Flowers from the Stars

They streaked onto media screens faster than they streaked across the solar system. Six sleek leaf-shaped ships, heading straight for good, old Mother Earth. “We are not alone,” “first contact,” “proof at last,” pundits trumpeted, as images of the approaching ships were fed onto news screens. Speculation was inevitable, contact had not yet been made, nor were any communications received—but revelations were immanent, surely.

The six ships broke formation and spread around the planet. Three ships parked in equatorial orbits and three in polar orbits, blanket coverage. Kilometer long sails, as transparent as dragonfly wings, unfurled in a solar ring, and the ships orbited silently, turning in the sun.

The space agencies of the United States, Europe, Russia, China, and India attempted to make contact, but no communications were received or replied to. Euphoria faded, suspicions arose, and the people of Earth watched anxiously.

For twelve hours the ships orbited silently, then iridescent bulbs of shimmering green fell to the Earth like summer rain, and exploded. It didn’t matter where you were, when the sun rose, the barrage began and it lasted until sunset. Devastation traveled around the world with the sun. Earth was turned into a cacophony of blaring klaxons and wailing sirens, all shown live on television and the Internet.

The ships were outside the range of terrestrial defenses. Plans to load nuclear warheads into space shuttles were formed, but twenty-four hours after the barrage began, the bulbs stopped raining down, and the six alien ships orbited the equator and the poles, ominous and silent.

Not shown live and on the Internet was a video conference between the President of the United States and his defense advisor and top generals, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Premiers of France, Russia, and China, and the Prime Ministers of India, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

The President of the United States opened the meeting by saying: “Thanks for convening on short notice. We are getting some very strange damage reports. The only facilities targeted in the attack were vegetable processing plants and farm equipment. Not a single defense installation in America was destroyed.”

“Da! It is same thing in Mother Russia.”

“Every soy factory in China is destroyed.”

“We are a nation of vegetarians. My country will starve. You must send us food.” Pleaded Japan’s leader.

No one had any to offer, crops were undamaged, but the explosive bulbs had destroyed every grain, vegetable, fruit, and seed processing facility on the planet. “Guess you’re going to have to eat hamburgers,” the President quipped, in a momentary failure of statesmanship guarantying him a place in the history books beside Maria Antoinette. 

It was impossible to keep the extent of the damage from the public, and the ensuing pandemonium was predictable from historical food shortages. There were riots, accusations of hoarding, looting, robberies, and attacks on farmers and corner grocery store operators. Two vegan celebrities known for praising the moral superiority of their creed in the media were recorded on security cameras, holding up vegetable stands at gunpoint.

Stock prices of McDonalds and KFC soared until someone remembered reading that cattle were herbivores and chickens and pigs were fed corn and grain, and those stock groups tanked along with all the others on Wall Street.

The aliens did finally communicate 48 hours later, and in a fashion no less spectacular. They seized control of the airwaves, all of them. That grabbed people’s attention, and nearly everyone on the planet heard a computer-generated voice say, in one or another of the 50 most spoken languages on the planet:

We came to your planet to extend an offer of peace and scientific cooperation, but what we found was so appalling, so shocking, so depraved and perverse, our higher brain functions shut down and we went into a primal state, and lashed out. We offer no apologies. Though upon recovery we were able to complete our analysis of your culture and regret the devastation we caused. You are fetus eaters, and were you to stop your species would become extinct. Self-preservation dictates your actions. We understand that now. 

But know this Earthlings: You are alone in your perversity. Among all the intelligent species in the galaxy, you alone eat the unborn children of floral beings. There can be only one response--

At precisely that moment, an image of the alien lit up our dark screens. It appearance it was not too dissimilar to a daisy, and it is tempting to wax anthropomorphic and ascribe human features to the flower, or rather to the flowers, for the plant being had multiple flower heads. But it would be an inaccurate description, there was nothing resembling a human face on that daisy. Anyone looking at it, however, was immediately aware of a fierce intelligence in those daisy heads glaring down at us from space.

“—We turn our flowers away from your sun.”

Every flower head simultaneously swiveled 180º away from the camera and our screens went dark and silent.

Control of the airwaves was restored to human operators. Seconds later, news sites showed the solar collars of transparent leaves retracting into the ships. The operation proceeded quickly, and the ships left our solar system faster than they entered it.

The Earth was in crisis—survival was paramount—people soon stopped discussing the aliens and their message, except to denounce them when the stores ran out of cooking oil and the hamburgers burned.

They streaked onto media screens faster than they streaked across the solar system. Six sleek leaf-shaped ships, heading straight for good old Mother Earth. “We are not alone,” “first contact,” “proof at last,” pundits trumpeted as images of approaching ships were fed onto news screens. Speculation was inevitable, contact had not yet been made, nor were any communications received—but revelations were immanent, surely.

Six ships broke formation and spread around the planet. Three ships parked in equatorial orbits and three in polar orbits, blanket coverage. Kilometer long sails, as transparent as dragonfly wings, unfurled in a solar ring and the ships orbited silently, turning in the sun.

The space agencies of the United States, Europe, Russia, China, and India attempted to make contact, but no communications were received or replied to. Euphoria faded, suspicions arose, and the people of Earth watched anxiously.

For twelve hours the ships orbited silently, then iridescent bulbs of shimmering green fell to the Earth like summer rain, and exploded. It didn’t matter where you were, when the sun rose, the barrage began and it lasted until sunset. Devastation traveled around the world with the sun. Earth was turned into a cacophony of blaring klaxons and wailing sirens, all shown live on television and the Internet.

The ships were outside the range of terrestrial defenses. Plans to load nuclear warheads into space shuttles were formed, but twenty-four hours after the barrage began the bulbs stopped raining down, and the six alien ships orbited the equator and the poles, ominous and silent.

Not shown live and on the Internet was a video conference between the President of the United States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Premiers of France, Russia, and China, and the Prime Ministers of India and the United Kingdom.

The President of the United States opened the meeting by saying: “Thanks for convening on short notice. We are getting some very strange damage reports. The only facilities targeted in the attack were vegetable processing plants and farm equipment. Not a single defense installation in America was destroyed.”

“Da! It is same thing in Mother Russia.”

“Every soy factory in China is destroyed.”

“We are a nation of vegetarians. My country will starve. You must send us food.” Pleaded Japan’s leader. No one had any to offer him. Crops were undamaged, but the explosive bulbs had destroyed every grain, vegetable, fruit, and seed processing facility on the planet.

“Guess you’re going to have to eat hamburgers,” the President quipped, in a momentary failure of statesmanship guarantying him a place in the history books beside Maria Antoinette. 

It was impossible to keep the extent of the damage from the public. The ensuing pandemonium was predictable, from historic food shortages. There were riots, accusations of hoarding, looting, robberies, and attacks on farmers and corner grocery store operators. Two vegan celebrities, known for praising the moral superiority of their creed in the media, were recorded on security cameras holding up vegetable stands at gunpoint.

Stock prices of McDonalds and KFC soared until a fund manager remembered reading that cattle were herbivores and chickens and pigs were fed corn and grain, and those stock groups tanked along with all the others on Wall Street.

The aliens finally did communicate 48 hours later, and in a fashion no less spectacular. They seized control of the airwaves, all of them. That grabbed people’s attention, and nearly everyone on the planet tuned in to hear a computer-generated voice say, in one or another of the 50 most spoken languages:

We came to your planet to extend an offer of peace and scientific cooperation, but what we found was so appalling, so shocking, so depraved and perverse, our higher brain functions shut down and we reverted to a primal state, and lashed out. We offer no apologies. Though upon recovery we were able to complete our analysis of your culture and regret the devastation we caused. You are fetus eaters, and self-preservation dictates your dietary choices. We understand that now. 

But know this Earthlings: You are alone in your perversity. Among all the intelligent species in the galaxy, you alone eat the unborn children of floral beings. There can be only one response--

At that precise moment an image of an alien lit up our dark screens. Its appearance was not too dissimilar to a daisy, and it is tempting to wax anthropomorphic and ascribe human features to the flower, or rather to the flowers, for the plant being had multiple flower heads. But it would be an inaccurate description, there was nothing resembling a human face or emotions in that daisy. Anyone seeing it, however, was immediately struck by the fierce intelligence in those daisy heads glaring down at us from space.

“—We turn our flowers away from your sun.”

Every flower head simultaneously swiveled 180º away from the camera and our screens went dark and silent.

Control of the airwaves was restored to human operators seconds later, and news sites showed the solar collars of transparent leaves retracting into the ships. The operation proceeded rapidly, and the ships departed, leaving our solar system faster than they entered it.

The Earth was in crisis—survival was paramount—people soon stopped discussing the aliens and their message, except to denounce them when the stores ran out of cooking oil and the hamburgers burned.



© by ABR 2010 and 2012           
An earlier version was published in Healthy or Else and Other Stories                                           
 


Comments

07/12/2012 15:41

Great info, thanks

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