Author: Katlina Sommerberg

Everything started with a star burping out an interesting tidbit. Buried amongst the electromagnetic radiation hiccups the same messages on repeat, looping endlessly. One species tamed this red giant, a fiend who swallowed half its planets, into the galaxy’s most creative loudspeaker.

Five years after its discovery, the collective work from thousands of scientists twisted the translation out of the ultraviolet spectrum. The other light bands remain, but this one was trivial.

“This system holds the ancient ruins of our pre-space civilization, and this star all our philosophical lessons. Be warned, once you cut the tether to your planet, your species will never be the same. Ours cannot go back.”

Plastered on every newspaper, the entire world inhaled the message and choked on its implications. Articles cranked out of every news source, from the most prestigious journals to the smallest internet bloggers, and millions of children revoked their career choice of ‘astronaut.’ Questions peppered government officials, from city council members to United Nations janitors.

Everyone wanted to know, but few knew what they wanted to know.

Space programs revived under new waves of funding, expanding to personnel counts higher than in their heyday before Climate Change. Piece by piece, the rest of the message unraveled in secret rooms. The masses lost interest in the century’s strangest puzzle, but those invested in the message never lost their drive.

When Earth lost the last of her bees, the message was unraveled at last. The world raced to hear the news, eyes running quickly across the words detailing the scientists’ arduous process. All eyes stared fixed on their screens and papers when they reached the aliens’ philosophy.

“We regret ruining our world, only to chase the dream of a paradise across the stars.”