Aphelion Issue 266, Volume 25
October 2021
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Flash Writing Challenge
Dan's Promo Page


Executive Decision

by J. Eckert Lytle

   “Only two of you will be permitted to accompany me from your doomed planet,” I said, looking into the Emperor’s huge eyes (twice the size of a humans), “one male and one female.”

     “But we have a whole population who need to be rescued,” bellowed the Emperor. “How can you choose only two? And who will those two be?”

     “Please understand, Your Majesty, it will not be me making the choice--it’ll be you.”

     “Ever since we discovered our sun was about to supernova we have experienced one futility after another,” the Emperor reflected anxiously, “so we made a plea to Earth for help. You reply by sending a single ship with only enough room for three people. Why did you not bring a larger ship? It is now too late to call for another.”

     “This was the fastest ship in the quadrant, Your Majesty. Besides, there isn’t a spaceship large enough to transport your planet’s population.”

     “We don’t need the whole world to be saved, only our city--a couple of thousand citizens at most.”

     The ground shook and shuddered as the sun doubled in luminosity and condensed in mass, shifting the planet’s fragile tectonic plates.

     I regained my balance. “Look, I was not sent here to save your populace, but to save your race.”

     The Emperor cocked his head and narrowed his large eyes.

     “With our genetic technologies,” I continued, “we can scrub the DNA of the offspring from your young couple to help eliminate recessive genes and prevent birth defects down the line. With that, your race will be able to endure.”

     “But our planet will be incinerated. Where will this ‘reborn race’ live? Certainly not with you I hope.”

     “In time, after we determine they are ready, we’ll find them a suitable planet on which to live.

     The Emperor called forth his only two progeny, a thick waisted boy of seventeen, striding pompously with his chin held high, and a thin girl of eighteen walking with her head down--hair hiding her face. They approached the Emperor and me. “These are the two I wish you to take,” said the Emperor. “Since you are able to do that scrubbing process with their genes and produce healthy babies, all surviving offspring will be my descendants.”

     I looked at the pair and asked, “Are you kids ready to leave?”

     “I am prepared for anything you Earthlings might have in store for me,” said the boy arrogantly.

     The young lady kept her head down and nodded timidly, her silky hair undulating with the nod.

     We left the palace and walked to the ship across manicured grounds, through the sun’s red glow, and past a crowd being restrained by security from mobbing us. A young man at the front of the crowd called out to the Emperor’s daughter. Her ears perked up and she hustled over to him. He enveloped her in a gentle hug. Crying freely she raised her head to kiss him passionately on his lips.

     I walked over to the young couple and tenderly placed my hand on the young lady’s shoulder. “It’s time we leave, little one,” I said tenderly, “I’m sorry this has to end.”

     “Yeah, sis,” yelled the brother coldly, from the spaceship ramp, “get your fat ass over here.”

     I glared at him and gently guided her, as she wept, toward her rescue transport.

     The ramp closed insulating us from the noise of the unruly crowd. “Fasten your seatbelts, kids,” I said. “We’re in for a rough ride.” I looked back to check on them.

     “I can take care of myself, inferior,” said the boy, “and I expect to eat within the hour.” I was already beginning to hate him. I glanced over to the young lady. She’d raised her head and I was finally able to look into her huge, beautiful, green eyes. The look she gave me was the saddest look I’d ever seen. It penetrated my very soul. Her eyes told the whole story. Tears flowed from them down her rosy cheeks, but I could see absolute sorrow and complete devastation. Such a heartache transcended mere grief. I understood from those woeful eyes that her heart was truly breaking and that she’d die within a year because of it.

     Her chin quivered slightly and she said, “I am buckled in and ready, sir.”

     “What is the hold up?” the boy commanded soullessly. “Are we leaving or are we not?”

     I pursed my lips and exhaled heavily through my nostrils. “You know, son, if you want something to eat soon, you better pack something. This ship was built for speed. We have no food on this flight.”

     “Hold the flight!” he dictated. “I need to bring some food. Let me out of here.”

     I opened the hatch and walked out onto the ramp, but I was passed by the running boy. “Wait for me,” he yelled, as he ran toward the palace, “I will return.”

     Sheepishly, I walked over to the young man the young princess was in love with standing behind the line of guards.

     “Would you like to accompany the young noblewoman and be with her on Earth?”

     Teary-eyed he looked deeply into my eyes and said with a quiver in his voice, “Sir, I would accompany her into a nightmare if she asked me to.”

     Now, maybe I was sticking my nose in where I shouldn’t but I didn’t think so. I grabbed the boy by his tunic and dragged him across the line and up the gangway. When the young lady saw him she let out a sob and embraced him passionately.

     As I closed the ramp and started the engines, I looked back at her and him embracing each other. She glanced up at me and her eyes gave me a look of total contentment and appreciation.

     When we departed the planet I knew I’d done right. I also knew the Emperor would be insanely pissed, but I didn’t care. His lawyers could call my lawyers. Or not.

                                                                                                          THE  END

2015 J. Eckert Lytle

Bio:  John has worked in mills, in sales, and his own business’s. He’s toured Europe by different means (bicycle, hiking, and an old VW). He’s been in a garage band, been a gold miner, and a scuba diver. He’s been writing for eleven years and has well over 300 rejection slips.

E-mail: J. Eckert Lytle


Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum

Return to Aphelion's Index page.

Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum

Return to Aphelion's Index page.