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Halfway

Michael Adam Robson is an engineer and artist based in Vancouver, Canada.
First contact came without any warning, and wasn't what we expected.
Obligingly, they appeared in our image, magnified into angelic beings of light.
This will be our last meeting, they said. It's important that your history unfolds as it's supposed to.
Last meeting? we asked. Have you been here before? Where do you come from?
That was the strange part. They hadn't come from another world, they'd built a bridge from an entirely different universe.
We're old friends, from far away, they said. You just don't know it yet.
Always good to make a friend, we said, confused, but relieved. What is it you want?
As it turned out, they didn't want anything. They'd come to give us something.
We want to pass on knowledge that's been passed on to us. A way to meet, so we can keep our friendship alive.
We're happy to stay in contact, we said. But you said this was our last meeting?
We didn't understand then, and they didn't explain. Like us, they had a sense of humour.
The last for us, they said. But not for you. You just need to meet us halfway.
Second contact came a hundred years later, when we'd learned enough to build a bridge of our own, to a lower layer of space.
As it turned out, they had built a bridge upward to the same layer, and were waiting for us, in their true, strange forms.
We meet again, we said.
Old friends, they agreed.
By then, of course, the implications of the alien science were clear. The laws of their universe were very different from ours.
That's why our first contact was your last, we said. Time runs backward in your world. Our future is your past, your future is our past.
This is a special time, they said. Right now is the only time we'll be able to meet like this. As equals.
Third contact took another hundred years, and it was the last contact.
By then, we knew how to make the bridge all the way to their universe, their native space and time. So as not to startle them, we decided to appear in their image.
It's good to see you again, we said, sadly. As our civilization went forward, theirs would go backward, until it disappeared. This was the last time we would be able to meet.
What do you want? they asked.
Of course, we didn't want anything. We'd come to give them a gift.
We only want to share some knowledge, we said. A way to keep in touch.
Who are you? they asked. Where did you come from?
They didn't know us yet--and we didn't want to spoil the surprise.
We're old friends, was all we said. Or we will be. You just need to meet us halfway.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, October 18th, 2017


The ancient world was a place of magic, powerful gods, miracles. What happened to that magic? Why did it seem to wither away, as our understanding of science grew? In thinking about possible explanations, I came up with this story.

- Michael Adam Robson

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