The Signal

 Space Exploration Challenge    

“I have a surprise for you!”

Timmy chomped on the cereal in his mouth as he looked up at dad.  The boy squinted as the light from the green suns hit his eyes through the window.  “What is it?”

Dad grinned.  “You’ll see, bud.  Finish your breakfast and come in the living room.”

Scooping up a heaping spoonful of cereal, Timmy watched dad leave the kitchen.  “I bet it’s something from Earth!” he called out with his mouth full.

“Nope!” said dad from around the corner.  “And don’t talk with your mouth full!”

Timmy quickly scarfed down his cereal and ran into the living room.  Dad was waiting on the sofa.

“Sit down,” said dad with the smile.

Timmy jumped onto the sofa next to his dad.  He glanced around the room and down the hallway to make sure mom hadn’t seen him jumping on the furniture.  Good thing she sleeps in on Saturdays.  Timmy glanced back at his dad, who cocked an eyebrow.  Timmy gave a sheepish smile.

Dad opened his computer on the coffee table.  “You remember what I told you I’ve been doing at work?”

“Yeah.  Looking for aliens, right?”

“Sort of.  We’re listening to radio signals from aliens.  They come from so far away, they’re already more than four hundred years old.  And they won’t reach Earth for another 50 years.”

“Uh huh.”

Dad laughed.  “I found something in the alien signals that you might like.  It took me a long time to filter out the background radiation and figure out how to decode the signal, but I finally got it.”  Dad hit a button on his computer.

On the screen, a strange image appeared.  It looked like a drawing of a little fuzzy creature.  The creature started jumping around as weird noises played.  The noises were almost like music, but different.

“What is it?” said Timmy, staring at the screen.

“It’s a cartoon!” said dad, grinning broadly.  “An alien cartoon!”

The fuzzy creature started chasing another smaller creature that kind of looked like a bug.

“Like Mickey Mouse?”

“Exactly!  Turns out, aliens have kids too.  And just like when your great-great-great grandparents were kids, the aliens broadcast cartoons to entertain their kids.  Pretty neat, huh?”

Timmy kept his eyes fixed on the screen.  “So is that what the aliens look like in real life?”

“I think this little guy is based on an animal.  Like Mickey Mouse.  Or Bugs Bunny.”

The fuzzy creature fell down a hole.  The little bug guy made a sound like laughter.  Timmy and dad both laughed.

“How much is there?”

“Enough to watch till lunch time.”

Timmy and dad sat together on the sofa and watched.  The fuzzy creature kept chasing the bug, but never quite catching it.  It was weird, but it was pretty funny.  Plus, dad was laughing, and his laugh made it way better.