CREATIVE Thomas Pitts

NWR Issue 122

The Chosen

Leah’s father sighed and shook the reins. Twenty-year-old Leah, next to him in the one-horse buggy, looked up from her Gospel book. She knew that being elder of Newbury Township congregation weighed on him.

Stroking his beard all the way down, her father glanced at Lake Jakob overhead. ‘At least we needn’t worry anymore about the rotation being perturbed.’

What did he mean by ‘at least’? wondered Leah. What else was there to worry about? Hadn’t what he’d seen last week proved the world was safe now? He’d been down through the ’roid’s crust to a window at the surface, and reported back to the congregation that, with the telescopes there, he had seen the war’s utter devastation. Earth and Mars weren’t blue and white anymore, they were grey, he’d said. ‘Nanocreted’ was the word. The bright colonies of the Moon were in ruins. And most of the Main Belt was simply not there – ‘converted into energy’, including some inhabited ’roids. Only Asteroid Amish abided. At which the congregation could only say, ‘All the heathen have destroyed each other. They sowed the wind and reaped the whirlwind.’

Her father looked at her. ‘What’s it like, the Gospels in the original language? That must be something good.’
‘Kind of clearer, I guess. More modern-sounding than German or English. I wish I’d brought my Greek grammar.’

‘I think, daughter, that even raised among the heathen, you would have made a good person. A natural Amish. In my pocket.’

Leah pulled out her grammar. ‘That’s so thoughtful, Father.’

‘Mm.’

What troubled him? She loved being alone with her father – she had so many siblings – and had looked forward to this journey. There wasn’t a cloud in the blue sky. ‘The war’s over,’ she said in her gentle way – gentler even than most Amish women. ‘We kept out of their violence.’

‘“Quietly awaited the Lord’s salvation.” Our forefathers did well to leave Earth.... You’re a serious person, Leah. Learning Greek to get closer to the Word.’

‘The Lord sowed the idea in my heart.’

‘Your heart was furrowed. We’ll have to search a long way to find you a good-enough husband...’


Thomas Pitts is half-Italian and hails from Newbury in Berkshire. He’s had two mainstream short stories broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and others published in print, both science-fiction and mainstream. He is currently finishing two novels, one an historical fantasy, the other a love-and-war epic in a future solar system of two dystopias and two utopias. Among his favourite prose writers are Wells, Twain, Vonnegut, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Austen, and Kafka. His entry, ‘The Chosen’, from which this is an extract, was highly commended in the New Welsh Writing Awards 2019: Aberystwyth University Prize for a Dystopian Novella, awarded this summer at Hay Festival.

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