An attempt

Spencer was looking at himself in the mirror. Just turned 21, he was not happy with what he saw. Should probably hit the gym, but it was hard to get motivated. Thin arms, the beginnings of a beer gut. Already. He was pretty sure that was way too early.
“Spence? Can you come down here? Something is wrong with the TV!” his mom yelled from the downstairs living room. Spencer got on his t-shirt and went downstairs. He was met with something quite odd. The TV was filled with static, but it looked different from the normal “snow” they got when something was wrong. In addition to that, the screen said “Important message – stand by” in the middle of it.
“What is going o…” Spencer was interrupted by a shrill, loud tone, which lasted for three seconds. The screen flickered violently. It was replaced by complete silence, and the upper body of an oddly familiar old man.
“This is General Spencer Adams speaking. What I am about to tell you is extremely important, and I implore everyone to listen. I hope it’s not too late…” The man was certainly a figure of authority, but the last sentence was spoken with more feeling. It also seemed like he had not intended to say it, like it was off script, and he sat up even straighter right after. Both Spencer and his mother was sitting down now, too stunned to say anything.
“It is important that everyone watching this does their best to document it. Take pictures, video, transcribe what I am saying. Get it stored somehow. I will give you a few seconds to make that ready now, but we don’t have much time.” A few seconds passed before he continued.
“On the 7th of April, 2016, an asteroid passed the earth. It was not close enough to be exciting, and only a handful of scientists cared. A week later the particles left in its wake entered earths atmosphere. This resulted in aurora borealis, more commonly known as northern lights. However, the effected area was larger than ever seen before. Large parts of Europe and parts of both western Asia and the east coast of America could over the next couple of days report seeing the phenomenon. I assure you, this is not normal.”
The general drew a ragged breath, found a handkerchief and coughed into it. During this, Spencer took out his phone and looked at it. It said 12:43 PM, 8th of April. 2016.
The General continued. “Another anomaly was the microscopic particles that survived entering our atmosphere. It fell like invisible snow the next few weeks. Due to the microscopic size of the particles, they just floated around for a time before they eventually hit the ground. Some of it got into the water cycle. It also spread over a large area. Or so we speculate. A lot of it is speculation, to be honest.” As if he wanted this to sink in, General Spencer stared at his hands for a few seconds, before looking intensely into the camera. He continued. “This brings me to the reason for this transmission. The reason for why we have spent the last twenty years trying to send a message back in time. To warn you. Mankind must work together to prevent exposure to these particles. We knew too late, but with enough time to prepare it can be done. Failure to do so will lead to the end of mankind as we know it.
We still don’t know exactly what it is. We do know it acts like a virus. It spreads very slowly, but we have no means to actually kill it. And what makes it most dangerous is its quantum properties. I… we tried… most of the scientists capable of studying it died first. By studying it. We think it does something to the brain of anyone who studies it closely, and so we just don’t know enough about it. It also has several different ways of effecting our bodies. Some die minutes after exposure due to complete organ shutdown. Some live for weeks, bleeding to death. There have been instances of violent paranoia, hallucinations. We simply don’t understand it, how it works, what it is. As I am recording this, readying it to send it back, there are not many left. And we are running out of time. That fact is why we are not sure how far back we send this. Don’t have time for more tests. We hope it reaches you years before the asteroid passes by. But we are just not sure.”
Another bout of coughs, leaving the white handkerchief flecked with red.
“In case this message comes too late, there is nothing anyone can do to stop it. Your only course of action in that scenario is to halt the spread as much as possible. Work together, do what it takes. In the video file you are watching now, every hundred frames contain a piece of the schematics for the machine we use to send this message back. Make it work as fast as possible, and send this message back. I cannot stress this enough. This is the most important part, in the event that we are too late. You must send a message back. We know some of the frames with the schematics are scrambled during transit, and we are sorry about that. You will figure it out. We just can’t make it stable enough. Another important thing, about the message. In order for us to make progress, you must record it yourself.”
Spencer sat up straight. He felt like his older self could see him through the screen. He knew it, in his gut, that he was looking at himself.
“You must record it. And end the message with the number of attempts. We need progress. We were attempt number eighty-seven. You will be attempt eighty-eight. Good luck.”

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