I saved a whole planet one time. I got fired for it, of course. Usually I’m either supposed to enslave them or destroy them. I really don’t know what possessed me.
I’d never seen such primitives before. I shouldn’t have hesitated from wiping the whole world clean. If only I’d acted sooner, I wouldn’t have ended up in the unemployment line. That’s the downside to being a planet reaper. You can’t delay. I don’t mean to complain, but they never give you time to stop and think.
And so there I was on this decaying world, finding it hard to get focused. I needed to start my next run soon or I wouldn’t make my quota. The first problem I needed to tackle was their unwavering optimism. It was obvious by looking in on their broadcasts that they were certain they were all part of a bigger plan. I scanned thousands of frequencies and shook my head. Without me, they might end up destroying themselves — and taking out half the known universe with them.
“Hey, Porter, you there?” I said, picking up my space-link communicator. “You ain’t gonna believe the place I landed on this time. I think I found another name for Pandora.”
“Hard. Man, you are hard. Give ’em a chance. Remember what I was able to do with Huriopa? That place was a lost cause until I straightened it out. Just tell them the truth: submit or die. If they’re smart, they’ll realize loyalty is the only option.”
“Oh, the signal must be breaking up. I thought I heard you say you’d like to swing by here and do this planet a favor. Is that correct?”
“You know I can’t do that. The rules are the rules. Just keep your head up. Hey, I gotta run. Things are getting a bit rushed here. All these new reapers coming straight from the academy, they just don’t get it. They aren’t motivated to turn out the kind of quality work a seasoned planet master like you can deliver. Catch you on the return path, bud.”
I looked out over the horizon of my new world and watched the sun rise. It was beautiful the way the light broke into hues across my goggles. Maybe there was a chance for this place yet. I just needed to convince them to follow me into submission. But still, I hesitated. Perhaps happiness was an important part of the equation. We’d been enslaving and destroying planets for thousands of years and it hadn’t gotten us anywhere.
I could feel the spirit growing in me. Porter had been right. I was good at what I did. I had a knack for knowing just the right way to tweak a world. For this place, I was going to let free will decide. I was going to walk away and not do a single thing.
And guess what? It turned out that I was right. They eventually figured it out and transcended their primitive ways. And their happiness spread across the universe. It blew my mind the way they advanced and made peace with other civilizations. But my boss didn’t see it that way. I failed to deliver free souls and was let go. Deep down inside, though, I know I did the right thing.
If you ever get the chance, check out a little planet called Earth. You won’t regret it. And remember, when you’re standing on the street corner fishing some coins out of your pocket to put in my cup, I did that. I made that planet come alive. That was me. I’m not really such a devil after all.