The Earth Boy’s Visit to the Site Where Human Slaves are Toiling

“We humans who were born artificially have no freedom,” said the perion-plant field worker.  “We are forced to serve the Makumbans.”

“Do they pay you for your work?”  I asked, studying the young man’s face.

“Very little.”

“How often do you get to go home?”  I asked again.

“Once a year, short leave.”  He hurried away as a guard approached us.

“Good afternoon, Brumba!”  the guard said to me.  “I’m so sorry I didn’t know you are here.”

“Don’t worry,” I said.  “This is an informal visit.  So leave us alone.”  I moved to an older worker to hear his story.

“I have two children and a wife who is a servant like the other females,” he related. “We both work but we can’t afford to buy even new shoes for our kids.”

I gave him the money I had in my pocket.  “Next time you visit your children, buy something for them.”

His eyes widened.  “This is a lot of money, Brumba!  Thank yo so much.”

I didn’t know the value of the Makumban money.  Clive had given me earlier as an allowance.  But I didn’t need it.  I thanked him for the chat and turned to leave.  Like it or not, I had to return to my quarters.

(excerpted from THE SPACE HERMITS)

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