Nov 21, 2011 : Sneak peak at short story “Chimera”

As promised, I am posting little sneak peaks of stories either in progress or finished. This is an unfinished work as of yet. Let me know what you guys think.

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“Chimera”

 

I was once a terminal cancer patient right on death’s doorstep. In what I thought might be my last few peaceful moments, my fundamentalist Christian stepfather came in to insist I change my atheist stance and make my peace with God. I hated my mother for marrying this asshole after Dad died.

I couldn’t help but see how petty and meaningless the things people did were. Everything we do, and everything we’ve achieved amounts to nothing in the face of oblivion.

After having my arm amputated for the seventh time, death seemed a bit more reasonable.

As the medical technicians injected powerful anesthetic into my limb, I stare at the table of barbaric instruments that will sever it.

I made the mistake of watching the process the first time. Now, I’ve learned to look away.

Even though I’m numbed from the shoulder down, there is still a faint sensation of cold metallic tools violating flesh. Then there’s the whine of the bone saw they use to cut through my humerus. And finally, there’s the disturbing reality of my arm falling away from my body. I never get used to it.

My wardens are harvesting genetic samples from the procured flesh in order to manufacture new drugs to fight disease among the population. Contractually speaking, I owe them. It was in the fine print of the contract I signed before my would-be death. You’ll agree to just about anything when you’re dying.

A company called GeneTech, had offered the deal. They had patented the cancer cure that few could afford, which made a great lure.

Later on, I discovered that I was hardly the only dying patient to be propositioned. Dozens were offered the deal, and in return from agreeing to he terms, they received full room and board at undisclosed location, expenses paid, and a chance to live longer.

However, on paper we’re all officially dead. No one knows we’re still alive. The reason for our supposed deaths is that human experimentation is very illegal.

We may as well be the unclaimed souls of grim reaper.

The techs did their best to keep me comfortable while they stitched me up, dressed the wound, and administered painkillers.

My arm will regenerate within a couple of months thanks to the Axlotl gene proteins in my cells.

All of us were given gene modifications via retrovirus treatments. The Axlotl set was standard fair for everyone. There were several animal genes that were being used in the experiments. One of mine was feline, which improved my night vision manifold. It was incredible to experience such clear sight in the dark. The virus had caused the development of a highly reflective lens like a cat, and so I produced the same eye-shine an animal does when facing light.

Even with the improvements in health, and comfortable living, being a high-class guinea pig is getting old.

We aren’t even allowed out of this building, because we might contaminate the domes healthy population. Sure, the company included plenty of stimuli inside or ‘apartment complex’.

We had wreck rooms, a gym, a pool, cable TV, you name it. You can’t fabricate fresh air, the smell of grass, or even dirt.

Being isolated from everything you know for the sake of legalities is a heavy price. I want more freedom than this. I know someone else does, too.

A few hours later, I called my friend, Quinn Ashmore, to come down to my flat in the building in which all the experimental patients lived. One of my sweater’s sleeves hung limp at my side as I sat up in my bed, dazed from the strong painkillers.

Quinn and I had become friends since our ‘rebirth’ in GeneTech’s program. Both of us had been inches from death, marked by hair loss, and wasting bodies. Now, each of us had full heads of hair and renewed vitality.

I had long locks of black hair, while Quinn had a mop of shaggy auburn and a goatee.

“Hey, Michiko,” he said as he opened my door. “I see they harvested again. How’re you feeling?” He closed the door behind him.

“Other than being in a drug haze,” I started. “I’m getting tired of pretending I’m dead.”

Quinn came over and sat on the bed next to me.

“I know the feeling,” he said. “But, what are we supposed to do? Genetic chimeras are illegal nearly everywhere. We’re not entirely human anymore, so it would be another death sentence. They’d take us apart just to see what we are now.”

I sighed, feeling the hopelessness of our predicament.

“There has to be somewhere… The Novosibirsk dome is busy enough that we might get lost in there. I don’t know how strict their laws are on things like us though.”

“That was where a clone claimed political asylum a few years ago,” he replied. “We might have a chance there. But, firstly, there’s the issue of getting out of this place.”

“I have a plan.” I said.

Quinn looked at me deadpan.

“Michi, you do realize that some of the worst ideas start with that line, don’t you?” Then he smirked at me.

During the next months that it took for my arm to regenerate, one of the other patients suddenly died. He was a young kid, just shy of nineteen, named Riley. I didn’t know him well, but something one of his friends said made me never forget him.

“Nothing was wrong enough for him to die,” one of the boys said. “They just wanted a full harvest.”

The boy stared at me with dead eyes, knowing that none of us was immune if the white coats wanted our flesh. That was the true breaking point for me, and it hit home for Quinn as well.

Quinn and I went around the housing facility, subtly conversing with the others to see how willing they’d be to risk escape. Some didn’t believe the rumors about Riley, and while passively discontent, they felt they were safe. Others were either glad to just be alive, or outright too afraid to even talk about it.

We wanted others to break out with us, but in the end they were just too afraid. Quinn and I only had each other to count on. Maybe it was better just the two of us, rather than a large group.

In the downtime, a combination of phantom pains, itching, and random zaps from re-growing nerves kept me amused. If my body had been over this routine six times before, why the hell couldn’t it find a way around the side effects?

Not only was there fear directed at the company that held us in captivity, but for the world outside the Moscow dome. Venturing outside the protective layer of the dome walls was an assumed death sentence.

Before the 3rd World War, domes were hastily built over a few major cities, at least in Russia, America, and Japan, to protect them from nuclear fallout. These domes were strong enough that they held together during the nearby blasts of the bombs. However, while they protected the cities within, they effectively trapped the populations there for hundreds of years because of the radiation levels outside. The corners of the world were cut off from one another for very long periods.

All that was said to have happened at least 100 years ago. That’s what we’re told anyway.

Outside the domes, the world has become a wasteland ravaged by nuclear war, and loosed plagues. Sunlight is still rare because the black clouds of ash and other debris block it out. Some say the blast zones are still burning out there.

Knowing this, it seems possible our makers wouldn’t even follow us outside.

Even if we last only months, those months will be spent free.

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I have more written than this, but no completed ending just yet. For those of you over at SFFWorld, I’ll be posting the finished piece for critique as soon as I manage to finish it.

Okay, that’s all for now. 🙂

More sneaks to come soon.  So keep an eye out.

~Lynn

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