Splintered – a flash fiction piece

March 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

Splintered – ©2014 Frederick E. Whitehead

Three days after the ruling I found myself in the Main Transport Center riding a lift with my council.
My eyes closed, I counted the pings for each level as we rose. Eleven. That’s when we stopped.

The doors hissed open, the downward shift in temperature was welcoming.

“A propulsion stability engineer position is opening up on Herakles Platform” she said as she put a hand
on my shoulder and gently directed me to the corridor on the left.

“When?” I asked, undoing the top two clasps on my tunic.

“The next bypass” she answered and took a Vispad from her pocket. She accessed a file, slowing her
pace as she did. She studied it momentarily then I felt a vibration from my torso pack, signaling that I
had received it.

“That’s 36 months away” I said

“I know, but it’s a guaranteed 20 year contract, completely furnished apartment included, not to
mention full clearance for use of the regeneration bay. Your only real expense, outside of personal
needs, would be for travel and you won’t have much time for that.”

We walked in silence to the viewing deck. When we reached the windows I asked

“When do you need to know my decision?”

“Ideal trajectory for your wife’s pod will be this Tuesday, your son’s, a week from Saturday,” she said as
she adjusted the tint control, the loading area below came into view.

Tuesday, I thought, only a week since the state filed charges against us. The committee moves quick when reputations are on the line.

“Thank you for not referring to them as was done in the official record” I said

“Regardless of my personal feelings, I am your assigned advocate and as such any slight on my part
would have had a negative effect on how we presented our defense” she said “besides, the three of you seemed happy and stable, that should count for something. I don’t think there is anything you could have done. Regardless of how unblemished an offspring’s genome appears, the laws concerning half-clone/full-clear union or reproduction are complicated in their science but concise in their application, itis not to be done, period.” she said, directing my attention to the activity below with a tap on the glass.
“Your argument never had a chance against their rules for continuity of species. Familial stability does
not matter to The Collective and the Committee will always do the Collective’s bidding.”

I looked down as the pods were rolled out. The Deck Steward  walked around the first one. The red flash
of his scanner triggering the info plate. He looked up at us, his fingers never stopped robotically entering
information into his pad. He moved to the next one and repeated the procedure. This time he did not look up.

“Review the contract. The committee was lenient William, you know they were, considering precedent.”

“Yea” I said.

“Please consider it William, I think you will find it quite generous” I watched as the steward moved to the last pod.

“Here” she said, handing me a metallic bi-fold. My number engraved into its surface.

I opened it. Two circuit cards were inside, each with the coordinates of a different sector stamped above
a number. One was my wife’s, the other my son’s.

I looked through the glass as the coordinator stepped away from the pods and motioned for the small
crew to start the loading.

“You do have a decision to make. If you want, there is a pod for you, it’s ready for deployment. Once
inside you insert a card and you will be able to join one of them.”

“Where are they sending him?” I asked.

“Olympiad Colony. He will do well there, his spectrum has tested out at barely a half percent
degradation from norm. That’s unheard of, no doubt he is a special case. He will be schooled for a
leadership position.”

He is only three years old, I thought, plenty early enough to start Collective Indoctrination.

“What of my wife?”

“A holding station for a year of rehabilitation then on to Io” she looked at her Vispad, “for relay work
mostly, coordination of outbound supply ships, routing Outer Sector Transports, that kind of thing. From
what you have told me, she will no doubt find the position infuriatingly boring, but I don’t need to
remind you, she was spared total expulsion.”

“Death, you mean.”

There was a pause, then she said “if your heritage was not one of Fixed State Privileged, then yes, of course.”

I ran my thumb over her number and those of her destination.

So there it was I thought. I would take the position, carry the guilt of privilege with me to Herakles do my 20 years of penance and try to put my love for them behind me. The system, the Collective will grind on. My son will never remember any of this and I was sure a procedure will insure he will never have an heir. My wife, of course will never be able to forget, nor will she ever know of my decision. My only hope is that her despair will diminish over time.

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