Flash fiction challenge: 10 chapters in less than 1000 words

They never gave a good answer to the question “Why did you come?”

They just came. The discovered our microwave signals, the ones used to communicate with the colonies. They weren’t violent, they didn’t care to help us, they simply wanted to learn. It meant travelling thirty light years and figuring out how to translate an alien language.

That’s where I got involved. Before they arrived, I had what many considered to be the most soul-crushingly dull job on earth. I was a translator, a linguist. Old musty books and new quantum programming were my office companions. I figured out how to translate things that nobody else could. That’s why I was the best.

That’s why I was put in charge of translating the Visitors’ language. We call the Visitors the Saad and their home world Sod.


We are lucky they have a written language. Most of their “spoken” language is outside of the range of a human ear, and exists as four different simultaneous conversations. Clicks and shrieks and many other sounds come out all at the same time. Even the latest quantum computers can’t keep up.

But the written language is accessible. Each idea is written in four rows. Each row has a duty. The first is content. The second is setting. The third is emotive. The fourth is intent.


When I was first put in charge of translating the Visitors’ language I thought I had excitement for life. After all, what could be more exciting than this? I never have met any of them but we exchange our texts. They have personalities, though not in the same way humans do. But the passage of time and familiarity have created the same problem that anyone can have with a job. It’s no longer exciting. Frankly I’m bored to tears.


Don’t get me wrong, it’s better than translating dead languages but once I wrote the programs that allowed us to read their texts, I wasn’t needed in the exciting stuff anymore. I became a historical text translator for an alien species. Fascinating and boring, all wrapped up into one package. At least it has substance. It’s not like things used to be, trying to translate knots in Incan string or Mayan stellae.

My bosses do all the exciting stuff now. Using my programs.


Just when I had thought things couldn’t get any worse, my bosses found out that the Visitors used to be superstitious, just like humans. My list of texts for this week include old religious texts and other fairy tales. Humans finally gave up that superstitious crap about 100 years ago. The Visitors gave it up thousands of years ago. I might as well be translating knots in ropes again.


The first text goes through the computer and sets off my “translation alarms”. These are computer stops I put in place to draw my attention to anything of interest. It’s a great surprise today, as I am in some of the most boring texts that could be found. I switch the screen on and look at what has set off the alarm. There is a comparison of texts, one human and one Saad. The subject matter is of no interest at first, but the computer has found almost an exact match on two different documents.


“In the beginning, God created the heavens and Sod. Now Sod was without form and it was empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said ‘let there be light.’ And there was light, and God saw the light and saw that it was good…”

I looked at the human Bible, as the pages of almost perfectly matching text surpasses 500 on the computer.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth. Now Earth was without form and it was empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said ‘let there be light.’ And there was light, and God saw the light and saw that it was good…”


Re-running the text brought the same result. This 5000 year old alien text was almost an exact match of the human bible.

But the Saad didn’t know about us until 50 years ago. They have only been able to travel in spacecraft for a couple of hundred years. We sure as hell couldn’t have gone to them with this book.

How the hell does the bible end up as one of the ancient texts of an alien species?


I have stared at the screens for hours, well past my normal quitting time. I’ve never read the Bible. Nobody reads those old superstitions anymore, but I keep coming around to the same question. How? How does the bestselling book in human history exist on Sod first? By dating the text and comparing it to our history, it appears that the Saad were reading about God and Moses and Jesus 3000 years before we were reading about them here on Earth. Again, how?


My boss stares at me over with a wrinkled forehead that goes all the way to his back. “Aaron, You’ve been looking at computers too long. You haven’t had a vacation since the Saad arrived, and that’s been over four years. You are to take two weeks, STARTING NOW. When you come back you’ll have a new assignment.

“I don’t want a new assignment. I want to know how this happened! Could it be possible that all those old superstitions were true, that there is one God and he gave the same message to both our civilizations?”

“Aaron, it’s the old adage about a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters. Sooner or later, we were bound to find something like this. Let’s make that vacation three weeks, I want you refreshed when you return.”

I’m led out by my boss’s secretary. I wonder where I would have to go to find a bible?


this idea of finding a bible in an alien civilization has been bouncing in my head for about a year. the writing on this is not exactly stellar and on re-read i find it pretty milquetoast but i just wanted to experiment with the idea



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5 responses to “Flash fiction challenge: 10 chapters in less than 1000 words

  1. This was an interesting spin, especially given the fact that many of the Biblical legends are also found in other more ancient civilizations as well. Why not expand that to other species like you did? Great job.

    • Thanks for the feedback. Writing in a vacuum without other’s opinions is like yelling at a mountain. It’s a nifty idea and I’d like to do more with it, but I fear it would be interpreted as either proselytizing or religious bashing depending on which way i go with the story

      • I encourage you to write that story the way you want. There will be readers out there who will get where you’re coming from. I’d certainly like to see it.

  2. allsnjill

    I felt the real hook of the story didn’t begin until chapter 7. I enjoyed the backstory, but with the limited word space, maybe it would have been better to drop the hook in maybe the 2nd or 3rd chapter instead and explore the ramifications of the bible match even more so. This is a very interesting concept to me and I like your exploration into the topic. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  3. Thanks for your response, I need all the opinions on my work that i can get right now. I have to admit, I feel like the writing on this was sloppy and dull but sometimes getting the idea out is the first step of actually writing something good.

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