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FLASH FICTION — Lost in Space: The Dangers of a Revisionist History

Following the recent website shutdowns and purported journalist arrests and alternative facts in US politics, I’ve taken this story to space in a poke at the dangers of a revisionist history. ~Liz

*

 

“What’d you mean it’s gone?” Captain Jo Bridgton stared at the display screen in front of her, and then glanced up at the window on the space cruiser. “It can’t be – what happened?”

“It’s gone – like I told you. Gone.” Lieutenant Pierce picked up his tablet, and tapped the screen rapidly.

“But it was here a minute ago – what the hell happened to it?”

“It disappeared.”

“Pierce,” she stared at him, “A whole planet doesn’t just disappear.”

He shrugged. “It does if his excellency decrees it.”

“But –” Captain Bridgton stared out the window. No debris, no explosion. Nothing. Just empty space where an entire planet sat minutes before. “It’s impossible.”

Pierce reached for his tablet, “Didn’t you get the memo? – another rewrite. Revisionist history.” He thumbed through screens, and then looked up at her, holding out the tablet, “Aha – here you go. Orders to rewrite trade relations, and then rewrite the orders. Nothing ever happened.”

“Pierce –” she stared at him in horror, “Don’t tell me we just destroyed an entire planet – all those citizens, living things, whole ecosystems –”

“It was never there, Captain.” Pierce looked straight ahead.

“I can’t be responsible for this –” she sagged against her chair, shaking her head in disbelief. “We didn’t open fire, there were no explosions, or anything. It’s impossible.”

Pierce shrugged again. “All part of the new weapons service, developed under the incumbent minister. His Excellency implemented it – the latest in particle degeneration.”

“So we blew up a whole planet,” she said softly. “All that life – gone.”

“Unfortunate consequence, but I’m sure you’ll agree trade relations will run much more smoothly.” Pierce glanced back down at his tablet. “Now, Captain, if you’ll excuse –”

“Pierce – we killed them. Millions of people destroyed, vaporized – by us,” she raised her voice, and other crew members glanced over at her, then turned back to their screens.

“There was nothing we could do, Captain.”

“Of course there was, Pierce, we could have changed direction, not followed through – we could have argued against it, try to reason –”

“That would be disobeying orders.” Pierce raised his eyebrow, “And I believe you gave the orders to approach, and make contact with them.”

“But, that’s what I was supposed to do – open a communication channel, and then –”

“The program took over.”

“I didn’t know –” she stared at him. “Did any of the crew know – how could they do –”

“They were following orders.”

“Orders – I didn’t give any orders.”

Pierce tapped the tablet, “Followed instructions in the latest communications protocol, variant alpha 507. Step by step, all broken down, so nobody really knows what they’re doing.” He smiled coldly, “A modern take on the ol’ divide and conquer, wouldn’t you say, captain?”

“But – but I didn’t know.”

“You do now.”

Captain Bridgton leaned against her chair, staring out the window. Empty space, darkness flecked with stars, where a vibrant planet once was. She shook her head slowly, “So Pierce, what do we do?”

He glanced down at his tablet again, tapping the screen rapidly, and then turned toward her. “Sorry Captain, I have to rewrite history.”

*

Liz McAdams is a short, sharp writer living in the wilds of Canada. Her work appears in the usual places, including Spelk, Near to the Knuckle, Yellow Mama, Shotgun Honey and scattered around Twisted Sister. You can check Liz out at https://lizmcadams.wordpress.com/

 

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