H. A. Rey
A time clock
Told from POV of an alien on the planet Nibiru, as the Nibiru enters our solar system.
Nibiru technology is no greater or worse than Earth’s.
The bridge was cold. Cold even for a Zetan. Twelve of her sixteen toes had gone numb. She’d just begun to wonder why the other four hadn’t when the door opened behind her.
The time clock echoed through the bridge. She turned off the video screen. She’d been watching Earth videos, technically frowned upon but sometimes a good way to pass the night shift.
“Morning Danank” a voice called to her. She turned to see Glartak, his eyes haggard.
“Rough night?” she asked.
“Yeah.” he replied. “This cold moved in to my third and fourth lungs last night.” He slunk into his chair next to her at the navigator’s console.
“What’s that you’re watching” he asked, a sly grin peeking from the corner of his mouth.
Her pale green skin flushed, darkening slightly.
“Earth videos.” She confessed. “They’re always broadcasting all the stupid things they do. This guy got his parachute stuck on some sort of monument somewhere. Quite silly.”
Glartak smiled. “We ready to go today?” He gestured toward the massive rock just outside the ship. Nicknamed Nibiru by the scientists behind the mission, the rock was actually more of a small moon. Two massive mechanical arms clung to Nibiru’s exterior, connecting it to their ship.
“Ready to release in ten minutes.”
Nibiru’s massive size would wreak havoc throughout this solar system once released. Zetan scientists from their home planet did this type of thing from time to time, though the reasoning escaped Danank. She was just a pilot. She went where they told her to go.
“All right. Lets go through the checklist.”
For the next eight minutes Glartak and Danank checked off the final elements of their mission. Danank looked out at the blue planet, just coming into view, a small, blue/white disc in the center of the screen.
“You ever feel guilty about doing this kind of thing to the slow systems,” she asked her partner.
“Me? Nah. I mean it’s not like we don’t warn them. All they have to do is respond and we’d pick another system. They aren’t smart enough to reply, so what’s to feel guilty about? I mean, we gave them twenty of their years to figure it out. They just wrote the messengers off as crackpots. A little bit of apocalypse should do them good.”
“Yeah, I guess so. The advance team picked the messengers up right?”
Blartak nodded. “Yeah. Last week I think. They were a bit surprised to say the least.”
Danank returned her gazed to the viewscreen. “OK, release in three, two, one.” She pushed the big red button. There was an audible clank as the arms released their cargo.
Nibiru drifted slowly away. Drifted towards the small, blue/white disc.
Blartak stretched and turned to Danank. “Hey, this Earth place may not have been big on intelligence, but the advance team picked up some new food on planet. Has a terrible name, but it tastes great. Want to go try some?”
“What’s it called?”
“Eyes Scream,” Blartak answered. “Can you believe that? What a bunch of weirdos.”
“Well, not for long.”
“Silly humans,” the alien Leroy thought to himself. “They’re always getting the math wrong. They are so convinced that my planet Nibiru is going to destroy them, but they forgot to carry a one. In reality, our orbits are going to line up just long enough for me to visit Earth. My superiors have made it my responsibility to introduce a virus to destroy humanity if I believe they are worthy of destruction. Then we can take over their puny planet. My people believe our planets are similar, so Earth may be the perfect planet to occupy. In fact, our orbits are going to be so close, I can use this parachute to touch down. I just need to wait for the end of my shift at Tasty Burger.”
The orbits were due to line up at exactly 1:40. Leroy punched out on the Tasty Burger time clock as he slipped the parachute straps over his shoulders and jumped.
He landed in the grass next to a small neighborhood street. Just then, he heard the most beautiful music. It sounded like tiny jingle bells, but he cowered in fright at the large rumble that followed. He watched as tiny beings followed the large truck.
“Ice cream! Ice cream!” they shouted.
Leroy decided to creep closer to investigate. Just then, one of the tiniest ones with blonde hair and freckles ran from the truck carrying something on a stick. He saw Leroy and ran over to him. “Want a bite?” the tiny being said.
Leroy was the same size as this being, so it must have decided to befriend him. Leroy decided to take the offering for research. He took a tiny bite. The outer brown shell crunched to reveal something cool and sweet. “This is delicious!” Leroy said.
“Yes, chocolate covered vanilla ice cream is my favorite and Mommy says it’s nice to share our favorite things,” the little being said.
“Thank you,” said Leroy
Just then, Leroy noticed that the being was carrying something else. “Want to play with my pogo stick?” it said.
It hopped on some kind of stick and began bouncing up and down high in the air. It reminded Leroy of bouncing weightlessly through space. Eventually, the little one offered him a turn. Leroy bounced on the pogo stick and felt like he was bouncing to the sky. He felt an intense joy. “Surely this tiny being represents others on this planet,” thought Leroy. He knew that they didn’t deserve to be destroyed. He hugged the little one as he asked for another bite of ice cream.
Way out west there was this guy, a guy named Clint Bradford. This Bradford guy called himself “The Old Man.” Now, the thing about the Old Man is that sometimes there’s a man just right for his time and place. That ain’t always a good thing, mind, but well, he just kind of fit in there right when people needed something done. Clint wasn’t no Timeclock Soldier either, no sir; he didn’t just do his four years and get out. There are some that claim that he was enlisted in the army as soon as he was born, others say that he wasn’t born, but was a robot created by the army. Proves there are idiots no matter what planet you’re from, but… ah, I lost my train of thought there.
* * * * *
Two hundred paratroopers had just flung themselves out of the bomb bay of the aircraft, followed by two armored vehicles that would carry them fifty miles north to the village of Kami. It had always struck him odd how quiet the vacant belly of an aircraft flying at two hundred miles per hour with the back end opened is. It seemed to him there should be more wind.
“Two minutes to drop point,” the pilot radioed.
Clint reached down into the specially-installed cooler and grabbed an ice cream cone – the kind with the frozen chocolate lump at the bottom. He unwrapped it and licked the ice cream, remembering himself as child making vrooming sounds and dreaming of the day he would grow up to be an airplane. The Old Man bit the chocolate core off the cone and sighed with bitter pleasure. He stood, feeling none of the claims of his moniker. He tossed the ice cream cone out of the bomb bay doors and jumped out after it.
As quiet as the inside of the plane had felt, falling with nothing about him but air sounded like the void. Not even the snap of the Old Man’s parachute made much noise, which was a real shame. In the village of Kami below, nobody received any warning that he was coming, they had no reason to believe that an army would grind the town into the dirt come dawn, no reason at all to believe that Clint would bathe the town in the blood of its residents before that.
Cloaked in the dim light of the second sun Clint slipped from house to house, silently slitting throats and manually choking the life from those unfortunate enough to have wanted a glass of water or answer nature’s call.
In the silent moments before he started lighting fires Clint stared upward at the second sun, and accepted it not as a natural phenomenon but as an omen. Destruction was coming. The Old Man then thanked his lucky stars that the residents of Kami weren’t superstitious, and set work to burning it to the ground. After all, who’s to say an army invaded a place that is no longer there?
I cradled my bag of food and made my way around the legs of the Earth worshipers. They ignored me, chanting at the blue orb which dominated the sky. Earth worshippers came from all walks of life, but none of them clocked into work that day. They believed the growing orb was a god of destruction, but I knew better.
The barn was a simple building and had survived the increasing earthquake activity. Captain Carter was still inside where I had left him. He was using his parachute as a pillow and had strapped a broom handle to his broken leg to keep it straight. Carter devoured my gifts and finished by consuming the whole carton of ice cream. I’d managed to teach him a few simple phrases, and he gave an awkward, “Thank you.”
A real live alien, and he was all mine!
Carter used a hoe as a crutch and hobbled out the door. I urged him to rest, but he ignored me. “Ship?” he said.
I pointed west where his rocket had disappeared. What could I do but follow him? Part of me hoped one of the neighbor kids would see us. They wouldn’t pick on me any more once they saw my special friend.
Carter’s craft was a pointed cone deeply embedded in the dirt. Imagine trying to journey to a magnetic planet in a metal ship! These Earth people were not geniuses and definitely not gods.
My alien crouched in a shallow ridge. Soldiers came and went like ants. There was no way Carter could get close without being seen, not with his broken leg.
Carter drew symbols on the ground and pushed three of them, then pointed at his rocket and repeated the process, hitting the symbols in the same order.
I understood and made my way for the rocket. Small as I was, the soldiers ignored me until I got to the hatch. They shouted as I climbed in. It took several seconds before I found a control panel with the symbols Carter had drawn. I clicked the symbols: 1, 2—
A soldier grabbed my hand. “Kid, you almost destroyed us all! This rocket is a bomb strong enough to blow Nabiru out of its orbit, killing us all in the process.”
“Why would anyone want to destroy Nabiru?”
“Nabiru is causing havoc for the earth people, even worse than the earthquakes here. The only way for their civilization to survive is to destroy us.”
For a moment, I felt bad for the earth people, but then I realized how Carter had used me. I’d almost destroyed my entire planet! Carter was no better than the neighborhood bullies. I pointed to the ridge where he hid. Carter couldn’t run and was easily captured. I scowled as they trucked him away. He was no longer my alien. Carter, possibly the last of his kind, belonged to all Nabiru. When our planets crossed orbits, all traces of civilization were wiped from the blue orb.
Reporters started calling for interviews. I became famous and no one ever picked on me again.