Dear readers, tonight with us is a member of an alien race, a race that has had quite enough of humanity and has decided to do away with us.
I’d like to begin by thanking you for having me. I have lived here on Earth Haven for many years—for almost five millennia, to be more precise—but have not, until now, been able to talk about myself or my people. We have, through necessity, maintained a shadowy existence, one of secrecy and discretion, not attempting to deny the fact of our existence, but rather the nature of it: the longevity and regeneration capabilities, the power to influence lesser creatures, the ability to communicate mentally… It’s not a term we use, but I suppose you’d call it telepathy. I think it was one of my deputies, Jason Grant, who described our lifestyle as ‘hiding in plain sight’. It’s a good way to describe it—typically Jason.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
Growing up isn’t a concept that applies to me and my kind. Not really. You see, we are born in a similar way to drones— sorry, I mean humans, but after gestating for only two weeks in the womb. The placenta is expelled whole and we mature within it, not emerging until fully grown.
I was born and lived the first couple of centuries of my life on Earth Home. That’s a planet some distance from Earth Haven. 479.4 light years, to be exact.
It’s a planet similar in many respects to this one. The main difference lies in the sun around which it orbits. It is millions of years older than Sol and has begun to expand into what scientists here call a red giant. The surface of Earth Home has been uninhabitable for many millennia; my people have, of necessity, become below-ground dwellers. Burrowers.
There will come a time—no one can be sure when, but we are confident it will happen within the next few centuries—that Earth Home’s sun will explode, sloughing off its outer shell like a snake shedding its skin. Then life on Earth Home, even our subterranean type of existence, will become unsustainable. It is why we are relocating. It is why we are here.
What do you do now?
After centuries of relative inactivity while we watched humankind proliferate and advance technologically, while regressing spiritually, the coming months are going to be busy. Once the Cleansing is over, our people here on Earth Haven—almost five thousand of us—will converge on the U.K. where the original Beacon was activated. There we will reactivate it to call the remainder of our people to their new home.
Then there is the clean-up operation to organise, food to collect, infrastructures that we might still have use for—electrical grids, for instance—to reinstate and maintain, hazardous sites such as nuclear plants to make safe.
All will be made ready for the Great Coming, whereupon our peoples will be reunited and complete for the first time in five millennia. When you have spent that long working towards a goal, to draw so close to its fruition is, to understate it, exciting.
Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
Despite my apparent callous disregard for the tremendous loss of life that I’ve set in motion, I did so with a heavy heart. You see, despite their faults, I’ve grown fond of humans and it is a cause of great sorrow to me to have to bring about their virtual extinction. But, please, you mustn’t tell my deputies—they wouldn’t understand, especially Simone Furlong, the Chosen. She would view my sympathy as weakness and try to take over the role of Keeper. It is too soon for that showdown, though I have no doubt that a time will come, and soon, for a reckoning between me and Simone.
Talking of reckonings, mankind will face its own after the Great Coming. You see, the Cleansing will not entirely wipe out humanity. Around a million or so people will wake up from a coma and find they have survived the virus. There will be work for them to do—a lot of corpses to be disposed of. But later, when Earth Haven has become Earth Home, a decision will need to be made: do we allow the surviving humans to live or do we compel them to step into the oceans like lemmings. We shall have no further need of them and we won’t want to risk them once more growing too strong and numerous for us to control. I’m afraid that unless something entirely unexpected happens, something that gives my people a compelling reason to preserve what remains of humanity, the decision is only likely to go one way.
What does the future hold for you?
A great deal more than it holds for you, I’m sorry to say.
It’s okay. I can see from your expression and hear in your tone that you haven’t believed a word I’ve said, and why should you? I know how batshit crazy all this sounds. You’ll have reason to believe before the end. Maybe in a few days, a week at most, you will remember this conversation and give a smile, a sad one. Most likely your last. But I can’t say too much about that. You see, it’s barely hours since I received the message that they’re on their way. Barely hours since I put in motion the Cleansing.
Even as we speak, almost five thousand of my people around the world are retrieving silvery canisters from places of safe-keeping. They are removing the lids to expose the creamy powder contained within. Then they will cover their fingers with the powder and walk around, touching things. That’s all they need to do. Handrails, pushbuttons, door knobs, whatever. Merely touch them. Then… well, you’ll see.
And later, when the Cleansing is over, we’ll prepare the Beacon to call the remainder of our people home. For that is what Earth Haven will become: Earth Home.
I’ve probably said too much, but that shouldn’t matter since you consider me to be insane. Besides, what could you do? It’s too late.
Thank you again for hosting me. It’s been a pleasure, an unburdening of sorts. It doesn’t diminish the sense of regret, but I’m glad to have been afforded the opportunity to express it while there is still someone to listen.
Sam Kates writes mainly science fiction, fantasy and horror. He lives in South Wales, U.K. with a family, a computer and way too many books.
You can find Milandra on the pages of The Cleansing.
Join us next week to meet a half-elf member of an imperial assassin clan. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.