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"To Create Life," a fanfiction by DoctorMermaid. A one-shot from the Director's point-of-view.
Gloves on. Clean, smooth latex, stretching and snapping back into place.
"Gentlemen," I said as the lab techs started to their feet. Their eyes lingered on me, and I hid a smirk, nodding at Batchelder as he hurried up. A bit of a toady, but a good worker, and good at calming the experiments when they got rowdy. Brilliant, though of course I'd never tell him that.
"How is the experiment?" I said, spinning a chair towards me. Without waiting for an answer, I sat down and bent over the microscope.
The subject was magnificent. Still just a zygote, but within it was a map—one I'd designed. Now we had only to wait for it to unfold.
"Beautiful," I heard myself murmur.
"She's going to be a fighter," Batchelder said, a touch of pride in his voice. "We've never done anything like this before, Madam Director. I really think this will—"
"You said she," I noted.
He paused. "Well, yes. I'm sorry—"
I stood up and handed him the file I'd brought. "Never get attached. Just because you donated DNA doesn't make it your child, remember. It's not a child."
"You did as I asked regarding Ramirez?"
"Her name was Martine—"
"Yes, yes, her," I said. "She's out of the building?"
"Completely locked out of the process," Batchelder said.
"Good. And I don't want to hear another word about it. My plane leaves tomorrow. I'll want to be updated on the slightest change." I turned in the doorway and smiled impishly at them. "Send me the baby photos."
The world believes it was American scientists who cracked the code of creation. All that ridiculousness in 1973 about putting together different kinds of bacteria. It's just what you'd expect. They were celebrating a child's crude drawings, and by that point, we were master artists. We had been carving and perfecting the human body for years. But we need no fame. Ordinary people would feel threatened by us. They don't understand that we are saving the world.
My first memory is of pattering down the staircase towards the fireplace, where my sister and I had left our shoes the night before. I was so eager to see what gifts Sinterklaas had left. I was four and just barely able to understand.
But instead my father was waiting for my sister and me. His face frightened me and at the time I did not understand why.
He took us in his arms.
"Your mother is dead," he said finally.
My sister, older than me and better able to understand, began to cry. I did not understand. Death was just a word back then. I wanted to know when Sinterklaas would come; when my shoe would be filled; when Mother would enter to kiss us good morning.
But soon death would become all too real.
I was a young woman when I started smuggling. I hid food in the lining of my coat; I rode my bicycle from stop to stop. People were less likely to suspect a pretty girl. I did not tell my father, whose morals would had stung him about it. We needed food too badly. There were riots in the street over food. Outside, the whole world was at war. Death was everywhere.
Women gained the right to vote. I fell in love and married. We struggled through the Depression. We prepared for another war at our doorstep, and this time it refused to stay outside. They bombed Rotterdam and my sister died. She was forty-four years old. She had three children; one of them survived.
It seems like a laundry list when I write it down. It all seems so distant and far away now. At the time perhaps I cried; perhaps I felt guilty. Had I not supported the Nazis when I first heard of their ideals?
But I was guided on a higher path.
After the war, my homeland was no longer any place for me. My marriage was good as over. Those who had supported the Nazis were being tried in court. I left the country, and thus began the greatest period of my life.
In South America I met a doctor—a German—a brilliant man. He was younger than I, but in so many ways he was a father to me. He showed me his dream. We would perfect humanity.
He had done some crude work during the war, but as our circle grew, we realized that the way forward was not through amateurish cutting and sewing. No, we were not Dr. Frankensteins, digging up body parts and puzzling them together. (We saw that movie. I thought it was ridiculous. So much work going into something so useless as a strip of film. And people paid their earnings for this, flocking and butting into the theatres like so many cattle to sit and stare dimly at screens.)
We created the world's first transgenic animal in 1970. But of course we could tell no one. Our triumph must remain our secret.
The doctor—the Director, we called him now—insisted that we must move on, and up. We must begin our work on human subjects. We did not have much time left. We knew by this point that the world was ending—soon. We had to prepare if any of humanity was to survive. The world would end on our terms.
The Director did not realize that he had less time than anyone else. He drowned a handful of years later.
I was eighty years old. Death would come for me soon as well. And a mantle of leadership had just descended upon me. I was the Director now. I knew as I stood by his unmarked tomb that I must not die. I must complete our work, and our work was the answer. Our work would make me immortal.
We had a front, and funding, by this time. To the rest of the world we were merely a company producing many useful things. Mostly genetic research. The company spread under different names. And I directed them all towards one purpose—finding my cure.
Some on the board questioned me. They talked about the apocalypse and about signs in the sky. I reminded them that I was searching for a cure for death and was that not what we wanted? A cure for death? A cure for the world's end? A cure for humanity? The fools could not see the answer staring them straight in the face.
In the end, we found it. The DNA of a Galapagos tortoise—and other things. Tortoises live up to 170 years. It was not immortality, but it was an extension.
I took it.
The lights were almost blinding and I shut my eyes tightly. The thick liquid around me drained away. Hurrying footsteps and babbling voices announced that the experiment was over. I was reborn.
Suddenly I could not open my eyes fast enough. Everything was so bright and so sharp it hurt, but I hurriedly raised by hands to my face. I couldn't seem to stop shaking; the searing pain was still fresh in my mind. I had to see what I had done to myself. Had I broken myself? Was I Frankenstein's monster now?
"Easy, ma'am—" and that was Powers' voice as he put his arm around his shoulders and lowered me from the tank. My legs, still aching from the process, felt rubbery and nearly folded under me. "Someone get her a chair!"
A low curse in German. I opened my eyes to glare at that little imbecile Gunther-Hagen, who had dropped his clipboard and was staring at me like a man who had seen a vision. I tried to speak, but all that emerged from my throat was a gurgle.
"What's wrong?" said Powers, bending closer.
"Bring me—" My voice was low and melodious, as it had been years ago. "Bring me a mirror."
Looking into that mirror was a resurrection of itself. The wrinkles and sagging skin were smoothed away. My hair, no longer gray, lay in luxurious golden curls again. I ran my fingers through it, and it was thick and soft.
"The experiment is a success," I said; I felt stronger as I spoke, ready to run and dance again. "Someone bring me that champagne."
No other human had walked the path I trod. I was the first of my kind. We were a step closer to the dream.
Our facilities were all over the world. We moved our main facility to Germany—the birthplace of the dream.
We began using human subjects. Mostly children—the younger, the better they tended to survive. The parents we paid for silence, or made sure they were harmless. Or else we killed them. There were missteps, but we managed to keep our cover. Even when that over-impulsive idiot ter Borcht got himself arrested. We spent millions distancing ourselves from the media furor, and billions to slip him quietly back out of prison.
I designed a few personally, myself. Including the avian-human hybrids.
They sent me a few pictures when the experiment was "born." A cherub with naked wings and beautiful, empty eyes. A triumph of breeding. Perhaps one day it could even produce viable offspring of its own. They were working on more now.
It had blonde curls—like mine.
When they sent the photo, I sat back in my chair under the window and looked at it for a long moment. I traced her ink-and-paper face. This was the future. My finest work. My child, in a way—just as much as if I'd given birth to her myself.
I never had children you see. I bore and nursed my work.
They told me later that she called herself "Maximum." A ridiculous name, but with some truth in it.
Maximum, the greatest. And now Omega, the last.
My people are betraying me. I've done everything for them—why now? What do theey hope to accomplish? No one seems to know what's going on. I can trust nobody. Batchelder—Batchelder, who I trusted, is with Walker now, and God knows what she's planning. And these people going over to the Doomsday Project, what are they doing? What are they planning?
In my room, yes, I must stay in my room. I must eat nothing. They might poison me. Who knows what they might try. They work on viruses you know. I can go without eating. No. My people need my leadership, my voice. I have to speak to them. Yes. We will wipe out one third of the world's population. Wipe out the useless.
I think—it will not be very much longer now before the world ends.
We must end it on our own terms. I must not die.
Why does everyone seem so afraid? We are cleansing ourselves. We will eliminate the failed experiments all of them down to the last one. We don't need those ones anymore. We will make new clean ones. Robotics are more efficient than flesh. No more wasting time on effects like the werewolves and monsters out of legend and the wings like old visions of gods. Omega is clean and perfect. They said they did not want to kidnap anymore children. Now there will be no more children. They should be happy. I am happy. I can see my little shoe lying by the fireplace. It is about to be filled with so many good things.
"Madam Director? I don't understand."
Agnes stood next to me, looking stupidly bewildered. I looked up and saw the recording studio around me, and shook my head.
What am I talking about? St. Nicholas' Day is over. It's January. The beginning of a new year.
"Nothing, Agnes. What's next on the docket?"
"The American experiments are waiting in your office."
"Oh!" I nod, and set off before she can even look up from her clipboard. My aides fall into step around me. I throw out a few instructions and Agnes nods, typing things into her PDA.
Gloves on. Clean, smooth latex, stretching and snapping back into place. If only everything was so clean.
I enter my office. A line of experiments kneels on on the carpet, but I have only eyes for one. She is my very image. She is beautiful, full of rage and confusion. An angel from a Renaissance painting.
For a moment I love her desperately. I want to crush her to my heart. My creation. My blonde hair, my flesh and blood, my very being. My daughter."Hello, Max," I say.
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