Human Nature - #3
The following Friday Dr. Jace’s lab
Madeline looked up from her cluttered lab desk as Samantha briskly walked into the office. Their lab was of average size, with a large main space and an island in the middle. A small corner housed a refrigerator. Off to the side, near the door was a bathroom facility and on the opposite side of the room was a window that overlooked the rear of the facility. Next to the window was a computer. FSD had the most sophisticated computer systems at the time, operating off a newly configured computer software program known as MS DOS. Madeline still preferred to hand write her original thoughts and then transfer them to computer notes much later on.
Samantha noticed the island was covered in papers, pens, scales, and microscopes. She slid into a seat across from Madeline who was sitting next to the island. Madeline ignored her partner as she furiously wrote and diagramed onto a notepad
Her passion was clearly her work and she was enraptured with it.
“Maddie,” began Sam.
“Read my brief…” instructed the earnest scientist, refusing to look up. She pointed to an area of neatly stacked papers in the middle of her messy ensemble.
Samantha devoured the paper, familiarizing herself with Madeline’s intimate scientific thoughts. Her experiment had been very successful. The mutated cell lasted four times as longer than the control, demonstrating amazing strength and stamina. Madeline was going to present her findings to Minter and his research council this afternoon at two.
“It’s good. Accurate. What’s next?” asked Samantha, putting it aside on the littered table.
Finally Madeline looked up and held up her pad, “This.”
“Well, these are the steps necessary to create a clone. Mind you, my calculations and notes are theoretical at this time point, but we’ve got plenty of time to apply them,” Madeline replied, taking an anxious breath. She was excited to move on, but afraid of doing so4 at the same time. Her hair threatened to dangle past her cheek and she brushed it back. How annoying.
“Tell me,” said Samantha, motioning for her glamorous partner to give her the thick notepad so she could review it.
Maddie did so, however she played with her hands the entire time, as if nervous about starting the next phase in her ambitious project. Madeline’s non-verbal cues seemed to escape Samantha for now.
“This is my theory – every cell has a nucleus with genetic information. It doesn’t matter where this cell comes from off the clonee’s body. It could come from a skin cell, but I think tissue from the ear would provide the best sample. I explain the theoretical technical details in the notes.”
“Okay. So once you get the genetic information, then what?” asked Samantha, as her eyes continued to fervently peruse her partner’s notes.
“The next part, you have to keep constant. You take a human egg and carefully extract the nucleus of genetic information, replacing it with the new nucleus of information. If you clone a mouse, you have use a mouse egg,” said Maddie, putting emphasis on her words to make a strong point. They had to use the egg of what they wanted to clone.
“So, you can’t take my genetic material and put it in a mouse egg? What would happen?” asked Samantha.
“In theory, instant death of the mutated zygote,” said Madeline quietly.
“Zygote? You go from a haploid genome to a zygote – instantly?” whispered Samantha in a hushed awe.
“Understandable. You can’t mix apples and orange,” replied Samantha.
“Correct. Whatever you are cloning, you need to use an egg from the same species,” confirmed Madeline.
“Now, say you take my genetic material from a single cell you acquired off my ear and put it in your unfertilized human egg. Are you getting a clone of me?” Samantha was fascinated with the thought that months of hard work were finally paying off with a viable theory they could test.
“Yes, remember the genetic material of the egg only has 23 chromosomes. You need the male’s sperm with it’s 23 chromosomes to create life, but all our cells contain the perfect match of 46 chromosomes. So, if you take out 23, but add 46 you are creating a new being with the exact genetic makeup of the donor, in this case, you.”
Samantha pursed her lips. “What does the egg bring to the table? I mean, I can guess…”
“The egg brings life. When the new material is injected, theoretically it should start to divide, much like it would if it were fertilized by a spermatozoid.”
Samantha’s eyes grew wide. “Amazing! But…where do these clones grow?”
Maddie stood up and began to pace. “They have to be placed via in vitro fertilization into a woman’s womb. Hopefully, it will implant and grow like a normal embryo and then fetus.”
“In vitro fertilization? That’s something that FSD is still testing. It looks like it will be successful. I think Doctor Brown told me they were ready to try it. They’re soliciting for test couples from the base now,” remarked Samantha.
“I know. I have a good feeling about it. I’ve reviewed Brown’s notes and they’re pretty solid. In vitro will work, Sam and when it does, I think it’s a procedure that will benefit a lot of childless couples in their quest to have children,” added Madeline softly, still pacing.
Samantha paused as she looked up, deftly crossing her arms. “You’re concerned. Where does your recent experiment come into play?”
“In theory, once you remove the egg’s genetic material, it loses structural integrity. It needs to be treated with the enzyme solutation as the new genetic material is inserted. It’s got to be a quick one-two punch, so to speak. The solutation should increase the new zygote’s stamina and strength to survive the merging. But…there’s no telling how it will effect the clone’s genetic structure as it grows,” explained Madeline, expressing her concerns. She continued to nervously pace, playing with her hand as she did so.
Samantha noticed Maddie was wearing a simple, yet attractive skirt under her lab coat. In fact, Madeline looked very alluring. She wore a nice conservative top to match her skirt, her hair was delicately brushed and a light coat of make up made her face shine. Madeline was clearly dressing to impress. But who? The board they had to brief this afternoon?
“What are you hinting at?” asked Samantha, dragging her thoughts back on topic.
“I used the word superhuman to describe what my mutated cell just did. The strength and stamina were amazing! Will that pass onto the clone? Will I be creating a superhuman?” she whispered. She turned toward Samantha and the duo locked eyes. These were the unknowns of the experiment.
“You could do a control test…without the added enzyme,” suggested Samantha. “There’s a good chance the embryo might not live. It might not have the strength,” whispered Jace.
“Still,” said Samantha, “We should test.”
Madeline made a face. “What do we tell these surrogates who will carry the clones?”
“Where do we get the eggs from?” added Samantha. “And the genetic material to clone. Who do you want to clone?”
Madeline shrugged her shoulders. “Scientists here at FSD?” Then she laughed. “Maybe that’s why the bastard, Minter, is harvesting our sex material! Maybe he has enough foresight to see we’ll need…this.” Madeline choked on the word ‘this’, unable to say the word egg. Suddenly, she didn’t feel good about her experiment.
It grew silent between the two scientists. Each of them felt as if they were on a cliff, held to the ledge but a thin, slippery rope that would let them fall at a moment’s notice.
“There’s a lot of moral issues, Sam,” said Madeline finally, stopping to pace and leaning up on the far wall, next to the window.
Samantha pursed her lips. “Believe me, I’ve waged my own war over those issues.”
“Is it right to do this? Create a clone life with thoughts and feelings like you and I? Is it right to ask a woman to carry that clone for nine months and brutally take it away from her to study it like a lab rat?” Madeline’s voice was full of awe and disgust.
“Some would say cloning is morally wrong, Maddie. We’re doing satin’s work.”
“Some would, but I know this, if I commit to the next step, the rest of my life is going to be involved in this project because I’ll be damned if I let anyone like Minter come in and corrupt it! Once the clones are born they are going to need a protector from the likes of him and who best to protect them than us?” Madeline’s voice was full of passion and conviction as she foresaw her future.
She of all people understood what Minter was like. He had his eyes on achieving the bottom line and he didn’t care how he hurt people to get it. When he eventually left, she knew the pentagon would replace him with someone similar.
“If you don’t continue with the project, Minter will find someone else to replace you. Someone with less ethics and morals with you. Someone less interested in protecting the clones,” pointed out Samantha, “Because they will need protection from people like Minter.”
“I know. I am loathe to turn my fascinating research over to someone else to finish,” said Madeline. She turned toward the window that faced the landscaped back yard and pulled the blind back, gazing at the lovely flowerbeds. She easily drank in their beauty as they temporarily pushed her worries aside.
“Maddie? You okay?”
Samantha walked up behind her friend and put a gentle hand on Madeline’s shoulder.
“I just never dreamed this particular life for me,” whispered Maddie. “My life is FSD. It’s research. It’s…committed to protecting the clones when they are born,” she eerily whispered, realizing that while a clone birth was still years way, if her theories proved correct, it would be inevitable.
“That’s honorable, noble even, but don’t let the opportunity to involve yourself with other things or people pass you by,” counseled Samantha.
There was a brisk knock on the lab door. Madeline quickly turned around as it opened.
“Henri!” she exclaimed.
A little hesitantly, he walked in. “Are you available for lunch?” he politely asked. “Hello, Samantha,” he added, as an after thought. It was obvious he only had eyes for Madeline. Her blonde hair seemed to glow in the sunlight that was peeking through the window.
Madeline lightly blushed. “Yes.”
She walked up to him and stopped just inches from invading his personal space. Samantha definitely felt like a third wheel.
“Hello, Dr. Rousseau,” said Samantha crisply, as she returned to their island and began straightening out their wild mess. It was so obvious Maddie and Henri were drawn to each other.
“Sam, do you mind if I go to lunch with Henri? I need to talk to him alone for a bit,” Madeline said, apologetically turning toward her understanding partner. Her moral dilemma was now far from her mind. Samantha could see the magnetic pull of attraction at work.
“Not at all. I’ll see you in the conference room when it’s time to give our briefing,” said Samantha, sounding like a good sport.
Henri said nothing, only raising a curious eyebrow at his beautiful lunch companion. It didn’t seem right not to extend a courteous lunch invitation to Samantha, but he could tell from the look on Madeline’s face she wanted to talk to him privately.
“Enjoy your lunch,” said Sam politely.
She watched Madeline walk out, at Henri’s side and realized that her usually unflappable partner might actually be falling in love. However, the powerful emotions shared between a man and a woman were so foreign to Madeline she didn’t quite know how to embrace them. It was obvious to Sam that Maddie enjoyed them, but was also overwhelmed with them.
What a pickle, thought Samantha as she looked up and surveyed the unkempt lab. Here they were, on the cutting edge of science, doing research years ahead of civilian labs, but dealing with moral and ethical dilemmas that seemed too great to overcome. The price they were paying were not only the rest of their lives but their souls. Samantha hoped it would be worth it.
Madeline asked Henri to take her to a little sandwich shop off the base. She had eaten there before with Samantha. It was Samantha who first introduced her to the shop. It wasn’t too frequented by the working scientists at FSD and she was glad for it.
They didn’t say much on the way over. Since their date, the only opportunities they had to be together were lunch and Henri wanted to take full advantage of it. For whatever reasons, General Minter had requested he work overtime with his partner, Dr. Teague, late into the night on several experiments he insisted were crucial to other departments. Henri didn’t care for it. In fact, he still had a bitter taste in his mouth as he had gone and given up a sample of his ‘sex material’ earlier this morning, courtesy of Minter’s directive.
As Madeline stepped up to the counter and ordered her meal, Henri put his disparaging thoughts out of his mind and admired her. Today was the first day since their date she had worn a skirt. Her legs were shapely, toned, and he longed to take liberties with them.
“Henri? What type of sandwich would you like?”
Her voice seemed to come out of thin air and he looked up, blushing a little as she realized he was admiring her.
“Chicken with mustard, s’il vous plat. No mayo.”
“Sure,” said the clerk at the counter.
Lightly, he put his hand in the middle of Madeline’s back as they briskly walked to a small booth in the corner of the shop.
Madeline found his attention warm and flattering. She enjoyed spending time with him and looked forward to their lunch dates, stealing these precious moments to be alone.
“Madeline,” started Henri, smiling at her, “Is everything all right? It seemed almost rude not to ask Dr. Runyeon to come with us.”
Madeline nervously pursed her lips. “I know, but Sam knows it’s not like that. I did want to speak to you alone.”
“Oh?” He gently, placed his hands over hers and searched her eyes. Something was bothering her.
“I was going to submit to Minter’s procedure next week, but I was abruptly told on my way to the lab this morning I would be having my eggs harvested tomorrow,” she nervously admitted.
“Tomorrow?” he cried, “Why so soon? I hoping to see you tomorrow night! It’s the first night in five days I don’t have to work overtime!”
“I don’t know. I go to the hospital to be admitted tonight. The surgery is first thing tomorrow morning. I’ll be out for about four weeks recovering.”
While Madeline was initially infuriated with Minter’s request, she realized doing this, having her eggs harvested, might be exactly what she needed to move onto the next step in her experiment. How else was she going to get human eggs to continue with her experiments?
Henri sighed. “This General Minter is crazy. I don’t know why he’s doing this. It doesn’t make sense.”
“I guess it’s easier for you to…comply with his directive, huh?” Madeline asked softly.
A bus boy dropped off their sandwiches and left.
“Yes. I’ve all ready submitted a sample of my sp…ah, genetic material,” he added, “If you don’t mind my asking, how…what are they going to do?”
“They’re going to give me an epidural, so I’ll be awake. They’ll give me an incision like you normally would a c-section. It shouldn’t take them long to harvest my eggs, but still, it’s going to take time for the wound to heal and the stitches to come out,” she explained. “How clinical I must sound!”
“We’re scientists…” offered Henri. “I understand. It’s not easy talking about sperms and eggs when you’re…attracted to someone and I am attracted to you Madeline. I would have liked to have gone out on a few more dates with you before this.”
He was nervous with this confession, but he wanted her to know how he felt.
Madeline blushed. “I would have liked that. This is very personal to me, Henri. Really, next to Samantha, you’re the only other person to know…how I feel.”
“You can tell me anything,” he purred.
“Will you come to see me in the hospital? Of course Samantha will visit, but I’d like to see you as well.”
“Of course! How long is your stay?”
“Three days. Then it’s bed rest at my apartment for a week and three weeks away from work. When I’m recovered, Samantha will submit to the procedure,” explained Madeline.
“I’ll come visit, don’t worry,” he assured. They looked longingly at each other, ignoring their sandwiches and their hunger.
“Thank you. I…”
“You what?” he prompted.
“I really enjoy your company, Henri,” she bravely admitted.
“And I enjoy yours. You’re beautiful, Madeline,” he said, running his eyes over her, resting them on her bulging breasts, while conservatively covered, still were enticing to him. He realized they would have to put their aching sexual desires aside while she recovered from her surgery, but that might not be a bad thing. He was looking forward to really spending some quality time with her without the sex.
“Henri…”,p> “I want to do more than just kiss you, Madeline,” he further admitted, cupping her cheek in the palm of his hand.
She couldn’t break away from him. She didn’t want too. She was mesmerized by his touch, lost in his eyes. Her lips trembled.
“Do you feel the same pull? The same electricity drawing you towards me?” he richly asked.
“Yes. I’m afraid…”
“Of what? Me? I assure you, Madeline my feelings are genuine. I like being with you, touching you like this. You’re a beautiful woman, inside and out. I really want to go on a date with you when you’re well enough for it. I want to do more than kiss you, but I will be patient,” he passionately explained.
“I want that too. I want to be with you. The thought of not seeing you while I was in the hospital didn’t sit well with me. It means a lot to know you’re there while I have this procedure done.” She tenderly put her hand over his.
Even though she recently met him and they had only known each other for a week, she delighted in spending time with Henri. He brought out such warm, happy feelings in her – feelings that excited her, yet scared her at the same time. 8She couldn’t explain them, all she knew was that she needed to see him frequently. To be without seeing him for a day made her depressed.
Was this how love was suppose to feel? An eagerness to see him? A heavy sadness when she didn’t? A warm inner feeling of delight when he touched her? If so, then she was falling for the handsome doctor. While they had yet to share anything more than shy, hesitant kisses she knew there was a longing in her body to share more than kisses with him. She longed to share her intimacy with him too.
He pulled away gently from her, sharing a knowing smile.
© Copyright by S.G. Cardin 2004.