Hot Flash Fiction 12: The Marvelous Machine

People traveled for days to see it. The warm gleam of copper and brass on its mysterious curved reflected their own faces, if a little blearily, and they were mesmerized. The ticking and clicking of that machine and its workings’ purr and whirr drew whispered speculation and quietly fearful puzzlement and some observers began to contemplate whether they oughtn’t to summon the constable ‘just in case’ before the process was completed on the morrow. Yet so much study and work and testing had been reported before this debut of the machine that no one was fully prepared to admit so brazenly to such cowering mistrust. So at last, on the appointed Friday, six of the town’s leading citizens—with a few nervous titters and a little confused shuffling and tripping over each other—untied the network of cautionary tapes that had held back the crowds, and everyone surged up in a breathless wave for a closer look.
digital collage

There it was: coming forward on the slow conveyor belt from its central tank was a very small but perfect object of glowing copper and brass curves, ticking and clicking and purring and whirring just like its larger forerunner. It was followed, as the conveyor moved along, by ninety-nine other minutely perfect replicas.

And that is how the world had its first hint of what lay ahead.

Alienation

The aliens are very disappointed in us. If we wreck all the prettiness of the planet and use up all its treasures, what’ll be left for them to conquer and acquire?

Of course, this might seem like motivation for us pusillanimous pigs to keep trashing the earth–eliminate everything desirable and we’ll never be attacked by aliens who want it.

Except that even in our dullest-witted science fiction, we tend to acknowledge that alien races not only might be light years smarter and more advanced than we are, they probably also have different needs and desires than ours.

So they might just be sad because we haven’t managed to wipe ourselves out quite yet, meaning that they’ll still have cleanup to do when they arrive.

Marauding and usurpation are just as much hassle as ever. Unless we perfect self-annihilation as quickly as our present rate would seem to presage.

Do aliens smile?digital illustration