Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

After the Great Energy Wars of the twenty third century, human civilization was almost non-existent. The human global population had been reduced from nine billion to a few hundred thousand. The original global superpowers, China, India, and the USA had been obliterated. Radioactive fallout made much of the Earth’s land surface unusable. Most of the survivors were clustered into small nomadic tribes that were widely dispersed in areas that contained reasonably fertile soil and where there were some animals to hunt. The birth rate was low, and the mortality rate was high. If you were lucky enough to reach forty, you were probably the oldest person within a thousand miles. Life was very hard, and everyday was a struggle. However, all that was all before the Leonians arrived.

The Leonians were a humanoid race from a planet orbiting a star called Regulus. They were a little smaller than humans, had greenish skin, and no hair. They had four eyes; two in the front, and two in the back. That was kind of creepy, but they were nice folk, nevertheless. They arrived with a fleet of 1000 spaceships. They claimed that they had been monitoring Earth for several years and wanted to provide assistance. They said it was what their species was driven to do; help others that were less fortunate. Their offer seemed sincere, and quite generous. I don’t know if the rest of the world agreed to accept their help, but the hundred of us living near Johannesburg did.

They got to work right away. They began neutralizing the radioactive areas and purifying our water supply. We helped where we could, but their robots did most of the real labor. They even built us a community center on the top of a small hill. We used the building for group meals, town meetings, training, and minor medical treatment. During the weekly town meetings, the Leonian captain would regale us with fascinating stories of exploration and adventure. We’d listen for hours on end. Life was good.

Eventually, we had ample farm lands, plenty of clean water, a small hospital manned by robots, and even a one room schoolhouse. Then one day, the Leonian captain informed us that he needed to move his ship to another location, to help other humans who were still struggling to stay alive. He said that he’d stop back now and then to check up on us, and to swap out the three crew members that had volunteered to stay with the settlement. We gave them a big going away party, thanked them at least a thousand times, and wished them luck at their next stop.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly until about a year later. We started noticing involuntary changes in our vocabulary. Instead of saying “God bless you,” after someone sneezed, we said, “Gluon nigh vit.” We started uttering other unknown words, like muon, lepton, and hadron. The children made strange sculptures and bizarre drawings. When we asked one of the resident Leonians if he understood what was happening, he was overjoyed. “Ah, this is wonderful news, my children. You have finally begun your greatest journey. I was hoping that the conversion would occur while I was still here with you. The Holy Cosmic Egg must be thrilled that you have cast away your false gods and have come to worship in his glory. Come, let us pray together.”

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows