‘Slashers,’ a Sci-Fi Short Story

Two small spherical objects, one red, the other blue, were flying through space in search of life. They entered the Milky Way, then our solar system, having already sensed life on Earth.

They had a kind of cloaking device, ensuring that we would not detect their imminent arrival. By the time they had passed Jupiter in their approach to Earth, they had already absorbed volumes of information about us, including our warlike nature.

The red and blue balls were not spaceships. They were intelligent, technologically-advanced life forms who communicated with each other in a kind of mental telepathy. This is what they said to each other about humanity.

RED: What a hateful, hostile, and cruel life form!
BLUE: Yes. They maim and kill each other, and they do the same to all the subordinate life forms.
RED: If they are allowed to keep living, they will only prolong their own suffering and that of every other life form on the planet.
BLUE: Yes. Ending all their lives quickly, rather than letting them slowly kill themselves, would be kindness to them. Any potential for good in them is far too scanted to compensate for all the evil. We must destroy them.

The balls descended on the Earth, passing through our atmosphere as undetected as before. Only when they hit the ground, with crashing thuds that caused dirt to fly in the air, did we become aware of their presence.

…and even then, instead of being alarmed by this new, alien intervention in our lives, we found ourselves mesmerized by them, too fascinated to be afraid. This hypnotic state was caused by the balls’ technology.

The balls had landed on a flat field about fifty yards apart from each other. They began rolling towards each other on the bumpy ground, slashing through the grass and cutting into the dirt, for as soon as they’d landed, sharp, bonelike spikes came out of the balls, each about ten centimeters in length.

A family having a picnic saw them rolling at each other and causing the sliced-up earth to fly in the air in jumping spots of brown. The father and his two sons of six and eight ran closer to get a better look.

“What are those things, Dad?” the eight-year-old asked.

“I have no idea, Ian,” his dad said.

The balls smashed into each other with a loud, metallic, clanging noise, making them bounce back the way they came. A strange odour emanated through the air beyond the man and his two boys, so that the mother, having remained back at the picnic layout of food on a quilt, also smelled it.

The entire family felt a little dizzy for a few seconds on inhaling the smell.

After that, the man and two boys came closer. The mother left the picnic area and joined them.

Rapt, all four of them watched the spiked red and blue balls roll at each other again.

“Dad,” Ian asked, “did they just get a bit bigger?”

“Yeah, it looks that way,” the father said. “First, they were about the size of basketballs. Now, they’re a bit bigger than the size of medicine balls. The spikes are proportionately longer, too.”

“They’re fighting, aren’t they, Daddy?” the six-year-old asked.

“It looks that way, Jimmy,” Dad said.

“I hope the red one wins,” said Ian.

“So do I,” Dad said.

“Yeah, well, I’m rooting for the blue one,” Mom said.

“Me, too, Mommy,” Jimmy said.

The balls smashed into each other again, making another terrible, deafening metallic sound. All four family members winced and covered their ears. Nonetheless, they were enjoying the show…especially after breathing in more of that alien smell, which wafted in the air in a light pink smoke.

“Could they be aliens?” Ian asked. “Y’know, like Transformers?”

“Could be,” Dad said. “They got bigger again.”

Indeed, the diameter of the balls was the length of the man’s torso, from his waist to his neck. Each time they raced at each other, it was from a distance in between that grew in proportion to the growth in their size. As they accelerated at each other, the family anticipated the noise of the coming crash by covering their ears.

Some other people, coming by car, stopped and got out, then ran in the tall grass to get a closer look at the growing, clashing balls. They smelled the pink fumes and quickly chose sides to root for.

The dirt being dug up and flying in the air looked like swarms of insects. The balls smashed together again, causing a painful ringing in everyone’s ears.

Still, the people couldn’t take their eyes off the spectacle.

They breathed in more of the pink fumes, and felt themselves, after a brief dizziness, more and more hypnotized, transfixed by the battling balls.

“Come on, Blue!” the mother called out.

“Yeah, go, Blue, go!” Jimmy shouted.

“No way!” Ian said. “Red is better! Go, Red!”

Blue is better!” Jimmy shouted, snarling at his older brother. “Red sucks!”

“It does not!” Ian said, frowning hatefully down at Jimmy. “Blue is the one that sucks!”

Red sucks! Blue’s the best!”

Red is the best! Blue sucks!”

Red sucks!” Jimmy kicked Ian in the knee.

“You little bastard!” Ian gave Jimmy a hard shove, throwing the little boy down in the grass and banging his back against a sharp rock.

Jimmy’s bawling was completely ignored by his older brother and parents, who continued watching the clashing balls, which were now of the diameter of the father’s height. Since with every bouncing back after a collision, the ever-growing balls were proportionately widening their distance from each other, now they were slashing more than just the grass and dirt of the field. Groves of trees on both extreme ends of the field were being mown down by the balls.

The fascinated spectators, breathing more and more of the increasingly potent pink fumes, were now stepping forward, closer and closer to the action, utterly oblivious to the danger they were subjecting themselves to. That family was closest to those spiked balls, but the people who’d arrived later in their cars weren’t far behind.

All of them were chanting “Red! Red! Red!” or “Blue! Blue! Blue!” as they got perilously closer.

The supporters of the red ball came together in a group, as did the supporters of the blue ball. None of them gave a second’s thought to being crushed under the weight of the balls, or of being slashed by the spikes.

They all just kept chanting their colour and walking closer.

By now, those groves of trees were completely torn into fragments and shards of brown and green, lying in a mess on the ground. The balls were three times the size of the tallest of their watchers.

Jimmy was the first to be killed, crushed under the blue ball that he’d been rooting for. He’d shown no fear at all as he, ever-mesmerized, walked under it. His mother, equally unafraid and in a daze, would die next, her body sliced in two by a spike from her beloved blue ball.

Ian would then get crushed under the red ball, one of whose spikes would stab his father through his chest, the bloody point going far out of his back.

Indeed, the balls deliberately calculated their moves, as well as the moves of the people, to ensure every one, without exception, was killed by the very ball they were cheering for, as a kind of cruel irony.

In the end, the entire field was turned into a mash-up of brown, green, and red.

And the balls just continued rolling at each other from farther and farther away from each other, then clashing, then growing again.

By the time they were three times the size of a barn, they’d both crashed into and destroyed several barns and houses. The occupants of these, as mesmerized by the pink gas as the first group of people were, all were crushed, stabbed into, or bisected…all without even one scream of terror.

No police or army made the slightest attempt to stop the red and blue balls. Nobody in the news media, mainstream or alternative, uttered a word of warning, though all media reported on the phenomenon as if it were the most riveting of entertainment. Indeed, all anyone did in response to the balls’ presence was to go over and look with fascination, or if too far away, to watch it on TV, read about it online or in newspapers or magazines, or hear about it on the radio.

All of those who watched the clashing in person, of course, breathed in the pink fumes and became all the more enthralled with the spectacle.

Within an hour of the entire event, the balls had grown to the point of their diameters equalling the height of apartment buildings. By this time, they were rolling through cities on either side of that field, crushing and destroying houses and skyscrapers far faster than any wrecking balls could.

Still, there was no hope of any resistance from the people, who just stared at the rolling, slashing, and crushing like mindless zombies. A mass chanting of “Red! Red! Red!” and “Blue! Blue! Blue!” could be heard throughout both cities.

Any words or actions other than these were those of people fighting with each other for cheering on the ‘wrong’ colour. This fighting would end when the supporters of either ball wandered into their respective groups, always chanting the colour of their choice.

…until that colour crushed, slashed, or stabbed into them.

And with all that clashing into each other, neither ball had even one, ever-so-tiny, scratch on its red or blue surface.

Still, the supporters of each side imagined the other ball to be losing. With each clash, the supporters of Red would watch Blue bounce back as if badly damaged, and would pay no mind to how Red would bounce back with equal force, though Blue’s supporters would watch Red’s bouncing back and ignore Blue’s.

The people would argue these absurdities:

“Ooh! Red took a real beating that time.”

“You mean Blue took the beating.”

“No, Red did! Blue doesn’t even have a scratch.”

Red doesn’t have even a scratch! Are you blind?”

“Are you blind?”

Then the two would have a fistfight.

…yet, as I said, neither ball had even one scratch.

By the time the spiked balls’ diameters had equalled the height of the tallest buildings in the world, they were now rolling back and forth way beyond the widths of fields or cities, but now back along the entire width of the North American continent, from the east coast to the west, destroying everything and killing everyone, man, woman, and child, in their path.

Nobody felt any fear when coming dangerously close to the paths rolled on; all anyone ever did was watch, on TV or in person, and cheer for his or her colour.

When the red ball went back beyond the west coast and across the Pacific Ocean, as when the blue ball went past the east coast and across The Atlantic Ocean, both balls flew across the surfaces of the water, not sinking down into it…though their spikes managed to slash into or stab much of the marine life.

By the time the balls, in their rolling back from clashes, had reached the shores of northern Asia and Europe, they’d grown monstrously huge, easily visible from space. Blue rolled through Paris, killing everyone to a man and destroying every piece of architecture there; one would never see the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe again. Red went through the Great Wall of China, smashing a huge section of it to pieces.

The pink fumes by now had spread around the world, ensuring that not one person could resist being enthralled by the spectacle. No one even flinched at the sight of crushed cities or massacred people from the ceaseless rolling and clashing of those two ever-growing juggernauts. People imagined they saw damage only on the ball they were opposed to.

Once the balls had been rolling so wide apart that they were clashing twice at a time, that is, rolling so far back that they’d roll all the way around the world, to clash once in North America, then in Kazakhstan, they’d grown to be each about a sixth of the size of the Earth, excluding their proportionally lengthening spikes, which were digging deep into the ground and ripping it up.

Now that they were rolling along the entire diameter of the Earth, the balls changed the direction of the rolling, to destroy the rest of the planet. No longer tearing up just the north, they shifted more and more southward, slashing into southern Europe and Asia, ripping through all of the US, mutilating Africa, and destroying Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean islands.

…and all the (momentary) survivors did was continue watching in awe, never budging from their TVs, computer screens, tablets, or–so to speak–front-row seats.

When nuclear arsenals got smashed into, the destruction their explosions caused was insignificant compared to what the balls were doing.

By the time the balls were starting to roll across the southern hemisphere, slashing into the northern countries of South America, central Africa, Indonesia, and the northernmost tip of Australia, the balls and their spikes had grown so much that they were tearing the Earth up into chunks of rock that broke away. The planet no longer even remotely resembled a sphere; instead, it was looking more and more like an asteroid field with a huge chunk of jagged rock in the middle.

…and the ever-so-few survivors, the remainder of their lives now so pitifully brief, only continued staring at the giant balls…if their electricity and Wi-Fi were still working. If not, they just stared mindlessly at black screens, unmoving.

Once everything was essentially destroyed, the balls pulled in their spikes, floated away from the chunks of Earth–smashing into a number of now-useless satellites–and shrank back to their original sizes.

As they flew out of the solar system, they reflected on what they’d just done.

RED: Now the people of Earth know true happiness, as they could ever have it.
BLUE: Yes. They have death to enjoy.

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