Author: A.K. Blake

“You can’t be serious.” The President squints, shielding his eyes.

“We find blunt assessments most expedient.” The agent from UPRA oozes twenty meters away, sunlight glancing off her transparent flesh in rainbow prisms that give all the humans headaches. She has a translator in one appendage, and the robotic voice comes out flat, almost bored.

“Well, what about the rest of us? You’re just going to take that purple frog thing—”

“Purple pig-nosed frog.”

“—and leave us here?”

“The solar flare is not due for another seven Earth years, during which all your species may apply for environmental refugee status. Though, as I’ve explained, they may not qualify. It’s really quite shocking how few unique life forms remain.”

“But…what about the pandas? Surely you don’t have any of those! And we’ve got some Komodo dragons left I think, big huge lizards. I’m sure you’d be interested!”

The agent sighs, the edges of her jelly orifices slapping together. “Unfortunately, variations of what you call a panda exist on approximately 1,735,196 planets. The Vice-Chancellor of Intergalactic Transportation himself is a species greatly resembling one of your black and white ursids. We were interested in your amphibian and reptile populations, but the last Komodo dragon expired before we arrived, and you failed to preserve any caecilians or even lampreys.”

One of the President’s assistants pulls up a picture of a hideous creature, an eel with a sucker and ring of teeth where its face should be. He yelps, knocking the phone away. “That’s what you want? You’re going to let us all die because we didn’t save that? It looks like a goddamned alie— ” The President stops, catching himself. He takes a breath, his voice beginning to tremble. “Look, there has to be something we can do. You didn’t give us any warning, how were we supposed to know we failed to meet emergency reservation status when we didn’t even know your organization existed?”

The agent makes a squelching sound that translates as a harumph. “We’re not responsible for your abysmal failure to keep your own planet clean. We tried, we’ve sent you messages for millennia!”

“A few crop circles and funny lights in the sky is hardly a legitimate attempt! That Janet woman you messaged thought you were a hoax!”

“Her MySpace profile said ‘Alien Ambassador’.”

“Look, we’re talking about the lives of 9.7 billion people. You can’t just leave us here to die because of some red tape when you could move the whole goddamn planet to safety at the push of a button! It’s unconscionable!” The President is red-faced above his collar. His voice cracks, jumping an octave. “How do you sleep at night?”

“See, that way of thinking is what’s gotten you into this mess!” The agent is riled too, tendrils of flesh coming off her body in silvery porcupine quills. Her voice thunders overs the translator. “There are 36.8 quintillion life forms on this planet, and it breaks all twelve of my hearts that they will die because of your species’ incredible hubris. That ‘push of a button,’ requires so much dark matter it can only be used once in a galactic decade, and it will certainly not be wasted here!”

The President is screaming incoherently now, spluttering curse words as several of his agents weep openly. The agent turns to go, trailing slime back to the ship. She looks back once, a sob escaping her glutinous body, like the sound of bubbles bursting. “I am sorry, but can’t you see there’s nothing I can do? You should have saved the lamprey!”