Science fiction and fantasy
Fear of Man
by Ros Jackson
I'm afraid they will change me back.
For four hours they have held me in this sterile cube three metres long. It's transparent and I can see the
clock in the room outside, but they took away my comlink, my watch, my belt, even my wallet. I'm being
kept in some kind of laboratory, I think. I'm the only specimen. I'm not sure whether
or not I should be comforted by that fact.
I am interrupted.
"So, this is the intruder."
A tall man walks in. He is middle-aged, and his stance and tone suggest authority. His full dark hair is clipped short, his clothes pressed razor-sharp. Two others follow him, a man and a woman. The second man is clean-shaven and uniformed, and younger than the first. The woman is made up lightly, and wears a suit. Her expression is severe, in contrast with the softness of her wavy blonde hair.
"I caught him in the business room, sir," says the shorter guy. "He had our passwords and was trying to
transfer funds. I thought we'd better check him out."
"Not as bad as some of them, is it? At least it's not a bloody plant."
"Don't be fooled, Peters. This is the worst sort. Posing as our kind, you have no idea of the corruption underneath. Disgusting."
"What are we going to do with him?" The female wrings her hands. I don't think she's worried for my welfare, though. She's afraid of me.
"Are we going to call the police?" asks Peters.
"No," the leader says, " I don't think we need involve them."
"Let me out!" I bellow, surprising myself with the volume of my rage.
"I don't think we can do that," says the authoritative one, coming closer.
"You're breaking the law by keeping me here."
"That makes us even." His speaking voice is just above a whisper, and I have to strain to hear him.
"I still have rights."
"Perhaps you had rights. People have rights." He's so calm, I want to smash his face in. "I take it you used to be one, before you had this abomination done to you?"
Is he trying to trick me into giving something away? I think quickly.
"No. I was born like this."
I can see the younger pair cringe. But if I can get him to believe that, he won't know that nobody has my new DNA on file. Officially I disappeared last year, leaving behind a pile of debts. So the authorities won't come looking for me, because for the moment I'm outside the system. I have to convince these people otherwise...
"Are you trying to tell me you're a vegeburger? You're a pathetic liar." Still he doesn't raise his voice.
"I'm a prototype."
I'm clutching at straws, and he knows it. He turns his back on me to address the others.
"Too old. Twenty years ago humans were being modified by splicing their genes with plant and animal DNA, and the technology was crude. They are easy to distinguish from real people. This... actually chose to become a GM creature. What was left of the human being was destroyed by those injections. A lesson for us all."
"All that's left is a lying, thieving cancer," pipes up Peters. He sounds as if he's rehearsing a set text. "May I suggest, sir, that we ... put it out of its misery."
I can feel the blood leaving my face.
"Can't we change him back?" asks the girl.
"Absolutely not," the leader replies. "We should not meddle with nature. Two wrongs will not make a right, Cerise."
They leave quietly. I want to scream, to rant and plead and pound the walls. I'm caged like an animal and they want to slaughter me. I want to roar and let rip, but some small instinct tells me not to. I obey it, although I'm not sure why.