Programmed to Receive

“I’m leaving.” Viktor said as he pulled the duffel back over his shoulder and made for the door. He’d had enough of the quarantine, and he had a hankering for Luna stew that needed some satiation.

“You can’t do that, Vik! They’ve got every spaceport in the continent under lockdown. Something big is going on, and I need you here!” Cynthia reached out to tug Viktor’s arm, which only earned her a blue-eyed glare from her partner.

He grumbled and turned around. “You think I don’t know about the population issue? They want to keep people here because it’ll mean more consumers on Earth.”

“It’s not that” she sighed and glanced up to him, pleading with her eyes, “People are dying and no one is being born. They’re blaming it on people leaving but they won’t tell us why. Haven’t you noticed the lack of children, Vik? Haven’t you seen that they are closing the borders and keeping us in because they physically… spiritually need us?”

Viktor stared at her for a good long while before he dropped the bag and clasped his hands over both her shoulders, “Cynthia… what you’re talking about is madness. You need some sleep. It’ll be good for the baby.” His hand dropped down to gently rub against her stomach.

Her head lowered she turned her gaze to the side because she could not look at him, “I’m not pregnant, Vik.”

“What… what did you just say? Did you lie to me!? How the fuck could you-” Rage began to rise in his eyes.

“Viktor, wait! I didn’t lie. I was pregnant and then… it was gone.” She looked up to him, her eyes slick with tears.

The man’s expression soon turned to sorrow as he let go of her shoulders. Walking over to the couch, he slumped into it and stared out over the blue skies and the cityscape they had always dreamed of seeing from their home window.

“When did you miscarry?” he asked.

“I…I didn’t. When I went in for the second trimester ultrasound, there was nothing there. The doctor said it was like I had never been pregnant at all.”

Shutting his eyes, he dreamed of never dying of always being there for Cynthia. He hoped that she would forgive him and yet he ignored her very presence. Finally he spoke up just as he re-opened his eyes, “I’m… sorry. Maybe you’re right about the environment here. Mars and the orbital stations are showing increased birth rates. It has to be a government thing… we’ll fix it honey. We’ll fix it.”

Viktor turned his eyes away, letting the impossibility weigh down the air like a lie. Both knew the futility of the theories but, no one knew the truth.

Somewhere on Mars, a woman sat in a pristine doctor’s office, staring at her positive results and wondering how it was possible.

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