Af­ter Hu­man­ity

A short story by James Lo­max, cur­rently un­der­tak­ing his Duke of Ed­in­burgh bronze award. Part four of 12

The Wokingham Paper - - EDUCATION - To be con­tin­ued…

CAR­LOS has been forced to mas­sacre a bunch of slaves, and seeks redemp­tion. Hav­ing found that one of them has sur­vived, he hur­ries off to bring it home and nurse it back to health.

Car­los was over­joyed. He wasn’t a heart­less killer. He had a soul, and he could re­deem him­self from him­self through this. Also, he could help him­self by help­ing it. It was very deep and con­fus­ing stuff, but all of it was very pos­i­tive for him.

He made sure he couldn’t be seen in the dark, and, when he was sure the sen­tries were turned the other way, he took off. He had only the bare es­sen­tials; a large sack to carry the Gor­gon, a ban­dage to wrap around it, and a black sheet he draped on a pole around him, to blend in with the dark un­til he could get to the moun­tains. Un­til then, he looked like a walk­ing shower cur­tain.

The mines of X67hat3 were half an hour’s drive from the town, but it was in those moun­tains that XVX, star­ship fuel, was abun­dant, so in those moun­tains they went. As to why the town was so far away, the min­ing cor­po­ra­tion saw it fit for the slaves to get good ex­er­cise walk­ing back and forth car­ry­ing piles of XVX. It did take Car­los a good two hours to get to the moun­tains, but any ve­hi­cle would have made too much noise.

The moun­tains housed many places like Red Canyon, but it was easy for Car­los to find it. (Be­cause it was red) From then, he found the cave. The Gor­gon was, thank­fully, still alive and not bleed­ing too much. It stared at him again with that ex­pres­sion that re­minded him of his child­hood. Car­los looked back and reached into the cave. The Gor­gon started thrash­ing around and kick­ing, but Car­los had mus­cles, and it was help­less against be­ing stuffed into the sack. Car­los told him­self in his head that this was a kind­ness, for the greater good.

It took Car­los more time than be­fore to get back due to the thrash­ing sack on his back, but it even­tu­ally stopped mov­ing and Car­los as­sumed it fell asleep. The walk­ing shower ducked past the sen­tries and into Car­los’s house.

Carl­son, the house an­droid, was there to as­sist him in lay­ing the sleep­ing Gor­gon on the mat­tress and quickly re­moved a cou­ple of bul­lets in its leg. Car­los watched as it ap­plied ban­dages, be­fore get­ting up­stairs for some sleep.

Ly­ing in bed, he felt re­lieved. He felt he was mak­ing up to him­self for all the killing he had caused, not just on X67hat3, but on other plan­ets. For ex­am­ple, Car­los was bat­tling the Frost species on X90pie6 when he re­ceived a mes­sage from S.T.A.R. to dec­i­mate a vil­lage. They told him it was used by the war­riors, but fel­low en­forcer Abe told him he had seen moth­ers and chil­dren in the hall Car­los had burned down. He had tried to quit, but he re­alised that the only home he had was with S.T.A.R. That job was all he had, so he had to stay. He thought it was ironic that the So­ci­ety for Top­pling Alien Re­volts was giv­ing rea­son for re­volts in­stead of top­pling them. It was kind of sad to be tied down to some­thing so cruel, but even his house on X67hat3 was owned by S.T.A.R., and most of his pos­ses­sions were mer­chan­dise.

But with help­ing this Gor­gon, Car­los felt he was say­ing sorry to all he had killed and all that had to live with their fam­i­lies dy­ing at his hand. He knew what los­ing a fam­ily felt like.

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