Justin stood up, standing proud and tall he looked out over the young eager faces that watched him with increasing curiosity. “First of all, only those of you over the age of ten will be allowed to vote.“ He looked over to the right and the little dark haired girl with big brown eyes. “Bonnie my dear, would you please take the babies over to the play area and keep them occupied until we have finished?”
The eight year old scowled at being excluded from the gathering, but a stern look from her dad warned her against complaining; she shot a look at her pappy, pleading to be allowed to stay. Lance shook his head and nodded towards the playground. Heaving a hefty sigh she got up off the floor and gathered the younger children to her and herded them to the fenced enclosure. Justin smirked at her pout. As soon as she was out of earshot he continued talking.
“While familiarising himself with the pods, Jovian made an alarming discovery. 22 of the stasis tube are holding men that can only be described as criminals or potential criminals.”
Shaun raised his hand.
“What’s a criminal daddy?”
JC stood up and smiled kindly at his young son. “ A criminal is a person that does not follow the rules that have been set out for the good of others. The most important of those rules being.
And no forced intercourse.
The men in those 22 tubes have broken all of those laws.”
The children muttered amongst themselves, discussing the new information they had received until Chris banged on the table, calling them back to order.
“What we have to decide, “Justin continued, “Is what are we going to do with them? I propose that we end their existence, turn off the life support systems on their pods. It is blatantly obvious that we cannot reintegrate them into our society; they are a drain on our already dwindling resources. Terminating them would free up valuable energy, energy that could be better put to use elsewhere and would make all our lives a little easier. One of these men attacked small children that had been left in his care, using them for his own sexual gratification.”
Horrified gasps rang out from the older children, the ones that understood the implications of Justin’s words.
“Another battered an old lady for the meagre contents of her purse. These people are scum, the dregs of the earth; we do not want people like this walking around. Why should we waste our precious resources on such monsters? I motion that the 22 pods are destroyed immediately. If you agree with me then put your mark next to the yes box on your voting slip. Thank you for listening to me.” Justin nodded to Chris and sat down.
Chris stood up and held out his hand to the slender brunette sitting beside him. “We will now hear the argument from JC.”
JC stood and took a sip of his water, even though they were all family he still felt the familiar panic rising in his chest at the thought of public speaking, he took a deep breath. “In many respects the things Justin has said are true. The pods are a major drain on our power, power that we could utilise elsewhere, and he is right that we can’t risk reintroducing them back into our society, none of us would ever be safe again, but …. And it’s a big but, if we terminate their lives what makes us any different from them? What is it that makes us right to take a life and them wrong?” JC paused wanting the weight of his words to have effect. “We have laws, not because we want to spoil your fun, not because we want to dictate to society, but for the good of the community. One of our laws is ‘Thou shalt not kill’ if we terminate the lives of these 22 men , and regardless of what they have done they are still men, it is paramount to murder. Murder is against our laws.
I propose that we separate the 22 pods from the rest, looping them into their own power source and sealing them into an isolation chamber, sealing it for all time. In doing this our consciences are clear and our laws remain unbroken. We have lived 16 years without that extra power, we can live without it now. Chris said earlier that we all have to live with this decision, think hard children. Can you sleep easily in your beds knowing that you were responsible for taking a life, even if that life is nothing but dirt. If you agree with my sentiments then place your mark next to no. Thank you.” JC sat down and let out a big sigh.
Chris stood back up with a bunch of printed slips in his hand. “The vote will be private, please pick up your vote before you leave, a box will be available all the rest of today for you to place your slip in. it will be emptied by myself and Lance at sundown. You may all go now.”
After the children had gone Lance breathed out loudly. “Do you think we are doing the right thing letting the children decide?
JC spoke in a soft voice. “This is going to be their world one day, I’m 46, Chris is 51, none of us are going to live forever, we have to give responsibility to the older boys. They need to survive without us and the first step is giving them the responsibility of choice, a choice they will have to live with.”
Justin hugged his lover round his waist. “They are good kids, with good morals, they will make the right choice.”
“Even if it’s not your choice?” JC asked wryly.
Justin slapped his ass. “Yes even if they vote against me.”
The two men embraced falling into a loving kiss, Justin dominating the thinner man, controlling the depth and length of the kiss. Lance drew his lover to the side, “Chris come to the infirmary with me, I have the results of your tests.”
“Can’t you tell me here?” Chris smile faded at the seriousness on his lovers face.
“Okay.” They walked in silence to the hospital building. As soon as Chris shut the glossy silver door behind him Lance began to speak. “I got the results of your tests Chris.” Lance’s jaw worked overtime as he struggled to keep control of his emotions.
“And?” the brunette ignored the sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.
“I’m so sorry Chris, you have cancer of the prostate.” Tears rolled silently down the blond doctors face.
“Cancer! But you can fix it right?” Chris ‘ voice was thin and trembling.
“Its too far advanced. Why didn’t you tell me Chris? If you had only told me sooner that you were having problems.” Lance began to cry. The short dark human pulled him numbly into his arms.
“How long?” He asked, his words barely audible.
“Maybe till winter, not much longer.”
“Did you tell the others?”
Lance shook his head. “No, I wanted to tell you first.”
“and you’re sure?”
“I did the tests twice Chris, I can’t lose you, I can’t.” the lovers hugged, standing close to each other crying together drawing comfort from their closeness. Chris pulled away first.
“I want you to do something for me Lance … don’t tell the others .. They don’t need to know and I don’t need to be treated any differently.”
“No buts angel … give me this … let me live what life I have left in happiness.”
Lance began to sob. “Don’t cry baby … we don’t have time for tears. I love you.”
“I love you too.” they kissed and held each other tight neither man willing to let go afraid that if they did then the world would truly end.