“You have one year to determine who lives.”
“Why me?” I asked looking up to the 8-foot-tall gray being. The dart they had shot me with initially must have been a sedative. I could feel my stomach backflipping and twisting but up top, everything was clear and lucid.
“Why not you? You’re random and the first of your species we’ve encountered. That should be good enough– it is for us.”
The more grayish of the beings extended a four-fingered hand.
“Here,” it said handing me a camera.
“Okay,” I said grabbing the old polaroid camera putting its strap around my neck. “What’s this for?”
“Whomever you photograph will live. Everyone else shall become subject to liquidation.”
“Oh.” I mumbled. “Pretty grim, eh? How long do I have to take pictures?”
“My word, your species are inquisitive and forgetful. As we have already told you: one year.”
“Right.” Part of me wanted to turn and run home to my family. In mere seconds I was planning on how to take pictures of everyone I knew. No matter how many pictures I took, how far I traveled, it just didn’t seem possible.
The beings had already turned back and were waddling to their ship.
‘Selfish’ a voice said within me. My face twisted.
“Wait,” I called to the beings. “Take me with you.”
“You choose to survive alone?” The shorter being with close-set eyes asked with no intonation. “Very well then. Come aboard.”
Liftoff was swift and certain. I felt my insides almost exit out of my ass. Once I could see blackness enveloping the marble of a planet I turned to the tallest being.
“Can you just move the ship so that I can look one last time?”
“Look at what?”
“Earth,” I responded dryly.
“If you wish,” He nodded.
The craft spun around and pointed the clear observation dome towards the planet.
“Okay,” I said grabbing the polaroid and shaking. “I’m done.”
“What is this?” The being with the close eyes extended his hand for the picture. “Your planet?” He asked as earth came into focus.
“Yes.” I explained. “Everyone I know, and many that I don’t, is in this picture.”
“Clever.” He said letting the photo drop to the floor. He turned to the taller being. “We’ll try again soon. Eventually this species will falter. Let’s send this one back,” he glared in my direction “he stinks.”