Now available for Pre-order on Amazon and Smashwords! A science fiction short story two-pack, featuring “Model #37” about a genetically enhanced young adult, and “The Nannypod,” about the device that people just can’t live without. This ebook will be out for sale on September 30, 2015.
Amazon link: Model #37: A Science Fiction Short Story Two-Pack
Smashwords link: Model #37: A Science Fiction Short Story Two-Pack
Model #37: Baby has lived a privileged life—her father always said she was “special.” And Baby knows she’s not like normal humans. She’s only 47 inches tall, even though she’s eighteen years old. She can live off tiny amounts of food. And she’s got a dorsal fin in the middle of her back.
Today’s the big day. She’s supposed to model for the world, and make her father proud. The only questions are why is she so nervous, and why won’t her father let her out of the lab? Most of all, Baby, also known as Model 37, wants to see the world.
Maybe even meet another “special” person like her.
Bonus short story: The Nannypod
It’s Monday morning, and Chris has to get to work. The only problem is, his Nannypod, the device strapped to his wrist that runs his life, just died. He doesn’t even know which bus to get on.
How will he live without it?
(Also included is an excerpt from the paranormal novella, “Dreams and Constellations”)
And here’s an excerpt from “Model #37”:
Baby’s heart lurched as the announcer called her number. She heard people beyond the curtain murmuring to each other, though she couldn’t discern the words. Sixteen years of training had led to this moment. She glanced at her father, breathing hard.
Lines around his eyes deepened as he granted her a smile, towering over her diminutive size. He patted her on the head. “Show them, Baby. Make me proud.”
She fidgeted, adjusting the sheer bodysuit. It hid enough for modesty, but it felt confining. She didn’t like the open back, exposing her dorsal ridge. Father didn’t have one of those. He said it made her special.
“Go!” her father urged, giving her a push. She brushed the curtain out of her way and stepped onto the runway. Lights blinded her, but she’d practiced this over and over. Smile at the people beyond the glare of the lights. Ignore the flash of cameras taking pictures. Walk with confidence down the runway. She moved, forcing herself not to rush despite the pounding of her heart. Keep to the rhythm of the music.
“And here’s Dr. Heim’s model, number 37. She’s a little thing, as you can see, but this isn’t dwarfism; she’s perfectly proportioned with no deformities or known genetic defects. Dr. Heim designed her with the group objective of species modification in light of our water and food shortages and increasing global temperature.” The female announcer’s voice blared through the speakers, and Baby wondered what the woman was talking about. She was specially bred, that was true. Father had told her so. And she knew she was smaller than others, than the true humans. But group objectives? What group objective?
She reached the end of the runway and gave a twirl in the white body suit, smiling at those in the front row. Men and women of different ethnicities looked her over critically, jotting things down into their tablets. Several took pictures of her, reporters, possibly. Not one returned her smile. Baby tried to keep the fear at bay. Did they like her?
The announcer continued. “Dr. Heim wants to remind viewers that while Model 37 may be small, she is fully mature at eighteen years old. She requires only 500 calories and 32 ounces of water a day. Note also the dorsal ridge, designed to regulate body temperature, even in extreme heat.”
“What is her exact height?” One fellow asked, raising a pen.
“Approximately 47 inches, or 119 centimeters tall,” the announcer replied. “Model 37 weighs only 45 pounds, about the same as a six year old child.”
A woman carrying a tablet with a bud in her ear called out. “Are there concerns that this type of design could face discrimination, such as the kind faced by individuals with dwarfism? What about things like car designs, kitchens with high shelves?”
Baby was nearing the end of her walk, almost back to the curtains. The questions bewildered her—what discrimination? And why? She’d lived her entire life in a facility with others like her. Some were human; others were four-legged animals, dogs, sheep, even a pig. All of them had modifications, to make them special. Like her.
Before she could duck behind the safety of the curtains, her father stepped out on stage and grabbed a microphone. He squinted at the woman who had asked the question. “Society already has in place protections and equipment to assist those of lesser physical stature. I imagine that over time, things would be adjusted to the new standard height. This has historical precedent. Modern man is taller than his ancestors. In this day and age, I see that as a liability, not an asset.”
Baby stood at the edge of the curtains, hovering. She thought she recalled him telling her to wave and bow at this point, but her thoughts had scattered. Her father sounded angry. Another person near their end of the runway raised his hand. “How do you expect people to take your design seriously? She looks like a child!”
That she could not stand for. “I’m not a child!” Baby said. Her voice didn’t sound childlike; it earned surprised looks from several of those closest. She looked to her father, but he frowned and shook his head, then made a gesture for her to go backstage. Shooting the fellow a glare, Baby pivoted and exited through the curtains.
She heard the announcer clear her throat. “Right, so any further questions for Dr. Heim? Remember that you all can place your votes on what you consider to be the most promising breakthroughs as we move forward to approach the world community with our proposals and designs.”
Baby nearly ran into the next model, a tall thin thing with blue skin and gills, wearing some kind of apparatus that supplied it with water to breathe. It wore a tiny bikini Baby would be horrified to wear. Baby ducked out of the way and stood off to the side, waiting for her father to return backstage. She’d known about the voting. But it seemed there was much her father hadn’t told her.
When she looked at the other models milling around, Baby saw them with new eyes. A model with dark brown skin shifted her stance, and Baby realized her skin was scaly like a snake. Another model, this one a tall, strong-looking fellow, had tiny horns on his forehead. He chewed gum sleepily, leaning against the wall.
She walked over to him. He smelled of grass and something else, something she’d never smelled before. The closest she could describe it was ‘male.’ “What’s your name?” she asked, hoping that since her part was over, she’d be able to enjoy herself a little before Father returned.
The young man scraped the toe of his boot along the wooden floor, looking down as he answered. Brown hair fell into his face. “They call me Moo.” She couldn’t tell by the dim lighting, but Baby suspected he was blushing.
“Moo? That’s an odd name. Why do they call you that?” Baby knew why Father called her Baby. She was his baby. He’d told her that nothing fit better. He loved her. He’d even given her a rag doll to hold when he locked her in her pen at night.
Moo rocked back and forth, holding himself. He swallowed whatever he was chewing. “I’m part bull. So…Moo.” He didn’t seem particularly happy about it.
“Is that why you have horns?” She reached up to touch one.
He shied back, breathing hard, but then stilled himself, hands clenching into fists as he allowed her to feel the hard smoothness. “Sorry. My instincts get the better of me sometimes. They’re real.”
Baby glanced over as the next model stepped towards the curtains, but there was no sign of her father. “Are you nervous?”
Moo shrugged again. “A little. I don’t think the judges will like me.” He took a step towards the scaly girl but she hissed at him. He stepped back, lowering his head again. “Everybody thinks I’m stupid.”
“Well that’s stupid,” Baby said, pouting. No one had ever questioned her intellect before. She could speak and read four different languages, and Father said her math skills were exceptional. She only wished more of her education had come from something other than books. He hadn’t even allowed her to watch TV, though he’d told her about it. “So where is your parent?” She glanced around, but most of the people backstage were like them, unusual mixtures of genetic material. She noticed the security guards wearing utility belts with things like handcuffs and batons. That struck her. Why would the models need security guards?
Moo scratched his head, looking nervous. “Out watching the show. I don’t like these things. I’ve already been to three of them.”
Baby studied his eyes, noticing for the first time that his pupils were abnormally large. She admired his eyes. She couldn’t explain why. “Why don’t you like them?” She hadn’t liked the tone of the announcer. Perhaps that was it.
Scaly Girl threw them a dirty look. “They don’t showcase our skills. It’s a bloody waste of time. Just a media circus to make the politicians happy, that the scientists are thinking up something as the world goes to hell.” Baby blinked at the thick Australian accent, but even as she opened her mouth to ask a question, the girl turned away again, ignoring them.
From beyond the curtain, Baby heard clapping and muted voices. Apparently the audience had liked the girl who breathed underwater. As the underwater breather returned backstage, Scaly Girl stepped towards the curtain to take her call. Moo stamped one foot, breathing hard. Baby placed a hand on his well-muscled arm to calm him. “I’m sure you’ll do fine.”
“I want to run. I want to escape,” he told her. At first she thought he was joking. By the fear in his eyes, however, she realized he meant it.