Ascend | Bellevue, WA | 2017

Before climbing the huge antenna’s stairs, Gretchen gathered her thoughts on her marital mess. True, her husband hadn’t romanced his secretary or stayed out drunk all night or lost the house in a poker game. But she felt cheated and scorned nonetheless as his search for “alien chatter” — it sounded like something from a cartoon — consumed his time and attention. “It’s ridiculous,” she spat, remembering his warning that deep-space radio waves could be dangerous, could short-circuit a person’s brain, could allow a mental takeover by creatures that … well, she was too hurt and angry to even think about such foolishness. He’d been up there for 36 hours straight with no break, no consideration for how lonely she might be. “Harold!” she shouted as she began to climb. “Harold, answer me! Harold!”