Eternity’s Liftoff (5/7)

Interlude 2

Skye had passed on before their son’s second birthday, and though Henry thought of her every day, Cam had no real memory of his mother. Henry always wondered whether the Announcement had done it—the realization, suddenly, that there was a reason behind the slower rations, the growing singleness of yeast-meal, the disappearance of anything metal. Every resource owned by the country—indeed, by the world—had been appropriated by the Departure effort. In the years following the Announcement, Henry’s work had become meaningless, and, he felt, his life too: the massive, explosively public Space Push to put ten thousand cruisers into space became the only project that mattered on this side of the Earth.

Still, every day he trudged to work to earn his yeast-meal, every day trudged home to eat it with Cam, in the same apartment where he’d eaten his yeast with his own mother.

Their neighbors, like the world, were split. No one in the canister building, as far as Henry knew, had joined the ranks of the radical anti-Departure militants. But there were at least three who had publicized their acceptance through the lottery, and a great deal of bitterness and animosity, if not outright violence, had emerged toward them.

And ten-year-old Cam’s biggest dream, like Henry years before, was simply to see space. Henry had done his best to shelter Cam from the Departure’s full implications. But it had been a tough break when Cam learned that they wouldn’t be going. After all, that was the nature of lotteries.

But was it also the nature of lotteries to doom them all to die?