US

The ungodly genes

US
By Dr Javeria Hayat Khan
Fri, 12, 18

Sandy was taking a solo stroll in their favourite rose garden at the back of the university when it entered and sat next to her.....

COVER STORY

Sandy was taking a solo stroll in their favourite rose garden at the back of the university when it entered and sat next to her. A good hearted, good natured type of a girl, she wasn’t much to look at because of the port-wine stain covering a third of her face. She was generally shunned by other students, and was as lonely as Kevin. Both of them had found solace in each other’s presence. Over time, they had fallen in love and become very close.

“Oh, Kevin! You look so well today.” She hugged it tightly. “What have you been up to? It looks like being glued to your supervisor helped you. Don’t tell me he feeds you a biologically modified hamburger with double the fat and that’s why you never leave his side. I have missed you so much. I thought the project would never end and you will never show up to see me again.”

“Yeah, something like that. I missed you, too. I changed and came down to meet you, as soon as I could,” it replied.

“Listen, I have a little time until I go back to the lab for work. I want to tell you something. Please come with me.You know I hate being spotted.”

“Yeah, okay, as you wish... how is your research project faring?” She asked as they marched to her room. Having known him for years, she couldn’t help feeling that Kevin seemed a little strange. Even when she had hugged him, he was subtly queer in a way she couldn’t pinpoint. But, she tried to ignore her observations, attributing the oddness to the mental stress of his very serious and tough work. She did not know much about it except for the fact that he and Professor Kerry were studying genes with his stem cells for finding his cancer cure. She had donated her egg for their genetic studies as well, but she had no idea of it being utilized for “cloning” without which it couldn’t be carried out.

She couldn’t have imagined, even in her wildest dreams, that the man walking beside her was not her precious Kevin, but his clone with an ulterior motive.

************

Professor Kerry and Kevin stood in extreme agitation in the laboratory discussing the unforeseen consequences of their research. They couldn’t comprehend the situation completely. They had to come up with an immediate plan to deal with the mess. Both of them knew that human cloning was banned by the government. There was no question that Kevin had to go undercover until they could find the clone. Meanwhile, the Professor was supposed to file a fake case with the security personnel, reporting that his intern had fled in a severe state of depression after a project failed. He told them his intern was suicidal. The rest was easy. He did not have to make up much, as the real Kevin was perceived as a psychopath.

The most challenging part of the whole story was that Kevin’s mind controlled the mind of his replica; they had to keep their plan of action a secret so the clone would not be alerted to it.

Kevin, however, was troubled by the intelligence displayed by the clone. Gene mutation. What other powers does it have?

While he stayed in hiding, he couldn’t reach Sandy, as that would require using cell phone.

Ironically, Sandy right at that moment, sat across the impostor, who was doing an exceptional job of extracting information about the possible places Kevin could be expected to visit.

************

“Hello, Professor! Or shall I call you my Godfather... my creator of colossal might?” It greeted the Professor in a fabricated tone, as it was caught rummaging through personal computer files at the professor’s office.

“Look what I found here!” He said flashing a small USB chip at him. He was seated comfortably in the revolving chair belonging to the Professor while the latter stood across him in the door way.

“Your pale face shows you did not expect me here, did you? As much as you dislike knowing it, never forget I am always one step ahead of you.” He smirked. “You see, you did make a perfect Kevin, dear Daddy. Look at me, so perfect yet so unlucky; you were sacrificing me for that sickly look-alike. I mean all the purpose of my existence was to let you butcher out my organs so he could survive! Nah! I am too smart for that.”

The Professor realised the clone had gained access to the area nly he and Kevin could enter - crossing all gates with the complex pass codes that were instilled into his memory by Kevin’s brain. He had also cleverly deactivated the hidden CCTV security camera installed in the eye of the decorative doll hanging by the wall.

It only meant bad news to Kerry.

As he stood watching his end draw near, the clone advanced toward him humming “haughty men die naughty”. With lethal blows to the head, the professor dropped dead. His body was thrown into the incinerator in the lab.

Then, he set out to finish off his next target.

“I will be free at last,” he thought to himself excitedly.

************

Back to work the next day, Sandy checked her emails. There was an email by Prof. Kerry titled “urgent” that grabbed her attention at once. As she sat down to read it, she let out a shriek of horror. The professor had revealed the whole truth about the research mishap and sent precise instructions for urgent action. He had mentioned the importance of not telling Kevin about this as it would simply alert the clone. He had further expressed the possibility of getting killed by the clone and had warned her about it.

In the end, came the most shocking secret Kevin himself had no clue of. Eyes bulging out of their sockets in alarm, she read:

“I am guilty of high treason. I want to admit my fault in this mess we are in now. I added my genes to the pool. My sole purpose was to study the brain.

While I was analyzing Kevin’s DNA specimen in my lab one day, I got the shock of my life. I found out he was my son.

His mother and I were married for only a few months when she died of brain cancer. I was busy with my doctorate then and hardly cared for her. I had never wanted a family so she never told me about Kevin, whom she secretly gave away to an orphanage. She died disappointed in me, as I was never a good husband to her. Later, guilt took over me and I became obsessed with cancer research.

Forgive me, both of you, if possible. I won’t forgive myself in case anything bad happens to any of you.”

She picked up her phone and called Kevin. When he did not answer, she tried Professor Kerry’s number next. A thought struck her: Kevin had gone underground until the clone was caught; the sight of two Kevins would have raised suspicions.

She went to Kevin’s room and found the clone. She sensed its unease at her sudden appearance and acted carefully. The room looked messy, as if he had been searching for something.

“It’s rather late for you to visit. Is everything all right? I just got a message from Professor Kerry. He wants me to come to the office, so I will have to leave right away,” it lied.

“Oh, I’m sorry! I was looking forward to spending some time with you tonight.”

She sat next to him on the bed, his hand in hers and started to caress it. She noticed the childhood burn mark on his thumb was not there. He hugged her; she adjusted to give him a peck on the neck. She removed his shirt collar aside and saw the permanent tattoo was also missing. She got to her feet and pretended to yawn.

“I think I will go to sleep now. You go to meet the Professor. I will see you tomorrow but promise me, no excuses then.”

He agreed. She walked out of the room and hid behind the entrance to the deserted block. Seconds later, he came out in a hood and set out briskly toward the professor’s residence.

************

He did not know he was being steered. Kevin had given away himself by thought transference, intending him to come to him. In its mind, the clone only knew Kevin was there at this hour.

Reaching the Professor’s retreat, he drew the passcode pattern at the entrance and gained access. Thanking God, it was not a self-locking door, she slipped quietly after him.

He locked the door from inside and moved in, much to the dismay of Sandy who was compelled to watch from the window. This was not how it was supposed to go.

It moved across the dark room to turn on the lights and heard a familiar voice from a corner.

“What did you do to the professor?” Kevin asked his clone.

“What do you expect I would?”

“He cannot be found anywhere. His pager is off and the camera access from here is shut off, too... You’ve murdered him, haven’t you?”

“Well! You are next, brother.”

Sandy helplessly watched through the sound and bullet-proof window.

The clone caught sight of a table in the middle of the room, two similar knives placed on its opposite ends. Kevin charged towards it like a bolt of light, and thrust a knife into his chest: his mind, all this while, in utmost focus on the act. While Kevin was at it, as if by command, automatically the clone charged towards the other knife mimicking the action. Blood spurted everywhere painting the floor red.

He watched Kevin spring to his feet quickly, sprinting towards the door to pacify Sandy who was crying hysterically.

“What happened?” She asked in disbelief. “Are you fake or real?”

“The bad dream has ended,” he smiled and held her in a hug.

The security could never find the professor to congratulate him on the recovery of the intern. But then professors were crazy beings anyway. Like pupil, like professor!

Meanwhile, keeping the tradition, blunders of modern science experiments conducted in impenetrable confines of high profile, top-secret research facilities...stay buried there!