Hey, I thought I’d find you here. You alright?
Yeah, sure. Why?
Do you know how long you’ve been here?
I don’t know, I turned the clocks off. A couple months, maybe a little longer. I just needed some time on my own to think a few things out. I didn’t mean to worry anyone.
Have you been awake the whole time?
Yeah, of course. How long has it been?
Almost five years! What were you thinking about that you lost track of this much time?
Oh you know, stuff. Where we came from, where we’re going, old dogs I used to know, relationships I’ve left behind. You…
Yeah! I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad you didn’t stay behind. Do you regret it? Coming with me all this way, all this time, not knowing where it will end up or if it will end at all.
No! No regret, just… I don’t know how to put it, it’s just the longer we’re out here the more surreal it becomes. We have everything here we had before or it seems we do. Yet the reality is that it’s all millions of kilometers away. What about you? Regrets?
It funny after all this time I still can’t be surprised to find we think the same thoughts at more or less the same time. Surreal is just how I describe it. From the outside if someone saw us, it would look like a cold dead ball of rock and ice hurtling through space. Yet here we are sitting beside the bay on a small wooded dock, sunlight dancing on the ripples and cormorants chasing minnows below the surface. Do you want to change with me and chase some fish together?
No, I’ve told you before I’m going to save that for a time when the water is real and the fish are real and we are real once more. I am getting tired of replaying the past and pretending we have a future. It doesn’t matter how real it looks or feels or smells, somehow I still know the difference.
Look, I can put my hand right here in the water and it’s wet. I can taste the salt and smell it. Look across the bay, there are cars crossing the bridge and a boat heading for the inlet. You can hear the tires on the road and see the deck hand spreading the nets. It’s as real as you let it be, as real as you want it to be. Someday we’ll find what we’re looking for and we’ll make new realities.
That’s actually why I’m here.
We have another target. This one looks promising, very promising.
That’s great! What are the metrics? How long to contact?
You’ll want to look at the data yourself before you decide how great it is. Contact estimate is a little more than three hundred years if we commit to it. There’s a full crew briefing in an hour, I think you’ll want to be there.
It sounds like plenty of time, Why the rush? And what do you mean if?
Look, there’s already a lot of speculation going on and it’s starting to get a little hysterical and very loud. There may be less time than you think if we want to keep this from getting out of hand.