Thaddius Bia rose drearily, typical of the day that was in it. Silly to feel such dread about a procedure that he had undergone so many times. Purely psychological.
His protein shake didn’t go down as easily as other mornings and his daily workout- specifically targeting the Dadini and Affetare muscles- seemed that bit more gruelling than usual.
He was alone in the appartment, as he was most mornings. His wife, Andrea, took their children Portia, 6, and Lucius, 10, with her to the penthouse suites to help the privileged prepare for their day. The children eagerly performed whatever tasks were assigned to them in return for snacks.
Thaddius threw his skinny top into his bag and plodded out the door onto their balcony and into the pod.
“Harvesting plant- fifteenth floor.” As he waved his left wrist in front of the scanner.
A warning message appeared on the screen with a beep advising him that he did not have enough credit for a return journey. Nothing new to Thaddius to have finances so tight for the cycle.
After the customary couple of seconds for the pod’s computer to clear the route it set off with the whoosh that the kids loved so much.
Jameson was in the reception area when Thaddius stepped out of the pod onto the balcony and moved towards the sliding door to greet him.
“Thaddy! You’re looking good and bulky.”
Thaddius half heartedly took the proffered hand- pale, skinny and well manicured- and let it dictate the movement, despite the fact that he could overpower it so easily.
Jameson was always friendly to Thaddius and had never offended him in any way, but Thaddius had a deep rooted dislike of the man, inherent enough not to trust himself to apply any strength to the handshake. Nature of the business he supposed.
“How did the cycle go for you? I see that you barely had enough credit to get here. You deserve better than that. Come and see me after your procedure for a little chat.”
Thaddius momentarily delayed releasing his controller’s hand, enjoying the slight hint of discomfort that briefly paraded across his face. A small pleasure indeed, but on harvesting day all pleasure should be relished.
Forty five minutes later Thaddius, now wearing his skinny top, sat in Jameson’s office across the expansive desk from him. Jameson had more of an air of authority about him here on home ground, which became even more apparent when he spoke abruptly.
“Two point eight kilos Thaddy, down another fifty grams. This cycle is going to be even tougher than the last one.”
“Why just manage? All you have to do is sign form 64C and you will instantly get enough credits to change life for you and your family forever.”
“My family don’t want me to sign. Andrea thinks it’s a step too far.”
“People always think progress is a step too far. When human harvesting began it met with fierce opposition for years on end. Now it’s a perfectly normal part of everyday life that provides a livelihood for many people just like you.”
“If the livelihood was that good there’d be no need for 64C!”
“You are lucky to be able to feed and house your family in these trying times Thaddy. If your father and grandfather before you hadn’t agreed to genetic modifications where do you think you’d be now? Underground with the moss eaters or on a one way trip to Mars or the other colonies or on the Streets not even able to afford insect crackers. Look Thaddy, it’s all about solving problems. Mankind has always been at its best when seeking solutions. Look at the way we developed clean energy and reversed the effects of pollution, or the way internet politics ended war, or the way the colonies have assured the continuation of our species no matter what. The biggest problem we are now facing is how to feed twenty four billion people, and form 64C is foremost among the solutions.”
“What about the abnormally high accident rate among people who have signed the form?”
“Crime is crime Thaddy. If there was any foul play against any member of your race the perpetrator would be punished under the full letter of the law.”
“If anybody was ever caught.”
“Come on Thaddy! It’s the twenty second century- every criminal gets caught. All this stuff about high accident rates is just hokem. There’s another reason you should sign- your children.”
Jameson leaned back in his chair with the air of a poker player about to reveal the winning hand.
“What about my children?” Despite his best efforts Thaddius failed to disguise his interest.
“Here at the company we are well aware of the difficulties that your children face because of their genetic differences. I’m sure you remember what it’s like to be different yourself.”
Jameson paused to let Thaddius reflect on the torment he had endured at school; the names, the exclusion, the bullying, the trouble that invariably followed standing up for himself against cruelty. Danny Glouster.
When Thaddius was eleven Danny Glouster was a fourteen year old who revelled in the daily persecution that he mercilessly lavished upon him. Until that fateful day when he pushed too far.
He took Thaddius unawares in the crowded school corridor between classes, coming from behind and grabbing the backs of his elbows and spinning him off balance, shouting “Yummy, yummy meaty man.”
He then sunk his teeth into Thaddius’ shoulder. That was the final straw.
Thaddius shook himself free and lashed out in a rage he had never before experienced. Through the red mist all he remembered was his punches making contact as he punched. And punched and punched and punched. Then the aftermath, with the whole school looking on, horrified at what he had done.
The shame he was made feel in the principal’s office in front of his parents still burned more than anything else about the incident to this day. He never felt lucky, as the principal insisted, that he was only expelled and didn’t have criminal charges pressed against him.
The awareness that Lucius was only one year younger than he was then chilled him to the bone. It horrified him to imagine his dear son enduring anything like that.
Satisfied that the desired effect had been achieved Jameson continued.
“We have decided to fund a school for the children of our harvestees so they can be educated among their own kind and not have to suffer at the hands of other children as I’m sure you did. This is a huge undertaking at great expense, so places at this school will be reserved for the children of those who have signed form 64C.”
This time the pause was to give Thaddius time to make the desired decision.
“Give me the form.”
The form was promptly slid across the desk, having lain in preparation of the favourable outcome. Jameson remained silent while the form was signed and returned.
“You have made the right decision Thaddy. This will be a huge benefit to your family.” As he scrutinised the form prior to filing it. “Wrist please.”
Thaddius extended his left wrist for Jameson to wave his electronic baton in front of. More credits than he had ever had in his life were added with a beep. Jameson sat back in his chair with an air of satisfaction.
“I mean, apart from the credits and the school, your family will never have to worry about funeral expenses.”
The gleeful smile combined with the ramifications of what had just transpired to justify Thaddius’ dislike of the man and then some.
“Quite silly really, funerals. Makes no sense at all to dig a hole and bury all that lovely meat.”
I am an Irish writer who self published my first book 'Gurriers'.
I also made a 30 minute pilot episode developed from one of the early chapters that is available to view on youtube under the name Gurriers.
I am currently working on my second book, which will be a book of short stories.
I would like to test my stories here to ascertain whether or not they are good enough for the book, so all input- positive or negative- will be gratefully received.