The Gates will be Closing Soon

In Fiction by Lamar Henderson0 Comments

“It’s late. The gates will be closing soon.”

“Why? Do you have somewhere to be outside?”

“No. It’s just an observation.”

“Come back to bed. You’ve observed enough for now.”

“Move over. You’re taking up all the space.”

“It’s not my fault you have such a little bed. You should come to my place. My bed is huge.”

“Well, that wouldn’t very well be an awkward conversation, now, would it?”

“Ha! I suppose so. Here, better?”

“Yes, fine.”

“Move your arm up. I want to snuggle.”

“Aw, aren’t you a widdle snuggle bunny.”

“Shut up. It’s chilly, and you’re all warm.”

“All good now?”

“Uh-huh.”

“I like it, you know.”

“What?”

“My bed. I like it. It’s just right for me.”

“By yourself.”

“By myself. Sure. I’ve always been by myself before.”

“Just think of me as an extra limb.”

“OK. Sure. I’ll have to get my clothes modified, though.”

“You could just go around naked.”

“They might object to that at work.”

“Oh, I don’t know. I’m sure some of them might be perfectly fine with that.”

“Like who?”

“Like Pat, for one.”

“Pat? Really? You think Pat –“

“I know it.”

“What? Did you hear something?”

“Right from the horse’s mouth.”

“Really? Get out. And — kind of mean.”

“What? Oh — not intentional. Swear.”

“Someone should really tell Pat that they can fix those things now.”

“You could when you go in naked.”

“Maybe. I hear naked people get a pass on a lot of things.”

“Oh, lots and lots of things.”

“There it is.”

“What’s that?”

“The horn, the horn for the gates.”

“You’d think that wouldn’t be necessary, really.”

“Sure.”

“They’re 5 meters tall and what? Fifteen, 20 meters wide?”

“Sure.”

“Honestly, I’m not sure why we even still have them.”

“What?”

“Really. I mean, we’ve been here for almost 30 stellars. There haven’t been any attacks since when?”

“I don’t know, but –“

“Since before I was born, I know that.”

“No big attacks.”

“What do you mean, big attacks?”

“Mass attacks. Packs. What you’re thinking about. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t still attacks.”

“Well, sure. Outside the walls, but –“

“And that’s why we still need the gates. And the wall. And not always outside the walls.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean sometimes they get in. Not a whole pack. Just a couple, three.”

“My god. When did that happen?”

“Happens all the time. Two or three times a stellar. Usually they don’t get anyone, but dogs, cats, sure. Sometimes people. A kid got snatched right out of his pod last cycle.”

“My god. Why haven’t I heard about that?”

“Because you don’t leave near the wall, love. They’ll never get in to city center, what with the fences and all. Out here, though.”

“My god.”

“Yes.”

“….”

“What?”

“I’m sorry.”

“Sorry for what?”

“Sorry you have to live like this.”

“Don’t.”

“Sorry that things aren’t better.”

“Stop.”

“I just mean –“

“I know what you mean. It doesn’t matter.”

“How can you say that?”

“It’s easy. I move my lips and push out air –“

“Stop. It’s not funny.”

“Well, actually, it kind of is.”

“Stop.”

“Ok. Look. This is the way things are. It’s not your fault. It’s not my fault. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s just the way things are. It’s the way things have been for a long time, and I have no reason to believe that it’s not the way things are going to be for a long time more.”

“Don’t get mad.”

“I’m not mad. I’m not. Really. It’s just — people talk. Say they want to change things. People out here, people in city center. People talk. And nothing gets changed.”

“Why? Why don’t they change?”

“You know why?”

“No. Really. Why don’t things change?”

“I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”

“Because my family, Mother and Father both. They worked they way up. They built lives for themselves. They did well.”

“I don’t want to talk about this.”

“Truly. If they can work their way up –“

“Where were they born?”

“What?”

“Your parents. Where were they born?”

“The ship. They were born on the ship. You know that –“

“Where? Where on the ship?”

“Where? I don’t know.”

“I’ll tell you where they were born. They were born in the central hub. Do you want to know how I know that? Because they live in city center now.”

“Oh, I’m sure that –“

“Really? Haven’t you seen it? All the families in city center came from the central hub. All the families in the middle came from the middle hub. And all the families out here on the fringe came from the outer rim.”

“How can that be true?”

“Haven’t you ever wondered why there are so many moots and tards out here on the fringe? You see them all the time. How many have you ever seen in city center? Two? Three? That many?”

“I never thought about it.”

“What?

“I said I never thought about it.”

“No. And why should you? It’s just the way it is. It’s just the way it was intended to be, the natural order.”

“The natural order.”

“Yes. All the managers and supervisors in city center, all the technicians in the middle and everybody else out here. On the fringe.”

“That’s just….”

“Yes?”

“I never thought about it. It just seems… unfair.”

“Unfair? Love, we live on a speck in the universe that wasn’t designed to hold us. Every rote, we get up and go outside the wall and tear up the ground and pump starter in just to try to grow something we can actually eat. In a good cycle, it works. In a bad cycle, it doesn’t. Thank god for the ponics bays and soylent mills. Fair has got nothing to do with it.”

“I guess not.”

“Nope.”

“Nope.”

“Are you…. Never mind.”

“What?”

“You don’t want to talk about it anymore. It doesn’t matter.”

“What.”

“I just. I mean. Are you angry?”

“Angry.”

“Yes. You sound angry.”

“Angry. I don’t know what that means.”

“Angry about the way things are. Angry that they aren’t different.”

“I still don’t know what that means. I mean, are you angry that you don’t have wings, that you can’t fly?”