Planet Earth: Restart (again)

Great Being Five had been practicing mindfulness while idly airbrushing some of the scenery on Orea, her second favourite planet, when a Thought Bubble popped up in the corner of her monitor. It was her friend and protégé, Great Being Nineteen. His Bubble glowed amber with agitation.

‘It’s Planet Earth. Something’s wrong!’

Five flicked a switch and focused her Third Eye on the spiral galaxy that contained her most beloved planet. Nineteen was right. Planet Earth was behaving very oddly. The whole world was flickering, like one of the earthlings’ little light bulbs when it was about to go out. Her Eye roamed around the screen. The stars in the Milky Way were shifting and shimmering ominously.

‘I think it’s the Time Grid,’ Nineteen yelled. ‘Something has gone wrong with the reset on Planet Earth1. Do something, Five!’

On the far side of her screen, a large chunk of the Milky Way blinked off and on.

A bolt of alarm shot through her. What had gone wrong? All she’d done was turn back Time a little bit in that small corner of the galaxy, so that the little humans could have a major re-think and cease their wanton destruction her lovely blue planet.

And it had all been going so well. The little earthlings had emerged from their planetary pandemic a reformed race. They’d been caring for the planet so well.

‘Shut the planet down!’ bellowed Nineteen. ‘Earth is compromising the whole galaxy!’

‘I can’t do that after all we’ve done,’ snapped Five, anxious to protect her little humans. She took a moment to focus. ‘There’s no need to panic.’

Nineteen’s Thought Bubble eye-rolled.

Five started scrabbling at the keys. She’d just have to reset the Timer again. Go back to the previous setting. Switch it off and switch it on again. Wasn’t that the mantra of every Techbot?

A sudden thought occurred to her. ‘What about your Mind-Set Program, Nineteen? Can you replicate that?’

Nineteen’s Thought Bubble made a thumbs up sign.

Five aligned the Time-Grid counter to its previous setting: 01.01.2020. She took a deep breath and pressed the reset button. At least the little earthlings wouldn’t know they’d already been through Nineteen’s Mind-Set Program, and after all, it had only taken a year for the scourge to die down. They’d be fine.

The screen went blue.

Five held her breath.

The image reappeared. Planet Earth and the Milky Way were stable. The Space-Time Balance had been restored.

The Thought Bubble made an apologetic pop.

‘What’s wrong, Nineteen?’

‘Sorry, Five. Planet Earth’s Virus-Settings wouldn’t accept the same program again. I had to opt for a Mutation.’

Five clutched the edge of her keyboard. ‘What do you mean?’

‘The pandemic is going to take a little longer to play out this time.’

‘How long?’

‘Well, there’ll be at least a second and a third wave before it’s over.’

‘And then?’

‘You’ll have your beautiful blue planet back again.’

‘But what about the little humans?’

‘Those who survive: never better.’


It’s been more than a year since we last caught up with Great Being Five in a story I wrote1 shortly after South Africa and many other countries first went into hard lockdown in March 2020. I wrote the story you’ve just read in January 2021, when South Africa went into the second wave of the pandemic but never got around to posting it. Reading it again this week, as the country teeters on the brink of the third wave, it seems even more apt than it did when I penned it.

You can find all the stories featuring Five here.

Photo credit: watercolour painting by Elena Mozhvilo

One Last Chance

Planet Earth watercolour painting by Elena Mozhvilo@miracleday Unsplash

Great Being Five had been twiddling her thumbs for too long at the Academy for Wisdom¹. Over the decades she’d re-educated many recalcitrant Great Beings and re-engineered their wrong-doings. She’d set them all back on the straight and narrow, repentant of their misdeeds in the management of their planets. But now she was bored.

True, she still retained responsibility for two planets, but one was still at the ‘rocks and slime stage’ and the other, Orea, the one she used to love so much, with its pretty pastel colours and cute, fluffy life-forms, was… well, just a little bit dull.

Five was missing her beautiful blue planet. Planet Earth, which she’d finally decided to delete² back in Earth Year 2033, before the greedy, selfish little humans destroyed it themselves and took off to infect another planet.

She missed those fallible little creatures. Back in the day, before they had too many technical toys at their disposal, they were such fun. So creative! Five sighed as a wave of nostalgia broke over her desk and splashed off her Universal Viewing Screen.

Back in the day. The thought crossed and re-crossed her mind.

It lingered while a plan formed.

She’d done it before, and she could do it again. As a top official in the Academy, she had both the authority and the autonomy. All she needed to do was turn back Time in that small solar system on the edge of the Milky Way. 

Once before she’d re-set Planet Earth, but sadly it hadn’t had much effect; soon the arrogant little inhabitants were back on the road to their inevitable existential fate. This time needed to be different. A planet-wide change of mind-set must be effected.

She knew just the Being to help her.

Five dropped a mind message to her first re-education subject, the one she knew best and her greatest success. She immediately sensed his enthusiasm for the project. He was primed and ready for action. She would take care of the Time-Grid and he would set up the means for a mind-set change.

He warned her it would be radical.
He warned her it would be tough.
He warned her it would take time.

She agreed.

Five aligned the Time-Grid: 01.01.2020.
A nice round number; not long before The Total Tipping Point.

She sat back. Watched and waited.

Planet Earth reappeared in its old position. The little humans had ceased their scurrying. They’d hunkered down and huddled in their homes. Five was saddened at the sickness and the suffering; the deaths of the elderly, the poorly and the poor.

The Earth turned and turned again
day after day
month after month.

Skies cleared. Rivers ran clean. Nature thrived and re-asserted itself.
The planet cooled down a little.

When the scourge passed, the little humans emerged. They had changed and the change came from within; a new understanding of their beautiful blue planet.

Five mind-melded with her colleague: thanks, Nineteen.

She hoped her little humans would get it right now.


¹ For the Greater Good
² And finally she pulled the plug

Photo credit: watercolour painting by Elena Mozhvilo

And finally, she pulled the plug

She pulled the plug by Chris Hall lunasonline

From my Flash Fiction Collection

And now there was nothing left of what had been her beautiful blue planet. Great Big Five sighed. She had given them chance after chance. She had very nearly deleted the entire human race in Earth Year 2018. Only that little message which flashed up after she had hit the big red button had given her pause.

Do you really want to DELETE?

No, she hadn’t. She’d cancelled the request. Sat back and watched and waited for fifteen Earth Years more. She’d watched the greedy, selfish humans squander more and more of the precious resources of her pretty planet. Barren soil blew away, the oceans turned to acid, the very atmosphere was toxic. Some of the little humans had tried to avert the crisis. They’d spoken out. Even important, influential ones had acted, added their voices. There were protests, social media campaigns, new policies agreed and implemented; the planet had staggered on, but it was all too little, too late.

Meanwhile others had been working on a plan. Done with the Earth, they would move on. Move to another planet. Their neighbour: the red planet. Clever little humans!

Never mind what they’d done to the animals and birds, the trees and flowers, the mountains and lakes. All her best work they’d left in tatters.

She had mind-melded with Great Being Nineteen. The red planet was under his jurisdiction. She had suspected he had plans. With Earth out of the way, he could move his smaller red planet nearer to its sun, into what her imaginative earthlings called the Goldilocks Zone, after one of their sweet little stories. Allow something new to evolve. He’d even let her collaborate on his project.

You have activated Planet Total Destruction. Are you sure you want to do this?

She did.

They couldn’t be allowed to spread their wicked ways.

©2019 Chris Hall

 

Saving Planet Earth

Accident on Earth lunasonline

From my Flash Fiction Collection

Great Being Five was going to be in trouble. Big trouble. She had contravened the Non-Interference Protocol on one of the four inhabited planets she managed. She’d made the odd little tweak here and there over the planet’s long lifetime, all of which had gone unnoticed. But this time it was going to be obvious. As she saw it though, she’d had no alternative.

She’d never had any difficulty with her other three planets. Admittedly two of them were at such an early stage of development that there was really nothing to do but wait for something to happen. The third was a lovely, tranquil world, covered in lush vegetation and populated only by colourful birds which lived off fruits and seeds. She’d wrapped a subtle cloaking device around it in the hope of keeping it concealed from any advanced astral beings who, if they came upon it, would inevitably decide that it would make a nice second home. That would never do. So far none of the other Great Beings had noticed and her pretty planet had remained undiscovered.

Earth was an entirely different matter. Her little humans had really let the planet go. They had developed into such clever beings; so inventive! so creative! But so many of their inventions had had such a devastating impact on her lovely blue planet. Busily burning fossil fuels, chopping down trees, ruining the very soil they stood on. And then there was the killing. Each other mainly, but all those appealing animals they’d destroyed? Great Being Five was really mad about that.

The big issue was the planet itself. It really couldn’t cope for much longer. Great Being Five focused her third eye and scanned Planet Earth one more time. Swathes of empty forest all across the Amazon; huge scars left by the profligate plundering of mineral deposits which had developed over millennia; and the smog. Filthy air everywhere, a toxic sickly yellow; oceans clogged with seas of bobbing plastic; lakes and rivers coloured improbably by pollutants and algae blooms; fewer and fewer birds and animals. And all those people. People everywhere!

Great Being Five consulted the stats section of her data banks. For the past 40 years, the humans had been using more than double their annual quota of resources. There were other alarming figures too. The report finished with a verdict: ‘Unsustainable; self-destruction inevitable by Earth date, 2020.’

What had happened to the little humans? Why had they become so careless and greedy? They’d ruined everything. She couldn’t let them destroy her favourite planet. No! She wouldn’t let it happen.

Great Being Five scrolled through the little icons on her console and selected one. She took a deep breath and hit the delete key.

©2018 Chris Hall

Remember when we used just one earth?