Light at the End

by J.D. Harpley

With the magnificence of a thousand stars, it erupted in the night, shooting radiation about in every direction. It twinkled and shimmered, little glittering bits falling like sparks from a firework as the scientists screamed in desperation. Everything had gone horribly wrong, and there was nothing they could do to stop it.

“What was that?” Bil nodded towards the tiny burst of illumination far in the distance on their scanner.

Lil hummed, “Humans.”

She poked at her console and the readings dotted the glass in front of them as they floated weightlessly.

“Yep, looks like they discovered light speed travel and the best way to blow up their solar system, all in one.”

Bil shook his head in disbelief. “Can you imagine? I wonder what it was like?”

With a pointed eyebrow, Lil humphed, “Yeah, well, another one bites the dust.”

“What if we could have helped them, you know, to not blow themselves up? It’s like, we allowed those little things to commit suicide! We could have stopped them.” Bil sighed, frustrated.

Lil ceased her scans, sarcasm painting her voice as she asked, “And what could we have done? Gone down there and said, stop what you’re doing, you’re going to explode! Do you really think they would have listened?”

He paused, “I would listen.”

Groaning, Lil returned to her terminal, “Because you already trust me Bil. They wouldn’t have had any reason to trust us. For all we know, they would have captured and tortured us.”

“For all you know, they could have had us for an honorary dinner!” Bil’s eyes became alight with excitement, but then they dimmed, “Or, they could have had us for dinner.”

“Exactly. We don’t know what those little monsters would have done. Probably better they’re gone, not polluting the galaxy.” She turned in the zero gravity, looking to the next screen.

Bil tapped the readout, pulling up all the information on the Humans and the little planet they called Earth. Readings indicated they were on the brink of technological revolution for years, but war kept them apart, kept them from reaching their full potential.

“That’s so sad.” He whimpered as he read on, seeing the Earth was host to billions of unique life forms.

Lil’s voice was flat as she asked not out of interest, but courtesy, “What is?”

“There were cute little creatures down there too, just look at the centipede.”

An image of the multi-leg insect popped onto the glass, overlaying the mining star system they approached.

“Yes, adorable.” She murmured without a glance.

Bil huffed, “You didn’t even look.”

Her eyes blazed as she turned from the console and stared at Bil. He motioned with a coy shrug to the image and her expression changed.

“You’re right, it is pretty cute.”

She pointed at him sternly, demanding, “Now back to work.”

“I was thinking about that,” Bil said with trepidation.

Lil sighed, “What now?”

“Should we,” he cleared his throat, “go take a look at what’s left?”

His brow rose playfully and she glared.

“You’re so infantile. No, there are probably not going to be remnants that you can take home and keep.”

Bil moaned in disappointment.

She flipped upside down, reaching for the propulsion system, “But I suppose it can’t hurt to take a gander.”


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