S.O.S. by Keith Soares
S.O.S. by Keith Soares
Okay, I admit you almost got us. But we’re leaving, and we’re not coming back. So whenever you return from gallivanting through the stars, you’ll find the place as empty as we did.
This planet called Earth looked great – temperate, lots of water, massive herds of creatures for food. Not the cleanest place we’ve seen, but definitely not the worst. I mean, have you been to Kyr-18? That place? Wow. And, you know, after cryo-flying through space for ten times our normal lifespan, any port in a storm, am I right?
By the way, I love your vernacular. I’ve read, watched, and listened to everything I could find. Well, all the really interesting stuff. Fascinating. Good thing, too, since I’m the one who realized you were trying to trap us. So I’ll take your turns of phrase, your jokey bits, and your thing called sarcasm with me. But you can have the planet back.
Took me 1.125 solar orbits to figure it out. Prior to that, Earth was like your Eden, an amazing place overflowing with bounty. More food and water than we could ever consume. Life was easy. So I got to watching your video histories. And once I came out raving about the incredible scope of your power, my people were swayed. I showed them the scenes, your human pilots incredibly navigating through crisscrossing laser fire that seemed completely impossible to avoid, defeating alien enemy after alien enemy. I have no idea why you decided to take a sabbatical from Earth, but I know it’s temporary.
The sad part is we’re so alike. Carbon-based, oxygen- and water-loving, about the same body mass. I mean, sure, we have four appendages for each of your two, and our flesh is lightly scaled in greens and browns, compared to your softer mammalian skin. But we’re practically brothers. It kills me that we can’t trust you.
So, everybody back in the metal bucket, back to sleep! See you in a few more lifetimes that will feel oddly both like eternity and like no time at all. Maybe the next planet will work out.
Besides, Earth has so many bugs. Quite unpleasant, really. Beetles, the big ones are called. You’d think with all the amazing advances and abilities humans have, killing bugs would have been worked out. Or maybe that’s just part of your trap. They really were the only downside to the planet, until I found out what you all could do to us.
I watched your histories. The videos. Sorted them by popularity, of course, to get the most relevant results. Took a lot of time to parse them out because they didn’t seem to make sense with each other sometimes. But I’ve seen your fleet captains and their warships. Faster-than-light travel. Devastating laser cannons. We don’t have any of that stuff and we’re not waiting around for you to pop back in and zap us. Heck, we hadn’t even heard of a teleporter until we saw the images of red-shirted humans beaming back and forth.
Our ship is just a freezer with a sextant and an alarm clock. Hello! It’s been the appropriate amount of time going the appropriate direction! Wake up, everyone! Planetary collision imminent!
You tricked us with that simplistic beacon, too. S.O.S! S.O.S! We didn’t even know what S.O.S. meant. Had to look it up in those ancient machines you left around, what you call computers. Save Our Ship? Save Our Souls? Something completely different? It was just a pattern of noise, but it was a pattern. That meant intelligence, so we gave it a shot. Aligned the sextant part of our metal bucket to point us toward Earth, set the timer, and zzzzzzz.
So it was weird when we discovered no one home. Not bad, mind you. We wouldn’t mind a nice new world with no competition – in fact, that’s rather specifically what we’re looking for.
But I read your story about Goldilocks and those bears. You’re coming back and we don’t plan to be sleeping in the comfy bed when you get here. By the way, what did you do to the bears? They don’t talk or wear clothes or make porridge anymore. Sad.
At first, the planet was so empty we figured you died out. Maybe killed yourselves off in some environmental disaster. That’s what we thought the beacon was for – a call for help. But I read your Odyssey, too. Your beacon is a siren song, luring in unfortunate fools. I watched the recordings of your treks and wars in space. You’re probably gliding your latest death moon into orbit as I write this.
And did I mention my people are terrified one of us might actually die on this planet? What would happen to us then, the way your diseases make you come back as horrors? The undead. Zombies. Countless records of that. No thank you.
As we packed up, I pleaded for us not to take anything, but would they listen? No. I watched your documented cases of computers taking control, what you call artificial intelligence, becoming killing machines. But my captain wanted something. A souvenir? Maybe. Hubris? Probably. The death of us all, as we sleep on the way to the next planet? Yup.
Fourteen of my colony have reported insect bites just prior to reboarding, so we are definitely screwed. Me? I would have left them, to save the rest of us. I can just tell those little parasites are going to burst from their stomachs and go on a killing spree. These visions are real – I’ve gone over your recordings, seen this with my own eyes.
But what do I know, right? I’m just the one saving our butts in the first place. Me. The guy who came in last in every colony intelligence assessment. Ha! I’m no idiot, mind you, but the standards for who got saved when our own world collapsed? They were pretty high. I only barely made the cut, particularly since my gullibility rating was so low. Whatever that means. No one ever listened to my opinion before. Bunch of geniuses, huh? Better bet they pay attention to me now. Now that I showed them the videos.
The last thing I smelled before we closed the door was the salt air of the sea. So pristine and beautiful. Creatures you call ducks flapped overhead, and a gentle breeze waved the tall grasses. So tempting. But I know better. Seal the door, before the humans beam down and laser us all to death, before the undead rise, before your insects plant their demon seeds in our flesh, and before your computers can decide necessity of our destruction.
You won’t trick us that easily, my deceitful human brothers. Good riddance.
Copyright Keith Soares 2019. Visit https://keithsoares.com/ for more of his fiction.