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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write in the SCIENCE FICTION genre (05/10/07)

TITLE: Hope, With Wings
By Jan Ackerson
05/13/07


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Dara and Jim Lamport sat uneasily in the office of the Assistant Administrator of the Parenting License Bureau. As the official tapped her computer, Dara squeezed Jim’s hand. Nervousness perched between them, a silent and invisible ogre.

The official finally looked up from her monitor, smiling. “Congratulations, Ms. Lamport! The PLB has preliminarily determined that you and your partner may conceive a child…”

Dara leaned forward. “My husband.”

“What?” The official was clearly unused to interruption.

“Jim is my husband, not my partner. We’re married.” She glanced at Jim, who grinned.

“Oh, how quaint. We don’t get much of that any more. Well, there’s no place to indicate husband on my form. Let’s just continue, shall we?” She tapped again, and continued with her review.

“I have good news for you, Ms. Lamport. After analysis of your DNA, and that of your part--, um, husband, we’ve determined that the odds are infinitesimal that your offspring will be genetically inferior.” She looked up at Dara, clearly expecting joyous celebration.

“That doesn’t really matter to us, though—right, Jim?”

Jim nodded in confirmation. “We’ll be happy with any baby the Lord gives us.”

The official laughed. “The Administrator is hardly a lord, you needn’t call him that…oh, I see. You were being religious just then, weren’t you? Aren’t you delightfully old-fashioned?” More tapping. “Shall I continue?”

Dara nodded and squeezed Jim’s hand again.

The official modulated her voice; apparently this part of her routine called for seriousness. “Ms. Lamport, I must tell you that we’ve calculated a significant chance that your child may inherit the following minor genetic conditions.” She rotated the viewscreen toward Dara, who pushed it at Jim so they could read it together. A list of eight conditions appeared there, each followed by a monetary amount.

“Ms. Lamport, fortunately for you, each of these conditions can be eliminated with gene therapy, for the small amounts you see before you. If you’ll just allow me to scan your bank implant, we can see to this matter immediately.”

Jim shook his head. “We don’t want that, either. Just a baby…”

The official held up a hand, a gesture clearly meant to silence him. “Sir, you have no voice here. It’s highly irregular to have you here at all. The decision is solely Ms. Lamport’s, as carrier of the fetus.” She turned and spoke to Dara. “May I scan your implant, please?”

“No…no, I don’t think so. Please, we just want the baby God gives us.”

A snap of the head at the word God, pursed lips, more tapping. Nervousness swelled and pulsated in the room.

“Well then, Ms. Lamport, just a few more matters. This is the fun part! As you know, we can genetically design each child with desirable physical characteristics. Your child, for example, would be inclined to inherit your partner’s rather large nose. We can fix that for you—a minor tweaking of one gene. And you don’t want your child to have your frizzy hair, do you? Frizzy hair and a big nose—can you imagine the teasing? Through the wonder of genetic manipulation, there will be no more ugly people in the next generation. As I said before, the fee for each manipulation is quite reasonable.” She swiveled the monitor again. “Just touch any feature you wish your child to have—and of course you’ll want to pre-select its sex.”

Rather than reaching toward the screen, Dara sat back in her chair. “I—I don’t think I’ll select any of those. We’ll take our chances on the hair and nose, and on all those other things, too.”

“Very well.” With a final tap, the official’s computer folded into its niche in her desk. “Ms. Lamport, you may expect our final determination in a month or so. Feel free to contact me, should you change your mind on any of those genetic manipulations.”

Dara and Jim left the office accompanied by hope, with wings.

***


One month later, Dara stared at the message on her computer.

“We regret to inform you that your application for a Parenting License has been rejected. We have determined that any child born to you and your current partner would have a significant likelihood of developing anti-governmental and superstitious behavioral patterns. Feel free to apply again with another partner.”

She crumpled into Jim’s arms. “It’s time for us to go, my love,” he said. His hand caressed her belly, not yet swollen with the unlicensed child now nurtured in her womb.


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This article has been read 1410 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Mo 05/17/07
Powerful message.
Helen Paynter05/18/07
Chilling... and all too plausible. Great story, good satisfying ending.
Sheri Gordon05/18/07
This is incredible! I could really "see" the horribly frightening scene. Your subtle humor keeps the reader going -- while the powerful message is continually growing. Brilliant presentation of an ugly, not-so-far-away future.
Kaylee Blake 05/18/07
WHOA! Chilling. Loved it. But to me, this "science-fiction" may one day become non-fiction...that's what's so scary. Moxt excellent. Keep up the awesome work!
Rita Garcia05/19/07
Powerful and clever! Masterwriting all the way around!
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/19/07
Isn't it sad that this doesn't even seem beyond the realm of a possibility someday? You created an excellent story.
Betty Castleberry05/21/07
Scary, with subtle humor as well. Good voice. I like it. You always write very well.
Joanne Sher 05/21/07
Chilling. Great characterization and dialogue. Definitely made me think.
Jacquelyn Horne05/21/07
This was very good. But I didn't understand the last part. Time to go where? Certainly the birth was not near by the explanation of her body condition. But I really liked this, and the writing is good. Just seems unfinished somehow.
Sara Harricharan 05/21/07
Very good title. And a sad message of what could happen in the future. you did a good job of telling this story. The last part really packed a punch. Good job.
Pat Guy 05/21/07
Gave me chills although I could guess what was about to happen. The characters were perfect yet the subject is sadly not too far off from what is already beginning.

The administrators voice was so poignant and true! I loved it.

Loved the frizzy hair and big nose part too - reminded me of the disco days! ;)
Sandra Petersen 05/21/07
I gasped aloud in several places as I read your futuristic science fiction. . .or, is it?

Hitler would have loved to have had technology like this to create his 'Master Race'. I like the way you ended the story.

Licensing of future parents has been proposed by a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor, and I know genetic engineering is being developed rapidly. This is a scary scenario, like Chrissy said. Well written.
Patty Wysong05/21/07
Wow! Masterfully done. That administrator was really something!
Bryan Coomes05/21/07
Who needs little green men with laser guns and ambitions of world annihilation to write engaging sci-fi? This was awesome. It was chillingly real. The scenes were simple and yet powerful with great dialogue and characterization. Of course now you have to let us all know what happens to the parents and unlicensed child. :)
Benjamin Graber05/21/07
This one is very good. It is very real - I can see the world coming to this someday. Thanks be to God that He is in control!
Henry Clemmons05/21/07
A nice story with a big message. The character of the administrator was well done. Some parts seemed forced, but the overall interest and reader involvement of your message created great momentum. I enjoyed the story very much.
Stephen Paynter05/21/07
A well-written, fascinating, chilling read. A future that no doubt could come. It also resonated with me, as Helen and I have just undergone an intensive and intrusive "home study" to see whether we are suitable adoptive parents. Some of the "hot" issues we had to address arose where our faith clashed with Politically Correct dogma. Fortunately, we had a sympathetic social worker, but it could easily have gone otherwise - so I really relate to this!!!
Stephen Paynter05/21/07
A well-written, fascinating, chilling read. A future that no doubt could come. It also resonated with me, as Helen and I have just undergone an intensive and intrusive "home study" to see whether we are suitable adoptive parents. Some of the "hot" issues we had to address arose where our faith clashed with Politically Correct dogma. Fortunately, we had a sympathetic social worker, but it could easily have gone otherwise - so I really relate to this!!!
Myrna Noyes05/21/07
Oh, what an excellent but truly disturbing story! I suspected that she might ultimately be rejected because of her "quaintness" and "God talk"! What an ending, though! Now, I'm worried about what will happen when it's found she's carrying an unlicensed child. Is that why her husband said it was time to go, as in time to flee?? I hope you consider a sequel!! :)
Rita Garcia05/21/07
WOW! To think this could really happen! Great sci-fi entry!
Teri Wilson05/21/07
I think this is wonderful! Very creepy and could definitely happen. Wonderful job in Sci Fi!!
T. F. Chezum05/21/07
You may not think it's a great effort, but I think it's very good.
william price05/21/07
Well written scary sci=fi entry. I love your writing, you're the best at what you do, but, seeing how you requested, one thing that is strickly just me cos I have to watch kid movies all the time, the orge line in the beginning gave me the visual of Shrek:) and I just couldn't shake it. Other than that, you delivered a very powerful message expertly. God bless.
Shari Armstrong 05/21/07
SciFi is sometimes not as far away as we may think - some really good food for thought here....
Pam Carlson-Hetland05/22/07
I ditto all of the wonderful comments above. Yes, this very realistically written "sci-fi" is not too far off. The characters and dialogue are great. Definitely a work of a master writer.
Venice Kichura05/22/07
Wow, this was very good & scary to think this could happen. Masterful writing skills!
TJ Nickel05/22/07
Another great one. The ending was perfect and my favorite part. The story was good, but again in your writing, the characters become so alive they could carry a weak plot (if you ever wrote one).
Leigh MacKelvey05/22/07

We do think alike! Oh, if only my "twin" thinking could write the ideas as well as you do! Again, a wonderfully written story!
dub W05/23/07
Very realistic, futuristic, and powerfully written.
Loren T. Lowery05/23/07
This is almost a commentary on today's, sophisticated worldly view. God bless those that chose otherwise.
Insightful, George Orwellian, engaging story.
Rita Garcia05/24/07
CONGRATULATIONS!
Dara Sorensen05/24/07
I loved it! And the thing is, I can see this being possible in the future...

By the way, good choice of the main character's name ;-) Couldn't have chosen better :-)
Debbie OConnor05/25/07
It doesn't surprise me to discover that one of my favorite entries of the week is by one of my favorite FW authors. Jan, as always, great job.
Kate Grey05/29/07
I read this before, and loved it. Now knowing who wrote it, I love it even more. :) Thanks for all your comments on my stories--you have been such an encouragement to me.