Come Find Me(7)


I let out a groan of frustration. I may have only taken a year of physics so far, but I do know there’s no such thing as a negative frequency. Not in reality. And definitely not something that Elliot would have programmed to record, either. It makes no sense.

Just to double-check (because, again, only one year of physics so far), I type negative frequency into the search bar, but it only tells me what I had assumed: it only exists in mathematical theory, not reality.

I scan the data, looking for the time stamps, and see that it registered from just after 1:00 a.m. until I pulled all the data, a short time later.

Freaking Marco. I hope they didn’t damage the satellite dish last night. I hope Lydia didn’t perch on the edge of it, and Sutton didn’t throw a beer bottle at the center. I hope Marco didn’t stumble into it on his way back last night, knocking it off axis.

It’s probably just the computer program, though in some ways, that would be worse—I wouldn’t even know where to start with that.

God, it’s hot. But another six-mile bike ride it is.

* * *

    The dish looks fine, but Elliot built it, so I’m not really sure what could be happening on the inside. It’s still angled at the right spot, and structurally, everything looks sound. The cable’s buried underground, though, so that will have to wait. Best to track down the most likely culprit first.

I head in the opposite direction from my house, over the split-rail fence, to the other side of the fields. There’s a development here, mostly modest two-story homes with landscaped backyards and two-car garages. Marco’s house is the third on the right from the way I enter—from the field, not the road. His car, an old green sedan, is parked in the driveway, and I’m assuming one or both of his parents’ cars are in the garage.

I ring the doorbell, hear footsteps before his mother opens the door in workout clothes. Her face is makeup-free, her hair brushed up into a messy bun. Like this—relaxed and casual—she reminds me so much of my mom that I instinctively look away at first.

“Hi,” I say. “Is Marco here?”

His mom has that look of surprise and sympathy, which eventually merges into a painful smile. “Kennedy, how nice to see you! Did you call him? I think Marco’s still sleeping.” Then the sympathy and surprise swing in my favor, which I’ve grown used to with teachers and parents alike. She pulls the door open before clearing her throat. “Well, go on up.”

“I’ll just be a minute,” I say, to reassure her.

I knock once, wait to the count of five, and then let myself into Marco’s room. He pushes himself to sitting in his bed. From the noise that escapes his throat, he must be nursing a hangover, not that I’m surprised. But he doesn’t even question what I’m doing here, just flops down on his back, lifting a hand at me in greeting. He’s so disoriented by my presence I feel my stomach do that flip from the first time I was in his room last September, working on a school project, when I knew he liked me and he knew I liked him and the anticipation was so all-consuming I could only think of things in proximity to Marco.

    Current calculation: five steps from Marco’s feet.

“Marco,” I say, and he flings an arm over his eyes. “Last night, did you guys mess with the telescope?”

“The…what?” He rubs his eyes, pushes himself to sitting again, folds his legs up under the sheets. “Hi, Kennedy,” he says, like we’re starting over.

I take a step closer. “The radio telescope. The satellite dish. Did you do anything to it?” Current calculation: four steps from Marco’s bed.

“We didn’t touch it,” he says, now fully awake. He blinks his dark brown eyes twice, frowning. “How’d you get in here?”

“Your mom. What were you doing out there last night?” I ask.

Marco lifts one shoulder in half a shrug. “It was Lydia’s idea.”

And this is where my affection for Marco wanes. Nothing is ever his fault, or his idea. He’s painfully indecisive, even more so in hindsight.

“And why did Lydia want to go there?” I ask. Lydia is Marco’s best friend, and Sutton is usually kind of her boyfriend, not that they like the label. But that’s the best way to describe them. They all live in the same sprawling neighborhood behind my house.

    “I don’t know, we were at Sutton’s, and his parents came home, so Lydia said we should go there, and I don’t know, I couldn’t think of a reason not to, really.”

And that, in a nutshell, is Marco. He runs his fingers through his messy hair, and no part of me wants to do the same. It’s been six months since I touched him last, but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it since. Six months, it seems, is enough. “You swear you didn’t touch it,” I say.

“I swear,” he says.

I turn around and leave. He calls my name. I don’t look back.

* * *

Back at Joe’s, I look over the data again. I’d ignore it, except there’s definitely a pattern. A spike every three seconds or so. And it repeats. On and on it goes. I log on to the amateur SETI forums, and I compose a message:

Anyone ever register a signal at a negative frequency? I’m picking up a pattern of pulses. Interference probable.—KJ

Megan Miranda's Books