This short story was inspired by a thought provoking meditative artwork by @SiriOpli. I hope you enjoy it, although, I did not do justice t the haunting image she created.
Humankind was on the brink of extinction.
Disease ravaged countries, rich and poor alike. The most industrialized and developed countries devised cures and vaccines. However, misunderstanding and misinformation kept some from taking the cure, and people died.
Resources became scarce so the powerful decided to take control and keep them for themselves.
War is an ugly business, but it is a business. People may be the ones enthusiastically participating in the armed conflict, but a fighting force is nothing without food, water, and supplies. Resources and industry became the measures of national standing and wealth.
Country lines got erased and redrawn. National identities, being but an ephemeral idea in the group mind of people, changed with the winning and losing of battles.
Sad lines drawn in the imaginary sands of politics pitted exhausted populations against each other. Hate was the emotional currency of the day. The other was to be hated and despised. Death was the only gift freely given.
Humankind saw its numbers diminish. People did not recognize their enemies as equals, they were to be eliminated. Eradicated. Ended. Best gone and forgotten.
Earth, our planet, our home, was injured over and over again. This strategic victory destroyed a forest, that action was necessary devastation, destruction of viable and fertile land to deny it to the enemy, poisoning of water to deprive the other of a precious resource.
All kinds of animals and plants disappeared forever, collateral damage to the constant and unending clashes of the more evolved species on the planet. The irony being that evolution culminated in a species that extinguished life was not lost on some, very few, people who still bothered to worry about the consequences of humanity’s actions.
No one was looking at the heavens. Maybe some prayed for relief, but they never looked up. Not really.
The immense craft eclipsed the Sun and brought darkness and cold to an already ravaged and panicky population.
Enemies were forgotten for a moment, all eyes turned to this new threat. The craft silenced the war machines. The war industrial complexes came to a halt. War was no longer possible. It burned in the heart of many, but they now lacked the means to bring it to life. They tired though, not against each other, but against the newcomers.
Yet, no one had weapons effective against the technological terror descending on Earth. It came down in a desert, far from civilization. Its lines, alien and menacing, and enigma that no weapon could harm.
A summons to the leadership of the warring factions went out. All were commanded to attend.
Some refused and the punishment was swift and terrible. The headquarters were leveled by an invisible beam.
The leadership in attendance was instructed to supply means for the population at large to receive an address by the visitors in a few months.
Months of peace that nature took to renew itself. Birds again sang and flew over the cities. Plants grew new green leaves, flowers bloomed. The visitors cleaned many streams and rivers. Animals of all kinds were now seen in many places, happy and the trauma of the human war slowly fading away as if it was a desperate insane scream in the night, fading to nothing as the light of day came forth.
For the first time, humans saw the visitors. The large, egg-like horned head. Were those demonic horns on their cracked cranium? Were these beings… devils? Demons? But no, it could not be, they had stopped the war. Their ears, normal enough, to the point that some wore earrings. Just the one though. Were those eyes, at the bottom of the… face? The proboscis coming down… was that a stinger or a trunk? The taloned leathery wing hid most of the body, but the eagle-like clawed feet could be spied underneath. The demonic tail completed the look of a nightmare from which humanity could not wake up because they were not asleep.
They instructed and commanded. War was to stop. Humanity was but an experiment that had gotten out of control. Armies were ordered to disband. Reconstruction was mandated. Education, put on the back burner due to the needs of the killing and maiming, was now to be the main focus for the young.
Some resisted. Briefly. Their resistance ending in swift and merciless eradication by the invisible beam the visitors could deploy apparently anywhere at any time.
Slowly, years of hatred and vicious damage to people, plants, animals, and to the very land started to reverse.
Seasons came and went. Old traditions were found again. Religion was a tricky subject now. Man being made in the image of God meant that the visitors were… What? No one knew, no one cared to speculate.
The land, however, was still tired, still deeply wounded from years of abuse.
The visitors did take care of some areas, heavily contaminated with radiation. Some others, they did not heal.
No countries survived. Each region had its idiosyncrasies, some languages survived, but now all people communicated mainly in the visitor’s tongue. Earth was now a large village.
Ten years after the visitors arrived, they again called the leaders of all the regions. No one refused them now. All were obedient and quick.
“We are leaving you now.”
“But the planet is not yet healed. We are not yet fully recovered. We still need your help.”
“You are too many. We will cull the population. We will leave the proper balance for an optimal genetic pool, enough of you to carry the species forth, but not enough to strain the planetary resources.”
The leader’s shocked silence stretched for a while. The visitors waited them out, always patient, always calm.
“How will you chose who is to live and who is to die?”
“We will choose.”
“But how?” came the desperate cry. The leaders thought they might be safe, but living these long years with the visitors had taught them that they were unpredictable.
“Can we at least, let the population know that…”
Several of the attendees fell. Dead.
Across the planet people of all ages, all backgrounds, all places, fell dead.
“What have you done?”
“Insured your survival.”
“But this, what you did, it’s inhuman.”
“Of course it is, we never claimed to be human.”