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FICTION: THE DEADLINE by Nadine Ducca Deharbe  

Posted by Scott Wilson

“I’m sorry sir, but the closing time to submit a proposal for Project Human Apocalypse was at three.” The civil servant smiled apologetically and slid my five-hundred-page project across the desk. I firmly pressed a tendril on the cover and, staring into her many eyes, pushed it back.

“I see what you’re saying but it’s barely five minutes past and I’ve been queuing for over an hour. Surely you’ll understand?”

She made no move to accept the papers.

“Please…” I glanced at her nametag. “Linda! What a beautiful name, Linda. Can’t you overlook the rules just this once and send it in? What’s five minutes, eh?”

But my weak attempt at cajoling had no effect.

“I’m truly sorry, sir. It’s too late. The evaluation committee is about to announce the winner.”

“Five minutes after closing the public tender?”

“They work in a different spacetime, you know.”

“Let me guess, Nuclear Holocaust –again. Why hold public tenders if the government always chooses the same proposal? A big day for creativity! Please, Linda, what I got here is original. I need to get it through!”

She shrugged and two of her eyes wandered down to the screen in front of her. I was obviously wasting her precious time.

“Sir, I’m not in the evaluation committee, although I am aware of the committee’s preference for Nuclear Holocaust. I assume it must be the most efficient method to delete a sentient race. Now please, if you would kindly-”

“Blowing up power plants is not efficient! The radiation renders the planet inhabitable for decades! Reconstruction costs are exorbitant! My project is tailored to destroy nothing but mankind! If you would only give it a chance!” I had missed by five minutes. Two years’ work down the drain because of five minutes. There had to be a way to make this right again. I had to convince her.

“In this dossier you’ll find a detailed account of the entire year I spent on Earth taking samples and learning the intricacies of human society. I know everything there is to know about them. Don’t you see? A million Nuclear Holocausts can’t compare to the sheer brilliance of what I have here!” I shoved the dossier a little closer to her, but she still refused to take it.

“Please, sir, I understand this must be hard for you after all your work but you are past the time limit and I need to keep the line moving.”

By now my tendrils were drumming against the edge of her desk. I had to bring her round –and fast.

“I’m begging you. Humans have no natural predators, no enemies other than themselves. So how do they combat their boredom? By fantasizing about their own demise! They are obsessed with creating invincible enemies, zombies to hunt them down! Their lives revolve around imaginary invasions and bloodshed. Zombie novels, zombie films; mankind’s passion for death is uncontrollable. It’s mad, I know, but here comes the brilliance. Humans like zombies? I can give them real zombies! A zombie invasion! Just look! Look at the first pages! It’s the perfect plan!”

My project, neatly bound in deluxe spiral coil, lay untouched on the desk. I knew I was starting to lose control of myself but I couldn’t help it, it was so unfair. It was just five minutes.

“A zombie invasion,” Linda repeated matter-of-factly.

“Yes! Of course!” I grasped the dossier and flipped through the pages. “It’s all in here! I’ve isolated the living dead viral strain! I’ve located strategic points from which to start the assault! I’ve studied it all! We abduct a mere two hundred humans, inject them with the strain and bam! We’ve got ourselves a zombie army! In a matter of weeks we can achieve an invasion! I’m talking about a class four outbreak! I’ve studied this! Humans might be obsessed with the living dead but they’re not prepared for an actual attack. It’s their unnerving sense of security working against them! Humans won’t know what to do until it’s too late.”

The civil servant blinked, closing one eye at a time until they were all properly moistened. She stared at me with a glimmer of pity. I was getting through to her; there could still be some hope. I had to keep going.

“Sir, I-”

“How much time and money does the government invest in rebuilding a planet after applying Nuclear Holocaust? How many innocent life forms are erased from existence because of one, intelligent but unwise, race? My plan avoids all that! Zombies are eco-friendly! I’ve adapted a strain which targets nothing but human beings so the planet’s ecosystem won’t suffer any damage. And if that weren’t enough, zombies are biodegradable! All we have to do is set them lose and once they’ve completed their work they will decompose and be absorbed into the soil. The planet will still be alive, wiped clean of humans, ready for us to implant a new sentient race.”

Linda tilted her head. “While that is all very interesting I’m afraid I’m not allowed to make any exceptions. A deadline is a deadline and you arrived five minutes late.”

“No, no! I won’t leave until you take this! I’m begging you.”

She smiled, now fully expressing her pity. “It seems you’ve put a lot of work into that. Why don’t you save it and present it at the next tender? In spring we’ll be deleting the Hexxon. If you overlook their six tentacles and scaly skin they’re pretty much like humans. Next, please.” She smiled and looked at the next citizen in line. I had already become invisible to her.

As I dragged my feet out the Office of Annihilation I noticed the billboard had lit up with news. As expected, Nuclear Holocaust had been chosen to eradicate the Earth of all Homo sapiens. There was no more I could do, so I tucked my project under my arm and held back tears of disappointment as I stepped out into the street.

Won’t they ever learn? It’s not right. It’s just not ecological. It’s just not…

This entry was posted on Saturday, April 9, 2011 at 11:34 PM . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

3 comments

Poor alien guy, he was just trying to do the task in a "humanly" way.
Nice work Nadine!

April 10, 2011 at 10:56 AM

Poor guy, he just wanted to achieve the task in a "humanly" way.
Nice work Nadine!

April 11, 2011 at 9:39 PM

Great work Nadine. Ironic , with a lot of imagination. Keep on writing

May 2, 2011 at 1:53 PM

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