AND NOW FOR THE CONCLUSION OF THE FUTURE IS NOW BY CASIE BLEVINS
“Why us?” Ivan asked. “Out of all of the men of NASA, out of all the men of your own time, I mean, why us?” Why now in 1959?”
Chief Graham sighed. “There is no easy way to tell you this.” She sat down, some of her energy depleted, her shoulders slightly slumped. “You are the last viable generation. The last one that genetically could withstand the Worse.”
“Now, wait a minute,” Ben said, “What time do you come from anyway?”
“I was born in 2017. I am thirty-eight years old.” She let that sink in. “I came of age during the Worse. I am genetically altered as a result.”
“What does that mean?” Ivan asked.
“It means that I bear no young.”
“You still didn’t answer my question.”
“It’s a very complicated question. Much more than you realize.”
She looked around the room, taking in the stern-faced men, incredulity present on their faces despite the evidence before them. she noted the fear as well. “We needed intelligent scientifically minded men who fit a profile. We needed a very diverse cross reference of the species. We needed men who had, excuse me, who would never suffer from serious disease in their lifetimes. Whose descendants were proven to be strong and viable at least for five generations.
You four won the lottery, gentlemen.”
Ben put his face in his hands muttering over and over to himself.
“Excuse me, Chief Graham.” Ivan said.
“You said that you needed a ‘diverse cross reference of the species’, I believe is how you worded it. But as you can see, ma’am, we are all white men.”
She sighed. “You’re not perfect, I agree. It was hard enough to find enough of you but you also had to exist in the same time period, and be young enough to be sexually viable.” She shrugged her shoulders. “You’re not perfect but you’re closer than you think. You all represent some part of Europe, Western, Northern. Ivan you have moorish ancestors and Franklin, your Grandmother was an African princess, brought over against her will, on a boat. And that was in a mere five generations ago. Indian, Asian, Germanic, African, every continent on Earth is represented at this table gentlemen.”
She had shocked them into silence again.
“How? How could you know this?” Johnny’s voice was small.
“In my time, genetics play an enormous part of our science but also our daily lives. We depend upon it.”
“Food, production, reproduction. Our planet is dying. Our people are dying.”
“I don’t understand.” Franklin looked at each face in the room. “Why, what, what is our purpose?”
“We’re sending you to the future. To well after my time, to restart the human race.”
They were sworn to secrecy, retrofitted with a small device that looked like a watch but attached to a nerve in their wrist.
“What if we refuse? Can’t we just refuse?” Ivan said, thinking of his wife at home.
“It wouldn’t make any difference. With that kind of technology we could never outrun her.” Ben said.
“But what about our families? I have a life–”
The wood panelling swung aside, interrupting Ivan. Dominick came through, smiling his bright smile again, as if he was ushering them off to enjoy a ski holiday. “You have a three day furlough to spend as you choose. I expect you back here on Friday morning.”
“Sir,” Ivan asked. “What of my family?”
“Oh, that’s simple enough. Your genetics are secure. You have three simply adorable children. Your girl grows up to start and then run a very profitable Bakery chain. Your sons become engineers, one in aviation, the other in atomic energy.”
“It’s as I thought then. A one way trip.” Franklin nodded to himself.
“But my wife, sir— I have a life. I have rights–”
“It matters not, Mr. Kratowsky. This is a matter of our species survival, not your family. And let me remind you, we aren’t asking.” The smile never left his face and Ivan began to view it as diabolical. Was the man mad?
“If it’s any consolation, she remarries. To Stan–something.”
“Stan Dunn? That bastard–”
“I’ll remind you gentlemen that you can’t mention this to your spouse, or another person. Your ‘watches’ will take immediate action.”
“What would happen to us?”
“You don’t wish to find out, I assure you.”
“So what, we’re just going to disappear from everyone we know’s lives? Just like that with no preamble?” Johnny demanded.
“Actually, no. We’ve arranged for you all to be on a charter plane– well as far as anyone else knows you’ll be on that plane–and it will crash gentlemen, somewhere over the Arizona Desert.”
“They’ll think we’re all dead.”
“Yes. It’s the best way to wrap things up.”
“I can’t believe this is happening!” Johnny yelled. “How could this be happening?”
“Go home. Say your goodbyes. You’re going to be heroes, gentlemen.”
Ben went home, then called everyone he knew and threw a party.
Johnny avoided going home, he headed to the bars.
Franklin spent time with his mother and father, told them he needed to go out of town on business and brought his dog, Snuffs to stay with them. They noticed his extra seriousness, but left him unquestioned. They knew from past experience that Franklin was too private to bear intrusion into his thoughts. His mother made him his favorite meal and took a family picture.
Ivan went straight home, and spent all day with his children, even taking the oldest one out of school for the week, his eyes heavily weighted with guilt and remorse for abandoning them. He spent his nights lovingly in the arms of his wife, memorizing her every line, every feature, each wrinkle and gray hair. He stayed up long after she fell asleep each night touching her hair and whispering her name.
He considered cutting off his hand, but shrunk away from it. He spent much of his time worrying ‘the watch’, twisting it left and right, feeling the bite of it under his skin. If she noticed his new watch she never mentioned it.
On Friday morning they all returned to the little room with the plaque that read Interdimensional Space Operatives on the door, each of them red-eyed and hollowed out, pale-faced.
They were quiet for once, each in their own world of memories, anxious about the future. Dominick was himself subdued in deference to their obvious grief. Chief Graham kept her speech to a minimum then lead the men through the dark panelled wall and down a long hallway. She left them at the entrance to another door with just a word. “You men will be heroes.”
“Just a moment, Chief Graham.” Franklin said, “What do we do when we are there? How will we know what to do?”
She smiled at him. “You’ll do what men do, Franklin. You’ll procreate.”
“With whom, please, ma’am?”
“With whomever is left.”
“Why not you?” Johnny asked rudely. “Better yet, why aren’t the women of our time going as well?”
She gave him a hard look. “You’ve engineered that yourself with the way that you’ve treated the women of your time. They aren’t properly educated, and certainly not in the sciences. The future needs scientists, gentlemen. We need natural leaders, thinkers, innovators.”
“We’ll need cooks and baby-makers too, Chief Graham.”
She gave him a steely look. “The most important reason that men alone will go is that you carry billions of sperm in your sacs and we have millions of women who can use that. A woman from any time only has one womb and a limited fertility period–vastly smaller than in your time because a natural pregnancy means death to our women. Science provides us the solution to that. We need to maximize our results or we will die out. As a species. That’s the purpose you will serve.”
“And as to your first question: I’m already dead where you are going, Johnny. I don’t survive the Matings.”
“I won’t bear human young. I have Worse eggs. I’ll have Worsers.”
“So you can bear young?”
“Of course. They just aren’t viable to our species. They would replace our species.”
“Oh dear god.”
“The machines are already set up. Just sit in the chair and enjoy the ride. It’s a little bumpy.”
“One last thing.” Ivan said.
“How do you live with knowing it all? The end of your own life?”
She smiled a slow smile, sadness clouding her features. “It simply is.”
The room they were in was somewhat egg shaped, a metal skeleton with metal panels and it gleamed dully in the light.
“I guess this is it.” Ben said, strapping himself into his seat.
They each faced the middle, a panel of lights, buttons and digits, in front of them.
“It’s oddly beautiful,“ Franklin said.
“I don’t want to do this.” Johnny said. “I don’t want to do this, do you hear me?” He craned his neck up and around.
The numbers on the panel lit up, then an image of them lifted into the air and glowed like a magic trick. The men stared in wonder. The date read March 3rd, 20–.
“I can’t do this.” Johnny muttered, his breath coming in hitches and starts, his face turning red.
“Calm down, Johnny.” Ivan said.
“I don’t even know you people!” Johnny shouted and he began pounding his hands on his chair and ripping at his restraints. “Get me out of here!”
The room began to vibrate, whirring and whirring and the men began to feel weightless.
“No, no, no,” Johnny hollered, and then he leaned forward and slammed his hand onto the control panel. He kept punching, his teeth bared and his eyes wild until abruptly he passed out.
The others stirred in their chairs, after a moment raised their heads and looked around. The sides of their room were missing , and sky and night intruded. “Just as I thought.” Franklin murmured. “The walls were the power source.”
The earth was craggy, a promontory rose up on either side of them and no buildings could be seen.
Franklin could see Johnny in the darkness, gibbering quietly to himself. “I think they made a mistake with that one.” He said out loud to no one in particular.
“I think–” Ivan was staring at the floating numbers. “I think he changed it.”
Franklin pulled himself out of his chair and stood up. He leaned forward. “October 19th, 30–.” He read, then looked around him.
There was light in the distance, a weak soft light that only provided shadows and not details.
“I don’t know what I expected but it’s not this,” Ben said coming to stand beside Franklin. “Where are the people? Hell, where’s NASA?”
They all looked around.
“Well, let’s set up a shelter,” Ivan said.
“They didn’t give us a shelter. They didn’t give us anything. I don’t think that we’re supposed to be here,” Franklin said.
“Where is here? Where is here?” Johnny muttered.
“You big dumb ox.” Ivan shook his head.
“We’ve moved through time but not space. This is supposed to be NASA.”
“Maybe it was.”
“Let’s just try to find…the women I guess. That’s why we’re here, right?” Ben took off walking towards the light.
“Ben, wait,” Ivan said. He pointed into the distance. “What’s that?”
Small heavy looking shadowy movements could be seen darting from left to right. The more they watched the more they saw come into the light. One dozen, two dozen, and filling the horizon.
“Oh dear god. What is it?”
They were enormous, growing exponentially in size the closer they got. They were covered in mud, had wild vacant eyes and were nude. Their bodies were muscled, they leaned on their haunches and used well muscled arms to propel themselves in a leaping fashion ever forward. They had long heavy looking penises dangling from between their legs.
“No, they’re hairless. Dirty. They’re–by god–they’re human!”
“No, they’re not,” Franklin said quietly. “They’re something else.”
Johnny let out a braying laughter that went on and on and on even while the men were mowed down by the species that had replaced them, even as they each were treated to their own Mating.
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