Deep across the void of interstellar space and time he observed, and then listened, intently, repeating the same ritual, day after night, and night after day, for even the slightest oscillation against the cosmic background. Dr Smith, was affectionately, known as Saint Anthony, by the rest of the astronomy community at the observatory, indeed, his solitary vigils had something of the same, original, quasi- religious impulse, that led his ancient precursor far into the remote reaches of the Sahara desert all those years ago. It was an uncanny coincidence of sorts too, that Dr. Smith, found himself also surrounded by a desert, yet, unlike that ancient monk- he wanted to see, and hear, and perhaps, who knows even touch, but ultimately to know what was at the heart of creation, not through texts, and prayers and rituals, by rather through the cool detached prism, of a mind grounded in the facts of reality, without the need or assistance of any divine agency, which he considered almost, superciliously, as an outdated childish superstition.
And so the embers of the night were fast approaching the awakening morning, and, soon the sun would be rising above the Andes to the east, and the Atacama sands would be illumined in all their sombre beauty, a mood, that often strangely resonated with him, about this hour. As he turned back towards the lab, with its array of printouts constantly being churned out from the rows of computer generating modeling devices (CGMDs), he wondered, quietly to himself how long this enterprise would take- considering all the galaxies- are we even in the right neighbourhood, he thought, briefly, perhaps we're looking for that elusive signal in the cosmic equivalent of the Atacama desert! The thought brought a short lived smile to his tired face.
"Bob- any luck" came the voice, "No, well....not really, I haven't got a chance to go through everything yet..."
"Hey, man you look really wrecked"
"Thanks, Boris, your a real darling too, bashful to a fault as ever!"
"I know..I Know!! what can I say...it must my Russian Father's influence, a man who always spoke his mind ....anyway, why don't you let the ever glorious Ms.Appledon and I go through some of it, what with the large infra down for maintenance at the moment, we've got a bit of time on our hands, I mean, what the hell else are we going to do in the driest place on Earth anyway!!"
He thought about Boris's proposal, and, despite a few hesitations based upon technical issues which were easily batted away by Boris's combative personality, he agreed to let them cast their fresh eyes and ears across his data....and besides he reasoned such a proposal may give him the opportunity to work more closely with Dr. Appledon! Perhaps even solitude has its limits he thought pensively.