JB Lacaden’s Picture Choice:
Title: The Ravagers
The sink was the only thing holding me up. It kept me from crumpling into a pile of mess, which I am, to the ground. The bathroom was filled with the sound of rushing water from the faucet and down into the drain. My eyes remained glued on the mirror, on myself. Behind me, the window showed the millions of stars we slowly passed by.
I ran a hand through my salt and pepper hair as a sigh departed from my lips. Martin's voice still rang loud in my ears mixed with the ceaseless sobbing of Joan. I bent down and splashed my face with the cold water. The water felt good on my skin.
I heard the door slide open followed by the sound of leather shoes clicking on the tiled floor. By the corner of my eye I saw Timothy walking towards me.
"I bet none of you were expecting that," were the first words out of his mouth.
I quickly grabbed the small sachet of Velocity and smoothly pocketed it.
Timothy looked at me from the mirror. He smiled and said: "You were the first one to walk out. Didn't have the stomach for it as well, yeah?"
I looked at him, not at his reflection, but right at him. The man was young, approximately twenty years my junior. He had jet black hair that he'd always tuck behind his ears, sky blue eyes, and a million dollar smile. Embroidered on the left breast of his shirt was the insignia of his family—the Longharts.
"I doubt any sane man would be able to tolerate what Martin just proposed," I said, fighting hard to keep myself steady. The Velocity hadn't yet completely settled in.
"But you have to give it to the old man, there are truths in what he just said. His plan is our best hope of survival."
"There is another way," I countered.
"Another way? The Savior has been floating in space for twenty years looking for another way. There is no another way," Timothy laughed. "Every single family head disapproved...no, they were disgusted of the old man's idea. But, sooner or later, they'll realize there's no other alternative. They'll give in eventually. You will give in."
I let go of the sink. My head felt lighter all of a sudden. Everything seemed to be toned down. Time seemed slower than usual. The Velocity's kicking in. I gave Timothy no reply. I just simply walked away.
I felt the full effects of the drug while I was lying down in my room. Above me, the stars blinked and winked. I relished at the rush the drug gave. The problems, Earth, Timothy's smug smile, Martin's proposed solution, everything seemed to not matter anymore.
I was like that for two straight hours. The Velocity went away and I puked my guts out.
I slept on my own vomit.
I just turned twenty the day it happened. I saw a huge shadow blanket the entire land. Dark clouds hovered above and sounds of explosions could be heard from the sky. Then I saw them...everyone on Earth saw them. The front of their ships pierced through the clouds and appeared before us--long, narrow ships shaped like baseball bats with wings. They descended one by one. One crashed into the baseball park we used to play when we were kids.
The aliens poured out of the ships by the hundreds. Earth was caught completely off guard. By the end of the month, major cities were all turned into prison camps and the minor ones were completely wiped out. Approximately a quarter of the planet's population were killed. Ninety percent of the remaining humans lived as slaves and the other ten percent are us--the rebels, forced underground, always on the move.
Ravagers, that was the name given to the aliens; an apt name, really.
Our major base of operations was hidden in the heart of Mount Everest. The United States of America, unknown to the rest of the world, was building a base in the mountains in preparation for the third world war, if there ever came a time that it happens. As we all saw, World War III did happen except we were fighting an enemy we didn't expect.
We fought, as hard as we could. We started freeing up the smaller towns. We won some battles, but lost most of them. Their technology was simply much more advanced than ours. Their bodies were sturdier, stronger, and much more suitable for war than ours.
Eventually, we knew we would never win.
The war effort shifted from battling the Ravagers head-on to building a ship large enough to transport the remaining survivors to space. Live to fight another day as the famous proverb says. That was how the Savior came to be.
We boarded the ship after its completion and departed into the blackness of space.
My stomach grumbled in protest as I marched down the hallway and into the meeting room.
My knees felt like jelly and I still felt a bit of residual effect from the Velocity. The doors slid open in front of me and I walked in.
The room was composed of a long, oval table surrounded by nine chairs. Seated at the head of the table was a very rotund, old man with milky white eyes. He was dressed in all white and had a steel, walking stick in hand. Standing behind him was Timothy. Timothy bent down and whispered something to the old man in the chair. The old man gave a nod and cleared his throat.
“Seems like we are finally all here,” he had a voice belied his years; clear, strong, and whole. “To those who…were unable to finish my small presentation yesterday, I gave you all twenty four hours to ponder on whether or not my proposed solution would be our solution. I hope by now you all have come to a decision. I would just like to say that every minute we waste, is a minute we could have used in making the Earth better again.”
I remained standing on the doorway. Timothy’s eyes landed on me for a brief second before they went back to the other seven around the table. I, too, studied the faces of my fellow leaders. Old, they were all old, and scared, very easy to be bullied by Martin’s strong words and terrifying visuals. I saw Pirou Neeve, head of the food and water supply, having a quiet conversation with Kate Parker, the head of R&D. I saw the fear in George Brother’s usually stoic face. They knew they had no other way than to give in to Martin’s solution.
I made my way to my place and took my seat. Martin was just finishing his little speech.
“You have seen and heard the science many times now. My son, Timothy, have already sent you the documentations. This is a foolproof plan, ladies and gentlemen. The Ravagers wouldn’t know what hit them.”
No, they won’t, the Ravagers as well as the other humans still stuck on Earth. The thought came unbidden. I gritted my teeth to fight the words from coming out of my lips. An outburst wouldn’t help.
In front of me, Nora Waiters, raised her hand. Her face told me everything I needed to know. It told me what she was about to say even before she said the words. “I approve of the plan,” she said.
My eyes jumped to the father and son duo at the head of the table. A small smile appeared on Martin’s wrinkled lips. One down. Martin needed the majority of the leaders to give their approval before his plans would come to realization.
I raised my hand. “I firmly believe there is another way to drive the Ravagers out. I say no to the plan.”
I could feel all of their eyes on me.
“Jasper,” Martin said, “you’re the captain of this ship. You’ve been with us since the beginning. You know there’s no other way.”
“I say no,” I repeated. “Replacing the Earth’s atmosphere with a toxic gas would kill the Ravagers, but that would kill the other humans too. That’s not a plan. That’s genocide. I refuse to be part of that.”
Timothy laid a hand on his father’s shoulder before the old man could say anything more. Timothy smiled and said: “We run a democratic system here. The Hartmans respect your vote, Captain.”
I gave a nod though I knew things were only beginning. I watched Timothy whisper something in his father’s ear. I didn’t why, but I felt like I’m about to fight another war…this time against my fellow humans.
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JB Lacaden dreams of someday being a published writer. He currently resides in Manila, Philippines. He's a lover of comic books, science fiction, and high fantasy. Check out some of his works at http://www.jblearnstowrite.com/ and follow him at @jblearnstowrite.