The Sun

By Anthony Giuffre

It was a regular day in Los Angeles like it was in Seattle, New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Dubai and everywhere else. The same things were going on albeit not all ideal but the same, usual things. For those interested NASA put a spacecraft into Jupiter’s orbit, Taylor Swift got another boyfriend, wars were continuing, the US had a presidential election coming up, sports teams were winning and losing and Roger Federer was eloquently prancing to victories at Wimbledon.

Not much interest was given outside of what was going on, naturally. Our story is an extra-terrestrial one and starts in the astrophysics lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Scientists were doing scientific studies, about 8 of them in the lab now, and the lone freshman was taking notes on solar flares emanating from the sun through the lab’s high-tech telescope. It was all computerized with, obviously, extreme tinting capabilities to allow viewing of the sun safely.

Anyway, he began typing in the codes to direct the lens to the closest star and the subsequent codes to bring it into focus. At over 25 million dollars the telescope was the jewel of the department along with another similar one built on a hill on the campus which was controlled by the computer next to it.

Click, click went the keys as Cliff honed in on the fiery star. The screen went in frames from white to yellowish, to golden red then the frames accelerated their sharpness in the same way. It was able to get detailed images of the sun’s surface. Then in the last few focusing frames before total clarity, Cliff took one look at the screen then turned his head and quickly looked at his fellow scientists then back to the screen then back to his fellow scientists this time at each one’s face briefly but severely to try and detect an inner laugh or the faintest smile. They did all seem to be focused only on their science work.

Cliff looked back at the screen and stared for a few seconds then he looked down at the keyboard, out the window for a moment, back to the screen then to Alicia, the head scientist in the lab. “Alicia, there..” and here Cliff tapped a quick nervous beat with his fingers then said “There seems to be..” then he surveyed each scientist’s face again for a trace of smirking laughter, knowing all about the fabled mirror in the lens trick to initiate excited UFO sightings, “There appears to be a..” one last quick look around there but nothing.

“What is it Cliff”? Alicia asked.

“Well there appears to be someone sitting in a folding chair on the sun with a sign that says, ‘I have a question’.” Alicia didn’t say anything, suspected the fabled lens trick, and walked over taking a seat in Cliff’s chair who had stood up.

“That looks incredibly real” she said. “It’s the lens trick though. I’ll pull it up on Sko though to see if it’s in both”. She began putting the coordinate directs in Sko (the other telescope’s nickname) which were on auto-save but Cliff did them manually as training. She cracked her knuckles severely while waiting.

What appeared to be a young man in a folding chair was on Sko also. But he had crossed his legs. “Bastards” she said. “they hacked our systems with the lens trick. I’ll call to Yale to check, though. I have to”. She made the call and within moments the sighting was confirmed and mental panic set in to the strong scientists’ brains. From Yale it was confirmed at all the major east coast colleges and then, of course, NASA took over.

NASA confirmed it internally and called the president immediately. The president was golfing. Walking back to his cart after the 9th green his personal phone rang and he saw it was his representative from NASA. The call went through to 4 other people who were already on the line. “Mr. President this is Henry at NASA. We have a sighting”.

“Really”? The uber suave president said. “Go on”.

“There appears to be a young man sitting in a folding chair on the sun’s surface with a sign that says ‘I have a question’”. There was silence here from all 6 interlocutors.

“There’s what”? said the president. Henry from NASA repeated himself and added that transportation was on its way to the course to take him securely to the never-used interplanetary communication device which was a machine that broadcast incredibly bright lights to form messages – mostly meant for astronauts whose communication fails or in a rarer scenario, aliens.

The president actually went to an observatory with the right telescope and his messages were relayed and sent, is how it worked. The president arrived at the observatory in 7 minutes, sat down and looked at the screen of the young man. His sign was now placed against the leg of the chair and he looked to be taking a rest.

Immediately the communication began with the president’s message broadcast into the sky and out visible far into space with expensive costing clarity.

‘Hello, I am the president of the United States. My name is Barack Obama. We are peaceful people. What is your question?’

The young man roused slightly, shifting position in his chair and looked down and across to the message beaming from Earth, amazed. He turned the page in his book and began writing, concentrating pretty hard. When he had finished he turned the book and its message toward Earth. It said:

‘Hello Mr. President. What is the blue part of your planet? Why is it blue?’

There was some confusion in the observatory as the president and others read the message aloud, amazed. The president turned to his aides, “Does he mean the water? Is that what he means”?

“I think so. It has to be” said one aide, amazed, as the others conferred.

“He means the water” they all said staggeringly together.

“That’s his question” the president said mostly to himself. “Hrm”. The president began, “Well tell him that’s water. It’s our oceans which are vast, open spaces of deep water”. The message was beamed up:

‘It is water. The blue parts are vast and deep oceans of water’.

“Goddammit” the young man thought. “I think I knew that” But he wrote the message:

‘What is water?’

There was a discussion in the observatory about how to answer the question. They went with:

‘It’s a liquid that is essential for our life. Animals, plants and humans require water.’

There was a pause where the young man shook his head. He did in fact know that. Then Earth sent another question of their own:

‘Why do you ask?’

The young man had crossed his legs as he looked down and across at the question being beamed up, amazed. He thought about how best to answer the query and went with:

‘Well, my damn planetary science teacher is making me re-take his class because I missed that question on a test.’

There was another brief silence in the observatory. Again the president wondered how to answer this. Bypassing a conference with his aides he began relaying the message to be sent:

‘Teachers can be like that, I’m sure he means well. Are you a hostile people?’

Again the young man read the message with no less amazement. He began writing:

‘My planetary science teacher is hostile.’

Here he smiled down across to Earth but presently began another message:

‘No, we are not hostile.’

The observatory broke into a bit of a laughter here still amazed in shock. Meanwhile an older looking man walked up with his hands in his pockets looking down across at Earth and the message then back to the young man. It was the planetary science teacher and they were having a conference.

Elsewhere, the east coast astrophysicists had told their friends of the unbelievable occurrence. It spread through social media like wildfire and onto the cable news outlets. It was all speculation but no one knew how to react to someone, in fact, walking on the sun. Traffic was snarled, there was general panic.

Back in the observatory, they were deciding another message seeing that the planetary science teacher might have arrived. They sent:

‘Is everything okay?’

The young man was beaming with pride and waved goodbye and gave a single thumbs up then folded his folding chair while his teacher wrote a message:

‘Yes, everything is fine.’

The president sent a message:

‘Who are you?’

The planetary science teacher who had unfolded the young man’s chair and was now sitting wrote:

‘We are inhabitants of the sun. We live inside it. All the planets are inhabited inside them. They’re all peaceful.’

And with that he too waved, gave a thumbs up and pointed toward somewhere forward for the young man to begin walking and they were gone.