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|Hero (standard:science fiction, 1754 words)|
|Author: Corwin||Added: Jul 22 2003||Views/Reads: 1766/1139||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|He was the greatest hero the world had ever known...except that no one would ever realise it.|
I remember when they first contacted me. I didn't really believe them. In fact, I thought that I was either drunk or crazy, that I had gotten some bad mushrooms or something, and this was a really, REALLY bad dream. It took some convincing, but when I finally accepted that they were for real, then it truly became a nightmare. I was camping in a wilderness park near my home. I did that a lot because...well, I had always been a loner, a really private person. Looking back on that now I see the massive irony in their choice. Someone who didn't like being around people being chosen to save the entire human race. Probably a good thing I didn't look at it that way then, I might have said to hell with it and told them to find another patsy. Actually, when they finally convinced me that they were for real, I did tell them to find someone else, but then they explained that my particular brain pattern was unique. They said that perhaps two percent of the human race had a compatible pattern, but mine had been the first they had detected in a sufficiently isolated location to attempt contact. If they had tried anyone in the presense of others, chances are the authorities would have been alerted, and then there would have been months of investigation and debate resulting, possibly, in a decision to try to handle the situation with the military forces of the world. They explained that armys were useless against the threat that approached us and, in any case, There just wasn't enough time to debate options. So I said, "ok, tell me what is going on and I will decide whether I can help you or not." One of them looked me in the eye and, without saying a word, began to fill my mind with the horrible truth. They were a race from another galaxy. They were called the Taren, and they had just developed inter galactic travel. Three were chosen to make the first test flight actually leaving their own galaxy and returning. The trip would take approimately three weeks and for the second and all but the last few days of the third week, they would be out of contact with their home planet. They set out with much fanfare and hope, believing that upon their return, they would have opened a new chapter in their planets history and they would come back to a hero's welcome, their place in that history assured for them and their descendants forever. The trip was, for the most part, magnificently uneventful. They saw sights no one had ever seen, gathered data in hours that would have taken decades to gain by distant observation. After reaching their agreed upon turn around point, they began the journey back. As they re entered their own galaxy, they began to broadcast their triumph towards the home world. Hours passed, and they recieved no response. Thinking that perhaps they had encountered some communications problem or perhaps an atmospheric interference, they continued towards their world still flush with victory. After reaching their world still without receiving a responce to their hails, they entered a parking orbit and began a sensor sweep of the planet. They discovered they had returned to a dead world. There was no destruction or devastation as if there had been a war or an invasion. To the contrary, everything was in its place, automatic systems functioning as they should, even traffic control systems smoothly routing automated vehicles along their way, no outward sign of a problem. Except for one thing. All the inhabitants of the planet were dead. Without a mark on them, and in the midst of whatever task they were engaged in at the time, they had simply fallen dead. After the initial shock wore off, the travelers began to try to understand what happened and why. The what came fairly quickley, as one of the travelers was a physician. He did some tests and discovered that the minds of the inhabitants were gone. Not the brain, but the intelligence that resided there. Somehow, in an instant, every living creature, every man, woman and child had had every bit of their brain function removed. This included the autonomic functions such as respiration. The people's hearts and lungs and nervous systems had simply switched off and they had ceased to live. They now knew what had happened, but not why or how. The second taveler, a scientist, began to do sensor readings on the planet and detected a faint energy signature that permeated the entire world. It was nothing he had ever seen, but it was agreed that this was the means by which Click here to read the rest of this story (85 more lines)
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