Science Fiction Microstory Contest discussion

Congrats to our four time Champion, Justin Sewall

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message 1: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1278 comments Mod
Dust of Empire
Justin Sewall © 2018

I looked down at my dying father and listened to his labored breathing. It mocked the respirator’s valiant but vain effort to assist him. The fine red dust still managed to get through the hospital’s filtration system and floated almost invisibly through the air, collecting in stagnant eddies on the window sill.

He held my hand weakly and fought to expel his final words.

“Don’t… greave, my son.” Coughing racked his once powerful frame.

“But father I,”

His grip tightened.

“Take…the pain… and… and…"

I put my ear close to his mouth. “And what father?” His hold began to loosen.

“Do… what must…be… done…”

His arm flopped off the bed as medical monitors wailed at the lack of vital signs.

Doctors and nurses ran into the room, but I knew he was gone. Bitterness overcame my sorrow and I marched resolutely back to the Interior Ministry – of which I was head.

When the aliens arrived, it was one of the most joyous days of our civilization. I was only a small boy then, but I remember running along the contoured banks of the Grand Canal and looking up at the sky in wonder. Our leaders were cautious of course and the armed forces were held in high alert. It was impossible to focus on my studies – indeed my governess was too distracted to teach me. Finally, after hovering over the capital city for days on end, a message was received. Newspaper headlines screamed “We come in peace” in huge black letters. What the news did not tell us was the second message read, “We need your help.”

Celebration turned to consternation as we soon learned this was only a refugee ship, and the millions of its inhabitants desperately needed a new home. Debate in parliament was fierce until the prime minister cast the deciding vote in favor of manumission. The aliens would be allowed to land and live among us. It was the first act in the long, tortured tragedy of our downfall.

I was already a junior back-bencher in parliament when the troubles began. Perhaps they had always been there and I had chosen not to see them. Differences between our two species led to racism, exploitation and every kind of vice our society had not seen in over 150 years. Prostitution, substance abuse, crime and general disorder seemed to follow these creatures wherever they settled. The local constabularies were overwhelmed. They reproduced faster and more numerously than we did, and within a few decades we found ourselves decidedly in the minority on our own planet.

This led to even greater problems as their metabolic processes began changing our climate on a cataclysmic scale. The canals, ever our source of fresh water since the rise of our civilization, became polluted and began evaporating away as our once verdant planet was devoured by the Red Desert. It expanded like a cancer from the equator, racing in both directions to our north and south poles.

Something had to be done.

When the position of Interior Minister became vacant, I campaigned on a platform of segregation. The aliens would have their own reservations where they could be contained, secured, and more easily controlled. Families would be kept together when feasible, or separated if necessary – and it was often necessary. For a population struggling to maintain its way of life, my proposals seemed like a logical and rational approach to the problem. However, the aliens had their own ideas. Soon there was rioting and our major cities burned.

So I proposed the Final Solution: Expulsion.

All of the aliens would be rounded up and reloaded aboard their vessel, their memories wiped, and deposited on the nearest habitable planet. Any alien who resisted was to be shot on sight as an example to the others.

Months dragged on as all of our military resources were dedicated to removing what had become, really, an infestation. Their ship was held in orbit until every last one of the furry beasts was hunted down and – shall we say – deported.

Perhaps “repatriated” is a better term.

At last they were all crammed aboard their ark of misery and sent away to the third planet in our solar system – but what they left behind could not be undone. The Red Desert consumed our cities, filled our canals and entombed those of us who remained.

Now I lay in a hospital bed like my father, choking on the red dust and gasping out my final breaths, alone.

message 2: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1278 comments Mod
C. Lloyd:
Congrats Justin!
You da man

G.C. Groover:
Fake news!
Congrats Justin!

Justin Sewall:
Three times this year? Really? Inconceivable! I don't know how the voting shook out yet, but I feel like there were other stories far better than mine. I should buy a lottery ticket... Thank you everyone, I sincerely appreciate it!

Chris Nance:
Justin! Way to go!

Justin Sewall:
Thanks Chris!

Tom Olbert:
Congratulations, Justin. Well done.

Justin Sewall:
Thank you!! I have posted the September challenge, so Jot will put it to the top when he gets back.

message 3: by W. A. (new)

W. A.  Fix (wafix) | 13 comments Justin,
What a great story! One of the best since the beginning of this contest and one of the best of the whole Earth/Mars life origin idea I’ve ever read. It just needs a better title. I think you have the talent to do really well as an author. Keep it up.

message 4: by Justin (new)

Justin Sewall | 1046 comments Thanks W.A., much appreciated! I do have two self-published sci-fi novellas on Amazon (part one and part two) called Cerulean Rising: Beginnings and Cerulean Rising: Evolutions, if you care to check them out. Thanks again!

message 5: by Paula (new)

Paula | 955 comments Nice work, Justin. Congratulations.

message 6: by Justin (new)

Justin Sewall | 1046 comments Thanks Paula!

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