Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The girl who couldn't cry: Chapter 3

Unable to grieve biologically, Ari had developed other means of dissipating the pain. For Ari, the only way she could find solace was in her art. She had a theme, which she assiduously studied and built upon to the point where her designs and ideas contained the seeds of genius. This caused some consternation among the scientists on the other side of the Perspex screens. Ariadne’s work was genuinely inspirational and ethically it would be wrong not to have the world see it and marvel at it - but because she was, technically, a mutant, it wasn't considered proper to parade these Human mutant GM crops to the rest of the world. It was best if the rest of humanity didn't really know too much about the Human GM project. What to do with Ariadne's art became a serious cause for dissention and argument among the project scientists.

Ariadne returned to her room after lunch and stood at the side of her simple cot and beside table. It was littered in papers, pencils and pieces of black charcoal - a very rare commodity since burning things had been long been outlawed, damaging as it was to the thin layers of oxygenated air surrounding the planet. Fire still existed and was feared but it was usually contained in the large global parks where humans were not allowed to venture anymore. The charcoal, so coveted by the world’s artists, was from one of these parks. There was a thriving black market - a term that made people smile at the obvious irony - in the sale of stolen charcoal from the global parks. That Ariadne had been given such an illicit tool to extend her artistic theme was testament to how others, outside of her Perspex cage, viewed her work. It was also an unspoken rule that mutants, treated as they were like prized lab rats, were to be granted anything, even that which ordinary people would have struggled years to obtain.

The mutants knew their lifespan was short. They were research subjects and as much as they were feted upon and had almost every need attended to, they realised early in their growth cycle that when the research needs for their crop genes had been exhausted, their bodies were no longer required. “Re-integration” was a euphemistic term for their bodies being returned to the cellular dust from which they’d been harvested. A number of vials of blood and tissue were retained in a repository for engineering new crops of their particular kind, and then all but the healthiest mutants were euthanised, their bodies mulched and composted for adding to the soils in the plant breeding centres.

Only one avenue was available to those genetic strains of humans who did not require daily medications, or suffered undue pain or discomfort in their body. These human crops were offered the chance to crew a Light Ship that would seek new worlds to colonise in deep space. It was an enormous gamble on the chance to live a full life on another planet; to breed as normal human beings do; raise a family, develop a culture, a race, a home to call one’s own. If no such place was found in time, they simply remained in deep space until the ships energy supply dissipated and they died. Margot was a strong candidate for such a journey. She was terrified. Ariadne could feel Margot’s deeply embedded terror emanating from every fibre of her being - every night and every day. It was probably the reason Margot was so acerbic. Ariadne would never be granted the Light Ship option. She could not cry and as such required far too much medical assistance to be considered a viable option for the re-colonisation lottery. Ari was, almost, comforted by this thought.

She stood there and stared blankly at a recent artwork. It was hypnotic. Ari had drawn a series of interconnecting spirals, that when you looked closer contained even more interconnecting spirals within spirals. Even within the very lines of spirals, tiny and fine as they were, were more, impossibly tiny, spirals co-joined and entwined. The web-like finesse and detail of her art was astonishing - even to other mutants.

…To be continued. (I hope)

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