A Piece of my Imagination
"Jimmy, get a move on will you," yelled Margaret Walton, "we've got to be at the test centre in an hour."
James Reginald Walton, the Jimmy in question, rolled over and looked at the clock. Eight twenty-two in the morning on the last Friday of the holidays and his mother wanted him up. He shook his head as he slowly crawled from under the warm quilt and looked around his large bedroom. His clothes were scattered around in the usual haphazard fashion waiting for Pamela to sort the mess out. Various books and magazines -- on topics as diverse as computers and aliens -- competed for shelf and desk space with the trophies he'd won for high board diving, in other words a typical adolescents bedroom.
As his brain got into gear Jimmy started to think about the rest of the day, the major part of which was going to be taken up by the Government ordered CAP testing. His Capacity, Aptitude and Potential testing -- to see how much use he was to the human race -- or so the Government would have you believe. Which was not what his mother called it, she was convinced it was some sort of breeding project the Western governments had concocted to defeat the onrush of foreigners into the country. His mother was pretty vague about who those foreigners where and why they wanted to come into the country but she stuck by her principles on the matter.
Jimmy shook his head as he headed for the shower, his mother had many strange ideas like that, 'probably as a result of losing dad' he thought. Having to do his CAP test today was a case in point, the Government had decreed that everyone would be tested in their fourteenth year and most teenagers did it as near to their fourteenth birthday as possible, it marked a passage from childhood to adulthood in the new era. His mother had insisted that he should leave it until the last possible day -- which was today -- as tomorrow was his fifteenth birthday.
As he towelled off his hair his mind went back to the upcoming CAP testing and his decision to volunteer for service in the Confederacy, a decision he hadn't told his mother about and one that was likely to cause a major breach when she found out. 'It didn't matter, ' he thought, 'the Sa'arm are real, no matter what mom thinks and I'm going to fight them.' He'd already composed the letter requesting a slot as a fighter pilot and as soon as he had his score he was sending it off, the thought of not qualifying never entered his head.
Finally dressed Jimmy joined his mother in the kitchen, were she was giving instructions to Pamela, their maid, "and make sure that his bedroom is tidied up. He's made a right mess of it again." Jimmy smiled at Pam over his mothers shoulder. Pamela was kind of cute -- if a little slow -- and she'd been helping his mother for the last four years, ever since his dad had died, and was almost part of the family. She and Jimmy got on well, usually because they were both trying to limit the silliness that Margaret Walton inflicted on the pair of them.
Realising that her son had arrived Margaret picked up her handbag and headed for the door, "Come on slow coach," she said expecting him to follow. Jimmy raised his eyebrows at Pamela and followed his mothers, admittedly, cute bum out of the door and across to her five series BMW.
Margaret was thirty-seven years old and for the last four years seemed to have regressed to thinking she was twenty again. Her mode of dress and mannerisms were all those of a young woman from nearly twenty years ago which didn't mesh well with her real age and appearance, at least facially. The one advantage, as far as Jimmy was concerned, was that his mother insisted on wearing fitted skirts and high heels which presented her best feature superbly, unfortunately Jimmy was a devoted tit man and his mother was pretty short in that department.
The journey to the testing centre was fairly short and when his mother started on about what a palaver this testing was, Jimmy tuned her out and idle watched the world go by, dreaming of flying a fighter in the defence of the world.
The CAP testing centre for there area was located in an old classroom of a disused infants school, the former playground giving ample parking for the parents of those undergoing testing. Margaret Walton carefully parked her car well away from all the other vehicles and got out of the drivers door as Jimmy hopped out of the passenger side.
"Mom, you don't need to come," Jimmy complained, "I can do this on my own."
Margaret flushed at her son's tone, "You're not the only one being tested Jimmy," she said, surprising him. "The Governments order applies to everyone and I haven't been tested yet either. Philip tells me I'll get into trouble if I'm not tested, just as much as I would for not getting you tested." Philip was the solicitor who'd taken care of things when Jimmy's dad had died.
The noise that Jimmy produced was inarticulate, which was probably just as well because if he'd managed to say what he was thinking is mother would have been shocked and displeased. Biting his tongue Jimmy led the way into the testing centre and after a couple of turns was confronted by a middle aged woman wearing a bright badge that proclaimed she had a CAP score of six point nine. "Good morning," she purred, "what can I do for you?"
"We've appointments for testing, Margaret and James Walton." said his mother sternly.
The receptionist glanced at the screen before her, "Uhmm, yes, Mrs Walton," she looked up, "if you'd go along to door number four, which is in that direction," she indicated a corridor to the left, "someone will guide you through the testing process." She glanced back at her screen then up at Jimmy, "and you young man are in room nine, which is off that way," she said indicating the opposite direction to his mother.
Jimmy glanced at his mother, who was starting to look apprehensive. Jimmy smiled, "I'll see you back here when we've finished mom, good luck," he said brightly, before turning and walking off in the direction indicated.
The door to room nine was ajar -- so when Jimmy knocked it opened on its own -- the screen on the wall opposite the door lit up and a voice intoned, "Come in James Walton, take a seat in front of the screen and relax for a moment."
Jimmy, his own apprehension becoming a physical thing in his stomach, edged into the empty room. "AI?" he asked diffidently.
"Correct," replied the voice, "please take a seat and we will begin the Capacity, Aptitude and Potential testing."
Jimmy settled into the nice, leather chair positioned directly in front of the screen and tried to relax. The AIs voice began an introduction that seemed to drone on and on. Jimmy became aware, peripherally, of different images appearing on the screen and his own voice responding to questions being put to him.
He blinked at the screen that seemed to be fading to grey, "Thank you for your patience, your ID card is currently being fabricated and will be delivered to you shortly. If your score his sufficient would you be willing to volunteer for service in the Armed Forces of the Confederacy?"
Jimmy was confused, was the test over, how had he done. "I, uhmm, that is, Yes, yes I would like to volunteer. I want to be a fighter pilot," he burbled.
The voice came back, "Please confirm that James Reginald Walton wishes to volunteer for service in the Armed Forces of the Confederacy, as a fighter pilot by preference."
"Yes," said Jimmy, firmly this time.
"Thank you," the voice said. "Where possibly your stated preferences will be taken into consideration when allocating Confederacy service." There was a pause, then, "Your ID card is now ready for collection at the reception desk," and with that simple statement the screen went blank.
Jimmy rested for a minute, confused, had he actually volunteered or did it all depend on his score? Springing to his feet he made his way to the reception desk where the woman was waiting for him, "Congratulations James, here's your card," she said pushing a piece of laminated plastic across the counter.
Jimmy took the proffered card and looked for the big number, the one that really counted as far as the world was concerned.
Seven point three!
He grinned like a mad man and only just refrained himself from dancing around, the woman smiled at him. "Feels good doesn't it?" she asked, fingering her own badge.
"Oh yes," he breathed, then thought of his mother, "How did..." he tapered off.
The woman's face clouded over, "Not as well, unfortunately," she said, but before they could go into any details Jimmy heard the clip clop of his mothers heels on the tiled floor. Margaret didn't say a word, just held out her hand and accepted the lump of plastic that the receptionist offered her, after a quick glance she dropped it in her handbag and glanced at her son. "Come on then Jimmy, we need to get a present for your Aunt."
With barely a backwards glance his mother set off for her BMW, Jimmy shrugged to the receptionist and followed his mother out into the sunlight, his happiness tarnished by his mothers attitude.
'Happy Birthday', thought Jimmy sarcastically, as he crossed the grass verge next to his mother, the pair of them approaching the small marquee with the happy birthday banners strung up outside it.
Jimmy and his Aunt Maureen shared a birthday and whilst it was his fifteenth it was also her fortieth. Being as this was considered special by the family, they and her friends had organised a party for her at the Merryweather hotel. The hotel had large gardens and erected numerous marquees throughout them and it was one of these that was hosting his Aunts party.
.... There is more of this story ...