Friday, June 20, 2014

Eres

I've been a rutter for 17 years.  I've given away 26 babies with only one deformity between them, a girl with two extra toes.  Extra toes are a class D deformity, not serious, but that little girl will never be selected for a high class breeding program and she did hurt my numbers.  Because she was half of a set of twins, an uncontracted extra, I was able to unload her for half price on a lovely woman with flipper legs and her dwarf husband.  I was chosen for this honor almost from birth, three generations with zero deformities in my line.  I only rut with similarly classed males and only for people with plenty of money.  I produce designer babies to compliment the arms of the rich.

There was no need for rutters on Earth, the environment there was perfect for healthy human babies.  Earthlings have a new home now, Eres, and the environment here is only partially perfect.  The Eres issue wasn't discovered until we'd been here for several years and the first crop of infants came to fruition.  While a live human being thrives here on Eres, unborn babies are subject to attack by an atmospheric anomaly that causes any latent genes for deformities to dominate.  What fantastic crops of freaks arose in those first years.

Because so few people were able to escape Earth before the end, every life was precious.  We were starting over, a clean slate.  Violence and class derision had ended Earth so there was no place for those things in our new home.  The babies were kept, and scientists worked on discovering what it was that had caused all of the mutations.  What they learned was probably what we deserved, after ruining one planet.

We don't breathe oxygen on Eres.  We breathe cyranos, which is very similar to oxygen and works in much the same way in our bodies except that it's a molecule rather than an element.  One of the things that makes up cyranos is hydrop, which is what brings out the dormant disfiguring genes, and which also stabilizes the otherwise highly volatile cyranos.  Lose the hydrop, and the air becomes unbreathable.  The unbreathable horror aside,  without the hydrop stabilizing cyranos the planet could explode from the impact of a single pin dropping.  Keep the hydrop, and accept the disfigurement.

So I'm a rutter.  And a very popular one, despite the unfortunate incident with the twelve toed twin.  That was 16 years ago.  I lead a fairly luxurious life and normally don't keep track of time but I know how long it had been because that 12 toed girl visited me on her 16th birthday.  This is the year by law that parents have to reveal if they have used a rutter.  The child needs to know his or her lineage in order to be aware of their own parenting risks.  Most of them don't come back because they have figured out early on if they were born naturally to their parents.

This girl, Cyrana, wore an "Eres Natural" tshirt and a pair of open toed specially fitted sandals that accommodated her extra toes, which were all painted bright red.  I had heard of the Eres Natural movement, everyone had.  The thought was that the Eres air had brought out humanity's next evolution and that natural selection would decide who moved on, and not money.  I understood.  After all, my industry was genetic superiority and I had been young and passionate once.

When I was a girl I wanted only to meet some boy with less than four eyes but more than one and settle down.  I dreamed of a world where my babies weren't currency, where I could rut whenever I liked with whomever I chose.  Children have the luxury of daydreams, and I made the most of mine and I hoped this child of a flippered woman and a dwarf was making the most of hers.

"So why did you do it?"  she asked, "Why did you sell me to mom and dad?"  The girl absently kicked a small pebble, I had allowed her to meet me in the garden promenade.

I wasn't sure what she was asking, she had called them mom and dad, which exhibited parental affection.  I cast about for an adequate answer, I'd never had a rutting product ask me that question before.  The answer seemed obvious, and at once insufficient and cheap.

"I knew you'd have a good life with them", I guessed more than answered.  The truth was that any freak couple would be thrilled to have a baby with such a small deformity, I'd had a long list of hard luck cases and I'd chosen the first one.  There was no interview process, healthy babies were precious to everyone.  I knew the worst thing that could happen is that this little 12 toed baby would go to parents who were stupid or poor or both, there was never a danger that they would not cherish her.

She looked at me with derision, "Bullshit!  You didn't know an Earthdamn thing about them!  You picked mom and dad because they were freaks and I was a freak, and that was enough."  The pretty dark haired girl's chest heaved up and down.  She looked like the picture of my own mother, with her flashing green eyes and auburn hair.  I thought I might show her that picture, and then thought better of it.  Did I really want another visit?  I was a rutter, not one of the mothers I'd read about from Earth books who had given up their children to a better life.  I sold babies, income was their purpose and that was my life.

If this girl had stayed with me, I'd have given her everything she'd ever dreamed of and taught her to be a rutter.  She wouldn't have fetched anywhere near the price I was able to collect but she would have done for low budget couples.  There was no other life for a designer baby.  People without deformities were so far outnumbered by the ever growing and evolving population of "Eres Naturals" that there was always a market for the designer babies, if only to keep the gene pool somewhat viable and still human on some level.

The girl with my mother's auburn hair and green eyes paced quickly.  "Why didn't you get those toes removed?" I asked, "Or your parents?  They could have had them removed without scarring when you were a baby".

Cyrana looked at me bitterly.  "This is how Eres made me, who am I to complain?  My mom and dad left me how I was when I came to them, it's been a little hard when people notice but I don't mind."  The girl paced more quickly, her arms folded across her chest and fingers drumming on her biceps,  "You know what these extra toes do for me, mother?  They tell me who is good and who is bad.  When someone makes a comment about my extras, or even looks at them, and I can tell.  People see me and they think I'm perfect, viable, human, and then they notice and I feel their hopes dropping and I know they're bad."

"I'm sorry to hear that it's been difficult for you, but you could avoid all of that by having them removed or at least by not wearing open shoes" I responded coldly.  "I am not in the business of entertaining abuse and self pity, if you had asked me for help removing them  I'd have given you the money"

The girl seemed to snap out of her self pity and into something worse, she became all business.  The pacing stopped and the tapping stopped and the staring started.

I've had 26 babies but I've never raised a child.  I've gotten top dollar for them and had dinner and drinks with my fellow rutters for years.  When someone orders a fair baby I make arrangements with a blond rutter and get to work, someone orders a dark baby I make arrangements with a brown rutter.  That is the extent of the choice that I have when having these children.  I don't worry about their education or political affiliation, rutters are well respected and paid because we help to keep humanity from drifting over the brink of extinction through evolution.  That is our purpose, it's what we're paid handsomely for.  I didn't know what this girl wanted from me.

"There are more of us", she replied just as coldly, giving me momentary pause and an involuntary smile as I recognized my own tone.  "An army, we're going to end this and start a new order on Eres, we don't need our gene pool corrupted"

"End what?" I demanded, though I knew.

"Designer babies", Cyrana spat out, "Ratings for human beings, the idea that people and humanity can't change."

My door chime rang again, this time with the dramatic staccato of someone pressing the button over and over again.  I stood to answer but sat back down with a gasp as Cyrana quickly pressed a knife to one side of my throat and her elbow to the other.  After giving me a glance that told me to be still, she answered the door to a frantic handsome boy with dark hair and a long pale tail.

"I did mine!" he panted excitedly, it was then that I realized he had the look of one of my rivals, Mari.  The same dark curls and red cupid's bow lips, I remembered her having a class D a while back.  "Is this yours?  She looks like you.  What are you waiting for, you want my help?  I'll do it" he said moving towards me, Cyrana shoved him aside.

"She's mine, I'll do it" she said with a resigned sadness.  "Do what?" I asked, but I knew.

I can't say I was upset at my end.  I lived a long life, relatively, and I was adored and well paid.  My imperfect baby murdered her siblings one by one and then came for me.

Was it time for a new Eres?  I don't know, I was just a rutter, not a sociologist or psychologist.  I got an order and tried my best to fill it, babies were currency.  I've never been political or inclined to social movements, I don't know what would drive a bunch of only partially grotesque kids to feel a kinship with freaks, to wash their hands of beauty.  I was fired by humanity, my child with her red painted toenails, all 12 of them, pulled the trigger.

Good luck, Eres Naturals.

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