Signature Required

He carefully took the swab and scraped it against the inside of his cheek, then placed the swab in the prepaid envelope and sent it off to GENEnterations Corp. LLC, along with the completed order form. It felt oddly anti-climactic to mail off the envelope with nothing to show for his recent purchase, so he reviewed website again to review the instructions.

Congratulations on selecting GENEnterations Corp. LLC, the leader in designer progeny. We assure you that our facilities are state of the art, and every effort will be made to provide you with exactly what you deserve: A super child with all the characteristics you predetermine in consultation with our industry leading scientistians!

Once your genome is sequenced, we’ll contact you with all the viable options for your biological offspring. You’ll not only be able to choose gender, hair and eye color, but you’ll also be able to select from our premium modifications for health, height, personality, and even intelligence.

After carefully selecting your options, and your payment plan has been approved, we nurture the new member of your family in our facilities until they reach the age of independent viability, approximately 40 weeks, at which time we ship them in a safe, climate controlled package directly to your home. The package also serves as the baby’s crib, at no additional charge! Remember, you must be on hand to accept delivery, and a signature and ID will be required.

Again, thank you for choosing GENEnterations as your descendant provider and congratulations mom and or dad!

He wondered if he was really ready for this whole parent thing. All his friends seemed to be doing it, and he scored well on the Potential Parenthood Survey, but it was a big commitment after all. He started a list of potential baby names. Fire seemed like a nice name for a boy, and Calliope for a girl, or should he go with more traditional names? So many choices.

Automata

He sat on the shoulders of his automaton, directing its movement by way of elaborate sets of strings; one set for walking, another for eating, a set for carrying on a casual conversation, and so forth. As he meandered through the day, he encountered other automata, with their drivers perched atop their shoulders, each pulling strings. The drivers studiously ignored each other; it was rude to stare at another driver, or to even acknowledge their existence. All interaction took place through the bodies, the large hulking automata, shaking hands, smiling, arguing, making love, and giving birth. Separation of automaton and its driver caused grief, mourning the loss of animation for the body, replete with ceremonies attended by those automata known to the still form. Disconnected drivers walked the earth as ghosts, avoided and feared, disembodied spirits, the stuff of fearsome fairytales.

I Promise

“May I borrow your husband? Mine is so ineffective this time of night. I mean, usually he’s good for a few laughs. If he wasn’t so cute, I’d have traded him in ages ago. Anyway, I have him on a new diet, and the poor dear just isn’t responding well to it. Quite indisposed. So you can see, I’m in terrible predicament without him. Be a dear and let me borrow yours for the evening? I promise to return him first thing in the morning.”

I Haven’t The Energy

Asleep at the keyboard, again. My fingers type of their own volition. They have a story to tell. A hidden message, a secret for me to decipher. Marionette strings extend from my fingers, rise up to and through the ceiling, tugged by an unseen entity that lives in my head, settled in and comfortable even as it thrashes through my brain making soup out of that gray matter, that remarkable engine of consciousness.

The Heart Will

Slowing down only speeds things up, stepping forward only sends me back, loving you only breaks my heart, wanting more only makes me lack, looking up only knocks me down, leaving you only brings me back

The heart will what it wants
The spirit still where it breathes
And all because of you,
My heart, my breath, my rising

Understanding only mixes things up, future planning only breaks my back, loving you only empties my life, rising up only cuts me off, entering in only closes the door, listening close only exposes the silence

The heart will what it wants

Exodus

There is a gentleness in her soft forgiving voice as I turn and walk away, a word of remembrance, recalling a shared opportunity, a fond embrace, a lingering kiss, a yesterday. I carry her scent with me as I close the front door; her memory follows me as I get in my car, turn the key, and drive away, no backward glance or wave goodbye. The overwhelming release of tears fuels my shuddering breaths; the free air, crisp, clean, shivers ice through my veins, shocks the color in my eyes, first blue, then violet, marine, and finally frozen in silver.

The Problem With Time Travel

Younger: Do you have to follow me everywhere?

Older: Look, trust me. I know better than you do. I’ve already live through it, remember?

Younger: So you say. As far as I know, you could be making up this whole time travel story. “I’m from the future. You have to do what I tell you.” Spooky! I don’t care how many times you tell me the sports scores, I still want to watch the game. I mean, you’re not helping, you’re making everything worse.

Older: I’ve already helped you prevent three failed relationships, you’ve won the lottery, or would have if you’d actually buy a ticket. Your life, my life, could be so much better if you’d just listen to me.

Younger: You know, they cancelled the lottery because of people like you. When everyone wins, everyone just splits the pot into tiny portions. One half of all earnings go toward prizes, so that means we all win fifty cents on every dollar. No one plays.

Older: Okay, so gambling is pretty much a bust. There are other investments. Precious metals, stocks. I know some property to buy that will make you rich.

Younger: Everyone knows the same thing. You’re killing the value here, you and all our future selves following us around, telling us the punch lines without the jokes, the plot twist before the end of the movie. It’s no fun any more.

Older: It’s more efficient. No more wasted hours, wrong turns, mistakes. Everything is perfect. Or it will be.

A flash of light fills the room. When the glow fades, a third person, slightly shorter, much older, stands with the first two.

Even Older: Knock it off you two. Or me two. You’re both making things worse.

Younger: Don’t blame me, I just want to live my life without creepy old me ruining everything.

Older: Impossible. I can’t make things worse since I know the future. I can only make them better.

Even Older: Okay, future me, your premise is you know best since you’ve lived it, right? Well, then I know even better, since I’ve lived through the consequences of all the changes you’ve introduced. Every time you two argue, it changes things down the road. Every change you make today becomes more trouble for me. This whole conversation is making my world dark and scary. You have no idea what it’s like to live in a small six by six room, isolated from everyone one else. We’re all stuck in permanent solitary confinement.

Another flash, a fourth figure appears.

Oldest: You’re all a bunch of idiots! You listen to this ass hole and now I’m living in an atomic waste-land. He ruins everything!

More flashes and the room fills with incarnations of various ages, all arguing with each other.

Younger: I can’t take this any more!

He takes a gun from the locked gun cabinet and shoots himself.

Older: Uh oh!

The room stands empty save for an odd echo of a feedback loop.

Was She Ever Even Married?

He noticed her bare left ring finger. He also noticed the pattern of smooth skin where a familiar band rested, which only raised more questions than it answered. Was she hiding the fact she was married? Did she put the ring down somewhere and carelessly forget to put it back on? Was she avoiding answering complicated questions about the relationship? Was she embarrassed? Was she aware that everyone could see the absent ring? Was she a widow and still wearing the ring out of habit or a sense of obligation to her previous spouse? Was a promise made now broken?

Black Sand, White Snow

The effort to climb seven flights of stairs took more out of him than he expected. Maybe he shouldn’t have jogged up the first four flights. Maybe he shouldn’t have carried up that box of books. Show off. Maybe he shouldn’t think of himself as twenty or expect his body to do anything his mind could envision. Maybe he should eat less junk food. Maybe a lot of things. Maybe most of all he shouldn’t ignore that tingle in his left arm or the discomfort in his chest. He’s never had heart burn before, so why should it start now?

And Their Children

The needle pricked her skin, followed by sharp pain, lightning coursing through her body. She faced an hour of convulsing, strapped to a gurney, mouth clamped to prevent her biting her tongue, all to keep her safe from the side effects of the monthly injection which kept her safe from the virus. Fire raged through her veins, burning out the infection. They were all infected. This self-inflicted torture stood between them and death, horrible, disfiguring. Her survival did little to make it easier for him to watch, knowing he injected her and the sure knowledge that his turn came next.

Kismet

There’s a map for kismet. Seriously, a map. Go ahead and Google it if you want. I dare you. Go ahead. Google the word ‘kismet’ and you should get a definition as well as a map for where to find it. I’ll wait here. Open a new window, or a tab if that’s your kind of thing. I’m in no hurry. I’ve already seen it for myself. Near where I live there are two locations, one to the north and west, the other to the south and east, places for kismet, like you could drive through a fast food place and pick up an order of fate. Yeah, that’d be worth seeing. I’ll take a big fate, with a side of karma, and an iced kismet. Yeah, a number three, the predestination meal. Figures.

Kismet

I’m all like digging her, and it’s cool because she’s digging me too; we’re like digging on each other, and the whole room is like watching us. Are we going to ever talk to each other? Am I going to ask her out? And it’s cool because all my friends are there, and all her friends are there, and they’re like cheering for both of us because they can see us together before we’ve even said a single solitary word to each to other but already I feel like I’ve known her my whole life, like my life started today.