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Light Prisoner Jones

The Deceleration

Prisoner Aaron Jones paces in his cell. His cell, 2 meters by 2 meters by 1 kilometer, has been his universe for the last 5 years. He is the only person on the craft that’s nearing its destination, Proxima b. An automated voice warns, “Enhanced deceleration in 5 minutes.” Jones turns and hurries to a set of chairs designed for high-g’s. He puts himself in the chair and waits.

For what seems an eternity to Jones, g forces press on his body. The force lessens until it’s the standard 1 g. The automated voice announces, “Normal deceleration has resumed”. Jones steps out of his chair and hears:

“LP Jones, this is Dispatcher Akar, acknowledge.”

“I hear you.”

“Good, we’ll be doing a quick turn around with you.”

“What does that mean?”

“Under six hours.”

“What?”

“You will be lit back towards Earth within six hours.”

“What’s the hurry?”

“Protocol, you will have a passenger. The protocol is she be sent back to Earth on the first available craft, yours.”

“She? What’s the hurry?”

“Protocol, her parent died in a mishap so we have to take all feasible steps to send her on her way.”

“A minor?”

“She is 10.”

“You know my record?”

“Yes, doesn’t matter. You should spend your spare time before you dock stowing and marking all adult materials. That is unless you want to make another round trip.”

“Very funny.”

“Laugh if you like but comply. Her name is Kathleen Rawat. Her bio has been uploaded. Read it.”

“Acknowledged.”

Jones taps on a handheld device. “Adult Material” glows on an overhead locker. This amuses Jones. He knows such warnings attract rather then deter children. Adults never learn this simple reality.

The Departure

Jones stands on the “beam way” at his craft’s entrance. Kathleen Rawat enters. She is average height with a slim build. Her hair is about 1 centimeter all around. She has blue coveralls. She wheels a bag about half her height. The bag contains her personal belongings.

“Kathleen.”

“LP Jones.”

“If you wish. My given name is Aaron.”

“I like to be called Kat.”

“If you wish.”

The craft undocks. A light array pushes the craft. The craft accelerates.

Kat and Aaron are in the g seats. The automated voice announces, “Normal acceleration has resumed”. Aaron is the reluctant guardian of a 10-year-old. She will be 15 when they reach Earth. Aaron forces a smile and hopes it hides his sadness. “We’re on our way.”

Kat is an intelligent, quiet, and obedient girl. She is technically savvy and quickly learns the craft’s operation.

The Discovery

It has been over four years since their departure. Kat now prefers Aaron call her Kathleen. She has physically matured. She sports long hair and often changes her hairstyle.

“Aaron, for what crime did they make you an LP?”

“Child abuse.”

Kathleen turns and runs. Aaron resists the impulse to run after her. He knew this time would cone. He knows Kathleen will need time to process the information.

Kathleen runs to the other side of the craft. She avoids LP Jones for over 100 hours. She needs to learn more details. She assumes asking Jones would be asking for lies. She activates a console.

“Conviction details on Light Prisoner Jones.”

The screen shows the conviction statement. The specifics are showing harmful materials to his daughter.

Kathleen sees the storage locker marked “Adult Material”. She has passed this locker countless times. She resisted the urge to see what’s inside for over a year. The revelation about Aaron’s crime made Kathleen feel entitled to see the contents.

The locker’s contents include a book titled “Holy Bible”. She didn’t know books existed, except perhaps in museums. The book seems superfluous since there is a storage device with the same name. Other storage devices are commentaries on; The Gospels, Revelation, Job, and a number of other titles unfamiliar to her. She feels compelled to read these materials.

Kathleen finds the Bible incomprehensible. The commentaries explain the book somewhat. She doesn’t see the harm in the materials. She reviews the specifics of Aaron’s trial. Aaron and his spouse gave rational arguments that exposing their daughter to this material would help, not harm, her. The prosecution gave the argument the material was harmful to minors because the law said it was. The judge explained “the law is the law” and convicted them.

A sullen Aaron performs housekeeping tasks as Kathleen approaches him.

“Aaron, I watched your case. I was wrong to think you did something wrong.”

“I’m a convicted felon. What are you supposed to think?”

“Your lawyer quoted the Bible to show your spouse believed she had to be submissive to you. She got off with some mandatory education. You got 10 years in this.”

“Yes.”

“Why did the attorney do that to you?”

“There was no sense in both of us being imprisoned. Our lawyer wasn’t a believer. Our lawyer came up with the tactic. It worked.”

“You must have loved her very much.”

“I still do.”

The Return

Kathleen and Aaron are in the g chairs. The automated voice announces, “Normal deceleration has resumed”. Kathleen and Aaron step out of their chairs.

“Light Prisoner Jones, this is Earth Dispatch Control, acknowledge.”

“I hear you.”

“Answer accepted as acknowledgement.”

Jones mutters, “automated voice.”

“State condition of you and Passenger Kathleen Rawat.”

“We’re okay.”

“Answer accepted as in good physical and mental health. Passenger Kathleen Rawat, please confirm your status.”

“I’m in good physical and mental health.”

“Light Prisoner Jones upon exiting craft your sentence is complete. Your spouse is at port to greet you. Kathleen Rawat you will be taken to your guardians in Nice, France. They send their regrets they are unable to meet you at the port.”

Kathleen feels rejected.

“Kathleen, maybe they’re planning for a welcome home celebration.”

“Maybe. Aaron, can I keep in contact with you?”

“Of course.”

THE END

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Robert Sacchi

Comments

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on October 18, 2021:

I likewise do.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 18, 2021:

I like your science fiction pieces, and this one points out possible societal changes verses what is crime and punishment. Good one, Robert!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on October 18, 2021:

You did bring up a point. I enjoyed it.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on October 18, 2021:

You speak the truth.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 18, 2021:

This is a very good story, Robert. This does reflect the view of some that think the Bible is not true and should be banned. I really enjoyed this clever way to get across your point.

Rodric Anthony Johnson from Surprise, Arizona on October 17, 2021:

l love the implied context of this story. It shows where society is heading without saying a word. Great story, Robert.

Sankhajit Bhattacharjee from MILWAUKEE on October 17, 2021:

nice composition

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on October 17, 2021:

Robert, love it to the end. A good read ever.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 17, 2021:

This is a beautiful story and a perfect presentation foreseeing the possible futuristic changes in the society. Very nice.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on October 17, 2021:

This was an enjoyable story, Robert. Thank you for sharing.

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