Two planets are seen, slowly moving toward each other, through a cockpit window.
“Captain, are you sure about this? If we stay on this trajectory, we’re sure to be dragged into one of the planets!”
“No, we’ll make it through!”
“Sir! We won’t, there’s no chance! We’ve missed our timing. We’ll all die! You do get that? Don’t you!? Think of the passen-”
“You don’t think I’ve thought of them already!? Yes, we may crash, but if we stay here, we’ll all be as good as dead. This is a risk we must take, FOR the passenger, a risk FOR THEIR LIVES!”
“Very well Captain, I won’t object. We’ll stay on course.”
(setting opens up on a desolate, wasteland planet with a massive spaceship demolished behind them. Families gather in groups scared and skeptical of everyone around them. Instead of looking uniformly distressed, there was great suspicion, and fear amongst the survivors. Two Commander’s hats lay abandoned in the dust, trampled upon. From the chaos, a rounded figure, climbs up upon a tower of rocks.)
“Please, everyone! Everyone!! This not the time to panic. We still have over 70 meals and packages that will last each person months if we ration them out properly.”
In an instant, with only one sentence, the masses were solaced. And a wave of both authority and prestige washed over the people as they zeroed in on the figure's appearance. The silhouette upon the rock had a slouched posture yet looked neither frail nor weak. In fact, his posture only added to the growing mystery of the man. He wore shredded garments of what used to be a business suit and had a beard that twirled down past his collar. And his marvelous speech reverberated in hymn-like melodies throughout the ears of his hushed audience. With each syllable he projected, fear and anxiety drifted farther and farther downstream away from the troubled listeners.
“People, we’ll find a path out of this predicament, one I’m sure that each person will find most comfortable. But until then, we must think of unique and effective ways of getting off this irritating planet. Please, if anyone has an idea, write it down on a piece of parchment or leather, then bring it to my attention as soon as possible. Any idea is worth considering, so please, again, do not hesitate to bring up any concepts to me. Because even the most prevalent or ludicrous ideas can seed useful plans.”
Around this part, in the speech, a strange wind began to blow against the crowd and against the back of the man elevated above the others.
“As I’m sure everyone can tell, the ship we once lived on is demolished, and there is no hope for ever flying it again. But that is not a reason to forfeit your will. As a survivor of the crash, you must work for those who have passed on, for those who are still present, and for those whom you will someday in this life, surely see again. (pause) I have drawn up a plan that I wish to tell you of, if I may do so, now. There should be four teams set up to accomplish different tasks throughout the day. Note this is not definite a plan and can be easily tweaked if desired. The first team: team one will consist of those willing to scavenge for useful materials that haven’t been damaged by the fires upon the ship. The second team: group two, will include those who are capable of designing vehicles or other mechanisms out of the retrieved supplies gathered by team one. The third group: team 3, would be made up of the cooks that will prepare each and every meal from this day onward. The children will stay by the side of the mothers wherever they may work. And those who aren’t cooks but don’t fit into any other occupation will join me in a fourth team. My group will be in charge of getting off this planet.”
The crowd had no objections. Every detail thoroughly pleased each person. In fact, some, out of pure awe, began to clap at the end of the speech but quickly caught themselves after noticing others weren’t doing the same.
The speech was every bit as effective as it was intended to be: emotional, unifying, inspiring, but to me, it was above, scary. Everyone, in what felt like a split second, had gained both a plan and a motive to move forward. But something wasn’t right, something couldn’t be right. The more I thought over this matter, the more attuned I became to the drastic uplift of spirits. Everything I felt and heard seemed rushed or rather forced. I felt as if the speech connected too seamlessly with everyone’s thoughts and emotions. Was it really time to move on. Was it really time to abandon those lost faces drowned in the muck of this earth. With these thoughts in mind, I slowly, yet surely, grew a strong hatred for that old hunchback and his speech. Not even five minutes prior to feeling these feelings, everyone was mourning and crying over their loved ones. But now, when I look up from thought, I see everyone beaming as if nothing ever happened, as if no one ever died. I look over to where the wounded lay, and they too are smiling the widest of smiles as if their legs were still attached as if they would truly live to see this old man’s deluded promises. I scanned over all the faces, every last one, trying to find someone that couldn’t believe these false hopes. But there was no one. Every last face carried the same expression as the one before. I fell upon my back and sunk deep into what I thought would surely be my grave.
From up above reddish clouds began to give in to the weight of the water they carried.
I couldn’t believe it, how could hundreds of people be so foolish and naive, so much so that they’d place all their trust in just one man. Was it because they had lost so much that now hope was now the only thing worth holding unto. Could everyone possibly be that selfish?… No, it couldn’t possibly be that. Not everyone lost a relative or a loved one. But who was this person, and what exactly gave him the right to talk over the mourning. With the cloud’s reflection still in my eyes, I stood up and glared eagerly at the master of puppets.
I could tell that if I approached the hunchback now while it was still light out, others would surely see me and put me to death. So, I decided that’d I’d sit out next to the figure’s tent, on the other side of a pile of rocks. I found myself once more gazing up at the sky and I began to cry only just a little. I believe I cried for those who had lost their lives, but maybe it was about something else. Just then the old codger himself had breached out from his makeshift tent and waddled around the heap of rocks next to where I leaned. He took but one look and sighed sayin:
“O my, O my, are you all right sir? The sun will be setting soon. Do you have a place to sleep?”
“Nope”, I said bluntly, “but I’ll find a place.”
He began to walk back down toward his tent, but then turned around once halfway there and said in an awfully comforting voice, “If you ever need a place to sleep, just ask me. I’ll be sleeping under the rubbish down over here.”
I was taken aback by the codger’s kind gesture, could a man this sweet possibly plan something so evil? As I thought over this I began to gather stones.
When it was near midnight I made my way down the path of scattered debris and toward the tent of what I believed was my enemy. It took quite some time walking at such a slow pace while carrying my chosen rock, but eventually, I made it to the master’s bedside without giving off the slightest remnant of a noise. I rose the rock above my head and prepared to kill, but a string of the man’s kindness stopped me. A string of good judgement attached to the rock prevented me from lowering it upon the man’s head. If I closed my eyes and dropped the rock I would surely injure my target, but I would run the risk of missing and could get caught… Minutes passed and the string was still as tight as ever, and I just couldn’t get myself to snap it. Exhausted and afraid I lowered the rock away from the man’s head and exited out from where he slept. As I stepped out from the tent, I gazed upward for the third time, and through the moonlight, I saw the tower of rocks that I, not so long ago, cried beside. It was the same tower that the man gave his speech from. And it was the same tower from which I had grabbed the rock.