Finally the search was over, and the scientists and astronauts all returned to Earth. “Sorry,” they told the large crowd that had begun to gather as their ship landed. “It turns out there’s no life anywhere else in the universe.”
“Are you sure?” someone called out from the crowd.
“Yes,” one of the scientists replied. “We checked.”
The crowd, which now numbered in the thousands, bristled.
“So we’re all alone? We’re it?” one woman asked.
The scientists and astronauts nodded and shrugged.
“That doesn’t give us much cause for hope, does it,” another woman said. “If we’re totally alone in the universe, and we just live our little lives and then die and there’s nothing else? I mean what’s the point.”
The crowd turned to see how the scientists would respond.
“Well there’s still the possibility of Heaven and all that. We haven’t ruled out the afterlife.”
“When will you know for certain?” a man asked.
“Thursday next. We’re just waiting on some test results.”
“Fine, we’ll meet back here on Thursday,” another man said, and the crowd nodded in agreement.
They dispersed and everyone went back to their homes. The next few days passed slowly. People went to their jobs, but weren’t quite as productive as they ordinarily were. Bloggers posted a few links and images, but didn’t write anything too long. Kids went to school, and listened in class, but didn’t stress about catching every word. Families mainly ate out at restaurants, because no one felt like doing dishes.
On Thursday morning, everyone woke up early and got ready, then set off to meet up with everyone else. A good portion of the people had arranged car-pools in advance. People were looking forward to getting there, and finding out what the others had been up to in the last few days. When they arrived, they realized that just about every single person had gotten dressed up nice. And no one had talked about it beforehand or anything. It just worked out like that.