SAD in May — Day Seven
this is late, but I used the prompt of writing some, rest some, writing some to finish The Genome Project.
The Genome Project
By Lori Carlson
“What an act of bravery! I haven’t seen a male specimen act that bravely since Earth 2150s. I knew his DNA had it built in, but I never knew he would be so forceful with it.”
“He was quite noble, ma’am.”
“Where are they now? I cannot see their signal.”
“I do not know, ma’am. The last recording shows them falling into a hole of some kind. Shall I send the guards to look for them?”
“Yes, yes. Of course, send the guards.”
“Ouch, get off of me!” Eve exclaimed as she wrestled with Danson.
“It’s not my fault. You pulled me down the hole with you.”
Eve struggled to get her arm out from under Danson’s leg and then finally stood up, dusting the dirt off of her clothing. “If I hadn’t pulled you down, you would have been eaten by that lion,” she said.
“Aw no, it was a hologram,” Danson said, now on his feet and brushing himself off.
“Are you sure? It looked real to me,” she said.
Danson stood at the entrance to the hole and looked up. “I’m sure,” he said, looking perplexed. “I watched it disappear as soon as it was about to pounce me.” Changing the subject, he said, “That sure was a long fall. I mean, I felt like we were falling forever, but looking at the entrance, it doesn’t look like we fell more than three feet at the most.”
“You are most correct, my young visitor,” a deep voice said behind them, causing Danson and Eve to jump and scream.
“Where are you? Who are you?” Eve asked into the darkness.
An old man with white hair and a white beard and mustache stepped out of the darkened tunnel and into the small bit of light coming from the hole’s entrance. He was about six foot tall, deeply tanned and fairly muscular for his age, whatever that might be.
“He looks like Sean Connery,” Danson whispered to Eve.
She turned toward Danson and with an annoyed look on her face, replied, “Who is Sean Connery? Don’t tell me, someone you read about on the computer yesterday?”
“Exactamoondo! He was a Twentieth Century actor. Quite handsome even in his old age.”
“I assure you both, I am not Sean Connery,” the old man said. “My name is Dan and you two have fallen into my underground dwelling.” He walked past Eve and stood next to Danson. “Excuse me while I fix my hologram entrance.”
Dan took a metal box-like device out of his pocket and pointed it up to the entrance. A laser beam appeared and he scanned the entire circumference of the hole. A palm tree and a rock formed over the hole, until it completely disappeared. He put the device back into his pocket and turned back to the two teenagers.
“I don’t get many visitors here. Occasionally one of those tin box sentinels will fall into a hole. That’s where I get my spare parts to build things,” he laughed.
“So where exactly is here?” Danson asked.
“You, my good young fellow, are on Saint Louisa Island, or what used to be Saint Louisa. It is now referred to as Island 74-269. The government wiped out any religious references eons ago.”
“So why were we dropped off here?” Eve asked.
“That is a very good question. Before I answer, may I have your names?”
“Danson and Eve… well, well, she’s finally doing it.” Dan said as he ran his fingers through his beard.
“She who?” Eve asked.
Dan looked up at the two teenagers and flashed a bright smile. “Never you mind. Let’s get you two some grub and a warm place to sleep for the night,” he said, leading the two through a tunnel of mazes. Every now and again he took out his device and aimed it a rock which would disappear and reveal another tunnel. Before long, they came to a rather large living space, all carved out of rock and dirt.
“Welcome to my humble abode,” Dan said, ushering for the children to sit at a long stone table with rocks for chairs. Once they sat down, Dan went to a stone counter, clinking and clanking what sounded like metal pieces together. After a few minutes, he returned and put two make-shift metal bowls down in front of them. They looked down at the brownish-grey globs.
“It doesn’t look like much, but it will keep you healthy as an ox.” They both looked at Dan, then the food and then back at Dan again. “I assure you, it tastes better than it looks.”
Eve took a bite first, then looked at Danson and smiled, “Tastes like the stuff they fed us at the compound.”
“It is!” Dan said. “This is just not shaped into anything recognizable yet.” He gave a chuckle and then nudged Danson. “Go ahead, try it.”
Danson looked at Eve, who shook her head yes, and then placed a small amount on his tongue. He couldn’t remember what the food tasted like at the compound because he wasn’t awake yet. He slowly chewed the grub and then smiled. “Hey! It’s not so bad.”
As the two teenagers ate their food, Dan tinkered with some of the metal parts he had on a table at the other side of the living space. Tinkering helped him to think, and he had a major decision to make. How much should he tell those two kids? Should he leave them in the dark until one day the doctors come and take everything away from them?
“Hey Dan,” Danson said, “Are you going to tell us anything you know about why we are here?”
Dan turned around to see both Danson and Eve standing right behind him. He began to speak and then closed his mouth and motioned for the two to go back to their seats; he followed behind them. Once everyone had sit down, Dan began running his hand through his beard again.
“Well, kids, as far as I can tell, you two are an experiment,” Dan finally said.
“What kind of experiment?” Eve asked.
“I cannot be sure, but they haven’t sent people to this island in over fifty years. It used to be the coupling center, but shortly after I took up residence here, everything stopped.”
“What is a coupling center?” Danson asked with a screwed-up look on his face, as though he already knew the answer.
Dan placed his hands on the table and let out a deep sigh. He knew he was going to have to tell them more than probably each one wanted to know. “In 2150, the Government decided that males and females could only have sex as a means of producing babies. They came to this conclusion because they said the sex gene created too much chaos. They weeded that gene out of new babies’ DNA. This continued until, as far as I know, about fifty years ago. Something must have happened.”
“So you think they’ve figured out what went wrong and sent us here for ‘coupling?’”
Eve asked holding her stomach. This whole mess was making her queasy.
“I cannot be certain, Eve. Maybe they were just hoping nature would take its course, since it had failed so many times before.”
“What do mean, failed?” It was Danson’s turn to ask with an equally queasy look on his face.
“The last few hundred couples who came here did not produce offsprings with the sex gene,” Dan said.
“Wait… first they don’t want the sex gene, then they do?” Eve asked. Her stomach was now doing flip-flops.
“Yes, Eve. I am sorry if this all sounds confusing. The government doesn’t want the sex gene. The scientists… They realized the error of their way and wanted to put the gene back into the human DNA, but they were running out of pure DNA to mix with the modified DNA. And there was no telling if the pure DNA would produce a child with the sex gene. It gets even more complicated because they begin cloning the pure DNA trying to preserve it. You two are a product of that cloning.”
So it was true, she was a clone, Eve thought. “I still don’t know why they chose Danson and me if there are other clones out there,” she said.
Dan sat back in his chair. He knew he’d opened a huge can of worms, but damn it, these kids deserved to know what was happening to them. “Apparently you both have the sex gene and they are hoping you will produce an offspring with the sex gene too.”
Danson laughed. “So we are pawns? Just playthings for the gods?”
“Don’t mind Danson, Dan. He spent hours on the computer yesterday reading up on cultural stuff,” Eve said, chuckling at Danson.
“Very well, I think you two have had enough information tossed at you for one night. Come; let me show you where you will be sleeping.”
They followed Dan through another tunnel and into another small living space. There were cots on the floor with blankets and pillows, a lantern in case they needed to get up and walk about. Finally Dan showed them were the bathroom facility was. After they’d settled down, he left them and went back to his tinkering.
Eve couldn’t tell how long she’d been asleep, but she kept hearing voices and that had awakened her. She took the lantern and made her way through the maze of tunnels toward the voices. She found herself just outside the large living area where they had eaten earlier. The voices were louder now and she could make out Dan’s but not the other’s voice.
“They have a right to know,” Dan said.
“But it is not your place to interfere,” the other voice said.
The two continued arguing back in forth in that manner for several minutes, and Eve just stood there listening. After a few minutes, she felt something lightly touch her shoulder and she let out a small yelp. It was Danson, but they were found out now and Dan pulled the two into the room.
“Tell them!” Dan demanded.
Eve and Danson looked at the large screen were it held a digitalized face of a woman. The woman smiled at both of the teenagers and then looked back at Dan.
“You know this is highly irregular and unprecedented, Dan.”
“If you don’t tell them, I will,” he said glancing over at the two kids.
“Hello, children,” the woman said. “Danson, I want you to meet your father, Dan. And Eve, you are my daughter. I am Evie.”
The two stood there staring back and forth between Dan and Evie, their mouths open in shock. Finally, Eve spoke, “What does this mean?”
“My child,” Evie began, “Everything Dan has told you is true, except one important part. Neither of you two are pure clones. You are half clones.”
“Pure clones, half clones… I don’t care what kind of clone I am, what does this mean?” Danson asked, shuffling his feet and running his hands through his hair.
“Maybe if I started at the beginning, you will understand. In 2100 a new government took office on planet Earth. They were very strict and had high moral codes. They urged the scientific community to find a way to curb sexual desire. They pinpointed a sex gene and began removing it from people’s DNA. They then cloned and cloned and cloned people hoping to completely remove the sex gene forever. Dan and I were scientists then and had our DNA on file. Secretly we cloned a few hundred humans hoping that some day we could reintroduce the gene back into the human DNA. For the last fifty years, we have been searching for the perfect match. We believe that match is between you two.”
“Oh so we are just supposed to go off and have sex and then do what?” Eve asked. “If I get pregnant… what about the baby?”
“The baby will have to be studied. Tests run, DNA samples took, etc.” Evie noted.
“Hey,” Danson interrupted. “Why were we asleep like the rest of the clones if we were only half clones?”
“To protect you from the government and the sentinels,” Dan interjected.
Eve collapsed on to the floor. This was all too much for her and her mind was spinning. She wasn’t even sure she liked Danson enough to be friends, and definitely not enough to have sex with him. Seconds later, Danson came over and sat down beside her, taking her hand in his and putting the other arm behind her back.
“It’s okay, Eve. I don’t understand it all either.”
“Dan, how long before you can secure that power grid?” Evie asked.
Dan looked up from watching the kids and said, “I should have it finished by tomorrow. Then the whole island will just disappear.”
“Disappear?” Danson asked, perplexed.
“Yes, we are relocating the whole operation to the island. With Dan’s holographic network, we should be relatively safe from the government.”
“Why now, Evie? Why not wait until the government changes?” Eve asked.
“I died waiting for the government to change. What you see here is nothing but a brain and a computer. They are all that is left of me. And Dan, he isn’t getting any younger. There are only a handful of us who know what to do with this Genome Project. And we are all dying out. We have all of our hopes on you two.”
“Ah no, no pressure at all here,” Dan said as Eve poked him in the rib.
“Smart ass!” she teased.
Over the next few months, ships pulled in and out of the island bringing medical equipment, building materials and lots of personnel. Everyone was loyal to Evie and Dan and the Genome Project. After constructing the hospital, the builders built a whole city on the island, including housing, shops, and a theater. Danson spent all of his spare time at the theater, citing that he had years of catching up to do. Eve worked side by side with Evie doing computer work and helping when she could. Dan continued to live in his underground dwelling and would come topside once in a while if Evie needed him.
Eve and Danson grew closer every day. She liked that he would act macho sometimes, but still gave her the freedom she needed to be her own person. Danson liked Eve, period. And then one day, it all came together. Nine months later, baby Anna was born with all genes intact. This was no Eden, though.