‘You’re sure they’re meant to be like this?’

‘No, really, they were born like that.’

‘Disgusting. What unfortunate little creatures.’

‘That’s what we’ve been calling them, the Unfortunates. I meant to catch you up sooner, but you overslept for two of their lifetimes. We’ve learnt quite a bit in that time.’

‘To exist under such heat and pressure, surely they’re in agony all their lives?’

‘Probably. Almost certainly, in fact; but they don’t realise it. They live their entire lives practically aflame; their extinguishing must be a great relief.’

‘You don’t think they go to the After, as we do?’

‘Certainly not! Can you imagine the After, filled with lots of burning, screaming furballs? They live and breed so fast, we’d be overrun!’

‘They only exist on this one planet though? At least there aren’t too many of them.’

‘True; they’ve visited their moon, and a few other planets within the well of their burning star, but seem to crave the heat, and fear leaving its embrace.’

‘They want the heat?’

‘They need it, I think. Some horrible symbiosis of burning.’

‘I almost envy them.’


‘They come into their lives burning and frenetic, existing so rapidly that they are gone within a cosmic blink. They’ll never appreciate the burning out of their star, the death of a system, the universal symphony slowing. They are apart from all true troubles.’

‘You’d choose to live your life in ignorance? To see yourself extinguished before this very conversation concluded?’

‘Certainly not. But they needn’t worry for such things. They live quickly, and burn out before they can burden themselves with the weight of the cosmos. It sounds peaceful.’

‘If you wish to holiday here, the outer limits of the gravity well are cool enough to be survivable. If not comfortable.’

‘Thank you for your consideration, but I’ll pass. They’ve got be a freak accident, a missed note of the symphony. To evolve under the indomitable fire of a star, surely none could plan for that?’

‘No, you’re right. The experts already decided not to make contact with them; let them think they are alone in the universe. For all it matters, they may as well be. Let them live in their little bubbles of warmth around every desolate star, they’ll never know us.’

‘A quiet, rapid existence, lived entirely under burning light.’

‘They can never know of what they’ve missed. The trillions of cultures living between the stars, where heat and light cannot bother us.’

‘To tell them would truly be cruel.’

‘They’ll forever think the universe is theirs, perhaps that is recompense enough for their exclusion from all that really is.’

‘Such curious beings. Shall we stay and watch a little longer?’



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