So onto parts 11 and 12. Hope you are enjoying this. Here’s the link to yesterday which will take you back to the previous installments.
The three woman woke at the same moment, each vaguely aware of two things. First they had been somewhere utterly beyond their understanding and second they were pregnant and due to give birth any time. Around them the odd fir trees had disappeared and in their place a smooth grass covered mound, not unlike an ancient tumulus had appeared. They looked at each other, fully aware that the others had been through a similar experience.
‘Over there?’ Saz, the youngest pointed at the top of the mound.
Marian concurred. ‘They’ll be water. They’ll be safe.’
Once again each woman knew she referred to their soon to be born offspring.
Wanda winced. Some thought, a memory snagged at the edge of her consciousness, an image of a small girl, smiling at her came to her. She felt a hand in hers. Saz had stood and was helping her up. ‘It’s time,’ she said.
In a steady line the three heavily pregnant women walked to the crest and lay down. Within moments labour began and, shortly after three female babies were nestling next to their mothers, seeking out their nipples to feed. The women eased their newborns into place and lay back, staring at the sky. The feeding of each baby was frenzied and short-lived. First Saz’s child detached and crawled away, followed shortly by Marian’s and then Wanda’s. Each child headed for the small fissure in the mound. As each one disappeared inside the women closed their eyes and died.
‘Some years ago an extraordinary pulse of light was noticed emanating from Herculean VIII. This is a planet that has a similar sun to our own and has long been thought of as capable of sustaining life. The pulse was a condensed set of radio and light waves. It took the best part of four years to decode it as well as the follow up pulses. It turned out to be a set of instructions. To commence the Culling and restore the Equilibrium.’
Prentis closed his eyes. It was easier to concentrate that way. Gregor’s voice, normally so decisive had taken on a faint, almost mystical quality.
‘No one really understood it. Many wondered if the interpretation was correct. After all it wasn’t in a language we had ever heard before.’
‘If it was a message, where was it sent? Presumably it had a destination.’ Prentis did his best not to sound too sceptical.
Gregor nodded. ‘Here. Well to be exact, here and 310,542 similar settlements each with a disproportionate number of people with some form of disability.’
Prentis shook his head. ‘Does this make any sense to anyone?’
Gregor looked at Pensivity, a loaded glance that Prentis registered. ‘Is this why you’ve been in Tallahassee so much? That’s where this is being studied?’
‘My own bloody wife,’ he mumbled.
She ignored the gripe. This really wasn’t a good time to point out a few home truths. ‘No one had studied the groups before. They were all isolated, rural and not the subject of much comment. Generally, they were self-sufficient. Surprisingly so in some cases.’
‘How do you mean?’
‘Not one of the disabilities restricted normal activities. Indeed, there is evidence that where it might have done the disability, erm disappeared.’
‘So what makes them special? I assume they are special? Beyond the ability to regrow lost limbs or whatever?’
‘Their DNA isn’t associated with any known haplogroups.’
‘You’ll need to ex…’
‘They do not have the same ancestry as the rest of the human race.’