It was eleven AM on a lovely Sunday morning. The sky was a brilliant blue with fluffy white clouds floating on gentle wind currents. Bill sat on a park bench waiting for his customer. Across the street was an ugly cube of a concrete building. Four stories high, it looked like a cross between a prison and an unimaginatively designed courthouse. With one exception. A glass cylinder extended from the center of the building up through the clouds and into the infinite vastness of the sky.
A taxi stopped at the station down the street. Sam stepped out with a young lady on his arm. He looked around and spotted Bill waving. The couple walked the half block to where Bill stood waiting.
“Bill this is my wife Amy.”
Amy stood five foot five, sandy blond hair, blue eyes, about one hundred and ten pounds. She held out her hand. The handshake was dainty, feminine, gentle but there was a hint of steel in her eyes.
“Nice to meet you Amy. Are you ready to go off planet?”
“I don’t know. Are we?” The steel flashed hotter.
“Yes. They’re getting the last of your cargo as we speak.”
“What about the personal effects?”
“They went up first thing this morning. You’re ready to go. As long as the clearances are in order.”
Sam was looking around at the park. “No worry there.” He fingered the leaves of an overhanging branch. Amy looked up at him.
Sam let go of the leaves and sighed. “Yeah. Ready to go.”
Bill clasped his hands behind his back and smiled. “Homesick already?”
“Oh we’ll miss it, miss Earth. But I don’t think for long. We’ll find something better.”
“I had some visitors last night. They want to know when you’re leaving and where you’re going. Pretty insistent they were.”
“You know when. For that matter they do too. Destination is no secret either. Have to file one to get out of here.”
Bill smiled coyly. “None of us believe that’s your real goal.”
Amy nudged Sam. “Give him the heading Sam. We don’t want him to get into trouble on our account.”
Sam pulled out his mini tablet and tapped an icon. “Sure. Here you go Bill. Coming your way.”
Bill looked at his tablet as a set of numbers appeared. “Okay. Let’s pretend that’s your real heading. That takes care of the when and the where but the thing that eating at me… This is just me you understand. My nighttime visitors thought they knew. But I don’t think they know. What’s eating at me is the why. Why are you going into the unknown, wandering among the stars?”
It was Sam who answered. “That’s simple. We want kids.”
“You don’t have to leave to have a child. You’ll have to wait but you’re young. Get on the waiting list. Three years maybe?”
Amy looked at the ground. “I’m classified as an artist and apparently they have all the artists they want for the foreseeable future. They won’t tell us exactly how long the wait would be. Possibly fifteen years. Twenty or twenty-five more likely.” She looked back up at Bill. “We won’t wait that long.”
“So have one anyway. They can’t keep up with everybody. They’d like us to think so but they can’t. I know some who’ve done it.”
Sam exchanged a look with Amy. “We’ve heard the stories but we’ve also heard the stories of the ones who were caught. Mandatory abortions. Children taken from their parents, even as much as four years old. They say they are put in orphanages. There’s a rumor out that they are euthanized. Another word for murder. I believe it.”
Amy took Sam’s hand, lacing her fingers into his. “We can’t raise a family here. Suspicion, paranoia, big brother looking over your shoulder.”
Sam stepped in. “When a society ceases to value human life it’s pretty well over. It’s time to go.”
Sam and Amy spoke at the same time. “Besides.” They smiled at each other, each waiting for the other to speak. Sam broke the log jamb. “We want more than one child. At least three.”
Amy held up her hand. “Five. At least five.”
Copyright © 2012 by Angus B. Lewis
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