The Space Race

Entry by: jaguar

20th January 2016

What have we learnt from the twentieth century’s arc of war following war, cold war, détente? Harry typed his lecture’s title and stopped, arrested by the purity and potential of the otherwise blank page on his screen. He felt hypnotized by the flashing cursor. It told him it could go anywhere, take on any form at all, this could be the greatest journey ever, the way the spacemen thought theirs was.

But all journeys begin with libraries full of research, with scientists or historians trying to make sense of the charred fragments left behind. Sometimes he bored himself with his diligent burrowing through the details. Supposing he came up with some great theory, a definitive way for all humans to live what would he do anyway? Who could he really share it with, who was disinterested enough to listen?

His eyes darted out over the screens in front of him. All human life but precious few like-minded souls out there. His support team reminded him of wasps climbing over each other in a sugar trap. The interns all had their narrowed eyes on safe research jobs. They wanted to board the boat, not rock it. Harry sighed as he remembered the latest piece of research to hit his desk. It was a study about whether two-years-olds could learn to live more successful lives if they weren’t parented. It was the most depressing piece Harry had ever seen.

It seemed the toddlers had gone down The Lord Of The Flies route much quicker than expected. Of the twenty in the experiment, four had been murdered. Two appeared to have committed suicide, before they were old enough to know how. It was a chilling piece of science but that wasn’t what bothered Harry most. More importantly, it was a very flawed approach.

The scientists involved had done an earlier study about behaviours that led to happiness. They defined happiness and the factors very precisely. Then they announced that it was connected to a lack of fear. Rather too quickly they concluded that the most fearless humans alive were two-year-olds. Harry admitted that the measurement of serotonin levels in a cross-section of the population could have been a firm basis for this conclusion but, hold on a moment, toddlers? Who, on earth, thought they knew whether they were happy or not when their verbal ability was so restricted? They were, basically, still human embryos.

There were other, serious issues with the research. Did it not occur to anyone that a parent who was prepared to lock their child away with nineteen others for several months might have emotional issues themselves? Harry’s wife said any mother that could agree to this was probably psychotic. Jenny was allowed to say this because she was a psychiatrist specialising in psychosis. ‘At best, they’re sociopaths or munchhausen’s’, she spat, holding their own two-year-old behind her legs like Harry might try to snatch him away.

Harry laughed as if it amused him when Jenny made out he was psychotic too. Yet Jenny was the only one left who told him what she thought, however little he liked it. On this point he agreed with her, this study was riddled with bias. The only people who knew about it were academics, hardly a representative cross-section of society. The potential IQs of the kids involved were also disproportionately high.

Then there was the approach which still made him tremble but with fury, not fear. The idiots had tried to mimic the world they thought these kids might be living in, twenty years hence. They had the audacity to claim the world Harry was shaping would be a nightmare. They plotted and programmed to their hearts’ content and came up with something that resembled that dreadful film, what was it called? Waterworld. They came up with something as ridiculous as Waterworld.

What those idiot scientists actually did was create a new space race but half the combatants were still in nappies. These so-called experts began to flood the toddlers’ habitat. Looking back Harry wished he’d seen the social media posts about all the kids having to wear lifejackets. He wished he’d known the carnage was about to start. Yet, at the beginning, it went almost magically well. The kids were swimming around, grinning inanely and the worst you saw was the odd ducking.

It was terrifying how quickly the strong ones changed. How they began to hold others under, laughing delightedly. How sometimes those little bodies floated away, immobilised for all time. The weak ones, of course, the lame dogs, Harry's favourites. What surprised him was that it wasn’t the physically weak. It was the least communicative, the less socially adept, the quietest voices. The mentally strong ones pulled their physically lame allies out of trouble. Then they looked on as the lame allies formed packs and trod the most physically developed children under the waterline. The kids that looked like Harry had as a child were wiped out before the scientists intervened.

It was a new race for space and new bullies won it. That confirmed what Harry had started to think. He’d long seen this writing on the wall. It hurt him, it really did, to do what he had to do. His wife, his child, his race, his world but the time had come. He couldn’t hide his convictions much longer. His enemies were already claiming he'd lops his mind and they had no idea about the space arc circling above the earth.

They didn't know he'd done a Noah and sent ten breeding pairs of every species into space, including the astronauts. At first, Harry hadn't had a concrete plan but he knew now what would happen when the arc touched back down in ten years time. That study had been the last straw. It was best just a few humans survived, the ones who'd fought for the last spaces on his mission. It was the only way to save all the other creatures on the planet from extinction.

So Harry, the last President of the USA, pushed the button.