Over on Boing Boing they're having a drabble (100-word fiction) contest on the theme "Found in Space". Apparently one can win a computer. But more to the point, everyone who enters wins a useful writing exercise.

I don't expect to win; there are a lot of strong entries, some of which I'd choose over mine, were I judging. (I deliberately didn't read any of them before I composed my submission. Good thing, or I'd probably never have started.)

Read the full text of my story after the jump.

Update: The winner and runner-up have been announced. Congratulations to them, and to the surprisingly large number of other worthy submissions. Thanks to Rob Beschizza and to BoingBoing for running the contest. (Older updates moved to the end of the article.)

"Sir, that particle the hydrogen scoops picked up..."

"You already told me it wasn't a micrometeorite, midshipman."

"Lab says metallic structure -- could be artificial -- with bacterial DNA inside."

"They say every pebble 'could be artificial', Jenkins. Covering their bums. Bacteria's nothing new. Anything else?"

"Afraid so, sir. The DNA encodes a signal. They're calling for investigation under general order four."

"Let me guess, sixteen consecutive digits of pi, starting a million digits in?"

" 'I Love Lucy'."


"A twentieth-century teleplay, sir."


"There's more sir. It's no episode we ever transmitted. It's... new."

"First contact is fan fiction?"

Update: Edited 1242CST 17Nov2K9 by DGH to avoid referring to contest entry by number, since those numbers appear to change over time.

Update: The winner will allegedly be announced on Tuesday, 15 December.

Update: Finalists announced. (I'm not one.)

Update: The apparent winner is user femaletrouble3. Congratulations to ditto, to sanborn (my fave) and all involved.