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Visiting the Black Knight (By Lu Evans and translated by Marcia Terra)

I woke up alone in a white room with wires of a monitor connected to me and handcuffed by the wrist to the metal rail of the bed. Disoriented, I pushed the button beside my bed to ask for help, but nobody came. I cried for help. Nothing.

Half an hour later, when I felt my mind clear, I had the idea of ripping out the wires of the machine that monitored my vital signs. My plan to bring someone to the room worked out because soon a tall blond woman wearing a white coat came in. Although she was dressed as a doctor, she didn’t examine me. Not even greeted me.

I demanded an explanation about the treatment I was having, complete nonsense. How could a scientist that had only made her job be handcuffed to a hospital bed?

In addition to a clipboard, she held a camera that she put over a tripod, pointing the lens in my direction. So, she pulled a chair and sat, informing me that she had come to interrogate me.

I asked for a lawyer.

“You don’t need lawyers. Let’s get started,” that was the cold answer I had.

“I’m sure this is a mistake, whatever it is,” I replied, shaking my hand stuck by the handcuff.

Crossing her legs, she started shaking her foot in the air, displaying her impatience. “If it’s a mistake, we will let you go as soon as you clarify everything.”

I insisted on having answers. I wanted to know what I was doing there, why they handcuffed me, and who the hell she was. But it was useless. The woman didn’t give in. Instead, she threatened to call the military to take her place, assuring that it would be better if I had her as my interviewer.

I was getting scared and intimidated by that chat. I was never a badass. How could I resist? How could I get out of there or even get some food and water if I refused to cooperate? I sighed and nodded in agreement. I gave in.

“Excellent!” she said with no emotion. “Let’s get started from the beginning. Tell me your name, your position, and responsibilities,” she asked harshly, the pen over the paper, ready to take notes.

“My name’s Laura O’Brien, and I’m a specialist in codes. I was designated by NASA to enter the Black Knight and try to understand its purpose.”

“The Black Knight. Tell me more about it.”

This question surprised me. Why did she want to know about the Black Knight if it was no longer a secret to anyone?

I sighed. If it was necessary to tell the obvious to get out of there, I would tell. “The Black Knight is a huge artificial satellite that weighs up more than 10 tons and orbits the planet about 500 miles from its surface. I suppose you have this kind of information, right?”

Her eyes had no expression. “Don’t ask me questions. Just answer mine… The Black Knight… What else?”

“In the beginning, we knew almost nothing about it. All we had were questions. Why was it sent here? Who built it? Were they using it to communicate with us? Why does it orbit mostly over the polar regions? And so on.

“How and when have you heard about the Black Knight for the first time?”

I breathed out, annoyed, but I knew there’s no option. I had to answer the mysterious woman’s interrogation. “The great inventor Nikola Tesla was the first to capture a signal from that satellite in 1899, using a radio device with high frequency in Colorado Springs. Tesla stated that the signal was a communication attempt, but it was encrypted.”

She didn’t look at me and kept her eyes down, focused on writing everything I was saying.

“Is that all?” she inquired without lifting her face.

At that point, I already knew she wasn’t a NASA employee. Maybe she was a spy of a foreign government. But I wasn’t giving any classified information since NASA had declassified all data about the Black Knight. A simple search on the internet would give her the same information that she was getting from me.

“Of course not. The same signal was intercepted many other times in the 20s. With the advance of technology, the astronomies started capturing signals more frequently, although they didn’t know the source.”

“Why not?” she stared at me, suspiciously.

I shrugged. “At that time, no nation had the technology to launch satellites, or had telescopes or machines capable of photographing an object around the planet.”

I was tired, thirsty, and hungry, but I was sure it was a waste of time to ask something from her. The only thing that she cared about was that useless interview.

“When and how have you known about the Black Knight’s existence?” she asked.

“The media started talking more openly about a possibility of a source of strange signals orbiting the planet in the 40s, but its presence was confirmed only the following decade when the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik, the first artificial satellite in the world. After this, a committee formed by scientists from different areas started to study the object.”

“Are you part of the Committee?”

“Affirmative. I started this work ten years ago, analyzing every data related to the signals, that are, in fact, a code.”

“Have you decoded it?” she inquired and, this time, I saw a hint of light in her eyes.

I confirmed with an arrogant smile.

She paused, analyzing me for a few seconds, and said, “What did you learn?”

“The Black Knight is, as many people have predicted, an extraterrestrial object. It arrived around 13 thousand years ago. Its origin is a planet located in the Izar’s solar system in Boötis constellation.”

She didn’t ask me anything for a while, but her eyes, once more inexpressive, were fixed on me. Finally, she said, “After the discovery, what was the next step?”

At that point, I started to think that the whole thing was a joke. “You must be kidding me! This was reported by each journal, scientific magazine, radio, and TV show on the planet.”

“Answer me!” her voice was low but extremely threatening.

I took a deep breath, biting my tongue to don’t tell her to go to hell. “We knew its origin, but also we needed to find out its purpose. That’s why I volunteered to go to the Black Knight and study it.”

“When did the mission start?”

“I left on December 21.”

“Which year?”

“This year, just a few days ago.”

“State the year.”

“2009. December 21, 2009.”

“Did you go alone?”

I nodded, confirming.


“Security reasons. NASA didn’t want to put non-essential personnel at risk, so I was selected to get there first and record everything. If the place was safe, others would go later.”

“I see. How long did you stay there?”

The question brought back memories from that specific moment. The feeling of fear and excitement I had, facing the unknown. I remembered crossing the space between the ship and the Black Knight, and everything I had to keep me connected to my ship was a flexible, thin cable that felt like an umbilical cord. When I reached the Black Knight, I got to open a passage and entered the satellite with no difficulties.

The Black Knight was dark not only outside, but also inside. Very carefully and slowly, I moved forward. Oh, Lord! I was so afraid! I didn’t know what to wait for, and I had a childish feeling that a monster was lurking in the dark, ready to shatter me. It was when I started to feel a spooky shiver running all over my skin.

“I stayed there just for a few minutes,” I answered, at last.

“Was there anyone else?”

That was the strangest question ever. I frowned. “Inside the satellite? No, of course not.”

“So, What happened?”

“My vision got blurry. There might have been some kind of magnetic, electric, or radiative activity affecting me. I also don’t discard the possibility that I was too nervous and frightened. The fact is that I felt so sick that I was forced to abort the mission and get out before fainting. I went back to the spaceship and lost consciousness. Fortunately, the ship has a self-navigation system. The mission control on Earth brought me back. The next thing I recall was awakening here.

She stood up and walked to the camera to turn it off. “I think this is all we need to know for now.”

“Wait! You said I could go if I answered your questions.”

“I said you could go if you clarified the situation. But, up to now, your answers only made everything even more complicated.”

“How come?” I asked in a panic.

She crossed her arms, already at the door. “Because the Black Knight is not extraterrestrial, but a satellite that we launched in 1972 to investigate the polar regions and measure their size and thickness since our planet is suffering ongoing global warming for some decades now… Because you’re not the same person sent to the Black Knight to do the routine maintenance, and we want to know what happened to the technician that was verifying the equipment inside the satellite. And, most importantly, because our planet is located in the Izar’s solar system in the Boötis constellation.”

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