This story is by Zenani Fogg and was part of our 2016 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the Winter Writing Contest stories here.
“What could Her Excellency want with this primitive world?”
“I have no idea! Just look at this data; their technology is severely subpar for their life span.”
“Maybe Her Excellency has some genocidal plan,” Franc chuckled.
“That’s near blasphemy Franc! But it is sort of funny.”
“I’ve found it! We’re ready Majda.”
Franc and Majda had spent the last 42 days searching for the correct time path to visit Earth. As military commanders their job entailed extensive research of other worlds. Consequently, their knowledge of the planet was limited to government records. Her Excellency tasked them with traveling to Earth prior to human extinction. Why? They never asked, questioning Her Excellency would be grounds for dismissal, which on Planet Ir meant to be ostracized from society.
“Ready Maj. Solar year?”
“Copy that Franc. Solar year 1938.”
“Departure in 3-2-1!”
Franc and Majda arrived on a military base, due to the portal’s time-match coding they were able to blend in. Everyone seemed normal to them; maybe Earth was not such a primitive world.
“Eh boy, you lost?”
“Excuse me officer?”
“You lost boy? This ain’t your station. The colored base is round ‘bout 20 miles south on Route 1.”
Perplexed, Franc and Majda exchanged glances. They knew their cover was not blown. They spent nearly a century in time portal travel; it was a perfected science. However, Franc had never been addressed as ‘boy’.
“Listen, I reckon y’all don’t want no parts a trouble. So get outta here.” The sergeant motioned towards the adjacent lot while the two aliens nodded in consent. As high ranking officers they had never been dismissed in such way.
Entering the parking area they sought out a vehicle. “Which of these interesting automobiles shall we commandeer Franc?”
“This blue one should do.” The two climbed into a blue Lincoln and began configuring their global positioning equipment.
“Washington, DC. The Capitol building. ETA?”
“Eight Earth hours, traveling northbound, constant speed of fifty miles per hour. It’s slow, but it is within their speed regulations. We will need to stop at the next fueling station, the automobile is low on petroleum.”
As the two continued their journey the global positioning unit directed them to a nearby gas station. Upon parking, an old black man with a silver beard approached their car wearing a broad wrinkled smile.
“Hey folks! This sure is a mighty fine car y’all got here!”
“Hello sir. Thank you.”
“I s’pose y’all in need of some gas. Lord knows I sho glad you stopped here and not down yonder. Good grief they give us folks trouble. I’m sho glad we got us this here Green Book. I got me an advertisement this year. Got much mo business and I’m helping my folks out! We gotta stick together!”
Franc and Majda were dumbfounded once again. Why was he so much more kind than the sergeant? What was this green book? Why was he so relieved that they stopped at his establishment? Earth began to seem more complex than they bargained for.
“I can tell y’all from outta town. Here, lemme get y’all a Green Book.”
As the man finished pumping gas he shuffled back into his store and emerged with a small green book titled “The Negro Motorist Green Book”.
Receiving the book, Majda thanked the old man and handed it to Franc. He then flipped through the pages in preparation to soothe his curiosity.
“Sir…we are appreciative of this offering. And yes, we are away from home. But…what is a negro?”
The old man bent over bellowing with laughter.
“Ooooooooweeeeee! Now that there gotta be the best laugh I had today! You sir is a negro! Just as black as me!”
The two sat in bewilderment; they had never experienced racial prejudice and their research of Earth showed no evidence of racial tension. What the pair did not know was that human history had been altered over time to rid written records of the blemishes of hatred.
The old man went on to explain that his gas station was for blacks to shop or purchase gas without hassle. He told them how lucky they were to have stopped since their fuel was low. The next colored station was another 50 miles ahead; they would have never made it. Being left stranded on Route 1 at twilight would easily turn fatal. He shared chilling tales of black travelers being assaulted and run out of white establishments for being the wrong color in the wrong place.
Majda absorbed each word; becoming fearful of her presence in this new world. Franc however, was as tough as nails. After two centuries of living he had never succumbed to fear; he would not start now. Annoyed, he interjected that it was time to journey onwards. The helpful old man bid them farewell, reassuring them that the Green Book would not steer them wrong and pleading with them to be careful.
The two sped along Route 1 in a dense silence, Franc broke the stillness and blared, “WE ARE NOT QUITTERS MAJDA! WE HAVE A MISSION THAT WE WILL COMPLETE! I DO NOT GIVE A DAMN WHAT THAT DECREPIT OLD MAN SAYS. WE ARE NOT COLORED OR BLACK OR NEGRO, BUT THE GREAT STOCK OF IR!
Majda sat up rigidly. Franc was correct, they were not fearful; they were soldiers of Ir. Then again, the old man seemed sure of his advice and he was poles apart from the pale faced general. Was it possible that these humans were divided by colors? Humans were fragile, a feeble minded species. Could they be so ignorant that they would hate each other’s skin? Majda reasoned that the last two men they’d met were insane.
The pair decided to drive throughout the night, their bodies required one third the amount of sleep as humans. They would stop for food, fuel, and rest when they were just outside of Washington, DC.
Majda pointed, “Look, ‘Hot Food and Available Beds’ we can stop here Franc. I will check the Green Book.”
Franc sneered as he pulled into the dirt lot of the bed and breakfast. Madja sighed with an uneasy agreement as the location was not in the Green Book. They exited the car into the chill of dawn. Climbing two short steps to the motel Madja reached to open the door but it flung open with a splintering creak before she could grasp the handle. An aged white woman stood before them a cigarette dangling from her bottom lip as she spoke.
“Now y’all in the wrong place! There’s a place up the road for colored folks. Get away from here!”
Franc responded through clenched teeth, simmering with anger. “Madam, we mean you no harm. We have plenty of your currency. We would simply like to eat and have rest. We have almost reached the end of our journey, so please, step aside.”
“Humph, an uppity ass nigger I see…JOE WE GOT US SOME NIGGERS HERE REFUSING TO LEAVE!”
Franc and Majda exchanged glances, reflective of the old man’s advice. At that moment a large white man stepped into view and slowly raised a shot gun just inches from Franc’s nose.
“Now my wife was kind. Kinder than me; she done told y’all colored folks to get on. But you seem to think you something fancy. We got unmarked graves for coloreds like you.”
Franc’s anger boiled over. As a commanding officer he had never been met with the impudence of having a weapon pointed at him. Without warning Franc reached for his waistband where he held his firearm.
Two shots pierced the morning air, then silence. Franc dropped to his knees, trembling with grief as he lifted a limp and bloodied Majda. Moments before, when Joe saw Franc reaching for a weapon Joe turned to shove his wife away from any harm and blindly pulled the trigger on his rifle. Joe missed Franc; he shot Majda twice.
Ignoring his surroundings Franc broke portal protocol and contacted home base for emergency retrieval. He embraced Madja; silently weeping into her bosom. Unbeknownst to Majda, Franc loved her for almost a century. At that moment, he promised himself that if she lived he would make her his wife.
When they arrived at home base; medical staff were waiting. They swooped in working on Madja; stitching, lasering, defibrillating. All too late, the two gun shots ravaged Madja’s body before they left Earth.
Franc was enraged! He demanded to see Her Excellency; he wanted answers for this homicidal mission. He would stand outside the palace walls, write letters, and visited many of her subordinates; but was denied for months and never given answers. Franc was eventually accused of trespassing and sent into permanent exile.
“Has the troublemaker gone?”
“Yes, Your Excellency. The situation has been handled.”
“Has the mission been erased?”
“Yes, Your Excellency. Mission 1,889 has been erased”
“Has the subsequent mission began?”
“Yes, Your Excellency. Mission Holocaust will proceed.”