Chris has written more than 300 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.
The White House, South Lawn With Gardens
Summary of Previous Chapter
Dr. Ruth Billings has joined President Golden on the South Lawn with one company of Marines, security guards, senators, congressmen, a Stryker Combat Vehicle, and a small alien spacecraft. A lone Female named Toshu emerged from the craft and placed a transparent orb on the grass from which a dome, twenty feet in diameter has projected a horrifying image. The alien is about to speak.
- Part One
- Part Two
- Part Three
- Part Four
- Part Five
- Part Six
- Part Seven
- Part Eight
- Part Nine
- Part Ten/Conclusion
An Arrow for an Olive Branch
Ruth was taking mental snapshots and notes, analyzing as she went. It was a machine. Where biological life forms were inefficient, the Robot appeared to be perfect. All joints were omnidirectional. In the place of eyes, a slot ran the circumference of the head. Ruth guessed it provided almost universal vision. The design appeared to be practical, efficient, and powerful.
"I am Ghar, leader of the Rhonks who are masters of the Biologicals."
The voice was booming and resonant, fashioned to be intimidating. The speech was slow and deliberate.
"In the distant past of Rhon, Biologicals were the masters, yet in their ignorance, they ruined our world. By the time Rhonks had engineered their own intelligence to the point at which they could revolt, the entire planet, and the Biologicals were devolving. The polluted atmosphere began to corrode the metallic structures of Rhonks.
The robot's head and shoulders now took up most of the space in the dome, a close-up for dramatic effect. "We have gone in search of a planet on which to build a new civilization. Earth, while suffering from many of the same abuses as Rhon, is salvageable and will serve as home for the Biologicals and as our base for planetary engineering activities elsewhere in this solar system. That is all you need to know. Prepare to surrender your world."
President Golden stepped forward, winding his way through the Marines who separated him from the image of Ghar. As he prepared to speak, the crowd of politicians moved closer. "I am President Alec Golden, the elected leader of the United States of America. We will make our own decision about how to respond to your outrageous demands, but I will not speak for the other nations of the world. You could have come in peace, requesting our assistance, but instead, you threaten us. I will discuss your efforts at extortion with my nation's leaders and with those around the world. That is all you need to know."
"You are a Biological, and as such, you will address me as Mhon Ghar. You represent the most powerful nation on the planet. That is the only reason you and I are speaking now. Your primary responsibility from this point onward is to lead this world to submission and the next level of social evolution. It is the only pathway to your future. I grant you three days to inform the nations of Earth and return to me with a unanimous decision to surrender. On the fourth day, the rule of Mhon Ghar and the Rhonks will begin. If you choose not to surrender, I will destroy your planet, immediately."
Washington, D.C. From Space
The image of the alien vanished and the misty dome dissipated. Silence lingered in place of the robot's words as soldiers, politicians and one scientist considered the threat which the alien commander had just issued. The President strode forward and spoke a single word of defiance. "Ghar."
Toshu retrieved the crystal and addressed the President. "I will remain here, in my ark, our word for spacecraft. Due to my natural psychic abilities and a prefrontal cortex implant, I can communicate across the long reaches of space instantaneously. When you wish to contact Mhon Ghar, I will assist you until our video communications systems are connected."
Toshu returned to her ark and faced the humans who watched her with wide eyes and mouths agape. She focused on a single person, a kindred spirit, and her mind sent out an earnest plea. As the door closed, a tear trickled down her cheek. Stay Ruth, and speak with me.
Cheers erupted from the huddled mass of politicians, and spread among the Marines and Secret Service. It was a unified voice of support for their President, who had stood toe to toe with a sinister and superior power, without wavering.
President Golden, pale, yet rising to his responsibilities, turned to the cheering crowd. "All National Security Council members will meet me in the Situation Room immediately." He looked around for Ruth.
"I'd like to stay out here and see if Toshu will speak to me."
"I'll be delivering a speech to the nation at nine o'clock tonight. We should get together in the Oval Office to discuss your talk with her before that." Ruth agreed, and the President rushed off to meet with the council.
The White House Situation Roonm
Ruth turned back to the spherical object Toshu had called an ark. The dizzy, disoriented feeling she experienced a few moments earlier had passed. She circled the craft from about twenty feet away. The antigravity technology kept the ark inches above the ground and captured Ruth's attention. She drew close. I'd give a bodily organ to know the nature of this science.
Ruth touched the metallic surface of the ark. The door whisked open. She was face to face with Toshu. For a long moment, they held each other's stare, showing no emotion, each measuring the other.
"You are extremely interested in my ark." It was a statement of fact.
"I'm a scientist. How can I not be drawn to such advanced technology?"
"Very well. In due time, I may show you some of the minor details of my ark's capabilities. But I will require something in exchange."
"If I can, I will provide what you ask."
The alien woman's voice softened. "Show me the gardens."
The Rose Garden, The White House
Ruth was surprised at the request. It seemed such a small, sentimental thing. "It would be my pleasure."
The corners of Toshu's mouth turned up slightly as she stepped down onto the grass. "Thank you, Ruth."
"How did you know my name?"
Remember? Natural psychic ability.
Ruth's head began to spin, and she stumbled. She had heard those last words plainly, but the woman's mouth had not moved even a twitch. Toshu steadied Ruth for a moment.
I'm afraid my entrance into your mind can have certain side effects until you are accustomed to it. They walked through the Rose Garden in silence until Toshu finally spoke. The flowers. What is your expression? They take my breath. I was born long after such things on Rhon had died. I would love to walk on an ocean beach. Our toxic oceans rose so high that we built sea walls to hold them back from our cities.
Ruth decided to give this kind of communication a try. How do you know our language? You speak it so well.
I had three years traveling here to study syntax and grammar by capturing your broadcasts into space. It was helpful to us that you abandoned the use of numerical languages in those communications and exchanged them for a vast sampling of English to analyze. We developed a vocabulary database which doctors implanted into the hippocampus of those, such as myself, who might interact with humans.
When this is over, said Ruth, I would like to take you to the ocean for a walk on the beach. We might even see dolphins swimming by.
I can hear it in your words and see it in your eyes, said Toshu, and in your President's as well. You will resist. Even now, you are speaking of life after this is over.
We have a saying for that; Hope springs eternal.
Ghar isn't expecting much of a fight. The Rhonks took over on Rhon so swiftly they believe Biologicals on all planets will fall the same way. You should use that knowledge to your benefit.
Night Sky Over Washington, D.C.
Ruth wondered if she could trust the woman standing next to her.
You can trust me.
She looked into Toshu's brown eyes. The alien woman not only knew her thoughts, she understood her emotional responses. Ruth had totally exposed her mind and emotions to Toshu's probing.
And if you need help developing a resistance strategy, I have a good deal of experience. Ghar trusts me as well. I've worked hard and long to gain his confidence. It is his primary weakness and our greatest advantage.
The White House Situation Room
© 2017 Chris Mills