> Seth Underwood Stories: Maddix Comes of Age (Est. Read Time- 8 Min.)

Maddix Comes of Age (Est. Read Time- 8 Min.)

The Sociable Event of the Sedna Colony

Untitled Image, By Davide Ragusa, Source- Unsplash.

Social media, forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos). First time used, 2004. Merriam-Webster.

Maddix was sitting in the hydroponic garden looking at the distant bright spot that was the Sun. He was with his girlfriend, Vassillissa. She nuzzled herself up against him despite being much taller and physically mature in comparison.

Vassillissa looked up at Maddix's face. "Are you excited for your sociable event?"

"I guess so."

"You sound so unsure."

Maddix adjusted his position and looked at Vassillissa. "Well, I just don't know if I want to go through with it."

"Why not? Don't you want to know how I feel about you? How everyone feels and thinks?"

"I don't know... maybe..."

"What do you mean, maybe? I love you and don't you want to know that love in your mind?"

"Yeah, but I like what we have now. How I talk to you now. How I feel your love for me now."

"Well, I want to know your feelings and thoughts of me in my head! I want to know what you're thinking and where you are at each minute of the day!" With that Vassillissa got up and began to walk away.

Maddix sat there on the bench watching Vassillissa walking away with her arms crossed in anger. He wasn't sure if he should go after her or not. So, he sat there watching her leave through the bulkhead to the rest of the complex.

When Maddix’s parents, Aala Patrick and Stetson Pitts, got married thirty-four years earlier, they had put in their application for a male child with the Sedna Colony Governing Body, the Kanrisha. 14 years later the Kanrisha granted them to have a eukaryotic cloned child, via the donation of a genetic sample from each of them.

Colony resources being limited required strict management of human reproduction, which meant all humans were cloned and permanently infertile from birth.

They implanted the clones with cybernetic nanites that allowed for limited growth until the child's sociable event at 14. Then a transceiver was placed in the cybernetic connection on the back of the neck. The transceiver would activate a series of programs allowing for rapid maturation into adulthood. This provided the child with all necessary knowledge and connectivity to be a working and able participant of the colony.

Until a child’s sociable event, the rest of the colony had little knowledge of them. Family and friends would interact with a child, but nothing was shared. What details were known were purposely privatized by the Tani system, the colony’s main A.I. central hub, until the sociable event.

Maddix's family was pair bonded by the Kanrisha with Vassillissa's in the hopes their offspring would fall in love with each other. Pair bonding was how the colony guided its genetic diversity and promotion of social unity.

Maddix and Vassillissa were but six months a part, and the two became inseparable. They developed a deep friendship as they played about the colony with the few other children and the auto-nanny bots. As they grew in age, they would get into trouble playing pranks on their parents, Vassillissa's older brother, or some of the other kids. In time, their friendship would become even closer as the Kanrisha had hoped.

Maddix and Vassillissa had planned to get married once they completed their sociable events. It was common in the colony for romantically pair bonded children to get married after the sociable event. They hadn't told their parents yet and wanted to wait until after Maddix's sociable event.

But now, Vassillissa had just gone through her sociable event and was an adult. Maddix sat there as the bulkhead door rolled closed after Vassillissa, and he wasn't as confident with their plans anymore.

Vassillissa had changed. Not just physically in becoming a young woman, but she was now starting to act like everyone else. Not talking anymore to others. Making hand motions at machines versus talking to them. And then there was that one night where she prattled on about some weird technical thing, she discovered on Tani. Now she was hoping to become some sort of engineer for it. She never mentioned to him before that she wanted to be an engineer. It was like she was a different person now. No longer was she his Vassi. That person he played with. She had become as distant to him as the Sun was to Sedna.

The day had arrived for Maddix's sociable event. His father had picked up the transceiver from the medical center. Aala had insisted in having Maddix's sociable event with just their family and Vassillissa's, instead of the larger communal gathering that typically occurred. The Kanrisha granted Aala's wishes, even though everyone in the colony knew of the event taking place.

The two families gathered in the common area of the quarters they shared, and Maddix was sitting in a chair at the center of the room with the others gathered around him. His father opened the plasti-sealed container holding the transceiver and approached Maddix from behind.

Maddix was feeling apprehensive about what would happen next. As he sat there, he saw the beaming smiles of Vassillissa and her parents in front of him. It didn't make him feel at ease. Vassillissa's brother wasn't in attendance as he had a double shift to work, but Vassillissa told Maddix he'd be watching if he got a chance. Those comments just made things seem worse. He had this feeling like something bad would happen.

His heart started to beat faster as his father grabbed his neck and bent his head forward to insert the transceiver. He felt electrical shocks race up and down his spine as his father pushed the transceiver into the socket at the base of his skull. His breath quickened. His heart was now racing even faster. His mind was telling him that something was wrong, and he was about to die.

Maddix quickly stood up from his seat and saw Vassillissa. But she wasn't her normal self. It was a distorted image of her. She was twisting her hair and licking her lips. He realized it was the image of herself in her subconscious mind, and not the love she spoke of earlier. He then felt her lust for him, and it felt foreign and out of place. He pushed her aside. He grabbed at his uni-jumper which was feeling tight all over his body. He could feel it stretching against his skin as rushes of quick acting growth hormones surged through him from activated nanites. The joints in his knees were aching as he grew taller. A rush of voices and images flooded his mind.

It was his mother and father. They were waiting patiently for their cloned child in the medical center. That cloned child was him. These were images of the past entering his mind. They were coming from his parents, others in the colony, and Tani. Then a medical cloning technician came out from a back room and the scene played out before him.

"I'm just confirming you are Aala Patrick and Stetson Pitts."

"Yes." They both answered jointly by just looking at the technician.

The technician began to fidget with her fingers. "I don't know how to put this. But it looks like your son may have social rejection syndrome."

Aala threw up her arms. "I knew it! I just knew there would be something wrong! I felt it before you even arrived!"

Stetson turned to Aala. "Aala, you know the Tani system had an impression there was a ten percent chance of this when we started this twenty years ago. You knew about my uncle back on Earth who had this disorder."

"Your uncle left the colony like all the other non-socials who have that terrible disease."

The technician stopped fiddling with her fingers and put up her hand to get Aala and Stetson's attention. "It's still possible your son might not have the full-blown form of the syndrome and may not reject his sociable event when the time comes. Given time the nanites might make some adaptations. There have been cases of this occurring in children."

Aala gave a scowl to the technician. "Thank you for your reassurance but based on Tani those cases are just under one percent."

"Please excuse my wife. This is hitting her hard as you can feel from her."

The technician walked away, leaving the two sitting there in the stark white room.

The image of the room faded from his mind. Maddix could then hear the subconscious anger of his mother's disgust directed at his father for his family's genetics. Maddix realized from his mother’s thoughts that he may be broken. That he had this syndrome after all.

He felt the worry of his father. He could see through his father's eyes his own body growing older and apparently in pain. He knew his father felt his pain. In fact, all were feeling his pain. Everyone in the entire colony was feeling his pain. Somehow, he knew this.

He tried to physically utter the words for help, but nothing happened. He tried to think the words and give them to his father who was standing in front of him, but again nothing. He saw only a puzzled look on his father’s face.

Then he saw through the eyes of others. Flashes of scenes of doing various work around the station, or eating, mentally conversing with someone, or even taking a shower. Then suddenly there was this hum in his mind. The machines were talking to him. Numeric codes and status updates flowed through his consciousness. Everything was being revealed to him. All that was hidden from him before was now in his mind and accessible. But still something was wrong. His heart was still racing, and his breath was quickened. Then came a darkness over his eyes. He heard in his mind this woman's voice saying "error 3612" repeatedly. A man's voice then followed saying "beginning purging."

Then Maddix saw a bright light that moved from left to right and then back again. He felt a numbing coldness all over his body. Then his mind drifted into a black nothingness. An ever-expanding inky black silent nothingness. Not even his own inner mind’s voice could be heard. No thoughts of any kind. Absolute silence. With no others around. No sense of self or being. Just the conscious realization of silence and eternal darkness.

No one back on Earth heard anything more from Sedna. It became a lost colony, and Earth authorities had placed a permanent quarantine for any further contact.


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