by R. A. Bolden
The Gemini Wars destroyed the hundred-year-old colonies on Pollux 2 and 3. The Earth-Corporation Council set up refugee centers on the second moon of Castor 7, the furthest outpost in the system. Karmagh, a Black Orion, sought sanctuary for his family. His wife fell during the campaign, now he had four children to care for.
“We know there’s more to you than just political asylum,” said George the Investigating Officer, nervously shifting his heavy bulk on the undersized chair. “Why don’t you spare us the time and come clean?”
“We’ve got the right to hold you here,” said Sharon the Senior Officer, tucking her long-dark hair behind her ears, “within the limits of corporation law.”
Looking at his Black reflection on the mirrored walls, Karmagh spoke to them both. “On my world, I’d expect to be treated like this, but not here.” He took a long drag from his cigarette and let it dangle from his lips. “We’re not living in the Dark Age of post-nuclear holocaust it’s twenty-nine ninety-nine.”
“You’re already in trouble for entering illegally,” said George. “If you don’t answer our questions, inferences can be drawn.”
“Have you ever heard of Bertrand Russell?” Karmagh asked in an educated voice.
“He was an ancient Earth philosopher,” Sharon said.
“He wrote,” said Karmagh, wearing his arrogance like a cape. “That children and animals are terribly prone to inference.”
George banged his fist on the table. “Enough of that kind of talk from you.”
“Take it easy George,” Sharon said.
“These Orion Blacks are all the same,” said George. “I’ve seen it all before.”
“You can’t cancel his application because of your personal prejudice,” said Sharon. “We need proof.”
“They come to this world,” said George. “And we end up paying for it.”
“You’re a racist,” Sharon said, disgusted with him.
“I’m no different from the rest,” said George with a sweeping motion of his hand towards the Staff Room. “Wake up!”
“We must work within the law,” said Sharon and walked back into the Interview Room, “remember that.”
“Is this a lover’s quarrel?” Karmagh asked, sarcastically.
“I’ve just about had it with you,” George said.
“This is getting us no where,” said Sharon. “We’ve got to finish this interview for your asylum application. And we can’t go home until this is done.” She stared at George. “Let’s start over from the top, but this time we want the truth.”
Karmagh crushed out his cigarette on the table and said, “Many years ago the Pelagians ruled on my world. They tortured members of my family.” He paused, looking into the past. “The Holographs said my great-great grandfather’s ship limped home. His heart was blue with tears and his clothes stank of vomit. The interrogations turned his skin pale and sick. The regime they installed was no better. My family suffered greatly for their beliefs.”
Sharon though she believed his story and said, “You still haven’t presented us with any proof.”
“I’m a history teacher,” said Karmagh. “I taught my students about choice and freedom. The government thought I should teach blind obedience to the Supreme Leader. If you send me back, I'll be killed.”
George said, “When I was a boy, I fell out of a tree and broke my arm. I was afraid to go home because I thought my Father would kill me.” He pointed towards his right arm. “I transported to the hospital instead. The broken arm was proof that I needed help. You have no documentation or anything else to support your claim.”
“Now you see what a difficult position you’ve placed us in with no proof to support your application,” said Sharon. “Now tell us the truth. How long have you been here?”
“I’ve been here for five years,” said Karmagh. “You know about my wife. I have children, I paid taxes and I’ve never done anything wrong.”
Smiling at getting a confession George said, “That’s not the point. You’ve clearly broken the law by being here without permission.”
“But I told you the truth,” Karmagh said, standing up and raising his voice.
“I recommend we deport him immediately,” George said, basking in his decision.
“In your case, there’s no choice,” said Sharon. “You have no right to appeal.” They got up to leave.
Karmagh looked at them and asked, “What about my children?”
“They were born here,” said Sharon. “They’re Earth-Corporation citizens. They’ll be educated on Procyon 4 to become functionaries for the state unless you can buy them back.”
The last thing he wanted was for his children to turn out like the two officers in front of him. His children knew about freedom like their father and their father before him. He remembered holding each of his children when they were tiny bundles. He thought about their first teeth. He remembered comforting them when their mother died. Pain swelled up in his body like a volcano. Karmagh charged towards the force field stopping short. He knew the injuries it would inflict.
“That’s our decision,” George said, secretly wishing Karmagh had lunged. He loved the smell of field burns. It reminded him of roasting meat.
Sharon manipulated the console and Karmagh was transported back to his ship. The tractor beam pushed him away from the planet. He sat for a time in deep space monitoring traffic to and from the colony, wondering if any of them carried his children. Finally, he set a course for the pleasure world of Shaula on the tail of Scorpio.
RAUF BOLDEN is an American born in Colorado. He studied languages at University where he became a polyglot speaking German, French and Dutch. As a yacht master, he spent twenty years sailing more than 100,000 nautical miles while circumnavigating the planet with his wife Jeannette Dean, an internationally known sailor and writer. They plan to sail around the world again being very much in love while continuing to write fiction and feature articles. Their motto for life is, "Never Ever Give Up.”