The Gemini Letters
Her footsteps pound against the smooth marble floors almost in rhythm with the vibrating screech coming from within the laboratory. Her pace, along with many others, is hurried with a nervousness that has overcome the facility. Small furtive glass tubes in her coat pocket clink against one another with each step. Turning a corner, she gently places her gloved hand against them to silence the ring.
A sickening green haze dominates the building, reflecting off the white tiles—common, usually, but the intermittent flashes of the lights in this area in particular cause a strangely eerie aura. White coats throng the hallways: nurses, orderlies, keepers, caretakers, medics—all swarming like ants after a storm. Some are accompanied by carts filled with jars of soon-to-be developing embryos, red tape syringes of Serum V, and others with newborns taken from the nursery in transit to Juncture One for testing. This is precisely where she is headed: the neonatal nursery crèche.
The metal doors of the nursery swing open hard, nearly denting the wall behind her as she enters. Thousands of glass bulbs fill the room from floor to ceiling, all carefully circling in a rhythmically fixed formation, and filled with genetically assembled embryos: growing, flourishing, with ever-watching eyes monitoring them—her eyes at this moment.
“Oh good, you’re here.” A man’s voice comes from behind her joined by a tablet in hand and glasses pushed toward the end of his hooked nose. “A problem has arisen in Quadrant IX and they need extra hands.” His monotone voice matches the robotic nature of the lab.
“I’ve been hearing the sirens. What happened?”
“A mass number of infants died overnight. I’m assuming the serum didn’t liaise well with their tiny bodies.”
“How many did it take?”
“A couple hundred, maybe. It wouldn’t be the first time, but certainly the first of this magnitude. This adoption cycle will be a small group, I’ll tell you that much. Although…a smaller group could be a good thing.”
“I agree. It can seem promising when we have limited options since the Beau Monde will see them first. More
children adopted by the higher statuses is better than lower. Let’s hope the Beau Monde are generous.”
“We can only hope.” He gives a reassuring smile. “I’ll be back shortly. If you need any assistance, just call.” The orderly hands her the tablet and gives a soft nod. The metal doors flap open and close once more, leaving her alone in the nursery amongst thousands of growing fetuses.
Locking the door behind her, she begins briskly weaving herself through the bulbs of life. She scrolls through the documents on the tablet, each page with the number of a bulb at the top and the date of the child’s conception. There is only to be one more newborn scheduled for departure to Junction One today. She’s hoping this one doesn’t fail; she needs to work swiftly. There isn’t much longer before the orderly returns.
She rubs at her neck, stiff from looking down at the tablet for so long, but just as she gets to the back of the room, her fingers find the page. The number reads 927-19-109, and next to it, in bold red letters, the words “READY FOR DEPARTURE” are displayed. She smiles, releasing the air built up in her lungs. However, the urgency of imminent exposure causes her beam to fade. She hastily searches for the number, but bulb after bulb brings only anxiety and disappointment, until she finds it.
There she is. A perfectly healthy baby girl, sitting afloat in her carrier, eyes shut; pink lips curved like melons—already cooing. The nameplate below her number reads “Vanderbilt.”
Without hesitation, she puts her code into the bulb’s padlock and the water slowly begins to drain from the bulb into a vortex to nowhere. The cord is cut from within, and as the water drains, the synthetic placenta is disposed of as well. The bulb starts to leisurely unfold.
“Come on, come on, come on,” she whispers. Her fingers vigorously tap against the tubes of serum in her pocket while her eyes shift between the doors and the bulb until it reaches the end of its course. A piercing shrill grows from those small lungs, and with careful hands, she lifts the wet, naked infant to carry her toward the metal doors. Just as she is about to grab the handle, the sirens cut off. Her eyes jet to the lock, unable to decide whether or not to cover her tracks, but the sound of approaching footsteps leaves no time for rash decisions. She’s lingered on the lock for longer than she likes, but her feet move quickly enough to get her to the emergency exit at the back of the room.
The hallways are just as ghostly as when she first walked through them. She keeps her head low and tries to rock the newborn, attempting to calm its cries. Three lefts after the second junction, and she’s finally arrived at her destination: Junction One.
Like a snake in the grass, she sneaks her way in and finds the nearest inoculation station. Setting the infant down, she grabs an empty injector and, pulling a tube of serum out from her pocket, snaps it into place. A collection of running feet causes a commotion outside the door, but she doesn’t let it distract her. She takes the infant’s arm and injects it with the mechanical tube of serum which makes the child’s cries grow louder.
She hears a knock on the door and a voice asking if “everything is okay in there,” but she keeps her attention on quieting the child. The handle starts jiggling and the voice from outside grows louder and sterner.
“Shit,” she says, only making the child shriek louder.
Heart rate accelerating, she wraps it in a nearby blanket, holding its head up properly, rocking it. The door opens, and to her surprise, a nurse walks in. The tightness in her upper chest eases at this revelation.
“Oh, Rowan, you’re here. I didn’t realize we had another one ready for today,” says the nurse, smiling and walking in their direction—arms extending and ready to grab the child.
“No one else did either, but she was ready. Ready to get out and conquer the world, aren’t-cha little one?” She brushes the back of her index finger along the child’s petal-like cheek.
“Don’t worry. I took care of everything. The serum tested positive,” she lies. “Her vitals are strong, and she’s absolutely beautiful. Ready for Junction Two.”
The nurse comes to take the newborn from her arms. Her feet remain planted. She watches them leave, knowing she’s just changed the course of the baby’s future.