Pilots were the only ones who weren't drafted by a notice through the mail, they were hand delivered messages of inevitable death by men. They got to see their killer, at least partly, before they left. A piece of paper can be ignored, but a man occupying a portion of the room, even not talking, could not be ignored. It was meant to scare, Crowley realized, more than anything else.
"The skills necessary to escort a probe, or hopefully one day, land one." The words tasted like sulphur on his tongue, dry and chalky and never to go away. After the first week Crowley realized his fate, he knew he was not here for his skills. He was just a forgotten member of Columbus' ship, a deckhand that kept the boards in place and the sails tight, the one to scare the rats away, and usually, the first one to die, the one who does all the work and gets none of the credit. Columbus sat in his captain's seat the whole trip, getting his shoes shined by people like Crowley. Part of the largest genocide mankind has ever initiated, and at the time, he fell for it hook, line and sinker.
All the talk of the difference all the billion had made. It gave him a sense of falsified pride, he realized it was just an easy excuse to herd the unwanted, the unwished upon, the unintelligent and the felons out to the eternal nothing. When the prisons and the mental asylums outnumbered the men with jobs and wives at home, the people in charge knew they were in trouble. They poured prescriptions out like candy to the ones who weren't locked up, hoping to ease the strain of becoming an ant to a colony, a bee to the hive, a spore to a virus.
Flashes of kaleidoscopic color and cut to a hangar with the sunlight shining through a few vacant holes in the curved shaped structure.
"The body to the brain," His corporal had told him shortly after joining, a short 150 pound weasel, in both outer appearance and inner,
"The majority of the world resemble the gut region of the body, the leaders are the brain. And boys,"he walked back and forth between the small group of men, eleven youths who forgot they were individuals, "ground forces and utility workers are the feet and legs, keeping us upright. And we, we men, are the arms, we are not responsible for the actions we do, we just do it, the brain is responsible, the brain chooses what and what not to do, we just act. And on those actions hold the fate of the entire body. Only if the brain decides to eat a rotten plant, and we grab that rotten plant, then does the gut, the majority," he reminded everyone, glancing from man to man, "get sick, and once the gut gets sick, they need to blame someone." His mouth split into a thin slice of white teeth spreading across his bony face, "And the gut sure as hell can't blame the arms. Can they?"
That man was a moron, Crowley actually got into a fight later with him, and had to clean urinals for a month. What was him name? Damn, if only I could remember. But his point was good, the majority of humans were the gut, and the plan to ship then all out was to be acted upon like a laxitive to a man eating nothing but fruit. Flushed and gone and final.
Now those inside the great body of man can stretch their arms and take in the air without permits and recourse and federal actions. But what happens when people realize what they've done? Crowley pondered, when not one of the billions of probes finds anything, when the draft is over and all are declared dead, when the world repopulates and they lie in the exact same position, what then? How will they solve it again?
Crowley's cup had emptied and filled a few times as the thoughts raced across the waves of his mind like the mountain breeze he was so used to. He was in the middle of refilling it again when his answer came, "They'll just do it again." it was so profound to the old man that is broke the silence that hung over the ship for hours, the thoughts turned inward, "We have a short enough memory that we'll sacrifice ourselves until we find another place to ravage, like millions of leeches in a pond, but only one finds your feet." Dark thoughts were occupied by a dark face as another glass emptied in the dull, dusty light that emptied a glow like that of a bug zapper.