Thursday, October 29, 2015


“Thank you for reporting this to me, Constable Wilkens, I'll head down to the Williams residence to confirm this straight away.”  The Overseer terminated communication.  Another report, this was the fourth one of the year.  It had been getting worse.  If the beacons they'd left hadn't been damaged, he'd have reported the world as hazardous to prevent another ship from being launched.  Now it was too late, they'd be here in a year.  All he could do was maintain order and hope that the settlement could be salvaged.  Maybe there'd be scientists who could study these phenomena and find a solution, but he doubted it.  The plan, as explained to him by the his predecessor, Captain O'Malley, was to send families and more supplies on the second ship.  All of the research personnel on their ship had died or begun manifesting strange abilities.  When the Captain had begun experiencing unnatural qualities, he entered a self-imposed exile, and took many of the researchers into the wilds to prevent contamination of the rest of the populace.
It hadn't worked.
And now the Overseer found himself trying to enforce the last set of orders he'd had.  Persons manifesting unnatural abilities were exiled.  It was hoped that they would survive, but it was primarily to prevent whatever was causing the phenomena from spreading.  He'd had to take on much of these responsibilities himself.  Chief Constable Kidd had grown soft, left to his own devices he'd have kept the aberrations in the settlement.  Her Grace, Lady Rose had opposed the measure vocally in council meetings.  It was a relief when her neighbors reported seeing some sort of unnatural activity in her garden.  And they were hardly alone; many of the settlement's more active, forthright members were of the opinion that the exiles were not making any difference.  But he was the Overseer, and it was his job to look out for his people.  Even if that meant he'd have to exile a child.

“Mrs. Williams.  Would you mind if I came inside?”  The Williams residence was simple, sparsely decorated, but well maintained.
“Of course, is something the matter?”  Mrs Williams was much like the house, plain and undecorated.  She clearly worked hard, and was a valued, if not important, member of the community.  The overseer took no pleasure in what he would have to do.
“There have been some concerning reports about your son.  I was hoping I might be able to talk to him about it, and sort out the truth of the matter.”  He meant what he said, but it was recited like protocol.  Mrs. Williams gestured towards the hall.
“He's in his room.  What seems to be the matter?  Has he been in any trouble?”
“Constable Wilkens reported that..”  He paused, hearing boots on the front steps.
“Came as soon as I could sir.”  Wilkens was a good lad, did his job well.  He'd brought a second constable with him.
“Thank you.  As I was saying, Constable Wilkens reported that he saw your son with some floating rocks behind Utility Shed Three yesterday after school.  Now, I don't know that its true, but we all have to be vigilant in our responsibilities, and I am no exception.”  He felt like a politician courting voters.  But he was likely about to take a child from his mother, the least he could do was be polite about it.
“Oh.  Well, I'm sure that Constable Wilkens was mistaken; m-my son has never done anything of the sort.”  Replied the apron-clad woman, voice less confident than her posture.  “But I don't want to keep you from doing your job.”  She began to lead them down the hall.  “Chris, the Overseer is here asking about...”  She opened the door.  The Overseer came into view just in time to see the boy sitting on the floor, a single rock floating before his face.  He was so young, younger than any of the others by at least a decade.  “..flying rocks.  Oh Chris!”  She cried out, slumping down beside the door.  The constables stepped over her as the boy tried to run.  The Overseer stepped back and let them cuff the boy, administering his rights with practiced precision.  It was a pity, so young.

“Christopher Williams, by my authority as the Overseer, acting in the interest of the safety and well-being of the colony, you are hereby Exiled to the untamed lands.  May your unnatural power help you survive.”  The Overseer pronounced the sentence with finality.  There had been no trial.  He was caught red-handed and there were four witnesses, himself included.  It was not fair, but it was necessary.  Chief Constable Kidd took the boy's chains off and muttered something to him, advice?  He did not know what the soft old man said, only that it did nothing to console the poor boy.
As the two constable walked the boy to the gate, much of the town standing by, the Overseer began to wonder whether or not exile would make any difference in stemming the tide of unnatural activity.  What if it wasn't a disease?  The boy had no direct contact with any of the other exiles; it couldn't have been transmitted to him unless it were simply present in the world itself.  He stared at the boy as he pondered this realization, afraid of what it might portend for the whole settlement.  No, this was not the end of the exiles.  Things would only get worse from here.  He'd have to enforce stronger order: curfews, stronger constabulary presence, and he'd have to find a reason to replace Kidd with someone willing to do the job, whatever the cost.  They'd hate him for it; he knew that.  But what sort of Overseer would he be if he didn't watch over his people?

Author's Note:  I wrote this as part of a series of short fiction stories about a year ago, and must apologize for only now uploading them.

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