Chuck Wendig: Gesture

This week’s Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge is called A World Without Guns.  I think that’s pretty self-explanatory.  He gave us 1500 words, but I only used 495.  I wanted to make it longer, but it didn’t need to be.  Please to enjoy “Gesture”.

GESTURE

 

The world awoke, time zone by time zone, nation by nation, and gradually became aware that everything had changed.

All the guns were gone.

Soldiers, policemen, hunters, bangers, arms dealers, just regular people, it didn’t matter.  Handguns, shotguns, rifles, it made no difference.  Whether the gun was legal or illegal, all were affected.

All the guns were gone.

The manufactories still operated, but as soon as a finished weapon came off the line it simply vanished.  There was no explanation for any of it.

All the guns were gone.

Humans being humans it didn’t take long to realize that the world had changed, but really, it hadn’t changed as much as you would think.  The guns may have disappeared but there were still knives and arrows and other things laying around.  There were plenty of options remaining.

It didn’t take much longer for warfare to return to the form it had taken since time immemorial—men on horseback and on foot swinging swords and axes and thrusting spears.  There was still crime and other mayhem as well.  It was just clumsier.  Using a hunting bow to shoot up a suburban high school proved to be a lot less practical than using a rifle, for example, but people still tried from time to time.

The world didn’t revert to full-on barbarism as some had feared it would.  At least, not until someone realized that the missiles were still there and were a lot more effective than a legion of swordsmen.

 

In orbit high above the surface of Earth, the Senovan assimilation ship Bezoar looked down on the burning of human civilization.  Its crew filled the observation decks and watched in amazement and sadness as line after line streaked up out of the planet’s atmosphere and fell again, hundreds or thousands of miles away.  New flashes illuminated the planet’s surface.  The flames were beginning to be visible from space.

The Arbiter looked obliquely at the Steersman.  Her secondary hands spread in a shrug.  The Steersman returned the gesture.  “I thought it would work,” the Arbiter said.

“It’s worked everywhere else,” said the Steersman.

“It’s a wonder these people ever reached their moon.  How they managed that I will never know.”  Another glance out at the haze-shrouded planet below showed how true that statement was.

“What do we do now?”

The Arbiter made another futile gesture towards the window.  “What else can we do?  They’re clearly in no condition to accept the other gifts that we bear.  We thought we had disarmed them.  We tried to give them peace.  They didn’t want it.”  Her tone turned contemptuous.  “They have no place in our sky.”  With a final dismissive gesture she turned her back on the window and the planet that spun by outside it.  “Take us home.”

Bezoar turned, bearing a cargo of scientific and technological marvels that it would never unload and an invitation to adventure and exploration that it would never extend, and left Earth behind.

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