This town is not like the one you and I grew up in.
There are armed patrols around the perimeter. Walls to keep us in. One-hundred foot tall ‘observance’ towers to keep things in check, to keep the conveyor belts moving.
At first they told us it was a study. That it was a government-funded five-year program and when it was done we’d go home. But that was twenty years ago.
At least I think it was. All the TVs do here is play repeats of old movies. The internet clone we are allowed to use is frozen in 2018 and doesn’t actually connect to anything. No one seems to know why. No one asks.
Over time, the truth has filtered down.
We are part of a private enterprise, funded by a famous billionaire, backed by the government and military complex to discover the possibility of human regeneration. By that, I mean immortality. Defeating death.
We have been ‘sold’ by the state to the private entity and our records have been removed from the outside world. We don’t exist. We never have. And our only utility is “the work”.
What is “the work”?
Reproduction. An endless supply of babies that are then sent to the ‘big house’, for processing and harvest.
It’s the blood they want, you see. They believe infant blood can reverse the effects of ageing – at least for those with the means to pay for it.
As a physically fit man and classified “skilled worker” in this town I have fathered forty-seven healthy babies. Not one have I held in my arms. The mothers, each of them, go insane with grief in time and are “vanished”. I have learned to not get too attached.
Once or twice a year they bring new recruits from the outside. Young women with no families or ties that can be paired off and used for the next wave of units. They’re fed the old “study” routine, promised a large cheque, and we’re forbidden from telling them the truth. That is, unless we want to disappear too.
My forty-eighth “wife” has just given birth to a beautiful, healthy girl. She is six pounds eight ounces, with a strong grip. She has my mother’s smile.
My wife is crying with happiness and exhaustion, her dark hair streaked across her face. She holds the baby out to me but I refuse.
I’m waiting for the knock on the door.