Jed took the shortcut through the trees. He had to reach the little village beyond or there would be hell to pay.
“Just my luck,” he muttered as he stumbled over a root.
Even without the leaves it was just too dark to keep up his pace. Cursing again he slowed down a bit.
A blinding white light shot through the trees throwing everything into a sharp relief. It grew brighter, so everything was a stark black of shadows or white of light.
And then it all began to burn.
The last thought that ran through Jed’s mind was, “I’m too late. Nuclear Armageddon.”
“What are you doing?” the professor asked.
“I’m sterilizing this petri dish,” Jova said.
“But this experiment is not complete.”
“My cultures were going bad and there was no saving them.”
The professor frowned at the pupil.
“Didn’t you say that before about this culture? That time you just rinsed the dish, killing most but not all of your culture and infecting the entire lab. It took days to disinfect….”
“But this is much worse. All of their leaders were mad and they were about to incinerate themselves anyway. I just saved them the trouble. Besides, they were finding ways to get out of the dish. I had to stop this violent strain before it infected the entire lab. It wouldn’t have been so easy to disinfect once they got out on their own. I did a great job sterilizing it, see? We don’t have to worry about these nasty things spreading this time.”
The professor shook his head.
“Well, the deed is done. Next time please consult me. OK, we’ll start a new batch.”
Jova smiled. She took the dish labeled “Earth” and added everything it would need. She put it in orbit around the incubator, “Sun”, and started the experiment again. It would take a long time for the culture to mature, so she went to the incubator labeled “Tau Ceti” and looked at one of its cultures. Everything going as planned. She hoped the professor wouldn’t mark her down too much for “Earth”. It wasn’t her fault. Honestly. Just bad seeds.
I first thought “dream” when I saw the photo, but doing a dream story would seem too juvenile. I also recently did light from a UFO through the trees. My next thought was “A nuclear explosion”. But I just did a Friday Fictioneer story about nuclear war. And then I decided to go back juvenile, but in a different direction ;)