art by Alan Bao
by William Greeley
Dr. Arroyo sighs. It's over. NASA has shut down, SETI has folded, the donors have forgotten the cause, the computers are out of date, the telescopes are old and broken. The decades of silence had defeated his mission.
How many billions of dollars had SETI spend over his lifetime, searching the sky for something, anything, some little sign that they're out there? All of Dr. Arroyo's life was spent listening for a sign of extraterrestrial intelligence in the vast universe. His career was looking to the sky and pleading, "Speak to us. Please, just one bleep of signal. We're waiting."
And all his life nothing but the sound of crickets had filled the night air.
He is the last one out of the building. He turns off the lights.
Dr. Arroyo looks at the night sky as he steps from the institute, a lifelong habit, but this will be the last time. "Are you there?" he asks the stars.
Nothing but crickets.