Hide Inside the World
by Ellen Million
"Why can't we just tell them?" the younger ones asked themselves.
They hadn't been through the London riots in 2108, or seen the chaos caused by the Roswell Articles. They hadn't lived on earth during the development of LITe, or tasted the sting of the whips that were designed for their peculiar powered skin. The younger ones had only seen the benevolent media and entertainment, not felt the betrayal of the Swiss Retreat; a supposed safe haven that turned out to merely be a gathering point for mass execution.
"Humans are afraid" held no meaning for the younger ones, because they had not been on Earth to understand the scope and reach of fear, and did not understand that it still lurked below the humans' placid surface.
The older ones advised caution, over and over. "Hide inside the world. Play your part in it, and do not stray from your role."
It was easier to hide, before the LITe; simply power your skin into the visions humans expected, and you could slide among them without ripples. In this manner, the elders had observed the rise of agriculture, and the age of empires, walked through the dark ages and marveled at the creativity of the industrial revolution and the technological age that followed, all with no one the wiser. Then came the technology to disrupt the fields that cloaked them, and it became a more complex game. At first it was just a few uniformed monitors with LITe scanners to avoid, then, as more of them were betrayed by discovery, LITes were installed in public places. Walking into the invisible pool of LITe caused no pain, but panic would ensue, when alien green features were stripped of familiar illusions. Human fear was more powerful than human logic, and they proved this again and again. The elders adapted, and found better ways to hide among them; no longer relying on their natural defenses.
LITe sensors were finally discontinued; after generations, the humans thought there were no more of the alien strangers among them.
The younger ones took this as a sign of trust, and declared, "Humans can change!"
Safety led to complacency, and from there to foolish risk.
The older ones shook their heads, and stayed to obscurity, hiding inside the world while the younger ones came out to Earth's original inhabitants... and were destroyed in the wave of human terror that resulted.
Alone again, the elders sighed and shook their heads, and some of them wondered if they should have told the younger ones that they, too, were not the humans they'd been taken for - even by their own kind.
"We should have told them," some of them lamented to the others. "They might have listened if they'd known we were the same as they were."
This was written for the November Crowdfunding Creative Jam. It is a science fiction story unrelated to my other work, though it explores some ideas I've had rattling around in my head for a while.
5/10 stories finished!
If you'd like to tip me for my efforts, you may do so through my webpage: Ellen's Escape. Any tip amount will ensure this story stays public; otherwise, it will be removed to private archives within a week.