Author: Germain M. C.
I’m meeting Tili’s assistant tonight. Tili’s too busy to meet me herself, but I don’t mind—her celebrity, her beauty would eclipse me anyway.
Headlights approach my vehicle in the dim, empty parking lot. They crawl up beside me as the driver’s window cracks open. Faint dashboard lights illuminate a figure inside.
“Are you Gina?” she whispers.
“Yes. You’re her assistant?”
“Look, you’re not going to do anything to Tili, right? You’re not some stalker or obsessed fan?”
“Do you have it?”
“This is just some sexual thing, right?”
“It’s just a passing kink. Nothing more.” I hand over an envelope filled with six months’ salary.
The assistant hesitates, then flings a package at me. I caress the paper-wrapped box while she speeds off.
Alone, I explore the contents: dirty socks, a toothbrush, a used collagen facial mask.
Footsteps echo in the hallway and interrupt my work. Fortunately, I’m done injecting myself and only need to hide the equipment I’ve unplugged.
Jonathan rushes into the laboratory. “Oh. Late night, Dr. Gina?”
“Research directors don’t get time off.” I finish prepping the chromosomal editors and check the facial mask’s DNA sequencing: 85% of Tili’s DNA retrieved. To confirm it’s her, I scan the genome. I see her blue eyes, her full lips, her rare “elastic skin” caused by Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.
“Cramming it all in before your vacation next week?” He looks about for the missing equipment. “Something happen here?”
“I’m having the equipment tested before I go. Don’t want you all bothering me while I’m tanning.”
“Oh, thanks. Sorry, but can I copy some data?”
“Give me your flash drive.” I minimize my work on the screen while searching for Jonathan’s files.
“Those please.” Jonathan points, taking a seat next to me. He notices the nanoparticle condenser. “You’re making chromosomal editors?”
“Yes. A pet project.”
“Speaking of, what ever happened to your mice? Did you switch any phenotypes?”
“I did: fur color, ear width, nose length.
“Incredible. You practically switched them from one genus to another.”
“Almost, yes.” I hand the flash drive back.
“Oh, thanks. I’ll get go-” Jonathan smacks into a table corner. “Christ, maybe someday we can edit out my clumsiness. Replace it with some gymnast genes.”
There’s only one picture of Tili in my remote cabin. It dominates a quarter of the vanity mirror where I sit, scribbled with lines and dimensions for reference. Tangles of wires litter the floor around me, connected to stolen analyzers, while a mountain of Tili’s “Tasty” branded clothes clutter the bed; bought just to support her career.
My phone vibrates. Work demands to know where the laboratory equipment is, demands my return from a vacation I never plan to end. They don’t understand the old Gina is eroding.
I study—stroke—Tili’s symmetrical face; you could almost hate her. Blonde, with a tinge of pink, is her preferred look, so I carefully mix the proper ratio of hair dyes before me. While it rests, I take a tape measure and note my cheekbones, chin, eyebrows. I compare the numbers to the notes on Tili’s picture. There’s an average difference of 3%, down from yesterday’s 3.2%.
Phone vibrates again.
The nanoparticle condenser beeps; chromosomal editors are done. I inject them into my bloodstream and feel the particles clip my misappropriated DNA, replacing it with the bit of Tili they carry. In time, they’ll dilute me completely.
If providence didn’t see fit to bless me as they did Tili, perfect Tili, I’ll do it myself.
But editors aren’t enough.
To evaporate Gina, inside and out, I’ll need a blood sample.