“I’m sorry. This is the only viable option the Company has.”
“It’s wrong is what it is.”
There was no heart in my protest. I knew the decision had been made, and no amount of arguing, no amount of tears, could change things. I tried not to hate Dr. Smith; it wasn’t his fault. He was the closest one to me, that was all, and even his words wavered with uncertainty. Or, rather, that fake certainty people use when they’ve lost, but want to pretend they were on the winning side all along.
Academics and politics aren’t that much different. And in such a political arena, it would be wrong of me to resent Dr. Smith for being as canny a lickspittle as he was a biologist.
He put his hand on my shoulder, the first scrap of comfort or humanity anyone had shown me in months. With all my strength, I kept the tears back, kept myself from collapsing into his side. It was wrong. It was wrong.
Nobody had asked me my opinion, even though the decision concerned me. Me, my genetic legacy, the closest thing to children something like me could have.
“There will be controversy,” he said, voice almost a whisper. “Certain groups will be appalled. There will be protests and petitions. And the attention will bring more attention to the issue. Someone will figure out a new way. Then, you will be freed.”
“I’ll be euthanized,” I corrected. “I won’t be allowed to live after this. Me and all of them… we’ll be put to death.”
Dr. Smith nodded. Now I was tired, the weight of the statement lifted from my shoulders only to reveal just how much of a burden it had been. All this time. I knew I had been born like a machine, with one purpose in mind, and if I could not fulfill that purpose, I would be disposed of.
“Do you even want to live in this world?” he asked, after the grinding of an eternity passed between us in absolute silence and stillness.
I looked down at my hands, which were so like Dr. Smith’s, so much like any other of the scientists that created me. Indistinguishable, really, from a macro point of view, but humanity is only rarely concerned with macro. They–we–they have such a narrow focus.
“Who would? Among the people that did this to them?”
“If you sympathize so much, why–” I silenced myself. It wasn’t his fault. The decision was over his head.
I silenced myself. It wasn’t his fault. The decision was over his head. I wondered if this petulance, this impotent rage, was normal for children to feel for their parents. Inasmuch as I could ever be said to have a parent, Dr. Smith was mine. And he was the one who would condemn me and my clones, and my siblings and their clones, to the storage tanks and the organ farms.
It was what we were born to do. Our clinical trials had been an absolute success.
“There will be controversy. When the documents leak… the videos of how intelligent you all are… when people realize that you’re people, not the lobotomized organ farms the Company will present you as… then, after that, this will stop. I know it.”
I gave him a sideways look. Tears rolled down his cheeks, his glasses foggy, his jowls wobbling with the effort of containing his sobs.
“No one will suspect a thing,” I whispered. “Not from you.”
He sobbed and covered his face, crumpling to his knees. The violence of his weeping rocked his entire body back and forth.
“Just like we never suspected you would do this to us.”
All of my siblings were already in containment. Sedated and kept in storage in case our genetic material was needed later on down the line. Nothing but tissue samples from which to grow new farms.
“Just like no one suspected the Company’s wonder drug would cause Sudden Multisystem Organ Failure Syndrome.”
I put the IV in myself. Dr. Smith would have to start the sedative drip, but I could do this for him. I was ready, now, I decided. At least in storage, the endless black dream of cryogenic sleep, I would not be in such pain. Tears scoured my cheeks, scoured the back of my throat and the inside of my nose, like acid.
“It’s time to clean up your own mess,” I said.
Dr. Smith composed himself after a moment, eyes red but none the worse for the wear otherwise. After he started the drip, he took my hand.
“They think they’ve cleaned up the controversy. They think you’re the wonder cure for their PR nightmare.”
He bent down and kissed my cheek. It was getting very dark, I couldn’t see him, but the tears that dripped on my face told me he was crying again. His grip was getting weaker–no, mine was, every muscle relaxing. I welcomed it now. God, if such a creature could exist, I was so tired now. My body felt as tired as my soul.
“But they haven’t seen real controversy. Not yet.”
I tried to tell Dr. Smith I loved him, for he was my father despite all that he was responsible for. I tried to tell him that I forgave him even though I didn’t, because I knew it would give him strength and he would need all he could get.
I tried to tell him that in the hereafter, whatever that was, if there was still a ‘me’ and a ‘him’ instead of oblivion, that we could try again.
But the sedative was too powerful. And the sleep was taking me. My last physical sensation were the tears cooling on my face, the faint brush of his fingers on mine. My last thought was of the fire that Dr. Smith would start.
It was too late for me. Too late for my siblings. But maybe… Dr. Smith… my clones, my children… maybe they… wouldn’t… have to suffer… to exist… as… mind… les… or… gan… f…
Written based on Daily Prompt’s… well, Daily Prompt.
2 thoughts on “Controversy”
It’s always good to read a heart-warming family saga! Well written…
I feel that cutting into the emotional heart of the drama that comes in every parents’ life, when they’re forced to cryogenically freeze their child for use as an organ farm in a dystopian corporate hellworld, is key to this story’s success. Thank you very much for reading, I’m glad you enjoyed it!