The Boy Who Will Never and Always Shine
by Oscar Deadwood
forum: The Boy Who Will Never and Always Shine
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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The Boy Who Will Never and Always Shine


       "Your son has been approved," said the holographic version of the priest, and Billy and Sabrina thanked the balding and cloaked man as he stood on top of their coffee table, his portly frame in a shaft of orange and vibrating light.

       "You've been approved," the priest said, his gaze directed at Billy.

       Sabrina sighed the heaviest and saddest of sighs and Billy nodded in grim satisfaction and they both said "thank you" in that reverent tone reserved for men of religion and men of the law.

       "Congratulations," the priest continued "and how much can you give?"

       Sabrina deferred to Billy as she wiped the rainbow-colored tears that flowed from her eyes.

       "About a million, give or take," Billy said.

       "Well, a million should see little Thor there comfortably enough… Your ceremony is scheduled for the thirteenth of the month, with a potluck to follow, so bring a dish. Goodbye for now, and again, congratulations." And the image of the priest disappeared.

       They sat in electric silence and studied their three-year-old son Thor, the reason for all of their anguish. Thor sat on the floor playing with his set of hovering blocks, building castles in the air.

       Sabrina broke the silence first. "That's nice, fork over a million bucks, but be sure and bring a damn casserole…"

       "Just make it something simple," Billy said. "You know… that bean salad with extra
garbanzos that everyone likes so much."

       More rainbow tears flowed from Sabrina's eyes, and Billy scooted over on the couch to comfort her. He turned on the holovision to watch a replay of last weekend's service. The same priest stood in suspension above the coffee table, but this time, a circle of congregants surrounded him, all reciting a poem of worship.

       "Remember," Billy said, "he's better off this way. We're better off this way. You don't think they appreciate our suffering," he said, pointed towards heaven.

       "And it gets you out of a serious fucking jam with them, too," Sabrina interrupted, and the white and shiny front of her dress was splashed with purple and yellow and pink and orange and red and blue. It took a lot of money to get tears as lovely as that. The church had criticized Billy for not offering enough-- enough of anything. Thor and a million dollars would wash away a lot of sins.

       Billy sighed and stared at his son, his not-quite-right-son, a son whose emotional deformities would haunt them forever.

       No matter what.

       "We've been through all this before," Billy said with gentle anger. "He's better off; we're better off. Besides, what would happen to him after we've grown old? Who would take care of him? I know you think I don't love him, but you're wrong."

       True enough. Billy saw a lot of himself in his son, he saw all his weaknesses-- gentleness and sympathy and compassion, the kind of things that would get one slaughtered in this adult world.

       They rose from the couch and left the house, leaving little Thor behind with his blocks and castles and dreams. They turned the force field on the house so little Thor couldn't accidentally run away. It was time for service, service at their huge and sprawling church that was on the highway leading out of town. The church was visible for miles around, its circle of stones rising above all the buildings in their suburban city.


       The thirteenth came rather quickly, and Billy and Sabrina dragged Thor to their church, The First Druidic Church of Huntington Hills. A cluster of six rockets sat in a circle in the parking lot, and the fat and robed priest stood in the center of the cluster.

       The church scientist led Billy and Sabrina to the rocket that Thor would share with five other children. He would have it easier than the other children would. After all, Billy was donating a million dollars to the church.

       "The shell is insulated to withstand 20,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and he will be fed intravenously for the nine months of the journey."

       "Will he be awake?" asked Sabrina.

       "Not until he's past Mercury," the scientist explained. "It's very important that he's awake for the last leg of the trip… I'm sure you know why."

       Billy nodded an anguished nod and tears of magenta and yellow and black and green rolled down Sabrina's cheeks.

       Thor was placed in the rocket, strapped into the seat, and he cried and cried and Sabrina hugged him and told him she would see him soon, when his trip was over.

       Billy stood outside the rocket, too ashamed to say good-bye to his son. He blamed himself for his son's shortcomings. If only his son had shown some signs of aggressive behavior in his short life, some sort of moxy, some sort of will, then they wouldn't have to do what they felt compelled to do. But no, Thor was perpetually happy, gentle and playful.

       And that wouldn't do. Not at all.

       Sabrina stayed inside the rocket long enough to watch the church scientist inject Thor in his little and white arm, the injection quieting the boy instantly. His eyelids fluttered shut. Sabrina kissed him on the cheek and exited the rocket. She found Billy in the crowd gathered around the priest, but she didn't look at him or the priest.

       She stared fretfully at the sun.

       The priest started the ceremony, his eyes to the sky and his arms outstretched.

       "Oh Belenus!" the priest called the sun by its name. He started chanting in a pidgin sort of Gaelic, the congregants responding at the appropriate intervals.

       The priest finished his chant and bowed his head just as the rockets fired and launched simultaneously. Sabrina followed Thor's rocket until she could see it no more.

       She stared at the sun, the hungry sun, the same sun that Thor was flying towards, the same sun that would awaken him, just as the nine months of the journey ended, just as the outer shell of the rocket was thrust away.

       The sacrificial potluck immediately followed the launch. Sabrina picked all the garbanzos out of her bean salad and threw them towards the sun.



copyright 2006 Oscar Deadwood.

Oscar Deadwood:
I have had some non-SF stories appear in Wanderings and Darkervision, and hope to have my first novel "The Trinity" released by Silverthought Press soon.