“What do you think, love, should we go for longer limbs or more of a muscular frame?” A young bride giggled. “Aww, look how cute the fingers look on this one!”
“It looks fine to me,” the husband replied, making eye contact with their consultant as his wife turned page after page of possibilities. Pouring over small details like teeth and hair. Being resistant to deterioration was an absolute must as was being free from the small anomalies that could undo the entire procedure. Eh, that was why you bought insurance. “Excuse me, doctor.” That’s what the consultants were called, Doctors. The husband didn’t know the qualifications, it wasn’t in his path. “Have the results come back from the population study?” What the thing looked like bore little importance in the man’s mind. He knew that the coding would be fine, as long as the ability codex was up to par. A major investment like this had to pay off, and that thought had plagued him ever since the wedding, but it was necessary.
Doctor Cobb adjusted his glasses. “Indeed they have sir, but you must make your selection quickly. Codex lists are only guaranteed for twenty four hours. The doctor sat back passively as the wife circled her choices in the large traits binder while the husband passively flipped through the options. I wonder if it was always like this. Dr. Cobb thought, not for the first time. He was bred to be a Doctor. His parents had known since he was born that’s what he would be. Just like this man knew he’d be a Lawyer and the woman knew she would never progress beyond HR. That’s fine, her charisma and carefree nature made up for her lacking mental capabilities. Unlike his own wife, a Geneticist. Dr. Cobb sighed, she had been breaking down lately. It was unlike her and worried him. Once the couple’s selections had been made, Dr. Cobb took a deep breath. Time for the disclaimer.
“We must procure samples from both of you and will do the best to create the greatest companion you could build. If for any reason there are imperfections after the two-year trial period, you are welcome to return and try again. Please be reminded that this process could take up to nine months or later depending on the construction. Ms. Dawkins will handle your insurance and payment plan on your way out. It was very nice to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Bradley.”
The couple left the Doctor in solitude. He looked through the documents. These people were loaded. They had selected the highest version of the model, choosing twenty guaranteed physical characteristics and the husband had chosen the Engineer Codex. They both chose a male model. A sigh escaped Dr. Cobb’s throat as he passed the binder and papers to Mrs. Dawkins.
“Another happy couple,” he shook his head, giving the elderly woman the binder.
“This one’s going to take a while,” she said, flipping through the pages. “You warned them, right?”
“Of course,” he said. He always did, but couples often became impatient, some choosing less perfect models in their haste and abandoning the product after the mandatory two years. “If you are ready to pack up for the night, I think I’m going to go home to Genesis.”
“Yes sir, she called earlier and asked me to tell you to meet her at Casey’s. Big night, sir?” Mrs. Dawkins was cheerful. Most women were, hormones carefully regulated and monitored in both sides of the species. He would know, that was his wife’s field.
Casey’s was their favorite spot to meet after a hard day of work. The spirits were excellent with charismatic, genuine bartenders and waitresses. Experimental musicians and artists were often in attendance, sprucing up the place with their music and portraits or abstract designs. Each one more creative, more vibrant than the last. Competition was slim, but that didn’t sway the inner motivation and beauty of the creatures of performance. To people like the Doctor and his Wife, they provided a necessary distraction from the mentally taxing work the two pursued.
Dr. Cobb looked over the restaurant. Lively Celtic music blared from the stage, loud enough to muffle conversation. He spotted his wife sitting at the table, sipping on a glass of water. Her long wavy hair flowed over flawless brown skin covering a perfectly average body. He loved her.
“I am so glad you got here on time,” Genesis hailed him from their usual table. “There is something I want to discuss.” She seemed nervous.
“Should we go home?” The Doctor asked. “What is wrong?” The two had to shout to be heard, but the music drowned them out from any imposing ears. “Let me go get drinks.”
“Nothing for me,” Genesis smiled from straight teeth, slightly stained. Imperfection, but he loved her anyway.
“Now I have to know what’s going on,” Dr. Cobb left her and got himself a whiskey brewed and tested by the very best in the world. There hadn’t been a bad batch in over a century. By the time he returned, Genesis had conquered her nerves and turned to him, determination in her eyes.
“Have you noticed anything in the past few weeks?” She asked. Dr. Cobb thought for a moment. His wife had seemed a little more moody, but it was a stressful time at work and they had barely seen each other. She said she was feeling sick, but that wasn’t entirely uncommon for her type. Getting frustrated by his silence, Genesis glanced around before leaning over the table. “Ben, I’m pregnant,” she said in a furtive voice.
The world stopped for Dr. Benjamin Cobbs.
“Have you reported to your employer? How could this happen?” Dr. Cobbs felt himself fall into a panic though he kept his face calm. “How long?”
“I stopped taking my pills two months ago,” Genesis admitted. “It was a dare from my co-workers. We were debating if it was still possible to do it…you know.”
“Is that why you’ve been so good to me lately?” Dr. Cobbs asked. He had been enjoying their intimacy, their couplings were frequent and erotic. He had a wife who enjoyed exploring new things which was one of the reasons they fit so well together. “Well, we have to take care of this…”
“Ben,” his wife’s voice hardened. “I refuse. I’m not going to go through with another procedure.”
“But Genesis, honey, that’s illegal…”
“I ran a genetic breakdown on it today and we can put together a profile.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Dr. Cobbs froze. “Why did you…”
“You never would have agreed to it!” Genesis fought back.
“But love, what about the ability codex? Without that piece, we won’t know what it can do- what its strengths and weaknesses will be. What if it comes out differently than what we report to the agency? This is intolerable. I’ll set up an appointment with you and Dr. Winstead…”
“No, you won’t. You do that and I will leave you.”
“If I don’t, we will be criminals. It will be different. How will we explain when it starts failing in its path? When it lacks resistance to disease? When it has the wrong gender…”
Genesis shook her head. “You and I are both disease-resistant, we both have high ability codices. What are you afraid of?” Her eyes burned with passion, with the promise of adventure. He always gave into it, always. The Minx had tricked him, but he loved her. He was built to be passive, a non-judgmental observer.
“If we’re caught, they will take it from us, lock you away, and we will be separated.” Dr. Cobbs’ panic showed in his eyes. They didn’t follow procedures, they didn’t choose their traits, sign up for a codex, do the extensive testing of sperm and eggs to ensure the best possible combination… those born without first undergoing the genetic tests were sent to the same schools as those whose parents could only afford the base model. Parents who managed to go through it were punished with fines or jail, the thing taken away from them. It was better to get the procedure or counselling. He knew that. He had tried to convince Genesis time and time again to go through the lawful process, but she was of the mind it was expensive and selfish to think all of humanity could be improved this way. This makes us no better than breeding dogs. She argued. Only mating the shiniest coats or the strongest in the pack. “I don’t want us to go to jail.” Ben finally said.
“So trust in my abilities, and I’ll trust in yours,” Genesis smiled at her husband. “Our child will be extraordinary. You worry that it may be different, I know she or he will be different.”
“The law aside, how will we know that we will love them? Be proud of them?”
“We will,” Genesis smiled.
“What if they don’t match what we want?” He and Genesis had talked before about what their contribution would be like. Have his mother’s eyes, his father’s nose…
Genesis shook her head. “Would you listen to yourself? You’re getting selfish again.”
“Is it selfish to set up your companion to be best suited to survive?”
“It’s selfish to create a living creature like a robot. It’s better to create one out of love and take the time to get to know them for who they are, not for what you want them to be. Why do you think your younger brother was rejected? He saw the success of you and your sister, and refused to stay on his path. Our child won’t have a path, just two devoted, loving parents!”
Ben stared at his wife. He thought he knew this woman, he had been married to her for five years, but he had never seen this much emotion from her before, this passion. Inviting him into this illegal and dangerous adventure was the highlight of her day, if not her life. She meant it, if he did not go along, she would leave. That would put her in an even worse position. Ben smiled for the first time that evening, thinking back to the way the couple in his shop greedily built their son. “All right,” he finally conceded. “Hang the ability codex and the laws… we’re having a baby!”
Genesis grinned, pulling the genetic analysis of the embryo from her oversized bag.
“I just hope we can pull it off,” Dr. Cobbs replied.
“We will, we’re the lucky ones.” Genesis smiled. Panic turned to excitement as the pair of criminals looked over the data of the most precious contraband in the world.
This story was inspired by the following quote:
We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?”- RichardDawkins
If you have 24 minutes you don’t know what to do with- listen to Nightwish’s “Greatest Show on Earth”