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"We're in for it now," I heard Dad say.
He had just sat down, and his newspaper must have updated right about then. He didn't know I was listening and I wasn't trying to eavesdrop, but I remember it plainly, even though I was young at the time. It was the start of all the changes in our lives.
"What do you think will happen?" Mom asked.
Her voice was strained. I remember that too, a harbinger of what was to come later.
"Nothing good," Dad replied.
And he was right. That's when it all began, so far as I was concerned, though the situation had been building for years; centuries, if you want to go back that far. I did that later on, but right then I was more interested in finishing my schoolwork so I could tap into the history site and get back to my guise as a Mountain Man way back when North America was being explored. It was one of the interactive learning roles Dad approved of for extra credit at school. He said it hadn't been distorted as much as a lot of history had. I asked him about that.
"Dad, if something isn't true, why do they say it is?"
He took his time about answering. "The winners usually rewrite history to suit themselves. The losers aren't in much of a position to do anything about it."
I thought about it, but it didn't make much sense to me. I let it go. I liked the history site too much to get into accuracy questions. After I got a little older he started letting me watch more of a variety, but he always took me through the sales blurb and told me which parts to take seriously and which were, in his words, 'A bunch of nonsense'.
But that was later. In the meantime, the new laws passedme by making less of an impression on my happy 10-year-old mind than a liaison by a female holostar would have. I went on playing with boys my age during morning recess and making rude remarks to the girls on the way home at noon when school let out. The new colonization and anti-fraternization laws weren't even in my universe until I got interested in space somewhere around my eleventh birthday. That's when I noticed for the first time that space explorers on the holo were always colored. I never saw any white faces like mine. I asked Dad about it. He never minded me asking questions. This time he looked troubled, though.
"There's white explorers now. It's just not being publicized."
"Gosh, why not?"
"Because the colonization service is using whites for the extended testing, the kind that tells whether a planet is compatible for humans in the long term or not."
"Why don't they use colored people?"
"Because too many were dying."
I still didn't get it. "Well, don't white people die, too?"
Dad nodded. "Lots of them. If it's a bad planet, sometimes all of them die."
"Then why do they do it? Couldn't they use robots?"
"They do, but robots can only tell you so much. People have to actually go down and live on a planet for a while before they know for sure."
Copyright © 2006 Darrell Bain