|Ralph and Chuck were heading back to Earth. This was something they
were both glad about after so much time away from home, though Chuck was worried that he
hadn't paid the landlady his rent before he left.
The amazing pictures of the dead cities of Venus were still keeping the media busier than the Presidential sex scandal back in 2007 (the one with the sheep) and the discovery of the gigantic engraved stone gave NASA hope that they would discover what had happened to the Venusians.
The mission control crew were kept busy feeding images of the stone through the interpretative computers, to try and discover that it meant. Before too many hours had gone by, they had the answer. Ah, the awesome power of Intel's Pentium XXVI chips.
It was a message. A message left by the long gone Venusians for whoever might come along to find it.
And it went like this:
"Greetings, Earthlings. At least, we're going to presume you're Earthlings, because you're the only other lifeforms we've noticed in the vicinity that have even the tiniest glimmerings of intelligence.
"If those pesky Martian sand creatures have reached us first, we'll quite frankly be very very surprised. They haven't figured out the lever or the wheel yet, so we think it might be a while before they master space travel.
"This is a message to tell you who we were. We were the people of Venus.
"We have been monitoring your scientific progress, and calculate that by the time you read this, it will have been many millennia since we died out.
"Bummer, isn't it. But we've brought it on ourselves. We've mined this planet mercilessly for five centuries for the amazing fossil fuel resources underneath the surface.
"We've been having a merry old time with our cars, our trucks, our ride-on mowers, inter-continental passenger rockets, and all those other fun things you Earthlings probably use your fossil fuels for.
"Our supplies seemed endless, so we didn't give a second thought to the choking pollution that was increasingly taking over our cities. Oh sure, the usual mob of environmentalists kept shouting about it, but who takes notice of them?
"Several decades ago, our scientists, our weather computers and the President's astrologer all realised there was a problem. The pollution was somehow eating away at our atmosphere. The sun's UV rays were pouring in. The smog was getting terrible. But none of our politicians have been brave enough to change things. For the sake of maintaining our wealth and our luxurious lifestyles, our planet was dying.
"Last year everyone finally realised the planet was doomed. We tried to stop it, by freezing use of our fossil fuels, but now it's too late. As I write this, we may have just weeks left. The air is poisonous. We can't grow food. Those of us who can are locking ourselves away in airtight bunkers. But the tins of food will have run out long before we are able to use the surface of our planet again.
"We are in very, very deep shit.
"That is our story, Earthlings. By the time you read this, I don't know how much of our civilisation will be left. Good luck, and have a happy existence."
- The Year 2031
Copyright©1998 Daniel Bowen