They were at breakfast table, and the boy looked up from his plate curiously. He didn’t understand what the sudden tension was about, but he did know that today was his birthday, and he wanted harmony above all. He wanted the day to be happy, and the moistness of his mother’s eyes, the scowl on his father’s face, spoiled the mood of fluttering expectation with which he had greeted the morning. “What exam?” he asked. His mother looked at the tablecloth. “It’s just a sort of Government Intelligence test they give children at the age of twelve."
“You mean a test like in school?” “Something like that,” his father said, getting up from the table. “Go and read your comics, Dickie.” The boy rose and wandered towards that part of the living room which had been “his” corner since infancy. He fingered the topmost comic of the stack, but seemed uninterested in the colorful squares of fast-paced action. He wandered towards the window, and peered gloomily at the veil of mist.
Taking the test
Slesar, Henry. “The Examination Day, Written by Henry Slesar - Website.” Google Sites, 12 Mar. 2019, sites.google.com/a/tamaki.ac.nz/website/the-examination-day.
Dickie sat at the breakfast table and again saw moisture in his mother’s eyes. He didn’t connect her tears with the exam until his father suddenly brought the subject to light again. “Well, Dickie,” he said, with a manly frown, “you’ve got an appointment today.”
Dickie walked to the door and turned the knob. The room inside was dim, and he could barely make out the features of the grey-tunicked attendant who greeted him.
He led Dickie to the end of the room, where a single wooden armchair faced a multi-dialed computing machine. There was a microphone on the left arm of the chair, and when the boy sat down, he found its pinpoint head conveniently at his mouth. “I’ll leave you alone now. Whenever you want to start, just say “ready” into the microphone.”
It was almost four o’clock when the telephone rang. The woman tried to reach it first, but her husband was quicker. “This is the Government Educational Service. Your son, Richard M Jordan, Classification 600-115 has completed the Government examination. You may specify by telephone,” the voice droned on, “whether you wish his body interred by the Government, or would you prefer a private burial place? The fee for Government burial is ten dollars.”