Author : Rollin T Gentry
In the lift, Lieutenant Andrews asked herself how she, of the two hundred telepaths in the fleet, had been so unlucky as to be assigned to the Vulcan’s Anvil, a third rate science vessel with an idiot for a Captain. She wondered what his latest discovery was. What had he dragged out of the nebula this time?
Stepping into the lab, Andrews could see the Captain, and the Chief Science Officer huddled over something emitting a bright, red-orange glow. As she approached, she saw a metallic box, the contents of which looked like lava throwing a temper tantrum. The stuff rocked back and forth as if it were trying to escape its container. She stepped closer and felt the most intense rage she had ever encountered.
“Eject it now,” she said. “I haven’t attempted to make contact yet, and I feel pure evil radiating from that box.”
“So it is sentient,” the Captain said eagerly, nudging the Chief Science Officer who, like a giddy schoolgirl, chimed in, “The box is made of an element that isn’t even on our periodic table.”
“Scan it, Andrews,” the Captain said. “That’s an order.”
So she reached out and touched it. The white hot rage reached into her mind, and as she lost consciousness, she let out a blood-curdling scream.
Andrews opened her eyes inside a bulbous body covered with a layer of slime. She paced the floor atop a multitude of tentacles, waving other tentacles in the air. She spoke angry words from a flap on her face set below numerous eyes. She/he was the ruler of this world. “Tell me again how you found the Queen with this commoner.”
“There is nothing more to tell, my Lord. What will you have me do with them?”
“Her lover goes to the dungeon. Rip off his tentacles and gouge out his eyes and take your time about it. As for the Queen, have her bound and delivered to our bedchamber. I will discipline her myself.”
Lieutenant Andrews tried to close her eyes, but they were not her eyes to close. She lived out the fast-forwarded life of a despot from a race that humans had yet to encounter.
When he laid waste to the temples of their ancient religion, the commoners finally rebelled. Andrews felt his surprise and disgust as he stood before the three priests, resting their upper tentacles on a slab of white marble, looking down on him. “According to the old ways,” they said, “we do not kill. Repent, and we will heal your mind.”
“Repent!” he laughed. “Heal me?” he mocked. “Of what? My rage is justified, and one day I will rise again.”
“So be it,” they said. The small, metal box sat on the floor. The tentacles of the priests began to glow. Andrews felt herself melting and materializing inside the sealed box.
For a long time he was in darkness, but after years of ruminating and rocking back and forth, he glowed red and yellow and black molten with rage. Memories and hatred were his only companions. Until one day.
The creatures had two eyes and two upper tentacles, and as he gazed up at them he thought, “I will kill every last one of you.”
Andrews opened her eyes in the infirmary. “Did they eject the box?”
“No,” the Doctor said, “we’re taking it back to Science Central.” He injected something into her IV.
“No!” Andrews said. “It wants to kill…” she whispered, as she fell back into a sedated slumber.
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows