Aphelion Issue 296, Volume 28
July 2024 --
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Us and Them

by Swylmar dos Santos Ferreira

Translated from Portuguese by Toshiya Kamei

We woke up that night, still cold. But we mustered courage to rise to our feet. We turned on the TV news and learned that we were awake in all parts of the world.

We looked up at heaven and the stars, in some places the moon and in others the sun. Some of us were terrified, others were happy.

Some knew exactly what to do, others did not, so we were lost.

They, who watched us from the beginning, decided that we did not deserve the company of other creatures in our world. They were powerful, intelligent, arrogant, and took everything.

Just like that, without explanations, without motivations, without justifications.

Everything had been taken away from us. We were alone, but also together. We resolved that being alone in our sphere was no reason not to be together.

We all decided to do what we were best at and started thinking – thinking of a solution to the situation because suddenly we had nothing but problems. Urgent problems to solve. Water would not be our immediate concern, but food was a different story. What would we eat?

We still had plants and could grow some more, but how would we satisfy our protein needs? The answer was us. After all, millions of us died every day. Even so, we knew that our natural dead would not be enough to feed billions. But the stock was permanent because millions were born every day.

We went through our cities, revisited our academic institutions, delved deep into our sciences, and over the years, we created new types of synthetic proteins, new kinds of vegetables. After all... we were capable of thinking.

Then some time later, they came back. They said that the punishment imposed on us was not enough. We could see them in their bio-metallic spaceships in the skies, hovering over our world. They spent a little time thinking about what to do, then they pulverized something in our atmosphere, and as the days passed, we stopped dying.

Again, another dilemma: we did not stop reproducing and could not grow old. We turned even more to technology, to science. They came back again and again, each time with a new punishment – so many times they came back that one day when we were also intelligent and powerful, we decided to use our spacecraft to keep them from ever coming back. After all, they needed to be taught a lesson.

So we became them.

© 2018 Swylmar dos Santos Ferreira

Swylmar dos Santos Ferreira is a passionate reader of fantastic literature, especially fiction, and an apprentice in the art of writing. Writers he admires include Philip K. Dick, Neil Gaiman, and Stephen King. He blogs at Fantasticontos, escritos e literários.

Find more by Swylmar dos Santos Ferreira in the Author Index.

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