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Science Fiction

Olivia walked through the forest as a shortcut to her night class. She knew better than to come this way, but she couldn’t be late again after the teacher’s last warning. As she walked down the path, she stopped suddenly. A man sat on a fallen tree, head in his hands. “Ahh, you scared me.”

“Sorry.” Wiping his eyes, he gazed up at her.

She let loose a blood-curdling scream at the sight of his oversized eyes and grey complexion.

“Wait,” he said as he grabbed a face out of his bag and slipped it over his head. “Is that better?”

He now appeared as a normal human male, rather good-looking to boot. She backed up to a tree anyway. “What are you?” Too frightened to run, she stood there, hyperventilating.

“I am not a threat to you. You do not need to worry. To explain what I am would take about four centuries. Around the same amount of time that you were placed here.”

“Are you an alien?” she gasped.

“No, I’m afraid you are the alien. My people originated here. You were transplanted to this planet centuries ago.”

“What?”

He smiled. Somehow it eased her anxiety. “I am Hertagum, an Astepin. We are an ancient race that came from this planet. We are few in number but highly intelligent. We are travelers. We sprang our bonds of time and space centuries ago. Since we no longer used this planet as most of us were traveling through space, we were asked by the Council to place a few humans here. They were a backward race and didn’t get along with any of the other races. So, we agreed.” His eyes filled with tears. “It’s all gone horribly wrong.” He buried his head in his hands again.

Olivia sat down beside him and put her arm around him. “Are you okay?”

“No,” he shook his head. “Not at all.”

“Tell me more about this Council. Who are they?”

He sat up and turned towards her. “The Intergalactic Extreme Counsel? Why, they are the rulers of the universe. Every planet is represented. Well, except yours.”

“What? Why aren’t we represented?”

“You are a backwards race. You weren’t supposed to be a backwards race, you just are. When you were placed here humans were living up to a thousand years. It was my job to keep track of you, but I met a girl and fell in love, luckily, that is. Our marriages are to bond two compatible specimens together for the good of the race. You humans slipped my mind for a long time, but then one day, the Council asked how the humans were doing. I said great. I flew out here to make sure you were actually doing great.” He sobbed, “You’re not doing great at all.” He burst into tears.

“We’re fine, we’re doing good. We have even sent some ships into space.” She rubbed his back.

“No. This is not at all the evolution we intended for you. You should be traveling the galaxy by now. You should be living up to two thousand years. It’s all my fault for not paying better attention. What am I going to tell the Council?”

“We’re supposed to be living up to two thousand years?”

He inhaled and wiped his tears. “Yes. If I would have directed you like I should have, you would have been living for two thousand years at least. I should have taught you selective breeding. You can only breed with those who are genetically compatible with you. Instead, you bred with flawed specimens. Each generation has the mutations of all those who lived previous to them and they mix with the mutations of another and their offspring has double the amount of mutations so now you are all genetically flawed. I can’t use any of you. If I’m going to fix this, I’m going to have to wipe out the planet and start over.”

She stood up and put her hands on her hips. “You can’t kill us all!”

He shook his head. “I’ve been here on Earth a year. I’ve seen all the good you have done, too. Sometimes it is because of your flaws. Some of the most flawed have suffered such pain that they bring a special beauty to art and literature. My race doesn’t have that. Everyone lives a predictably long life with no ailments or pain. It would be called boring to you humans. Everyone has responsibilities in society, but I have neglected mine. I have to go back now and report to the Council that I have lied to them and I have failed. This planet is such a mess, I don’t know what they will do to me.”

“What will they do to us?”

“I don’t know that either. It’s no longer up to me. You separate into groups called nations. Those groups hate other groups and you go to war with them. No other planet has the death and destruction that you have. You have to fix this. You have to start working together.”

“How do we do that?”

“Unite into one people and stop killing each other for starters. Then only breed those with the least flaws. Eventually, you can breed out the flaws. Stop spending your time creating and making weapons. Spend your time instead on the sciences. Improve your species and go forward from here.”

“Where do you live?”

“We all live in space. We travel to distant galaxies.”

She shook her head. “We can’t do that.”

He stood up and stretched his back. “You can’t do what?”

“We can’t do the things you said we need to do. We only marry those we have feelings for. As for the nations, if anything, we’re going in the opposite direction in making more of them. As those who are ideologically, racially, or historically grouped, they want to form their own governments.”

“I should have watched you better. Perhaps you’re right, it is who you are. I had wished other things for you as your guardian. I have failed and must answer to that failure. You have failed, too, and I don’t know what your fate will be.” He brushed the leaves off of what looked like a rock. Pulling back a cover until his spaceship was revealed he opened the hatch. “Good luck to both of us.” He climbed in and shut the hatch. The ship took off in a flash.

She watched it disappear into the dark sky like reverse lightning. She sighed. We’re doomed, then shrugged her shoulders. I guess there is no reason to go to class after all. She turned around and headed back to her dorm room.

May 21, 2023 04:53

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