Lauren Sargent

The Re-Ending of the World

An alternate ending to The Defenders by Philip K. Dick. 

The tube back to beneath the surface had been sealed. Moss, Franks and Taylor shared a look between them that communicated sheer panic and a loss of words. There was no way back to their society underground, no way to see their families again or to live like they once did. They were stuck above ground with the leadys and the knowledge that the world that they thought they had been protected from was actually a world they were kept from.

Franks lifted his Bender gun, gesturing towards the nearby leadys.

“What do you say? With the lot of us, we could probably blast them all out of here and then we could take back what’s meant to be ours. They didn’t tell us about all this, who knows what else they’re hiding from us.”

The other men nodded and waved over the small group of soldiers they’d brought along. The leadys looked on impassively and didn’t make a move or sound, even as they all lifted their guns.


In blasts of dust and metallic noises, the group of humans shot at the leadys until they were all decimated, the only remaining sign of them being a faint smell of molten metal and tart rust left in the air. As they destroyed the first group, more and more spilled out from the facilities around them. The men fought furiously, if it could be called fighting, because the leadys took their deaths without a single show of retaliation. By the time the sun had rose above them, revealing a lush and healed earth, they were alone.

“That was the last of them, I think. Good work, guys.” Moss waved to the soldiers and they all lowered their guns. Without the leadys, it was unsettlingly quiet save for a soft wind that would gust by them and chill them through their lead suits.

“So what are we going to do now that we can’t go back down? This world is all ours again but it’s nothing without our families,” Taylor said, tossing his gun to the ground. Now that there was nothing to fight, it seemed like a waste to hold a weapon in such a beautiful area.

“I say we get the Soviets. If we build a base and then dig our way down their tubes while they’re digging up, we can ambush them and kill them all. War won, problem solved. Then we can work on getting our own people out.” It was Franks who suggested this and they all agreed, their original mission still in mind. They grabbed their guns once more and began to march out down a path that was clear in the almost untouched grass. A full day passed before they spotted them. A line of Soviet soldiers standing feet ahead of them.

“What are they doing here? They said they fused their tubes together too.” Moss muttered, readying his Bender gun.

“I don’t know but they seemed ready for us. I bet the leadys were on their side, this is no good at all. Shoot what you can then retreat, we can’t win like this.”

The group fired at command, some going down in the Soviet fire and the others fleeing. The three researchers remained but their forces were heavily lowered in number.

“Those damned robots lost us so much time. It’s like the war’s started over again but instead of square one we’re at negative two. We’re going to have to build everything back up again, thank goodness we have us three.” Franks looked at Moss and Taylor, shaking his head. “This finishes now.”

Months later and the group had managed to build barebones auxiliary weapons. They ate the worst food, mostly out of foraging, their efforts more focused on destroying the Soviets than providing. What had been a beautiful untouched field before was already full of craters, dead grass and a cemetery of metal scrap from all their tests and primitive building. But finally, they were ready to face the Soviets. Again, they marched down the beaten path to where the Soviets were situated.

“No way. They spent the same time we did building up their own forces. Fire at will, retreat if they’re too much for us!” Both sides sent bombs flying towards each other, killing some and clearing the earth beneath them in an earth-shattering blast. Soon, they retreated once again, their forces dwindled and their blood heated. They had to build better weapons, more weapons. They couldn’t let the war not end victoriously this time.

This routine continued over months until both sides were eliminated. The once lush world was once again inhabitable, a tundra of explosive discharge and hot, punishing winds. The world was quiet once more, but also a hellish landscape for any human who dared to return to it. And yet, that was when the tubes were finally cleared and the societies below re-emerged.

“Whoa–this is even worse than the leadys said. And no wonder we haven’t heard anything, they’ve been killed in this climate as well. The men we sent up above must have died as well. It’s a shame. But we have much work to do, we have to go back down and create a more powerful bot that can do what the leadys once did for us.” The leader they had sent up said. He dropped back down under the surface to begin the process over again.

And so the humans were doomed to repeat their mistakes, too selfish and individual to have accepted the utopia the leadys had created for them.

1 thought on “The Re-Ending of the World”

  • I love the Groundhog Day aspect to this — no matter what opportunities they’re faced with, humans inevitably find a way to destroy themselves, in the same old ways as always. Nice work.

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