Author : Eric Poch
“So there’s nothing I can do?”
“That about sums it up, yes”
Martin had been pacing in a damp field for the better part of an hour, speaking to his companion in increasingly hostile tones.
“Then why the hell did you tell me!?” Martin rubbed his hands together. His palms were becoming soggy. The friendly tone of his companion did not change.
“Please understand, it’s nothing personal. It’s simply protocol, Martin”
His friend did not shout, or pace, or sweat. He simply stood in the wet grass; staring dreamily into space.
Martin increased his pace.
“But why do you have to tell me? Why do you have to tell anyone?”
There was a period of silence, during which his friend did not avert his eyes from the stars. Finally he answered.
Martin stopped dead in his tracks and allowed himself a burst of hysterical laughter.
“Guilt?! Telling someone makes you feel guilty? So, what- the knowledge that you are destroying a planet isn’t enough to make you feel bad? You have to tell someone!?”
“WELL ISN’T THAT JUST PEACHY?!”
“Martin, please. You must understand…the process-”
“Don’t tell me.”
“But protocol dictates-”
Very well, said a cool voice in his head. If you will not listen, I will show you, Martin Denson.
Martin, who had clapped his hands over his ears in an attempt to drown out his friends voice, found himself suddenly staring into the empty void of space. The damp grass was no longer beneath his feet. In fact, there was literally nothing beneath his feat. The cool november air was sucked out of his lungs. He screamed, but there was no sound.
Don’t panic, said the voice in his head, You will not die.
The voice was soothing. Martin could feel his heartbeat slowing. He breathed in, and his lungs expanded, but not with oxygen. He breathed out, but it wasn’t carbon-dioxide.
Out of the darkness he began to see tiny pinpricks of light. As they swarmed around him, Martin realized they were stars. He reached out to one…
They are 36 light years away, Martin. You cannot touch them. Please, watch.
Martin look down- or more appropriately- beneath his feet, and saw the Earth. He watched it spin silently through the void.
Martin closed his eyes.
He heard nothing, save the beating of his heart.
Then there was only silence.
Then… something beneath the silence… something that had been there all along. It was as old as the moon and the stars… a deep, bone-shaking wail of pain that he could feel the in back of his skull.
It was the Earth.
He began to cry. The tears froze to his face. He knew. He knew why the earth wept.
He saw every human being; Every man, woman and child. He saw them going to work, skipping class, eating lunch, playing, murdering, screaming, praying…
And then he saw them fall asleep. All of them. All at the same time. They simply stopped what they were doing… laid down their heads ..and fell asleep.
And that was it.
Martin closed his eyes. He was back in the field. His friend was gone, and he was alone; standing in the wet grass.
He stood there for a while, staring into space. Finally he sat down, laid back on the grass, and closed his eyes.
For the first time in his life, Martin felt the earth turning beneath him.
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