Earth Inherited: A Short Tale of Planetary Plague & Astronomical Affliction is a science fiction short story written by Justine Avery. In a matter of just five earth days, momentous world-changing events took place that most certainly merited the selfies Nathan took in that conference room when he was supposed to be going out for quesadillas with his cubicle neighbor. It had been a strange week, starting with the melt-down of his two favorite anchorpersons: Matt Mandigo was inexplicably at a loss for words while the comely Chrissy Winkins wriggled in discomfort. They were not the only newscasters to have stunned their audiences with their absolute failure to deliver the canned news performances so many early-risers depended upon. There were reasons for this aberration; though earth’s impending doom, or rather, the doom of earth’s dominant species, was an event most stayed blissfully unaware of. Nathan wasn’t quite so fortunate. His boss had decided to cancel Nathan’s lunch and instead let him handle the crazy who was waiting in the conference room. The being was impossibly strange and alien, with clusters of eye lenses and unsettling facial filaments that swayed as it spoke, and Nathan couldn’t help but be impressed with the intricacy of the prank that was being played upon him. He just had to get up close and get a selfie—it would go viral and make him famous.
Justine Avery’s wry science fiction short story, Earth Inherited: A Short Tale of Planetary Plague & Astronomical Affliction, is a sly and clever peek into the strangeness of that uncanny television series, The Twilight Zone, complete with an otherworldly being who has come to claim his inheritance, albeit one despoiled by the sluggish beings that have multiplied out of all proportion and Nathan, the office drone, who somehow is appointed the human representative to make earth’s first contact with an alien species. As I read this clever and sharp little tale, however, I began to see parallels and inside stories, and I wondered whether the Astronomical Afflictions could not be considered the Planetary Plagues in many respects. Avery gives the discerning reader a lot to think about in this dryly humorous tale that has some very dark aspects indeed. As with Avery’s other short stories, there’s often more happening behind the curtains than out on the stage, and that’s a fine thing. Earth Inherited: A Short Tale of Planetary Plague & Astronomical Affliction is most highly recommended.