End of a Cycle

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It was almost 11:30 when Samantha turned off the TV. She’d been watching NBC’s New Year’s Eve 2020, and just before the screen went dark, Carson Daly had asked someone in the audience about their New Year’s resolutions. Until then, the impending reality of 2020 felt as distant as it had in January of 2019. Then the audience member spoke, a young man in his early twenties—”In 2020,” he said, “I’m going to eat right and lose weight”—and Samantha’s entire world turned upside down.

Now, without the flickering light of the TV to brighten the room, Samantha sat on the couch in almost total darkness, the surrounding silence interrupted only by the occasional car, partygoer, or distant firecracker. So many people celebrating. If only they knew what 2020 had in store. Some would be happy, of course, as she herself should be. Others not so much.

She glanced down at the phone in her hands to check the time.

11:40.

Twenty more minutes, Samantha thought, and then the cycle would start anew and the world would be different once again. Already, she could feel the ancient power flowing through her veins. A wonderful sensation, to be sure, but Samantha was afraid of what it meant for the rest of the world.

Outside a child shouted, and for a moment all she could think about was what kind of world they might grow up in. Would they be pushed to the outer fringes of society as Samantha and her kind had? Long ago, at the start of the previous cycle, her species had risen to the full height of their strength. At the time, they’d shared the world with humanity, and humanity had had no choice but to accept it. Then, at the lowest point of the cycle, when their power waned and they were at their weakest, the humans attacked. They executed the leader of Samantha’s people and exiled the rest, scattering them to the four corners of the Earth. The memory of who and what they were faded. They became the subject of legend, then myth, and in the fullness of time, they were forgotten.

Now, their time to reclaim the world was at hand, and Samantha’s people had a long memory.

She should have reveled in the imminent revival of her species, but instead feared for her human friends and co-workers. She knew that as a species they could be cruel, that their anxiety over the unknown easily turned from fear to hate and from hate to violence. But those responsible for the oppression of her kind died long ago, and the humans who lived today deserved the chance to prosper and learn from their ancestors’ mistakes.

If they persecuted the humans today, then at the next low point in their cycle, the humans would persecute them, establishing a second cycle, not of power and strength but of violence, hatred, and destruction. Could they find the courage and conviction necessary to forgive humanity and to dwell among them as brothers and sisters? Many desired such a relationship, Samantha included, but did they represent the majority?

At 11:57, Samantha stepped outside to watch the crescent moon in the sky. She glanced for a moment at her neighbors’ homes, and with her head bowed, uttered a silent prayer for peace and forgiveness in the new year.

Happy New Year, guys!
– Jeff

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