They were broadcasts from nowhere--sinister emanations flooding in from space--smashing any receiver that picked them up. What defense could Earth devise against science such as this?
Sergeant Bellews snorted in denial.
* * * * *
"The broadcasts," said Lecky mildly, "claim a remarkable reason for certainty about an extremely grave danger which is almost upon the world. If it's the truth, Sergeant, it is appalling. If it is a lie, it may be more appalling. The Joint Chiefs of Staff take it very seriously, in any case. They--"
"I got cold shivers," said Sergeant Bellews with irony. "I'm all wrought up. Huh! The big brass gets the yellin' yollups every so often anyhow. Listen to them, and nothin' happens except it's top priority top secret extra crash emergency! What do you want to know about Betsy?"
There was a sudden squealing sound from the communicator on which all the extra recording devices were focussed. Betsy's screen lighted up. Peculiarly curved patterns appeared on it. They shifted and changed. Noises came from her speaker. They were completely unearthly. Now they were shrill past belief, and then they were chopped into very small bits of sound, and
Clever story set in the future (1972) when any machine could be made to run constantly and learn its job, gaining experience the longer it operates. Into this world come broadcasts from noplace that, when deciphered, claim to be from the future and warn of a mutating virus that will wipe out humanity unless their instructions are followed. Everything is kept secret, and it's up to a repair shop sergeant and three civilian scientists to figure out what's going on and why.
The sergeant is a great character, his name is Bellews, but it might as well be Lebowski.
(1957) Sci-fi (Invention) / Conspiracy / Short story (Magazine)
From 'Amazing Stories', December 1957.
R: * * * *