Author: Renée Jessica Tan
When we had isolated the predator gene, it was with all good intentions. The idea was to build a hyper-focused, unrelentingly driven, unapologetic and fearless Alpha. We knew these characteristics aren’t always considered a positive in society, but these are also traits exhibited by the greatest people in history, from heads of state, athletes, inventors, artists.
Lead by pioneer geneticist, Dr. Joan Gudas, we created two specimens with the same material. They were not identical in the classic sense. They were two separately mapped and successfully fertilized zygotes. The only difference was the XX and the XY chromosome.
They were both implanted into one volunteer hostess. Everything was proceeding well until the fifth month when our researchers noted Fetus A overtook Fetus B in size. We don’t know why. It was only two millimeters. But it was enough.
Two days after the inequity was recorded, the hostess reported discharge and bleeding. An ultrasound showed that Fetus A had consumed the partially developed brain of its wombmate. In disbelief and somewhat stupefied by grief, the team rushed back to the lab to document and to develop a hypothesis as to what went wrong. We failed to administer to the hostess as we left her alone to heal. It was a field intern who found her three days later. Her abdomen had been eaten through by Fetus A, who itself was near death from malnutrition.
Despite the hell it had wrought, we tried to save Fetus A, but we were unsuccessful.
There was heated debate as to how to handle the death of the volunteer. While we all felt tremendous guilt, the primary concern was that filing a fully transparent account would alert the government to the nature of our research. Considering the outcome, we realized what we created could easily be weaponized. Many championed the proposal to pass it off the volunteer’s death as the tragic outcome of an unsanctioned late-term abortion. Ultimately Dr. Gudas felt such a profound ethical breach was unjustifiable. Instead, the body was simply delivered to the coroner with the signed volunteer waiver, which disclosed the name of our laboratory.
It took a few months for the harassment to begin. It started with emails sent from official-looking addresses demanding we provide a comprehensive detail of our field study. People from various agencies started calling and showing up at our workplaces and homes. Some implied we were under criminal investigation. It was suggested that implicating others would be to our individual benefit. When we proved uncooperative, unmarked vehicles began to circle our neighborhoods and follow our children to school. Bank accounts were frozen, distant relatives contacted. Foreign colleagues were told their work visas would be revoked and their families deported. Some of us started receiving death threats.
Dr. Gudas finally made the decision to submit a carefully edited dossier of our failed experiment. We all agreed the best way to mitigate the worst possible outcome was to only provide data on the unknown variable. In other words, we omitted the existence of Fetus A. The government was only given the genome for Fetus B. After this report was submitted, all data from our years of research was destroyed.
The situation is now out of our hands. The government has barred any of us from their highly classified project based on the information we were forced to provide. But we are out there, keeping tabs on all the new hostesses who have no idea what they are carrying inside them.
On the one hand, we pray for their survival. On the other hand, we pray for them to fail.