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.

dereliction of duty

September 16, 2013 § 4 Comments

dereliction of duty

at one end of the rope,
an old man’s dog
thin trunk of
plum tree at
the other
between the two not
a blade of grass survived

nearing the end of
my route I would stop,
drop my transistor into
my newspaper sack,
and try to
translate his mournful language
into one which fit within
an awkward boy’s understanding

howls that colored
afternoon’s aura in
hues of despair
whines forming canine
pleas for a measure
of companionship

if the plums were ripe
I would mind his tether,
bend a branch
and take one
then let him lap
the juice from my fingers

he never tried to remove
any of them
though, I knew he had reason to
I came, after all,
from a race of captors,

to take from a tree
the dog was sure
he was assigned
as guardian

(c) 2013 Fred Whitehead

tenor blue

September 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

tenor blue

it is good to remember
tenor blue evenings
crickets singing of a
a fall and a rise –
a young heart’s tremor,
bookended by dew,
surviving the stall
to be be written in
symbols inscribed
in the clay
of himself –
set permanent
by the heat
of a bond to be

(c) 2013 Fred Whitehead

the prayer of star builders

September 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

gather up
volcanos sleep deep –
gather volcanos
sleep twenty seven below
walk waterways where
thin kings
thinking up
hothouses for fire orchids
say to you
be within your eyes
be inside your voice
don’t let the dust of mustn’t
linger long on your shoulders

be within your breath
live the pulse of one who knows
how particles cleave
like new lovers
sweep into your arms days
meant for forest spirits
forever set aside time to
be unhinged

be a fountain
that accepts offerings
before offering them back
when the crying is finished
be thankful for what you have lost
and for what you have not
allow yourself to be
smothered in love
spin the universe on your finger
inhale the light of unknown suns

be the long chant prayer
of star builders

(c) 2013 Fred Whitehead

paternal oversight

September 3, 2013 § 1 Comment

off world
as territorial conflict
threatens drift –
into the living room

he sits at his desk
attending to the pathology
of his own mind

doors slammed distant
to the tapping of his pen
on that mystical
point between his closed eyes

voices ring out malfeasance,
skirmish lines advance
between rooms
he, unmoved, using
as an instrument of indifference

(c) 2013 Fred Whitehead


September 2, 2013 § 4 Comments

on this ring-
maybe alongside
the one that unlocks the shed,
hangs the key to my bewilderment –
jingling there
with two or three
that start cars I no
longer own and
an odd shaped thing
that opens towel
dispensers at work

it is there, among
all that have
joined the ranks over the years,
their purpose forgotten
but kept in honor
of their service none
the less –
this population growth
only adds to my confusion
I don’t have the
energy to try them all
so, for now,
I will do what I do best
I will buy
more rings,
gather more keys,
I will,
as expected,
keep wondering

(c) 2013 Fred Whitehead


September 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

blink and
childhood awakens
implanted memory
this morning triggered by
something in the laundry aisle
detergents, starch
bleach… maybe

a girl going by
not possible, this is understood
but I went to
look anyway

moving slowly to the
end of the aisle,
leaning out
and looking both ways
as if I was on
my old front lawn again
expecting a friend

(c) 2013 Fred Whitehead

how I react to a question when I’m obviously involved in something:

August 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

this distraction, having
stripped me of my defenses
rises up before me

an unwelcome Lucius with
a fistful of toga,
demanding explanation
to a world ready to act
at the signal

I process the inevitable

falling mute
is all I have to offer

(c) 2013 Fred Whitehead

cure #4

August 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

the turning inward
for diagnosis revealed
a required purging

it’s nice to unify

August 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

there isn’t much that will
bring together a people
quite as
as irrational fear

I have seen them
drop on it –
wide eyed insects
chopping up a carcass
each going in
for their piece of paranoia

no matter how much
they shear
off of the mass
it continued to grow,
bloated and brackish,
doubling on rumors
bulking up on half-knowns,
it will gladly relinquish
parts of itself
into the hands of those
recently moved to
the task
of planting deep
the cuttings

it pulsates in odd rhythm
as its’ feastlings
quickly acquire
an expertise at
fretting and accusing
as roots take hold

until they finally succumb to
the shadows created
by the towering unreason
they have nurtured

(c) 2013 Fred Whitehead

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