The Blastula of Frankenstein

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic


An accomplished but lonely fertility doctor follows in her ancestor's footsteps in an attempt to construct her own horrific offspring, one perfect cell at a time. Will she finally be able to
complete her creation thanks to a desperate yet unsuspecting couple?

Submitted: October 28, 2017

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Submitted: October 28, 2017

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The woman perched on the edge of a comfortable leather chair opposite Sigi’s desk, nervously twisting a plump grape cluster of diamonds around her finger. The right corner of her lip puckered slightly beneath her teeth; her eyebrows arched anxiously over moist eyes. Sigi was looking at a woman whose emotions sat ready to plunge, one way or another, off the knife-edge which now balanced them.

Sigi savored the woman’s sweet anticipation. Her hope. Her fear. All the meaning in this woman’s entire life, bottled up before her in this singular moment, like a shaken bottle of Dom, ready to pop in celebration or explode in anguish. And the next words out of Sigi’s mouth held the power to make that woman’s future be whatever she chose.

“Mr. and Mrs. Goldman,” Sigi began. She paused to relish the moment just a breath longer. “I have excellent news. I was able to obtain two viable grade four morulas free of the Tay-Sachs mutation.”

“Morulas are a good thing?” asked the man.

“Yes. A morula is an early stage of embryonic development, after the cells have begun dividing but before they form the hollow sphere of the blastula.”

“So that means you have...” the woman trailed off as the materialization of her hopes dawned on her.

Sigi sat back in her chair and steepled her fingers in front of her with satisfaction. “It means I have excellent embryos to give you.”

“Oh, God!” The woman slumped her head into her hands bonelessly and began sobbing in relief. Sigi inhaled through her nose, smelling the air to compose herself. People often cried with joy in front of her, or sobbed in sorrow, but sobbing with joy--that was a rare truffle indeed.

The stoic man put his arm around his wife, the gold face of his Tag tugging at his suit coat’s buttonholes as he extended his arm. “This is excellent, Dr. Gernsheim, just excellent! At long last I’m going to be a father...”

The man’s eyes lost focus as if the specter of his child-to-be were before him. Sigi let a smile of genuine satisfaction--no, pride--bare her bone-white teeth. It is right to feel as one feels, and to show it. “Mr. Goldman, please. This is my calling, the very reason I exist. To make this, this very moment right now, possible.”

The man took the woman’s head into the crook of his shoulder, planted a kiss on the straightened black hair on top of her scalp. What might have been a tear gathered in the corner of his eye.

“I’ll see you tomorrow at one o’clock for the implantation, Mrs. Goldman. As you know, I removed one of the eight cells from each morula for genetic testing, but this will not affect development of your son in any--”

Sigi cut herself off and the man gasped slightly. He picked up on Sigi’s “accidental” slip. She covered her mouth with her palm, pretending to be aghast at the mistake, and gently licked her palm with the tip of her tongue. A shiver rose up her spine.

Meanwhile, the woman’s sobbing continuing uninterrupted in the background. Such a delicious moment...

------------------------------

“Dammit!” Sigi shouted as she shoved the stack of files from her desk to the speckled marble floor of her office. She jumped from her chair and looked at the clock above the door. Three in the morning. Somehow, she’d lost herself in her research for twelve hours since the Goldmans’ departure.

She walked to her file cabinet and slid out the bottom drawer of genome analyses. She’d already been through these twice before, and found no couple with appropriate genetics yet. Perhaps her standards were too high. Perhaps perfection was simply not possible.

Sigi slammed the drawer back without removing a file. It was too late to start digging through them again. She needed a walk. And a drink. And some sleep. Finding a match would have to wait for another day.

------------------------------

“I know you’re not happy we have to do it this way.” Aly put a hand on Ravi’s shoulder and rubbed it gently. “But we’ve tried everything else. It’s time to pull out the big guns. This is the big gun.”

Ravi pulled away. He didn’t like being patronized. “Look, honey, I know. The logical part of me knows that. But I still wish it could just work out, normally, you know? Like everybody else.”

Aly reached out again. Ravi didn’t pull away. “Me too. But the most important thing is that we get pregnant.” Her eyes glistened. “We both want that, right?”

Ravi relaxed. He hadn’t realized his entire back had been clenched into the Great Wall of Obstinance. He hugged Aly. “Oh, Alyssa, yes, of course. That’s the important thing.”

------------------------------

The lights in Dr. Gernsheim’s office were off when Ravi pulled into the parking lot. Beneath the elaborate gold Seiglinde Gernsheim, MD, Genetic Obstetrics painted onto the office’s glass door, a note was taped:

Family issues--in at 11

Ravi checked his watch. Half past eleven, right on time for their appointment.

Aly spoke up before he could say anything. “I’m sure she’ll be along soon. Family issues, you know how those can go. She’s got an A rating and the best reviews on Angie’s List.”

“And what, she doesn’t have a receptionist? She can’t let us know she’s running late?”

Aly convinced him to give the doctor a little while longer to show up. Five minutes before noon, a freshly waxed, silver A8 pulled into the parking lot. A short, plump woman of perhaps forty years stepped from the car, her stringy blonde hair pulled into a bun. Ravi could have sworn he heard the expensive suspension of the car sigh with relief as she got out.

“So sorry,” the woman huffed through a German accent dulled by years away from the Fatherland, “you know how family problems can be.” Aly glanced at Ravi and knowingly poked an elbow into his ribs. “You must be the Mehtas. Please, come in.”

------------------------------

Ravi settled into the leftmost plush brown leather chair, opposite Dr. Gernsheim’s Aeron chair. She was surrounded by a dormant computer, a stack of genetics textbooks, and a pair of notepads. Two antique ceramic teacups sat in front of Ravi and his wife. Ravi took the intended sentiment to be “you can relax, because I am here to work.”

Dr. Gernsheim flipped one of her notebooks to an empty page. “All right, Mr. and Mrs. Mehta,” she began academically, “please tell me how long you’ve been trying, and what methods you’ve tried so far.”

Aly cleared her throat. “It’s been three years and four months since we really started trying. Another six months or so before that where we weren’t really trying, but we weren’t not trying, if you know what I mean.”

The doctor scribbled something and mumbled agreement. Aly continued. “Well, after about a year and a half we had some testing done. We both came back normal, so we tried for a few more months. You know, the old fashioned way. But when that didn’t work we decided to try the thing where they try to, you know, time the exact moment. In me.”

Ja,” Dr. Gernsheim answered, “IUI. Intrauterine insemination. What happened?”

Aly frowned. Ravi could see she was uncomfortable, so he answered for her. “It didn’t work out. Three rounds, and they told us that was enough that it probably wasn’t going to work if we kept trying.”

“And did you try IVF next?”

“Yes, in vitro,” Aly spoke back up. “But three tries of that didn’t work either.”

“Let me be honest with you, doctor,” Ravi interrupted. “At this point our other doctor says it’s completely in God’s hands whether this ever happens for us. Well, we’re not religious, and we’re nearly ninety grand into trying to get this to work. I need to know if you think you can do something for us. We can only afford one more try.”

The doctor put down her pen and folded her hands. She leaned forward and looked directly into Ravi’s eyes with a sharp, unblinking stare, strangely powerful for such a squat woman. “I am the best at what I do. My life has been dedicated to mastering the creation of life itself. In conjuring life from the utter bleakness of sterility. If science can make you an embryo, I will make you an embryo. And as you know, my policy is to charge my fee only if I am able to do so.”

“Oh, I hope we end up owing you money, doc,” sighed Aly. She’d been disappointed by doctors before and Ravi knew her hope was running out.

He scowled and sat back in his chair. “No fees at all if this doesn’t work? What’s the catch?”

“No catch,” replied the doctor. “I only require that you allow me to perform some preliminary genetic tests on each of you. I must know what I’m dealing with. At my expense of course, unless I am able to give you an embryo.”

“And how much would our bill be, should we be so lucky?”

“I am not a carpenter or a plumber. I cannot provide you a detailed estimate as it depends on the specific circumstances of your case. However, for a typical client it is in the range of fifteen to twenty thousand dollars. Rarely more than thirty. And should you end up with twins, the fee is the same. Buy one, get one free, as they say.”

The doctor chuckled at her own joke. Ravi was less amused. “All right. When do we do the testing?”

Dr. Gernsheim checked her watch. Ravi checked his own and noted it was nearly one. “I have another appointment in ten minutes. So not today. Perhaps tomorrow, at eleven thirty again?”

“As long as you can mana--” Ravi began sternly, but Aly grabbed his arm to cut him off before he could launch a full-on barb about the doctor’s prior success keeping a morning appointment.

“Sounds perfect, doc. See you tomorrow!” Aly seemed consciously resolved to be optimistic and led Ravi from the office by his heavy arm.

------------------------------

The black-haired woman laid on the exam table with her legs propped open by the steel stirrups at its foot. She was dozing softly on account of the midazolam Sigi had given her when she lay down. The woman had actually asked for something to help with her nerves--Sigi didn’t even need to suggest it. So nervous, today. Excited, and giddy, and nervous.

Sigi finished drying her hands and threw a wad of paper towels into the waste bin. As she pulled on her gloves, she looked up through the glass observation window of the exam room and saw the man fixed on his Blackberry. He must have seen her looking out of the corner of his eye; he put the phone back in his pocket, smiled, and nodded to Sigi.

She carefully unscrewed the lid of the vial atop the small metal tray next to the exam table. She slipped her syringe into the cold, clear saline she’d used to thaw the morulas and slurped them up by retracting the plunger. The liquid in the barrel of the syringe sparkled in the bland fluorescent light of the room.

Sigi walked over to the foot of the exam table, between the woman’s legs. Another glance back through the observation glass. The man was again absorbed in his phone again, furiously hammering out an email about sales figures or legal precedents or bond yields with his thumbs.

She turned her eyes back down to the woman. “Whaa... unhh...” the woman tried to say. Her eyes lolled about lazily but happily, like a freshman sorority girl who’d been given the special punch.

Sigi touched the inside of the woman’s right thigh with the back of her hand. Let her hand caress upwards. The woman’s leg twitched once drunkenly, as if trying to pull away, before relaxing again in concert with a submissive yawn.

In this submissive state, with her husband absorbed in some email, Sigi could do anything to this woman. Under the midazolam she could ask this woman anything, do anything with her, and afterward she’d be completely oblivious to everything that transpired. Sigi could choose what the next moments of life would hold for this helpless, nearly barren woman.

And she deigned to create a life inside her. Sigi had sparked life by combining that man’s seed with this woman’s ova in her lab, with her very own hands, and now she would bestow the miracle she had made into this woman’s womb.

She raised the speculum and leveled it at the woman’s bright pink flesh. Slid the speculum into the woman, letting its length enter her slowly.

The syringe followed, threaded through the woman’s cervix and into her uterus by expert hands. Sigi took a deep breath and slowly injected her morulas into the woman.

There, it was done. Sigi closed her eyes and drew in another slow breath. She had created life yet again.

Sigi removed the syringe but let the speculum linger in place a moment longer while she smelled the air. The faintest odor of sex had begun swirling about the room. She withdrew the speculum finally and looked back through the window. The man was now laughing at some private joke, still transfixed by his phone, as Sigi finished impregnating his wife.

------------------------------

Aly was shaking Ravi’s arm, bouncing the bed up and down in excitement. “Ravi, I had the best dream! I dreamt that it worked! That Dr. Gernsheim did it! That we had twins!

Ravi rolled over to find Aly’s face beaming as brightly as her voice. “That’s wonderful, honey. I have a good feeling too. But it’s five in the morning and our appointment isn’t for hours. Can we get a little more sleep?”

------------------------------

Dr. Gernsheim’s Audi was thankfully already in the parking lot when Ravi pulled their too-large-for-two station wagon into the lot. He looked up in the rearview mirror and couldn’t help but imagine imagine a tyke or two staring back at him, buckled into little booster seats.

The doctor opened the door for them as they approached. She looked refreshed. Glowing, even. Ravi wondered whether this roly poly had found a man to ball up with the night before.

Willkommen, Mehtas. Please, come in.”

They followed her back to an exam room. It was clean, and bright, and spartan. Stereotypically German, really.

A pair of plastic chairs flanked an exam table with a set of stirrups at the end. Ravi saw Aly twinge when she saw them. No doubt he’d feel the same if his doctor made him use a getup like that.

Dr. Gernsheim directed them to sit in the chairs and walked to a cabinet over the small sink. She returned with a set of needles, tourniquets, and vials. “I must draw a vial from each of you for the testing. It shall only take a few minutes.”

Aly looked at Ravi. She hated needles too. Pretty much anything medical, really. Ravi knew how hard it had been for her to go through all these procedures over the years. He grasped her forearm with a firm grip. “It’ll be OK, honey. Just remember what this is for. Where we might be in nine months.”

Aly closed her eyes when the doctor wrapped the tourniquet around her bicep. The doctor asked her to pump her hand a few times, then inserted the needle’s butt into the vial. She stuck the needle into Aly’s vein, and less than a minute later removed everything and pressed a square of gauze over the pockmark.

The doctor took Ravi’s blood next and placed the vials into a small plastic container. “I should have the lab results for you in a few days. A week at most. We will talk next steps then.”

Aly let out a deep sigh. “Doc, what do you think our chances are?”

“Too soon to say. But if the fire of life can be kindled in you, I will do it.”

------------------------------

That night Ravi slept deeply. He hadn’t noticed it the first time they met, but something about the doctor’s aloof confidence exuded life. The creation of life. It radiated off her skin faintly, and the longer he was around her the more he saw it.

Maybe he was just seeing what he wanted to see, but perhaps he really had misjudged her at first. She seemed like she knew what she was doing, and those Angie’s List reviews couldn’t all be wrong. Angie doesn’t let anyone pay for reviews. Reviews you can trust, that’s what she says. Maybe he really could trust this doctor to succeed where all the others had failed.

------------------------------

Sigi stared at the results. Impossible, fantastical, wonderful results. “I found them,” she muttered to herself.

No major chromosomal anomalies in either prospective genetic parent. No insertions, deletions, or point mutations in eight dozen critical genes. And, most importantly, stellar markers for brain development across all known neural development genes. Both genomes as textbook perfect for cognitive traits as one could hope for. The offspring produced through the combination of these two genomes had one-in-a-million intellectual potential. Perhaps one in ten million.

Finally, this was it. The couple she’d been waiting for. Sigi set the results down and walked over to her cryopreserver, placed her hand against the cold double-paned glass of the door. “Soon, my son. Soon.”

------------------------------

Ravi closed the folder on the table and turned to Aly. Her eyes were shining. Iridescent, glistening, joyous green eyes. They hadn’t looked like that since the day they married.

“So you can see,” Dr. Gernsheim explained, “I am convinced your problems have merely been a combination of mechanical difficulties and medical ineptitude. Based on your cycle, we should begin hormone therapy next Tuesday. You will give yourself an injection twice daily for five days, and then come in for the extraction procedure.”

Some question or another popped into Ravi’s head, but before he could ask it Aly leapt from her chair to embrace him. He would have tipped over backwards had the leather armchair not been stouter than the good doctor.

“Tuesday,” Ravi managed. “Right.”

------------------------------

Aly was getting close to completing her hormone regimen, and Ravi could tell she was ready to be done. As a man, he was lucky to be bombarded only with a constant firehose of testosterone. Women were subject to a capricious symphony of hormones changing day over day, and throwing extra injections full of them into the mix didn’t make their lives any easier.

Ravi brushed past Aly as she stepped out of the shower. Her breasts were fuller than they usually were. Particularly round. Ravi swayed his waist into her hip as he passed.

“Keep that thing at ease, solider.” Aly’s cheeks were pulled upward by her dimples, like a marionette perked up by a zealous puppeteer. “I need him to have a full magazine tomorrow.”

“You don’t think a good solider packs extra mags? That he’s equipped to complete multiple missions?”

“Oh, no, I know he is. But it’s the doctor who thinks he isn’t, not me. And I wouldn’t want that doctor to realize all those years of studying medicine were a lie on account of a good solider like you.”

Aly sauntered out of the bathroom, her hips swishing left and right and up and down. Ravi loved that perfect, round ass. He stepped into the shower with only the mildest pang of sadness when he remembered he couldn’t show her how deep his love was by getting her pregnant on his own.

------------------------------

The woman with the wonderful intellectual genomics lay on the exam table in front of Sigi. She had been uncomfortable in the stirrups, and when she saw Sigi pull out a twenty-centimeter needle she’d nearly fainted. The woman accepted Sigi’s offer of midazolam before she even finished suggesting it.

But the man, he was watching. Standing behind the glass, watching the exam room, a look of deep concern wrinkling his brow. It didn’t seem like he was even blinking.

Sigi was used to close observation by the men, but preferred a little more privacy during these procedures. Like that black-haired woman a few weeks before, with the husband stuck in his phone. With a little privacy, she could really take her time. Enjoy the act of creating life. But with someone watching, she had to play the stoic medical professional.

A gloved hand stretched the woman open while another inserted the speculum. Sigi knew they were her hands, but she had to pretend they weren’t in order to maintain her serious composure. Through her nose, she inhaled as deeply as she could without it showing, a delicate appetizer to a meal whose entrée would not come until the man eased his scrutiny.

One of the hands picked up an ultrasound transducer and settled it on the woman’s abdomen. Sigi focused her eyes on the ultrasound display, pretending to herself she were watching a recording instead of a live patient before her.

There were seven ripe follicles in total, five on the left and two on the right. Sigi injected a long, sharp needle needle towards each follicle and aspirated them one by one. It took her no more than ten minutes total, and she let herself smile smugly at the efficiency of her work. It is right to feel as one feels, and to show it.

The man was still watching intently. Sigi had to squirt the egg-laden fluid from the needle into a vial without a final, deep inhale of the lovely scent in the room. But the woman would be back, Sigi knew, and there would be time for that then.

------------------------------

Ravi handed the sealed cup to Dr. Gernsheim. He’d been in the room over ten minutes because he couldn’t quite get into the mood. Something about all this had started to feel weird to him. The doctor must have had an odd impression about how graphic men liked their viewing material in situations like his, so he’d had to pull out his phone to find something a little less... aggressive to help him out.

Danke. Now, return to the waiting room and I’ll join you there shortly.

------------------------------

“How was she?” Aly asked when Ravi sat down next to her. She had a playful smile on her face, like she was verging on laughing at Ravi.

“Who?”

“The woman. Whoever it was you were just thinking about?”

“Oh, you mean you then? You were great!”

Aly gave him a knowing smirk.

“Seriously though, the stuff that doctor must think men like to watch... I was on my own for material.”

“Really? Like what kind of videos does she have in there?”

“Well, there’s a lot of leather, and some chains, and--” Ravi stopped midsentence when the doctor walked in.

“Both of your samples were satisfactory. They are incubating together now. Fertilization shall occur during the next eighteen hours. Three days following I shall remove a cell from each fertilized morula to test.”

Ravi and Aly both asked at the same time: “Remove a cell?”

“It’s perfectly standard,” the doctor replied. “At the eight-cell stage, it is both a safe and common practice to remove a cell for genetic testing. The embryo will recover normally, with no ill effects.”

Aly frowned but didn’t press further. Ravi broke the uncomfortable silence. “What then?”

“Then I allow the best morulas to develop for two to three days, until they become spherical blastulas of cells, and insert them into your wife’s uterus.” Aly squirmed again, but Dr. Gernsheim continued as if she were discussing last night’s episode of 60 Minutes. “Should one implant, and in my hands at least one shall, it shall develop into an embryo, then a fetus, then be born. And you shall be parents.”

Aly squeezed Ravi’s hand so tight her knuckles popped. “When, doc,” she asked, “when will we know if it worked?”

“Anywhere between one and three weeks after insertion. Every woman and every pregnancy is different. But if I obtain at least one acceptable morula, I can assure you it will happen.”

A question from weeks ago popped into Ravi’s mind. “Hold on. What if there’s more than one good morula? You’d implant them all?”

“Yes, I would insert several. Typically three is ideal in situations such as yours.”

“So...” Aly began, “...we could end up with twins?”

Ja, yes of course. Women your age have twins roughly one in three times when three blastulas are implanted. Triplets roughly one in ten.”

Tripl... Ravi began thinking before a blur of motion caught the corner of his eye. Aly had whipped her head around to face him, a luminous smile on her face. “Twins, Ravi! Twins!”

------------------------------

Sigi pushed the three unfertilized eggs to the side. The four that had fertilized and divided to the eight-cell stage each looked morphologically sound.

Her heart quickened. It was entirely possible that down there, one of the thirty-two cells she was looking at was going to help her son, at long last.

She maneuvered the micromanipulator to the first morula, carefully snipping a single cell from the ball. With practiced hands she placed the cell into a small, labeled vial, and repeated the process with the three remaining morulas. She nestled the four vials into an insulated Styrofoam case, sealed the case in a FedEx box. She kissed the box gently before placing it into her outgoing packages bin.

The results couldn’t come soon enough. Her son was waiting for them.

------------------------------

 “Look, doc, I don’t know what it is, but something’s off. She can feel it.”

The man’s voice grated on Sigi’s ear. Her temples ached. The days awaiting test results dragged at her thoughts. “Mr. Goldman, I understand, but sickness in the first trimester is common. Especially so for women who come about pregnancy with difficulty.”

“There’s a difference between sick and hurt. She’s hurt. You need to look at her and see what’s wrong.”

There was no reasoning with this man. He’d spent the last thirteen years taking his wife for granted, but now that she was keeping him up at night with the pain of his seed, he suddenly cared.

“All right, Mr. Goldman. Come in tomorrow morning at eight. I’ll see you then.”

“Finally. Thank you, doctor. See you in three hours.”

Sigi slammed the phone back onto the receiver. She decided right then to call cancel that stupid landline as soon as the phone company opened.

------------------------------

The black-haired woman looked up at Sigi anxiously from the exam table, her eyes pleading for good news. The man squinted at the ultrasound monitor, trying to make sense of what must have looked like raw static to him.

The ultrasound image did look off to Sigi. There was an embryo, but there was no suggestion of a heartbeat. At six weeks since conception, a dark fluttering in the chest cavity should be plain.

It was all Sigi could do to keep from flying into a rage. These people had done something to cripple the life she had given them. She wanted to jump across the table and rip the man’s testicles off, tear into the woman’s belly and claw her ovaries out. Such was the punishment which befit those who would destroy the life she had made.

But she knew she could not. In an unnoticed instant she swallowed those emotions and assumed the grave mask of the Doctor with Bad News. “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I don’t see a heartbeat.”

The woman cringed. The man seemed confused. “But that must be normal, right? The baby is only a few weeks old.”

“Embryos typically show a heartbeat three to four weeks after conception. At six weeks after conception, the lack of a heartbeat is considered significant.”

The man’s face scrunched up crossly. “So how do you fix it? Can you give her a pill or something? An injection?”

Sigi had to bury a scream. “There is nothing that can be done. The embryo is no longer viable and must be terminated.”

“Terma... terminated...” The woman sputtered and began sobbing abruptly. She looked at Sigi with wide, red eyes. Her mascara—she’d taken the time to put makeup on this morning?—had run down both cheeks. Sobbing in sadness, this time. A more familiar sensation to Sigi. Not the rare truffle from before. But it was good that she suffered for being a murderer.

“But we paid you forty grand for this!” The man reacted to the news with aggression and accusations, wild fury lashing at the nearest target. She wished she could release her rage too, reflect fury back at the man who must have done something to kill the gift she had given him. But she needed to keep her clinic held in high regard, for her son.

She could enjoy his emotion vicariously, though. Sigi could smell him beginning to sweat under his Clive No. 1, let herself inhale the predatory scent of his testosterone once. So strong, this one, when he felt assaulted. Perhaps it would be useful to add one of the extra cells she'd trimmed from this couple's morulas to her son after all...

The man's face was red and he let short, ragged breaths seethe through clenched teeth. “You guaranteed you’d give us a baby!”

“And a baby I did give you, though its life will be short. We can try again in three months.”

“You’re a crook!” The man burst out of his chair and jammed his finger in Sigi’s face. So furious! Useful indeed. “I’ll sue you for everything you’ve got, you bitch! Do you know who I am?”

Sigi flushed. She needed to find control. “I’m so sorry, but your son--”

Son?!?” the woman cried. She didn’t miss Sigi’s “slip” this time. “Our son?!?” Her sobbing turned into shameless weeping, any trace of dignity vaporized. She morphed into a puddle, a gelatinous mass that once thought of itself as a mother-to-be. The stirring between Sigi’s legs intensified, growing moist.

The man’s fury melted into grief as he realized that he’d not have an heir to his name yet after all. His son--not just his embryo--was doomed to a preconcious whisper of life. He sat back down and stared blankly at his hands, turning them over and over as if he thought they could be of some use in this situation.

“The longer we wait, the more danger the embryo poses to the mother. We must proceed with the termination immediately.”

The woman was incapable of responding. The man’s voice sounded like it came from another plane of reality. “Go ahead. Do it.”

Sigi would make sure the termination was painless for the tiny life these people had forced her to end. For the woman, her concern was... less.

------------------------------

Sigi tore open the large manila envelope, not bothering with the string which wound its flap closed.

Embryonic Genome Analysis #2764492 was printed in large block letters on the top sheet of the centimeter-thick report. Sigi sped through the results. Samples A and B appeared normal, with the odd double-recessive trait or synonymous substitution mutation. In all likelihood these would develop into perfectly normal, acceptable embryos, with moderate intellectual prospects. Sample D, on the other hand, exhibited a significant deletion on chromosome 15 that rendered it highly impaired. Probably mentally retarded, if it even survived.

But Sample C, that showed the promise Sigi had seen in the couple’s genomes. No detected genetic markers for neural defects. No meaningful deletions, duplications, or mutations. The presence of alleles known to correlate with abstract thinking, spatial reasoning, and high IQ. Even a gene variant associated with resilience to Alzheimer’s by a recent study. As promising an intellectual genome as one could hope for.

“It’s you,” she whispered at the data with tears in her eyes. “You are the brain of my son, and I shall name you Karl.”

Sigi pulled the vial containing Sample C from the cryopreserver. In ten minutes it had thawed, and she placed it under the microscope, removed a second cell from the morula with the micromanipulator, transferred it to a clean vial, and placed that vial back into the cryopreserver for use later. Her cycle would soon be in phase, but until then her son would have to wait.

That woman was going to need some of these morulas too, Sigi supposed. Samples A and B would clearly do, but the risk of failure with only two blastulas gnawed at her. No one was as expert as her at creating life, but she would not purposely weaken her power by inserting only two blastulas. She needed a third sample to insert.

The thought of inserting Sample D crossed her mind, and she would have done it, were she not worried the morula was so impaired as to be unable to survive. Sigi did not care whether the couple had a handicapped child, for such was the caprice of reproduction. Only that she successfully summoned yet another life into yet another womb. But Sample D was so impaired that it was likely to do more harm than good to that end.

That left Sample C.  Using Sample C brought a palpable distaste to her tongue. She’d taken a cell from a sample for her son and then implanted it before, but that was just for ordinary traits like musculature or internal organs. This was for the brain, and that was a part of she didn’t want to share.

Of course, her son was much more than just that one sample: even if it was the origin of his brain tissue, sample C itself was not her son. Her son was far more than that lone sample. He was more than any one person, really. And truly, inserting Sample C into that other woman was Sigi’s best chance at creating another life.

Satisfied—happy, even—she placed the remainder of Sample C, along with Samples A and B, into the incubator to mature into blastulas. That couple was lucky to be given such gifts, and she was not an unbenevolent creator, she admitted to herself.

------------------------------

Ravi was surprised how little the exam room seemed to bother Aly this time. The observation window gave him a perpendicular view of her left side as she lay on the exam table. He couldn’t see her entire face, but her body was relaxed. Even the stirrups didn’t seem to make her uncomfortable, and though she hadn’t slept the night before, she was peppy and eager. She was ready to be a mother.

Ravi felt ready to be a father too, though at this point he was something of an external entity to the process. He’d completed his portion of the job in a small room with a picture of Jenna Jameson on his phone. But that wouldn’t matter in the end, he supposed, when he held his baby in his arms.

Through the glass observation window, he saw the doctor throw away a ball of used paper towels. She pulled on a pair of purple gloves and scowled as she began rubbing some sort of cream or oil on a long metal tube with a scissor-like grip. A speculum, Aly had named it, when he asked after their last appointment.

The doctor inserted the speculum into Aly, and then drew a small quantity of liquid from a marked vial into a syringe with a long-needled tip. From their earlier IUI and IVF treatments, Ravi had gotten used to the idea that someone else would be injecting his genetic material into his wife. But still, it was always weird to actually watch it happen. At least this doctor seemed like she knew what she was doing. That feeling that she exuded life had only grown since he’d first noticed it.

Dr. Gernsheim seemed ready to proceed and lowered the syringe between Aly’s legs. His wife said something and laughed, but the frown on the doctor’s face deepened.

Aly had decided against any sedation this time because she wanted to be awake when she got pregnant, even though the doctor insisted it would make the procedure go more smoothly if she took even a mild dose of a sedative. But Aly insisted too, and Dr. Gernsheim ultimately agreed to go along and leave Aly unmedicated.

The doctor’s hands disappeared behind Aly’s thighs. Aly let out a nervous laugh and tried to shift her hips, but the doctor stopped her from moving with her hand. A moment later, the doctor’s other hand reappeared with the syringe, plunger now fully depressed. The doctor set down the syringe and took a deep breath.

That was it, then. If the doctor could be believed, he was now a father.

------------------------------

As soon as the doctor had finished and left the room, Aly put her clothes back on and skipped all the way back to the doctor’s office. She was glowing.

Dr. Gernsheim had changed out of scrubs and back into a lab coat. She was sitting behind her desk, hands folded together formally in front of her. “That went entirely according to plan,” the doctor began. “I have inserted three blastulas of high quality, and at least one should implant within a few days. I advise you to take a pregnancy test every two days for the next three weeks, or until you obtain two consecutive positive results.”

Aly’s smile could no longer dam her words. “Doc, I just want to thank you so much. I have such a good feeling about this. I know it’s just my head, but I think I can feel the baby implanting.”

Bitte schön, you're very welcome. It was truly my pleasure. I am confident in my work and believe you are becoming pregnant as we speak, though there is no medical basis on which to believe you might actually feel it. Nonetheless--I expect a positive result in your case.”

That sense of creation emanating from the doctor made Ravi cautiously optimistic. He couldn’t tell Aly, but he really could believe she was right.

“As you know, I removed one of the eight cells from each morula for genetic testing, but this will not affect development of your son in any--”

Son. The word rang in Ravi’s ears. Not his morula, or his blastula, or his embryo. His son.

Aly was still digesting the word when Ravi spoke up. “Son? You know it’s a son?”

Ja, a son.” The doctor’s voice had sharpened, almost as if she were excited. “Apologies for my slip, but all three blastulas I inserted were male.”

A son. Ravi was going to have a son. Or two, or even three.

He turned to Aly. Her eyes were glistening emeralds again, raw love and joy streaming out of them. He could see her soul, and it was beautiful.

------------------------------

The cryopreserver held a lot of samples, but Sigi was there to retrieve the most important two: the crystal vial containing most of her son, sitting alone on the top shelf as it should, and the glass vial containing the cell from Sample C she’d retrieved four days earlier. Her womb was nearly ready, and it was time to complete her work.

She set the two vials out to thaw. She had a few minutes before they’d be ready, so she turned on the old sound system in the exam room. Her old mix-tape CD was still in the player. The wah-wahs and cool distortion of “Lightning Crashes” began echoing from the corners of the room, calling up old memories of boys chasing after her so many years ago. Sigi was never the prettiest girl, but the boys didn’t seem to mind so much when she played along, for a night or three at least.

...lightning crashes, a new mother cries...

Sigi held the two vials up to the light and swished them around. They were ready.

She pipetted the contents of each vial up and placed the droplet under her microscope. She found the seven-cell ball from her son’s crystal tube first.

It had held up well in cryopreservation, which Sigi expected of her handiwork. The cell from that black-haired woman and her phone-zombie husband—the  ones who had killed the life she gave them—had bonded well with the six other cells she’d slowly assembled over the past years. A round gap in her son’s otherwise tight formation sat ready to accept the eighth and final cell.

...lightning crashes, an old mother dies...

Sigi found the cell from Sample C. It was beautiful, perfectly round. Just the cell her son needed to complete his genetic foundation, the foundation of a boy equipped with all the genetic blessings to become a great man.

She grasped the cell with her micromanipulator and carefully slotted it into the gap on the seven-cell morula. She transferred the now-eight-cell morula into a vial and placed it into the incubator to ripen into a blastula.

...lightning crashes, a new mother cries...

------------------------------

Two days later her son was ready. He had everything a boy could want, everything a parent could give a child. The best genes. The very best genes, drawn from parents exemplary in their own aspects. The strongest muscles, the best looks, the most efficient organs. And now, the smartest brain. There would be nothing--nothing--her son Karl would be unable to accomplish.

Sigi pulled her son’s vial from the incubator. The tube was warm, and she clutched it tightly with both hands to feel the warmth spreading from it. Her son’s first hug.

She opened the drawer beneath the sink and withdrew a speculum and a syringe. They were both new, never used on any of those lesser women she had previously impregnated. These were special, just for her, and for her son.

Sigi relaxed onto the exam table and put her legs up into the stirrups. The Cranberries were playing on her CD player.

...in your head, zombie, zombie...

Sigi stared at herself in the mirror she’d set up at the foot of the exam table. She was beautiful, no matter what anyone else thought. Beautiful because she was a fount of life, the closest thing to a creator since the gods abandoned the world.

She lubricated the speculum and held it against herself, between her legs. It was cold, and smooth, and hard. She slid it in slowly and opened its duckbill blades, locking them in position to free her hands.

Sigi unscrewed the vial containing her son and drew the fluid inside it into the syringe. The light of the room shimmered through the liquid in its barrel when she held it up to admire it. She cherished the fleeting instants of the beginning of her son’s life.

She reached down between her legs and carefully inserted her son’s syringe. Felt it slide into her, life entering to quicken her womb at last. Sigi depressed the plunger to inject his blastula into her uterus and released.

At last, at long last, Sigi was a woman. A mother. She had given life to so many, but now she had her own creation.

She was the nearest thing to a god. A being whose mere existence begat life.

...and their bombs, and their guns...

Yes, Sigi could feel the life sparking inside her. Maybe that woman was right and one could actually feel it. Feel life igniting in the womb, in her womb. The furnace of creation stoking to bright fire, her body forging the life of a son from nothingness. It did not matter that she hadn’t found a man to give her a baby, or even that it had been over a decade since she’d slept with anyone. She created her own life, her own son, with no man. She made this life, in every sense of the word.

And thus, the line of Frankenstein would go on.


© Copyright 2018 S.T. Sullivan. All rights reserved.

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