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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2260968
When we have no choices and no time left.
A young, male caucasian awoke to see three ceiling-high, muddy-blue creatures crowded around his bed. There truly wasn't much room for them because his room was small and already cramped between his bed, his desktop computer on an old-fashioned, and rather wobbly, card table, and a pile of laundry that desperately needed washing.

"You are Benson. You have been chosen to communicate a message to your people. You have twenty-four hours to comply. Failure is not an acceptable option. Not only must you use your computer to accomplish this, you must only use the application you call FaceBook. You must convince the apparently, great unwashed masses, that your message is correct. You are not allowed to communicate failure to comply ramifications."

"Why ... uh ... me? W-w-what message?" Benson stuttered.

"You, specifically, because your genus and species is the one that uses this thought theory the most often, so it is something you should be able to accommodate. The message is, 'All Lives Matter.'"

"B-b-but, posting that message on FaceBook will only result in a million negative comments, my possibly being threatened and a million reasons why some people matter more than others."

"Be that as it may, this is your prime directive. You must convince the masses that all lives matter."

"Or ... what?"

"Or none of your lives will matter. You will have convinced us that your genus is not worth saving. You will cease to exist."

Benson sat there, still in his T-shirt and boxers, still tangled in his sweat-soaked sheets, and looked at these tall, muddy-blue beings in shocked dismay. He slowly shook his head. "I don't know how ..."

"Figure it out. Twenty-four hours. Starting now." The three shimmered, became a vibrating blur, and vanished.

Benson ran his hand through his curly brown hair, snagging a broken fingernail in the process, and pulled out three hairs. How do I convince them that everyone matters? he wondered. Lord knew enough people had tried.

He got out of bed and made his way over to the fridge and pulled out a can of Redbull. Glugging it down without stopping, he tossed the empty can in the general direction of the trash can in the corner. He sat down at his computer and opened a window on FaceBook. He scrolled down past fluffy kittens, last night's dinner pics of several people, and numerous memes that people thoughtlessly shared. The thing to do, after all.

'What's on your mind, Benson?' sat at the top of the page. That we are all screwed? He shook his head. A line from the book Animal Farm echoed in his mind. 'All of us are equal, but some of us are more equal than others.' Benson truly did believe that each and every person mattered. But that 'mattering' didn't really have a place in the world anymore. Depending upon whom one talked to, one group or another mattered more at any given time. Because of past history. Because of past prejudices. Because of how someone was perceived. Because, because, BECAUSE!

'What's on your mind, Benson?' Oh, I don't know. Some blue aliens showed up this morning and the whole of humanity hangs in the balance of some FaceBook posts? That we, as a species, are totally ... Crap. We are so doomed.

He began typing. 'So, what is so wrong with thinking that each and every human soul on the planet matters? Not just Whites. Not just Blacks, Not just Asians. Not just Christians or Muslims or Hindus or Jews or Wiccans or ... Not just straight folk or just anyone of any sexual orientation.

Not just any combination thereof? ALL. Every. Single. One. of. US. All of us.

Depending upon when in the last several millennia there haves always been oppressed peoples. The haves and the have nots. Within each and every single civilization, there has been a system of some sort that had some people with more power or influence than others. Those that had less power always have rebelled against those that did, but it has been that way as long as there have been people. Everywhere. On every continent. Right? Perhaps not, but it is the way of the world. There are and always will be ones with more power. Landlords and renters. Banks and those with mortgages. Parents and children. Bosses and employees. Yet, we all still matter. ALL of us. Bosses have bosses. Bankers owe money for their homes. Everyone who works hard at whatever they do to make a living is important. Everyone who earns the respect of their fellow man is important and all these lives matter.

How do I convince the entire world that all it really comes down to is people simply being kind to one another? Is it really that hard? If people stopped judging each other, stopped taking advantage of one another. If people could just be there for each other and quit playing mind games. If people quit bullying each other over different lifestyles. Sure. I know, I know, --and world peace is next.'

Benson stopped typing. Did anyone actually care about any of this or were they more concerned about their individual scenarios above all and beyond all else? Did people truly want to all get along even when they disagreed or was whomever they disagreed with automatically shoved down a level?

'But why couldn't we all just get along? Wouldn't that be a step in that right direction? Or are we all, individually and in any of the multiple groups we associate ourselves with, determined to be better than or above someone, anyone else? Such that 'sure, we want everyone to be equal, but that, yes, some are more equal than others.' And do we not all put ourselves in that mindset -- even if we keep it to ourselves?

No, I think that as humans, each of us matters. No more and no less than anyone else.'

He clicked enter. The die is cast, he thought. Now let the verbiage begin.

It didn't take long. Within seconds there were four, then five, then fifteen responses. Everything from, "Your an idiot!!" to long, enraged diatribes about entitled people thinking they had all the right answers. He didn't know if he should respond to each or add something in later. He wanted to say that anyone saying 'Your an idiot' was clearly one themselves, but didn't think that would further his point.

He looked at the clock. How was it possible that eleven hours had passed? 1947 responses. 316 likes. Replies to replies to responses layering forty or fifty deep. He thought for perhaps another half an hour before adding a response of his own.

'So, people being kind and understanding of each other is not a viable option?'

He'd been called every name in the book and some that hadn't been printed yet. How was feeling that people should be nice being entitled? What had he said that had people threatening him. His cell was vibrating almost nonstop. The would of splintering glass had him looking in dismay at the stones being thrown through his windows.

Then, standing in the midst of glass shards were the three muddy-blue creatures. "You are running out of time. Your race is running out of time," said one of them.

"I don't know what else to say to them. I can't seem to make them understand," he said, shaking his head. "I tried. I don't think that they actually get what they are saying. Maybe they can't. Maybe they don't want to understand on some deep level. I don't know. Look," he said pointing to the screen. "There're close to ten thousand responses. All I've done is start a whole bunch of little wars. Those who agree with me are--" He broke off as another large rock crashed through where a window had been. "being incinerated. Someone said I was inciting riots."

The three aliens looked quietly at each other, seemingly to be holding a conversation without saying an audible word.

"May I ask you a question?" Benson asked in a soft voice.

One of the aliens nodded.

"On your world, does everyone get along? Do you have wars? Do some of your kind think some are worth more than others? Do you think that the beings of your world matter more than those who inhabit this one? As screwed up as we may be, does that make us less?"


"Perhaps we are not as evolved as your world. Perhaps we haven't been around as long. But we, as a convoluted mass of humanity, with all our disagreements, attitudes, and issues, matter just as much as you do. Are you not, in a way, threatening us and acting the same as the people here?" Benson's nerves were twanging. His last nerve vibrated. Perhaps he'd been trying to convince the wrong people for lack of a better word.

The three looked at one another.

"We aren't perfect. We are all muddling along the best we can. One cannot simply snap their fingers and have everyone play well with others. We are individuals and we think independently. Right, wrong, or indifferently. That's the thing about our species. We think, we consider and we do not always get along or agree. We have a habit of sometimes being wrong (or right!) at the tops of our voices. We can't always agree to disagree because, in any situation, there will always be differing viewpoints. Each is every bit as valid as another. For five thousand years or more we have succeeded or failed and tried again. It is what we do. Sometimes we all come together. Sometimes, we don't. Sometimes we all take a giant step together, and sometimes, we fall on our faces. But we always, always get up and keep on trying. Did your species never go through times of change and disruption?"

The alien in the middle looked seriously at Benson. "You have two hours." Then they were gone.

Benson sat there with his head in his hands. He didn't know what to do. His screen kept scrolling.

'STOP!' he typed. 'Just stop. For five minutes can you not just be nice? Can you not make a statement without being demeaning and vicious? Is this so impossible? Can you not agree to disagree? Can't you see that all everyone is doing is adding negatives to negatives and that they are not creating one single positive?

'The world cannot change overnight unless we were to wake up tomorrow to a world where we all ceased to exist. And that, in effect, would change nothing because WE would not have changed.'

He wondered if the aliens were reading all these comments.

He continued. ' Maybe we should all consider having a bit more respect for our fellow humans. We are all we have. The alternative is unthinkable. We cannot force anyone to change. We each need to be an example to follow, do we not? Actions do speak louder than words.'

He hit enter and took a breath. Benson looked at the clock. Fifteen minutes left.

His screen stopped scrolling.

'You might have a point.'
'That bears some thought.'

With two minutes to go, the aliens reappeared. Behind them, the glass in his windows reappeared and the rocks vanished. "You made some valid points as well as the stones being cast. We have considered your arguments and agree that we can, indeed, agree to disagree. There may well be yet some hope." With those words, they vanished yet again.

On his screen, when it scrolled down, there was a picture of a little boy holding a floppy-eared puppy. Then someone posted that they got their dream job. Then a video of John Lennon singing, Imagine.

'Huh,' said Benson to his empty room. "Just imagine. I wonder where they were from." Benson stood up and stretched. Then he climbed into his bed, curled up, and cried.

1996 words
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