Only one place in the world is as beautiful and perfect as the south side of the mountain. And, that would have to be the north side. Geo-constructed and maintained by a supercomputer with thousands of drones under its' control. The mountain was a haven of peace. Any could apply to live there and even though few were accepted, for the standards were high, the ones who were had diverse enough backgrounds for all to know the selection was random.
Selm was a delivery boy. Ordinary. Almost seventeen, the age at which he would become legally emancipated and responsible for all of his actions.
In the testing room he had survived up through test four. Higher than anyone else in his Annus and profession. The final test was tomorrow. If he passed this he was eligible to travel to the mountain. The highest honor in his civilization.
Selm lay on the rippling field outside town. He was close to the old oak, which, now at the midpoint of fall was almost stripped of leaves. Selm watched as a gusty breeze blew five more leaves down, and listened to the lamenting song their belated relatives still clinging cried.
Deep down, I hope those leaves were a sign of the test I will pass. Even though the oak and the whole field and generated. Even though I am looking like a fool in the I & R room. I still hope the leaves were speaking to me. I wi -.
The landscape blinked out.
"REPORT TO SUSTENANCE. 0800. LIGHTS OUT AT 1100."
Selm stood, brushing off his mental leaves and walked.
"Can I ask you something?"
"Fire." Selm hated the food.
"If you were, hypothetically of course, were sitting next to Greene over there. Your hand on her leg. And then if she started choking. Would you remove you hand to help or perform a complicated contorted movement and smack her with your free hand,"
Selm outwardly grinned jauntily.
"Dexter you dickhead. I'd grab her. Do the Heimlich maneuver. Then one she'd smothered me with kisses and called me her hero several times we'd find a quiet room and ..."
The other guys laughed. Dexter slapped Selm on the back.
"Out of the mouths of babes and innocents."
"TESTING GROUP ANNUS-16, PROFESSION-D. REPORT TO TEST 5 LEVEL 1"
Selm stood up. The surrounding tables clapped. Several hands reached out to shake. A girl, what was her name? Started with F? Came over and kissed him. People told him to make them proud. Everything blurred.
Selm feeling numb walked out. The people behind him didn't stop clapping.
He had Passed. The shuttle was there.
All the preparations for launch had taken hours. It felt like days of seconds. Everything was strange. Where was his family?
His belly felt cramped. They hadn't been allowed to eat. Or had he just not been able to. More hands were pushing him forward. Voices came and went.
Inside the ship now. Straps were tightened around him and he grinned at the orderly who helped him. The girl smiled and waved a bit and then left. Selm wondered what her eye color was after a minute.
Suddenly there was motion. Moving upwards. Nauseating. All was dark. His body told him to sleep but his mind rebelled. He sat thinking of mathematical problems until his mind was beaten into submission and then there was peace.
Bright lights flashed all at once. Selm heard many noises but he cared for only one.
"MOUNTAIN CLEARANCE ACQUIRED"
Selm leaped up. He raced unsteadily to the viewing station and there it was. The unattainable epitome of happiness which had stared at him all through childhood. Everything which his people looked up to and them judged themself by. The tests, everything, all trying to achieve one goal.
It gleamed in the hazy light of the stars. Misty, ethereal.
Selm felt his throat tighten. He was suddenly aware of his hands clenching the ends of his sleeves. Sweaty. His whole life wrapped in this one moment.
They drew closer. The other 'chosen' drew near around him. Silent in meditation and joy. One woman was weeping. A man's hand were shaking.
The shuttle docked. The captain came and placed them in groups. Selm was in the second group. The first group entered the air lock to wait for the pressure to equalize. The door slammed on their joyous, white, teary faces. There is something there. Selm wondered if it was on his face.
The next group entered. Selm stood facing the door that would open onto the mountain. He couldn't breathe.
The doors opened.
The room blinked out.
"REPORT TO SUSTENANCE ROOM 0800."
Selm brushed off his mental leaves and walked.