Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write in the SCIENCE FICTION genre (05/10/07)
- TITLE: The Code Breakers
By Melanie Kerr
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“We have exactly three minutes. The monitors are blind. Let’s get moving.”
Even before he had finished talking, his companions had opened a metal case and withdrew two syringes. A small amount of an orange liquid nestled at the base of each of them.
Winter landscape whipped by as the train accelerated. It was the single point along the route where the speed reached a point beyond which the monitors that tracked them all could no longer distinguish their separate DNA strands.
Clarin rolled up the blonde woman’s sleeve and injected the first of the syringes into a vein just below the elbow. He did not know her name. The less he knew of their “clients”, the safer they all were. It was a procedure he had completed many times, but there was always the danger of discovery. He had no way of knowing whether the security checks they put in place had been compromised.
Jade, his companion on the other side of the carriage was completing the same manoeuvre on the other woman. She was of a similar build, but with short dark hair and anxious blue eyes.
A minute ticked by.
They both extracted clean syringes from plastic packages, this time extracting blood from each of the women. Jade and Clarin swapped the syringes over.
A second minute ticked by.
This was the deciding moment. Lars glanced at the two women.
“If you want to back out now…this is the time.”
The two women shook their heads and the needles were inserted.
The three minute timer went off. They had become visible to the monitors. The authorities had no way to detect that in those brief moments of blindness two people had exchanged their DNA codes.
A genetic code was identified for everyone at birth. A detailed profile, called simply the Code, indicated a person’s path in life. It mapped out every aspect of life. What you ate, where you lived, the kind of education you received were all clearly defined. It was expected that every person should make the right contribution to the society they lived in. It was a crime to do something other than what the Code dictated.
Jennis, the blonde haired woman, had been identified as a mother. She had the perfect gene sequences required for reproduction. Her education had reflected her gene code, focussing on learning about child development, nutrition and health. She had been taught how to build a comfortable and secure home in which to raise her children at least for a while. That she felt no maternal instincts at all was ignored. She delighted in mathematical patterns and solving logic problems. She longed to be a part of the commuting workforce, travelling to the city, but the Code forbade it.
Kenda, the dark haired woman had been groomed for a post in the scientific community. Her gene code identified strong mathematical abilities. The Code indicated innate weaknesses in her ability to establish and maintain relationships. No attempt was made to explain why Kenda had a wide circle friends she had known for many years. Her desire for children, a future that the Code denied her, had pushed her into seeking help.
DNA swapping had become a black market commodity. The government refused to acknowledge that the Code made mistakes. Personal freedom and choice were set aside for progression and development. The needs of the nation outweighed the good of the individual.
Lars and his companions, unlike many of the black market pedlars, were not manipulators of a potentially lucrative market. Freedom was a precious gift that the nation seemed to have surrendered. A woman’s choice to have a child, or to go out to work, should not depend on a biological barcode.
Suddenly the train slowed to an unexpected halt, as Kenda pushed the emergency button beside the carriage door, locking them all inside.
“I have them, sir.” She spoke to the monitor on the wall, “Three of the gang, and a woman.” Kenda reached into her shoulder bag, lifting out a syringe similar in size to the others. The blue liquid injected into her bloodstream would restore her genetic code. She glared at Jennis, ignoring the men.
“It is the highest calling of all to be a mother…and yet you choose to go to work!” She sneered.
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