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Genetic Engineering goes awry


genetics, satire, aliens, popular science,







Mondevillo Corporation - Funny Genes


Of the five AloeVeras of Generation 7 that were posted to the moon, two are away on a mission to save a vulnerable planet from being damaged by meteor impact, and Number 9, the self-appointed Psychologist of the HairyMammals of Earth, is presently visiting Earth, disguised as a HairyMammal (after a fashion) and conducting research.

It is well provisioned with felt-tipped pens of many colours.

This has left Number 11 and Chairentity Number 12 lumbered (for once they agree) with each other's company, and Number 12 needs to send a progress report home to Planet AloeVera. Soon...

*
'But you insisted that HairyMammals get their mythology from dreams,' complained Chairentity Number 12.
It sounded both annoyed and, as per usual, perplexed.
'They do seem to. Or they did in times gone by,' replied Number 11. They seemed to have visions also, but the idea of explaining that to Number 12 did not appeal. Number 11 had been riveted to Earth TV before the boss arrived and insisted on commencing a business meeting. Being forced to stop viewing midway through the program was very annoying. Thank Buck for video recorders . . .

'Well your attempt at dreaming us a mythology hasn't worked,' began the chairentity. 'You didn't even tell us what you dreamed, last time.'

'Well it wasn't very useful really,' replied Number 11. It swivelled its hat on its head and played distractedly with its Mexican blanket. Its previous attempt to invent a mythology had been frankly embarrassing, featuring Old Nick, Not-So-Old Nick and Puberty Nick (the Nicks being devils, judging by their horns) and had left Number 11 with the fear that it may be a bad AloeVera. Bad relative to what, it wasn't sure. In hindsight, all the previous generations of AloeVeras struck Number 11 as uniform, predictable and, to be honest, a mite boring. It wasn't about to share this opinion with the chairentity either.

'I think it used to be more a part of the HairyMammals' life when they were closer to the earth,' Number 11 suggested. 'Before the days of TV and suchlike. Perhaps they get their dreams from TV now?'

Number 12, the chairentity, seemed unconvinced. It wished to resume listening to Earth Radio so it would have to finish this business meeting somehow. And send the report.

'There are still tribal HairyMammals in other places,' Number 12 pointed out.

Number 11 brightened. The sun shades above its cameras levitated and it twirled on the spot, causing its blanket to billow and the dangly bits of loose thread at its extremities made pleasing multi-coloured patterns.

Pleasing to non-chairentities ...

'Good point,' it said, and ideas began to flow.

Maybe it could modify its attire and play the part one day? Perhaps even go and join Percy, Fidget and Number 9 on their travels. Their recent companions had been a wee bit tribal... It would have to dream something immediately, though, or Number 12 would start melting its insulation, and Number 11 could imagine the smell ... *

'You'll reconnect my external sensors after 15 minutes in case anything goes wrong?' asked Number 11. It looked around the room, currently a tangle of cables, monitors, hardware, software and limpware, and wished its other colleagues could have been present. The very idea of being unconscious with only Number 12 around to 'rescue' it...

'Of course,' replied Number 12. It pointed to its stopwatch.

Number 11 prepared for its dreaming experiment by attempting to clear its mind of the TV programme it had been watching, then tried to imagine it was living in a tribe. It hadn't seen an authentic tribe for any length of time, but the travellers that Fidget and Percy had run into seemed kind of similar. So did QT's tavern on a good night . . .

Chairentity Number 12 paced around the room, checking the time and polishing its name badge. It's lower limbs clicked and squeaked in a most persistent manner.

'Could you leave me in peace for a few minutes?' pleaded Number 11. 'I need to clear my central processor of unnecessary thoughts.'

'A few minutes?' asked Number 12. 'How many is a few?'

'Three and two thirds,' sighed Number 11. I won't let the boring boss disrupt my thoughts, it re-affirmed. Chairentity Number 12 noted the exact time and left the room.

Number 11 reiterated its belief that whatever it had been thinking about before Number 12's arrival could be safely left aside for a while. It made a note of the TV programme's subject so it could come back to the subject later. 'Genetic engineering' was the topic. Genetic engineering had been practised on Earth for centuries but seemed to be entering a new phase with more sterilised test-tubes and less pea-growing monks, and Number 11 wanted to continue its study later on.

'It's easier to disregard it now I know I can't forget it,' burbled Number 11. Then it told itself that it could request a certain type of dream and it could choose to believe that it would receive precisely what it asked for. It's previous experience didn't entirely support this belief, but optimism struck Number 11 as such an obvious way of life. And a pretty effective way of coping with Number 12 while its pal, Number 14, was absent.

Number 11 briefly wondered if optimism was its conclusion simply because it was by nature optimistic. Bugger this for a cognitive cul-de-sac, it thought, now what was I doing?

'I am going to have a mythological dream like what HairyMammals in tribes used to have, and it will point us in the direction of an AloeVera mythology,' it said. Peripheral concerns left its mind.

Number 12 reappeared after exactly three and two thirds minutes, pointing at its stopwatch, and Number 11 switched off the input from its cameras and microphones and its suddenly unencumbered processor freewheeled into the land of dreams.

I'm plunging through the smog layers of Planet Ertia towards a factory ...

*

I am looking through a glass window. I'm not sure who I am. A man in a suit is pointing me out to a woman with a young child in a pushchair. Another man in a white coat is answering their questions. The young child is smiling at me and waving its hand. The woman, (its mother?) tells the child to stop. I wonder why. The man in the suit appears smug, the white coated fellow is eager to please and the child is bored. It's hard to tell how the woman feels or what she thinks. She has a smile that could survive missile attacks, though I have no idea why it should want to. Contradictory expressions cross the child's face as it looks at me. I can sense its urge to be happy and the need to behave are in conflict.

I have a terrific appetite and the man in the white coat seems to realise this. He passes food to me through a double door. I salivate before the food arrives. I wonder if I may have a disease, or perhaps they do? Either possibility would explain my isolation.

I can't think now the food has arrived. Only of food. Food. And possibly drink. And then sleep.

*

I feel different today. I woke late, my four TVs all seem to be making a lot of noise about nothing, and the computer monitor has got streaks that flicker from side to side. A strange urge came over me and I've pulled one TV's power lead out of the wall.

Now another person in a white coat is peering in at me and eating something out of a wrapper. I've never been given anything like that to eat.

The regular white-coated fellow, Mr. Eager2Please, has noticed that I'm looking at him. He's taken the food from Ann Other and is waving it towards the glass, mocking me. I want that food. He didn't mock me when Mrs. Granite-Smile was present.

In fact I shall have it, just as soon as I've put this chair through the glass. You don't look so pleased with yourself now, Mr Eager2.

The most dreadful noise has started; some sort of siren, I think. I don't like it so I shall leave. These doors open when I push this button.

Wow! The air is much more pleasant outside of the glass world. It tingles my nose and whooshes into my lungs. Good for the appetite ...

*

I went to a bank to acquire some money and Mrs. Suit said, 'We need an address, Sir.' She kept glancing at my clothes, which I'd taken from a washing line. I've noticed that everyone wears different clothes out here, not white coats like Eager2 and Ann Other. More individual.

I went to a letting agency and asked for somewhere to live. They said, 'We need a bank reference, Sir.' I'd found an iron in a room and I don't get the same strange looks now. Smooth clothes may imply acceptability; white coats imply subservience. I'd better keep a diary, because there's lots to learn.

Where was I? The bank require an address; the letting agency require a bank account. A requires B and B requires A; then life can start. The breeze is fantastic. It must be coming from the sea, I guess. People talk of the sea - to each other. Some people have spoken to me - The day is lovely, the morning is good, the hay is up (this may have been in dialect, I guess). The breeze, the hunger, the saliva...

Where was I? Concentrate. A needs B. B needs A. I need food - C. C will be easy after I've got A - an address. Which needs B - a bank account.

I'm a little confused.

Money enables address enables bank account enables food and everything else. Apparently. I must buy some kitchen towels, these paper hankies form the public convenience aren't up to the job. Saliva, hunger, food...

*

I found some money in a drawer in a shop, so I used that to rent a room and now I have a bank account! I found some bigger hankies in the shop, too. Very good for saliva, they are. My first floor room was very bare so I sent off for some mail order catalogues. 'You can spend 750 d'Lahs today,' they said.

So I did.

My address is my passport and my world is my oyster. Or something ...

'I've got this lovely new white fridge and boxes of food, a TV and a computer have been delivered. The empty boxes and some catalogues are all over my new settee and the kitchen table. I'll have to find out what to do with the empty boxes.

*

I woke this morning not knowing where I was. Now that I'm out of the glass cell I have to prepare my own food, but I found a program on TV to tell me how.

I like looking out of my window. I see lots of different people all the time, not like in the glass cell. Many of these seem in a hurry and look worried. I don't know why they don't stay home and use the phone if they need food? It works for me.'

My favourite acquisition is the fridge/freezer. And the chest freezer. And the microwave. It's nearly a month since I started using the catalogues so I have to make payments. That's easy though since I started collecting credit cards.

The supermarket I visited today delivers my shopping free - provided I spend more than d'Lah30. I did spend more than d'Lah30. Much more.

I'm getting a little confused by all the offers - I get points at one shop; vouchers at another; 'buy one get one free' at another. I'm having to make notes so I don't forget all the shopping I have to do. My diary is becoming very complex and I'll pin a big chart to the wall to make plans clearer. Yes, a big plan with multi-coloured charts seems a good idea, after I've had a snack.

*

I bought a newspaper today - the front page article claims that an employee leaked a story about an illegal experiment at Mondevillo Company. The company denied the rumour. A genetically engineered 'ideal consumer' is supposed to have escaped and may be violent. The employee - the leakee - has had a fatal car accident so we'll never know. The man in the photo looks familiar. Apparently he is the boss of Mondevillo. They denied the rumour before it started, so a blog on the internet claims. This would be, err, precognition, I guess? Clever dudes these scientist/entrepreneurs.

I've been looking through my freezers for lunch and I feel a bit bored. On the shopping channel there's whole ready-to-eat frozen meals - just three minutes in the microwave. I'll go out and buy some of those. After a snack.

*

It's as noisy as a hornet's nest at tea time in here, and the sun is beating on the metal roof. I'd never noticed the roof before - just the displays of food and dangling adverts above my head. MeejaMegaMart indeed.

I've got my frozen meals in the trolley. I've got ten so the shop will deliver them free, but I feel a mite frustrated. There's a 'buy two get three free' offer on disposable nappies and double points for my loyalty card. I don't have any young children though. I'm not going to wear nappies! Mind you, I am having some trouble with my bowels, but I've remembered the tablets. The picture on the box makes it clear the nappies are for very young people.

I recognise the woman and the child who waved at me. Mrs Granite-Smile and Junior. They are in the checkout next to mine. I'll go and get some disposable nappies then join their queue. I can borrow the child. She waved at me when I was in the glass prison...

*

'Welcome back Number 11,' said Chairentity Number 12 in a rather formal tone of voice. It pointed at its stopwatch, indicating that Number 11 had been dreaming for a full 15 minutes.

'Errr,' Number 11 replied.

'So we've got a mythology now, I expect. What sort of rituals shall we brew up involving tea? Were there any beeping boxes involved?' the chairentity enquired. 'I need to send a report to our founder AloeVera 1.1 (general direction),' it added, bowing towards their distant home planet.

Number 11 also tried to bow, not being too sure which direction was which. 'General direction,' it muttered as it fell over.

Did the chairentity crack a joke there, or am I delirious? it wondered.Could be both ...



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