Excerpt for The Cycle of Life by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

The Cycle of Life

A collection of short stories

John L Paxton

Smashworks Edition

Copyright 2017 John L Paxton



The Wedding

Thirty Years On

About John L Paxton

Other Books by John L Paxton


The car, black with deeply-tinted windows, draws to a halt outside: as always it is precisely on time. The driver, without looking around, walks to the front of the building and presses the buzzer to my top floor apartment. I do not reply - there is no need. He was expected and I had seen him arrive. I quickly take the lift to the foyer and exit to the street. The driver, dressed from head to toe in black, is waiting beside the car: he noiselessly nods and opens a door to the back seat of the car. I slide into the relative luxury of the car and fasten my seat belt. Sinking back into the soft seat, I inhale the old-world aromas of leather and wood as I sip from the provided bottle of water: I am allowed to drink nothing other than water to-day.

I follow this ritual once every month. Colleagues, friends and neighbours all know, but no-one ever discusses it: neither word nor implication pass between us. Nor do I exchange any words with the driver. There is a smoked glass panel between the front and rear seats: I don’t know if it can be retracted or if there is some kind of microphonic means of communication. During the many trips I have made over the years, I have never been tempted to try to talk to him. On reflection, this is surprising as it has always been the same driver, every time without fail.

The journey doesn’t take long, twenty minutes would be the maximum it has ever taken. The car pulls off the road onto a long, winding drive through well-maintained grounds to arrive at the entrance of a large, old, elegant house that always appears well-maintained and conveys an air of dignity. Or, is it more of haughtiness? The chauffeur, if that is what he really is, opens the door for me. I have never been able to determine how he does this so quickly: it seems impossible for me to exit the car without him opening the door. Again, he doesn’t speak. I am expected: the front door opens without any request or announcement from myself. A blonde woman, attractive, dressed only in white stands aside to let me pass. We have seen one another many times but we show no recognition apart from a brief nod, no smile, no words.

I have been here so many times I know the routine without prompting. I walk along the corridor, past several closed doors to a small area furnished with an assemblage of sofas, armchairs and coffee tables - more leather and wood. I settle into a comfortable armchair but experience suggests I will not have a long wait.

Without ceremony or announcement, a door opens: this is my cue. I leave my seat, walk through the open door and quietly close it behind me. I am now in a small ante-room. I walk through the next open door and close it behind me. A man, dressed in white, is sitting behind a desk reading a computer screen. Without invitation, I walk towards the desk and take a seat on the opposite side from him. He ignores me for a few seconds then abruptly swivels around in his desk chair and faces me. “Hello Nicholas, how are you?” he asks in his usual, friendly manner his face creased with an open, apparently honest smile.

“I’m fine,” I simply reply.

“Good, good.” This is all part of the usual routine but I am inclined to trust the sincerity of his smile. “Any ailments since the last time?” The last time was of course only a month ago.

“No, nothing at all.”

“No colds, headaches, stomach upsets?”

“No, absolutely nothing.”

“No alcohol, tea or coffee this week.”


“OK. Can you give me a sample?” He spoke as he put a small glass bottle in front of me. I picked it up and walked through another door into a toilet. Providing the sample was easy; experience had taught me to drink plenty of water in advance. Effortlessly I filled the bottle, rearranged myself, washed my hands and returned. He picked up the sample and held it to the light. “I wish everyone was so plentiful. Very clear as well.” He then inserted the bottle into a machine and pressed a button: almost instantly there was a read-out on his computer screen. “Everything is as it should be. Now roll up your left sleeve.” Within seconds he had a small phial full of my blood, which he inserted into another machine and read the results on his screen. “That is good as well.” He then turned to face me.

“The sample you sent in two weeks ago was also good. The count is down slightly - that is only to be expected - but it is still very good. To-day is your last visit here.”

“Yes, that is correct.”

“How do you feel about that?” I was somewhat taken aback as this was the first time we had engaged in any non-standard conversation.

“I’m not sure. I haven’t thought about it much.”

“Really? Your life will change considerably, will it not?”

Of course, he was correct. I replied somewhat evasively, “I realise it will change but I haven’t thought through all the implications yet.”

“You have been very successful Nicholas. You probably don’t know that.”

“I have?”


“What do you mean, successful?”

“Just that, successful. I would, however, counsel you to think carefully about your future: your life will change in many ways.” The truth is I had thought about it considerably and the degree of change was unsettling.

“There are five to-day, so it will be a fairly long day for you.”

“That’s OK.” There had never been more than five: four was a more usual number and occasionally there were only three.

“Are you ready to start?” I nodded in agreement. “I wish you well for the future Nicholas. We probably won’t see one another again.” We shook hands - for the first time ever.

“Come with me to the preparation room Nicholas.” It was the woman who gave me entry to the building: normally she never spoke. I believe there was even a hint of a smile on her lips. It was necessary to be taken to the preparation room as there were several, to my knowledge, in the building and there appeared to be no consistent logic as to which I might use. It made little difference which room: they were all identical, with subdued lighting, comfortable sofas and several large television screens. “Prepare yourself and when you are ready go through the first door.”

“Thank you, I won’t be long.” I walked into the large, marble-lined bathroom undressed and showered. I used some of the provided cologne and slipped on the white, silk dressing gown that was hanging on the door.

This room, the preparation room, would be my base for the day. Food, nutritious with plenty of fruit, and drink - only water - would be provided. My task for the day was to make love to, or more correctly, have sex with five women. The objective was to make them pregnant. They were here to-day because it was the most fertile day of their cycle and even the sequence in which I saw them was calculated to maximise the chance of conception. Each of the women had been genetically matched with myself to ensure that any offspring was fit and healthy. I had been chosen to be a Giver at puberty, partly because of my health and intellect but equally because of my high sperm count. The declining fertility and birth rates in the western world had forced radical new ideas into society: my country had gone down this route. Prior to puberty all males have a small, electronic controller inserted under the skin: if they are not selected to be a Giver the controller ensures they are infertile. If, like me, they are selected then they remain fertile but only at selected times with selected women.

My country is different to others that have taken a more puritanical and clinical approach to the question of birth. Other countries have taken an artificial approach: this was tried briefly but was found to have induced a social malaise. Instead the act of procreation is to be celebrated and enjoyed. Once I was chosen, I was instructed by an older man, who had previously been a Giver, then I received practical instruction from a woman who had been a Receiver and a Mother; in all probability, she was someone’s Wife at the time. The point of the instruction was that I should fully participate in the act of procreation and have pleasure in it; also, it was to ensure that the woman received equal pleasure. At the age of sixteen I started as a Giver: this is the normal age, no-one starts younger. Most cease at the age of twenty-two: I am twenty-five and just finishing, which is an unusually high age. When someone ceases the role of Giver, the controller renders him infertile, not impotent just infertile.

It is similar for the women. The Receivers are selected at puberty and then receive instruction, firstly from a former Receiver and then practical instruction from a former Giver. Like the Givers, they are expected to give and receive pleasure in the act. Most Receivers start at about the age of fourteen, some are as young as twelve. The Givers are never told the ages of the Receivers but obviously one can tell, at least to an extent: I enjoyed it less with the really young. Receivers are allowed to give birth only three times. At the time of birth, the newly-born infant is taken away and delivered to a specially-selected, married couple who will bring it up as their own: no-one is told the identity of any of the others. After giving birth, a Receiver has a six-month break, during which the controller ensures she cannot conceive, before returning to the role of Receiver. Most cease being a Receiver by the time they are twenty or twenty-one.

I pour myself a glass of water and decide I am nearly ready to start. If I wish I can watch erotic movies or have sensuous massages during the day - seldom have I needed this in the past. From the pocket of my dressing gown I take a mask and slip it on: it is thin and light and moulds to my face. I would hardly know I had it on, in practice one quickly forgets about it. My partners for the day will also be wearing masks as anonymity is required. I walk through the door into the Conception Room, which is the same as all the others. The room is spacious and dimly-lit with a pink-hued light that is flattering to the skin. In the centre of the room is a large dais supporting a bed draped in white satin sheets: lying on the bed is the Receiver, prepared and waiting. Have I seen her before? It would be difficult to tell, as like me she is wearing a mask. Names are never exchanged and the lighting makes the identification and recall of small markings difficult. When we have finished, I will return to the Preparation Room and my partner, the Receiver, will lie on the bed for at least 30 minutes so as not to impede the journey of the semen.

Having finished my activities for the day, I quickly shower and dress. I make my way to the entrance to the building, as usual there is no-one to say good-bye to, even though this is my last day, at least as a Giver. Outside the driver is waiting for me: he nods silently and opens the door for me. I slide in and am quickly at the entrance to my building without any awareness or recollection of the journey.

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