Rob Does Words
Treating fiction poorly since 2019


“Well,” Dr Simon Franks said, “the U does stand for Universal.” He took a flash drive from his pocket and pushed it into one of the slots. Instantly alarms and flashing lights blared from hidden places in the ship walls. He waited by his in-use port; no one came to investigate. He unplugged the drive and continued into the ship.

It had arrived in somewhat spectacular fashion three weeks earlier, breaking through the atmosphere somewhere above Moscow before zig-zagging though the sky and ending up in a mid-size field in rural Ireland, plowing through half the nearby town to get there.

Dr Franks had spent the better part of five hours, according to his watch, wandering the halls of the ship, plugging his USB drive into random ports which seemed to be placed haphazardly along each and every wall. Mostly type-C connectors, with a few type-As and one or two type-Bs. There were, of course, ports he didn't recognise, however he put these down as some alien USB equivalent. He idly flicked any switch he found as well, most of which resumed the sirens and lights until he flicked it back to its original position. Still no one came to investigate.

All manner of sticky beaks had come to see the UFO, pronounced 'you-foe' by almost everyone, in Edgar's field. Edgar the farmer wasn't known for his intelligence or cunning, yet by the time first 'UFO tourist' had come around, there were signs and fencing around the downed ship and he had his sons charging €5 to see and €15 to touch it; they hadn't yet figured out a way to open it yet, but one of their friends had been sent to get a blowtorch. They already had the €50 to enter sign made up and waiting.

The doctor sighed. He was sure he'd been in this corridor before but because they were all so similar – and not in the interesting way; in the drab, shades-of-beige way – he couldn't tell which doors he had tried or not. He was still plugging in his drive and flicking switches, but aside from the sound and light show, there was no reaction from the ship or any of it’s hypothetical passengers.

The government officials arrived at Edgar's farm almost 12 hours after the landing. Apparently they had been delayed when the object had crossed certain borders and they lost track of it before social media had pinpointed its location here, outside Dublin. The farmer’s fencing was quickly replaced with more secure stuff and the signs were taken away; there'd be no more UFO tourism on Edgar's farm. The farmer was, however, allowed to keep the money he had already made.

Simon was now yelling at the top of his lungs down corridors, into rooms and through vents as he explored the ship. He had come across a set of stairs in his eighth hour of being aboard. He had spent a while in what he assumed was the engine bay. It was not as he expected; it was clean. Spotless even. He spent a long time trying to find a point of reference so he could work his way to understanding the machinery in front of him but nothing he saw seemed to relate back to anything he had ever seen before.

Once the Irish government had set up its initial perimeter, the English arrived and immediately replaced everything and told them, formally, they'd take it from there. 24 hours after The Landing, as the media were now calling it, replacing The Crash, American investigators arrived and did the same thing to the English, citing some archaic UN thing that put America in charge.

Simon had left the engine room and gone up the stairs to another level. This one didn't seem much different from the lower ones, except the USB ports seemed to be less arbitrary up here; Simon saw patterns here and there, nothing that meant anything to him, but patterns nonetheless. There were fewer switches as well. Whether that was a positive for him or not remained an unanswered question. The major difference was there were no alarms or lights when he used these ports or switches.

The Americans had made plans to move the ship, to the surprise of no one. They argued that the facilities back in the US were far superior to anything that was closer. They reluctantly changed their minds when someone pointed out the back end of the ship, presumably the engines still had a slight green glow to them and might be unstable.

Ten hours of exploring and finally Simon found something new. A door that had been damaged and was sparking slightly as it tried to open or close properly. He squeezed through and found himself, well, he didn't know. But it wasn't a room like the others, this one had consoles and screens. He pushed buttons at random; none of them were labeled in any way he could see, but each console/screen combination had at least 18 USB ports of varying types and sizes fixed along the side. He, of course, plugged his drive into all the ones that would fit. No lights or sirens still, but some of the screens flicked on and he saw what he could only assume was a map of the ship and a flashing blue dot which he assumed to be him. Still, though, no one came.

The Americans had resorted to using the blowtorch the farmers kids had gone to get as none of their scientists or engineers could offer any other way of entering the ship. There were no panels or buttons that anyone could find on the outside of the ship, nor was there any apparent entry at all. They chose a spot the engineers considered to be the thinnest part of the hull and started to burn their way in while others played Paper, Rock, Scissors to determine who was first inside.

Simon eventually found his way back to the hole in the side of the ship. It'd been a little over 14 hours since he went inside and everyone else was waiting outside for him. The questions started straight away, none of which he could answer to any satisfaction, despite the evidence from his helmet camera and microphone showing everything onboard, or rather, a lack of everything. Once they got frustrated with the Doctor, they sent him off to quarantine and sent more people onboard to catalog everything.

Doctor Simon Franks, the Americans were told, was one of the foremost experts in something to do with aliens, despite there never having been a recorded instance of any near Earth. However, the Americans viewed the Doctor as an ideal candidate for the initial recon – on the off chance he lived, then maybe he could shed some light on the alien ship and if he died, well, he wasn't American. No harm, no foul.

It took several weeks to get through quarantine, but there was nothing wrong with him and no one else had come down sick with some new disease; he was free to go. They gave him all his personal belongings back at the door and bade him farewell. It wasn't for a few days that he realised that the USB drive that had been plugged into several thousand random, alien USB ports had been returned to him as well. As nothing was said about it, he assumed it was clean and he could use it as normal. He plugged it into his computer and watched in astonishment as thousands of screens popped up, disappeared and reappeared incredibly quickly for a few minutes, leaving only a single command prompt open.

> Hello?

It said