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by brom21
Rated: ASR · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2271035
A simple experiment about gaining life-giving anergy from the moon goes awry.
Dr. Brian Alister walked through the long corridor of the Illumina genetic sequencing lab in San Diego on a warm summer afternoon. He came to his lab quarters and sat in front of his large, flat screen computer monitor. He pulled some CGI renderings of strands of DNA and RNA samples and went over the data. He typed in genetic algorithms, calculating his latest work on the prospect of photosynthesis engineered into live cows. Tonight would be the first trial run test to see if the cow, named Milky by the whole team, could absorb moonlight and gain anergy rather than through normal grazing.

Alister rubbed his hands together excitedly as he went over the data.

Alister’s colleague, Dr. White, came from behind him. “It looks like all is in order,” said White. “But, I think one more exposure from the genetic sequencing cylinder would not hurt.”

Alister nodded and pulled at his chin. “That sounds good. I’ll get right on it.” He rose and approached an entered an electronic sliding door, into an open-air enclosure with old Milky in a metal alcove. Alister went to a panel and punched in a few codes and a large hollow cylindrical device came from above and encapsulated the cow. A light hum came from the machine as real time data displayed on a screen on the panel.

Milky mooed and five minutes later, the humming stopped and the cylinder opened and was from over the animal. In four short hours, the experiment would commence. Alister reentered the compound and sat back in his seat and leaned back as Dr. White sat next to him. “Nothing to do now but wait,” White said.

“In the meantime, I think I’ll go to BJ’s for an early dinner. Would you join me?” said Alister.

White shook his head. “No, it is that time of the year and I need to finish my taxes,” said White. “I don’t think the boss will mind if I use one of the computers.”

“Very well then,” said Dr. Alister as he rose and walked back through the long corridor leading to the outer perimeter enclosed by tall walls with mounted cameras. He drove out of the guarded exit way and down the road to BJ’s.

Alister walked in and was brought to a table by a server. “What can I get you, sir?” the female server said.

“How about a big juicy burger and some fries?”

The woman nodded and walked away.

The restaurant was full of TVs and Alister found one with the local news on. The anchorman was talking about an author who was having his book turned into a movie. It was a sci-fi book about mutating people who take over a small town. Alister pondered. Could such a thing happen? Or more specifically, how could such a process be controlled and monitored?

Alister was in the restaurant for an hour when Dr. White called him:

“Dr. Alister, there is something about the subject that is concerning me. Could you come down, as soon as you can?”

“On my way,” said Alister as he paid the check for his meal and drove back to the lab and made his way to the main lab room. “What’s the issue?” he asked.

“The photosynthesis process is moving at a more rapid rate than expected.”

Alister sat at the computer and looked over the data. “Hmm…it is strange but it appears to be no danger or something that will impede the experiment. Let’s keep an eye on it just in case.”

For the next hour, the two scientists talked of all the ways their research would be adapted to work on humans. As they recognized, it would be a controversial endeavor that would require bureaucratic hassle and moral objections that would ensue and furthermore, it could be a long time as even human cloning was not permitted.

Suddenly a red flashing caption on the screen saying Subject Ready was showing.

“It accelerated even faster!” said Alister with wide eyes.

“The moon is just showing. We might as well commence now,” said White.

The two men stepped outside where Milky was, and led her out of the alcove into the moon that was just emerging. After placing electrodes on her body, they waited.

Both scientists jumped for joy.

“It is working!” sad Alister.

“Milky is producing energy from the moons glow!” said White.

“And just look at the rate of output! It’s faster than we thought!”

“Doctor, look,” said White. “The energy level is building at a relatively dangerous pace.”

Suddenly, Milky began to glow a blue hue.

“It is becoming unstable! Abort!” said Alister. “Take her back to the alcove!”

White touched the cow and White’s hand got a warm painful feeling. “Ack! It hurts!”

“Milky’s energy matrix is gaining an atomic flux! Kill her! Now!” said Alister.

The blue glow intensified and both men were panicking.

“How do I kill her!”

“Give an energy back feed and electrocute her!”

“She is absorbing the energy!”

Just then head scientist, Dr. Brown, ran into the yard and inserted a syringe needle into Milky and her heart rate began to slow and minutes later, she fell to her side. Her breathing also slowed and she finally stopped taking in air.

Brown ran a pal down his sweaty forehead and exhaled. “I was watching and listening to the whole ordeal from the camera feed. I knew nothing short of poison would put her down.”

“All those years of work, wasted,” said Alister.

“Back to the drawing board,” said White.

“It could have been much worse, as you two know,” said Brown, austerely. “You both will be given your new assignment soon. This time there will be much stricter protocol.”

“What is the next project, Dr. Brown?” asked Dr. Alister.

“Genetic mutation manipulation.”

Alister got a sinking feeling in his stomach. “I request to be put on a different project, if I may.”

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