Author: W.F. Peate

“No regrets using the hydrogen bomb General?” asked the reporter.

“We saved lives. Their surrender stopped further bloodshed.”

“Why didn’t you use the less destructive atomic bomb? Ninety percent fewer deaths.”

General Liana crossed her arms over the silk leashes of her medals. “The Americans needed two atomic bombs to convince the Japanese to surrender in 1945. We were one and done with hydrogen. “

“Gave the Americans a taste of their own medicine,” said the reporter with a snort. He pressed Send. “All our people and two billion in the occupied territories are hearing your words now.”

“Long live the Supreme Leader,” they said in unison.

A slice of light brighter than a thousand suns baked the building. The stink of burning insulation made the reporter cough so hard he brought up a piece of lung.

“Elevators are out,” said Captain Gran, her intelligence officer. “Massive solar flare. Strongest on record. AI says our planet is requesting the Sun destroy us because we’re destroying Earth with nuclear weapons.”

The general lifted an eyebrow. “Heavenly bodies talk?”

“In 2017 the Cassini spacecraft recorded an exchange between Saturn and its moon Enceladus. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory converted the energy into something we could hear. Just like an antenna converts radio waves into a Sting song.”

Liana touched the yarn bracelet her three year old daughter Eden made in daycare one floor below. Her heart sank when she recalled Sting’s lyrics from the song Russians:

“How can I save my little boy/From Oppenheimer’s deadly toy?”

Gran read Liana’s worried look. “Eden is safe. I called daycare.”

He read the translated transcript:

Earth: “Mother Sun, lice are burning my crust with fusion fire

Mother Sun: How many nuclear explosions?”

Earth: “2,045.”

Mother Sun: Comet trash. Let me burn off your lice.”

Mercury: “Remember the last time Mother burned one of us. Asteroida’s bones float between Mars and Jupiter.”

Mother Sun: “I’ve learned since then. I got Uranus and Neptune back in orbit.”

Uranus and Neptune: “Thank you Mother Sun. Blessed be Thee.”

Earth: “Mother get rid of my lice.”

Liena sagged into the chair next to Gran. He put his hand in hers. “Little Eden will die if we don’t do something.”

“Send Mother Sun a message that we won’t ever use nuclear bombs again.”

The reporter grumbled, “Maybe we don’t deserve to survive as a species. Mother Sun may have a screw loose. She destroyed one of her own children.”

“She fixed two planets’ orbits,” said Liana with a firm voice.

“Where will you say you got permission to do this?” asked the reporter.


Gran laughed as he typed and sent: “Mother Sun, we won’t ever use nuclear bombs again.”

Mother Sun: “Who are you?”

“The lice,” said Gran.

Mother Sun: “How can I trust you not to ever use my fire?”

“I am a mother with a child,” said Liana.

Flares in the sky enflamed then went dark.

“Elevators are on again.”

Eden sat on Gran’s knee. “Mommy where have you and Popsicle been? Can you make me French toast? Mommy what’s wrong?“

Liana stared out the window. “What have I done? I let children die. We can’t get them back. How horrible a thought. We have to save other children.”

Gran’s forehead furrowed, “Are you okay?”

“No. They’re gone. Millions of them. The other children out there. The other children. I have to help . . .”

The evening sun settled deep in the purple-orange horizon. Liana in her head heard Mother Sun say, “Together we’ll keep the others in safe orbit.”