Most children don’t need to be told to stay away from the dark, abandoned, crumbling house at the end of the block — its very appearance strikes fear into their hearts. In front of their peers, they may act brave, but a slight rustle from the overgrown yard will scatter the group to scream the way back to their respective homes. But! Should you ask those children what they want to be when they grow up, a couple are likely to reply, “Astronaut.” They want to travel into space.
Which is ludicrous. A decrepit mansion on Earth is far safer than the frigid vacuum that lies outside our atmosphere. “Life in space is impossible,” reads the text at the beginning of Alfonso Cuarón’s 2013 thriller Gravity, which follows two astronauts as they try to survive the destruction of their shuttle by high-velocity debris. Just as worrisome as these technical hazards, though, are the supernatural ones. To wit: Outer space, the moon, and other planets are all haunted.
You don’t have to tell me “it’s only a joke.” I’m well aware, because the idea of using a gun to ward off moon ghosts is laughable. Whatever haunts the lunar surface will not be impressed by our pathetic weaponry, and that’s why I’m worried that college students are presenting NASA with “innovative concepts” for exploring “previously uncharted areas” on the spooky ol’ rock. We’re looking to send people back to the moon this decade, too, and additional rovers to Mars, and to launch a powerful new tool, the James Webb Space Telescope, sending it a million miles from our homeworld. What will it see? Some scary shit, I guarantee you. It’s asking for trouble.
But listen, don’t take my word for it. Astronomers aren’t expecting to meet a living alien race that annihilates us — rather, they seem to believe we’ll run across already extinct civilizations that may have (gulp) destroyed themselves. No thank you! If disturbing the tomb of an Egyptian mummy brings a deadly curse, then I shudder to think what happens when you fuck around in a sacred extraterrestrial burial ground. I’m picturing catacombs of their weird little skeletons, and the vibes are totally fucked, man. Earth has plenty of problems to work out before we’re up to the horror of alien poltergeists. Has anyone at NASA even seen Event Horizon? Slow your roll.
No doubt Neil deGrasse Tyson would tell me I’m being ridiculous, that there’s no such thing as ghosts, and therefore, no need to dread our contact with ghosts in space. I have to point out, however, that this is exactly what the first person to be killed by space ghosts would say, shortly before their cosmic demise. His guard is down, and he’s an easy target. I refuse to be so complacent, and may survive a bit longer as a result.
Yet none of us will enjoy a natural full lifespan so long as this species is intent on poking into every last temple ruin in the Milky Way. I beg of you, let’s not anger the ancient ones. I’m hiding under my blanket until further notice.