Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Glowheads

They arrived a couple generations ago.  I do not know what year, but before I was born, I am sure.

Their heads do not actually glow.  Their skin is so pale and their hair is so white that on a dark city night, even a slight illumination makes them stand out from a crowd of humans.  (Finns are positively swarthy by comparison.)  Of course, the Glowheads also stand out because they are at least seven feet high.  A few approach eight feet.  We have never seen female Glowheads, but the guess is that they are also taller than human females. 

Glowheads are tall, but not skinny or slight.  They are proportionately large and muscular.  The few times that a glowhead has had a fight with a human, the results have been ugly.  They can pick up most humans and throw them 10 feet away.

But aside from color and size, they are not so different.  If you see a Glowhead on the street next to humans, you can see that their heads are slightly different in shape, but so subtly that unless you stand one next to a human, you cannot tell the difference, except for size and coloring.

When they first arrived, scientists marvelled that aliens could look so much like us.  It was called the Star Trek Paradox: what are the chances that an alien species would have not just have four limbs, orifices in the same places and with the same functions?  After a few months of questions, and surreptitiously obtained genetic samples, the answer was that they were humans after all.  They explained that their ancestors left Earth 50,000 years ago to a planet far, far away.   The differences were the result of genetic isolation. They were just coming home.

The Glowheads had somehow developed faster-than-light travel; why not visit their home world?  But how had they developed it 50,000 years ago and left no traces here?  They claimed to have no idea, but they did have neat stuff to trade: medicines that cured cancer; metal alloys of remarkable strength; and materials that we had, such as carbon fiber composites, but at prices that made Earth production uneconomic.  They never told us how to make these medicines or materials, insisting that they were protected "intellectual property."  They had learned a lot about us in a very short time.

Within a couple of years, the proof of their humanity was readily visible; their willingness to give away vaccines that prevented all STDs was shown to have a purpose with a certain level of self-interest.  Half-glowhead children were being born in red-light districts across Earth; the mothers confirmed that the Glowheads were very human.

As you might expect, cancer cures were rapidly traded for gold and silver.  Most surprising of all was plastic.  They had never discovered petroleum on their new planet and thus never developed plastics.  Eventually even these commodities became insufficient to buy Glowhead wonders, for which demand was now very high.  How many decades and how many billions of dollars had we spent seeking a cure for cancer?  Now we had a multishot cure for lung cancer, another one for breast cancer, and another for skin cancer.  What could we exchange for these wonderful drugs?

Labor, it seems.  The Glowheads offered to clear out Earth's Death Rows; they would be given work to do on a planet far away, from which these criminals could never return to Earth.   They would live out their natural lives with sufficient food, shelter, and medical care.  The Death Row Treaty explained that the costs of transport were so high that we should make absolutely sure of their guilt; once gone they were never coming back.  Those who supported capital punishment had already decided that these criminals should die; opponents of the death penalty welcomed the opportunity to reopen death penalty cases for very thorough reexamination.

Unsurprisingly, only a few cases produced different verdicts.  Death penalty supporters were unsurprised; the criminal justice system worked very accurately.  Cynics suggested that judges and juries had their eyes on the cancer cures and new materials that would be traded for these criminals.  And who could blame them?  What was the life of one criminal compared to saving the lives of ten cancer victims?

When the first transports of capital prisoners happened, there were only dry eyes.  Even most of their families saw this as a good thing: life in an exotic location instead of death.  No prisoners argued against transport: the work off planet would not be in a cell, waiting for death.

Within two years, there were no capital prisoners on Earth.  The rate of death sentences certainly increased after the Death Row Treaty, largely for the same reason that review of the old cases seldom overturned a verdict.  Prisoners were on transports within a week or so of final appeal.

Glowhead demand for laborers was, if anything, growing stronger.  The Glowhead ambassador explained,"Your criminals are doing great work for us, clearing forests and draining swamps.  Much more productive than sitting in cells here on Earth."

Over the next few years, government after government amended their laws to make many life sentence crimes capital.  Soon Earth's prisons were emptied.  The reflection of Glowhead transport vessels waiting in Earth orbit became something that parents pointed out to their kids at night.  "See, that's what cured Uncle William of cancer."

That's where I come in to the story.  I won't claim that I did nothing wrong.  I started a company selling timeshare condos in the Seychelles.  Okay so they were only one week shares, not one month shares.  I figured, "How many people will actually go there at the same time as other owners?"  But fraud was now a capital offense.  I took my sentence about as well as can be expected.  Everyone on Earth knew that death was really transport off planet.  I did not want to go, but I figured it could not be worse than my previous terms for mail fraud.

3 comments:

LCB said...

Selling Time Shares SHOULD be a capital crime, with or without fraud!!! LOL

Windy Wilson said...

Betelgeuse Bridge involved aliens, who looked like giant slugs, who wanted every last bit of uranium or other radioactives on the planet, and in exchange they gave out machines that cured anything. After they left Humans found that they ran on radioisotopes.

Windy Wilson said...

LCB, bring an older man with alzheimers to the sales pitch. He won't react and you can get your free cordless telephone after only one round of the sales pitch.