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Lavie Tidhar is the World Fantasy Award winning author of Osama (2011), of The Violent Century (2013) and of the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize winning A Man Lies Dreaming (2014), in addition to many other works and several awards. He works across genres, combining detective and thriller modes with poetry, science fiction, and historical and autobiographical material. This is his twelfth story to appear in Daily Science Fiction.
They say he saved every one of us. They say he's a hero.
I guess it's a matter of perspective. I guess it depends on who you believe.
He came roaring out of the atmosphere like a lunatic out of a comic strip, in a spaceship that looked like a car that looked like a rocket ship, all silver and chrome and useless fins.
He came with his friends, the girl and the scientist. The doctor I could handle, he was a man of reason, and as for the girl...
Would you believe me if I said we fell in love?
I've seen the documentaries, same as you. The Ziehm feature from '74, the Hodges version from 1980. I even met Topol once, when he performed Fiddler on tour, after the Americans took control and he, the usurper, the killer, had already done his job. Even Topol, meeting me in the royal gardens where I was held prisoner, acknowledged that the films were lies. Propaganda.
I knew him, he said to me. Met him once, like I'm meeting you now. He was a right bastard.
I said, he murdered me.
And her? Ardour, my temple, my church: she was everything that was good and pure.
She told me what he made her do. She was a cheerleader for his football team. Told me what went on after the games, in the locker rooms, what the players did. What he did.
Though she said he mainly liked to watch.
He watched us making love, I know that now. When D. snuck away from him, while he was busy corrupting my daughter, she came to me and we made love, under the watchful eye of Earth.
He followed her. He saw us together as he hid in the shadows.
He always hid in the shadows.
A quiet American.
Raising rebellion amongst the flying people, amongst the forest people, even in my own household, my own family. My daughter, fallen for him, discarded when she was no longer needed. He seeded doubt, encouraged treason. His government provided weapons and training.
He began a war.
Have you ever seen a two hundred pound flying man with explosives strapped to his chest, breaking through glass, a high window, exploding like a bright red flower in the air?
They accused me of being a despot. Not an emperor but a dictator. Mine was a totalitarian regime and I... I had to be removed.
And as for his allies: the prince of the forest, the prince of the flying men--they, too, were replaced. They, too, when they had served their purpose, were disposed of.
Cry, my beloved planet. Your beautiful name is lost, for you are no longer mine. The PDRM, you're called now.
The People's Democratic Republic of Mongo.
They say he saved every one of us. They say he's a hero.
I guess it's a matter of perspective. I guess it depends on who you believe.
Of me, nothing remains but a powerless ring.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, June 29th, 2015

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