I often lay there staring at the stars. Staring up into the inky blackness, spotted by millions of points of light, untouched by the light pollution that plagued the rest of civilization. I watched it all slowly rotate around me like the world's largest planetarium. Even after all my years working at Area 51 the view of the night sky still seemed to amaze me and continued to bring out the most intimate and hidden parts of myself. The parts of me my parents had nurtured as a child. The parts of me that had pushed me to become a scientist. The parts of me that now pushed me to discover what was out there. I pondered the universe, my life, the meaning of it all from this rooftop. It was a peaceful way to think, but that never stopped Bob from chiming in.
“After all the things we've seen, after all the thing we've done,” he started, his voice hoarse as always, “You know what still bothers me the most?”
Sitting up I responded with a smirk, “Your smell?”
He wrinkled his green and flaky nose at me, “No, I lost my sense of smell way back, though I do admit I smelled terrible.”
He let out a slight rasp of a laugh before continuing, “No, what still bothers me, is what is it all for? You know our lives, our toil. Everyone has their own answers to it. Philosophers. Average joes. And I know all of them. If I have done one thing in this job other than work and rot, its read. And still none of them leave me really convinced.”
I stood up slowly, pulling my wide-brimmed fedora over my forehead. My father had given it to me before I had left to work at the facility. When I was a kid I had always known when my dad was going to market by whether he was wearing this hat or not. It still smelled of the farm. And of him. I missed my family. I breathed in deeply as the warm air carressed around me. Luckily the breeze was blowing in the opposite direction from Bob. He was right, he smelled terrible.
“I mean, is there some greater purpose behind all of our lives, behind our very existence? Or are the atheists right and we are just an accident resulting from the Big Bang? Will we ever even find out?” he questioned, his tone urgent.
Bob had read all the books he could find. He'd torn through them like a fiend, obsessed with these questions. We all had them, but he was in a little more precarious of a position then most of us. He was a zombie after all. But he sounded worried tonight. More than usual. I hardened my thoughts and made my way to the ladder. I heard Bob get up behind me.
As I started my way down I gave Bob a long stare, as I always did, and said, “That's what we're here to find out.”