Sunday, 18 January 2009

Flash Fiction: No Fifth Symbol

No Fifth Symbol
Nathan Ryder

Cruising through void, our ship found an anomalous signal; analysis shows it is without doubt artificial in origin. Tracing it back, our party found a world forty lights away. It was similar to our own, all points of SSC (survival standard chart) good for us.
Our scans found a civilisation, Lunar Rhythm, unknown to ours. Normal civilisation growth up to sub astronomic transit, with no aspirations to go out to stars and void. Basic humans, slight, dark hair and brown sight organs; laughing always, childish in a way, but good, caring to us. No major social quirks.

Ann and Brian, our linguists, took much fun in studying Lunar Rhythm and in particular it's communication protocols. Lunar Rhythmic was not difficult, basic syntactic constructions with old root grammars and a standard dictionary. That said, Ann found that although our civilisation and Lunar Rhythm had common starting points, Lunar Rhythmic had a syntactic quality that was anomalous; translation was minimal from Basic to Lunar Rhythmic, minor word variations only.
Ann had an insight. I can call to mind Ann and Brian discussing an anomaly that Ann saw during our first formal contact.
A sound hits my auditory canal, Ann's gasp.
“No fifth symbol!” Ann shouts.
“What?” I ask.
“No fifth symbol,” again; Ann and Brian talk quickly. By and by, I grasp syntactically what is passing. Following discussion, our party confirms Ann and Brian's thoughts. A schism such as this could not occur naturally. “Why is Lunar Rhythmic as it is?” was our mantra for many days.

Many days pass. A thought occurs, from Brian, for us all to hold communication for a month with a lack of fifth symbol. I can call to mind Ann nodding, “This will aid us in sympathy with Lunar Rhythmic!”
Our hosts, Lunar Rhythm, support us in this. John and Alan had suspicions at first, but soon took to communicating in Lunar Rhythmic. Ann, Brian, Mary follow. I, as Captain of our ship and party, was last, my suspicions many. I thought it crazy, talking in this way at first. Days pass, and I find my thoughts taking an unknown quality. Calm, lack of fifth symbol causing brain functions to flow – truth, thoughts flow without a fifth symbol, a diminution of options improving cognition.
And such joy in thinking and in watching days pass on Lunar Rhythm. Moon arcs at night claim air from my lungs on all occasions! Spring days, so happy! Our party find joy in this radical concision of talking and thinking, of Lunar Rhythmic, a form that is shaping our minds as days pass among a caring, good company...

Thirty months pass. Our party knows it should bid so long to Lunar Rhythm.
All of us talk. An hour at most all of us discuss, but it is not a hard pill to swallow.

Our party will stay with our hosts and patrons, Lunar Rhythm. Such joy was found at our choosing. Local customs hold a particular oddity to us still, but Ann and Brian's scholarly discussions point our path, our way. No major social quirks.

Creative Commons License
This short story is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works License. Feel free to repost and share it with others, so long as you credit me (Nathan Ryder, 2009) as the original author and link back to this page. It would also be nice if you dropped me a comment!

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