A Piece of my Imagination
"Well, that's fucked it," said Tony when he received his CAP score. Whilst six point two was a reasonable score and it clearly showed he wasn't a complete loss to the human race it wasn't high enough for him to volunteer for the Confederacy Marines.
His friend Bob looked over at the outburst and asked, "You too?"
"Six point two," said Tony confirming out loud his score. "What did you get?"
"Exactly six," replied his friend in disgust, "which means we're both stuck here," he concluded with a shrug.
The pair of them took the high tech. ID cards that the machine had spit out with their incriminating numbers on and shoved them unceremoniously into the back pockets of their jeans and left the testing centre.
"What d'you want to do now?" asked Bob looking to Tony for leadership as usual.
Tony took a look around and didn't see anything encouraging. "Well, it's two hours before the first ferry back so we may as well get something to eat." He glanced back at his friend before snorting, "Come on, you'll feel better after you've chomped your way through a couple of burgers."
Bob was decidedly the larger of the two boys outweighing his friend by at least fifteen kilos though they both topped out at one metre eighty-eight. The hard work the two of them put in routinely on their parent's farms meant that neither of them was out of shape.
Entering their favourite fast food place the boys looked around and were surprised to see a small crowd gathered around a man in the corner. As they approached the counter they started to hear what the man was saying.
"Simply put we are asking why should these aliens decide who should go and who should stay?"
After waiting for the muttering to subside he continued, "What we believe is that until these aliens agree that all of the human race should be evacuated no one should be allowed to leave."
Tony raised an eyebrow at his friend who shrugged in response. Still half listening the pair placed their substantial order for burgers, drinks and doughnuts as in the background the man continued talking, his voice clearly carrying through the quiet that surrounded him.
"I know that this is hard to accept, especially if you're one of the ones that these creatures have singled out for survival but isn't it right that all of us should stick together in the face of this menace? Isn't it right that everyone should be treated the same - after all - it tells us in the Bible that we were all created equal? Why should the few - the privileged few at that - be allowed to survive whilst the rest of us are left here to perish?"
The voice of the man was rising with each question he asked and around him the crowd was becoming more animated in response. Tony looked at his tray and decided that he didn't want to get involved with the mob and led Bob to the outside seating area. It may have been chilly but at least it was quiet and away from any potential trouble.
As they sat down Bob looked back at the crowd and asked his friend, "Do you think he had a point in there?"
"Oh he had a point all right," said Tony, "but I doubt if it was a valid point."
"Why not?" asked his friend.
Tony took a sip of his milkshake before answering. "Think back to when the Darjee turned up," he said, "everyone concerned - from the Yank President to the village idiot - made it clear that, at best, they'd only be able to get a third of the people away. They told us then that they were going to test everyone so that they could have the pick of the crop to carry on the human race. The rest of us," he included himself for the first time, "would have to stay here and take our chances. If we were lucky we might even win the fight."
"But if we did what he's saying in there then we'd all get away," said Bob.
"You think so?" asked Tony. "Did you notice how he didn't tell anyone where the extra ships were coming from to carry all these people? Nor did he tell us where the new colonies are that were going to absorb these extra evacuees." Tony took another sip of his drink before adding, "and I bet under his new rules it'll be him and his friends who get to decide who goes where and in what order not the rest of the people who put them in a position to decide. At least we know the Darjee have been honest even if we don't like the results."
Bob looked back at the crowd and Tony watched as enlightenment occurred.
Finally Bob asked, "What do you think his CAP score is?"
"I've no idea Bob, but one thing's for sure," Tony said, "I bet it's lower than ours."
Blerwick Island was a small island off the West Coast of Scotland. It was roughly nine kilometres long and three kilometres wide of sharply rising crags and broken heather covered hillsides. The single town, a large village really, was centred on the natural deep-water harbour that was the original reason for humans to be on the island.
The island had two major industries, fishing and farming, both of which had been in decline for the last thirty years or so. The island was part of the lands held by the Earl of Carnforth and had belonged to that family for several hundred years.
In the middle of the eighteenth century the then Earl had built a retreat on the island to get away from the growing industrialisation that was starting to appear around his ancestral home on the mainland. The retreat he had constructed was known locally as Carnforth Castle but was actually based on a large hunting lodge that the Prince Regent had had built in the Forest of Dean. In the early nineteenth century the Lodge had been the location for many of the Earl's parties and had led to several new cottages being built in the nearby town to accommodate his staff.
Although the current Earl maintained the Lodge he hadn't actually used the property for over fifteen years and currently there was only a staff of three in residence. Paul Smythe was the estate warden and had overall responsibility for the upkeep of the Lodge. He was assisted by George Marchiondale, the groundsman who was responsible for the formal gardens and the small shooting preserve and Rosalind Grace who acted as housekeeper.
Blerwick was also the home of Tony and Bob as well as their respective families. The families had been tenant farmers of the Earl of Carnforth for as long as the island had been in his possession, eking out a living that was barely above the subsistence level. It was only recently that both families had started taking in tourists and had seen an upturn in their fortunes.
The visitors came to see the various sea birds that made their home on the western cliffs of the island, facing off into the wild Atlantic Ocean. The two families had worked together to produce comfortable if basic hides overlooking the cliffs and advertised their presence on the Internet, an innovation that was the idea of the two young men who'd been sent to school on the mainland. Tony and his family had converted a barn into two holiday apartments while on their neighbours' farm they'd adapted their old home into an apartment and moved into the modernised barn.
Following the success achieved by the Collins and Stewart families several of the nearby farms had followed suit and now the island was attracting a steady but small stream of visitors throughout the year.
The total population of the island excluding the visitors had fallen from a high of six hundred between the two World Wars to a meagre two hundred and twenty. Of that number more than half worked in the various offshore industries like fishing and on the gas platforms and were only home for one week in four.
As Tony and Bob well knew, the island could be a lonely but beautiful place to grow up.
"I believe, Madam Chairman, that we really do not have any choice," the dark skinned woman stood tall as she addressed the committee members clustered around the table. "We have been placed in loco parentis of these girls and regardless of this ridiculous decision, that they become adults at fourteen, we cannot absolve ourselves of that responsibility."
"That's all very well, Ms Roberts," said the older woman from the head of the table, "but their guardians have been extracted and as they are all older than fourteen they, unfortunately, have been left behind. Legally we are in a very difficult position," she smiled grimly, "after all, they are legally adults and we cannot keep them here if they wish to depart."
Ms Janine Roberts drew in another breath, she half agreed with Margaret Mackie but she couldn't just throw her girls out because their parents had been lucky enough to get away especially with the way that things were descending into anarchy. "Madam Chairman, under the agreement that all the guardians signed, which I believe is still binding in law, the young ladies cannot leave the school unless they have a place at another teaching establishment. Clearly, with their guardians no longer on the planet that cannot happen and therefore the agreement is still binding. Which means we are responsible for them until they are eighteen, adults or not."
The only male at the table raised his hand slightly, a single finger pointing upwards.
"Yes, Rector?" asked Margaret Mackie, glad of a short reprieve from Janine's onslaught.
"Wouldn't that agreement become null and void when the term fees are not paid?" he asked.
.... There is more of this story ...