Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write for the FANTASY and/or SCI FI Genre (10/16/14)
By Melanie Kerr
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“He’s an anomaly,” said Venter.
“He’s a murderer,” said Lander, “There is nothing here in his genetic profile that suggests a pre-disposition to violence. It’s impossible. Violence has been eradicated from the gene sequence for generations. We are just not capable of inflicting harm on one another – and yet, he is, as you say, an anomaly.”
“Then perhaps it’s not IN his genetic profile.” Venter placed a small vial on the table. The liquid inside was a milky white.
“What is it?” asked Lander
“This is all very top secret. They call it Beast666,” said Venter. “It’s available on the black market for a price. No one is sure just where it’s from, or who the supplier is. It came to my attention about six months ago. Your anomaly isn’t a one off. Five hundred cases have been identified – not all of them the same. Beast666 seems to temporarily re-write DNA sequences. There is a theory, unproven as yet, that the gene sequences that appear to have no purpose actually are keys to gene memory. No bad character traits have really been eliminated but just made dormant. Something inside of our genetic make-up insists that there may come a day when violence is essential to our survival as a species. It cannot afford to do away with a disposition for violence, or anger, or manipulation or hatred if we may need these things at a later time, a less peaceful time. Beast666 unlocks the gene memory for a short time. No one knows the implications of repeated use.”
“Why would anyone want to unlock such dangerous genes?” Lander picked up the vial and tipped it this way and that. The liquid was thick and slow moving.
“Our utopia…whatever you call it, is all surface,” replied Venter. “Violence isn’t the only emotion that we have eliminated. Violence is just one end of the spectrum. Just read the history books, Lander. Yes, we no longer fear another Hitler or a Josef Mengele but equally there will never be another Gandhi or another Martin Luther King. Strong passion for good or evil is irrelevant and that’s where the black market and Beast666 is cashing in. People experience the strong emotions but don’t have any way of mastering them.”
Lander was silent, still tipping the bottle from one side to the other.
“Can we create an antidote?” he asked. “It should be possible to break down this substance to its basic elements.”
Venter sighed. “Back to the history books, Lander – remember those superbugs that science created? Whatever vaccines they came up with to eliminate diseases? The viruses would mutate, build up some kind of resistance and the scientists would have to come up with something stronger? I think Beast666 is just the starting point. Find an antidote and they find something stronger.”
“Then what do we do? Just let Beast666 do its work? All the good that has come from manipulating genes will be undone. Diseases we have made history will rear their heads. We will slide back into…into…I don’t know what.” Lander looked out of the window into a world he had always considered ordered and safe. Venter was telling him that it wasn’t safe.
“The government is organising a think tank. You and I, along with other notable scientists have been invited to participate. I know that you don’t hold much faith in religion but religious leaders have also been invited to be there. There is a solution – it don’t think it’s in looking for vaccine or something. I think it’s in learning how to deal with feelings and emotions and actions.” Venter smiled. He felt they were on the brink of a new way of living – something vibrant and alive.
“You know,” said Lander, “we never did find a genetic sequence that explained faith or religion. It is the one thing that we have never been able to make dormant. I think it’s possible something inside of our genetic make-up that insists faith is also essential to our survival as a species.”
“Perhaps,” replied Venter. No one knew about the sliver cross he wore beneath his white tunic.
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