In the controlled world of the manmade children, where can humanity be found?
|The world is a pulsing, warm place. Nothing ever was, nothing ever will be. Warm fluids covered my small body, encasing me in a warm cocoon.
“Subject’s brain activity is increasing, sir.” The assistant commented, busily typing into the crystal screen of the computer. In the darkly lit room, the middle aged man in a white lab coat leaned forward, peering at the statistics shining on the screen.
“Amount of active DE substance?” He inquired.
“Twenty milliliters, Dr. Xander.” She replied, closing and opening windows on the computer.
“Increase injection by ten percent, and start information upload.”
“But Dr. Xander, increasing the injection levels can potentially damage the subject, and information upload when the subject is still in the developmental age can destabilize----“
The doctor cut her off, firmly putting a hand on the assistant’s shoulder. “Ms. Reesha, this is the fastest growing subject in our whole branch. If it already pulled through the initial injection in a mere three months, it must be able to go through this too.”
“Yes, sir.” She replied, typing numerals into the computer. “And Dr. Xander?”
“What is it?”
“The subject is female, sir.”
Dr. Xander simply shrugged it off and checked the time. “A couple of more minutes before our shift will be done.”
On his way to his room, he turned down a hallway, looking through the glass at the place where the subjects were situated. Clear, blue gel encased the small, fetus-like bodies. The doctor smiled to himself. Why, he was doing something great for mankind, after all; something that will change the course of human history for good.
He exchanged small talk with Dr. Spinella for a few minutes at the entrance of his chamber (they counted as what one may call “neighbors” in this so called “government living quarters”), and then went inside, drawing aside the curtains to reveal the fading day. The wild, inhospitable landscape of Wyoming came into view. His roommate, Josh, who worked on the night shift, grunted sleepily at him to close the curtains. The doctor sighed and looked at the landscape one last time. Has it really been a year since he left his wife? It seemed much longer, as if a century has passed away. He could still remember the day he accepted the government request and left, waving goodbye at his dear poor wife through the car window of the rather crude jeep. No one can ever find this unknown research branch in the mountains of Wyoming.
He closed the curtains and lied on the top of the bunk bed, trying futilely to block out the loud snoring of Josh from down below. He better get some sleep while he can before he goes back on his shift.
Strange things in my mind. Pictures. A strange cylindrical object with a handle and a hollow center. The voices tell me it is a gun. I…I don’t feel well…black specks…what is this feeling? Pain, the voices tell me, pain and cold. I don’t like this; make it go away, I told the voices. But they ignored me. They only point and tell, point and tell me what the pictures and feelings are, but they don’t help me. What is “help”? They fell silent, refusing to answer my question. It…it hurts…I can’t think strai….
It feels like an eternity, but could it only be a moment? The pain is still here, it is always here, but I live with it like a part of life. Life? The condition that distinguishes organisms from the inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally. Am I alive? Or am I dead? What am I? The voices were silent again, just like many other times. Something is moving, it is cold. Colder than it ever has been before. What is happening? The warmth encasing me is gone, where is the soft liquid that protects me? What is this bright light in my eyes? I opened my eyes. Everything is too bright, too sharp. Sharper than the images they send me. Something came up next to me, It’s…it’s so big. The thing jabbed a needle into my arm. I never knew the real world is so cold. The world…it’s going dark…
The entire research facility celebrated their success. He watched, along with a crowd of fellow scientist as the entire nursery was drained of NutriGel. The subjects looked exactly like human infants, with black ID codes etched on their arms. Some remained unmoving on the padded ground, the weaker ones that most likely will not survive. The strong subjects will be taken to the Beginning Period Nursery. The weak will be taken care of, humanely annihilated by the euthanasia team. The scientists cheered, exchanging high-fives and group hugs like foolish children. The First Generation of Codes has been “born”. Excited talks about the future rang around the ballroom of the main hall, the massive Celebration Party decorated with colors of black, silver, and midnight blue banners, the colors of the Code Research Facility. Plans of mass production are already being made. Soon, there will be much, much more Codes and newer, better Generations. But first, this experimental batch needs to be tested for several years, probably decades, before the government will grant more funds.
Dr. Xander allowed himself more wine, bragging loudly about how proud he is of his personal subject, who had the fastest growth rate of the whole generation.
Codes have amazing initial growth rates, able to grow from infancy into the body equivalent of a six-year-old child in a matter of weeks. Interestingly, the growth of the Codes will slow down and grow at a normal pace at the age ten, looking just like any other child. Growth rates will significantly slow at a varying age of sixteen to twenty, maintaining their youth for extended periods of time. They will receive training and education the moment they take on the stature of a six-year-old, or in other words, during the babyhood of a normal child. At age thirteen, though, they will be trained and ready to be sent off on missions.
A new age had begun.
193DE7 was monitored by several scientists as she ran on the treadmill in the FT, or Fitness Training, area. The mileage showed roughly sixty miles in two hours. Even for a Code, travelling at thirty miles an hour nonstop was a challenge, but she knew better than to stop and show signs of weakness. 193DE7 struggled on, controlling her breath intake so she did not look tired. Sweat rolled down her forehead as she continued to run endlessly on the blasted treadmill. She has seen enough Codes terminated from being unable to meet physical standards to know she could be next.
Many Codes died through the course of thirteen years. Some did not meet the mental or physical capacity, others simply lost the will to survive in the heartless environment a Code lives in, and the only world these genetically engineered humans live in. Where can one find hope in a world that does not even know what it is? 193DE7 has seen hundreds of her “kin” simply collapse on the ground, unable to take the pressure and pain of the DE or LE substance inside them. No longer did she stop and look, but simply moved on. They were always watching, scouring Codes to find any signs of emotional weakness. A cold heart was ideal for the things they will face in the near future. It was either success or demise in the world of Code. The original thousand of Codes has dwindled to no more than one hundred.
Finally, the session ended, releasing 193DE7 into the bathroom. She took a quick shower and put on a fresh set of clothes. There was no point in choosing from her wardrobe, they were all the same anyway. Black jumpsuits lined with silver with the Code Research Institution (CRI) symbol imprinted on the shoulder. Even the wardrobe held the omnipresent message to the Codes: There is only one way, ours. “Ours”, was of course, the humans.
She brushed her hair hastily, untangling the black strands. Her dark, violet flickered to the small mirror for a moment. The sharp chin, pointed nose, and slightly slanted eyes gave her a look of coldness and menace. All the remaining Codes of the CRI had the same look, a fierce beast forced into chains of obedience, yet also the look of a desperate survivor.
Guardsmen escorted her into the classroom, or what they call a classroom. The pale, bright lights shone above the class of twenty, sitting in chairs devoid of desks. Every Code was expected to commit lectures to memory. Two guards stood in every corner, shouldering large guns with enough tranquilizers to send an elephant into dream land. The over brightly lit room was bare of furnishings, the white, slippery walls almost giving off reflections. A teacher was in front of the class, cramming any information even slightly useful into the lesson. It was mostly science and mechanics, a dab of history here and there, and tactics. The Codes sat silently and listened. Any noise was considered disrespect and disobedience.
Information Class over, they were once again escorted into another identical classroom. The Language Class teacher was teaching French today, fitting a whole year’s worth of lessons into two hours, the Codes listened and learned, their improvised neurons and synapses working quickly in their brains. The remaining Codes were survivors, and they all knew what was going to happen if they fail the test that night.
The Mess Hall was the only place where DE and LE Codes intermingled. 193DE7 received her usual plate of SN, the blank white pile of Specialized Nutrition being the only option. It look like a scoop of mashed potatoes, and tasted the same if one subtracts any flavor from them. The bland food had no taste at all. Still, she ate it all, knowing the nutritional standards of Codes.
Even thought they were finally allowed the power of speech inside the cafeteria, the place was near silent. The psychiatrists in the research team were right about the personas of the Codes. Before they allowed these grouping sessions, the scientists made sure the characters of the Codes where far too isolated from human contact, making them virtually anti-social. There was no chance of rebellion among the Codes, and the cafeteria was as isolated as the cells in the “living quarters”, or in a straightforward description, the jail.
A burst of sound interrupted the silence as a white uniformed LE kicked a DE into the wall. Fights were not uncommon in the Mess Hall, where some finally managed to have a chance to break down and let go. Most stayed away from 193DE7 though, the dark, dangerous girl in the corner; the first couple of fights ensured her peace. No intervention was attempted as the LE pushed the other against the wall with only a foot, his shoe pressing against DE boy’s windpipe. If anything, the scientists were probably busily taking down notes on the two, assessing their battle abilities. Rarely any fights were stopped unless necessary. 193DE7 watched impassively, fights happened all too often for her to be surprised, nor did she feel any alliance to the fellow DE. Codes did not have alliances to anything; not even friends.
The DE kicked the LE across the head, and then proceeded to loosen himself and push the LE into 193DE7’s table. The whole cafeteria silenced, the small sounds of silverware stopping as they stared at the DE who dared to push someone into the table of 193DE7, whom every Code was told personally to stay away from by their own ward.
193DE7 looked at the LE sprawled across her unfinished lunch with cold eyes, then grabbed him by the hair and threw him back into the DE, slamming them both into the wall with so much force it caved in slightly.
“Leave your petty fights to yourselves, 134DE9 and 3910LE0.” she said unfeelingly, looking at her ruined meal, knowing she will have to get another plate of the distasteful stuff. In a “community” as small as a hundred Codes, you tend to know everyone by name. Or what passed as names in the world of Codes. From birth Codes only had a number, void of characterization or identity, stripping Codes of anything unique.
193DE7 was thirteen, like everyone else, and her growth rate slowed enough so she looked like any teenage human, but the steely look in her face made her seem much older. She was somewhat shorter than many Codes, but her agility and strength was unmatched, making her the core study of many scientists. Even the virtually nonexistent communication between Codes has passed information about her around the sparse group of a hundred. In this world of lone wolves, she was the loneliest of them all.
A tap behind her should made 193DE7 turn around, seeing her ward, Dr. Xander standing nervously with two guard behind. “I would like you to follow me, 193DE7.”
“Yes, sir.” She replied automatically, though worries formed in her mind as they exited the steel, locked door of the Mess Hall. She has seen many other Codes walk away with their wards unexpectedly. Most of them never came back.
Should she run? Many Codes have tried, but none ever made it. Not only were there more guards than Codes, but they were heavily armed, with weapons specially designed to deal with them. 193DE7 had no choice but to follow the doctor down the white corridors. She never had a choice since the day she was born. 193DE7 was sure of it, she was going to end up chopped into multiple pieces, sent to the medical unit to be dissected and studied. When they were finished meddling with her body, they will throw the corpse in the incinerator.
But instead of heading to the medical center, where all of them were “humanely euthanized”, she was led into an unknown branch, through a heavily guarded door labeled “Staff Only”.
“193DE7, you have reached the age of thirteen?”
“Yes, sir. Thirteen years, four months, and six days exactly.” Codes were trained to be specific.
Dr. Xander nodded and led her into a room. The whole team assigned to 193DE7 was there, including her psychiatrist, Ms. Baine. All held clipboards, turning to look at her with studying eyes. 193DE7 was used to the gaze, like she was a product getting ready to be put onto the shelf.
A whole wall was constructed as one-way glass, revealing a pale, trembling man in a prison uniform tied to a chair.
“Your first mission, 193DE7.” Dr. Xander said smoothly, sounding well rehearsed. “You are of age to undertake tasks.”
“See the prisoner? He is awaiting execution. That will be your first undertaking.” Ms. Baine explained. “You will find the gun inside.”
Before 193DE7 was able to say anything, she was pushed in, the door closing silently behind her. Her study of law confirmed that the death penalty was supposed to be carried out by lethal injection.
The man looked at her, fearful and disbelieving. All he saw was a small, teenage girl with a cold, all too mature look.
193DE7 knew this was not a task, but a test to evaluate her obedience level, and her mental, emotional state. In an alcove set inside the white, painted wall, there was a handgun. She took it, her finger resting on the familiar shape of the trigger.
How can she do this? She does not even know what this man did, if he even did anything. But she knew what the consequences were if she disobeyed. Death, the end, with nothing after it.
She raised the gun and aimed at the forehead of the man, who simply stared at her in shock and denial. “Please…” he said softly.
The man wants to live, to desperately cling on to life, and thus he talks ever so softly to me. But he doesn’t care about me; he cares about his own life. Who has ever cared about a Code’s life? Who has ever cared about a lab rat that theoretically did not even have a soul? Who has EVER cared about us, the ones made by man, forever trampled into the bottom of the pyramid, slaves to our birth? What is love? What is friendship? What is care? There is none. There is only one thing, and that is to live. Is that not what every man wants? I desire the same thing. To live is to obey, not only the humans, but the laws of nature, to kill or be killed. In the end, to obey is to live…
If she was destined to be a machine, a mechanism designed to murder, then so be it. In a sense, to obey and live was a way to defy the humans themselves, to raise her head high and prove that she will survive whatever crap they put her in, to come out alive. The shell of ice around her heart melted into nothing, a void where a heart should be.
193DE7 pulled the trigger.