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“What if human intelligence is the be all and end all when it comes to consciousness?” I asked.

He turned away from the window he’d been staring out of for the last hour. The rain was coming down hard, streaking the glass into a grey filter of writhing watery tentacles. “Huh?”

“So much popular science fiction relies on the idea that there might be some form of intelligence out there that’s superior to ours. Life not of this Earth that has evolved differently, or is older, and that has more advanced science and a greater understanding of the universe. Or a transcendent form, something that’s shucked off the biological trappings and now exists on wavelengths we could never comprehend with our limited mushy brains. But what I’m saying is, what if all of that is garbage? What if we’re it? With all our idiocy and genius laid out on a grand bell curve, where we are now represents the best that creation has to offer?”

He frowned. “That’s a depressing thought.”

“Of course it is,” I said. “Which makes me believe it’s possibly true. Almost all truth is depressing, when you think about it. The fact that we’re going to die, the destructive nature of our species, the endless search for meaning in what’s almost certainly a meaningless existence. Anyway, my theory’s as true as any other theory of extraterrestrial intelligence.”

“And serves about as much purpose,” he said.

“Yes, that’s more to the point of the pointlessness of it all then, isn’t it?” I didn’t want to dive too deep, but the weather was grim and I was feeling it.

“We need lies and fantasy, though.” He turned back to the window. “Without that there’s very little room for true happiness.” He laughed, his warm breath blowing out a patch of condensation on the glass. “True happiness. True happiness is a lie, we derive so much joy from lies, and as you’ve said the truth does hurt.” He put a finger to the window and picked out two eyes and a wide smile. “It depresses more often than it elates. You’re better off embracing the happy fictions than the bitter realities, my friend, lest you fall so far into darkness that you never again find the light.”