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Secrets of Sapphire Eyes
I was created in the year 2649 in the continent they call Europe. A certain Dr. Ilyas R. Mansur is my creator, my lord, my father. Using blocks of genetic material, Dr. Ilyas and his highly reputed team of engineers constructed the original DNA sequence that came to define me as an individual. He contrived the process that allowed my DNA sequence to replicate itself. He manually split the nuclei and separate nuclear envelopes of my very first cell to complete the process of meiosis. Then he placed the two resulting cells into a literal test tube, where chemical substances caused autocatalytic reactions to take place; reactions that copied the cells and the makeup of my genes until, eventually, they formed a full fetus. After a span of nine months, spent in various incubators and tubes of chemicals, I reached my birthing age. Dr. Ilyas, in a flurry of excitement, removed me from the incubator and held me close to him for the very first time. He tells me that I did not cry out, or struggle, or whine. He tells me that my blue eyes stared up at him widely, without blinking, as he held me and kissed my soft forehead, as I took my first few breaths. He tells me that I was an ideal model for future synthetic life.
Gazing back at me from a place beyond the thick tinted windows is a pair of narrowed almond-shaped eyes, glowing like twin gems of sapphire. Their depths swirl with thin, snake-like coils, glittering with every possible shade of blue. Their uncanny glint, cruel and cold, cause shivers to roll down my spine. But I am well acclimated to these eyes, and accustomed to the hatred I feel when I am forced to look into them, the hatred for what I am and the creature I was created to be. Even now, after fifteen years of bearing the weight of those eyes and everything they represent, I am filled with loathing for the person I was born as.
Flinching, I force myself to look away and stare into the evening sky, the sun beginning to set below the horizon. The street before me is bustling with ordinary people, hurrying back to their homes before the night sets in. A warm gust of wind nearly makes me topple over as I meander down the sidewalk, waiting for the Patrol to arrive and find me. The Excursion is over, and soon I will be transported back to the European Medical Research Headquarters. A dull feeling of regret washes over me; there is nothing I love more than the freshness and open feeling of the city streets.
As a kid I was not allowed to venture out into the Extramural streets, because of Dr. Ilyas's fear that the heavy carbon dioxide that lingers in the atmosphere would ruin my lungs before I had completed my living purpose and the researchers had learned everything they could from my experiences. But when I reached the age of twelve, it was decided that myself and my peer subjects would be permitted weekly ventures into the Extramural world, as long as we were all closely monitored by the tracking chips implanted at birth into the inside of our skulls. I remember that first day so clearly. The exhilaration of finally viewing the beautiful city, with its impossibly high buildings that stretch up as far as the eye can see, the busy streets and the faint rumble of electric motors as they were turned on by their passengers, was almost more than I could handle. It had been morning, so the heat waves were just beginning to rush through the city, and I'd been mesmerized by their power and the feeling of the warmth on my skin. For the first and perhaps the only time in my life, I'd felt invincible.
Now, I kick a discarded silver coin across the sidewalk and an obviously preoccupied elderly lady steps on it as she rushes by. I wait until the foot traffic has subsided, then I surreptitiously bend down and grab the coin. I fold my fingers around it, the warmth of the metal seeping into my palm, feeling the raised lettering on the front of the coin. I hold it up to the light of the sunset as people shove past me, and I am just able to decipher the faded engraving on the coin: Project Perfection: Engineering the Future of Society with the Pioneering of Today. Project Perfection is the experimental government bill that dictated my conception, the editing of my genes, my birth, and my life's mission. It was passed sixty years ago, in the year 2604.
I pocket the coin and navigate to the shadows beneath one of the massive apartment complexes into which some of the hurried citizens are disappearing, electronic keys blinking emerald light and beeping repetitively in their hands as they enter the building. I lean against the smooth surface, cool against the bare skin of the exposed section of my upper back. A masterpiece of obsidian-colored glass, created by the finest architects in all of North America, this building is not simply a residence. It has been designed and protected to the extent that there is not a single scratch on the building's outside, although it has been exposed to the elements for over a century now.
A sudden explosion of sound echoes in my head, a pitch high enough that my head throbs even after it has faded. The alarm of the Patrol, instigated by Dr. Ilyas or one of his assistants back at the lab. My heart feels weighted as it pounds in my chest, suddenly a burden instead of a life force. I close my eyes and carefully block out the faint sounds of spoken words, rumbling engines, and footsteps. Tranquility surrounds as I summon one of the ancient peaceful scenes that has been implanted into my memory chip, and the sounds vanish altogether. Behind my eyelids I view a scene of incredible beauty, almost supernatural. It is a cloak of darkness, draped over the globe, a sky darker than one I have ever witnessed with my own eyes. Beneath the sky are fiery specks of light, like white dust sprinkled onto the underside of the cloak. I can’t recall the name of these miniature spheres, but one of Dr. Ilyas's assistants once told me a story of a time long ago when they were visible every night. Apparently they still exist, embedded overhead amongst the moon colonies that are also spoken of, the clean and mystical places that only the wealthiest citizens of the world and most loyal followers of the government are allowed to travel to and live in. A sigh of complacency sweeps through me as I view the picture in my head, as my heart swells from the beauty from this ancient scene.
A gentle touch on my shoulder awakens me to reality and my eyes snap open. A man stands in front of me, and although I cannot remember meeting him before, I know instinctively that he is a member of the Patrol assigned to retrieve me to the laboratory. He has an aura of kindness and uncertainty that is unusual in a Patrol official. He has a mass of dark hair, a strong jaw, and deep brown eyes filled with warmth. He actually nods at me before grabbing my arm and pulling me toward the Patrol helicopter hovering silently in the air. I climb into the sheltered cove in the back of the helicopter where several of my peers are already crouching, uncomfortable. Their deep, frigid blue eyes, swirling with strands of azure nearly identical to my own, stare from the shadows. They disgust me in the same way that we all revolt one another, and I huddle in the corner of the compartment as far away from each of my fellow experimental subjects as possible. I inhale the familiar metallic smell that circulates around the entire laboratory, a taste that causes bile to rise in my throat. I blink back tears of unhappy anticipation, dread for the pain that I am about to endure.
We return home several minutes later, having collected all of the other study vassals in my age group. We are careful not to touch each other or communicate at all, even with simple glances. We are all aware of the disgrace of being in the presence of a study vassal. We file out of the compartment one by one, and I am last to exit. As I approach the entrance of the European Medical Research Headquarters – the EMRH - the door swings open ahead of me. I squeeze my eyes shut and clench my fists in preparation. As expected, the usual electric shock travels through my body, and I bite my tongue to hold back a cry of agony. But the pain is over as soon as it began, and I am able to relax again. Dr. Ilyas is waiting for us on the other side of the electric thought monitor near the doorway, the machine that transfers the shocks as punishment for whatever rebellious thoughts we have had throughout our Excursions. There is a grim smile on his face as he greets us.
“Welcome back, my dears,” he whispers. His tanned face, altered into perfection by the surgeries he has had almost every year for as many as six decades, turns into a grin. Dr. Ilyas is a hero of the human race, the inventor of the single process that might save the meaningful members of society from destruction. Perhaps, with the aid of his genius, they will not end up on the lunar colonies as is expected; the experiments for which I was conceived might be an alternative that will preserve our history as rulers of the Earth. That is what Dr. Ilyas tells us in his daily motivational speeches.
Dr. Ilyas is fascinated by our ideal construction and births, because he is our creator. For that, I am extremely grateful. Dr. Ilyas is my father, in every sense of the word. He nurtured me when I consisted of only a single cell, raising me in the incubated test tube in which I began the progression of my life. And he has nurtured me since, providing me with food and guidance and performing the experiments that might change the course of the Earth and eventually prevent its upcoming destruction.
I follow the boy in front of me, an experimental subject numbered M24. I have never communicated with him, obviously, but he and I have been in many of the same studies. Several years ago, he volunteered to participate in an especially brutal experiment, an extraordinarily heroic act. He was strapped to an operating table and injected with a chemical paralytic. Then, Dr. Ilyas’s team conducted a dissection on his living brain in order to better observe the way it functioned. Dr. Ilyas tested a new, innovative piece of technology on M24, and the supposedly groundbreaking medical technology wound up causing permanent brain damage. Now, M24 is no longer used for psychological studies, because his mind is dysfunctional. He now only participates in minor experiments, and I have heard rumors from the staff that M24 is being considered for dismissal; he has been deemed a nugatory study vassal. He is the first of my peers for which I have ever felt real pity, because he is more meritorious than all the rest of us as a whole. He sacrificed himself and his sanity for the good of the world’s biological humans, a selfless act I would never have been able to convince myself of doing.
M24 and the rest of the group head into the lounge, where they sit, one by one, on the padded rose-colored couch cushions. I follow suit, rubbing my arms against the cold blast of the air conditioning vent right beside me. I notice the blank stare in M24’s swirling blue eyes, the look of utter emptiness. Will he be dismissed, or will his petty life be spared? Which option is the better one, the most humane? Which would I want if I were in his position? The questions are endless, and I can’t seem to reach any solid answers.
A little girl curled up to my left has fallen into a deep sleep, her breathing slow and heavy. She can’t possibly be older than ten years of age. Her small, shaved pink head is tilted to the side, exposing a small birthmark in the crook of her neck. Absently, I reach up and slide my hand down the downy fuzz beginning to grow over my scalp, to the back of my neck and the flexed muscle on the side of it. On my own neck is an identical mark, shaped like a perfect hexagon, symmetrical, with thin, neat lines connecting every corner to all the other corners. Warmth rushes through me simply by the comforting feeling of the birthmark beneath my fingertips. It is the mark of the society that created me. It is the universal symbol of idealism, progress, and beauty.
I, also, am a symbol of idealism, progress, and eventual beauty.
And my life, the symbol of perfection, will one day come to benefit the truly important people of this world.
This is all I have to live for.
And it’s enough.
More than enough for me to go on.