Davis held the brittle document in her hand. She suddenly had a newfound appreciation for the older Abolitionists. The material was dense. She couldn’t imagine 50 years of wrangling with it.
“So tell me what I’m looking at,” she finally said. She didn’t want to sound pedestrian, but she was fairly certain no Outsider had ever set eyes on a Deliberation document anyways. They only ever saw the Abolishments that passed.
“You’re looking at what happens when an institution becomes too large,” Judy replied, “When it begins to throw chunks of plaster onto an edifice that everyone is too scared to bulldoze.”
“It led to the First Contradiction.” Solomon declared. “Four Deliberations were referenced in #1561. Until then, we had never referenced more than 3. It was something we all realized was inevitable, but would never admit… As we deliberated more, and referenced more of those deliberations, it became impossible to remain logically consistent.” He paused. “As Judy says, the more that is added, the more untenable the edifice becomes.”
“But isn’t that the point of Abolishment?” Davis said, recalling the hours she spent in a classroom drilling all of this into her head before her deployment Outside. “To enforce a culture of change? Rather than building on top of centuries-old dogma, to constantly break it down?”
“Which, in itself, becomes a contradiction,” Solomon went on. “A society cannot just be told what not to do. It must be taught what TO do. A building must be built.”
“A building must be built,” Judy mused softly. “So the First Contradiction slipped in. We didn’t even realize it. Once that happened, it became impossible to revise or review what had already been established. Much like the Constitution before the Divide. Nobody would touch it with a ten foot pole. What four men said in an alley became as Godlike as the Ten Commandments.”
“So, the Selection,” Davis pushed, “What was that?”
“It was a reaction to the question of extinction. Since the abolishment didn’t pass, extinction continued to be considered a question of morality. When Collinsworth spoke of it way back then, he made it sound hypothetical, but if the Genetic Archive Project truly exists… the Selection sanctioned its creation. It meant that if preventing extinction was a moral imperative, it warranted the use of interference. It led to the contradiction of Deliberation #1271, that interference required consent, and Deliberation #1277, that there was no moral order to species. It created an order - the species that were most ‘at risk’ became the most morally important to preserve.”
“So ‘at risk’ species began to be Selected, against their will, for the sake of being preserved,” Solomon said.
“Well, what makes that different from any other environmental effort or animal protection agency?” For a moment, Davis thought of affirmative action back in Pureside.
“Because it wasn’t protection,” Judy went on. “It’s never been protection. It’s a rationalization for a larger destruction that nobody is willing to stop. And it’s futile.”
“There isn’t enough land.” Solomon said. The next sentence hung in the air, as though it, too, had been said: Not enough for everyone.
“God knows what they’re doing now. If Collinsworth actually did it?” Judy proclaimed in a hushed whisper. “God knows what they’re planning.”
Davis scoffed. ‘God.’ To hear an Abolitionist use that word was like hearing the world’s foulest curse.
Williams crouched in his spot behind the bushes. It was a trip to him, looking around – the place looked like a freaking plantation. After all the other crazy stuff he’d seen in the last 48 hours, he didn’t think anything could still surprise him, but here he was. Outside, somewhere, tailing a freak assassin as he did his business.
He felt a bitter swell of saliva in his throat. Did these a-holes build it to look like a plantation on purpose? What was this place? It was creepin him out. They’d always heard rumors in Pureside that Outsiders were racist – which was why they all looked the same – but this seemed like a fuckin slap in the face. All he knew was that he needed to keep his head down – one look at his brown ass and anyone could tell he was out of place.
He saw his man cut quickly across the lawn and approach one of the houses – a big white one, with two rocking chairs on the porch. Williams watched as the man slinked up the back stairs and snaked around the veranda, staying close to the walls. When he reached the front door, he peered sideways through the window as his hand slid down towards his weapon.
Williams instinctively reached for his own.
He saw the man rap on the door loudly, two times, then sidle to the side, his hand still on his holster.
Williams tensed – what was this fool doing? The door opened and Williams’ jaw tightened. A big black dude stood in the doorway, with a white woman by his side. They were both kinda old. Williams’ man said a few words – Williams couldn’t hear what – and gestured into the house.
Williams drew a breath in through his teeth. C’mon, don’t let him in, was all he could think. Are you stupid or something? The couple swung the door open wide and let him enter. A few seconds later, the door closed shut behind them. Williams set his jaw. Well, guess my job just got a lot harder. He quickly checked his sides – nobody was around that he could see – and darted his brown ass across the lawn.