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I sit on a rocky outcropping, a small economical white space craft waits in a clearing nearby. Two thousand feet below, the metal jungle of a human population center rises. Even from here the phantom sounds of their life reaches me.
These humans could be charming when they wanted to; so full of life, so loving. Yet this was their weakness. They spread like cancer, until the entire planet was screaming under the load it carried. Wars broke out, boiling over the edges of peace and contentment, as each looked after their own. Anyone they weren’t responsible for became somebody else’s problem, and thus invisible. It had been my misfortune to have to document the planet. However one thing kept me from becoming to bitter. They had imagination, such stories that thrilled the senses with this magical element. But this is not able to excuse such arrogance. Strutting around, they believe themselves the only ones truly alive. This may be true, but that was a debate for philosophers, not a humble historian such as me, but it still didn’t make them any less annoying. I was here to document them and nothing else. It was clear to me that if a conquering race were to discover them, they were finished.
That wouldn’t matter now though; strange, bruised clouds swirl in a vortex, strange, black lighting leaps forth, causing a sinister throbbing with the resounding thunder. The evil spreads from horizon to horizon, the entire planet enshrouded. The final hours are here, and humanity-on this side of the planet-remain blissfully unaware that their supply of tomorrows is exhausted.
I walk over to my ship, and wait for it to recognize me. When it does it asks its usual question, “What?” a synthetic voice asks, that still manages to sound irritable. I hate the genius who thought of giving computers personality.
“I need the last hover-cam,” I say mildly. The ship may not like it, but it is still forced to obey me.
“Very well,” it sulks. Seconds later a small hatch opens, and the floating device pops out, still factory fresh. I take a Nano-chip, and insert it into the waiting slot. The hover-cam sets off speedily in search of some one of the proper age. The twelve to eighteen year humans always have the rawest emotions. The best example of the reactions they will have.
“Must be the raging hormones,” I mutter to myself. For some reason the ship takes offense at this, but still has to let me in. I plop myself down in a swivel chair, and boot up the view screens. The feed is live. Strange black rain falls; thankfully my little camera is immune to whatever its effects are. Glass walled towers zip by, as the hover-cam looks for the residential districts. Finding a promising main artery, it follows it, until the commercial buildings are replaced by smart looking houses, with neatly trimmed bushes, and lawns. I enter a short command, and then transmit it. The camera now looks for vehicles specifically with window paint. In a matter of seconds it has found one, not pausing at all it charges straight through a window. The shattering glass pane is easily picked up by the audio receptors, meaning the houses residence have heard it too. I wince, so much for going unnoticed. A middle aged man enters; the bald patch on his head is shining with sweat from the obvious adrenaline rush. Much more worrying than sweat is the aluminum bat raised, and ready to swing. This camera mustn’t be lost. I take manual control for a minute, and bring the camera back into the black rain.
The man has caught sight of my floating camera. Even more important to him than audio/video equipment is the black rain he suddenly has noticed. His jaw drops, stretching his face, giving him the appearance of a fish that has suddenly discovered itself unable to breath.
“Jill,” he calls shakily. A few moments later a rather severe looking woman appears in a cotton night dress.
“What is it David?” she asks. In reply the man I now knew to be David pointed. Jill’s eyes follow the pointed finger and the repeats the same startled expression as her husband. I squirmed with delight, this was what made humans so entertaining. A crisis would arise, and all they can do is stare, and keep their faith in a government that will wave a load of green paper about to make their troubles vanish. It’s almost comical this misguided trust, but they believe in it so much, that the other races don’t have the heart to disillusion them.
I switch the camera’s control back to its data chip. Instantly it zooms past the gaping couple in search of a teenager. It enters a corridor, makes a ninety degree turn, and runs lens on into its target. The teen gasps in pain and astonishment. My camera focuses in on the expression; priceless. He gets up, and heads for the common room rubbing his forehead. Dutifully the little camera follows.
His parents are still frozen in place, but their faces have become slightly more mobile. The eyes have widened, and their mouths move up and down. Their son hastens to mimic them. This is quickly becoming boring. I decide to ramp up the action. Back in my command chair I speak into a microphone. At the same moment my voice comes from a small speaker on the hover-cam.
“Greetings earthlings,” I say, “take me to your leader.” I turn the transmitter of for a moment and giggle mercilessly at the female who appears to have fainted. As the mirth subsides, I reopen communication. “I’m just joshing you; I’m just here to capture the end of the world on film.” This proves too much for the adult male, and he falls unconscious next to his wife, leaving only their son.
He looks up at the camera, a ragged fear evident. “Why are you doing this?” he cries.
“Me?” I say, flabbergasted, “I’m only from another planet; I can’t control a world’s fate.”
Suddenly anger enters into the wonderful range of expressions on his face. “You’re a sadistic creep,” he says. I hum tunelessly, waiting for him to finish. When he says nothing more, I decide to speak again.
“Do you have a name boy?” I ask. He stutters for a second before regaining speech.
“Noah,” he says. How appropriate I muse, as a see the continued deluge of black rain.
“Well Noah,” I say, “you are a lucky boy. I’m going to save you from the destruction of your world.” This all comes out cheerfully, so as to reassure the boy. However, it has quite the opposite effect.
“What about my family? What about my friends?” he says, already sadness has replaced the anger.
I sigh. I had been hoping to avoid this sticky situation, but humans will be humans. “You can bring one other person,” I say, “that’s all the hover-cam can protect from the black rain.” For some reason he becomes even more morose. “Now what’s wrong?” I say.
“I can only choose one person?” he says.
“Yep,” I reply cheerfully. “You better hurry up and choose, the rain is going to get into your house in one point two minutes.” The kid actually has two, but I’m getting bored. The boy keeps looking between his parents. Finally he comes back to me, his face tear stained.
“I’m not choosing anyone,” is all he can manage to say. I shrug, it’s his life, or rather, escape.
“Well then,” I say, “if you will kindly take hold of the hover-cam I shall speed you from imminent disaster.” He comes forward and places both hands on the camera. I then send the data stream. All he feels is a slight shock, but now each and every one of his cells has slightly mutated, he is impervious to the black rain. “Right then, just follow the sound of my increasingly annoying voice!” I say, and then have the hover-cam slowly retrace the route back to my landing site. It flies backwards, so I can continue to see Noah. All the while I sing songs that were popular in the fifties. Somehow this has no effect on Noah. He just follows, determination, and terrible sadness flitting across his face, fighting for control. Humans truly are ruled by their emotions.
We continue speeding along at six mph. This is boring. I decide to speed him up a bit. “Do you know how to drive?”
“Yes,” he says in a flat voice.
“How â€˜bout hijacking a car?” I ask. This is apparently enough to bring him out of sadness.
“But that’s a crime! I could get arrested!” he outbursts.
“Does the phrase. â€˜End of the world’ mean anything? Any way it doesn’t matter. I’ll have the hover-cam steal one for you.” With that I quickly find a grey sedan, and with a short command the car is running. Man, I love the simplicity of human technology. “Get in,” I say. Numbly, he complies. I wait for a minute for the car to start moving. When it doesn’t, I take over control. It’s awesome; just like the racing video games they have here. This of course led me to drive recklessly. I drifted around turns, and for the pure pleasure of it drove in reverse at fifty mph. Noah didn’t enjoy this for some reason. He sat, rigidly trying to keep the wheel from cranking over one way, or another. At last he arrived. It didn’t matter much though, it seemed like we wasn’t going to be moving anytime soon. Gently my camera nudges him, all to no avail. So he receives an electric charge. It gets him moving. I can see them from the view ports of my ship. He is only four hundred yards away.
Awkwardly he stumbles up a steep grade. Occasionally the camera gives him another jolt to keep him moving. Ten minutes pass, and he has only advanced half way. I sigh. I should have just picked him up to begin with. “Computer, take me down to him,” I say. It waits just long enough for me to think I have to ask again. “Computer!” I shout. Instantly I’m airborne, and then falling like a brick. The ship lands roughly. The hatch is opened, and in comes the startled boy himself. Before he can ask some boring question, the camera directs him to the detoxification room. Who knows what earthly germs he’s picked up? While he’s being scrubbed down, I take off once more, this time I’m bound for home. We break out of the atmosphere, and the ship shudders as artificial gravity sets in.
In a few more minutes Noah emerges in a white, fluffy bathrobe, and matching slippers. On the back it advertises for an intergalactic hotel ring. His old clothing had been incinerated. This was 1. to protect myself from earthly disease. 2. He just looked funny that way. “So I’ll just be dropping you off at a science facility. You humans are an endless source of puzzlement,” I say. The scrubbing seemed to have done him some good, as he answered in a normal time period.
“I was afraid you might say that.” I raised a small pistol, and shot him with a tranquilizer. He crumpled on the spot, leaving me to drag his carcass to a holding room. How inconsiderate this human was. I saved him from his world’s destruction, and he left me to drag his unconscious body around. Maybe when I turned him in I could be assigned to a more thoughtful species. “Computer set a course for the Aemayne system.” I smile, science is so much fun.
Port Pirie, ZZ