1. THE OPTION
by John Longley
“Mr. Morrow, thanks for coming. Take a seat please, I’ve got some bad
A feeling of guilt flooded the cold room and Vildin took a seat in front
of his managers oversized desk. The room smelt like cigar smoke and cheap
whisky. As he looked up at the name plate that read, ‘MR. HAWKE’
perched on the edge of the desk he noticed his managers eyes gleaming
back at him.
“If this is about last week,” Vildin said quickly. “I guarantee you that I
will work double time next–”
“No,” Mr. Hawke interrupted. “I asked for you because I wanted to
tell you personally that, because of your recent work, I have to let you go.”
Vildin’s heart skipped a beat.
“What are you talking about, sir?” Vildin asked shakily.
Mr. Hawke took a deep breath and closed his eyes, as if he knew he
was going to regret what came out of his mouth next.
“Vildin, listen,” he said with a sigh. “Everyone here, including myself,
knows how fantastic of a worker you have been, but things change. You
were the best I’ve ever had Vildin, but… not anymore. And that is why I
hate saying this.”
Vildin was glaring him straight in the eye while these gut-wrenching
words spurred out of his mouth, trying to hold back the anger churning
inside of him. Vildin knew that his capability was far beyond any other man
but he couldn’t share that secret. If he showed people what he could do this
wouldn’t be happening, but he knew couldn’t do it.
Hold it in Vildin, hold it in.
“I just can’t afford to have you work for me anymore. These younger
men are stronger and much more–”
“Mr. Hawke!” A voice, joined with a few loud knocks, came from
outside as if something was wrong. “You have to come see this!”
Vildin entered the room first, followed by Mr. Hawke. All eyes were
glaring at the television set in the middle of the room, but Vildin couldn’t
quite make out the words.
“What’s happening?” Vildin asked to the man nearest to him.
“I’m not sure I believe this but it’s some talk about unidentified
creatures here on Earth.”
“Unidentified creatures?” Vildin asked, astonished. All species have been
identified for over thirty years, Vildin thought to himself, this is impossible.
“Someone saw a ship enter our atmosphere and then vanish. But, I’m
sure it’s just another hoax like that one time back in 2068,” the man said to
“I sure hope so,” Vildin whispered to himself.
He started pushing his way through the crowd to catch any glimpse of
what was being shown on the television. He couldn’t quite decipher the
looks on people’s faces as he was nearing the television set, but he knew the
feelings were tense. He shot a quick smile at Anissa, his co-worker, who
was sitting in the corner of the room, and they shared a gentle
“How are you, Vildin?” Anissa asked.
“Not so well, I’ll explain later.”
“No need for that,” Anissa replied. “I already heard the news – Mr.
Hawke came and told me. Sorry to hear about it, Vildin.”
Vildin looked down in embarrassment.
Anissa took a cigarette out of her coat pocket and lit it. “You do know
that if you need anything–”
“I know, Anissa,” Vildin snapped back. His temper started to rise but he
closed his eyes and tried to clear his head. “Thank you.”
Anissa looked at him with contempt. “Sure thing, Vildin.”
Finally, Vildin made it to an appropriate spot in the room to read what
was being broadcasted on the television.
A SIGN OF UNIDENTIFIED CREATURES NEAR EARTH
These words moved along the screen as the whole room fell silent. It’s
true… Vildin thought to himself. This happened thirty-two years ago but it ended
up only being a prank from some college kids. Are these creatures friendly or hostile?
Why did they come now? What do they want? These questions ran through
Vildin’s head as he left the building and walked toward his car. The smell of
asphalt and sawdust filled his nostrils as he tried to come to the realization
of the news. Before he could even open the door to his nearly century old
nineteen eighty-nine Ford Thunderbird, a bright flash blinded him and an
unknown force sent Vildin flying backward, knocking him unconscious.
The breeze of summer flowed through the front door as Vildin took a
few steps down his front porch.
Time to explore somewhere new today.
“Be back before dinner Vildin, you know I get worried about you.”
“I know, mom! I’ll only be out for a little bit.” Vildin answered back as
he jumped over the fence in his back yard.
Vildin decided to take a different route today. He always took the path
across the river towards Mr. and Mrs. Millers house but today he was going
to try something different.
As Vildin approached the pathway that would lead him to the Millers
house he had noticed that all the lights were off and their car was gone.
They must be on a vacation or something.
Vildin picked up a sturdy branch from the ground as he did every time
he went out. His mom told him that he could protect himself with any sort
of weapon, and he always decided that a stick or branch would suffice.
Suddenly, a loud humming noise came from the field across the other
side of the river. Vildin looked in the direction the noise came from but the
large pine trees made it hard for him to notice anything different.
The humming noise came and left quickly once more, but not long
enough for Vildin to make sense of what it was. He grasped his stick harder
and started to make his way towards the unfamiliar noise.
As Vildin was making himself comfortable behind a tree that would
produce a clear view of the field, he heard a crowd of murmurs. Vildin
looked towards the middle of the field and noticed a group of men huddled
up near some sort of machine. They were all wearing black hoods and
Vildin decided to find a different vantage point in hopes of being able
to hear them talk. He circled around the side of the field and hid behind a
different tree. Trying his best to stay silent, Vildin looked back up at the
group of men as they stood up and his heart dropped – they were all giants,
about 7’1, and had greyish black skin. Vildin couldn’t quite figure out what
the machine was but these alien-like humans kept his attention. He heard
many different languages that seemed impossible to ever understand but
then one of them began to speak English just loud enough for Vildin to
make sense of it.
“We have to finish quickly here, if any human sees us our plans might
be tarnished. Gracha, you’re coming with me so you can be-”
Vildin noticed that the man stopped talking and had looked over to
where he was hiding. Vildin ducked down in hopes that he wouldn’t be
What do I do, what do I do.
Vildin looked around in desperation, trying to conjure up any idea that
would get him out of there safely. Before he could do anything, Vildin felt a
tight squeeze around his head and lost all control of his body.
“Hello boy, don’t be afraid,” a voice started talking to Vildin. “We are
only here to help you, not hurt you.”
The squeeze around his head released and Vildin was left to fall to the
“We are here to study your world and its people; we mean no harm.
Of course, you must be wondering who or what we are. Well, we are
known as the Teslan’s – an intelligent race living on a planet not visible to
humans called Romero. We have been visiting earth for centuries, waiting
for the right moment to propose our… option. But worry not, it will all
make sense soon and–”
The voice seemed to be interrupted by someone else trying to speak to
“After looking over our calculations, it will be another forty-two years,
four months and twenty-five days until the humans will realize their need
The man grunted and replied, “Get the squadron ready. We’re
Vildin almost stood up before the voice came back.
“Unfortunately, all that I have told you will have to be erased from
your memory. What would you humans do if you knew we existed? Boy,
would that be chaos. But don’t worry, I’ll be seeing you again. Oh, and one
more thing,” The voice seemed to be very excited to share this part.
“Because of your encounter with us, there may be some minor… side
Vildin heard the hissing noise once more and rubbed his head.
“Vildin! I have been looking all around for you.” His mother’s familiar
voice comforted him from the unfamiliar eerie feeling.
“Where am I, mom?” Vildin asked.
“You are near the Millers house. They are gone on a family vacation so
I couldn’t call them to ask if they had seen you,” Vildin’s mom said to him.
“Come on Vildin, let’s get home.”
She helped Vildin get up and walked him home, oblivious to the
potentially world-changing event that had just happened moments earlier.
“Hey son, hand me that wrench, will ya’?” Vildin’s father asked as he
changed the oil of their new Ford Thunderbird.
Vildin rummaged through the unfamiliar tool box, staring at tools and
nails that all seemed too difficult to handle.
“Which one is the wrench dad?” Vildin asked with guilt.
His father sighed. “The one with the two teeth on one end and a circle
on the other.”
Vildin found the tool that fit the description and handed it to his
“Thanks son, now can you help me–” Vildin’s fathers voice was
interrupted. He had accidently kicked the jack that held the car up, causing
the weight of the car to drop onto his father’s leg, the front tire trapping
“Vildin!” His father screamed these words as he squeezed his leg in
hopes of suppressing the pain.
It happened so fast Vildin wasn’t quite sure what to do. He tried
pulling his dad out from underneath the car but his strength was
insufficient. Why am I so useless, Vildin thought to himself. His anger boiled
until this burning sensation erupted inside of him. This soothing feeling
came over Vildin slowly, and then all at once. The ground beneath him
slowly disappeared and he felt weightless. Vildin lifted the front end of the
car up, opening up enough space available for his father to maneuver out
from underneath. His father’s heavy breathing assured Vildin that he was
alive. The silence that filled the air created a tense feeling of what was to be
“How did you do that?” Vildin’s father asked, overwhelmed by the
fact that his twelve year old son had lifted this thirty-five hundred pound
Vildin looked at his hands as if they were creators of power and he
started to tremble.
“Son!” His father said. “How?”
“I don’t know dad, I don’t know.”
Both Vildin and his father were unable to answer this question.
Vildin’s father sat up with one leg and limped over to his son, cupping
his face with his hands.
“Listen to me son – whatever just happened here, will never be spoken
of again, understood?” He hugged Vildin and they sat there in silence.
Vildin held his father as he closed his eyes, starting to cry.
“It’s alright son,” Vildin’s father said as he, too, closed his eyes. “It’ll
The steps through the snow caused a crunching sound that Vildin
*crunch* *crunch* *crunch*
Vildin made his way up the cobblestone path to his little colonial
house sitting on the end of Adams & 11th
in the middle of Norwalk,
Connecticut. He would get up in the morning, smell the banana pancakes
seeping through his bedroom door and run downstairs to give his mother a
The past twenty years have been the worst to date. Pollution had
created such a chink in the economy’s armor that the unemployment rate
had reached a staggering fifty-five percent. This illness hit the mass so hard
that companies like Microsoft, Boeing, and Amazon didn’t have enough
workers to run the company, so they eventually had to leave the job market.
But what was even worse was the homeless percentage: nearly eighty-two
percent of the American population was homeless.
“Vildin!” his mother screamed as she ran out the door, nearly tripping
over one of the many suitcases she held. “We have to get out of here, we
have to leave. They are coming to get you!” She looked and sounded
horrified of what was to come.
“Whose coming mom? I don’t want to leave home!” Vildin cried with
“I packed all of your stuff in the car, Vildin.” She threw all of her
belongings in the car and turned to notice that Vildin had not moved, and
started to weep.
“Listen to me, Vildin. You have to trust me. I know what we have is
beyond better than what most people dream of but we can’t stay here. It’s
the government, Vildin… they are coming to take you.” She obviously
knew what was to happen if they stayed, but the curiosity almost held
“I’ll come mom,” Vildin said with regret. He trusted his mom, but he
also wanted to know why.
He stepped in the passenger seat of the car, looking at the house that
he grew up in. The only thing he had ever come to call ‘home’.
“Where are we going, mom?” Vildin asked.
“Anywhere but here,” his mother said as she frantically buckled her
seat belt. “We need to go somewhere else… we need to hide.”
“What shall we do with him first? He will surely be in shock when he
“Let’s decide on that when he does wake up, Gracha.”
A moment passed. Izzin crossed his arms and slouched over his legs as
he sat down on a chair beside the table that held Vildin’s unconscious body.
“Izzin,” Gracha whispered, trying not to wake Vildin. “Do you think
he will remember? I mean… remember when he first saw us?”
Izzin sighed and scratched his neck.
“Probably not, I mean I did erase his memory of that moment so–”
Izzin was cut off by Vildin’s erupt coughing. The two Teslan’s looked at
each other, in hopes of a plan. Vildin’s eyes opened, blinked twice, and
snuck a glance around the room. It seemed to be made out of some sort of
white metallic material causing the light hanging in the middle of the room
to illuminate off the walls. The tables sitting in the corners of the room
were covered with papers and artwork; some decipherable, some not. He
looked to the side and noticed two hooded men sitting beside him. A few
awkward seconds passed before Vildin broke the silence.
“Who… who are you?” Vildin’s voice shook as he spoke, but he held
a bit of confidence alongside it.
Izzin moved his head slightly forward under the light and removed his
hood, revealing the grey skin that covered his body, his large eyes looking
down upon Vildin.
“I know this must be weird and that you have many questions, but if
you just give me–
“Is this a dream?” Vildin’s tone was heavy. “And why is your skin
grey? Who are you?” Vildin tried sitting up but noticed his arms and legs
were tied to the table. His tone increased as the anger inside of him
churned. “And why am I tied up? Get me out of this!” Vildin writhed and
squirmed his body in hopes of freeing himself but the braces didn’t budge.
“I am Izzin,” Izzin pointed at his friend sitting beside him. “And this
is Gracha. Just relax Vildin, we will explain ourselves.”
“You two must be the unidentified creatures that entered our
atmosphere,” Vildin said as he stared at them both with disbelief.
“That is correct. Our race is known as the Teslan’s, and we live on a
planet called Romero. Twelve-hundred years ago, before your planet had
any idea of what was beyond earth, we invented a cloaking device to hide
our planet from any others. We have been living only two hundred miles
from your moon, so I guess you can say our cloaking device worked. We
didn’t turn on our cloaking device when we entered your atmosphere so we
could give your race a heads up as to what is coming,” Izzin said, noticing
Vildin’s confusion. “Every one-hundred years we send a squad of Teslan’s
down to earth to examine earth’s humans for one reason…” Izzin sat
forward so his face was inches from Vildin’s. “To learn if your bodies are
capable of what we have to offer.”
Vildin opened his mouth in hopes of saying something, but nothing
“To make you feel more comfortable with us,” Izzin said, grabbing a
remote and turning on the television sitting in front of them. “I dug up this
video from our database. I think you will find it very interesting…”
The screen flickered on to show a young boy walking in the forest,
holding a large stick in his right hand. The boy was walking along the forest
path and he suddenly stopped and turned to face a different direction, as if
there was a noise that caught his attention. The boy decided to walk
towards the noise and crouch behind a tree adjacent to an open field. He
sat there staring a group of men huddled up around a machine. The boy
then got up, looked to his left, and made his way behind a different tree,
closer to the unfamiliar group of people. One of the unfamiliar men turned
around and seemed to know that the boy was watching. With a sudden
quickness, the boy ducked down behind the tree. Moments after, his body
started flailing, attempting to free himself from an unknown force holding
him still. The pain seemed to stop as the boy crumbled to the ground,
holding his body in hopes of rejuvenation. The unknown group of men
circled around the machine and instantly vanished. The boy seemed to be
unconscious before an older woman ran up to comfort him and lift him up.
The boy put his arm around the older woman and they walked off,
continuing until out of the forest. The screen screeched and turned off.
Vildin stared at the black screen, as if he hoped it would have
“That was me…” Vildin said to the Teslan’s. “And… that was my
mom.” His head dropped and his breathing became heavy.
“Listen to me Vildin – what happened to you that day changed your
life,” Izzin’s tone became stern and disciplined as the words came out of his
mouth. “And I’m sure you have realized that over the years. But what we
have to ask of you will change the human race forever.”
“What are you talking about? You are the reason I have had this… this
supernatural power all my life? You were the one to give it to me?” Vildin
clenched his teeth. “You caused me years of banishment from both my
friends and family,” Vildin screamed as his voice became to get louder. He
knew he had the power to untie himself, but he decided to hold the anger
back for now. “Before we go any further, you tell me where we are and how
I got here, now.”
Izzin squinted his eyes in annoyance.
“Fine. Yesterday, after we entered your atmosphere and turned on our
cloaking device, we flew down and got you, unnoticed. The hooded men
you saw in that video were a few members of our exploration squad,
Gracha and I included. Actually, I was the one to speak to you that day but,
of course, you don’t remember.”
Vildin’s eyes wandered between Gracha and Izzin’s as he continued.
“As of now, we are in our squadron ship hovering about,” Izzin
looked to a censored screen that magnified different colors and symbols, all
unfamiliar to Vildin. “Two-hundred miles above New York. Now, let me
tell you a little about our race. First, the way we had talked to you forty-
three years ago was through our telepathic skills. That is the same way we
communicate between each other on our home planet, Romero. We all live
a fair life and we are all content with that. Now Vildin,” He continued. “Let
me ask you this. Why is it that your planet and its people suffer day after
day?” Izzin asked this as if he knew the answer.
“Well, the pollution has caused a lot of it I suppose.”
“Exactly right! On our planet, we have banished that possibility for
two reasons. One, we don’t exfoliate any toxin gasses into our system
because we have created a way of waste management that locks up all of the
gasses it uses into a trash bag that is easily disposable. The squadron ship
we are currently in is an example of that, and that over there,” Izzin points
to a compartment door in the back of the room, “is where the toxin gas is
stored for this ship. Then, we transfer all waste to places we like to call
‘lunar disposals’; these lunar disposals are all created on the moon. When
most of the waste is deteriorated, after about one-hundred years, almost all
of the waste is then soft enough to be compacted into rock to fill the
craters on the moon. It is a very effective system. But, you’re missing the
reason WHY the pollution was ever created in the first place; the answer to
that is your government system.” Izzin sat back to let all of this information
sink in for Vildin.
“Well? What do you have to say about government?”
“Having one person idolized in your society will only lead to argument
and conflict. That is why you humans have not been successful in creating
laws that stop pollution. We have incorporated a system with no leader, but
rather everyone is their own leader. Our government system consists of
squadrons; each squadron of Romero, Gracha and I are part of the
exploration squadron, consists of a random number of members, usually
around one-hundred or two-hundred, that only creates laws for that specific
squadron. Once a month, all members of the squadron meet to discuss
current levels of progression. It is a fair and just system that resolves all
conflict, leaving our society peaceful.”
“That sounds… excellent.” Vildin said with delight.
“And now, after many centuries of waiting, you humans have realized
that the problems currently destroying earth and its inhabitants were
created only by yourselves. Ironic isn’t it?” Izzin smiled, the grey skin on his
face turning to wrinkles. “Despite the humans ignorance to the impact of
your actions, the understanding of said impacts has increased substantially.”
“So you’re saying that because of our own destruction of the planet,
we have become smarter?” Vildin asked, scratching his head.
“Not exactly. All Teslan’s believe that the root of intelligence is
understanding and after examining your species for centuries, we feel that
you are ready to hear our proposition.” The tension in the room increased
as Izzin spoke these words.
“Well… what is it?” Vildin asked.
“We want to share our powers with humans by revealing ourselves to
them. We believe that staying isolated on one planet will certainly lead to
madness and earth is the closest planet to us that can sustain life. And you,
Vildin, know firsthand the capability of our powers. When you saw us in
the field forty years ago, the power we possess rubbed off on you. That is
why you are so physically strong and that is why you must do this for us,
that is why we chose you,” Izzin continued. “You can explain to them the
powers that you attain and persuade them to take up our offer.”
Vildin looked down, thinking through the paramount impact this
would have on the human race. “And if I say no?” Vildin asked. “I wouldn’t
mind being the only one who possesses this power.”
Izzin sat forward, keeping his eyes on Vildin. “Then I guess we will
have to go back into hiding and keep our race unknown once again and the
only way to accomplish that is to kill you.”
Vildin looked down at his lap.
“You know,” Vildin said quietly, “I don’t think I can let this secret
Before either Teslan could react, Vildin took a heavy breath in and
exhaled a force that sent Izzin and Gracha backwards, hitting the wall. He
closed his eyes and the bindings around his arms and legs untied
themselves, opening the opportunity for Vildin to sit up.
“I’m sorry that it must end like this,” Vildin said, clenching his fists,
lifting the two Teslan’s into the air.
Within seconds, the two Teslan bodies were thrown across the ship,
hitting the wall, leaving them unconscious.
Vildin was left alone in the squadron ship. He took a few steps
towards the command controls in the cockpit of the ship and focused it
All of the Teslan’s have agreed to only reproduce by replacing generations,
so their population remains stable, meaning their food and water keeps up
with population at a steady pace. There is no currency for the Teslan’s, they
simply trade among each other through squadrons. There are four
squadrons – Exploration, Construction, Caregiving, and Gathering. The
members of each squadron meet once a week and create, take away, or
change laws appropriate to the current level of stability among the
squadron. These laws may not interfere with any other squadron or its
members. The exploration squadron is known as the ‘creative inventors’.
The members of this squadron acquire the most knowledge because of their
avid explorations or travel around the unseen places of Romero and keep
track of anything new in their journals. Through this, they can invent or
create new things, helping society as a whole. After every exploration
(mission), they return home and share their new knowledge with all other
Teslan’s – once a week, they hold meetings to go over all they learned with
both younger and older Teslan’s. Through this, all Teslan’s are about the
same as far as intelligence goes. The construction squadron takes care of
basic home building, land development, and waste disposal. Each family in
need of a home must acquire the appropriate amount of wood, meaning the
families must grow their own trees if they want the construction squadron
to construct a home. The land is equally given to all members of the
society, despite their rank in their squadron. When the family creates their
two children, the first child born will stay in the home they grew up in and
move their family in with them, while the second child will have to move
out and find a different home. The first child is part of whatever squadron
their mate is, and the second child is part of the same squadron their
parents were. The lunar disposals, which I talked about in the story, are
created by the construction squadron and they keep up with the
maintenance of those buildings, as well as the homes on Romero. Because
the Teslan’s are so close to the moon, they send workers to collect
something that humans call ‘solar energy’ and they convert it to microwaves
using machines they have created. From there, it is sent to different
beneficiary’s around Romero. Then, the microwaves are converted into
electricity to power our grids. The members of the construction squadron
also handle the energy production and where it goes. Caregiving, highly
known as the most important squadron, deals with the care of the elderly,
health care, sanitation, and reproduction. For the Teslan’s, reproduction is
not done by intercourse, but rather the babies are created using a machine
called the ‘Bacord machine’. This machine takes the personalities, bodily
characteristics, hair color, etc. from both parents and mix them to create
their two children. This machine does not need anything the humans need
to create babies, it just asks the parents a series of questions and from there,
create babies which will be a mix of both parents. The members of the
caregiving squadron maintain the Bacord machines and they also take care
of health care. Because of the Teslan’s exploration of Romero and their
incredible intelligence, they have found a cure for every known disease
among them. The members of the caregiving squadron hold all of the cures
for all diseases – pills, shots, spray, etc. and will give them to any member
of any squadron through an equal trade. The sanitation aspect of caregiving
is almost the same; the members of that squadron hold all appropriate
accessories or tools for sanitation, including showers and baths, and trade a
certain amount of time with that for an appropriate amount of something
else from a different squadron. Last but not least is the gathering squadron
and their job is quite simple. The members of this squadron handle all food
growing, including maintaining healthy water through wells. The members
of this squadron are dealing with trade the most because of the importance
of their products.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is John Longley and I was born in Norwalk, Connecticut. When I was a
one year old my family and I moved to Enumclaw, Washington, an hour south of
Bothell. I have a twin brother and an older sister who is currently living in New
York City. In High School, I played for the tennis and golf team as well as the track
team and I have been playing piano for over ten years. I dream about living in New
York City one day and that is why it is such an important part of this story. I plan
on studying international business because of my aspirations to travel the world
and I hope that major will suffice. Thank you for reading my short story and I hope