There were times, back before these hollow skies, when we thought that up there, there were beings watching over us. We thought every wrong deed, every cruel action, or bad thought would bring punishment down upon us. We thought virtue would bring rewards, while kindness and compassion recorded and each noble action credited. We thought, at least for a while, there must be some great cosmic ledger held up there above us all, making sure good was rewarded and bad was punished.
No-one knew why we thought such a situation as absurd as it now seems. No-one ever questioned that life must have some reason, some purpose. Even if that reason and purpose was opaque to us. Part of some plan for the greater good of us all created and followed by our sky benefactors.
Then it all changed when our first rockets breached the atmosphere and discovered what was up there, above our heads.
At first, everyone was too stunned to make sense of it. Even the leaders of the religions who’d promised us all there were beings up there watching over us and judging all we do, could not make sense of it either.
There was, for a while, though, a consensus to steer clear of the ring of ancient satellites orbiting our home planet. We assumed they were still active and watching our every move. There were even some who expected some final day, some Armageddon, now we had discovered we had been watched all this time.
But nothing happened.
No-one detected any signals from the satellites, either down to the planet’s surface, or out into space. Slowly, carefully, space missions moved closer and closer to the satellites. Some people, if not all of us, expected that this would be the one act too far and some severe retribution would fall on us all.
But nothing happened.
Eventually a mission – after long debate – docked with one of these satellites. This confirmed it. The satellite, as were all the others, was dead, long dead. So no one was watching us after all.
It was then we began to look up into the sky, while telescopes peered far into space, in the search for where those satellites had come from so long ago. We wanted to know just why they’d watched us and why no one cared that they’d stopped working so long ago.