'Hi Mum how you doing?' Hannah said as she entered the kitchen.
'Good thank you sweetheart and you?' Hannah's mum was watching the preparation machine peel the potatoes. Hannah's favourite day of the week was Sunday where she got to come home and enjoy Sunday Roast with her parents.
'How are you feeling about tomorrow?'
'It will be the same as last time. You know I am only going because I have to.'
'But you are thirty nine now don't you think it is the right time to adopt?'
'Mum. You and dad were eighty when you adopted me. I hardly think you can tell me time is running out can you?'
'Yes but we couldn't have done it sooner. In those days government officials weren't even allowed to adopt until they were at least seventy five and then you have to wait for your name to come up.'
'I have only just started on the photocell project. This could have massive impact on energy generation and we might finally be able to stop using fossil fuels. This is something we have been working on since the nineteen eighties and finally two hundred years later we are very close to a break through. I can't spend any time with a baby right now, you know that.'
'So why didn't you apply for a dispensation?'
'Because I have applied for a dispensation for the last nineteen times and you know you have to go through the process at least once ever twenty years.'
'So do you know how many are going tomorrow?'
'Twenty as far as I can tell so it is highly unlikely I will be picked.'
'You never know you are very suitable for an adopter.'
'Mum, I have no husband, I live in a government accommodation block and I work at least fifteen hours a day. How is that suitable? There will be women there who have husbands and who are higher up the scale than I am so they may even have house with gardens and live further out of the metropolis.'
'But if you got this baby they would have to move you into better accommodation. They can't have crying babies in the academic's block can they? You might even get closer to us.' Currently Hannah had a four hour Skyride trip to get to her parents so Sunday was the only day she could see them and then only for the amount of time it took to eat dinner.
'Well it's all chance anyway. You know that so you will just have to wait and see.'
Just then the preparation machine started making some very strange noises. Hannah's mum rushed over to correct it. 'Go and find your father. He's in the study preparing for tomorrow's council meeting. Tell him dinner in ten minutes.'
'Billy Jenkins you bastard. I am letting you anywhere near me again,' Becky screamed as the contraction came again. They were every five minutes now and she had been in the delivery suite five hours already.
Billy looked down at his wife, covered in sweat and screaming at him and she was still the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. 'Come on love you know it will be okay once the pain passes.'
Becky gave him a look of pure hatred as she gritted her teeth through the pain. As the pain subsided Billy mopped his wife's brow and fetched her a glass of water. This was their ninetieth child and they knew the drill pretty well. They had arrived at the hospital the week before the due date and they both enjoyed this time. They got a suite which was so much better that the cold draughty caravan they had to live in for the rest of the year. They had tried to enjoy it this time but they knew this was the last time Becky would leave the hospital alive. The twentieth birth always killed the mother. No-one ever questioned why this was and because it always happened. The husband was never allowed in the delivery suite for the twentieth birth. The child was always taken from the breeders as soon as it was born and then it was transported with a nanny to the south. The breeders didn't know what happened to the children but they had heard they were well looked after and Becky always liked to think that her kids all knew each other and were close by. This was not the case. The children knew they were adopted but they knew nothing of the life of the breeders. The twentieth child was always held back and given to the breeder nursery to grow up to be the next generation of breeders. Once the mother died the fathers went to work in the photocell factories and never returned to the complex. The complex was an area between the M60 and M62 which ran the length of the country and was made up entirely of caravans where each breeder pair lived. The next generation children were kept in nursery's and then schools in what used to be Leeds and Manchester to learn essential things like the art of love making and good healthcare to ensure healthy babies.
Billy smiled at his wife and she smiled back. They knew they had less than a year together as she must be pregnant with the next child within one year of having the last. If she wasn't the husband was sent to the photocell factories early and the wife was artificially inseminated.
'I love you Billy Jenkins,' Becky grabbed his hand.
'And I love you Becky Jenkins,'
'We've don't done bad for twenty years together have we? Always done our duty and produced the kids.'
'We sure have. Can you remember that time after the seventh one where you couldn't get pregnant?'
'Yeh and they were going to send you away and send me to live with the other singleton breeders on the baby farm.'
'And we found out you were pregnant with only a week to the deadline.'
'That was lucky. I don't think I could do this without you Billy.'
'But this is our life sweetie. This is what we are here to do.'
'But don't you think it is wrong that this is all we do?'
The midwife looked over at the two of them and frowned.
'Come on it's just the drugs talking you know this is our life. There is nothing else.'
Suddenly Becky's face screwed up in pain and Billy grabbed her hand ready for the next barrage of abuse.
Hannah walked into the adoption centre and handed in her appointment card. She was the last to arrive. The other nineteen women sat around each one with a husband or partner. Hannah hated this bit. It had been the same last time she had been the only one on her own. Surely she couldn't be the only lone woman in the metropolis who had to come to these things. All twenty women had been selected using advanced numerology techniques that meant they would be suited to bring up a baby born on this day. Where husbands were involved there were ignored from the equation as the numerology of the women suggested they would have chosen an appropriate male for their needs and the needs of their child. Numerology looked into many things included their date of birth, as well as the numerology of their names both at birth and after marriage.
Suddenly the buzzer sounded this meant that the baby had been born. At precisely that moment an image of the constellations above the place of the baby’s birth was taken. By now the baby had been removed from its mother and was being checked and cleaned.
Hannah was aimlessly looking out of the window noticing the sunny day with the ice hanging from the bird bath in the park. A blue tit desperately trying to break through the ice to get something to drink. Suddenly behind her everyone in the room issued a unanimous aaaaah. Hannah turned round. Oh look a picture of the baby. Is it a boy or a girl? Difficult to say. Oh wait it is wearing a pink blanket, must be a girl.
Hannah looked around the room. Some of these women would share her birthday; some would share her name, either first or last. The system always made sure there were never two women with exactly the same full name as this confused the selection process.
Hannah's phone rang, 'Yes.'
All heads turned and glared at her. One woman even shushed her.
'What is it I am on a personal day?' Hannah listened
'The reaction of the photocells, it’s happened?' Hannah listen a while longer.
'Wow that's amazing. No don't do anything I am on my way.'
Hannah jumped up and rushed towards the door and just as she grabbed at the handle an arm reached out to stop her.
'What is it,' Hannah swung round to see a stocky looking nurse looking disapprovingly at her
'Where are you going miss?'
'I need to get back to work. The reaction we have been hoping for has happened.'
'You need to wait until the baby allocation has happened.'
'But you don't understand. This reaction makes the difference. We can get rid of fossil fuels. In ensures clean energy.'
'You need to wait until the baby allocation has happened.'
'There are twenty of us here, it won't be me.' Just then another buzzer sounded and the image of the constellations appeared on the screen.
'Please miss, sit down. It will only be ten more minutes and then if it isn't you then you can go.'
Hannah was just about to argue some more when she saw two security guards dressed as attendants walking up behind the nurse. She sat down and for the first time focused on the screen.
The baby allocation was about to begin. A robotic arm could be seen on the screen and it started to draw lines between the stars. These lines would eventually spell out the name of the mother the baby had been allocated to. First letter was an H, a woman in the corner burst into tears and a few others looked down cast. By the time the first name had appeared only five women still looked interested. Hannah had never believed in any sort of God but she closed her eyes and started to pray. As she opened them she looked up at the screen and there it was HANNAH STORTFORD, the name of the adoption mother, up there on the screen, written in the stars.