Author : Isaac Archer

Dad brought me to his lab again today. I was really excited when he told me I could come help him with his work because I want to be a scientist too. He told me not to tell Mom, because it’s a secret, our secret.

“Some things are for sharing,” he said, “but some things are for keeping. Secrets are for keeping.”

He even called my teacher to tell her I was going to be out sick today from the car, so Mom wouldn’t hear. I like helping Dad and I like missing school even more. I haven’t been enjoying school since I got in trouble last week. Ms. Roberts said I skipped her class, but I told her I didn’t skip it, I’ve never skipped! She told me not to lie and said I was developing bad habits. Dad believed me though and he said we didn’t have to tell Mom either. He said we don’t need to worry her.

Dad works in his own private lab. It’s pretty messy – there’s not much space left because one big machine fills up most of the room. Dad can barely even get to his desk, let alone the shelves and piles of stuff, which is why I can help him. He spends all day doing experiments with the machine, except when somebody comes to talk to him. Those times are the worst because I have to be really quiet and go in the corner and it’s boring.

Today only one person comes to talk. He’s a bald man in a gray suit. The top of his head is so shiny I almost laugh, but I try my hardest to stay quiet. I’m not paying attention when the man and Dad start talking but then the man starts to yell.

“People are dead because of your shoddy work! This is the only project we have without any direct oversight and you’d quit over it? We’re fighting a war here. We can’t have our own weapons killing our soldiers.”

“There will always be risk involved, and you don’t have anybody capable of understanding, much less overseeing, my work.”

“Don’t give me that risk line! Genetic modification–”

“Is not what the implants do! Genes can’t subvert the laws of the universe, no matter how cleverly you configure aminos. The implants are produced by accessing properties that aren’t comprehensible to our physics, much less our biology. They translate those properties biologically, but the machine, the source… most of it is pure mathematics. And it’s probabilistic. I don’t know what a given implant will do. In fact it cannot be known with certainty. You just have to test them, see what each solution does.”

Dad turns away from the bald man. “You guys treat this like it’s magic, but expect it to operate with the consistency of science. Every council meeting, you chatter like little kids with comic books, arguing over whether you’d prefer flight or invisibility. Flight and invisibility! Listen to yourself. No, I won’t have someone in here looking over my shoulder.”

The bald man’s head is purple now, but he doesn’t say anything else, and after a while he leaves. He reminds me of Ms. Roberts.

I decide to ask Dad about it, so I hover over to him and flicker once to get his attention. “Dad,” I say, “Isn’t it wrong to lie? Why didn’t you tell him about my implant?”

He sighs and stares at the ceiling behind me.

“Some things are for sharing, son,” he says, “but some things are for keeping.”

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