Alien Monster, p.1Barry Alder
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either a product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright 2011 Barry W. Alder
Cover design by: Jen Alder
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, typing, or by any information storage retrieval system, without the written permission of the author.
Published by InnerVoices-Novels
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I walk through their village. Small wooden and grass huts packed close together, dirt streets, a small creek running through the middle. The same as dozens of others I've walked through. They see me coming and most disappear into their huts, but some just stop and stare at me, their large yellow eyes open wide and clearly following me. I know they recognize me, but they say nothing. What can they say? To them, I'm the monster. The alien who came and destroyed their lives, their civilization. There is nothing they can say that comes close to how I feel, to how much I loathe myself.
They know that. And let me pass.
But then, they have no choice.
The village is long past and I'm alone on the road. I stop to look at the grove of purple trees just ahead. Purple trunks and leaves and, in season, bright red fruit. The trees are surrounded by orange bushes, and farther out the green grass of the rolling countryside. I've always liked the trees, even if the fruit tastes like shit. The science guys say it's extremely nutritious, which must be why the locals like it so much. It sustains me when there's nothing else around, but it will never be my favorite food.
I haven't eaten in days, so I make my way over, careful not to disturb the bushes. There might be Bushman snakes in there; poisonous ones that could kill me in a minute. That's not their real name, of course, but they have a lot of similarities with the bushmaster snakes back home, so we gave 'em the name.
I gather some fruit and carefully make my way out to road, eating it as I continue my wandering, not caring where I go as long as I keep moving.
The sun is starting to set. It gets cold here at night in the north. Below freezing. But that doesn't stop the night creatures. They'll be about soon. Some harmless, but most predatory or poisonous. Like most of the species on this world. Time to make shelter. Or maybe not. I could end it all here; just let myself freeze, or be killed; be done with it all. But I'm not that strong. My need to survive still wins. The same need that made me the monster.
I go on. Endure when all I want to do is escape, to leave this life. To leave behind the savagery I visited on these people. But I build my shelter; to live another day; to continue my wandering.
The sun is well up when I awake. Reluctantly, I open my eyes to a new day. Another day of knowing what I've done. Another day of self torture. Another day of wondering when it will all end.
I wander because I don't know what else to do. I can't go home. They consider me a hero there, and I'm no hero. I'm a monster. And despite all I've done to them, the natives forgive me; and I curse them for it.
I try to avoid them as much as I can, but sometimes I can't and I tremble at the thought of being so close to them. They could kill me anytime, despite their small size. One bite of their sharp teeth would do it quickly. But they don't. They know what I did and most just stare and back away. Some do their best to ignore me, but I see their sideways glances, hear their hushed whispers. Maybe, in another ten years, it'll be over, when the last of them who were alive have died. Is it a blessing that they only live for twenty years? That in forty years, two generations of them will have come and gone and none will remember me or what I've done? Maybe it is a blessing for them, but I remember, and even if they can forgive me, I can't.
I check my chronometer. It's been fifteen years since the incident. Almost fifteen years since I started my wandering, trying to escape. I don't know where I'm going. Don't care. Just away. Part of me knows that if I keep going, I'll find my way back to where this all began. Part of me is afraid of that. Part of me me hopes I'll die before that happens. But I doubt that. The part of me that wants to go on knows I have to resolve this before I can die. And so I push on.
Another native village. I want to avoid it, but I must go in. I have no means to survive, and yet I must.
Will they challenge me? Part of me hopes they will, hopes I will fail the challenge and they will kill me. That they will end my agony.
But I know they won't. Whether or not they know me, they will serve me whatever I need. They don't have a choice. They don't have choice about anything anymore. And, that too, is because of me.
I stand atop the ridge and look westward. I was here once, a long time ago; almost forty years ago. I've circled the planet. Back to where it all began. The spires and towers of our capital glint in the fading sunlight. Not their capital. But our capital. Their capital long destroyed.
It was here I released the poison into their air. Poison that killed so many of them and made the rest totally dependent on us.
I didn't want to do it. I knew it might kill many of them, but I had no choice. If I hadn't done it, someone else would have, and I still would have been blamed. After all, it was my research that had brought us to this point. My searching for a cure to a problem that tricked me down a path that was more monstrous that I could imagine. And it wasn't a brave act. I was too much of a coward to stand up for what I believed; to stand against the ones who didn't care about the effects; to face the ones who only cared about the final results.
Do I bypass this place, or great the other monsters? The ones who think I'm a hero.
Maybe they've forgotten. Maybe I can slip among them and disappear. I laugh. No, they probably haven't forgot. I know they've been keeping track of me all this time. They would know me, and still remember me as a hero. They would celebrate my return and I won't have that.
It's been seventeen days since I passed the capital. Over forty years since I committed the act that put me on this path.
I stop to think. Any native who experienced my act is long since dead. And the others, if they know, they either forgive, or forget.
Maybe I'm the last one who remembers. Maybe I'm the last one who cares.
Doesn't matter though. I know what I did. I know somehow I must right this wrong. Or die trying.
But how do you undo the wrong of destroying a civilization, of almost destroying a whole world?
I pass a small copse of trees and see one of them standing there. He catches my attention. He stares at me, but not like the others. I see neither fear or curiosity in his eyes. He knows me. But that cannot be. They don't live this long. Thirty years. That's what the scientists told us. Average life span - twenty five years - thirty - the max.
Yet he knows me.
And I know him.
"Malcolm", he says after a long period of silence.
"Jnaka," I reply, automatically.
He waits a few moments before continuing.
"It has been a long time. A very long time. How may I be of service?”
My mind reals. "How can he be of service? How can he be of service?"
I hear myself answer in an unusual calm.
After an eternity, he responds.
"Why? Damn you!" I scream.
There's a long period of silence that transpires before
"It is what was written."
I look at him, eyes meeting mine, unwavering.
"What the hell hell do you mean 'What was written'?'
He looks at me, trying to determine if I'd understand.
"We knew you were coming. Not just the humans. But you specifically.And we knew what you'd do. You. Specifically."
"How?" I replied weakly.
“Our prophets. We've known you were coming for generations. We knew you were coming and what you'd do.
“Malcolm. It's okay. It is as it should be.”
My mind reels. They knew I was coming before I was born. How? Why? And even more important, how was Jnaka here?
I stare at him.
“Jnaka. How can you be here? You should be dead.”
“Yes. But I'm not. At least, not yet.
“I needed to talk with you.”
“But how? You don't look any older than the last time we spoke.”
“I will explain if you'll join me,” he says as he sits beside the nearest tree.
“Please. Sit and join me.”
I stare. He shouldn't be here and he shouldn't be speaking like a human.
I must be going mad. I must be imagining this. I've finally flipped.
“No. You haven't.” he says. “This is all real.”
“But if I was crazy, that's what you'd say," I laugh.
“True. But not in this case.
“Malcolm, please sit down. I have a story to tell you.”
What the hell. If I've gone insane, I might as well enjoy it. Maybe this is my release.
“Not quite,” he says to my unspoken thoughts.
I laugh. "Okay".
“You're not insane, Malcolm. But it is time for your release.”
I sit beside him, feeling lighter than I have in all my life.
“First,” he says, looking at me, “You know nothing about us. But that is how we wanted it to be.
“And that time is now over.”
I look at him, curious and strangely calm.
“So tell me.”
“First off, we are all connected. All of us. We are really one being. Each knows all that the others know.”
“Hive mind?” I ask.
“No. Nothing like that. More like the cells in your body. Individual, but working independently. Part of a common organism. And as such, each individual is both important and not important. Which is one of the great mysteries of this universe.”
I'm intrigued. For the first time in too many years, my curiosity is aroused.
“And?” I ask.
“And I've been chosen as the one to enlighten you.”
“Why me? You know what I did. I'm the last person who deserves enlightenment.”
“You're wrong, Malcolm. You're not the monster. You may be the one of the saviors of your people.”
One of the saviors of my people? What a joke. I know I'm insane now. This is just too much.
“I know it's hard to believe, Malcolm, but it's true."
“That's why you did what you did. You were the only one who could do it. And you had to do it because it was what you chose to do.”
“How the hell did I choose? I didn't know anything about it.”
“Not in this life, but before it; between your lives.”
“What the hell are you talking about, Jnaka?
He pauses for a moment, and I can see he's struggling with what to say next.
"That part's not important. At least, not now, and you'll understand later. For now, please believe that we do not consider you a monster. We knew what you'd do and we accepted that. We knew you had to do it to save your people. We knew you'd have to do it even if it killed most of us and destroyed our civilization."
"Well, if you knew," I yell, "Then why didn't you stop me? Why did you let me become a monster?"
Jnaka closes his eyes and drops his tail; they're equivalent of a sigh.
"Because you had to. Because if you hadn't, hundreds of billions of your kind would be dead, and the universe would be sorrier for that."
"Well maybe that should have happened!" I say angrily. "And contrary to your belief, maybe the universe would have been better off.
"Of all the cultures I've see, and all the cultures I know about, we are far, far from the best. There are countless cultures I know about that are so much better than us and that we've destroyed. Your's included. We are the ones that should disappear. To let the better ones grow and make the universe a paradise."
"No, my friend. Despite what you now believe, yours is one of the great cultures, and many of the ones you think of as great, are dead ends. Ours included.
"No, the universe needs you much more than it needs us."
The words make no sense to me. Inasmuch as I am a monster here, my race has done monstrous things to others, and even to ourselves. I can't believe anything needs us for any reason. We are a parasite; we are a plague. We should be destroyed.
"No," Jnaka says quietly. "You just don't understand the universe."
I stare at him, suddenly feeling the drain of so many years wandering. Suddenly realizing I'm at the end of my travels, but not knowing the final act.
"No. I don't, " I whisper.
"But we do. At least, we believe we understand it better than you. And whether you believe it or not, you are incredibly important in it."
I laugh, loud and strong.
"Jnaka, you are so full of shit, it's disgusting. It would have been a lot better if I'd never been born!"
Jnaka laughs, and then takes on a serious tone.
"You think you're a monster for releasing the microbes into our air. The microbes that killed a third of us, but gave you the cure to the plague that was killing all of you. That was killing you."
"I am a monster," I say flatly.
"You would be if it wasn't what the universe wanted."
The statement doesn't make any sense, yet, in some strange way, it does. I pause, my mind blank, trying desperately to make sense of it.
"You killed over a billion of us, and by doing that, you allowed hundreds of billions of others to survive. Why do you think that is such a monstrous act?"
I stare at him, not believing what I've just heard.
"I killed billions of you. How is that not monstrous?"
"Because we knew it had to be done. In a sense, we volunteered for it."
I continue to stare, and feel my jaw drop.
"Malcolm, our race has always been aware of our real, what you call spiritual, ties. We know that our presence here in this universe is just part of a great story; a story we play in for our own growth. The bodies we inhabit are born, grow, and die, but the essence of who ware does not. It learns with each character we play.
"And that is where the essence of your race is important. Your race abhors sameness. Your race is constantly changing, and constantly causes changes in others. Most of he races that you consider great, the ones you seem to want to be like, are stagnant, are dead ends. Yours is one of the races that will continually grow and expand the universe, despite setbacks."
I want to argue against him, to tell him that he's totally wrong, that he's more insane than I am, but I can't. Somewhere deep inside me, I know he's right.
"Malcolm, my friend, the only reason you consider yourself a monster is because you care. When I was in your service, I watched you. How many times did you take the insects you found in your house outside rather than killing them? You value life and the universe loves you for it; for the universe is life, in all its forms. And death is part of that."
"But why me?" I yell. "If this was necessary, why me? Why must I shoulder the burden?"
Jnaka looks at me and I can see a kind of love in his eyes.
"Friend Malcolm, this is not your first life, nor will it be your last. This was but one of the experiences you wanted to have. So, b
"You are a hero, not a monster."
"You sound like my former colleagues," I say sarcastically.
"Perhaps, but they only see from their own small perceptions. We see from a higher scale."
For the first time in a long time, I start to feel better. Jnaka's race has forgiven me, has always forgiven me. And now I understand why. I finally realize I'm not a monster.
I still feel sorry for all the ones I killed, but now I understand why I came here and why I did what I did.
I turn to look at Jnaka, and am shocked.
The dead entity sitting beside me is not Jnaka. It doesn't look anything like my old friend, and I don't know how I could have thought it was him. But I still feel his presence, fading slowly like the light from the setting sun, and I know he was here, just borrowing a body to complete his final task. That of freeing me.
I slowly get up, respectful of everything that has happened in the last little while, and know where my travels will now lead me. My time on this planet is finished, but I know I can't go home. I wouldn't be comfortable there, and I wouldn't be comfortable in the masses of my own kind. But I know I must be with my own kind to find peace.
I know there are colonies at the far reaches of our explored space. Colonies that don't care about the drama that's been played out on this planet. Colonies who don't know or care who I am.
I know I'll finally find peace there.
Alien Monster by Barry Alder / Science Fiction have rating 4.5 out of 5 / Based on36 votes