Thang Danang balanced the hypodermic on the tip of her index finger.
That’s what her cousin Luc had called her. He’d yelled that her visions of their family ancestors weren’t real, that she was hallucinating.
Thang had pointed to her great grandmother Binh sitting in her finest silk near the gene editing equipment in her lab. “Ask her if I’m hallucinating.”
Throwing up his hands, but trying to dial down his tone, Luc once again tried to explain.
“Thang, I think you’ve got melioidosis. It’s caused by the bacteria Burkholderia pseudomallei. You’re a scientist. A very good scientist. Look it up. It’s a soil bacteria found here in parts of Vietnam. You must have gotten some dirt in a cut or rubbed your eyes when your hands were dirty. Melioidosis can cause an inflammation of the brain and induce hallucinations. You’ve got a disease. A disease that can be treated.”
“I’m not sick,” Thang said.
“You are!” He motioned around the room. “We’re the only ones here and yet you keep insisting our long dead ancestors are with us.”
“They are not, Thang!” Luc raised his voice again. “And they are not directing you to try this crazy experiment. It is wrong and it is dangerous. And you are sick!”
Luc was adamant.
But Thang was certain. The certainty of her ancestors convinced her. For days they’d been appearing in her lab, exhorting her to listen to them. To believe in their dao duc, their virtue and integrity. Her many, many ancestors had come to provide her with the power to protect all her family past, present and future.
And Thang believed the world was her family. As a geneticist, she knew at the mitochondrial level we are all one. And at the behest of her ancestors she was ready to instigate a change at the cellular level that would bring humankind even closer together.
So many of her ancestors had been taken by violence and war, or by the dislocation, crime, disease and famine that war fosters. They were begging her to end humanity’s endless cycles of violence. And Thang could.
In the hypo balanced on her finger was the enzyme she’d developed over years and had methodically tested on a variety of mammals. These were lab animals that displayed overly aggressive and belligerent behavior. Thang’s enzyme radically altered that behavior. Eliminated it. At the genetic level.
Thang had a cure for violence. For war. Her ancestors were sure of it and told her so. Only Luc stood in her way. He was a neurologist. A good scientist, too, and Thang respected him. But, he said she was sick. Out of her mind.
Thang looked from Luc to her long gone great grandmother. The living and the dead. The present and the past. She clasped the hypo. Who did she owe more to?
Wild Thang knew the only answer.
Luc was too slow to react, as she plunged the hypo into the meat of her thigh and depressed the plunger.