Images & Words: Void the Light

Images & Words: Void the Light – Part 4


Image
LEM Station by Wojtek Fus

Words
Neal Ulen

When : Where
269 DE (2579 CE) : Infinispace / Pinnacle City


Void the Light info:

This is part of a first draft novella entitled “Void the Light” that takes place in my Infinispace Universe.

The novella is set about 15 years before the events of “Infinispace: Deception” and is approximately 30,000 words in length. It will be posted in serialized format.

If you’d like to start at the beginning, click this link.

Preceded by Void the Light – Part 3.
Who are you?” The breeze ruffled my hair and I tried to forget that its sweetness was just an illusion. I poured the remainder of the water to the stone path knowing I wasn’t even thirsty.

“My name is unimportant and irrelevant to the matter at hand. You know what I represent, and that is all that matters.” He abruptly cleared his throat and opened his tattered notebook. He slowly fingered through the yellow pages, several sheets fell to the ground at his feet and dissolved as they hit the path. Just an antiquated illusion as paper had not been used in the Triocracy for a couple hundred years as far as I knew.

“Now to your transgressions citizen Martos. You have been charged with procreating without the approval of Spire eugenicists.” He glanced up from his notebook. “The penalty for this transgression is to make your citizenship within the confines and protection of the Spire … and the Triocracy as a whole, if you should ever be so fortunate to leave Terra … void. Do you understand and concede to these charges?”

I must have looked the fool, with my mouth agape and eyes blank, sitting on the bench in the middle of a false reality being told my love Taria was carrying our child. Procreate. Pregnant? My situation had just gone from bad to untenable, and a sense of deepening dread settled over me. All I could do was stare silently.

The gentleman did not look pleased. His eyes dipped to the notebook again as he flipped the page with a grandiose flair of showmanship.

“Furthermore, citizen Martos, your relationship with one … Taria … was never submitted nor tested for proper DNA compatibility or optimization. The relationship is immediately void and as such Taria is also similarly charged. Penalty … void of citizenship.”

LEM Station by Wojtek Fus
LEM Station by Wojtek Fus

Of course we knew we were carrying on an illicit relationship, at least in the eyes of the Spire, but how could we be so careless about bringing a child into the world? We never wanted a child … at least in the world we existed. How could this have happened? Well, of course I know how it happened, but it was not something we wanted or were aspiring to. Precautions were taken with every aspect of our relationship to keep it secret. The Spire would have to understand that it was all a mistake and we never intended to go so far against the edicts of the Spire. Why had Taria not told me? When did this happen? How long? Did she conspire against me? No! My mind was awash with thoughts of confusion, panic and betrayal.

The Spire prefect was now staring at me with that same insipid grin on his face as he watched the emotions play across my face.

“Yes, I see now that you understand.” He said. “As you well know the Triocracy maintains strict control over the population of the Techspire and what you call the Tangle. We have clawed out a means of survival from the ruins of the Transcendence Wars hundreds of years ago. Resources are scarce. Everything that sustains us is imported from other parts of the Triocracy, and those resources are spread thin. There’s no more room to store any more of you, or resources to move you off world in large quantities. We can only manage a trickle through the off-world lottery program. Do you understand the predicament we find ourselves and the need to constrain population?”

“Store any more of us? You refer to ‘us’ as if we’re boxes to be stored in some warehouse, or as useless …”

“DO you understand the predicament?” He interrupted me, his voice suddenly gone even more lifeless than before.

I just looked at him coldly and uttered, “Yes.”

“Good. Then is there an admission to these charges?” The prefect asked.

The cool breeze was still caressed my cheeks but it no longer tasted as sweet. I closed my eyes. “No.”

The prefect rose to his feet to utter his next words. “Based on your genome sequence I expected such a response. You have two paths of recourse in this matter citizen Martos. Accept immediate cancellation of citizenship, or deliver Taria to a Spire sponsored health center where the child will be terminated and she will be permanently sterilized. If this is not completed within 48 hours your citizenship shall be automatically void. Do you understand?”

Precautions were taken with every aspect of our relationship to keep it secret. The Spire would have to understand that it was all a mistake and we never intended to go so far against the edicts of the Spire. Why had Taria not told me? When did this happen? How long? Did she conspire against me? No! My mind was awash with thoughts of confusion, panic and betrayal.

Citizenship. Both bane and bounty to anyone and everyone within the Tangle as well as some portions of the towering Techspire itself. Without it Taria and I would have no labors, and thus no assigned cubes, or monthly ration points, or medical care. To exist without it was nigh a prolonged death sentence. With one swift stroke losing spire citizenship would effectively relegate us to starving, homeless outcasts shunned by all other citizens wary of stiff penalties for aiding or abetting. What choice did we have? Compliance, slow death, or running. Run to where? No one would give us shelter within the Tangle. There was nothing beyond the Barrier but desolation and a quick death. But I also couldn’t just hand over our future child for termination! The barbarity of it enraged and nauseated me.

This would not end well for Taria and myself no matter what choice I made, no matter how careful we were. There was only one choice to make … run, hide. Somewhere, anywhere. Force Benize to find us some sort of help within the black markets for selling us out to the Spire. Death would suit him better. Why not? I was a fugitive. What could be worse than loss of citizenship? The end result would be the same as capital punishment … death. One would just take longer than the other, but at least we’d have freedom for awhile.

But, I must play a ruse. I didn’t want the Spire catching on to the wild thoughts of a desperate man. I looked him square in the eyes and said, “I understand. But there must be a mistake, we …”

He held up a wrinkled hand. “We do not make mistakes. You are the one perhaps who has made the mistake. Yes?”

“But there was no plan or meaning to have a child! Surely something can be done? Reduced rations. A smaller assigned cube. I can labor longer or take secondary labors. Anything!”

“Irrelevant.” Was all he said as he stood before me with the ridiculous notebook held to his chest with crossed arms.

The anger began to rise within me. “You son of a bitch! This is not irrelevant! You can’t just treat people and life like commodities or nuisances. We have needs!”

“You gave up your righteous freedoms centuries ago when you proved you could not provide for your own needs. For a hundred years humanity clamored to be suckled by corrupt governments and corporations. Independence nurtures freedom, and freedom nurtures independence. You can’t have one without the other, but you forfeited your independence long ago, and thus the freedom you thought you possessed. The Spire provides. We are now your nursemaids.” The old man sighed. “There is no alternative to this matter. You will comply. You have 48 hours.”

My hands were sore from being clenched in rage. But the soreness reminded me that everything about this was false … unreal. So surely there would be no harm in showing this Spire lackey exactly how I felt.

“Damn you, your Spire, and your edicts!” I screamed and launched the entirety of my body at him.

My violent reaction startled his calm demeanor. Notebook and paper flew in all directions as he moved his arms to protect his throat from my lunging hands. Just as my fingers felt the odd coldness of his bare neck … the world froze. The wind blew no more. The birds sang no songs. The leaves sighed no more whispers. More importantly the air suddenly smelled ancient and stale.

I was frozen in mid lunge, in a position that couldn’t be naturally support without defying fundamental physics. Nothing moved. Except the old prefect.

He stepped backwards removing his cold neck from my hot hands and said, “Our business is concluded citizen Martos. Enjoy the short lived freedom you’ve been seeking.”

My virtual rat cage went black.

To be continued …


Words © 2020, Neal Ulen. All rights reserved.
Images/videos cited © to their respective owner(s).


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