(The Lost Generation was published in Alien Skin Magazine in August 2007 and Neo-opsis in August 2007. Enjoy this excerpt.)
In 1918, a flu epidemic swept the world and left 20 million dead in its wake. One hundred years and ten thousand mutations later, humanity’s only hope is the lost generation.
A boy and his parent crossed the upper level ramp like they’d done a thousand times before. The boy was like any other thirteen-year-old boy, his face just starting to spot with acne, his chin color with the faintest wisp of facial hair, his arms and legs sprout out of his sleeves and pant legs like lily white weeds. His parent was a metallic ball, about the size of a softball, that hovered on an invisible column of electro-magnetic energy. It hovered close to the boy, following him everywhere. When the boy ducked, the parent ducked. When the boy came up with a stick in his hands, the parent came up. When the boy suddenly stopped in the middle of the upper level ramp and looked out over the city, the parent stopped as well. After some seconds had passed, the parent asked the boy why they had stopped.
“Just go away.”
The boy continued to look out over the ramp at the street lights below as they popped on one by one and the city sank into summer twilight. “Why do you keep following me around, anyways?”
“I am your parent. The city is vast and treacherous, and you are alone. I will guide you and keep you safe.”
“Dale McKinley doesn’t have a metal ball following him all over the place.” “Yes, but you are alone.”
The boy tapped his stick against the rusted railing. “He has real parents and lots of friends. He’s not a baby.”
“But you are alone.”
The boy turned viciously. “I’m going to smash you.” He held the stick above his head. “I’m going to kill you.”
The boy hesitated only a moment and then swung wildly with all the force his thirteen-year-old body could produce. The parent moved exactly three inches, just enough to avoid the boy’s furious blow.
“You cannot kill me because I am not alive.”
The boy dropped to his knees and began to cry.
In the fullness of time, the boy grew in stature and knowledge, and all the while, his parent was with him. By his senior year, he no longer crossed the upper level ramp from the housing blocks to the city school, nor was he the rare exception in the class, the lonely orphan boy with a floating metallic ball as his only friend. Half the student body had hovering parents of one sort or other, and by graduation, they all did. The convocation and Dean’s address were given by floating spheres, and the graduating class of 2018 stepped out into a brave new world with no one over the age of 19.
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