I have always loved shows like The Twilight Zone and Amazing Stories. I think I have probably mentioned this before. So I might just be going senile or is it simply crazy? Am I old enough yet to go senile? What?
Oh ya, what did you expect? Me to give an introduction that doesn’t ramble? Don’t be crazy, it’s still 2014 and I can do what I want.
Anyway, this is our last Monday story for 2014. It looks like 2015 is going to be jumping into a pretty big year too. I don’t think anything is going to slow down any time soon.
“Enough of this,” Aaron said as he pushed the laptop away. Hours of his day lost to the code, and he could do no more. He set his watch after he checked the time, half past three. “Damn, I’m gonna be late.” He jumped up from the desk and ran into the bathroom.
No time for a full shower, he settled for a whore’s shower in the sink. His shirt was wrong, no doubt. He ran into his bedroom and thanked Shelly for the clothes she thought to lay out for him. Mostly clean, his clothes looked fresher than he felt, he rushed out the front door and down the hall to the elevator.
His car fired up with the first crank of the throttle, the black smoke that shot out of the pipe confirmed it. Shelly hounded him to buy a new one, at least something stylish. “The Fiat’s a classic,” he told her. “How can you turn your back on a classic?”
“Black leather is a classic,” she would answer. “But you don’t see me killing any cows.”
As if she could. They were put on the endangered species list back in ’21. The anti meat laws carried stiff penalties. Shelly was a pacifist anyway. Last time he took her to the range she wouldn’t even touch his rifle.
The Fiat rumbled to a stop at the freeway entrance light. She would never understand, but he loved this car. The modifications to keep it legal took a decent portion of his free time but it was worth it.
He hit the accelerator when the light flashed green. Merging into traffic in a hover lane took skill and determination. If he hadn’t been so late he would have taken the back roads for the trip. The hover lanes, despite their issues were still the fastest paths to pretty much anywhere. He switched the controls into travel mode after he set the destination. Best part of the hover lanes, full automation once engaged.
The vidcon buzzed three times before he tapped the screen to answer. “Where are you?” She didn’t sound pissed but he could see it in her eyes.
“Sorry,” he said. “The code kicked my ass today. Got out of the house later than I expected.” He smiled, his best move but she ignored it.
“Hurry, I can’t wait around all day.” The connection ended there. Definitely pissed. He had some serious ass kissing to make up for this one.
The console alarm screeched the two minute warning. Close to his exit, he needed to retake the controls to exit the hover lane. Smooth, serene, like he did it all the time, he guided the Fiat out of traffic and down the exit ramp.
Unlike the jarring of old world planes, a hover dropped straight onto the pavement at full speed. Far from smooth, if the driver slipped it turned ugly fast. The modifications on the Fiat helped to stabilize the landing. Aaron might fight the code but he knew his way a vehicle mod.
The console alarm flashed again. This time his schedule app popped up. The shop he planned to stop at was just a few miles away. Parking, downtown, around rush hour, sure he planned this out well. She better appreciate this he grumbled.
He fought his way through heavy traffic to the far right side of the road. Of course just before he could claim the spot right in front of the shop a deep blue beetle swooped in and snatched it away from him. He watched in his rear view mirror as an overly coifed woman in a muumuu squeezed out of the car and flounced her way to the sidewalk.
Two blocks away, he had to park two blocks away. By the time he made it back to the shop the space was open again. He checked his watch as he opened the door to the shop. He had time but it was cutting close.
The line inside moved quicker than its length led him to believe. Last minute shopping, last minute errands, scheduled lives to dictate when to shop, did they follow the same schedule he did? Passing thoughts in the few minutes he waited, the answers didn’t really matter to him anyway.
At the end of the queue, a vid controlled automated teller took and dispensed orders. He slid a cred stick into the payment slot to verify his identity as well as his payment. His order had been placed days ago in preparation of the day.
As he pulled the stick, he heard a soft sigh then a click as the dispenser released his item, a black box about the size of a deck of cards. He flipped the item around as he examined it. The center of one side had a touch sensitive button with the words “Press here.” He wanted to press it, it taunted him. But in the end he knew it wasn’t the right time. Aaron slipped the item in his coat pocket then left the building to find his car again.
The vidcon in the car crackled to life. “Where are you now?” He counted the beats of her breath, still pissed though softening. Travel takes as long as it takes.
“Stopped at the store, should be there in just a few minutes now.”
“It won’t be much longer,” she said. “You need to hurry.” The connection broke, softer this time. Maybe she mellowed the closer he came to the meeting.
“Approaching final destination.” The velvet voice from the console gave him chills. He always thought of the Fiat as a she and gave her a voice to match. Shelly hated her, tried changing out the code at one point even. She didn’t hide her changes as well as he could, didn’t take him long to reset the voice and recognition features after she did it.
He pulled into the parking structure with 5 minutes left to spare. Sure he still needed to park but he arrived now he just had to find the room. An air of warmth and serenity filled the lobby, except where Shelly waited for him.
She carried her own personal cloud of worry and anxiety around the five foot square section of floor she continued to pace as she waited for him. “It’s about time you showed up,” she said. “You know how long I’ve been waiting don’t you?”
“At least twenty minutes more than your patience for me.”
“Don’t be cute. Did you bring it?”
“I have it right here,” he said as he pulled the item from his coat pocket.
“You didn’t open it did you? This has to be perfect. If you screwed it up, well, I don’t know what I might do.”
“Don’t worry, I’m sure everything is going to be fine.”
She pressed the button for the elevator several times, then harumphed when it finally arrived. “They make these things so slow. You would think they would have designed something better by now.”
“Seems to be working just fine to me.” The look she gave him, burned straight to the back of his head. “Or maybe they are having some issues.”
The doors opened on a small waiting room. A reception desk sat directly across from the elevator. “You must be the Jenkin party,” the receptionist said. “Technician Brown is expecting you.” She held out a file folder then directed them to a door on the right when Aaron took it. “I’ll just buzz you through.”
A woman in a stark white lab coat met them on the other side of the door. “We aren’t too late are we?” Shelly asked.
“Oh no, it’s ok. We can hold the process if need be for a short time when it is close like this.”
“Will we be able to see the emergence?” Aaron asked.
Technician Brown smiled, showing all of her teeth. The serrated edges cut the air in her mirth. “We actually expect you to be present. It is crucial for the imprinting.”
They walked further down the hall toward a door near the end. “Are you both ready for this now?”
“As ready as we might ever be.” Shelly gripped Aaron’s arm, her talons scraped against the scales.
“As soon as the shell begins to crack you will need to click the button on the shroud device.” Aaron flipped it over in his hands. So simple but so important. “The child’s eyes will be hypersensitive to normal light. The device will allow it to adjust at a comfortable pace.”
Technician brown opened the door to the incubation room. “It is understandable if you’re nervous,” she said. “But you aren’t the first proud parents to witness the hatching. Remember to use the shroud.” He shut the door behind them.
The egg in the center of the room was the only adornment in the room. Clinically clean the soft light in the overhead lights blinked and dimmed. They were alone, alone with the egg.
“How long do you think this will take?” Shelly asked. She pulled away from Aaron, though she maintained contact.
“Shouldn’t be more than a few hours,” he said. “They control the process a little so now that we are here they will allow the extraction to begin again. As he said it a fine crack appeared at the egg’s apex. The crack continued down to the bottom, a fine line separating the egg into halves.
“Or it could happen now,” he said.
He pulled the shroud from his pocket and fumbled with the thumb control. “Why is objects like this never have instructions.”
“Let me see it?” She yanked it from his hands. The crack widened in the egg shell as she tapped the micro handle. The lack of light filled the room.
Pieces of the eggshell broke away and fell to the floor. No sign of the child inside, Aaron took a hard breath when he realized he had been holding it in. More shell broke away and fell to the side as a soft pink hand grabbed onto the egg shell and pulled its owner to the surface.
The child emerged from the egg, mewling and coughing as it took its first breaths of clear, fresh air. Though not yet hardened to the world the baby appeared soft and pink, smooth and wrinkled at the same time.
“I know what you’re thinking.” The nurse broke through their silence. She had moved to stand behind them, looking down at the pink thing in the egg. “The coloring comes from the oo-man DNA we use. Their DNA is quite adaptable and your combined strain we injected it with will take over in no time.”
It doesn’t have anything to do with this story but if you missed it, Bloody Dreams is now available from many fine online retailers.