“Everything went off except the power in the room where the procedure was unfolding, the sacred place where we were playing god.” A work of speculative fiction that suggest there are some things humans shouldn’t meddle with…
by: Roger Gude
For the longest time I wanted a job, you know? A real one. A good one. That’s why I said yes. Dr. Melvin, one of the head members of the neurosurgeon team at NL Science Corporation, he picked us out by name. Picked me, Jim, Lenox, Wan, Victoria, and Lawrence. All of us were bioengineers out of UCLA, except Dr. Wan out of Berkley, she worked on the “mushroom death suit.” We were all accredited.
They moved us into an off-campus location where we worked every single night. GAIA: Genetic. Analogous. Internal-Allocation. We cloned things. It was very new. We started with cells. Little things. Then we moved up to insects. Centipedes were duplicated. There were thousands of tiny legs. Then we moved on to rodents. Rats were a mess. Sometimes the cloning process would go wrong. The science I won’t get into here, but sometimes things went terribly awry. The chances we took, the funding we had. We became carried away from time to time.
I’m processing this the best I can. We eventually arrived at cloning humans. We found test subjects. A man out in Mississippi. A woman in Alaska. We called them in. They were both healthy, non-smokers, in their mid-to-late twenties. They signed off on the papers. We went with these two and four others. Jesus, it took so long, debriefing them, making sure they were who they said they were. Psychological examinations? We had them in spades. Our research was underground, it was a DNA thing. These clones were to be identical representations of the humans they came from. They would be “born” full grown. They would contain the same DNA as that which we took the night they arrived. The encoding of the elegantly intertwined double helix from billions of years of evolution, all there. The process was to be done within two different metallic containers, each able to fit a full person and contained by a pink incubation fluid we called Orablemene. It was a non-FDA approved fluid pumped full of hyper vitamins, probiotics, antiseptics, the list went on.
The process was to take twelve hours, and once we began things going well, their vitals all within normal ranges. We decided on cloning all six at once. We had a full staff, full funding. We believed it was the most important thing that humankind had ever done. People wanted a front row seat for proof. They wanted to see the “king’s head.” We kept the procedures separate from the viewing area, where our investors were. There were computer monitors and even some light refreshments served. They could see in through the reinforced glass windows. Each volunteer, waiting to be cloned, naked, climbed into their pods and sealed the doors. The investors and I watched from the bay window, where they sat suspended over a deep hole in the ground. The lights flickered when we first started the process, but the diesel generators caught and seemed to keep the power flowing. The investors and us were all mingling, having dinner in the viewing area, and awaiting the arrival of twelve identical humans at the end of the cycle. It was luxurious. There was wine. But something went wrong. We had a power failure, I think.
Everything went off except the power in the room where the procedure was unfolding, the sacred place where we were playing god. I didn’t know what we were capable of…but yes, the lights stayed on in there, and the capsules the subjects been sitting inside of opened. Our whole system was out. I was unable to do anything from where I was. Surrounded by temperamental and impatient investors, we tried everything. The doors were locked. The phones were of no use. We watched the pods open and the Orablemene drain. I tried kicking the doors and panels and calling out through the hallways as best I could for more help. What we all saw were not six people arising, but twelve, like we had hoped. When they started screaming, I stopped what I was doing.
The test subjects had begun to climb from their pods when the clones themselves arose and saddled up next to them, on their bedside, like babies over the crib. The clones were naked and looked exactly like the people we’d sent in there. I was proud of that. Before the subjects could tell what was happening, their clones started to beat and strangle them to death. People all around me started screaming. The clones started beating their originals to pulp. The woman from Alaska, the man from Mississippi. When they broke skin they kept beating until they broke organ and bone. We had not prepared for this. I’m here wondering if we exaggerated some cells, or exasperated our potential. I’m sitting here with at least six lives on my hands and six more if you count them. I kept my eyes open after that. No questions. What did they do? They broke them to death. It was insane. I was screaming, “Pull the plug.”
Generators kicked on and Dr. Victoria hit a button and dropped the mess into the hole it was over, a few thousand feet into the ocean. We didn’t know what else to do. Would you? Would I if I were to live it again? I thought it was over but it wasn’t. We are one of many organizations out there doing this. We malfunctioned, we hired the wrong people, and we are gone. But the science is not. It’s happening in ways we can’t imagine yet. I’ve been trying to, you see. And I can’t. Can’t picture a goddamn thing. Yet I know it, and you know it, too.