‘Ol’ Blue’. That’s what Mops and Pops called it in our bedtime stories. The Elders called it ‘Earth from Long Ago’ in their sermons. Kids would run around in spacewalk dress-up yelling “I’m an Earthish, I come in peace!” while pretending to scan their playmates. I had a different name for it, a special one known just between me and the other members of the Secret of Gan.
Every week at 9am, all families in the Argosy tune into the vidscreen and listen to the ministers preaching their stories of Old. It was the same every week; we’d be told how we have been taught a lesson and should keep it in our hearts every day, carrying the weight of our mistakes as a reminder of the past and motivation to strive for a better future. I would half-heartedly listen and silently mouth phrases to myself. Occasionally I’d get a glare from Mops and I’d snap my mouth shut and feel a bit sheepish, before catching the knowing eye of my father as he winked at me. I knew that most of our people took the Elders words to heart and lived by them every day and don’t get me wrong, I lived by them too (in my own way), but I couldn’t take it seriously when I knew where the lessons were actually derived from.
Years and years ago my ancestor’s world ended and their children’s world changed forever. We destroyed ourselves and we couldn’t make it better, or turn back time. It was done, and Ol’ Blue was gone. War did it. War and greed and spitefulness. Ever since we had to scramble together what was left of our population and retreat into space, we have become wandering nomads, vagabonds. The other species of our galaxy saw it coming from a lightyear away and decided to let us learn our lesson the hard way. On First Contact with a brand new Alien species, we insulted our potential friends and branded ourselves as the narcissists of the Milky Way. Outcasts from day one, we ruined all chances of a friendly relationship with all the other inhabitants of our galaxy. When we most needed a friend in our greatest time of need, we had no-one and only ourselves to blame. Friendless and homeless, we drifted through space, scraping together a living through odd jobs and work no-one else wanted.
If I’m honest, I understand why all the other species abandoned us. We had the warning well ahead of time – 1994 in fact – and those that believed the words were ignored and trampled by the louder, prouder and greedier of our race. Instead of taking steps to prevent our own demise, we brought it on ourselves faster than expected and without being properly prepared. That’s why I don’t mind the space travel so much. I get to see new worlds, hoping to find one to settle on with the other members of the Secret of Gan and live by the secret words that have been molded by time and new religions. I hope it’s a blue world, like Earth from Long Ago. Our new Pale Blue Dot.
I look forward to traveling with my clan. My father, the leader of the Secret of Gan, is in charge of scouting for new locations to trade with. This is a ruse, of course. The Elders think we’re doing what they say, but we spend our time scoping out planets to see whether they are viable for human colonization. In the evenings we sit around a campfire and share new discoveries from The Library of Life, a database Dad stumbled on one day while fishing around in the cargo bay of the Elder’s ship (last week Neil shared a paper on something called the Large Hadron Collider). While the Elders think we should stay in our Argosy and live with our shame and self-loathing, the Secret of Gan has other plans. We one day want to live by a famous scientists words and have a world to live in again and do it right this time. We want our Pale Blue Dot.
Until next time, dear diary,
Carl Sagan Smith
Please find the original prompt and other submissions here, on Reddit.