Freedom of Choice

The alien invasion that humans wrote fictional tales, created television series and movies about, and established protocols for, had finally arrived on Earth in the form of a single spaceship and one lone alien.

The alien was a multidimensional being and therefore able to be simultaneously present in all the offices of the two hundred and thirty-two global superpowers, ranking in population from China to Vatican City. Efforts were made, of course, to subdue and in some cases even kill the extraterrestrial, however none of the attempts met with success.

In a demonstration of power, the alien disintegrated all chemical, biological, radiological/nuclear, and explosive weapons of mass destruction, as well as any weapon designed to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive. Once confirmation of the demonstration was verified by the world leaders, the weaponless humans had no other option than to listen to the alien’s demands.

The being from another world had only one:

“Bring this human to me, alive and unharmed,” the alien said in all languages, as it implanted the image in the mind of every human being on the planet of a small African American woman in her forties with a once beautiful face that had been worn down by exhaustion.

The woman turned out to be forty-three-year-old Mary Gladys Stockwell of Highland, New York, and to her credit, she surrendered herself to the proper authorities before any of her neighbors or coworkers could turn her in.

She was transported to the coordinates provided, a wheatfield in Davenport, Washington, to meet face to face with the alien, who arrived via transporter beam.

Mary, never one to mince words or stand upon ceremony, asked the creature, “Why am I here?”

“To decide the fate of your world,” answered the alien.

“I don’t understand.”

The alien seemed to consider his approach carefully, asking, “Do you believe in a higher power?”

Mary answered with pride, “I’m a Protestant and I attend an African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church every Sunday without fail. I’m not sure if you understand what any of that means, but the simple answer is, yes, I do believe in a Higher Power. We call Him God Almighty.”

“The universe is rich with entities and energies that exist outside the grasp of even our vast understanding, but as for your world, we populated it with a host of experimental species to see which, if any, could rise to sapience.”

“So, you’re telling me that you’re God? That you created life on Earth?”

“We planted the seed from which life sprouted. How you label us is your own affair.”

“Wait a minute,” Mary said. “Let’s suppose for a minute that you’re telling the truth…”

“You are no threat to us,” the alien said matter of factly. “We have no reason for dishonesty.”

“Then answer me this, why would the Creator wish to destroy His creation?”

“We will answer your question with a question, why is the life we provided for you not enough? Why do you hate? Why do you war? Why do you abuse, torture, and kill?”

After a long moment of silence, Mary was forced to admit, “I don’t have an answer for that.”

“That is why we are here.”

“To clean house?” Mary asked.

“Yes.”

“And you’re putting that decision in my hands?”

“Yes.”

Mary blew out a breath of exasperation. Talking to this alien was like pulling teeth. “What is it I’m supposed to do exactly?”

“Choose whether you live or die.”

“What?”

“If you choose to sacrifice yourself,” the alien explained. “We will spare the human race and erase the concepts of hate and evil from every mind on the planet.”

“And if I choose to live?”

“We will disintegrate every human except you.”

“And I’ll be here alone?”

“Yes. It is the way you prefer to live your life, is it not?”

“Not at the expense of everyone else,” Mary blurted out. “What happens when I die?”

“Then the planet will begin its healing process and we shall see if any of the remaining species can or will evolve into sapience.”

A thought began dawning on Mary, “Is that why I was chosen? Because I’m a loner, a person with no friends or living family members? Or because you somehow know that I’m not an altruistic person?”

“Yes to both.”

“And what if I make no choice at all?”

“We will destroy everything. All species and the planet itself.”

“No pressure, huh?” Mary said. “Look, just because I don’t have anyone in my life, doesn’t mean I want to die.”

“Then choose life.”

“But I don’t want anyone else to die, either. You said it yourself that you could remove hatred and evil from all of our minds, right? Why not just do that? Why play this silly game?”

“We need to see if the human race is worth saving.”

Then it clicked for her. “You’ve read our Bibles, haven’t you? You need proof of our selflessness. Just like in the Old and New Testaments, you require a sacrifice.”

“Yes.” the alien confirmed.

“How long do I have to decide?” Mary asked.

“We will grant you one day. Return to us tomorrow at this time, at this spot,” the alien said before vanishing within a beam of transporter energy.

The car that brought Mary to the wheatfield was parked on the main road as instructed. When the alien departed, the driver picked Mary up and drove her to the Davenport City Hall building.

Mary had been unaware that her entire conversation with the alien had been broadcast into every mind on the planet and when she arrived at city hall, she was mobbed by news reporters, government officials, and the town locals, who bombarded her with question after question. Once inside the building, she even received a phone call from the President of the United States. Everyone wanted to know the same thing:

“What are you going to do?”

“I have to make a choice, I suppose,” was the answer she offered to everyone, which suited not one person.

From then on Mary wasn’t able to get a word in edgewise because the comments came flying at her:

  • “You don’t have no family so you ain’t got nothing to lose!”
  • “We all assumed you’d make the right choice and take your own life.”
  • “What about my wife and two daughters? We’ve always been good people, helping those in need and putting others before ourselves. Don’t we deserve to live?”
  • “I want to assure you that your sacrifice will not be in vain! Tomorrow, when you make the correct and only choice, that day will become not just a national but a global holiday in your memory! We will never forget!”

Then the tide turned ugly and people began getting angry and accusing her of being selfish.

“How am I selfish?” Mary shouted at the crowd. “I haven’t even made my decision yet! It’s oh so easy for all of you to sit in judgment because you’re not the one who has to make the hard choice! Can’t any of you understand how difficult it is to be in my shoes right now?”

And that was when the jeering and racial epithets began. Again, to Mary’s credit, she remained calm, explaining, “Look, all I need is some time alone with my own thoughts without everybody shouting at me what I need to do. I promise I’ll weigh the whole thing out.”

Mary never saw where the first rock came from. It struck her in the back of her head and she wasn’t even aware that she’d been hit. There was a sharp pain, she grunted, and dropped to her knees in confusion. The second rock struck her in the temple, knocking her down to the floor.

Someone in the crowd screamed, but it wasn’t in horror, it was most definitely rage, and it served as the ember that ignited a frenzy that no one could have rightfully explained later on. Bricks, glass bottles, baseball bats, lead pipes, all rained down on the woman from New York, and those without a weapon, spat, kicked and stomped on her body that automatically curled into a protective fetal position.

When the madness eventually passed, and the townsfolk saw in the clear light of day what they had done, some tried to justify it with a “She gave us no other choice!” others couldn’t keep the contents of their stomachs from gurgling up and spewing out, and the rest ran back to the safety of their homes.

Three farmers collected Mary’s lifeless body and placed it gingerly in the back of a pickup truck. They drove to the rendezvous point and laid her body out on the field, making sure to straighten out her clothes and removed the matted clumps of bloodied hair from her face, and crossed her arms over her chest, before driving off.

The following day, when the alien returned, its expression was not what anyone would have expected. The extraterrestrial appeared to be saddened by the sight of Mary Gladys Stockwell’s corpse. It knelt beside her and softly spoke a few words in a language no one understood, a prayer, perhaps. Then the alien carefully took her body into his arms, rose slowly, and said in all languages to all the planetary sapient minds, “You have failed yourselves.”

The alien along with Mary Gladys Stockwell’s cold body, faded in the brilliant light of the teleportation beam, as humans all across the globe began to wilt like flowers deprived of water, until they decayed to nothing but dust, hopefully to be carried off by the wind in order to fertilize the crops for a better form of life to grow.

Text and Audio ©2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys