“You know what? I didn’t think it would end this way.” I told the young boy with his dirt-matted hair. His eyes were large with fear as we watched the world collapse before us. Like a large mouth, it opened before us and split in two. A tear wet my cheek, but I felt nothing. Just numbness. I just watched the end of the world with the nameless child. All I could think was how it crumbled a lot softer than I thought it would.
We looked back at those who had received the message and realized that there was nothing left. Nothing to go back to. And there were so few of us. Maybe they believed that more people would have been listening to that song that day. Come to think of it, none of us even knew who sent the message in the first place. We were safe for now. That much was certain.
“So…” I figured I’d speak up again. The rest of the blood-drained faces just continued to watch as we drifted away from the pulsating sun. Just as we exited the solar system, it absorbed the planet we once called home. Although we could not hear, we all felt the screams of billions silence in that same second.
“Why were we chosen?” a young woman asked, desperate for an answer. We must have been chosen, right? There was no way that this happened by chance alone. But that must’ve been the answer. No one of us could stomach that…
Suddenly, a voice spoke over the crowd. My head was on a swivel, but I could not pinpoint the source. It sounded like it was coming from everywhere and no where at the same time. But, then again, this was a space ship. A space ship.
“If I may speak freely,” it rang through all of our ears. It was a calm, soothing, male voice. “Please understand, I do not mean to be heartless with the response to your question… but you were not chosen specifically. That is not to say that you weren’t chosen as a group. We needed younger individuals to repopulate the human race.”
We all looked around in disbelief. In that moment, I realized that there was no one in that great room over twenty-five or younger than six. An indistinguishable murmur spread through the group, but myself and the young boy remained silent. We observed. We listened for further clues to our host’s intent.
I knew he was talking about me the moment the voice started again. “Near the window. Yes, young lady. Stand and state your name.”
With the other hundred people watching, I slowly stood and looked up to try and, once again, pinpoint who was speaking. “Hannah Ingram.”
“Tell me Hannah, how did you hear the song? The message that my people sent.”
“Through my headphones.”
“Recount the entire event please. It is for logging purposes. You know, you can tell a lot about someone in how they speak.”
For a moment, I closed my eyes and recounted the event that happened no more than twenty-four hours prior. A vivid, monotone, and yet unrecognizable voice bursting through my earbuds with a call to drop everything: You are in grave danger human. The end of your race is evident and inevitable. It is you who is the future of this planet, but the rock upon which you stand is aging. Those around you have not respected it and resources are dwindling. Please believe us when we say that there is a way out. There is a new world awaiting you. If you wish to embark on this journey and heed our warning, find your nearest center for further instructions. The Center? Go to the place near your residence where all other life avoids.
“Well,” I lifted my head as I was becoming particularly interested in my shoes. “I was sitting in my campus courtyard. I’m a professor, not a student although my age may be deceiving… but I digress. I was listening to my playlist when the song came on. It was not even on the radio. So my question is how you managed to intercept…”
But I was cut off before I could finish my sentence. This man or this otherworldly being refused to answer anything he or it did not wish to. Truthfully, I believed it was because the others could not stomach the answers he possessed.
“No inquiries please. My people and will reveal your answers in time… Now… What made you believe my message?”
“A gut instinct.” The annoyance in my voice could clearly be heard by anyone within earshot at this point. I refused to go into detail. If they aren’t going to answer any of my questions, I’m not giving them an entire psychological evaluation by my words. By this point, the ship was well outside of the Milky Way Galaxy, something I never thought I would see in my years. The further we traveled, the amount of questions increased exponentially.
For a moment, silence fell over the entire room, choking off any ease of this place and killing it. Had I annoyed our host?
“Deepest apologies for offending you Hannah of Earth. You must understand, there are some within your group of humans who are extensively distressed. My reasoning of having you speak above all others was that your stress response is minimal, comparatively. I wish to use you as… what you call… a liaison between worlds.”
The lump already in my throat grew. Where was this ship headed? What was our final destination? No matter what I said, the voice would not answer any of these questions in front of the group. So, my thoughts turned to inquiring about a personal meeting.
“If that is the request,” I cleared my throat and spoke so quickly that it almost ran together like I was in a drunken stupor. “Then I wish to meet with you in person to have my questions answered. That way I can answer my people when they are ready for the information.”
Suddenly, a doorway opened beneath my feet and slid on a slide away from the rest of the group. Some looked on in horror as the door closed behind me. Would this be the last time I ever spoke or even locked eyes with another human?
After steeping in my thoughts for a few moments, I found myself face-to-face with the most beautiful creature I ever laid my eyes upon. The face was human-esque. It was so beautiful, it looked like a mask. Flawless skin, large, golden eyes. This creature bore long, pointed ears that pushed back strands of hair akin to sunlight. Unlike the others standing on the stairs to either side, the creature that stood above them seemed female. However, I did not know how to address it.
“Does knowing what we look like release any tension about our intent?” A woman’s voice spoke, but her lips did not move. “We are, rather were you in another place in time. Other races across the universe call us Watchers. Because our race had been gifted with telepathy, we could tap into other humanic races and aid them if need be. You may call me Magdalia.”
I paused and considered the question that was burning in my throat like a white-hot iron. “Magdalia… How do we compare to other races like us?”
A few of her male guards looked up at their leader while others shook their heads. What was once a smile upon the woman’s face had now dropped sternly. “Unfortunately, your people do not fair well among others like us. But that is what we wish to rectify. We did not destroy your world, your people did. But we intend to take advantage of this opportunity to show you how to properly be.”
“Be?” I repeated.
“Exist. Your kind do not understand how to exist. Humans did not know their bigger purpose. We will teach you.”
“And the message?” I asked. “How did you-?”
“Ah yes… To be honest, it really did not come through your headphones at all. Rather, your head. Telepathy is a great gift, but we did not wish to frighten many of you. If you were hearing voices, your kin would have you institutionalized. And here you are.”
I swore I was having an out-of-body experience. “Yes,” I heard myself say. “Here we are.”
“We are going to your new home. For the others, and for you too perhaps. My people searched and found a planet close to your Earth, but nothing in the universe is exactly the same. What is most important is that it is safe and it is habitable.”
“Water? Oxygen? Food?”
“And you will just leave us?”
“You must learn to survive. We will aid your transition for a time, but not for long. Once you learn to exist properly, we will watch from afar as we had for multiple millennia before. Now… go back to them and await further instruction. You and I will become very close.”
I hope you all enjoyed this short story! I’m sorry I’ve been on such a sporadic posting period as I am battling with motivational issues so I’m working through to hopefully get this first draft of Book 2 (Preservation) done!