Please, Stop Asking


A little story I wrote that has nothing to do with any pre-existing character. Any resemblance is distracting, and would require me to try to actually sound like that character and capture their essence which was not the point of this story. Anyway, I think it’s pretty fun.


Please, Stop Asking

Stop. Don’t even say anything. I know why you’re here. It’s obvious from the fluctuations in your galvanic skin response. From the anxious teeming of neural firing in your sympathetic nervous systems. From the way you’re sweating.

Besides, why else would you be here? You only come here for one reason. Every other week, it seems like, ever since you all found out where it is. This was supposed to be my special place. I brought a single person here, and this is what happened. It’s not that I don’t care about you. I think I’ve proven that more than enough times. It’s about trust. It’s about appreciation. And there’s only one reason you people come here.

It’s never to invite me to dinner at the White House. To offer me an award for my services. I’m not asking for a Liberty-sized statue or anything. Just a simple award, to show that you give a damn. Hell, I probably wouldn’t even accept the award. But you could offer. It’s not like you couldn’t offer.

No, don’t say anything. You’d say anything right now, the way you are. You’d promise me anything. You’re panicking, and what you say now doesn’t matter. You’ve had plenty of time to say all of those things, and mean them. I know what you are going to say, and I’m going to give you what I hope is the last response I’ll ever give to this question, even though I’m not naïve enough to think it actually will be.

It’s a request. A simple request, and it’s this. Please, stop asking. I’ll say it again. Please, for the love of whatever divine power or higher purpose each of you might hold to, stop asking me to save the world.

I’m not saying I won’t do it. I’m not saying that. I’m insulted that you would think that’s what I mean, after everything I’ve done. After all of the times I’ve done it without being asked or thanked. Oh, okay, fine, some of you have thanked me. But never once have I saved this planet, or any part of it, from destruction, mutilation, or enslavement without a wave of criticism so enormous that even I’d have trouble stopping it. You’ll accuse me of focus on the wrong incident. Or of not saving enough of you. Or of causing property damage.

Lately, there’s an entire set of memes with a zoomed in photo of my face during the Thief of Eternity incident–that stupid photo where my hair looks like two badgers trying to maim each other–accusing me of causing the ludicrous number of near-catastrophic events that have fallen on this clumsy rock these last few years. Me! It’s my fault that the radiation from a sentient pulsar almost boiled the planet into so much overcooked kale? Or that the thing that hatched from the Earth’s core after 4.5 billion years of gestation decided to wake up and drink the mantle? And what about that German fellow, the one you all thought was dead? He spent 60 years calibrating those clockwork mechanisms across the world to line up with that planetary conjunction. 60 years. If you’ll notice, that stretches back to before I was born.

Okay, I confess, I am responsible for part of how those events played out. Specifically, the part where you are not all dead, and your species and entire biosphere relegated to a badly translated footnote in the Encyclopedia Galactica’s Book of Useless Facts.

Sure, I’ll be the first to admit that there’ve been an awful lot of invasions by extra-temporal conquerors lately. And attempts to devour your souls. Or replace your DNA with fungus. The point is, it’s been a bad time. I know that. I know how difficult that is for you. But blaming me? The person who stops it all? You sound like the guy at the office Christmas party who gets rejected every one of his female coworkers and decides they must all be lesbians. Have you considered that maybe the problem is…you?

Again, I’m not saying I’m not going to save you. But you know what, I’m not saying I’ll do it, either. That’s what you want to hear, and you haven’t earned that. That’s just taking me for granted, and I’m not going to live like that. Not any more.

Oh, I know what you’re going to say. “But we’re going to die, we’re going to die!” Cry me a river. You think I haven’t heard that before? I mean, homeless people need to eat, but you probably step over them on the way to your cushy corner office. How is this any different? Do you think the universe at large would care that the planet that brought them Threes Company got wiped off the interstellar map? I assure you, they wouldn’t. They’ve got the DVDs.

It’s not like I don’t have other things to do with my life. Oh, you never even imagined that, did you? You don’t care about me except when I’m punching things into subatomic dust. But I have another life aside from saving your collective asses. I’m playing a lot of MOBAs these days. I have a Twitch channel, and no, I’m not going to tell you what my username is. And I have a boyfriend, now. Yes, a boyfriend. Why shouldn’t I? It’s not like I’m remotely the same species as you are. Why should I conform to your tired gender roles? Hell, you don’t even seem to be doing that anymore. Good riddance.

And another thing, you know that swarm of stellar piranhas that showed up around Thanksgiving? You know how I finally got rid of them? You never asked about that, did you?. Just happy they weren’t going to ruin your Macy’s Day Parade. I lured them to a distant star, one orbited by a now lifeless planet that used to be inhabited by a bunch up upright-walking hairless apes. Sound familiar? It was the only thing I knew would tempt them. By using a machine I built out of the remains of derelict precursor vessels I picked up and assembled while they gave chase, I tricked the piranhas into flying into the star. And then I devoured it. The entire star. I didn’t know if I could do that. I didn’t know if I could survive, but I did it anyway. For you. Because it was the only thing I knew could stop them.

And you know what? It was glorious. A moment of transcendent sublimity a million times greater than pleasure, a billion times more magnificent than love. And for one eternal, impossible instant of fractured time, I experienced the truth and beauty behind the everything. I saw the tiniest sliver of the meaning of it all. This messy, sharp, painful universe of children with bone cancer and premature ejaculation actually made sense. It mattered, despite the seeming futility of life, despite the agony we all suffer, I caught the tiniest glimmer or purpose, and I realized it isn’t all for nothing, after all.

Then it was done. It was gone, and it’s nothing but the memory. But I could get it back. I could complete the puzzle, and maybe fix this awful mess of a reality, if only I could taste it again. I think that maybe that’s what I’m for. That this might be my real purpose, what I could do to fix this broken universe, rather than just stitching up this tiny corner whenever it starts to bleed. Oh, don’t give me that look. I’m not going to eat your sun. I’m not a monster. But there are others like it out there. It’s a very large universe, even for me. I could look. I could find them.

But I won’t. Because of you. Because you are so helpless. I just know that twenty minutes after I left here your oceans would wake into sentience and decide to hug you all into a Kevin Costner movie. Or some idiot with an internet connection and no stable social relationships would build a bomb to turn your atmosphere into peanut butter. Or some gray squirrel in a park somewhere would transform into an omnipotent and angry god. Again.

So here I am. And you know that I’m going to do it again. And again. Because I am who I am. Power doesn’t give you any more choices in life. Not really. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to sell self-help seminars. So you’d better get out of my way and let me do my job. There’s a world to save, and no one else is going to do it. Just try to show a little appreciation next time. Bring a fellow a craft beer, or something. And for Pete’s sake please, please, please, just stop asking.


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