Mark Ethridge’s Picture Choice: Two
Title: If It’s Just A Dream, Let Me Dream (Part 11)
Typical of the Church, the religious leaders left the planet. The Levites left with them, of course. The rest of their people they abandoned. Threw them away, like trash. Left them waiting, on the planet, with no way off, no escape, for God’s punishment of a world.
The sad part for me was how many of the Christians had no idea what God’s punishment was. They were stupid and uneducated. They knew nothing about science, or nanotechnology. So, they had no clue what the Church was doing to them. No clue at all. To them, it was simply God’s will. God would strike the planet, send a cloud of vengeance from heaven to purge the planet of it’s sinful life. If it was God’s will, they’d die in that cloud. And if they died, it was because God considered them sinners, like everything else on the planet.
The part that pissed me off was how some filthy rich bastard would order a nanotech plague dumped on the planet to kill off all life on it, including his own people. Except to him, they weren’t people. They were disposable, replaceable human resources. To him, this was a write off as a bad investment, nothing more. There was no loss of life involved, no harm to the Church. It was perfectly acceptable to kill everyone on the planet. In fact, it was a good business decision. Hell, it was certainly cheaper than hauling all those human resources off the planet. Hauling them to safety was fucking expensive. Better to dispose of them, and try again, on another world.
My love and I stood outside the human city and watched. There was nothing we could do. Nothing we could say. We’d walked among such people before. “Don’t you know they’re going to kill you? They’re just throwing you away!” And always, we’d heard the same answer, “Whatever God’s will shall be done.”
We watched as some of them put on masks to protect against allergens, dust. Those throw away paper masks. Some, doctors, nurses, put on their surgical masks. None of it mattered. They knew the cloud would kill them, so they tried to filter the cloud from the air they breathed. It was useless. The nanomachines in the cloud would pass through their skin, like water through a sieve.
I held her hand, “It won’t be long now.” I looked at the sky, glad I couldn’t see the starships orbiting in above us.
“They’ll all die.” She pulled my arm around her. “Every last one.”
We didn’t talk about if it was quick and painless, or drawn out and horrid. We both knew the truth, having your cells ripped apart by machines wasn’t pretty. Having those machines use your body’s chemicals to make more of themselves, so they could rip more of you apart wasn’t pretty.
It was a death only a demon could conceive of.
“A give from the Church.” I held her close.
“Blue’s people are ready?”
I nodded. “They’ve all taken the drug.” A nasty enough drug. One that attacked the specific nanomachines of the Church’s plague. One that destroyed those machines, then used their remains to attack more of the machines. One that hurt like hell to take, because it replicated in your body until it achieved numbers sufficient to protect you against the plague.
To take the drug was to know pain you’d never forget. To scream, to cry, to pray for death. To wish you could breathe, then wish each breath wasn’t like drinking acid.
But, you’d survive. And if you wished to survive the plague, you had no choice. Blue’s people took the drug. We injected the drug in every animal we could find, wild and domesticated. We put it in bird feeders, sprayed it on grasslands, dumped it in lakes, rivers, seas and oceans. We put it in the water and watered the plants. We’d spread the drug through the planet, for months.
Blue had asked, “Does this work?”
“How do you know?”
“I took it.”
“And I walked on the surface of a planet, and watched it die.”
I’d survived the plague. I knew the drug worked, the nanotechnology did its job. Some of the people in the city would have encountered the drug, some of the drug would be in them. Those might survive, at least for a few days. But the drug would not be at full strength. The nanomachines would wage a war in their bodies. If enough of the drug was in them they’d survive, and have stories to tell of walking through the tenth level of hell, as they'd know pain even I couldn't describe.
If they didn’t have enough of the drug in them, they’d die. Slowly. Painfully. Horribly. Their bodies consumed gradually, as the drug became overwhelmed by the plague. It was a death I wished on no one. Not even on the leaders of the Church.
My love clung to me, “Blue’s people will watch for those who won’t survive?”
I nodded, “They’ll kill them. Spare them the days of…” There were no words to describe it. Spare them the days of what? Hell? “Mercy killings.”
We stood outside the city, and waited.
Until the sky began to change. The black of the sky, the light of the stars, turned pale blue. “The plague.”
All we could do was wait. And hope the people of the city died quickly.
I looked at the sky, “God’s will be done, indeed.”
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Mark woke up in 2010, and has been exploring life since then. All his doctors agree. He needs to write.