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

18 responses to “Freedom of Choice

    • The problem is that not all humanity sucks. These were just a tiny representation of the world population who turned out to be the bad apples who spoiled it for the whole bunch.

      Question for you: If Mary had the opportunity, how do you think she would have decided? How would you decide if you were in her place?

      Like

  1. Man, what a bleak tale about mob mentality. But the most powerful line for me was…”why is the life we provided for you not enough?” A good but disturbing read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a question we should be asking ourselves every day. Why isn’t what we have enough? (with the understanding that there are those who have little to nothing, who could use food, shelter, and a life free from abuse and torture)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Why did the alien take Mary’s body? Is he going to resurrect her? If he does, will he return her to Earth or take her to his home planet?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Someone recently suggested that I leave too many unanswered questions in my stories. Part of that could be that I’m just jotting down ideas and will go into more depth if/when I ever revisit it, or the elements brought up hadn’t occurred to me as I was writing it, or maybe I’m just plain lazy. You decide.

      Like

  3. Why are aliens always so mean all the time? Is the rest of the universe that savage a place to live? Why is earth the universe’s punching bag? I mean come on now, we gotta build up our rep!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You asked another commentor: If Mary had the opportunity, how do you think she would have decided? How would you decide if you were in her place?

    To the second question, I’d like to believe that I would be brave enough to sacrifice myself. I would be scared, and probably more than a little angry at humanity and how they acted, but also striving to give grace since I could very well act as they did given just a small change in circumstance. I’ve children and loved ones and am lucky enough to have a few people whom I call friends. Though I may not have lived the most glorious of lives, I’ve had a shining moment or two that I’ve had ear to ear smiles and joyous moments that have moved me to tears. And, when it all comes down to it, we have to die sometime and I think we humans share in desire to “control” that death in one way or another, so there’s that, too.

    Hpefully I am not committing some sort of faux pas withmy answer to the first question, which is below in the form of a fan-fiction continuation of your story. The imitation here is sincere in its compliments of your work.

    ————
    Mary stood in front of the alien with a quiet resolve.

    She was scared. She was tired.

    The last 24 hours didn’t offer the chance for sleep, not that she’d want that anyways. She wasn’t sure if it was the pressure, the fatigue or maybe the presence of the alien – but she could feel everything around her to a heightened degree. Every breath she took, every breeze, every blade of grass rustling. She felt some sort of an energetic hum emanating from the alien. She’d had the opportunity to reflect on her life, her choices, the relationships lost and even attempted to reach out to a few people to offer and ask for forgiveness. It wasn’t very fruitful.

    “You think it was unfair of me for everyone to know our conversation?”

    “Yes… and no. This involves all of us, so I guess everyone has a right to know.”

    “You have made your decision.”

    “I have. And I think you already know, but you require my intent to be spoken out loud. Correct?”

    “Yes.”

    “I’ve endured a lot of hatred in my life, not just the desperate backlash of our conversation yesterday. You know all this already since you picked me. I admit, we haven’t reached that level you are looking for. Hell, I haven’t…We don’t really know what we are doing here on this rock. This visitation and the power you wield has permanently changed the course of human history…”

    “You doubt that last sentence.”

    “We definitely haven’t arrived yet. We are flooded and burdened with biases a mile long. It’ll take work. So. Much. Work. Yet, I think I know why you picked me. Despite being a loner, despite not being overly concerned with the well being of others.”

    She paused. She was surprised at how long the alien was letting the conversation go on. Maybe time had no meaning for him and the last 24hours was like a second for him. And she remembered she wasn’t just talking to him, but to the rest of the world.

    “Go on.”

    “I had many dark moments where I could have killed myself but I didn’t. Because I hold on to this stubborn hope that Life will get better. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe next week. But just keep moving. Keep hoping. It’ll get better one day, it has to.”

    “Yes.”

    “So, yes… I’m scared, I’m tired. I’m angry. I’m not altruistic, despite my decision. I’m doing this for me. I have hope that things can be better. So maybe the rest of us will hold on to that. I don’t need a “Mary Gladys Stockwell Day”, I’m not the Savior of this world. If anything, I’m a reminder and a warning. For all we know, this has happened before. How many sacrifice myths do we have now anyways? And even if it hasn’t, the precedence has been set. This could very well happen again if we do not choose to ascend to a higher form of consciousness. Let my death be a warning. Not a celebration. You don’t get a day off because of my death. I’m ready to die.”

    The alien seemed to smile at this. He offered his hand to her, and in the moment she took it, her life ended. She fell limp and he caught her. Her eyes were open. A calm determined look on her face. The alien stood there as a medical team rushed to acknowledge that the life within her had gone. The doctor had pronounced her dead at 43 minutes after the hour.

    Without fanfare, without warning, without further explanation. The alien, along with the deceased Mary Gladys Stockwell, were enveloped in transporter energy and whisked away. And at that very moment, good to his word, the concepts of hate and evil were erased. But not the choice, the humans would still retain the choice to birth hatred and evil back into this world, whether they knew it or not.
    ————

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your comment somehow got flagged as spam and I almost missed it.

      No, no faux pas. It’s always interesting to get another writer’s take on a story. It creates a sort of “Choose Your Own Adventure” vibe. Does Mary choose to save her own life? (turn to Page 64)… and so forth.

      Your solution would have been the common sense one. If she chose to spare her life, she would have to live with the death of humanity on her conscience and that’s not something that could be easily compartmentalized and tucked somewhere deep in the brain, even for a misanthrope such as Mary. And if she decided to make no choice, adopting an “If I die, everybody dies” attitude, well, that’s worse than being selfish, that’s just lazy and spiteful.

      The story was shortened for the sake of brevity (apparently my normal storytelling ability isn’t compatible with short attention spans) but no matter which option she chose, the one thing Mary wanted, time to be alone with her own thoughts, wouldn’t have happened. The world would have sought her out, attempting to make deals, pleas, threats…and I even considered a kidnapping attempt, which would have turned the story into a mystery to not only find Mary but to puzzle out how anyone was capable of hiding her from a multidimensional being with powers and abilities beyond our understanding.

      As far as if I were in her shoes, I am not an altruistic person, I have no living relatives, and I’m a firm believer that my best days are behind me, and while you never quite know until you have to cross that bridge, I think I would have sacrificed myself, but being totally honest, that decision would have come down to the wire and I would have weighed all the options out until I was completely exhausted.

      Cheers for your input!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wondered if, due to the length, it may have gotten flagged. No worries, I’m glad you caught it.

        It is so interesting how the heart of the writer gets in to what we create, isnt it? You share certain traits with Mary. When I wrote, I wove a few pieces of my own heart in there too. The “hope” piece especially. Weaving in the medical team was my cynicism towards other peoples cynicism and not believing it happened but insisting it was faked somehow to make a one world government, etc etc.

        Pretty fascinating stuff.

        And I do have a stubborn hope, so, take it for what it is, but I hope you experience some days in your future that rival the golden ones in your past.

        I do enjoy lengthier material too, so, take a shot!

        I do agree that realistically, no matter where she was, she wouldn’t have been alone. Someone would have been pestering her. Whether she was at home, a hotel, under security somewhere… the mob would’ve been relentless. That makes more sense.

        Love the conversation! Thanks again!

        Liked by 1 person

      • The undeniable truth is that there will always be deniers. “The world is flat, the Holocaust and moon landing never happened.” So, yes, I agree with your point that not everyone in the States, let alone the world, would have believed the events. And I also liked the fact that you mentioned that just because certain concepts were removed from the minds of humankind, didn’t make it a certainty that they would never resurface.

        I may come off more cynical than I actually am and you can blame that on eighteen plus months of self-isolation. Somewhere deep inside there’s still an ember of belief that where there’s life, there’s hope. So, we’ll see.

        I appreciated the conversation as well! Be well!

        Liked by 1 person

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