"The end is the beginning is the..." - Smashing Pumpkins
T H E M O R P H I S T
by Silva Noir
Chapter 26: infant
A needle was jabbed into me. I didn't have to wonder what the syringe was filled with. I knew. Knowing what it was didn't make me feel any better about it. This was a nightmare. Something this ludicrous couldn't happen to me. I complied with him on the basis that I was sure I would wake up. I woke up ... but the situation hadn't changed.
He didn't ask me about the formula. I doubt he cared about that any longer. He saw this in black and white. I'd eliminated one of his experiments. He used what I had to replace it. This was a life for a life. Not my life.. . No... I'd become suddenly insignificant to the grand scheme. He wanted the baby's life. In his eyes it was never a human being with an intrinsic value and free will. It was a tool to be used.
All the screaming in the world wouldn't stop what he had set in motion.
[ William Richard's voice comes on, the last time he is heard in the confession, in a cold and determined tone. ]
"What are you complaining about? You said yourself you didn't want this child. You were the one who suggested we make the best out of a bad situation. You told me I would be a father whether I liked it or not. I will choose what I am the father of. I choose to be the father of a new evolution.
How many average boring human beings are born everyday? We are a plague in numbers. Few ever reach their full potential. Most are a drag upon the Earth, consuming resources wastefully without contemplation of the impact of their existence. You know that as well as I do. Rejoice then, that you child shall never be one of the insignificant masses.
Your child will be something more, given both you and it survive long enough for it to develop and be born. It will be an imprint on history for those looking backward, and you, the mother of it. None could ever take away the distinction of being the very first! Who else could say they have given birth to an entirely new living thing, the likes of which have not been seen before?
If the results are the same that were within the dogs, this child will be a knight whose armor is an extension of their own living body. You are contributing to very exciting research. Why would you resist the pull of the future? Imagine this from the child's point of view. What youngster doesn't dream of having "super powers" or some magic? This one will be bestowed with an ability no other humanoid naturally possesses. It will have a life most extraordinary. Mark my words ... it will.
I will be satisfied with what I have created. Will you Ruth?"
[ The woman sighs. ]
You can guess my answer to that. He'd convinced himself this was worth undertaking. Why he was so blind to how WRONG it was...
Why he was so blind to the pain he was causing me...
I don't know.
I was trapped. I paced the four walls of my cell more times than I could count. He kept me prisoner. It was padded. They put crazy people in padded rooms. I WENT crazy in one. He didn't care about me! I was a vessel for his "invention," nothing more. I wasn't the crazy one! He was! He was testing the bounds of reality to see how much he could get away with. As (my bad) luck would have it, he got away with it ... and thensome. I called him every low-down dirty name I knew. He would just laugh.
I won't go into the unpleasantries of being pregnant. I believe they are already well documented. If I were to form a hypothesis on it, I would say the discomfort as there to deter humans from rapidly increasing their population. Not that it has ... just goes to show you that the majority do not learn from their mistakes. I would understand why a woman would be stupid enough to put herself through this once. More than once? I would guess that she was a masochist.
I survived. I suppose that is obvious, as you are listening to me tell the tale. Will brought in real doctors to take care of business. He bribed them so they wouldn't make a fuss. He forgot to bribe them to let me die. They did all they could to save me AND the baby. Will wasn't there in person that day. A shame... I had some choice words for him.
"What is it? A boy or a girl?" I asked the doctor when I had the ability to speak clearly again.
"It isn't," he answered. He didn't mean that it was dead either. The THING was alive. I saw it before they took it away and after they cleaned it up. It didn't look like a real baby. It looked like a plastic toy. Under what was mostly then translucent skin were gray veins, carrying the Xilvrin. All that poison had been absorbed by that... that... oh by then, don;t think me awful, but I considered that thing to be a tumor more than a baby and was relieved it was finally out of me. It was out of my hands.
But it was still ... mine. While I recovered I thought back on it many times. It had some of my genes, my blood in what was human. It also had Will's. It was also ... alien. Part of it was made from cosmic matter.
How hard would taking care of it be? No gender issues ... no having to teach it about "the birds and the bees" as it had nothing between the legs anyhow and presumably nothing on the chest once it was full grown. No changing diapers either, as like the dogs, anything not keeping the human side alive was made into more Xilvrin, dripping out of ducts in the paws. It evaporated into the air quickly and was odorless.
There was no official birth certificate. No one out in the "real world" knew this child existed.
You couldn't send it to school with other children. There was no need to... I consider myself intelligent enough to teach a child the basic subjects, with an emphasis on science. The toughest task would be to keep it from hurting anyone. Best to give it a very edited view of the world, keep it calm, separated from society...
Once it was an adult? That's too far ahead to think of and plan for. Who knows how long it will live? I don;t want any living thing to suffer. It wouldn't be the most meaningful or exciting life for X-109 to lead, but at least it could live out its days in comfort and peace. So could I... if I could get a hold of it and escape...
They dubbed it X-109 because beyond the dogs, subsequent experiments had failed to produce a living being. They put the subjects under excessive stress. For the first mother dog, the lab had been a relief from her old abusive owner. For me, I had reasons to live on. The mothers in between she and I died of fright. As I've said before, Will lacks compassion. He didn't see the emotional well-being or abstract ideas like "hope" as factors. He didn't understand why his experiments were failing. He would continue, allowing the death toll to rise for a scattered abnormal birth.
My chance came with a lightning storm. Remember what I told him about not being able to control the weather? Maybe the universe does employ some sense of justice. A bolt struck one of the outdoor generators. The current carried through the whole system, as it was struck again. Lightning has indeed struck twice before, that it won't is a common misconception. Every machine was effectively shut down. The lights went out. The coded lock on the door to my prison was scrambled. With a grunt and a heave I pushed the door open wide enough to squeeze through.
Will lived on the upper floor (most of the lab was underground as to evade the heat). Residency could be applied for by those who didn't feel like commuting to work. He and the other light sleepers wandered out to fix the problem. The tedium of capture brought me to train my ears to the sound of individual footsteps. I could tell who was coming and who not to bump into. My first stop was my old office. I'd hidden the tapes I'd made behind a ceiling tile. I slid it over and shoved them into my pockets. They'd let me keep my recorder with the last tape in it, believing there was no way I would get out.
I was being kept for...
Seeing as the baby had survived the process and was in good health, I suppose Will was hoping to breed others. Now you understand why I loathe him.
My second stop was the nursery. From conversation of my keepers and previous knowledge of the building's layout I made an educated guess to where it was. When I entered, the infant was awake. It's eyes were open, silver catching any glimmer of light that seeped into the room and shone it back.
It was just over a year now, wrapped in soft blankets to sleep in and nothing more. They'd marked it... BRANDED it ... with its number, X-109. Inked once running horizontal on the right arm, the same number again ran vertical on the left upper leg. The tattoo on the right arm was inside of a thin line rectangle, complete with a bar code. They wanted to keep track of their precious possession.
A tiny curled pudgy fingered hand reached for me. It was covered in Xilvrin dew. I had no love for what I'd helped wrought but...I couldn't leave it there ... with HIM. Even if it was growing tufts of blonde the same shade as that man's on the top of its head. It was reaching for me. It needed me to protect it. All right, I thought, I'll take responsibility for this.
To my advantage, the baby did not cry. I retraced my steps in the dark. Midway through the labyrinth of analogous halls, the back up generator kicked in. Behind the door to my left Will was standing in the center of the room, perplexed about his predicament. He didn;t spot me. His attention was on a acge with electrified bars. With new power they were sparking at the ends of frayed wires. Without a current the creature in there had clawed its way out. Bars as thick as baseball bats were bent back, a hole edged out big enough for its armored form to walk through.
X-3, the monster in question, was poised perfectly still on a table behind his back. To the casual observer it would have appeared as a statue of chrome. It had increased its size fourfold, but kept the basic shape of an attack dog. Will had no inclination it was practically breathing down his neck. X-3 must have been stalking him, and he'd walked right into its den. I yelled at Will to get out of the way.
I may not have warm and fuzzy feelings for him, but I'm not evil either. He may let or cause others to die to benefit his cause, but I couldn't. He may profess otherwise, but it was never my intention to kill X-2. My life may have been easier if I'd let him become dog-chow and killed the smothered infant in my arms with its own blankets before it had a chance to grow into a monster as well ... for as second I considered it ... but I just COULDN'T bring myself to be that sort of person. The jaws of X-3 just missed decapitating the sinister businessman I had bother lusted over and hated.
Warning him was enough to satisfy my conscience. While he was distracted I made a break for it. I ran into the desert night and didn't look back. I headed straight for the house of the old couple who ran the diner, making up a story about my car breaking down and needing to get my baby to the hospital. The wide threw on a sweater over her nightgown and flat-footed her rusted Chevy to the city. She offered to stick around to drive me back, but I declined. I went into the hospital as far as the lobby, waited for her to drive away, then left. I purchased a bus ticket to go as far as my money could take me one way with enough left over for a hotel room.
Now you know everything as it's happened. The other tapes are pure notes.
[ The woman breaths out audibly, a weight taken off her chest. She gets up, paces about the room, then sits down on the edge of a creaky bed again. She sighs once more, speaking to the decidedly strange yet innocent being in the room ]
Look at you. Such a little thing against a big bad world, just like David and Goliath. Why are you smiling at me? I guess you need a name, a real name, not X-109. What about "David" ? Do you like that?
[ A baby is heard in the background, making happy noises, followed by a woman's single light laugh. ]
Well, I guess you do. "David" it is then. I don't really know if you're male or female or anything at all ... but I think it is easier for a tomboy, a girl raised as a boy, than it would be for a boy raised as a girl.
Looking at you right now ... it's hard to remember you're not actually human.
[ The tape ends, crackling off into silence. ]
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