Monday, April 8, 2024

The Miracle

Editor's note: I had a dream about this whole hot mess the world finds itself in. I wanted to share my vision, but I struggled to put it into words until I decided to write it as a short short story. Other than the odd poem (not very often and very odd), I haven't posted anything like a short story at the The Revolution Continues before. This is a first. I've not written much fiction in recent times because, frankly, I don't feel like writing anything funny or with a happy ending. My last novella is set in a dystopian world where an anarchist commune that practices mutual aid is struggling to survive alongside a fascist state. My publisher insisted it at least have a "happy for now" ending. (You can buy a copy of it here. It would make my publisher very happy. Or you can drop me a donation via my page here. That would make me very happy!)

If you decide you'd like to read more short fiction posts, let me know. I'll see what I can do. If you'd rather I didn't post fiction here, leave a comment stating your preference. Thanks for your feedback.
A must-watch short video:

The Miracle

by C.A. Matthews

“That’s my planet,” I confessed, trembling. I pointed to the big blue marble that is Earth through the spaceship observation port. The tallest of the grayish, bulb-headed, big-eyed, mouthless alien beings nodded in understanding. “You can tell it’s inhabited from the amount of pollution in the atmosphere detectable from this… height.”

I’d never believed in alien abduction before, but now that it was happening to me it didn’t seem all that bad. No anal probes. No poking or prodding of any kind really, unless you count the mental probing my hosts—I hated to label them “my captors”—had gently done to determine how best to communicate with me. I spoke out loud, but I realized fairly quickly that they were reading my mind and communicating me mentally, so using my vocal cords wasn’t necessary. Talking just made me feel less nervous in their presence, and they didn’t seem to mind.

The pollutants and toxins in your biosphere are slowly killing your kind and many other species. Do you understand? The tallest of the aliens sent its thoughts directly into my head. Its tone and intonation made me imagine it was coming from an older, wiser individual. It communicated slowly and kindly as if speaking to a lost child. Would you like them removed?

“The pollution, you mean, not the people, right?” I laughed and then gasped as what it meant hit me fully. “You’re saying that you all can actually clean up our polluted planet after all we’ve done to it?”

Yes, we have the means to return your planet’s biosphere to its state before the mass burning of fossil fuels began. We can purge the toxins from the atmosphere, the water cycle, and from the soil. Crops and forests will thrive. No longer will adverse climate effects harm food production or the wildlife. We can replace the engines that run your vehicles, machinery, and industrial plants that cause pollution and radiation with ones that do not. We can eliminate rogue viruses and bacteria that cause serious illness and provide your healers with instruction on how to cure through natural means, not through the use of synthetic chemicals. Allow us to demonstrate.

With a wave of its hand—or what I thought would pass as a hand on Earth—Tall Guy gave its compatriots the signal to start Operation Earth Clean-Up. I’m not sure if what I witnessed from the spaceship window happened instantaneously or was happening over a period of days, years, or centuries, but within what seemed only a few short minutes to me the face of the Earth looked much greener and bluer and...well, healthier.

“Wow…” I whispered. “Thank you! I am very impressed. No more bad air quality days? No more boil warnings for our tap water? I can actually swim in the lake now and not get covered with an outbreak of poisonous blue-green algae?”

We have purged the toxins that are hazardous to life on your planet, my host mentally informed me. Your kind can be cured of sicknesses now with simple medicines and techniques available to all.

No more need for bad health insurance that never covers what you really need? Cancer cured? It all sounds too good to be true.” I shook my head in disbelief. “In my country, big corporations make lots of money from keeping people sick and addicted to drugs.”

Tall Guy blinked. If it had possessed a mouth, it might have frowned. The concept of capitalism was probably as foreign and strange to my hosts as their spaceship and advanced technology were to me. If they were reading my mind at that moment, they might have regretted lavishing such kind gifts upon our selfish species.

Is there anything else we can do for your kind before we return you? Tall Guy asked.

I couldn’t wait to return to Earth—the beautiful, unpolluted Garden of Eden where sickness would be no more. I sighed. There was something niggling me in the back of my mind. I had to know if my hosts could grant me this one last, grand wish.

Can you rid our world of war? Can you remove all the weapons—that is, the tools of violence and destruction? Guns, cannons, nukes, tanks, submarines, bomber jets and the like that humans use to kill other humans?

Tall Guy blinked again. I was pretty sure this time it was frowning inside even without a mouth. I probably had asked too big of a favor. After all, extracting pollution out of the biosphere could be just an elaborate chemical equation to them, but taking weapons away from warmongers? If the concepts of capitalism and greed were incomprehensibly horrible and cruel to my hosts, can you imagine what they would have thought of humanity’s insatiable need to slaughter their neighbors and steal each others’ land and resources?

A few minutes later, after much discussion as I called my hosts’ method of communicating as a group by touching their foreheads together, I got my answer.

We will try.

It took more than a hand wave from Tall Guy to bring peace about on Planet Earth. Several different groups of gray aliens started to work out different aspects of the challenge. I was allowed to walk about and watch each team tackle their part of the problem. I watched a view screen with fascination as one group disintegrated the biggest and most obvious weapons of war. They focused what must have been a laser upon an aircraft carrier and then poof! It was vaporized. Gone. Likewise to nuclear subs and battleships. The sailors aboard were all magically transported to the closest port.

I couldn’t help but clap my hands with glee as another group took out an entire fleet of bombers and nuclear silos. Zap! They disappeared.

But my hosts didn’t stop there. Another group worked on eliminating all the small arms and automatic weapons on the planet. I’m not sure how their scanners could pick up on the millions of firearms, some of which were hidden in cellars and barns by the thousands in my country, but they did it. Abracadabra! They vanished.

Wars aren’t only fought on the battlefields, but in the cities and towns where the oppressed are helpless to defend themselves. Several groups of my gray hosts worked on tearing down barbwire fences and concrete walls that had imprisoned so many within their own homelands or kept them from entering a place of safety. I don’t know how they did it, but my hosts flung open the prison doors that had incarcerated freedom fighters and innocents alike, setting them free.

In turn, the politicians and the corporate war lords who had profited greatly from eternal wars for oil and similar land grabs were escorted by invisible forces to trade places with the unjustly imprisoned. Ta-da! What a brilliant move!

The destruction of homes, family farms, and small businesses, the results of the wars and genocides, was instantly reversed. Homelessness and hunger were no more. All who had been separated by violence and divisions were once again reunited with their family members and friends.

I wept tears of joy.

It is accomplished, Tall Guy communicated to me. Why do you experience sadness?

I’m not sad. I’m happy.” I wiped my tears away with the back of my hand and gazed upon one of the view screens where a neighborhood, once reduced to rubble by bombing, now stood whole and complete. “I am so happy with the results of your wonderful talents. How can we ever thank you?

And then I caught a glimpse of something on the screen that caused my smile to fade. “What the hell… What is he doing?”

A man picked up a rock and threw it hard at another man just about to enter his rebuilt home. The second man fell to his knees, blood pouring from a deep gash on his forehead. The first man and his group ran toward the second man’s home, throwing more rocks at it as well as the people of the rebuilt neighborhood.

I thought you had eliminated all war?” I whispered.

My hosts assembled and pressed their foreheads together in communion. After a long minute, Tall Guy approached, its appendages spread open in an imploring fashion.

We eliminated all the human-made tools of war and violence as you had asked us to, but we cannot take away the feelings of hatred and greed and fear from inside each human being. That is something humanity must do for itself. Do you understand?

I nodded and closed my eyes. “I understand. I appreciate all that you’ve done for us. I realize now that I can’t expect you to perform a miracle.”

A miracle? Explain.

“Something that seems impossible, but it can and does spontaneously occur on rare occasions.”

Tall Guy nodded. Its gaze appeared softer, more sympathetic. No, we cannot perform a miracle. We cannot change the minds of living beings set on hurting others.

How long will it take until humankind rebuilds all the weapons it had?” I sniffed. “Years? Months? Days?”

Not long. Tall Guy’s tone registered upon my mind as resignation.

I turned toward the window. The skies above the Earth were growing darker and dirtier by the second. Humans were already rebuilding the polluting factories to create instruments of death, to destroy each other and Earth’s fragile ecosystem without mercy.

Can we help? Tall Guy communicated to me.

I slowly smiled at my gracious hosts. “We’d all better start praying for that miracle, or else I’ve wasted your time.”

This meme of Israeli girls writing their names on bombs to drop on Gaza is a couple months old. Recent estimates say 15,000+ children have been murdered in the Israeli genocide of Gaza.

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