Prompt: The first letter of each sentence spells a message that contradicts the rest of the story.
The first signal was found in 1977, interesting, but largely ignored. Hopeful alien hunters grasped the signal as incontrovertible proof, but the general public only received the news with a mild, fleeting curiosity. Earth, after all, was home, and there were bills to pay and lawns to mow and children’s noses to wipe. Yet there remained a growing sense in the collective conscious that maybe, just maybe, *something* was out there.
Aliens, if they were there, and if they were intelligent, were thousands or millions of light years away. Reality is still, after all, that boring. Even as the list of possibly habitable planets continues to grow, it is unlikely that within even a hundred lifetimes we could begin to dream of exploring such a vast space. After all our fantasy and science fiction and quietly wishing we knew of something else out there, we are left with just one simple, incontrovertible truth: Life, as we know it, on this planet, is all that we will ever see. Radio signals from deep space aside, the fact remains that finding life on other planets within our lifetime is nothing more than a dream.
Every person, then, must ask himself, how important is this exploration to the stars? Are we looking for aid or companionship in this dark and lonely voyage we are all on? Do we keep searching, hoping to find a place where we can settle down, a home we haven’t yet ravaged and destroyed far beyond its ability to support and sustain life? Years ago the answers may have been simple, but the questions have become increasingly complex. Humans have destroyed this delicately balanced organic spaceship that has sustained our existence for millennia. Every gift this planet has given we have reaped, unabashedly, sometimes violently, for our own gain. Right now, there may be worlds, thousands or millions of lightyears away, where another intelligent species, hopefully more intelligent than us, has cared for their planet, has cared for each other, and lives without conflict and war and chaos and destruction over such pointless evils as wealth and jealousy. Even now something in our entire species is enthralled with the possibility that this is true, and I wonder, I wonder, if this isn’t our collective subconscious fascination with the idea that these theoretical beings may turn out to be humanity’s only hope.