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March 5, 2013
IDEAS ON TUESDAYS 102
Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.
SF Trope: Evil de-evolution
Current Event: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devolution_(biology) (Fascinating article in which an evolutionists tap-dances around the idea that the dissemination of correct information is NOT the responsibility of scientists but of...um...Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, but ultimately Nobody and CERTAINLY not them…(http://www.corsinet.com/braincandy/hlife.html))
Ugnė Mertens flipped her pigtail back again as she stared at the image on her laptop. Muttering, she stepped sideways to the microscope and moved the slide using the X-Y translational control knobs fine adjustment. The image of the chromosome she was studying moved fractionally.
Naranbaatar Todorov picked at his thin, first beard and said, “Staring at it isn’t going to make the genes magically appear, Ug.”
“That’s what you think,” she straightened up, she smiled and added, “Baaaaa,” drawing out the stereotypical sheep sound. “Watch.” She touched a pressure toggle on an odd, goose-necked device standing beside the microscope. The computer’s screen fuzzed suddenly, then the single chromosome lit up as if it was a candy cane.
Baa started, looked at the lamp and exclaimed, “What is that thing?”
“Something I invented and you didn’t,” Ug said, sitting on the lab stool, leaning forward.
Baa swallowed hard, pursed his lips then said, “Listen, I know you don’t much like me...”
Ug reached out and typed an entry into the text box then said, “If I had a choice between dissecting three-day-old roadkill and having lunch with you...” she paused, made a face, then said, “I’m not sure which one I’d pick.”
Baa glanced at the clock on the wall. He still had four hours left of his shift. He couldn’t skip it or Dr. Harber would find out and dock him points. But he wasn’t sure he could keep his feet still and not kick Ugnė in the butt. He took a deep breath and said, “Must be an infrared to ultraviolet, rotating frequency projector.”
She shot him a look then went back to making notes on her computer. Occasionally she tapped her smartphone as well, which lay next to the laptop. “Lucky guess.”
“So that means, ‘yes’. Then you must have bathed the chromosomes in a solution that would...” Naranbaatar hooked another stool with his foot to drag it closer. Shrieking as it vibrated along the floor tiles, he winced and said, “Sorry.”
Ugnė sniffed but didn’t reply. Finally she said, “I used a mix that the older the gene, the less fluorescing compound it would pick up.”
Baa frowned then asked, “What are the chromosomes from?”
“You’re kidding!” he exclaimed. Reports had been circulating for years about animals whose genes had suddenly started evolving – a quantum evolution event – from static forms to much, much more intelligent forms.
“These are chromosomes from raccoons killed in southern Minnesota.”
“We have narns here?” Baa exclaimed, backing away from the microscope.
Ug turned to look at him. “The genes aren’t contagious, idiot! This isn’t a disease – it’s animal chromosomes. Dyed and fixed at that! What are you afraid of?”
“Nothing. Nothing!” He spun around and took long strides out of the lab. He didn’t care if he lost hours – all he could see in his mind’s eye was the raccoon he’d nearly run over when he was biking on rural trails near his family’s home in an outer ring suburb of what was slowly becoming the three, four-kilometer-tall towers of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Vertical Village.
He would never forget the look on its face as it held out a mangled paw to him and said, “Help...”
Names: ♀ Lithuanian, Belgian; ♂ Mongolian, Bulgarian