Vocal Media Challenge: New Worlds – Science Fiction
Media Link: https://vocal.media/fiction/the-light-people
The Light People
“Nobody can hear a scream in the vacuum of space, or so they say.”
That was what she used say wasn’t it? The same corny line her grandmother would tell her about the movie Alien as a kid.
Why was that thought there?
She could feel the sunlight on her face. The color of red was vibrant behind her closed eyelids.
Feeling warm and cozy, she did not want to wake up yet.
The thoughts started slowly drifting in, telling her something was wrong.
“What?’ “Wait a minute, this is all wrong” she thought.
The cold was starting to sink in around her.
She opened her eyes. There was no sunlight just the fading memories of the time before.
Her eyes scanned the tent, feeling the frigid wind blowing, and seeing her breath with each exhale.
She had been having those same waking moments for a while, and it was starting to depress her, even more than usual.
Eve, laid there, trying to warm up, before getting up. The harsh wind was starting to pick up as it batted the tent flaps. She heard others already up and fixing breakfast.
Her tribe and other tribes survived the attacks, managing to make it to the mountains.
War had come to her country over a year before and it continued to be waged in the larger cities and ocean borders.
It was The Light People. That is what most people called them. They were from other galaxies and had arrived after the Earth had explored the outer boundaries.
The governments and corporations in charge of those explorations had attempted to colonize other worlds and usurp the natural resources but failed.
Instead, The Light People came to Earth and war broke out.
The attempt to overthrow and stop the meeting by assassination, during diplomatic discussions, set everything off. The whole Earth went on defense.
Eve and her fellow tribal members met up with other resistance fighters along the highways of the Midwest. They banded together to migrate northward towards the mountainous areas.
Before the war broke out, two divisions had formed; those who wanted to protect what they had, and those that wanted to collaborate with The Light People.
The diplomatic discussions of the world leaders were leaning towards uniting the Earth, but then a group broke into the meeting, shooting, and killing leaders from both planets.
It was rumored that the corporations, who lost trillions when the acquisition of the other planets resources failed, were behind the assassination. The corporations along with the worlds religious leaders, the upper elite of the world, wanted it all and to control, everything.
The problem with that thinking was that the bottom half of the world’s population sided with The Light People and joined their ranks in this ongoing war. The working-class poor of the world took-up arms against their own communities. The straw had finally broken the proverbial camel’s back.
They became further weary and untrusting after the decade’s long pandemic of the 2020’s that wiped out their communities, cities, and families. Trillions of dollars were being pumped into space exploration without any thoughts of the civilization that was still trying to rebound. They were told to trust their political leaders, but they knew better. History had already told them what they needed to know about false or blind trust.
The space explorers had returned to earth and the corporations were trying to drum up more support to return, but whole cities had disappeared after the first attempt. They could no longer support the fractured infrastructures left behind. The residents started leaving in droves, there were no jobs, housing was no longer available, and any support programs had been disbanded. The cities were going bankrupt from supporting the corporate greed for more.
The corporations were beginning to lose support. Then one day the first ships of The Light People appeared over the oceans.
At the beginning, panicked ensued and martial law was put into place in most cities. The world’s military went into defensive positions at the borders of every country.
Then one Sunday morning, beings from the ships emerged and an appointed leader requested to speak with the world leaders. He called himself Atum.
In the history of the Earth there had never been such a meeting before, except in the time of war. The meeting was to be the first of its kind, a joint peace effort with outsiders to this planet. They were meeting at the UN headquarters in New York City.
The internationally televised talks were positive and going well. The Light People came as representatives of other galaxies who were interested in this one lonely planet that finally managed to break through the outer boundaries. It was their axiom that they did not offer help or interfere until a planet had broken those boundaries. It was the natural progression of a species that kept them at bay until they were needed.
These beings came in peace and with solutions to the world’s crisis. They talked about advances in medical care that would cure the diseases that had plagued the world. They talked about their technologies that would clean the air, the oceans, and the environments. They had arrived to help push the Earth into an innovative technology driven world.
A world that no longer relied on individual rule or power over countries but instead becoming a collective mind that would advance everyone, everywhere. Their plan did not rely on digging into the earth and extracting the natural resources but using the kinetic energy that was in the winds and waters of the earth.
To the everyday person it was a wonderful idea that would take them out of the grasp of poverty and sickness. To the people in power, it meant losing influence and a firm grip on everything. The people in power would lose control.
It was on the fifth day of the meeting that Eve was watching on the monitors outside of the UN building when armed gunmen broke into the assembly area and started shooting, everyone. What happened afterward was chaos as the military personnel providing security got into a gun battle with the assassins, spilling out into the streets.
Eve and the crowds started running away from the building when she heard the first explosions. She was running towards her campus apartment when she rounded a corner and ran smack into another person.
She tumbled to the ground and looked up to see Atum sitting on the ground across from her. They both looked shocked for a moment. Then there was another explosion that got their attention.
He stood up and held out his hand to assist her. She took it hesitantly. Atum noticed that she was afraid of him, and he spoke to her calmly “I’m not here to hurt you.”
She thanked him, got up, and continued running down the street. She looked back and saw him just watching her go.
Atum watched Eve running away. He knew in that moment; she was the one they needed help from. He started to say something when he heard another explosion. When he turned back around, she was gone. He knew that her role was going to be important, but they could find her again later.
He continued running back towards the UN building to find any other survivors from his group. He and his counterparts were to meet at a predesignated building near the UN if anything happened. They knew that the history of the planet meant they needed a backup plan if it went awry. After the initial invasion of the assassins, he and his counterparts dispersed in different directions.
On his planet, Atum was a healer and medical person. He was also a very outspoken leader among his peers who pushed to have him be one of the representatives for the mission to Earth. They trusted his logical impartiality and his wisdom.
He was about to take the podium to discuss further the medical advancements they could bring when the intruders invaded the room. His instincts saved him and others by quickly getting them out of the line of fire. He and his counterparts did not bring weapons or any sort of security for the discussions, they did not think it would be needed. They had underestimated the Earth beings.
As he made his way back to the designated building and to the office, they would meet in, he heard more gunfire. He found a storage closet and hid in it while peeking through the door. The sounds were coming from the meeting room. He watched as armed men came running out of the room and headed out of the building.
Atum stood in front of the door, afraid to open it and see what he would find. He entered the room, and all but one of his counterparts were already dead. It was too late for him to provide any assistance. The counterpart pulled him closer and whispered, “They were waiting for us.” He died in Atum’s arms.
Atum felt overwhelming grief and anger. He knew that either someone in his group had betrayed them or one of the Earthlings had. Only a small security team assigned to them at the UN knew where they would meet.
Atum initialized the settings on their suits that would vaporize them and leave no trace. He watched as the energy flowed out of them and dissipated into the air. There was a small bluish flash of light and then darkness.
In Atum’s world, every living thing had an internal energy source that contributed to their entire world. They were symbiotic and relied on one another. Atum knew that the people of Earth were similar but had not discovered it yet, that is why they were there.
They had waited a thousand years for the earth beings to finally break the outer boundaries before they could arrive to show them how to use that energy. It was to be the next step in the evolution of the human race.
Then the earthlings came to a planet on the fringe of the boundary discovering minerals that provided an energy source. They had overtaken the beings that lived there, trying to enslave them, and force them to dig up the minerals and chop down the plants. The beings on the planet sent out an emergency call and fought off the earthlings.
The earthlings knew they were outnumbered and left with a plan to come back with a bigger force. The journey to the outer boundary and back took four years. While this mission was failing, unbeknownst to the funders of the exploration, the earth was slipping further into crisis.
The energy sources on earth were becoming depleted and the eco terrorist groups were becoming more aggressive in trying to stop continual use of natural gas, coal, and other polluting energy sources. The capitals of the most polluted places on Earth were already in ruins. People were moving into the rural areas, and it was becoming overpopulated as well. The earth was slowly dying.
Eve was out of breath by the time she made it back to her campus apartment. She was thankful that she had started running again a year ago. The power was off in her building and the elevators were not working. She was glad that she only lived on the third floor.
Eve was an Indigenous person from the plains of South Dakota. She grew up in one of the poorest counties in the United States which also happened to be a reservation. The reservation was filled with unemployment, gangs, shootings, drugs, alcoholism, and suicide. They were a forgotten people.
There was little hope there, but her grandmother and aunts never let her give up. They pushed her to do well in school and make that her pathway out. During her senior year she received a full ride scholarship to NYU. She had filmed a documentary essay about the county she lived in and life on the reservation. She wanted to study environmental law.
She was completing her law degree and studying for the bar exam when she found out that she had been picked to receive the Fellowship in Urban Environmental Law from The Guarini Center for Environmental, Energy and Land Use Law. That meant she would get to stay longer in New York City, her second home away from home.
Eve’s plan was to get the law degree and experience needed to go back and fight for the Indigenous communities and tribal land rights. The Indigenous communities had always been underrepresented when it came to maintaining their way of life. Their rights were being overridden and it was slowly decimating their cultures.
The day The Light People appeared; Eve had just finished her bar exam with her best friend Max. He was from an old Southern family of lawyers. Max was smart, headstrong, and very humorous. She sometimes had trouble believing what he said.
He never really wanted to become a lawyer and wanted to join the military instead like his uncle. His grandfather did not approve of that notion and threatened to disinherit him if he did. Max had already been accepted to NYU and went ahead with his family’s plans for him.
He had met Eve during a study group that came into the coffee shop where he worked part-time on the weekends. They became instant friends. He had always wanted a sister but being the youngest of four boys never afforded him that chance. Max and Eve became best friends and supported each other ever since that day.
The day the Light People came, the military had sent out a call for more volunteers. The draft was no longer allowed by most governments. The governments of the world were afraid that an invasion was imminent. Max came by Eve’s apartment one early Monday morning and handed her the keys to his motorcycle. He told her he was volunteering. At first, she laughed and told him to stop joking around. He gave her a big hug and told her to take care of herself. Then she cried as she watched him go, he was serious. She was afraid she would never see him again.
That seemed so long ago and now, today, she was hurriedly putting together a bag with essentials and getting out of the city. Max had spent a year teaching her how to drive the motorcycle. Her aunts had called her to see if she was safe and told her to come home.
All the while she was packing things and looking at the GPS maps to find a route out, she kept thinking about Atum. It had felt like she knew him from before but before what? It was a familiar feeling when he held out his hand to her and she still could not shake it from her thoughts. Then there was the way he looked at her, like he knew who she was.
Pushing the thoughts aside, Eve could hear the announcements from the police cars driving by outside the building. “Evacuate the city if you can or shelter in place, curfew begins at 6 pm.” Eve looked at her phone, it was 4:30 pm.
Eve needed bottled water to take with her and made her way to her favorite bodega down the street. Upon arriving, she saw Ms. Osman sitting outside. Ms. Osman or Ozzy as she liked to be referred to was one of the first people Eve met when arriving to the city all those years ago. Ozzy had lived in the city her whole life. The storefront was remnants from a previous marriage before she became a widow.
Ozzy told Eve the power had been out for over an hour but there should be still cool bottles of water. Eve asked her “Are you going home soon or leaving the city?” Ozzy said, “My children told me to come live with them out west but I’m going to wait it out for a while, see how this goes.” Ozzy gave Eve a big hug, told her to be safe, and to hurry before they started closing the bridges and tunnels.
Eve waved at Ozzy and watched her image getting smaller in the side mirror as she weaved in and out of the traffic.
Eve finally made it across the Brooklyn bridge as they were starting to shut it down. It was almost 6 pm. She drove to Brooklyn Bridge Park and pulled over. She walked to the water’s edge and took a picture of the city that had been her home for over 8 years. That is when she saw the ship the Light People had arrived in, hovering over the bay.
Eve swiped the camera to video mode and started filming. She could hear gunfire in the distance, sirens, and see the still billowing smoke. Eve thought it was strange that the ship was not firing back even though it was being attacked. Then suddenly the ship took a fatal hit. There was a large swoosh then a soundwave carried across the water, hitting the people standing at the shore watching the battle, knocking everyone down. Debris was flying everywhere. There was an explosion and a bright blue flash of light before it started falling apart and into the water.
Eve quickly got up and ran back to the motorcycle then took off.
Her route took her across Staten Island to New Jersey and then across through Philadelphia. She was going to take the main interstate then take the state roads once she got past West Virginia.
Atum finally arrived at the rendezvous point where he would be picked up when the ship was hit by missile fire from the shore. He saw the brilliant flash of blue light and knew everyone was gone, as the shipped hit the water and began to sink. A huge sense of grief and despair washed over him.
He sat down on the side of a building and watched the ship sinking into the water. “Why had they attacked us?” he thought. These Earth beings could have told them no and they would have left. They would have gone back to their galaxies and waited another thousand years until the human beings evolved beyond such primitive thoughts as greed and the desire for more.
Atum and the others that had come there believing that the Earth was ready to change and grow but they had underestimated the hold of “power” had over these beings. They had not been enlightened yet of the possibilities beyond such barbaric notions.
As he sat there contemplating his next steps, someone grabbed his arm and pulled him into the doorway. It was a woman holding a weapon. She told him “Shh, they are looking for you.” Then she pointed down the street and group of armed men walking in their direction. She quickly led him up the stairs to a room. As they entered, there were others with weapons watching out the windows.
After they passed, that is when she introduced herself to him. Her name was Maggie.
Maggie and her counterparts were members of an eco-terrorist cell in New Jersey. They had hiding places all over New York City, mostly abandoned buildings. They had come to the city when they heard about the UN meeting. Through their network around the world, there were rumors of an attack. They had come there to help defend the Light People who would be unarmed.
The eco-terrorist network believed that the Light People would become their allies in the attempts of stopping the further pollution-causing energy resources. They just had to make contact somehow and find a mutual ground to work on.
Maggie and her team were outside the UN watching the monitors when the attack began. They blended in with the military personnel during the shoot out and were trying to get inside to find the Light People to take them to safety.
The attack was the beginning of the war of the powerful, it was the flame ignited to show that the Light People could not be trusted and were there to take over. It was how the powerful had always retained their hold on everything, through fear.
Start wars and provoke the people into defending their way of life. The way of life the powerful controlled, everything from wages, housing, medical care, schools, and finally the government. They believed the rest of the population was too ignorant to realize who was really in control. The powerful believed they had the rest of the world perpetually brainwashed.
Then during the pandemics of the 2020’s a group of eco-terrorists started slowly gaining support from these same “brainwashed” people. Money was secretly being funneled to them through charitable donations from saving endangered species to cleaning the oceans. There were even church held organizations that were funneling money to their causes. The people were learning increasingly about the powerful and their hidden agendas through messages on social media platforms.
A war to end all wars was being staged with the eco terrorist’s plan to set it off. The eco terrorists had been slowly building their armies around the world, waiting for the right moment.
They had managed to get undercover agents in every major corporation, business, government entity, and military organization in every country around the world. The eco terrorists knew about the failed space exploration before the powerful did.
Their plan of attack was staged and set to take place that same week but then the Light People arrived. It was put on hold while a new plan was being formulated after they found out about the pending attack. The arrival of these beings was going to play a big part in this war. They just had to find the right one to lead it.
Then Atum walked in.