“It’s wrong to me, no matter how you frame it.”
We were back in the hotel room, although now that I could see the gaping hole in the room showing the massive cavern outside it felt far less safe or private. But at least it had a comfortable couch and was far away from any curious Mi-Go or the other human living spaces. Including the slums we had recently visited, where people lived like animals in this human zoo for the benefit of their alien captors.
“It’s is wrong to you, yes. That’s the point,” replied Suzy, opening the fridge and taking a bottle of orange juice, which she poured onto two glasses. “It is your point of view that makes it so.”
“Well, my point of view matters! It’s my choice that decides how we save people from the end of the world… Isn’t it?” I nervously fidgeted with a pillow, glaring at Suzy. “Or is that a lie as well?”
She sighed. “The Mi-Go will continue their experiment with or without our support. Nothing can be done there. What I am offering is this.” She gestured at the room we were in, her arms wide. “This place, this hotel. Here the survivors you choose will live happily for the rest of their lives. A small paradise, all thanks to you.”
“Rest of their lives...” I repeated, a note of despair creeping into my voice.
“They’re planning on releasing a few of them back into ‘the wild’, as they say. Especially offspring, or once they’ve got all the data they want. But others will still be kept here...”
“Under the thumb of the Mi-Go? As experiments?” I frowned. “You said this place could hold a thousand people… Is that the best we can do?”
“The ones inside this resort will be treated exactly as you wish. Nothing will be done to them without your consent. The others, however, are testing grounds for the Mi-Go.” She offered me a glass of orange juice, and my anger at her fought against my growling stomach, before losing. No point in being petty. I accepted the glass and drank from it, considering her words.
“Testing grounds,” I repeated with a flat tone.
“Nothing too sinister. As Wolfy said, they want to study, not torture.” She replied.
“But they still see nothing wrong with putting people in slums or seeing people… Abused. Or worse,” I said.
“As opposed to how little they suffered back on earth?” Her smile had an edge to it, and her words had barbs.
“It’s different!” I barked back. “Over there, people suffer because we fuck up, ok? Because humans fuck up everything, from society to morality, to everything else. In fact, it took us thousands of years to learn how to fuck up a little less each time, and not slaughter each other for food. That’s already a huge progress. But this? To be treated like… Guinea pigs? For the amusement of creatures they can’t even see?” I took a deep breath, yet my anger still boiled within me, so strongly I felt myself shake with emotion. “Yeah, people in slums back on earth may live in shitty conditions, but even the weakest, poorest person has a tiny chance of changing their lives. Over here? There is no freedom. Stuck in a place forever. And worse, people don’t even know they are not free. It’s… It’s a damn good definition of hell is you ask me.”
“They will do it regardless of what you decide, Cody. Neither you, nor I, will do anything about it.” Her voice was still calm, no anger or reproach, but also inflexible. She seemed uninterested in me and went to cupboard and started rummaging through it, not even bothering to look at me.
“You promised… You promised to help me,” I muttered, my voice low. Almost pleading. She ignored me completely.
“Ooh, they have gingerbread men! I love these!” She took a red box triumphantly from the cupboard and brought it while she opened it, tossing a gingerbread man into her mouth and cheerfully chewing it.
“Is this the best we can do?” I refused the other cookie she offered, while staring at nothing in particular. She popped the second cookie into her mouth as well. “Sending a bunch of people to live in a resort while their memories are scrambled? Is that our happy ending?”
“Are you complaining because I’m sending people to a resort? Talk about picky!” She punctuated her sarcastic statement with a chuckle, spraying gingerbread crumbs all over her own lap.
I narrowed my eyes as we stood still for a moment, silently staring at each other. “I’m complaining because you won’t do anything about the people suffering in those other chambers.”
In an instant she was in front of me, her face so close I could almost touch, in a manic grin that had me jump back.
“Oh? So what do you propose I do? Force the Mi-Go to do your bidding? Massacre them until they obey? ” She raised a hand to her cheek in mocking shock as I drew back.. “I’m surprised, Cody! Didn’t think you had it in you!”
“That’s… Not what I said,” I retorted, after hesitating. “I just want those people captured by the Mi-Go to be happy. And for them to be free”
“So? Should I snap my fingers and make them happy?”She maintained the same manic smile inches from my face. She did not even blink, and was so close I could see the veins in her eyes. “What about the people on earth? Those suffering from poverty, abuse, war and starvation? Should I snap my fingers and make them happy too?”
I bumped my chair back to move further away. “Ok, enough with the creepy smile. What are you, the Joker?”
She backed away silently, slowly taking another gingerbread man from kept staring at me.
“I could do it, you know,” she said, staring fixedly at me. “Give everyone on earth complete happiness and utter, absolute satisfaction. Just say the word, Cody.”
I fidgeted nervously, before answering her.
“Look, I’m not asking for their lives to be perfect, unending happiness. And knowing you, the result of THAT wish would probably be fucked up.” She laughed at that comment. “But you can’t expect me to see these people being hurt and not want to help?”
She spoke nothing at first, instead sitting on the sofa and chewing on another gingerbread man without breaking eye contact. The silence that followed was tense on my part as she studied me, cocking her head inquisitively, as if debating whether to speak something important or not. Finally she swallowed her bite, and smiled.
“Cody,” she said at last. “Do you have any idea why I’ve suggested this as the first method of salvation? To have another, alien species rescue the humans and preserve them with barely any of my assistance?”
“Because you can’t do it by yourself?” I asked with a shrug.
“Actually, I could save humanity quite easily, without any help from the Mi-Go. Without even absorbing their memories. I could take them someplace far away, where they would be safe. Keep them happy. So… Why don’t I do it? Why don’t I accomplish your precious wish quickly so I am no longer bound to you?”
“Because you’re a dick?” I shrugged again.
She sniggered, but did not take her eyes off me, letting my stupid reply hang uncomfortably in the air.
“I am older than your sun by orders of magnitude, and could save or destroy billions with a thought,” she said, smiling. “I can create life, or erase someone from existence with barely an effort. I can create worlds, or end them. What would humanity call a being such as I?”
“A huge jerk?” Was my sarcastic response, but I wasn’t smiling at this point. This conversation unnerved me.
“A god,” she whispered, and she opened her hand to me, revealing the gingerbread man on her hand. Then, as I stared in unnerved silence, the gingerbread man started moving, and slowly got himself upright, while wavering and unbalanced. It seemed to look at her, then back at me. It seemed aware of its surroundings, doing soft whistling noises as it looked around.
“Even now,” she continued, looking intently at the gingerbread man standing on her hand, ”there are people on Earth that worship me. Or some of the other beings such as I. Shub Niggurath. Yog-Sothoth. Cthulhu. Even that moron, Nyarlathotep, has a cult, and if a shithead like him can do it then anyone can! But you humans are lucky in being mostly unnoticed by the elder beings. Inimportant. Untouched. Pristine,” she said, affectionately petting the gingerbread man in the head. It seemed to enjoy it, even making soft cooing noises.
“I’ve also seen people praying to a toast because one of the burned sides looked like a Jesus face,” I replied. “Being worshipped doesn’t make you special.”
“Maybe not, but our presence near humans distorts them with everything we do,” she said, gripping the gingerbread so hard its legs crumbled away from its body. The gingerbread man seemed to react in pain, wriggling and making small, distressed noises, much like soft sighs, while struggling to break free from Suzy’s grip, but it was futile. “Not only would the knowledge of a God like me strip away much of humanity’s independence and sanity, as they turn to worship me or quake in fear or my presence… But I also confess a certain attraction to interacting with human beings. Touching their simple minds and fragile bodies. Or looking at their they reactions when I mess with them a little.” She playfully grabbed the gingerbread man by the head and idly twirled it in the air, making it spin. Crumbs flew everywhere as the thing got louder and more panicked in its noises.
“So.” She stopped twirling immediately, grabbing the gingerbread man firmly and leaving only the head exposed. “Letting me rescue a lot of humans, revealing myself in the process, and then leaving them all at my mercy until the danger has passed? A god being given the care of such weak, small creatures that are so delightfully interesting and tasty?” She smiled unpleasantly, looking at the gingerbread man. “Sorry, but I don’t think I’ll be able to stop myself.”
She then threw the gingerbread man into her mouth and chewed cheerfully, ignoring the noise and struggles of the gingerbread man while it tried to avoid being eaten, all to no avail. Suzy looking at me with a smiling expression as I stared back, dead silent.
“Well that was horrifying,” I replied, trying my best to appear nonchalant. I could still hear the noises the gingerbread thing had made, before it was devoured.
“In my experience a race coming close to a god is not a good thing,” she said, calmly pulling another gingerbread man from the box. This one was immobile. “When one gets too close, well… Interaction is inevitable, and the weaker race always suffers.”
“Therefore, saving humanity through the Mi-Go is better than through you,” I spoke softly, looking at the crumbs on the floor.
“Yup, best for everyone involved,” she said through another mouthful of gingerbread. “I keep a strict policy of intervening as little as possible. Small groups mostly. Actors and their audiences.” She smiled at that comment, a smile sprinkled with gingerbread crumbs.
I ignored the bait. “How very considerate of you to leave us alone. You get my vote for nicest eldritch abomination ever,” was my sarcastic reply.
She still smiled, completely calm. “Nothing to do with being nice,” she replied.
“Why do you leave most of humanity alone then?” I asked
She did not reply immediately, but rose from the sofa and looked down at me with her usual, crazed grin.
“I have absorbed countless lives in my existence,” she said, and suddenly her face shifted, skin swelling and shrinking and changing color in a kaleidoscope as her face shifted into a thousand other faces, variations and expressions. Her face flowed into a different face with every word she said, and she spoke, “I have memories of every crime imaginable, and some you would not even comprehend. Different races, different creatures, different minds. Different lives. Kindness, cruelty, miracles and despair, I have seen all that and more!”
Her voice shifted into an ever-changing chorus, female and male voices, some distinctly young or old, some angry, others calm, yet others cheerful. A cacophony in perfect unison. “I have seen,” the chorus said, “the tapestry of life in all its forms. Its triumphs and comedies and tragedies. And I. LOVE. IT!” And the ever-changing faces all smiled, until the smile was the only constant thing in the shifting faces.
“I love it when humans grasp and struggle for their happiness, or for the happiness of those they love! How they fight and wrestle the whole world for their happiness, even if it means tearing and destroying other people’s happiness! I love it when they make themselves unhappy in their search for happiness, and find happiness without even knowing what it is! I love how humans fear death and fear each other and fear themselves. I love when humans fall in love, and grow to hate and numb their emotions with drugs or numb them in despair until they feel nothing at all. I love wars, I love sex, I love births and celebrations and mourning, oh! The mourning! What lovely rituals you have for mourning! All the fear and love and life and death and… Drama! I love it all!”
She let out a laugh, and the chorus laughed and cried out, each in their own individual laughters. The world laughed with her. She lifted her arms theatrically. “How could I change or ruin humanity. How could I destroy such a lovely play as a life seen through its mind?” She continued. “What a marvelous dance, with infinite variations on such simple steps! There could be no other entertainment greater than that! No better comedy, no worse tragedy, than the hodgepodge mess of a single! Mortal! Existence!!!”
And with those words she finally coalesced back into her familiar form, long blonde hair and wide mouth than held the smile from before as she remained in the same dramatic pose, two hands held high in the air mid-gesture.
“Nice speech,” I said. “A little over the top though. You could have just said ‘watching human lives’ is your version of Netflix. I get it.”
She dropped her dramatic pose immediately, putting her hand on the pocket of her hoodie while slouching against a wall, but she did not seem upset. “It’s way better than Netflix,” she said, smiling.
“So is that your deal?” I asked, breaking the silence. “You get off on watching people’s lives? Is that what we are to you? Entertainment?”
Her smile widened. “Yes.”
“Well that explains a lot,” I said, before letting out a sigh, looking away for a moment to collect myself. I didn’t want to give her the benefit of a reaction. Looking at her gormlessly in awe, or scowling at her in anger. That accomplished nothing, and worse, apparently she enjoyed it. I took a deep breath.
“What about me?” I asked, bluntly to her face.
“What do mean?” she asked, looking innocently back at me. It was almost convincing, until she broke into another snickering grin.
“You revealed yourself to me. Offered me the whole wish thing. Why? Why mess with me, then? After all this talk of not interfering with humanity.”
“Oh that. Well...” She shrugged, taking the last gingerbread man from the box. “The actors read my book, so they accepted me into their minds. Their fates were sealed. But then I saw you during the play, watched you struggle so desperately, fighting off all my other loyal actors. Killing them one by one, despite being so weak, so close to death. And I confess I… Found myself thoroughly entertained by you.” She smiled while slowly eating another gingerbread man. She did not take her eyes off me or stop smiling, even as she chewed.
I fidgeted nervously. “Should I do a little dance then? Would that entertain you more?”
“Oh no,” she replied, completely serious. “There’s no need for that! All you have to do to entertain me is… Act normally.”
She placed the empty box on table in front of her. All the gingerbread men had been eaten.