What Are Little Girls Made Of?

by Erik Scott Booth

What are little girls made of?

It had been heralded as the first step in a new dawn for mankind. Ten years ago the use of the Enhanced Optical Genome Mapping Sequencer became the medical standard for predicting and preventing birth defects. At its inception, scientist touted that the sequencer would perfect future generations to the point where the need for costly genetic research for therapies and treatments of genetic abnormalities would be eliminated, as long as they were purged from the gene pool, with a willing compliant population, eager to participate in the free government genetic screening program. Detection would lead to prevention via a pill which could safely terminate pregnancies even into the third trimester. The machine itself revealed nearly every medical detail of a potential person’s life from birth to death. The basic details the sequencer revealed, from a fetus just twelve weeks developed were sex, hair and eye color, height and weight at maturity, which traits appeared to have a proven track record of 99.8% accuracy. Potentially, it should also predict life expectancy, intelligence, personality types and traits, potential health deficiencies, as well as genetic and hormonal predispositions towards homosexuality. However, it would take several more decades of case studies to determine the sequencers accuracy on those factors. One thing no one considered was how such a devise, meant to enhance the quality of life, could be used in ways it was never proposed.

Anton Krieger felt sick as he watched the evening news. Even in his tenth floor Manhattan apartment he could hear the protesters and the chaos in the streets below. He was the cause of the protest, he thought to himself. Anton was a man of few words, but vast intellect. He had developed the Enhanced Optical Genome Mapping Sequencer, though not single handedly. Anton and Narcia Grande led the research team. Anton watched a news conference broadcast on ABC7 from the Manhattan lobby of his former employer Enhanced Genomemetrics. The broadcast was screen in screen showing both the conference as well as the protest in city streets, at abortion clinics, and outside of Enhanced Genomemetrics headquarters itself. Narcia Grande was speaking to reporters about the current situation. “People fear change!” she begun. She continued by spouting the practicality of selective procreation, as well as the benefit of weeding out undesirable traits from the societal gene pool. Narcia, Anton knew all too well, was a woman with much to say, perhaps a bit too much to say, but with an intellect to back her opinions, and one that equaled, or perhaps surpassed his own. The video cut to an abortion clinic in Queens. A line of nearly fifty women who had recently received negative rated fetal Genome test results, waited restlessly to get the heavily marketed one dose, Freedom Choice abortion pill, which was effective up to the 30th week. This was a scene now common across the country since the first months after genome screening became part of healthcare covered by insurances.

“This is about enhancing the quality of life. Not just for our children, but for ourselves and for society as a whole,” Narcia Grande professed. The video feed again focused on her and a female reporter with whom she was speaking. “Yes there will be difficult choices, but they are our choices. This is no longer just about ‘my body, my choice’, it also about ‘my life, my choice’. Gone are the days of a parent having to care for a child with a debilitating genetic condition for a lifetime. The drain on time, emotions and financial resources, none of that has to happen any longer.” Grande proclaimed. “This is the freedom we have fought for. No more oppression by law, or marriage, or even the patriarchy. Pregnancy is an option. A child is a choice, and also a luxury in these times. Women should expect nothing less than the best for ourselves, and our children. We, as women, have a obligation to making a better future. This is not just a responsibility. It’s a social contract.” Narcia declared.

“What about the protest Ms. Grande?” the female reporter asked Narcia. “From men?” Narcia blurted. “Their opinions don’t matter!” she coldly stated. “But what about the reason for the protest? And it’s not just men. There’s women there too. It’s become apparent that pregnancy terminations have reached staggering numbers. The latest statistics are claiming nearly one of every two pregnancies are terminated.” the reporter stated. “Then there’s the leaked documents from multiple abortion clinics, before lawmakers enacted legislation banning documentation of the reason for abortions, that stated that over eighty percent of terminated pregnancies were elective, and not related to any debilitating genetic disorders. What is your response to that Ms. Grande?” asked the reporter. “Abortions are healthcare!” Narcia firmly stated. “This is a decision between a woman and her doctor. Mental health is just as much a factor as medical health. If the child is not something a woman wants, how could society put her through that. Her reasons are her own and she would know what’s best for herself.” Narcia Grande replied. “And what about the data in the documents from those clinics that indicated that fetuses that tested positive for genetic markers that determined homosexuality were terminated ninty-seven percent of the time, even if there were no other genetic deficiencies?” the female reporter asked. “It’s not up to me to tell a woman what the right or wrong choice is, that is for her to decide.” Narcia answered.

Anton Krieger cringed as he continued to watch the live broadcast intermixed with feeds from protest. He felt pity towards the distraught gay men the camera had now focused upon, pleading for some form of legislation to protect them, or more accurately, their future. The past few decades gay men had vehemently fought along side women for abortion rights, as they had fought for many others rights as well, even if it wasn’t in their own best interest. But times had changed and gay men had become irrelevant in their own movement, as other, new, much louder voices of gender identity, rather than ones of sexual orientation, came to the forefront, and ultimately became the driving force for social change. Anton knew all too well his own sexual attraction, though he had seldom acted upon it in his lifetime. He didn’t loath who he was, but his love of science and research was more the focus of his attention. But in the end he could not help but feel remorse for his part of what had come, and of what would come, as the news camera panned to a large group of middle aged gay men shouting in protest, as they waved rainbow colored Pride flags in one hand, while clutching bibles in the other. Anton thought, how odd it was, that they suddenly found religion, but only when their own genocide was at hand. Gay men quickly discovered that a woman’s right to choose, outweighs their right as a group for a continued existence. But they weren’t the only ones who stood in protest. Persons with disabilities rightly felt discriminated against by the government genetic testing initiatives mandating Zero Negative Health Outcomes for all newborns. Even a disability such as color blindness, dwarfism or deafness would be detected during screening. Though not a condition detrimentally affecting a persons health, it would result in a government issued pregnancy termination request for the mother. The deaf community vehemently opposed their group portrayal as a negative health outcome, and being unemotionally discarded like refuse. How many others would be affected? Anton wondered.

There were also counter protesters in the streets. For every issue there always was. Anton was no longer surprised at the vitriol projected by such groups, and they were almost always violent. The television camera panned the crowd and as expected there was the usual dehumanizing phrases, referring to the unborn as ‘options’, ‘choices’, ‘not human’, ‘parasites’ and ‘tumors’. Anton thought how the Nazis and the Hutu had both used similar words to describe their enemies. But one sign stood out to him above the mundaneness of the others. It was held high by a shouting, over weight middle aged woman with purple hair and a military style hair cut, wearing a t-shirt two sizes too small, with a slogan supporting body positivity. ‘It’s just shrimp cocktail until it’s born’ the sign stated. We have devalued life this much Anton realized. As he looked at the woman, Anton’s mind triggered an imaginary olfactory sensation of the scent of cat urine. Then suddenly, Narcia’s voice interrupted his thoughts.

“Look, we are entering the age of designer children. If societally, red heads where no longer desirable, who am I to say any different.” Narcia snidely remarked. The female reporter was visibly perturbed, as she was a natural redhead herself. “It’s up to the woman to be the decider of what traits she wishes to pass on. One day the randomness of todays reproduction will be no more. You will be able to pick the best traits for your child.” Grande continued. “That sounds frightfully a lot like eugenics.” The reporter asserted. “Like it or not, it’s the future, and it could also be viewed as evolution through technological innovation.” Narcia retorted. Anton continued to watch the exchange between the reporter and Narcia. “Do you have children?” Grande asked the reporter. “Well yes, I have two beautiful children. A boy and a girl.” the reporter answered with a smile. “Don’t you want what’s best for them?” Narcia questioned. “Of course.” She answered. “Are you planning on having any more children?” Narcia questioned. “Well no.” the reporter replied. “You can’t look at this objectively as you already have children. Other women would see this as an opportunity to accentuate positive biological attributes and to minimize potential undesirable ones.” Narcia Grande surmised. ‘Ask her’ Anton thought to himself. “Many would say you are playing God” the reporter asserted. “Playing God? There is no God. Women are the closest thing to godliness that has ever walked the Earth. We bring life. If that isn’t Divine, I don’t know what is. Do I see myself as a god? I am driven by perfection. I wouldn’t limit myself with that small of scale. But if there is a God, I’m just fixing ‘his’ mistakes”, Narcia said with an arrogant tone. The female reporter was stunned by the assertion, but composed herself enough to ask one last question. “Do you have children Ms. Grande?” ‘Finally’ Anton thought. Narcia Grande recoiled at the question. The look of revulsion could not be more apparent. “No!” She coldly stated. “Thank you. We’re finished here”. The reporter then asserted “there are allegedly documents in the possession of an individual that disputes your claims about your desire in making a better future, would you like to comment on that?” Narcia abruptly gathered her belongings and quickly exited the lobby through a security door.

Anton stared blankly at the television screen as the news broadcast continued of the protest, recalling past memories of his time working with Narcia at Enhanced Genomemetrics. ‘Narcia has always hated children’ Anton remembered. In fact hate wasn’t a strong enough word. You get to know someone fairly well when you’ve worked together for over twenty years. Her disinterest when coworkers mentioned their children was obvious. However on a few occasions when someone was visited at Genomemetrics by their spouse and children, Narcia bluntly would ask “what is ‘that’ doing here?” referring to the children. She had often boldly asserted that abortion should be legal from conception to graduation, so that mistakes could be undone. No one thought she was saying that in jest. She did make an exception at the lab for her young neice named Asunción. Around the eleventh year working at the lab Narcia’s neice would visit monthly. This occurred for a few years. Narcia would never allow the child to speak to colleagues, but did allow her access to areas normally restricted to most personnel. Narcia would firmly grasp the child’s hand as she whisked her past curious onlookers. On one occasion, the child tried to interact with Anton as the two passed in the hallway. It was the first time he had gotten a good look at the child. There was strong familial similarities between Narcia and Asunción. They had the same skin tone, hair color and facial features, but what Anton found most haunting were the eyes. Eyes of the darkest brown with little distinction between pupil and iris. What should have been a window to the soul was empty, just like Narcia’s eyes. Narcia squeezed the child’s hand, causing her to cry out in pain, as she guided her down the hall away from Anton’s view.

As the years had past, Anton became aware that their work together at Enhanced Genomemetrics had been more of a vanity project for Narcia Grande. Anton recalled that those days he saw no real desire from Narcia to actually help people, or improve the life of anyone other than herself. She did what she did to prove she could, to prove she was as good, if not better than her male colleagues. But there was another incentive. Narcia hated men more than she hated children, Anton recalled. She had used her brilliance in genetic mapping and stem cell research to strategically place herself as the leading expert scientist in these fields. The fact that she had to share the prestige of the position with anyone else was an insult to her, but even worse, if it was with a man. Anton didn’t recognize her outward hostility at first when they were both brought on to administrate research and development at Enhanced Genomemetrics, as often many scientist are socially awkward, and can lack social graces all together. But she pushed through her anger when research funds came in at amounts more than ten times her most optimistic expectation. Over the years Anton had observed Narcia’s interactions between male and female colleagues as notably different and borderline hostile towards men.

Together Anton, Narcia and their team had a continuous stream of achievements in the field of genetics. The knowledge they uncovered was unprecedented. The pinnacle of their success had been the Enhanced Optical Genome Mapping Sequencer, but they had many other noteworthy successes. The last year Anton worked at the facility, he had noticed that several of Narcia’s female team members were working on different research and development projects that he hadn’t been included on. He knew this wasn’t uncommon with large groups exploring parallel strands of research, but for over a decade Anton had noticed an unusually pattern of reassignments away from their team, specifically of male researchers, and their replacements being exclusively female. His last two years he found himself alone in gender, and increasingly isolated from his fellow colleagues, as well as the data they were collecting and analyzing. Anton had become frustrated. This had become exclusively Narcia’s show, and he knew his time was winding down at Enhanced Genomemetrics. So he began to look into the different lines of research which he had been excluded, however most of the programs and files were specific user password protected on the laboratory computers. Anton quickly realized that there was a consorted effort to keep him out of the loop. But Anton had been observant enough to have memorized a few researchers passwords, when he had gone unnoticed as he stood behind his colleagues at one time or another.

It took six months of peering into his colleagues work, after copying some files from their computers, when Anton had come to the realization that the focus of their research was less about cellular genetics, but more specifically focused on experimental reproductive research. Some of this research had long been abandoned by other teams across the world because it had already been proven impractical, or outright outlawed due to moral and ethical reasons. Anton found it curious that a lot of time was being spent on testing theories about artificial sperm creation, cloning and IVG. He pondered how in-vitro gametogenesis would make possible the transformation of any type of body cell into an egg or a sperm cell. Anton came under the belief that Enhanced Genometrics and Narcia had likely entered into a secret partnership to produce designer babies with refined genetic traits for wealthy elitist. ‘Eugenics’ he concluded. That technology was within scientists grasp, Anton thought. Such a task would be monumentally more time and resource consuming than discarding a fetus with undesirable traits, as had been sold to the public by the government as a social obligation in reaching its Zero Negative Health Outcomes initiative goals within twenty years. For the average person, a lot of luck would be needed to not have some form or another of a less than desirable trait pop up in natural pregnancy, but to filter only the best traits before embryo implantation is brilliant, and very much Narcia’s way of thinking, Anton thought to himself.

Over the course of a week Anton became more disturbed by the data he had analyzed from the flash drives he smuggled out of Enhanced Genomemetric. This wasn’t research for the sake of knowledge, this was research with intent, he realized. Narcia’s ultimate goal lay just outside his perception, and that troubled him. Early one morning, as he headed towards his office, Anton saw Narcia turn the corner ahead of him, with Asunción firmly being led by her. The pair headed into Narcia’s laboratory. Anton stood in the hall doorway on the opposite side of the room from the second door that opened to the laboratory. He hoped to catch a glimpse of what transpired within. Fortunately no other colleagues were in the immediate area, as it was 7:30 am, so it wasn’t likely anyone had arrived yet. He could barely see Narcia and the child through a small window in the door, but he could hear Narcia’s voice coldly requesting the child to cooperate. Asunción was sitting in a workstation chair, and from what Anton could tell, Narcia was about to draw blood from the child. He glanced back and forth down the hallway to ensure no unexpected colleague would discover him, when the child suddenly let out a loud scream. “Damn it. I told you to stay still” Narcia yelled. The child began to cry. “BE QUIET!” Narcia shouted. “Seriously! You’re going to piss yourself here!? Get up! We’re going to get you cleaned up before anyone gets here” Narcia said angrily. Anton quickly closed the door and quietly entered a storage room across the hall. He knew that Narcia would either be taking Asunción to the bathroom, or taking her to where ever the child comes from. An odd thought passed through his mind. He had never heard Narcia speak of Asunción’s parents. But he pushed the thought out of his head when he heard Narcia exit the door where he had just been standing, all the while she still was chastising the child. Both entered the bathroom down the hall and around the corner. Anton took the opportunity to quickly enter Narcia’s lab, in search of anything that would satisfy his curiosity to what research she was actually conducting. To his surprise the computer was still logged in and operating. The smell of urine was present, and was evident on the seat and floor. He quickly pulled a flash drive out of his pocket, as he had been carrying one daily just in case an opportunity like this were to present itself. Anton began copying the files from open programs Narcia was currently working on. Anton then began copying folders and the files contained within, that were displayed on the computers desk top. He kept an eye on the clock not wanting to spend more that three minutes in the laboratory. He could still hear Narcia scolding the child, even though they were a distance down the hall. As the last of the files were downloading to the drive, Anton noticed a vile of blood on the floor. The blood Narcia had presumably taken from the child. Anton pulled out the flash drive from the computer, placing it in his coat pocket, checking to make sure the display was exactly as he found it. He then grabbed a needle and hypodermic from a drawer and extracted a small sample of blood from the tube, then returned it to the floor exactly where he had found it. He quickly exited the room and proceed down the hall, away from the bathroom that Narcia and Asunción still noisily occupied, then exited the building. He would take the day off, though he thought to himself, it would be unlikely that his presence would be missed.

The sound of shattering glass erupted from Anton’s television, jolting his thoughts back to the present. The television footage showed protesters shattering the doors of Enhanced Genomemetrics, lobby entrance. The crowd quickly began to disperse as police moved in to secure the building. It had been six months since the last time he had walked through those doors. He hadn’t enjoyed his retirement, but he was enjoying the wrath brought down upon his former employer. But what was happening today would pale by comparison to the outrage that would be unleashed, once people knew what was going on inside Genomemetrics labs, Antone thought as he once again drifted to the past.

Anton had decided to follow Narcia the morning she had drawn the blood from Asunción. He followed a safe distance as they walk toward the subway entrance. She was angry, he could tell, as her focus remained steady forward and her walk stiff but determined as she pounded her heels into the pavement with each step. She only glanced occasionally at the child, perhaps to confirm that she was still firmly attached to her hand. Nacía and Asuncion boarded train number 7, the express to Queens, and Anton at the last moment boarded the car directly behind them. Anton stood the entirety of the trip, making sure to stay just outside Narcia’s view. He watched to make sure she didn’t depart the subway before he could get off. However, Narcia rode the train for thirty minutes to its final stop of Flushing Main Street where she departed.

As Narcia waited by the street, Anton stayed a good distance away, scanning for a taxi. His body surged with adrenaline and a heavy dose of fear. He couldn’t understand why he felt this way, but somewhere deep within his mind, he knew something wasn’t right. A black Escalade pulled up and Narcia opened the door for the child. Narcia briefly spoke to the woman who had driven the vehicle, and quickly returned to the subway ramp, presumably to return on the next train to Genomemetrics. Anton had spotted a taxi and flagged it down as the Escalade began to leave. He asked the taxi driver to follow the vehicle at a safe distance and whatever its destination, to just continue past.

The taxi ride was less than twenty minutes when the vehicle containing Asuncion slowed down and pulled off the road, stopping before a large metal privacy gate. The gate slowly opened and the vehicle proceeded onward. Anton noticed that the entire property was completely hidden behind a ten foot tall wall on all sides. The property was unique in that most other houses were built close to each other, and none were surrounded with a wall and at least four acres. “Interesting” Anton thought, as the taxi continued down the road, passing the tall closing gate. For a brief moment, he caught a glimpse of a large Tudor style manor as the taxi drove past and what he believed were people in front of the house. “Take the next right and drop me off there” Anton instructed the driver.

Anton walked back towards the manor entrance, but on the opposite side of the street. A row of two story houses stood behind him as he observed the property where Asuncion was taken. Cameras, lots of them he thought. “It’s been there for years” a voice broke the silence from behind Anton. An elderly white man in his seventies walked down the steps of his house and approached Anton. “It really stands out in this neighborhood, doesn’t it. Old money or something” the man continued. “But they’re freaks. Inbreeds or something. I’ve seen them” the man proclaimed. “What? What do you mean?” Anton asked. “They try to hide them, but I’ve seen them with my own eyes. All with the same face. Most of them are children still, but there’s an older one” the elderly man continued. “Henry! Get back in the house. What are you doing outside?” a woman’s voice asserted. “Who are you talking to?” an elderly woman questioned as she exited the house and approached the two men. “I was telling him about those freaks” the man responded. “No, no, no, come with me. Now. Please mister, you will have to excuse my husband, he’s not well. Please pay him no attention. It’s just the ramblings of an old fool” the man’s wife pleaded. As she escorted her husband back into the house, Anton could hear the woman berating him about things he shouldn’t speak of. “They’re demons!” Anton heard the man yell as his wife slammed the door.

Anton shook his head and looked back toward the property where Asunción had been taken, when he noticed a mail truck at the end of the street, slowly approaching. He decided to wait and see if the gate opened once the mail was delivered. He waited patiently, leaning on a light pole in front of the house where the elderly man and woman had retreated inside. The mail truck came and left, the postman leaving a large amount of items in the box. Anton waited, impatiently, perhaps an hour when he heard the motor of the large gate come to life. He decided to set his phone to record video as he walked by and placed it in his shirt pocket. He quickly crossed the street to the sidewalk in front of the property, and slowed down his pace as he approached the gate. Anton thought he heard movement on the other side of the wall where the gate had recessed. Then he came upon the opening and glanced up the hill towards the large Tudor house and ‘thought twelve bedrooms at least’. “Hello” a youthful female voice rang out from behind the wall ahead of Anton. He turned towards the voice and instinctively recoiled in horror, loosing his footing and nearly falling to the ground. ‘Narcia!’ he thought. But the thought only lasted a moment as he realized this was not Narcia, but a child with an uncanny resemblance to her. Perhaps a child of twelve years, and perhaps Asunción’s older sister. “Are you okay?” the child asked with a smirk. “Yes, thank you” Anton responded. Just then five more children swiftly approached the open gate, and raced earth other to the mailbox, each with the exact same face as the girl before Anton, though each approximately one year different in age. “Your sisters?” Anton asked the girl who stood before him. “Yes” she giggled. Suddenly a loud brutish female voice yelled out, “what are you all doing outside the gate?! I said one of you!” The woman who drove Asunción from the station rapidly approached. “Who are you?” barked the woman in the direction of Anton. “Ah, I was just walking by.” Anton responded. “Well keep on walking.” the tall masculine woman demanded, to which Anton complied. He hadn’t made it twenty feet from the gate entrance when he heard one of the girls say “I think I know that man.” Another one of the young girls repeated the same. “What?” question the woman. Anton quicken his pace, only glancing back once to see the woman starting back at him, as she obviously questioned the girls.

As soon as Anton had walked out of site, he requested to be picked up by an Uber. On the ride back to the station his mind could not shake the image of the children. Six children identical other than age, and all identical to Narcia. It was at that moment that Anton realized the course of Narcia’s research, and what she had done. How many laws had Narcia broken, he wondered. Anton quickly exited the Uber and headed towards the stairs for subway platform to return to Manhattan. He hadn’t notice the black Escalade that had pulled up a few cars behind where he was dropped off. Anton would return to Enhanced Genomemetrics to make an appearance for a few hours, to give the illusion that things were business as usual. In the few moments that Narcia and Anton were in visual range of each other, Anton could feel her gaze locked upon him.

That evening Anton opened his computer and began analyzing the files he had downloaded from Narcia’s computer. After hours of sifting through data, the conclusion was undeniable. But it was video recording of a meeting with the all female research team that drove home the reality of the situation. Anton watched in horror. “We are going to make a better future.” Narcia stated, as she began the meeting. “It comes at a cost, which is unfortunate, but necessary as the reward is too great to simply ignore. Since the dawn of time what is the one factor that has led humanity into war? Men. Since the dawn of time who has oppressed women? Men. Who is it that have brought devastation to the ecosystem of the planet? Men.” Narcia proclaimed. “The world needs to heal, but that will never come if they continue to pillage and plunder it resources and it’s people. We all have worked diligently on courses of action. I was the first to prove that men no longer need a place in this world. They are an evolutionary dead end. We, through our work are just accelerating the process.” Narcia noted. “Six times we have proven that procreation no longer required the genetics of men. Project Asunción has been a success beyond my wildest dreams. Six out of eight research teams produced six identical children from different lines of research. The other two teams collaborated in the development of the artificial human womb which brought each of the embryos to full development. Women will no longer need to suffer through carrying a child, nor the pains of birthing one. That is something to be proud of.” Narcia paused and clapped her hands, the other women quickly followed her lead. “It has been over a decade since the first success, with no signs of chromosomal degradation in her or any of the other test subjects. They are my children. They are me. I bring life. I look upon myself as mother to a new world. A world that may take many generations to achieve, but in the end it will be beautiful and peaceful.” Narcia gloated. “Many of you are wondering what a world will be like without the plague that is men. There will still be men to do the hard labor, just none with a Y chromosome, as enhancements to the genome will create X chromosome females, who will be stronger and identify as masculine in nature, to fill those roles in society.” Narcia said. “But most importantly, In-vitro gametogenesis. We finally have our first, just days from completion of gestation cycle. If this a success as we think it is, it is the game changer we’ve been working towards. No more cloning, instead combining the genetics of two women to create a zygote to be birthed in the artificial womb.” Narcia proclaimed. “We have a lot to celebrate, but lastly, there’s one thing I want to say. I should thank my brilliant and naive Anton Krieger.” she chuckled. “He helped me in so many ways. Men will curse his name as their numbers diminish. I wonder if he’ll ever realize I rewrote his precious code, so that the sequencer failed male fetuses at a rate three times that of a females. After all, isn’t being male a defect in itself?” Narcia’s laughter cut off, as the recording abruptly ended.

Anton sat in shock staring at his computer. It was only after several minutes that it dawned on him that he should check the file information to discover the date the video had been created. It was eight months old. ‘The child’ Anton thought. ‘The child must have been born, if it lived.’ Anton wasn’t going to try to figure that out, he didn’t even know where to look, though he suspected the manor house in Queens. He paced back and forth in his apartment trying to come up with a course of action. He poured himself a glass of vodka he had retrieved from the freezer, to calm himself. Anton had already told a three former professors that he had planned to release damning information about Enhanced Genometrics’ potentially illegal activities. But he never thought their activities were this nefarious. Perhaps the report that was questioning Narcia had been contact by one of his former colleagues. He wasn’t sure, but his mind continued to race. He went to his computer to look up the email addresses for several news organizations and former colleagues not affiliated with Enhanced Genomemetrics. All the while the crowd demonstrating in the streets below grew louder. Anton quickly composed an email and attached the most important files, explaining more would come at a future date. But before he hit send, he heard screams coming from the street below. He went to the window, vodka glass in hand, and pulled back the drapes, looking down as he witnessed the crowd quickly dispersing in all directions. He noticed two persons on the ground, motionless, as blood began to pool around their bodies. That was when Anton saw motion from the building across the street. A person dressed in black on the fire escape, in the alley between the two buildings. He started to move for a better look, and in that instant he saw a flash of red, as the glass of vodka in his hand shattered, seemingly in slow motion. He quickly fell to the ground as a barrage of bullets shatter his window. His hand instinctively covered his stomach where the bullet had passed. Anton recognized the shooter. The tall masculine woman who had brought Asunción from the subway station to the manor house. He also realized he was loosing a lot of blood, as he had both an entrance and an exit wound. He rolled onto his stomach and clawed his way across the room. The adrenaline had dulled some of the pain, but not all. The computer with it unsent message lie just outside the shooters site, but he would still need to reach for it. Anton could feel the life draining from his body. He reached the desk and cried out in pain as it took almost every bit of remaining strength to crouch beside the desk. He took a deep breath and lunged forward to retrieve the laptop from the desk. Two more bullets found their target as Anton and the laptop fell to the ground. Anton winced in pain. His right forearm and shoulder had been struck. He lay for a moment, growing more lightheaded as his vision dimmed. He turned his computer toward him and sighed in relief, his computer was still operating on battery power, and still on the email page. Anton then, without hesitation hit the send button.

As Anton lay upon the ground, and his life slowly faded, he thought of what the world had become. Four billion abortions in the past sixty five years. Two billion in just the past decade, Anton realized. Mostly because of the mapping sequencer. Because of Narcia and his creation. He mostly laid the blame upon himself. The government, the media and advocacy groups also had a hand in it. They had devalued life in favor of pleasure, career and freedom. But also there was the overpopulation problem, and a movement that had vilified males as the root of all things evil. Narcia had capitalized on that sentiment, and made possible a future without them. Anton thought how the future would judge them, and how it would judge todays society, especially the women who would take the Freedom Choice pill for any reason, even when the sequencer indicated a fully healthy child would be born. But when the sequencer indicated results that didn’t meet a woman’s expectations, whether in hair color, height, intelligence, or the unfortunate outcome of being a male fetus, which was currently three times more likely to be terminated than a female fetus, as there was no longer any social morality guiding such decisions. Then the day was here, when the world woke up realizing the abortion rate had exceeded both the birth rate and the death rate combined.

Anton exhaled his last breath, as his final thought was of how future tyrants and genocidal maniacs will look to women of this time, with awe and envy, at what they have wrought upon the world, with numbers eclipsing the deaths of all recorded wars combined in only a few decades, all the while reveling in the blood of the unborn.

Erik Scott Booth

© December 2023

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