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Prime Directive
(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)

Page 2

"Their buildings look like stacked boxes," the ship observed. "Do you suppose they were lacking in aesthetic sense as an evolutionary trait, or simply gave it up as inefficient?"

"If the latter, no wonder their civilisation collapsed," Zwar Cleb gronkled. He was beginning to imagine that the creatures which had built the city were extinct, and was just about to add that, when he heard the noise. It was a ululating moaning, punctuated by an occasional sharp cracking noise, coming from somewhere to the left. Scroobing slowly over the wreck of what had once probably been a vehicle, he went to have a look.

He saw a herd of the creatures gathered outside a building, pressing against it and beating on it with their upraised front limbs. They were obviously frantic to get inside. A few of the creatures were also on top of the structure, carrying what Zwar Cleb diagnosed to be primitive projectile weapons, discharging them haphazardly down into the herd.

"The herd at the bottom," the ship ziggered, "must be so frantic with terror at the sight of you that it’s trying hard to get inside."

"True," Zwar Cleb agreed. "And the ones on top, so frightened of me that they’re unable to even control their aim, and are launching their projectiles at their own species." He scroobled forwards. "So it’s clear what I must do." Raising a siphon, he hooted the Prime Galactic signal of peace and friendship.

It had no effect. On the contrary, they seemed to become more frightened than ever.

As Zwar Cleb came closer, the herd on the street got so overcome with terror that it lost all self-control and scrambled over each other to bite and claw him. Of course, it had no effect on his substance – nor did the projectiles, which the creatures on the roof were now raining down, so wild with their own fear that they seemed even more incapable of aiming at him than before. Spreading himself out as a shield between the biting, scratching herd on the street, and the little projectiles that the ones on the roof were firing down, he considered for a full shomoy what to do.

 "You have to help them," the ship ziggered. "They’re so afraid they might end up harming themselves."

"But how..." Zwar Cleb began, and then he noticed the entrance. It was barred by a heavy corrugated metal shutter, and was probably locked in some manner from the other side. No doubt the creatures on the roof would have normally opened it to let their fellow herd-members on the street enter, but they were all so afraid they had forgot.

Well, Zwar Cleb was there to do it for them. A mere metal door was no match for his tentacles, which – though gentle enough to smooth the dew from a leaf without disturbing it, could...

...wrench the entire corrugated metal barrier off its hinges, and fling it safely away over the heads of the herd so it hurt nobody at all.

"There," Zwar Cleb gronkled in satisfaction to the ship, and scroobed aside to let the herd rush into the building as fast as they could go. "Look at them run back home!"

"The ones on top also went down," the ship responded. "No doubt they’re welcoming their friends and relatives inside."

"It’s a tender moment when creatures find each other again after great danger," Zwar Cleb agreed. "I shouldn’t interrupt them. I’ll come back now, and we’ll try and talk to them again tomorrow. By then they’ll have realised that I mean them no harm."

"Yes," the ship ziggered, as Zwar Cleb made his slow way back down to the shore. "I am proud of you, Zwar Cleb. You handled the Prime Directive exactly as you should have. Nobody was harmed at all. I’m proud of you!"

And, meanwhile, inside the Last Redoubt of Man, the zombies, who had been denied so long, feasted and feasted.


Other contributions by this author:-
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Genre:Living Dead
Type:Short story
Rating:6.64 / 10
Rated By:20 users
Comments: 1 user
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