Flash Fiction

Contact

Writing Spark: What would happen if aliens finally made contact?

Dr. Casey Lawrence
Promptly Written
Published in
4 min readJan 20, 2022

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Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash

“Report?”

I buzzed nervously before the Commander. “No contact recommended. Species was deemed unsuitable.”

The Commander turned a beady eye away from the snaking printout to regard me with an unreadable expression. Inscrutable, the Commander. Always.

“Unsuitable? By whom?” the Commander asked, tapping a panel lightly to pause the printout. All attention on me. Again.

I buzzed softly, wilting a little. “By me, Commander. I could not go through with pre-contact procedures based on my observations.”

The Commander waited expectedly, gaze level. Standing a little straighter by giving myself a little shake, I continued.

“The species is highly volatile. Their recent outgoing message briefly seemed promising, but the current state of affairs on the planet would make a first-contact situation exceedingly difficult.”

“How?” the Commander prompted tonelessly.

“Well, first there are the weapons. Several territories on the planet’s surface are at war at any given time, and they have enough nuclear-powered weapons to ensure the annihilation of their species — and pretty much any others — should one side decide to initiate conflict.”

A slight nod: encouraging. I continued with more confidence:

“Moreover, on an individual level, there are incidences of extreme violence every single rotation, causing mass death. Individuals own personal projectile weapons in many areas and they kill each other indiscriminately.”

“That seems unlikely, but go on,” the Commander interrupted.

“Yes, Commander. I have been monitoring their radio transmissions. News of violence is a mainstay topic of their daily broadcasts, as is a new threat to the survival of the species: a global pandemic.”

“Viral?” the Commander asked.

“Viral,” I confirmed. “And extremely infectious. The response to this threat has been distinctly lacking. Territorial and governmental disputes have led to huge inequities in healthcare and sanitation across the planet. On a more worrying note, the general population seems to trust their leaders so little as to outright ignore safety protocols and mitigation measures to help prevent outbreaks, and instead are seemingly trying to catch and spread the virus as an expression of their… ahem… ‘personal freedom,’ while simultaneously attempting to regulate procreation.”

“Regulate procreation?” The Commander’s gaze became truly quizzical for the first time. “Meaning?”

“There is a dominant sex and a subordinate sex, the latter of which carries live young. Laws preventing the termination of unwanted pregnancies are being used to further subordinate this group, representing about 50% of the population.”

Finally, an expression. It was somewhat unreadable, but an emotion was on the Commander’s face, for sure. Which emotion, I couldn’t say.

“Anything else?”

“Yes, Commander. The species’ industrial activities have created a problem with environmental degradation, leading to rising temperatures across the planet. They refuse to modify their behavior despite being well aware of the problem and its potential consequences, including the loss of livable habitat to flooding and significant weather events. Their activities have also led to a number of extinctions of lesser species, for food or… sport.”

“Violence,” the Commander murmured, “against the land itself?”

“Yes, Commander. And there’s more.”

“More?”

“Yes, Commander. Large portions of the species… worship deities from which they believe they receive wisdom and moral instruction.”

“Wisdom and moral instruction? Advocating violence, environmental degradation, and no personal responsibility?”

I buzzed with relief that the Commander was finally getting it.

“Precisely, Commander. They believe their deities and the leaders who interpret their wishes will absolve them of all guilt for their actions and will protect them from the violence of others and the deadly virus. Many profess their faith in their deities but do not… believe, or trust, rather, that the viral pandemic or climate crisis are… real, Commander. They are outright disconnected from reality.”

The Commander looked at me for a long moment, considering. “I agree with your assessment that the species is unsuitable for first contact. We will return to this area of space soon, maybe they will be ready then.”

I buzzed sadly. “I doubt it, Commander. This species seems determined to wipe themselves out of existence and has shown truly barbaric practices on both an individual and governmental scale. I doubt they will survive until we return.”

“How long have you been observing them?” asked the Commander, tapping the panel to restart the whirring printout of calculations.

“Not long, Commander. Six or seven generations. They develop and improve technology with which to kill each other quite rapidly. By the time we’re back in this area — well, that’ll be at least another hundred generations for them. I’m almost certain by then that they’ll have well and truly found a way to annihilate themselves and the planet’s other inhabitants.”

The Commander said, “Noted,” and took note of my recommendation before adding a gruff, “Dismissed.”

I turned and left the Commander’s office feeling like I had made the right call here. The species was not ready for making contact with a highly evolved sentient species, and I doubted they ever would be.

Thank you Christine Graves and Ravyne Hawke of Promptly Written for the Weekly Prompt which inspired this short story, “What would happen if … aliens finally made contact?”

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Dr. Casey Lawrence
Promptly Written

Canadian author of three LGBT YA novels. PhD from Trinity College Dublin. Check out my lists for stories by genre/type.