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Saving Grace: The Geneticist's Limbo (Short story)

4 min read

Every night Mary does the same thing.

She begins by checking yesterday's data. She looks for how she can make a change, create better science, better art, better life. But more than anything, she looks to solve a problem.

After clearing a clean space for her work, she begins. She takes the incubation tube, the embryo, the virus, the best disease, and begins splicing in the new DNA. One element of with which she works is the clone of a human child she knew; the other is the disease or the solution. It's never both, at least... Not yet.

With many adjustments, she adjusts the lifespan of the embryo and makes it so that growth happens very fast. So fast, in fact, that the rate of maturation could be compared more to a fly than a human.   

After all the steps are done, she sets this incubation tube to grow overnight.

In the morning when the Sun rises, and a new day has begun, a new life has arrived, and she's there to welcome it. She takes it in her arms and gives it all the things that a human child would want or need. Love, food, affection, stimulation, sound, music & arts and stories. She points out the flowers and the ants. She lets it dip it's fingers in paint and soil and lets it taste the sweetness of sugar, the bitter bite of lemon. 

The child is healthy and the day has just started and she finds joy in its laughter and even its cries By midday she sees a twinkle in its eyes and she has a twinkle mirrored in hers. Despite her best efforts, hope and faith and a belief in a dream blossoms in her heart. Like a needle pricking a wound that's barely closed, she feels the love and joy as quickly as she remembers her pain, and she holds the sensation of both at bay. Hey mind is medical, academic, analytical; she, caretaker, keeps it together to keep her faith in this idea, this dream that she plants like a seed every night.

And then afternoon comes, and the shadows slowly begin to fall and get longer and stretch their long, dark fingers over the Earth. And the child is not grown in size but it has grown in age, relatively speaking. That's when the reactions start. That's when they almost always being to show.

The child that's no longer a child begins to feel pain and suffering. Its organs begin to fail, one by one. Its cells begin to attack each other. And so Mary takes her child into her arms again, and slowly as the night goes on, the skin gets thinner, more like paper. -and its body starts to get stiffer, more like wood. -and its eyes less translucent, more like murky waters.

And finally its temperature rises like the heat of a fire. At last, its body becomes light as air, and with a rasp breathes its last breath.

Mary chokes back the tears; they don't offer any solace anymore. She sets the corpse aside. Cleared off is a table for examination, and after dressing herself in a Pathologists garb, she cuts open her experiment with a slice from navel to chest. Samples are taken and notes are documented and tests are set aside in files and petri dishes.

And just before bed, she takes out an embryo, a clone; one of many. She sprinkles in the ingredients of life, adds the mistake waiting to be fixed, makes some slices of DNA code that are different from the last 242, and again, tirelessly, tries to rewrite the story.


On the page, the last entry reads: 

Grace 2-42: subject reached maturity before symptoms presented. Degeneration not deterred. Experiment marked and logged. Treatment determined as: failure.