Thursday, April 7, 2016
Flash Fiction Friday, Week 32: A New World
The prompt this week was to write a science fiction story using one of the listed sentences to start our story. The sentence I chose is highlighted. Please enjoy.
A New World
I crouched behind the counter trying not to make a sound. I had already stockpiled a lot of canned goods, but I decided to try to find more cans of soup. I expected some of my neighbors might still be seeking provisions, but saw no one. I found a case of cans of chicken noodle soup by the loading dock at Gabby’s Grocery. Suddenly, I heard them coming. Those carts they rode around in were noisy as hell. I ran back to the front and ducked down in the Customer Service area. They didn’t seem to be able to see through walls, so I knew if I was quiet, they would move on and look elsewhere for stragglers. It would be tough getting that soup back to my hideout without being seen, but I had to try. If I was going to survive until they were gone, I needed all the supplies I could gather.
Just because people in my town believed their lies and lined up to board their spaceships like lambs to the slaughter, that didn’t mean I was stupid enough to join in. I had told my friends and neighbors about the episode on The Twilight Zone called To Serve Man. The aliens intended to serve man all right – for dinner. I didn’t say our current visitors planned to do the same, but I tried to point out how hokey their story sounded. They said they came across the vast expanse of space to save us from this wasteland of our own making and to relocate us to a new world where we could again thrive. Ridiculous, right? Well, people I had believed were rational beings fell for it hook, line and sinker.
They’ve been here almost a month, and are loading people up all over the world every day. I have to admit they look like us, which is probably why they’re able to fool so many. If they were 12 feet tall, had three heads, claws and a tail, we’d probably have tried to blow them up as soon as they landed. Everyone in my subdivision saw the lights in the sky and one after the other setting down. It was just like the movie War of the Worlds when the aliens landed in groups. Their ships are huge, and while I’m not sure how many people each one can hold, everyone in my town went inside one, and they were still going around in their carts looking in the neighboring towns for more to fill it.
When they first arrived, they announced that we all should gather in the town square. It was there they informed us about their mission. They said they monitored inhabited planets, and when its natural resources were nearly depleted, they relocated the residents to another planet for a fresh start. According to the Friends of the Universe - that’s what they called themselves, this is a role they had chosen for themselves. Their world was rich in natural resources that they valued and maintained. Unfortunately, other civilizations wasted and destroyed, and in doing so, destroyed themselves.
That’s where they came in. If they could get to the inhabitants in time, they’d launch a rescue effort. Depending on the size of the planet’s population, as many transports as needed were deployed, and all were loaded up and moved to another suitable planet. Provisions and temporary shelter were provided until the new residents got on their feet. Then they were left to flourish, or fail again, on their own, and the cycle continued. As touching and inspirational as that sounded, I knew it was a bunch of crap. We’ve been on Earth for millions of years and screwed up plenty, but they show up out of nowhere now?
I have to admit we’re in pretty bad shape at the moment. We’ve had some wars that really hurt Mother Earth. There are a few areas where the air is not breathable, the ground is barren, and the water is polluted beyond repair. But, we’ve been through hard times before and have always been able to clean up after ourselves. I can’t accept that there’s no hope for me and my fellow man, other than to desert our world and allow it to be used as a place for punishment. That’s the other reason they’re evacuating us, by the way. Earth will be turned into a prison.
We were told dying planets are often used to house those banished from their home planet due to violation of the local law. Others remove the elderly and infirm from their homes and resettle them, so to speak, on a distant star. Planets that are unable to sustain any form of life are used solely as landfills. However, any planet that has at least tolerable air and water, and the use of either or both would not result in immediate death, would be deemed appropriate for criminals and the aged. And I had always believed admitting a family member into a nursing home was cruel.
I managed to dodge their patrols and made it safely back to my refuge. The residents of the house I was hiding in had gone willingly with our self-proclaimed saviors, so I decided to move in. I kept the curtains drawn, the doors and windows locked, except for a few small upstairs windows to let some air in, polluted that it was. I knew they’d make their exit soon since they informed us their time here was limited by the alignment of various stars. A month of our time was all the time they had to clear our world of human life. At least Noah took along two of each member of the animal kingdom in his Ark. These new friends of ours were leaving behind land and sea creatures alike. Bastards.
Once all their ships took off, I’d be free to move about in the open and begin my life anew. The world outside wasn’t very welcoming, but I would be on my own and not spending the rest of my life in some cage waiting to be dissected or placed in a pot with carrots and potatoes. Even if what they said about other creatures being dumped off here to serve time was true, I was a man – the superior species, and I would triumph. I would be King and they would be my subjects. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. I knew I had to get the upper hand right from the start, but I could handle some old whatever they were with my hands tied behind my back. And criminals? I had access to all the guns and weapons this world had to offer. No one was going to get the better of me.
My fantasy about making the world mine was shattered when I heard their announcement right outside where I was hiding. They knew where I had been, but deliberately avoided confronting me until now. How decent of them.
“Daniel,” one of them said. “A moment of your time, if you please.”
We’re on a first name basis now. How civil. I looked through the living room window, and there were six of them on the front lawn, all sitting in their transports. I’d had enough of these cat and mouse games. It was time to make my stand. I stepped out onto the front porch.
“If I please? Stop all this pretending. Why don’t you just kill me and get it over with.”
“We didn’t come here to harm anyone, Daniel. Everything we’ve told the people of your world was true. Earth can no longer sustain life for so many. Your fellow creatures are happy in their new world. Please come with us now. We can no longer delay. You are the last.”
“No. Go ahead and take off, you liars.”
“Understand that once we leave, we cannot return. This world will be the property of the new owners and they…”
He received a message through his headset I couldn’t hear.
“I’m sorry for you, Daniel. We must leave now.”
Sorry for me? That was rich. They rode away toward the north end of town. A few minutes later, I saw the flashes of light as their last ship took off. I had called their bluff. The whole world was now mine for the taking.
Two days later, the new owners arrived and began setting up buildings to house their prisoners. So, our Friends of the Universe had been telling the truth after all. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but Earth’s new landlords were 12 feet tall, had three heads, claws and a tail. When I walked over to a group of them to introduce myself as the King of Earth, one of them grabbed me, dragged me into one of the buildings they had constructed, and dropped me into a large pot with carrots and potatoes. Damn.