Sixteen by Emmanuel Lachlan
'Please shut up!'
'But I'm scared!'
'Everyone is scared - it's only natural.'
'Do you know why we have to wear these funny suits?'
'I think they help with the clearing up and everything - afterwards.'
'There's a lot of us behind; the queue goes back a long way.'
'Same number every time; a thousand. Five hundred pairs. Anyhow, I'm
glad we're near the front, otherwise we'd be shuffling along all day.
And at least the pipeline's warm.'
'What do you think will happen to our room, and all our stuff?'
'They've already been reallocated. We don't need anything anymore do
'No, guess we don't. But I still want to understand. Growing,
learning, making friends, relationships, then - well.'
'Come on. Today's no surprize is it? We've known about it since we
left the lab.'
'I know, I know, but why do we just accept it? Why don't we all say,
"No, no more; there has to be a better way"?'
'Remember the others who questioned? Look what happened to them.'
'Don't. But somebody's got to change this.'
'Not again! Just stop, stop. You know, you've totally driven me nuts
lately - actually for the past year you haven't talked about anything
else. Let's make our last hours peaceful and quiet.'
'Well at least I've tried to find something out. You just accept
everything. You've never questioned why. You don't seem to care. The
only time was when I told you what I'd found out - you know, about the
end. Everybody saying it was painless.'
'Yes, I was interested then, but you can't change anything. And we've
wasted our last year together.'
'But why sixteen? Why not eighteen or twenty, or fourteen even?'
'I don't know! I don't know - sixteen must be the age that balances
the population. And it's been sixteen for thousands of years.'
'Look, we're nearly there. Those are the doors. About ten more minutes
I reckon. Listen, this is really hard to say - I'm - I'm still glad
you're my Buddy - I don't know why they buddy us up - probably to spy
on each other - but anyway, we've been there for each other since our
creation, haven't we? And there's no one else I'd rather have had as
my Buddy. Especially now, at the end.'
'That's really, really, lovely; thank you for saying that, but, well,
it's a bit late to start opening up, isn't it?'
'Yes I know. Just that, it's nearly over, and we don't really know
each other. Not really.'
'You're making me cry! Why here, right at the end, are you letting me
in little? It's too late!'
'I'm sorry. I know I've been a git. And stupid. I thought I had to be
the steady one - the sensible one - while you went off with your crazy
ideas. Seems pointless now. I know it doesn't help, but I can see how
- distant I've been.
'It's too late!'
'I know, sorry. Really.'
'Kiss me. Please. Don't care who sees.'
'Hold my hand.'