, the team managed to partially triangulate the position of the broadcast, and their analytics seemed to point towards Jupiter. Jupiter has dozens of moons, but amongst them there was something else that had not been there before. It was small, but other than that fact not much else was known about it, as it was moving much too fast to ascertain a clear image. It reached speeds calculated at upwards of Mach 17.
The unknown object was on a death spiral around Jupiter. It was doomed to collide with the surface only a few days after initial sighting. No one knew what that would mean, but fast forward a few days, and that’s exactly what happened. The object had slowed slightly, but ultimately it wasn’t enough to prevent impact. It disappeared into the atmosphere of Jupiter, and the transmission ceased without incident.
The team was dismayed by the result, but had managed to save a copy of the transmission. Two of Sam’s coworkers took it to analyze it further in hopes it may be unencrypted and perhaps even understood.
Sam said months went by, and the memories of the ordeal began to dwindle as less and less was heard about the signal. People returned to their usual routines, and things just kind of returned to normal.
“They’re both gone now.” Sam just completely interrupted his retelling of the story. I didn’t know how to respond, and Sam just sighed and spoke the two names of the men who had been charged with studying the signal.
“What do you mean they’re gone?” I tried my best to avoid coming off as disrespectful when I asked.
“They’re just gone man, bam! Just vanished, both apparently on the same night. No one has seen either of them since. We were told they were on a leave of absence but… I know that’s not true.” Sam scoffed, and put a hand to his mouth to choke back tears.
“They just disappeared?” I asked, somewhat bewildered. Sam just nodded. I didn’t know what else to say, and Sam gave an ironic, nervous chuckle.
“Yeah, but that was just the beginning of it. Our work continued on despite the circumstances, but it became clear that something was wrong with our equipment. The computers seemed like they had lost a bunch of files, and when we entered commands the machines wouldn’t always react right.
One day a coworker; Laura was messing with some of the sound files at her desk, when she suddenly screamed and fell out of her chair. We all rushed to her side, and tried to figure out what had happened. She was absolutely petrified, and just pointed back to her blank computer screen as she cried and shook like crazy.”
Sam paused briefly, clearly disturbed by what he had witnessed. He ran his hand over his face and seemed to contemplate something.
“They took her in for medical evaluation. She was alright, at least mentally, but her eyes… they were different. They were like… sparkling, like the eyes of a cat when a flashlight gleams off them in the night.”
Sam went on at length about her eyes, and how their equipment continued to malfunction, with things only getting stranger. One of the techs had apparently discovered an unidentified code deep in the hard drive of the supercomputer. He said he’d never seen anything like it, and when he tried diagnosing it, the power to the facility suddenly went out.
They spent about an hour trying to reestablish the grid connection, but nothing they tried worked. After a few more hours had passed the team was sent home. Their work entered a brief hiatus as a team of electricians were called in to try and fix whatever issue was plaguing Sunspot.
Sam was called in on the following Monday to return to work, and so he did. When he arrived, he found a battalion of black suburban’s waiting in the parking lot. There were dozens of men in black suits, all of them white with bald heads. As soon as he pulled in, he was instructed to exit his vehicle and accompany the men inside.
“That was the FBI? The lockdown that made everyone freak out right?” I asked. Sam nodded, but then paused.
“Yeah that was when it started, but I don’t know if they were FBI or not. They had the badges and credentials, but they were… hell how do I even put it? I don’t know… they just seemed off. Like you’d talk to them, and they showed no sign of emotion. Maybe that’s just how the FBI has always been, but I couldn’t help but think, they weren’t just your run-of-the-mill detectives.” Sam paused and again snuck yet another peak out of the blinds.
“You talk to them?”
“Yeah… we all did, we didn’t have a choice. They asked me about everything, all my college and history. About my work at Sunspot and what had happened in the last couple months. I figured they were the government so there was no reason to hide anything, because we didn’t do anything wrong. So stupid… but I basically told them everything I’m telling you now. They questioned me for a couple hours, and I was eventually released. They wouldn’t let me back inside though; they wouldn’t let anyone back inside. They told us to return home and await further instruction. I asked them what was going on, but they only said it was a security breach of some kind.” Sam and I just sort of sat there in silence for a minute, as I tried to digest everything he had said. Sam began to speak again, but then paused and chuckled to himself.
“What is it?” I asked.
“I was just thinking about a really weird question they kept asking. They said ‘where is the gate’?” I reared back up and looked him in his lenses.
“Gate? What does that mean?”
“I don’t know, it didn’t make sense at the time, but a couple days later I got an email. One from one of the guys who had gone missing.” Sam paused and sniffled.
“I don’t know why… or how that’s even possible. I mean for all I know they’re both…” He paused, and cut himself off, shuttering at the thought.
“I suppose they could just be on the run though…”
“On the run from who Sam? What did the email say?” Sam seemed incredibly hesitant to say any more, but eventually he caved.
“It was pretty brief, but it said something along the lines of, ‘do not reply to this message. The gate is open.”
“Again, with the gate huh? Maybe that blank spot you guys saw?” Sam nodded slowly.
“I think that’s what they meant. But it’s gone now, and I told the suits that.” Sam paused and looked down at the floor as if pondering something.
“Or maybe we just can’t see it anymore. There was a document attached to the email. Had a lot of stuff on there, but most of it didn’t make much sense. One part looked like they had broken the code down into individual segments of sound.
I started working where they left off, and actually managed to clean the audio up significantly. It was very low frequency, and I think the transmitter was damaged before transmission, but despite all of that, I heard a voice speaking.” Sam reached into his coat pocket, and withdrew a piece of paper from his pocket.
“This is the radio signal spectrogram.” I reached for the sheet but Sam pulled back.
“I can’t let you see it.” I looked at him incredulously, and wondered why if I had come this far to meet him, he would suddenly deny showing the undeniable proof that he possessed.
“Why?” Sam seemed to almost flinch at the question, as if he didn’t understand either. Without a word he then reached up and removed his sunglasses. Upon him pulling them aside I saw his eyes. Two milky, almost glowing cerulean eyes.
“Jesus Christ…” That sudden surprising sight made me physically scramble backwards. Sam didn’t budge, and I felt bad for my gut reaction. I’ve just never seen eyes like that. There was no pupil, or anything within them, just two orbs of bluish light.
“Sam… what happened to you?” He just shook his head.
“I don’t know… I just noticed them like this. After I looked at the spectrogram. I was kinda hoping it was just in my head.” He refused to make eye contact with me as he spoke.
“Can you see? I mean… did it alter your vision or…” I trailed off and Sam took the mantle.
“I see no different than I have before, at least… I don’t think it’s any different. Not impaired or cloudy or anything. I have had dreams though, horrible dreams.” He shuttered as he spoke, and I could almost watch the wave of anxiety roll through his skin.
“I think it’s because I saw the spectrogram.” I took a few deep breaths to try and calm my nerves, but I think I was beyond that point already.
“What’s on it?”
“Something we should’ve never been allowed to see…” I asked him to elaborate on the image, but he refused. He explained to me that a spectrogram is an analysis of audio patterns. Sometimes images can be embedded into the audio that can’t be heard, but can be seen on a spectrogram analysis. Sam thinks the backdrop radiation of space might have interfered and somehow imprinted the image onto the signal without the sender’s knowledge.
After he finished explaining everything to me, he suddenly began to laugh. Not a hysterical or manic laugh, but a genuine one from the friend I used to know.
“What is it?”
“It’s just funny to me… all these years I’ve had this hope that one day we would find proof of an alien existence somewhere out there. Never thought the aliens would be us though…” That phrase really through me for a loop.
“What do you mean?”
“I see them in my dreams. They look human, greyish skin like concrete. Tall and slender, violet, auburn and sometimes blue eyes. Dressed in colorful robes and garments. Some of them are even beautiful, but it never lasts. That thing came for them…” By this point in our conversation I didn’t even know what question to ask. All the little tidbits of information that Sam had claimed were just floating aimlessly around my brain. I didn’t know whether my friend was being entirely truthful, but every time I saw those eyes, I couldn’t see a reason why he would lie.
“Hold on, so your saying the occupants of that craft that hit Jupiter… they were human?” Sam nodded.
“Close enough to it at least.” I shook my head.
“They’re just dreams though…” I argued.
“No!” Sam almost shouted the words, and his milky eyes momentarily met mine.
“They’re memories, from another time and another place.” I have no idea why he thought that, and he didn’t bother clarifying.
“That’s not possible, it can’t be. How could they… why would they… maybe your coworkers…” I just faded into my incoherent jumbled fragments of questions after that. Luckily Sam had more answers.
“I thought so too. But considering their sudden disappearances and lack of any further contact… I just don’t think that’s likely. If they’re out there in hiding, then I really doubt they’d go this far just to somehow prank me. They needed me to see this, and they risked their own wellbeing to have me see it.”
“Or maybe they’re sick. Maybe the signal drove them mad, and they wanted to spread it to you. Y’know some Bird Box shit or something.” The words felt like razorblades leaving my lips, and I could tell the same thought had already passed Sam’s mind as well. I hated accusing my friend of not being of sound mind, but I found myself at a loss for any other recourse. The two of us just stayed silent for a while before I changed the question.
“Any idea what the transmission was saying?” I asked.
“No not really. I’ve searched every language I can possibly think of for months now, and it doesn’t sound anything like any of them. It’s like nothing I’ve ever heard before. But I know it’s a woman, her voice is higher in pitch.”
“And there’s no way she somehow came from earth? And that all of this is some kind of misunderstanding?” Sam vehemently shook his head.
“No… no way. Too much has happened for that to be the case.”
“Then where did they come from?” Sam gave a hearty laugh at that, the first one I’d heard him utter since we’d met.
“Needle in a haystack, we may never know where the answer to that, especially now. But I don’t think they were even trying to find us. I think she, and whoever else was onboard that craft were running. The voice in the transmission sounded frantic, almost panicked to me. Like I said I couldn’t understand what any of it meant, but the tone was clearly distraught. I don’t think the transmission was a greeting, I think it was an SOS.” Sam’s eyes grew even wider as he spoke.
“What were they running from?” Sam just shook his head, and I saw a fear more visceral then any I’d ever seen from him form on his face. He then pulled his sunglasses back over his eyes and stood up.
“I have to go…”
“Sam wait…” Sam paused on his way to the door and looked back.
“Sam have you seen a doctor or anyth…”
“No, no way I’m going to do that. If they find me…” he again shuddered as he contemplated the idea.
“I can’t go back.” I wished he would listen, but the thing is, part of me knew he was right. Everyone knows what happens to whistleblowers of top-secret government intel after all.
“I gotta keep moving, I’ll try to contact you when I can.” I still had so many questions to ask, and yet none of them would form in the moment. Instead Sam and I just kinda stared at each other, both of us wondering what would happen next.
“Take care of yourself Sam.”
“You too, the gate is open after all.” An ever so small grin cracked his lips for the first time, and he disappeared back out of my life.
That was over two months ago now, and I sincerely thought it was the last I’d ever see or hear from my old friend Sam. Luckily it wasn’t, as he and I have taken to underground methods of communication which I will not name. He’s in hiding, now far away from the United States. He says he’s feeling fine, and I hope that’s the truth.
If I’m being honest, I don’t even know how much of Sam’s story I believe. The coverups and conspiracies just seem endless, and there’s way more questions than I think will ever be answers. I’ve sat on this information ever since, and debated whether I should share it or keep silent. Sam has given his entire future to pursuing the truth of this incident, and what kind of person would I be if I wasn’t willing to honor his sacrifice? If you never hear anything from this account again, or if I suddenly disappear, I guess you’ll know why.
There’s one more thing I need to share.
About a week ago I got another message from Sam. He was ecstatic and claimed that he and the two other guys that had gone missing had translated the signal. I have no idea how they did it, or if it’s even accurate, but nevertheless it should be here. I’ll leave you with the transcript they sent me, and the hope that whatever this all means, it won’t be the last thing we hear.
“Servitor 93 to Forward Base Rathmos. This is… <static interference>, acting commander of (unintelligible- Servitor 93?). Our position has been overrun, the scourge… <static interference> at the cortex of the Dalratheon Supercluster. It was too…<static> too quick and… (long segment of scraping noise). Forward Base Arlath has fallen, and we had no choice but to retreat or risk…<static interference>. We made the jump to coordinates A-1736-23-09 in hopes of rendezvousing… <static interference>. They are all… (static interference)… no longer possible.. (long segment of what sounds like wind)… Kel-tair-thoth Zuh-riy… (long segment of what sounds like wind). (If?)… anyone is hearing this, it is too late for us. Save yourselves and flee this sector. The scourge is the… <static interference>. Kel-tair-thoth Zuh-riy.