It had been twenty years since the audio went to static. Twenty years less five minutes since the signal started. Twenty years less thirty five minutes since the signal ceased. Twenty years less forty minutes since the static faded and our programs came back. That's why I was going to kill my brother.
“Chet, what are you doing? Get away from that!”
“What? I'm not doing nothing,” My kid brother muttered in the tone that said he was doing something. I gave him the look that said I knew.
“I don't have time for this. Not today.” I'm embarrassed to admit a little whine worked its way into my I'm-the-big-sister-you-have-to-listen-to-me voice. “I'm taking a week off after the interview tomorrow. If it works out, I can probably take off a whole month. If it doesn't... Look, just go do your homework. I'll see you at dinner.”
As he sulked his way out of my office I sat down at my desk to make sure he hadn't messed with something that would ruin the day. As the flatulence roared I closed my eyes.
“A whoopie cushion? Really, Chet?” I'd have blown up at him if the laughter that followed him upstairs hadn't sounded exactly like the way he laughed when Daddy had found his motorcycle in the upstairs guest lavatory. Ah, well, I'd just have to get him back. Tomorrow.
Just in case I checked my presentation (fine), the virtual handouts we were going to give the attendees (fine) and the guest's chairs (fine). The lab was secured even against pranking little brothers. I called Jason to get him here early to check his end of things, but it looked like Chet had just tried to cut the nervous tension I'd been working under for the past months. It worked.
The attendees started arriving just as Jason finished his check (fine). They were all there about an hour before we were scheduled to begin, so we started early.
I started with the history and description of the signal. I reminded them that they'd thought it dense data packets, but analysis showed the structure to be too simple and too smooth, but if it was a language, it was too repetitive for traditional translators. I explained how I'd found the intention particles in the human voice and built our whydron collector to gather them. Jason talked about scanning the audio tracks available on the Internet, building a database to analyze them and their interrelationships. We described how we found intention particles in the signal, and wrote a program to compare them to the entries in our database so, if we didn't know exactly what it said, we'd know what had been meant. We led them into the lab. I tried for a dramatic pause, but couldn't make myself wait.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the meaning of the signal.”
A muffled snorting, then one word repeated. “Bueller... Bueller... Bueller...”