Despite his inherent intellectual prowess, little Attley was more apprehensive about his predetermined path than his father who knew nothing of where his son was being sent, save what rumors were carried along by the deep space vessels. The birth and the explosive growth of human civilization on their planet were marked by so much misery and pain that it was hard for most people to notice it had already gone into terminal decline.
“I don’t think I want to leave,” the reluctant boy said over and over again in the days leading up to his departure.
“You’re going to love it there,” his father assured him. “It’s so much better than it is here.”
During Attley’s short life all he had ever known was the sights of rusting machinery looming over empty quarries and massive drills sinking into the ground where they got stuck swiveling gaping chasms into the surface. The dusty infertile soil gleaming with fragments of heavy metals that accumulated in the human body was familiar to him. The older generations that were physically deteriorating, withered away by a lifetime of their toils were just an ordinary aspect of life from Attley’s point of view, and it was beyond him to ever imagine growing into one of them. It was the inescapable destiny of everyone who found themselves condemned by fortune to a lifetime in Attley’s home. To Attley’s father, they were like looking into a distorted mirror and time was quickly transforming him into that broken and deformed reflection. Even though he barely had half his child’s IQ, he understood a great deal better where the circumstances of life were going to leave him.
“Why can’t you come with me?” Attley predictably asked.
“I can’t where you’re going is only for special kids. Just remember that’s why you’re going there because you’re one of the best,” his father explained.
“Best at what?” Asked Attley.
Attley’s father watched with the other teary-eyed relatives as the fire spewing engines carrying their children into space became a just a white twinkle against the black tapestry of space. They quietly dispersed and headed for home. Each one of them continued to reassure themselves about their sacrifice. The advancing necrosis of the world they built reinforced their justifications. They were all convinced a long and prosperous life was something they could never have assured for their now departed children. How could they ever hope to reverse their slow collective death? Unlike the children they had just offered up to their distant gods these were all questions none of them had the aptitude to address much less hope to answer.