Psychopomp Magazine Spring 2016 - Page 37

Jessica Rutland

All Our Hopes Are Much Too Young

The future kids run amok. They spend their days throwing glass bottles at passing trains and lashing homemade firecrackers to the tails of neighborhood pets. They shoplift cases of beer from the corner store and take serrated switchblades to the tires of cars parked in the high school faculty lot.

No one does anything about it. The future kids are our last chance and must be given grace in all things.

On the morning that the Jonas Command is to be executed, the Director isn’t as nervous as he’d like to be. Anxiety pulses brightly around him, weaving through the engineers, geneticists, and programmers like an artery. The Director observes it, wanting. Knows that it cannot touch him.

He watches the motley collection of scientists as they mill around the machine. They’re dressed up for today—their version of dressed up at least. They wear short-sleeved button-ups with discolored patches of sweat under their arms, ill-fitting slacks that shine with over-applied starch, crooked ties in busy patterns. They wring their hands or gnaw at the rims of their coffee mugs, check and re-check the settings at their control stations.

The Director sweeps a palm over the shoulder of his suit jacket and tugs on the fabric at his wrist to pull his sleeve taut. Part of him wishes that he could feel it the way that they do, the sensation of a heart in throat, of a stomach sick and weightless.

But of course the worry is distant for a reason—the sentiment would be entirely inappropriate from him. The Director is not the machine’s well-

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