Fool’s Errand, a Story
September 11, 2009
Fool’s Errand, by Adrian Perez
It was not to be. Alfred stood on the veranda of his estate, small lap dogs skipping about his feet. There there was nothing that could be done. He simply had to trust himself to do it.
Inside of himself, a deep welling of fatalism poured through his heart. He had never killed so many children before, but on this planet, there was a parasite that rendered half the children into something else.
He looked at one of the children playing out in the garden around the veranda. It’s legs, in reverse to the normal mode of things. The knee caps on the wrong side, for an inverted walking motion. It’s head larger than usual.
This batch of children had been found in a church. The people in that province were utter fundamentalists, with an emphasis on the sacredness of life that stemmed from their roots in Jainism. In fact, they were called Jainist Catholics. It was because of this that the Sterilization Board had commissioned Alfred and his team to clean up the mess they had discovered.
Most of the contaminated children were destroyed immediately on site. They had been hiding in the basement of the church, but Intuitives had been sent out ahead of time to find their location.
He felt like a traitor. The children had not learned the sin of denying the possibility of gifts in the world. Alfred had, however. he had been killing children for years now. He had been in two wars to preserve the freedom of his planet. The last, resulted in the Isolation Field, and it finally left the planet in peace. Cut off from its amibtious neighbors.
Peace and prosperity came with the bizarre curse of the contaminated children. After the Field was erected-and most suspected it was the Field-about half the embryos were born with flawed DNA that resulted in the physical and mental abnormalities. The flawed embryos were thrown out in the majority of the planet, but the planet, as a den of independence from The Authority was filled with a large minority of naturalism who-ha’s. So in the year after the war, Alfred’s job became the killing of abomination, the murder of monsters the religious refused to kill.
So it was totally normal, that as his gas mask-wearing Stormers dropped into the dark basement, smashing wine and monsters in their wake, they separated out the uncontaminated from their other brethren. Prejudice and a fundamentalism of his own should have kept him unfeeling, but the creature he was about to knock out with his rifle was younger than the rest of the contaminated, and playing with the doll he had just bought his daughter for her Birthday. And so he tagged her as clean, and sent her to be processed back into society.
She went unnoticed in the vans of the bureaucrats, her youth and the symbolic spray paint on her shoulder that Alfred had made, rendered her invisible to prejudice. It was unperceived that her eyes had a slightly triangular dimension. Her innocence and the power of Alfred’s clean symbol on her shoulder saved her life.
His automatic reactions had caused him to do this. The first days he had her at his estate, he watched her play from the veranda, holding his rifle. Occasionally, he pointed it at her. On the third day, he set it down, and on the seventh day, he sat and held her in his arms.
Alfred’s wife did not ask him questions. His daughter did not come up to play dolls with this new interloper. The grand piano he had smashed through the terrace doors accumulated cruft from the nature blowing around the house.
The child ran up the steps to play with the dogs at Alfred’s feet. He approached her and crouched next to her. She turned to him with Alien eyes, the ridges on her shoulders more apparent in the dress she had found in his daughter’s room. She wrapped her arms around him. Alfred sat and mourned his family as he held abomination in his arms