This was originally part of my daily challenge initiative, however I really enjoyed writing it, and didn’t want to try and cut it down to just a thousand words. So bonus day today, two fics. Though I’ve not written the replacement Daily Flash Fic, so I need to get on that right away.
You Choose, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 19th December 2012
Word count: 1,563
Theme: decision, god, alien, travel, choice, saviour, apocalypse, the one
“Excuse me?” Roman was wondering where that thought came from.
You choose. It was a voice in his head, almost like that internal voice that tempered or tempted him daily, but it was somehow different.
“Choose what?” Roman figured there was no harm in letting it play out. Maybe his brain needed to tell him something.
Roman gave up, and went back to sleep. He woke up late the next morning, panicked momentarily about the time until he realised it was Sunday.
He shook his head in the vain attempt at dislodging the unwelcome thought that kept repeating. He went to get the newspaper from the door. Did hits usual, sorted himself toast and jam, and a pot of tea.
He sat there reading the paper doing his best to ignore that voice in his head, that repeated every time he read a bad news story. It went silent for the football results, and then he came to an article about a particular vicious incident at a game. A player had headbutted a member of the opposing team, but the referee never saw it, so it was on report.
“For fuck’s sake,” Roman shouted, clutching his palms to his head. “Go away! Go away! Go away!”
He let out a breath as he realised it had stopped.
“Right,” Roman said to himself, “I’m not going mad, I can’t afford to go mad.”
He sank into the living room chair.
“Choose what?” he asked himself.
“Okay, let’s try something else,” he tried to think of a different tactic, “Pokemon, I choose you.”
“How about red, I choose red,” he said. The voice was silent for a while, but returned to form.
At least he’d managed to pausing it, Roman thought.
“I choose to understand,” he said as a final attempt.
Suddenly he was a miles high, cold, wind rushing past him so fast it rippled his face and was tearing his clothes.
When his panicked mind finally manage to find any kind of grip in this new sudden nightmare, it was only to realise he wasn’t falling towards the Earth, he says rising away from it, and fast.
Roman managed to roll himself over on the bed of air that seemed to be propelling him, and saw the moon getting closer.
“This is either a dream, or I’m mad,” he shouted to no one in particular. Whatever brought him there didn’t care, it just dropped him carefully on the surface of the moon.
He looked around in awe, it was exactly what you expected from school, yet more. The lunar regolith beneath his toes was like cold sand, the air smelled of his living room, but why not, he’d be dead otherwise.
“I don’t choose to live on the moon,” he called out.
As he turned the most stunning thing of all was the great blue marble hanging overhead.
“Wow,” a more stunning sight he hadn’t seen with his own eyes, only through photos, and they paled in comparison the colours he saw now.
As he watched he could see rockets extending out from the surface, dozens of them, then dozens of dozens. They rose in arcs then re entered the planet. A few moments more and bright lights danced over the surface of the planet. Lights so bright they burnt pin pricks onto Roman’s retinas.
A tidal wave of smoke, and steam washed over the whole planet.
“Is that it?” Roman screamed in horror, “You brought me here to see the end of my world? You cruel best are!”
Then before his eyes everything seemed to rewind. The cloud cover receded, all the flashes happened again only this time they were followed by vapour trails shrinking, and suddenly the bright blue marble was back untouched.
“I’m not choosing that!” Roman exclaimed.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw something white. At first he thought it was a giant rocket, but then he realised it was a comet, with a long cloud trailing behind it.
It was breathtakingly beautiful. Then he realised where it was heading.
“I’m not choosing that, either!” he called out, but it didn’t change anything. The comet slammed into the Atlantic, the shock waves were visible in the water even from the moon. Tidal waves swept over land, wiping out most of Europe, and America in moments.
Not that anywhere else was safe, the world was wrapped in dark clouds once more. That wasn’t the end though, Roman had to watch as the planet cracked in two.
“I don’t choose this! I don’t! I don’t!” He screamed at whatever intelligence was controlling this nightmare.
Once again the events rewound, the planet glued itself together, the cloud receded, the water withdrew, and the comet came unstuck and flew away from the planet, following its cloud trail back beyond Romans vision.
“Not that,” Roman said, “Please nothing like that again.
The world was active again rockets were emerging from the atmosphere, this time they didn’t return, they sped off on beams of light. Roman was able to follow one as it made its way to a distant star. Somehow he could even see it land on the planet.
The rocket grew where it landed, spreading out. Other rockets joined it until there was a whole city in a bubble. Then two, and a third.
Roman turned and found another planet undergoing the same transformation, and then another and another.
Then he saw ships on beams of light travelling between them, wars broke out, then receded, leaving broken ships and broken bubbles in their wake.
Then good vision zoomed out a bit, but colonised worlds still stood out. He could see dozens in one go. Then a beam of light spreading from one to another landing in the sun of that planet. It exploded. Then the sun of the planet the light had come from exploded after a beam of light hit it.
Suddenly Romans vision was restored to normal. He watched as star after star flared up, and then went out. Dozens in a sky full of millions, yet noticeable gaps were forming.
“No, no, no,” Roman sobbed, “This can’t be. There has to be another choice.”
“I can’t choose that,” he said adamantly.
“No,” Roman said picking himself up, realising there wasn’t another one coming, “This can’t be it. Three choices, mankind annihilates itself and destroys the planet, a meteor wipes it out before mankind can, or mankind makes it to the stars and then wipes them out one by one. I can’t believe these are the choices. What’s next? Mankind builds a blackhole thingy and it swallows the galaxy? Give me another option.”
“No, I said no. I choose none of these options, there has to be another path.”
Roman kicked at the regolith and watched as thousands of grains flew up and off the moon and out of site, while some on the edge of the impact he’d made went up and fell back down.
He realised his arguments were getting nowhere. Were things really so bleak? Was that all that was left was to decide when humanity would be put out of it’s misery?
“But what of the good things? The art? The compassion? The conservation?”
It felt so wrong, could he let the stars go out for the sake of a few more years, or centuries or however long it took.
He looked up at the big blue marble hanging there above the horizon of the moon.
“What if I want to choose something else?” he asked.
It didn’t say he couldn’t, though it never said he could. “Okay, I know what I want to choose.”
“I know,” he said with a deep breath, “Humanity needs a guide, someone who at pivotal points can help lead the way of peace and prosperity.”
You have chosen.
“Now can I go home?” he asked, hoping his mission was done.
The packet of air that brought him to the moon suddenly swept him off his feet and sent him hurtling back towards that blue marble. He tried not to panic, but as he saw the world around him burning as he passed back into the atmosphere he couldn’t help it, and then the Earth was rushing up to meet him at what felt like light speed.
The device that was transporting him dropped him in the middle of a green park in an area unfamiliar to him.
“Near enough,” he said trying to brush the moon dust that was stuck to his jogging bottoms and slippers. He looked around, he didn’t recognise the park at all. Then he saw the bridges, old and crumbling, but reminiscent of the bridges that crossed the canal on Canal Street, like the one just ahead, looked like the bridge on Sackville Street, but the bridge only connected two muddy roads.
He saw beyond the park the skyline, and recognise some of the sights of Manchester. He judged mentally in his head and realised he was stood where his flat once was. He was home, and very far from home.
“I didn’t mean me,” he called out. This time there was no voice.