The ruler of future Earth makes a decision regarding his possible enemies. Sequel to GREATER LOVE, THE LIGHT SIDE, AND NOW ABIDETH, and THE END OF THE WORLD. Continues in REDEMPTION.

2876 AD


General Harold Qin waved to the crowd, a broad smile revealing his impeccably white teeth. Tears of gratitude began to well in his black, almond-shaped eyes. Nodding gravely, he retired into his bedroom, closing the balcony door behind him.

“I’m happy for you, darling.” Martha embraced the General, a whiff of her good perfume tickling the inside of his nose.

“Thank you, dear.” He twirled his bushy black mustache and glanced in the mirror. The muffled roar of the crowd could still be heard through the thick glass. “I think the lagophiles are done for. Serves them right, I say.”

His wife shook her head scornfully.

“You worked so hard to capture them…”

“Just doing my duty.” General Qin poured himself a glass of whiskey and gulped it down. Martha gazed at his rapidly moving, prominent Adam’s apple with admiration.

“I’m proud of you.” She put her hand on her husband’s shoulder.

“Don’t mention it, dear.” He accurately placed the empty glass on the drawer and patted her hand. “The mass execution has put an end to the whole lagophile movement. And it will be a warning to the separatists as well. We need to stay strong and united.” He made a chopping gesture with his callused hand. “Separatism should be nipped in the bud. I’ve been saying that for months now. And once we’re done with them, we’ll –”

He collapsed, knocking the bottle of whiskey off the drawer.


Harold? Harold? It’s me.

“Wh… what? You again? Get out of my head, lagophile spy!”

No, Harold, I’ve told you already. I’m not a

“You’re a Lag, then! I knew it! You talk like a Lag. Why, I’d like to get my hands on your ugly, furry mug, pull out your stinking long ears, beat that twitching nose of yours into a bloody pulp –“

I’m not what you call a ‘Lag’, Harold.

“You sure sound like one. I thought most of you either reverted or got killed by our heroes. We don’t want your kind on our planet, do you hear me?! This is my… this is our Earth!”

It’s not yours, Harold. You haven’t created it. You haven’t even protected it. You’ve only used it. And you’ve very nearly destroyed it.

“Haha! You clearly are a Lag, my invisible friend. Everyone knows that the Lags orchestrated the nuclear war of 2121 and wiped most humans off the face of the planet.”

That’s not true, Harold. Three human empires – the West, China, and the Caliphate – dropped the bombs on each other. The ‘Lags’, as you call them, were nothing but innocent animals at that time. They were killed for their meat and fur, kept as pets, and there was even an important holiday that 

“I know who you are. A separatist! A traitor! You want to split humanity into tiny, weak factions. Shame on you! There are only a few thousands of us left. God is my witness, we’ll stay united forever!”

I’m not human, Harold.

“Then who the hell are you?”

I’ve told you before, I’m a Nsheo. We used to live on a planet you call Proxima Centauri b, but human colonists killed us all a few hundred years ago.

“If they killed you all, how come you’re still alive?”

Most Nsheos believed that there was life after death. I guess some of us believed that strongly enough.

“Alright, Nsheo. What do you want from me?”

I want to warn you. You are in grave danger.

“You want to warn me? Didn’t you say that humans killed you all? Why would you want to help a human after that?”

We have a saying – ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’. I thought humans were familiar with it.

“Yes. I’ve… err… heard of it. So tell me, why am I in danger? Who is after me?”

When I said ‘you’, I meant all of you. All the remaining creatures on Earth. You are all in grave danger.

“Yes, yes, I understand that! Where’s the danger?”

There is an enemy. Very close.

“Who’s the enemy? Lags? Aliens? Tell me!”

Enemy, Harold. Very close.

“Are you stuck in a loop or something? Tell me about the enemy! Tell me –”


“Darling, are you alright?” The white blur in front of the General materialized into Martha’s face.

“Yes, dear.” He sat up slowly. The strong smell of spilled whiskey made his head spin. “I’m alright. It must be exhaustion.”

“Here, drink this.” His wife handed him a cup. He looked at it and frowned.

“What’s this?” he asked sharply.

“It’s just water, darling.”

“Who made it?” He leaped to his feet, towering over her.

“It’s tap water… What do you –”

He hit the drawer with his fist, smashing the remains of the whiskey bottle.

“There are Lags in the house! Lagophiles! Separatists! Reformers! Spies! Aliens! They’re after me. Martha, listen to me. There’s an enemy. Very close. He must be here somewhere –” He started looking around, shaking his head wildly.

“Darling, please, you’re scaring me… There is no enemy. Look out the window. Everyone admires you…” Martha’s voice quivered.

“Liars!” the General bellowed, his face darkening. “All of them! They are after me… There is an enemy. The dead alien told me that. He told me to look for an enemy. I –”

His eyes darted madly across the room. He rushed out, knocking down a chair. His wife, with a tearful grimace on her attractive face, minced along.  The General strode towards his command room and pressed a panel on the wall, revealing a hidden compartment with a single red button.

“Harold… What’s this?” Martha’s voice seemed calm and distant.

“I’ve had it designed for just such cases, dear.” The General seemed to have regained his composure. “It’s time for a radical measure. We can’t take any more risks. The enemy needs to be eradicated once and for all.”

He pressed the button. There was a soft buzz followed by a low, descending sound, like the sigh of a gigantic creature.

“What have you done?” his wife mumbled.

The General smiled and stroked his mustache.

“I’ve made sure that the enemy won’t be able to get to us.”

“What have you done?!” she screamed suddenly, moving towards him.

“Why, there is no need for such tone, dear.” The General frowned. “I used a remote control to release an immensely powerful biochemical blast. Long story short, it annihilates everything instantly. Lags, lagophiles, separatists, reformers, spies, aliens – anything that lives and breathes. The core of the palace is protected by a special shield, so don’t worry about us, dear. The Earth is safe now.”

Martha looked at him.

“You… you… you killed everyone?” Her voice was raspy.

“Why, yes, dear. There’s no enemy anymore. We’re safe.”

She lunged at him and scratched his face with her long, sharp nails, digging deep into his rough skin. He punched and kicked her savagely, knocking her off her feet. His hands were shaking.

“Traitor!” he yelled. “So it was you, after all! The dead alien said that the enemy was close. Now I know what he meant! The enemy is you!”

The General grabbed a handgun and shot her five times in the chest.

He stood in silence for a few minutes. Then he walked past the dead body and into the main dining hall. He looked out the window. The square in front of his palace was covered by corpses.

He was alone on the Earth.

A long-forgotten ending of an ancient poem flashed in his brain.

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls – it tolls for thee.

“Enemy…” he whispered. 

General Harold Qin put the handgun into his mouth and pressed the trigger.



Submitted: January 29, 2018

© Copyright 2023 Oleg Roschin. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:



Wow... that took an unexpected turn.
As always, I loved your descriptions- the machine sounding like the sigh of a gigantic creature is vivid and ironic. Very nice!

Mon, January 29th, 2018 7:16pm


Thank you very much, Kathryn! Glad you noticed that description - it was actually added last moment when I reread the story for the fifth time before posting and thought that part needed another line.

Mon, January 29th, 2018 7:34pm

Q.B. McKinney

Another masterfully written work of art, my friend. It seems to me that you kept the story simplistic in order to keep the word count low, I am more fond of your more descriptive storytelling style. Still a great read.

Mon, January 29th, 2018 9:30pm


Yes, I wanted to keep the story as simple, as short, and as terse as possible. I'm actually more fond of my own descriptive style myself ;-) But I need to learn how to be brief yet drive the message across at the same time. So I'm practicing, so to say, a more austere way of writing. Also, another experiment in this one - a completely humorless story. I was feeling the humor was at times diminishing the message. In any case I had to have one completely straightforward and dry story, so... mission accomplished :) Thank you very much for your feedback, my friend, it's highly appreciated!

Mon, January 29th, 2018 7:43pm

Sue Harris

I look forward to reading your stories Oleg and, as usual, this is yet another gem.
Power crazy, psychotic General Qin finally presses the red button in a desperate bid to kill the enemy, but in so doing not only annihilates the 'enemy, but also himself. (Hope this is not a parallel universe!) Absolutely loved the ending... superb!

Mon, January 29th, 2018 9:31pm


Unfortunately, within the continuity of my stories, this is not a parallel universe - it's our Earth in 29th century :( The Nsheo tried to tell the General that the enemy was the General himself - unfortunately, the communication broke down, and it seems that the Nsheo inadvertently added more oil to the fire (General's paranoia), causing the extinction of humans, giant rabbits ("Lags"), and everyone else on Earth. Some of my readers actually protested against that grim outcome and demanded another story, which shows that at least some of the rabbits have escaped or survived somehow... :) Thank you very much for taking the time to read and comment, Sue!

Mon, January 29th, 2018 7:40pm

Raven Akuma

An interesting complicating incident, followed by a very surprising plot twist. I do think your introduction could've been just a tad bit better, like further explaining the setting or creatures you mention.
Overall, though, this was good. I've liked and shelved it, and I'm glad I checked it out :)

Tue, January 30th, 2018 4:58am


Thank you very much for your comment! Since all my stories are interconnected, the setting is explained in more detail in other stories. For example, in "Genesis" the Event of 2121 is described from the point of view of a rabbit that inexplicably becomes intelligent. In "The End of the World" there's more background about the genocide of the Nsheos on Proxima Centauri b. In "And Now Abideth" we see how intelligent rabbits begin reverting. It is assumed that humans (under General Qin or before that) took control of the Earth again and exterminated the remaining rabbits ("Lags"). In any case, background is not that important for this story - I figured that the message comes through anyway :)

Mon, January 29th, 2018 9:29pm

Jay Northearn

Nice twist there, Oleg. His paranoid character comes over well, and the writing contains alot of high quality referencing, eg the way her perfume tickles the inside of his nose. I think ne of the signs of really good writing is ability to transform mundanities like this into curiosities ... providing one doesn't go overboard with it, and you don't. You keep a good balance in this respect. You also keep good pace and variation in how you present dialogue ... hugely important here, as this story in dialogue-driven. I can imagine this very easily as a chapter within a larger story ( which it is in a way ) which brings us back to the idea that you could/should go for the jugular with a complete novel. Let me tell you why with this comparative and true account: some years ago there was a tv documentary about budding film-makers attending a kind of 'boot-camp' with professionals, so they could find ways to progress. One of the attendees got a total grilling from his mentor, a very experienced Hollywood director. The director asked the guy: "So, what have you done so far in your career?" The answer was: "I've done lots of short films." The director ( a bit of a grump and very abrasive, admittedly ) then shouted: "Short films? Short films? Tell me ... who the fuck wants to see a short film?" ...... The poor guy looked crushed, but nobody had been so direct with him before. Now, there is room of course for short stories, but, arguably, I'd say that it's the full whack of a complete novel that is more likely to get a writer established if published. I think you're such a good writer, it's a shame if you don't push yourself to a full length book. I hope you take this comment as it's truly meant. Thanks for sharing, Oleg. Thanks also for your willingness to read and comment on my own efforts.

Tue, January 30th, 2018 6:30am


Thank you so much for the kind comment and encouragement, Chris! I understand what you mean - though I believe that short stories are much more interesting than short films :) I’m going to take a break from writing short stories for a while now, I feel that the story about the end of our Earth has completed the circle and answered one of the main unresolved questions in my imaginary universe (though, of course, there are still a few more: looks like humanity survived only on the planet Voznesenye - or did it?). I’ll be seriously thinking about a novel during this time :)

Mon, January 29th, 2018 10:45pm

Chris Green

Pretty final then this one. Hard to come up with another sequel - or is it? Nice work as always, Oleg.

Tue, January 30th, 2018 9:19am


Well, it's probably the final story of the Earth / giant bunnies arc, but there are other planets with plenty of action - Cynia (the planet of dogs), Voznesenye (the planet of weird Vozs), and so on. Currently the final story chronologically is "Deus Ex Narnia", more than 2000 years later than this one. As always, thank you so much for reading and commenting, Chris!

Tue, January 30th, 2018 4:58am


Wow! What an amazingly written story! I loved the twist at the end! I was not expecting everyone to die.

Great Work!

Tue, January 30th, 2018 12:09pm


Thank you very much, I'm glad that you liked it! :))

Tue, January 30th, 2018 5:04am


Wow...that was unexpected. When I read summary I did not think that was the direction this would take. This was simple, short and well written. I enjoy reading all your works, they really are gems and this one is no exception. Take care! :3

Tue, January 30th, 2018 12:34pm


You are too kind, Polina :)) As always, thank you so much for your valuable feedback!

Tue, January 30th, 2018 5:05am


Interesting end twist to a story line used in many sci-fi stories. It seems that we're all headed
for some kind of bad ending, but you took it all the way. No Stephan King redemption here! Nice. Have to read some of your other stuff to see if you have any happy endings. Keep it up.

Tue, January 30th, 2018 4:45pm


Thank you very much for your kind comment! I do have a few stories with happy or at least not "lots of people die" endings - for example "The Light Side" or "And Now Abideth". I also have some stories without any darkness at all, such as "A Tail of Love" or "Love Bytes". This one is probably my darkest and most depressing story overall.

Tue, January 30th, 2018 11:40pm

A. G. Smith

I have a fondness for dark, dystopian tales. Your story here is a well-written and hauntingly tangible parallel to the paranoia that exists within much of society today. Interesting twist at the end as well, although I must say it was a bit abrupt. Possibly because I was enjoying it so much that I didn't want it to end that quickly lol.

Tue, January 30th, 2018 6:31pm


Thank you so much! :)) Honestly, I was so mad and depressed by the death of all humans and giant rabbits ("Lags") on Earth, that I felt I just couldn't let General Qin live, though a more proper and psychologically convincing ending, perhaps, would be him just living alone on the planet, soaking in his paranoia. Also, I've got requests to somehow save at least some giant rabbits in the next story, so perhaps not all is lost :)

Tue, January 30th, 2018 11:36pm


Yes, the sole survivor until he survives no more. I've written about the same thing but for a different reason. Your character clearly became paranoid and acted for his own survival at the time, completely crazy of course, whereas in mine the character destroyed everything from a desire to be loved.
Really enjoyed the read, Oleg.

Tue, January 30th, 2018 7:59pm


Thank you so much, Hully! There might be different kinds of insanity, but the really bad part is when an insane person is in a position to press that red button. Perhaps this story feels outdated, like one of those Cold War-era science fiction pieces, when everyone was afraid of a nuclear war. I really do hope that the story is outdated...

Tue, January 30th, 2018 11:34pm

Keke Serene

The vision he come across is in similar tone with the one about the pianist,but this one is definitely about fear. Fear was most certainly the enemy. He destroyed everything in fear. It's kind of scary that people can let ideals but even worse, fear instead of understanding or acceptance control them.
What poem would this happen to be? ^^
Like I said though, very mysterious vision- how all did it happen to him?

Wed, January 31st, 2018 3:19am


Yes, there are similarities between the visions, especially the part where, in both cases, the protagonists chose to ignore the warnings. There is an old humorous short story by the Russian satirist Arkady Averchenko, where a guy hates "foreigners" - at first real foreigners, then ethnic minorities in Russia, then ethnic Russians from other provinces, then from other towns, other houses... He ends up hating his own family because they are not him. That story inspired me to write this darker variant of the same concept.

The poem in question is the end of "No Man is an Island", by John Donne, a 16-17 century Anglican cleric. It's actually not a separate poem, but part of his theological prose work.

As always, thank you so much for commenting on my work, I really appreciate it!

Tue, January 30th, 2018 11:30pm


Another interesting story, Oleg. Very dark, but there was no other way it could be, was there?

Wed, January 31st, 2018 5:00am


I guess there wasn't. For a while I had a draft with the General becoming quite comical in his paranoia - in addition to his usual "Lags, lagophiles, separatists" etc. he was also afraid of "Jews, Jawas, homosexuals, bisexuals, bicyclists. tricyclists... the filthy perverts!" I removed that part... I thought that humor would detract from the overall darkness of the story. Do you think I should've kept it? As always, thank you so much for reading and commenting, Theresa!

Tue, January 30th, 2018 11:17pm

Ruprecht Guay

This took quite a dark turn. Everything went to a bloody mess, but it was fantastic! The story is short and simple, yet it's sleek and well-done. A fascinating read indeed.

Wed, January 31st, 2018 10:50am


Thank you, my friend! I always appreciate your kind feedback :))

Wed, January 31st, 2018 9:04am

Dr. Acula

For I am involved in mankind ! I always that Donne poem.
Also, the ending reminds me a little of another of my favs, T.S. Eliot..
"This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper."

Ironically, this story, for me, seemed even ore science fiction than some of your others, if that is possible lol.
I think its because it has such a strong, certain psychological, questioning reality/life feel...
Another great unique stand alone story, Oleg ! However, it has the spirit of your other works, which is much fun from the stand point of reading all these works back to back.

Thu, February 1st, 2018 1:16am


Thank you, my friend, you are always so kind to me :) I’m glad that this story has worked somehow, I was afraid that the readers wouldn’t like it because it doesn’t have any of the humor I usually insert into my writing. That was deliberate, because I was beginning to feel that the humor was overshadowing the content, so I decided to get rid of it completely in this story.

Wed, January 31st, 2018 10:57pm


Wow. I was not expecting such a finite end, but I completely loved it and loved the message about humans being our own downfall. I was enraptured the whole time!


Thu, February 1st, 2018 2:50am


Yes, the idea here is that the enemy for whom the General was looking outside had been looking a5 him back from the mirror all along. Thank you very much for your kind comment, Dots!

Wed, January 31st, 2018 10:59pm

Gavin Barbera


I wasn't expecting to understand much of the story or characters once I noticed that this was a short extension of a series of yours, but I was pleasantly surprised! Overall, I thought the characters were good and the twist was okay (I probably didn't get as good of an impression due to lack of lore knowledge so feel free to ignore this point) so I enjoyed it for what it was.

I would go into a longer review on expanding the scenes detail-wise, but I noticed in other comments that this was not supposed to be a heavily detail-focused story like your other writing.

I'd give it a solid 6-7/10, well above average in terms of content and storytelling on its own regardless of lore. If I knew more of the lore, it would bump up the grade to a 8 or 9 due to familiarity with the characters and setting presented.

Hope you like my review!

Thu, February 1st, 2018 6:18am


Thank you very much, Gavin! Hmm, I wasn’t aware of the fact that lack of familiarity with my other stories would diminish the value of this one. I actually thought that this one is at least as self-sufficient as the others. The three characters (the General, his wife, and the Nsheo alien) only appear in this story - in fact, each of my stories is dedicated to different characters, it’s not a series in the sense of one continuous story, but rather different stories set in the same world. Perhaps I needed to expand more in this one, but I felt that wasn’t important, since the setting here is just a backdrop for the message.

Re-reading it now, I can see how an unprepared reader can get somewhat confused during the conversation with the Nsheo, since I mention quite a few events (the nuclear was of 2121, the mutation of ordinary rabbits into intelligent gigantic ones, the colonization of Proxima Centauri b and the subsequent extermination of the Nsheos there) that are being dealt with in the other stories. The thing is, my intention is not to write an epic futuristic novel, but rather use the setting to convey different ideas in different short stories. Sort of like Ray Bradbury’s “Martian Chronicles”, which served as one of the main inspirations for my writing :))

Wed, January 31st, 2018 11:09pm

J. R. Merrick

Yet another great read. The ending gave me chills. It really gives new meaning to being your own worst enemy. I loved your writing style, your imagery, your character interaction. All very well done!

Thu, February 1st, 2018 9:59pm


Thank you so much! I really appreciate the kind comment :))

Thu, February 1st, 2018 8:19pm

Dan stone

It's a good set-up Oleg but you might find a foil is sometimes more potent than broadsword (to use a fencing analogy). However, I still enjoyed it. Well done.

Sun, February 4th, 2018 7:03pm


Hmm, I didn't quite understand the analogy :() Thank you for reading and commenting! :))

Sun, February 4th, 2018 11:10am

B Douglas Slack

Wow! It was frightening to watch General Qin descend into madness, taking the story from a nearly-normal person into someone to be feared. But his own paranoia took over and he destroyed what he loved, then himself. I have to admit the twist at the end wasn't as shocking as I expected it to be. Very Orwellian in nature,


Mon, February 5th, 2018 5:57pm


Thank you, Bill! Re-reading the story made me think that perhaps the final twist was not convincing. I needed to remove the last person on Earth and that was the quickest and the the simplest way to do it, but now I think that General Qin wouldn't have done it.

Tue, February 6th, 2018 6:16am

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