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This revelation stunned the town, too, almost more so than the initial propositions. I found myself physically leaning forward, straining in vain to learn more.
“Ms. Emily Hubert?”
“Children? On such a dangerous trip?”
“Of course the children would have to get parental approve and choose to go themselves. We would be monitoring their progress from now until about a month before we go, and decide as a council who the top four are.
“Mommy can I be one of the kids who tries to go?”
“Asante, we’ll talk about that later. Any more concerns from adults?”
“Why are kids needed on this trip?”
Aunt Zoe sighed, and pulled on her tight black curls in frustration.
“Well, Dr. Menéndez, we believe that a few children are necessary for this expenditure to be a success. These children are very talented, Dr. Menéndez. They are not like you and me when we were in schools. Their whole lives they have been raised in a civilization where survival is their daily task. They have learned things like sowing crops and sewing thread by the age of 5. They can use the sun and stars to guide them, and start a fire from scratch at the age of 7. They know how to ride horseback and and shoot arrows with precision by the age of 9. They can herd cattle and hunt animals by the age of 11. They will actually be useful on the trip. Secondly, Dr. Menéndez, these children are our future. Sure, it sounds cliche, but it’s true. These children will one day be the ones who must run this town, protect it, and provide for its existence. Other civilizations and the ilk can come to threaten us. We usually have the upper hand with our impressive town, but it is also something for others to envy. The people in the rest of Blue Creek, for example, live very different lives from us. They may not be able to contain their jealousy, and could very well attack us one day. What then? What if others come-say, the paramilitary at Leon, our old high school. They know we live here.
If they allied with the other Blue Creekers, we are doomed. The only way to neutralize the threats is to send a diplomatic and scientific envoy. Or else we are putting our personal future, as well as our children’s, in danger. So they must come, to forge these relationships, and ensure the peace we hope to reach lasts beyond our generation.”
“Is it worth all the costs?”
“Well, I think, if we don’t choose to meet others soon we will be forced to. We want to be Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea, not the Taínos meeting Christopher Columbus.”
Aunt Zoe paused, catching her breath. She took a swig of water from an old, worn stainless steel bottle. Some splashed onto her round chin. She whipped off with the palm of her hand, then continued in a hushed voice.
“Our Security Unit found human footprints a few acres down the river, starting around a year ago. A few months ago we discovered a fishing hook made of brass.Then, just two weeks ago, an arrowhead made of agatized coral was found as well. “
The rest of the townspeople, myself included, inhaled sharply, tasting the musky scent of the fire’s smoke as we did so. All of us knew that no one in Blue Creek Farm had brass. It was something Uncle Coby constantly complained about when he was practicing metallurgy and farriering. As for agatized coral, I had never even heard of it, not even from Uncle Joey, our stonemason.
Silence filled the air between each of the townspeople like water in a basin. Anticipation filled the space and our souls.
“Any more points or motions?,” an exasperated Aunt Zoe asked.
With none,my mother raised her hand.
“Motion to start voting procedures, with a roll call vote!”
“I second!” shouted my dad.