by Simon Hole

I joined the Bureau to find the next great civilization; another planet to join us here among the stars. So far, it’s been one disappointment after another. Fifty worlds examined, fifty Class I civilizations.

I really thought this would be it. The readings from deep space looked good. I rehearsed the ‘first contact’ speech. I even let my mother know I might be on to something.

But no, the final readings are conclusive. It’s just another hope-dashing Class I world. The regulations are clear; catalogue the findings, submit the report, and depart without contact. I hate knowing that when a follow-up team checks back in a thousand years this planet will most probably have devolved to the point where there is no civilization left and any beings still alive will be barely sentient.

An Astronaut's View From Space
NASA/Reid Wiseman (@astro_reid) via public domain

It seems like something could be done, something to nudge these creatures in the right direction. Minimal contact, of course; just enough to keep them from self-destructing.

And so I wonder. Suppose my shields were to ‘fail’—just for a moment—as I engage the star engine. Suppose these half-advanced bipeds on the blue and white world were to catch a glimpse of my departure. Would that be so bad?

More to the point, would it be enough?

Simon Hole lives in rural Rhode Island where he taught fourth grade for 35 years, publishing essays and co-authoring a book focused on life in the classroom. Since retirement he has been playing poker, gardening, and writing short fiction. Some of his work can be found on-line at and in upcoming issues of The Zodiac Review and Bewildering Stories.