FICTION: THE GREY AND BLACK - DOMINIONS OF POWER
It wasn’t really an agreement. But we were in no position to disagree to their offer. In fact, it was an ultimatum.
Give us one-third of your population. And we will let the rest of you live till we return.
It had all begun with the gleaming silver ships that suddenly appeared without sound or warning in our skies.
There was an initial attempt to attack them. But both our military personnel and scientists could see that their technology far outstripped our own by a huge margin. When a missile approached they simply flicked out of existence for a second then immediately returned after its passing. It was a useless gesture and all such gestures soon ended.
We were surprised by their instant translation abilities, not that they could perform some semblance of our speech but that it was virtually perfect in its performance. They seemed able to master every nuance of each language on the planet. It was uncanny.
They could even tell jokes. But, in the circumstances, we found it hard to laugh at their attempts at humour. There were several reasons for this. One was that they in fact had no humour. They were entirely humourless. They only knew about our love of humour and were able to understand the concept but only deliver jokes in flat tones.
Also, however, and more importantly, they were here to eat human flesh, considering us as virtual farm animals.
Both these factors tempered our mirth more than somewhat.
They were not shaped like us. They were long and thin with a whip-like tongue appendage. They had vestiges of eyes from some previous evolutionary epoch of their history but apparently, they now saw through their skin. This was extremely off-putting as we could never figure out where to look when they spoke to us. Usually, we simply looked at the upper strip of pointed grey skin which we subliminally thought of as their head.
Each was identical to the other as far as our human eyes could make out though there must surely have been some way they identified each other as individuals. This we were totally unable to discover, however.
You may ask how they ate. This is an unpleasant subject for discussion but I will answer directly and honestly as we were able to see this on one of our very first encounters with the creatures. A group of politicians had assembled below one of their ships and hailed them through an amplification system. What then occurred was shown on national television for days but with certain details blurred for the sake of the over-sensitive. A party of the ‘Greys’ as we call them appeared directly in front of our party.
Sorry, but that’s how they eat. At least there’s no waste... or mess. Except for the shredded clothes cast to the winds that is... and a few shovel fulls of skin.
They rested a while then, transferring the calories they had gathered between them. At later mealtimes, we were graced with viewing how this was done with each Grey linking with another via their “tongues”. When done they hung limp for a few minutes as they digested their latest human soup.
By this time we were too numb with fear and shock that we could no longer react with exclamations of horror as we had done at first. You can get used to anything they say, and in past times those in war zones had discovered this for themselves. Somewhere along the line bomb blasts and bodies begin to be almost normal and nothing to be reacted to in any major way.
We lived with the threat that had come to us. What else could we do?
A task was given us, however.
We had become a crop. Or, if you like, cattle. Farm animals. Sustenance for our new owners.
Our planet had become their latest base.
They were not very forthcoming when we dared ask questions of them, but over time we did learn something of their culture, past conquests, aims and their network of planetary bases.
The Grey were a relatively successful species we learned. They had an empire of sorts, a string of planets where they harvested minerals, oils, ores and calorific value, i.e. food. These planets were defended as well as could be by them, however, they were not alone and stronger species than they would take a planet or two at times. This meant they were always searching for new planets to exploit for their needs. We were primarily a food resource. Our other resources were in plentiful supply elsewhere across their empire.
Once they had fully taken the measure of us and found us suitably weak they established a central base and a network of smaller units where our calories could be stored for later transfer and ingestion. They created the central base in the Sahara, terraforming the vast area chosen as suitable using the abundant sand, transforming it into a solid construction material. This facilitated the building of massive structures of unidentifiable function. The sky above each of these was lit day and night with shifting coloured lights that bore a strong resemblance to the Northern Lights seen in Scandanavia, Aurora Borealis.
As time went on we realized they had no interest in us apart from our use as food.
They felt quite safe among us. They were completely unconcerned regarding any weaponry we had as they knew its capacities and limitations very well. They were in no danger from anything we had, not even our nuclear capacity. In theory, a nuclear strike would of course do damage to the structures they had created if not their ships and if operable would have destroyed some of them in the process. However, they had set in place a fully comprehensive system of monitoring our communications and knew our every move. Besides, we suspected the lights seen over each of their facilities enabled comprehensive monitoring of all incoming threats. Whether these were identified as known weaponry or any other approaching entity of any kind. A few puny attempts were made to test this theory and these essentially confirmed our hypothesis. Every attack ended in the same way. The individuals, missiles, bombs, whatever... simply ceased to exist long before the target was in sight.
So, in time we simply got on with our lives. They took what they needed from us each day and left us totally alone otherwise. Populations were not severely reduced in the first months though this was soon to change. In those early months, the fear among us was a constant feature of our lives. We could never determine who would be next.
Our chosen representatives broached the Greys with this issue of this debilitating fear among us and they confirmed that the metabolism change in us had made us more bitter to their taste. They set out then to work out an option that would suit both of us. They set in place a predictable rota of consumption so we would know in advance who was to die and when.
A hiatus of three weeks in cropping was announced and an orderly plan to offset general fear was devised. Those to supply their calorific value for the next period once the hiatus ended were to be personally notified by email that in three weeks they would die. The next batch, six weeks hence, were also to be notified also and so on until a full year of harvesting was planned ahead of time with all candidates fully aware of their fate and their exact moment to be consumed.
The rest of us could now carry on as normal, at least for the year ahead. Each subsequent week they delivered a much-awaited listing of those selected for the days, weeks and months in future years. Naturally, this too created a certain background fear due to the anticipation and uncertainty... but it was bearable due to the degree of predictability associated with it. An email to unlucky candidates arrived at the identical moment the listing was posted. Much that was negative could easily be said about the Greys but it had to be admitted they were an extremely efficient race.
This schedule continued for several months. Those chosen for slaughter lived with the knowledge somehow, arranged their affairs and attempted to come to some kind of accommodation with their fate. The rest of us lived with constant schadenfreude, shamefacedly happy we had not yet been chosen. These circumstances even added a certain piquancy to our lives. We lived more on a knife-edge, we were more vicarious, more inclined to be hedonistic, in short, we lived as if we could die tomorrow... or at least in a year’s time.
All went as well as any of us could expect for the next ten months or so. We existed as neutered beings, as slaves and underlings with no rights except those granted us by our masters, owners and managers.
However, all was to change as suddenly as it had begun with the arrival of The Black Dominion.
An extremely sudden takeover bid was mounted that proved very successful.
On the day of the takeover, the ships of the Greys were held immovable in their locations while they were visibly eaten by some unseen force. Their central base crumbled after a force field was seen to be shimmering high above them. Their lights all snuffed out just like that. As quickly as they had enslaved us they were now removed from our world. We now had new masters, new owners. New owners who appeared much more reticent than the old as no word came from them as all this occurred or even long after. We held our breaths... and waited.
Perhaps they were over-cautious. Perhaps they simply awaited orders from afar. But for day after day, nothing further took place and not a word was received from them. Those who had been chosen to die rejoiced. An air of gaiety pervaded all our lives in fact, perhaps we had been saved by some noble liberator. These thoughts were tempered more than a little however by the knowledge that our “liberators” were as yet an unknown quantity who doubtless wanted something important from us for their trouble.
It was as if almost transparent clouds began to develop like photographs in a darkroom. Large dense masses formed, slowly darkening over time until at last these amorphous shapes came fully into focus and took their final form. This was in each case a dense, black oblong configured horizontally. They were like giant black eyes, all pupil, staring, unblinking. Their sinister appearance and those of the others now developing quelled our previous joy at the ending of the era of the Greys.
Several days followed with these great black eyes staring blindly down at us.
Then, when around one hundred could be seen spanning space from horizon to horizon above us a missive was finally received. It came in the form of a silver disc. It seems the race of the Black (as we called them) had not developed their translation sciences as the Greys so clearly had. It took several weeks to develop modes of approach, techniques and devices to decipher the disc. But ultimately it was done.
We were to give one-third of us. We saw then we’d fallen from the frying pan into the fire.
The discussion then travelled like wildfire across all possible networks. Some said this situation was better than it had been under the Greys. The Black had said they would take the specified number and no more... on this visit. Until they came again at some later date that they left unspecified but indicated it would not be sooner than twenty of our solar orbits. Others were struck with the horror of three billion and more souls being snuffed out and couldn’t reconcile themselves to it.
How to choose those who would live and those who would die? What would be the parameters by which they would be selected? Those on the right claimed the less intelligent, the less able-bodied or clearly mentally challenged should be offered up first. Others claimed those on the right with these views should be. Still others offered various candidates from the overweight to the smokers, the inveterate drinkers or drug users, the elderly and a very popular choice, the politicians. Others advocated for those who served in a military capacity who had proven themselves useless in defending us against the invaders.
In the end, it was decided by lottery and the lottery would be enforced by the military. All those resisting were to be apprehended by force and jailed until they could be served up to the Black.
Once agreed and a missive of our own delivered, the process began.
Black beams silently pulsed from the ships to the ground below them. The selected were taken to them where they travelled up them, either freshly killed or still alive; the choice being left to those about to die. The Black had no stated preference.
Sometime after arrival, we saw that as with the Greys there were constituent human parts not required after the cropping process had been completed. This arrived back to us via an addition beam. We later arranged large capacity container modules for this disposed human effluent. It was then transported to specially created sites for burning. Chapels for the recently bereaved were available at these communal cremation sites for all religious denominations.
It took an entire year and a half for the three billion souls to be processed. A precise monitoring system had been established through which we could easily see the ongoing tally on a second by second basis. At exactly 2,354,192,274 the process ended.
Our celebration on the last day was extremely muted. Each nation arranged a solemn day of mourning for the dead.
We wondered... were our troubles over... a least for now?
It seemed so. But only for a very few moments.
Above us we suddenly heard an absolutely cataclysmic sound. We looked up and in a wave of horror, we saw where the sound came from. Every Black ship showed signs of stress, cracks were forming and debris and detritus were spilling from them.
The Greys had regrouped, had developed their weaponry, and were now back.
The silver ships popped back into our airspace one after another, raining fire on the ships of the Black. As they splintered and fell, fractured into a million pieces what was left of their ships came raining down on us. We thought in dread of the old order of the greys now re-establishing itself. But just as we began to think the carnage was over a shimmering cloudburst of energy hit the expanse above us. The recently arrived silver ships seemed to melt at its arrival, others rocked within the force field that was clearly hitting them. Then other, larger silver craft appeared and began their own attacks against the ships of the Black.
The second phase of the battle then commenced. More dark, amorphous forms began to take shape, clearly reinforcements from the Black. The Grey hit them with all the weapons they had but these travelled straight through them with no damage apparent. As the dark clouds became discernible ships the fight back and forward began in earnest once again.
As all this took place debris rained down upon us relentlessly. City after city erupted in flame.
Still, the battle continued, hour after hour and unbelievably, day after day. Greater and more powerful weapons were used, more cataclysmic were the sounds and effects above us and on us below. The entire world came to a standstill as the air of every continent was wrent with the sounds of a war of a magnitude and power beyond all previously seen.
The gargantuan ships of the Greys, falling victim to Black weaponry plunged down and exploded among us causing massive casualties. The radiation from their power sources spread out widely from their source. When the ships of the Black fragmented they too caused the selfsame devastation.
There seemed no end to the conflict. What the motivating forces behind this seeming suicidal war where both sides took enormous losses were unknown to us. Some great advantage of empire was clearly at stake.
Night and day the carnage went on. Sleep became impossible. We reached a point where total exhaustion mixed with an abiding all-pervasive terror. Every transport chain was interrupted. All life-essential activity ceased. Hunger and insanity began to take more and more of us. Increasing numbers were losing their lives as destroyed alien craft descended upon their cities. The tidal waves took even more, tidal waves that swept in from every possible direction.
Then it ended. I don’t know which side won. Both suddenly ended their war. And then left us. Abandoned to this new fate.
I write this for the future as we have barely any now. Only a few million of us have survived.
We live isolated, in pockets of whatever habitation we could find amidst total chaos.
We survive day to day on what we can find. There is talk of cannibalism. Anarchy prevails. Some group together for support to build a common future, others group together to attack others and take from them what they need by force.
The one thing we do not have is an understanding of what we must learn.
That is why I write this to you who are of the future.
I gaze out now at the vast jungle of destruction... all that’s left of our cities.
Slowly we will build.
But will we learn?
Will we understand that we must not fight each other? The signs now are not good. The fight for resources and survival are already underway.
All that remains of what was is the sky above us. Still unchanged despite all that has occurred.
Will we learn to work together, to be as unified as the perfect sky above us, to work together, not against each other, not seeing differences as signs of an enemy to take resources from?
But that perfect sky... it is from that sky the invaders came and can appear again if we grow our populations once more... sometime in the hundreds or thousands of years from now.
We must be ready, we must be unified. We must not be divided, we must not war against each other.
If we do not unite then it’s better we perish as a species. Better that than to be harvested as food for those who may also die at the hands of their own rivals and enemies.
Let us live in unity and peace. Let us share this life together.
This I plea to all who come after me now.
Survivor of the Grey and the Black, the dominions of power.