William Doonan

I write books and stories.

MedicineLand: Chapter Thirteen

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“Was she cute?” Carson asked.  “I’ll bet she was cute.”

“I didn’t see her.”  Julia leafed through the array outputs.  “There’s a picture of her in the file from when she was eleven.”

Carson stared at a photo taken of Karen Sorrows in her hospital bed.  “She looks like shit.”

“She was dying of cancer.”

“But she’s alive?”

“Very,” Julia said.  “We have access to the Med Center mainframe, don’t we?”

“We do, but these samples are not legal.  We could get in trouble.  Privacy violations, and your mother could get fired for giving them to you.”

“I think there’s something interesting here.”

“I do too,” he said.  “I think we need to talk to the girl.”

“Yeah, but we need to analyze these first.  Can we use one of the computers that aren’t networked?”

“Depends.  What are we looking for?”

Julia said nothing, looked into the super-cooled booth where Prometheus’ robotic arm whipped mechanically from droplet to droplet.  “I have a thought.”

Carson sat back abruptly into his chair.  “If we compared the DNA from the fetus to Karen Sorrow’s DNA, we would find a 50 percent match; this is clear.  If you want to find it the cancer has transmitted to the fetus, we already know it hasn’t.  Cancer doesn’t transmit like that, so what would we learn?”

“I don’t know,” Julia said, “but there’s something odd going on here.  How long would it take to do this, Carson?  This would be easy – just matching one entire DNA shotgun strand to another.  How long would that take?  How long would it take to run a bypass program that would task Prometheus to identify genetic commonalities between Karen Sorrows and her fetus?”

“We have swabs?”

“Yes,” Julia said.  “But it’s totally off the book.  We’d have to shut down the monitors and the tracking software while we run it.  And we run it twice.”

“Of course we run it twice.”

“How long?”

Carson wheeled back and forth.  “We could do it at a macro-level – comparing one sequence to another.  That’s child’s play compared to what we’ve been doing.  About seven minutes to run the preliminary, and an hour to run the confirmation.”

“Do it then, but quietly.”

Carson nodded.  “We need to meet this girl.  We need to find out how she’s still alive and fat enough to conceive.”

“I’m thinking of sending Alice.”

“Alice is pretty but Kathryn is prettier.  I like the way she doesn’t care too much about her clothes being wrinkled.”

“Listen, my young friend.”  Julia pulled on the wheelchair’s joystick so that Carson came face to face with her.  “Kathryn is gorgeous.  Alice is very pretty.  I’ll put in a good word with whichever you like, but we have to have some forward momentum here or we are going to be both serving fish in the lunchroom.”

Carson pushed her hand away from the joystick.  “I appreciate your concern and your support.”

“I’m going to ask Alice to check up on this,” Julia said.  “For now, use your considerable computer talents to run these arrays, right?”

“OK,” he said.

“You know I could be fired if this gets out, right?”

Carson smiled.  “I’ll take care of it, boss.  You know I got another offer to work at a clone lab today.”

“How much did they offer you?”

“50K signing bonus and a hundred thirty a year.”

Julia found a breakfast shake in the lab fridge and opened it.  “You could do better; I’d hold out for 150 a year. You know my last protégé took such a position,” she said.  “And do you know what happened to him?”

Carson scratched his chin.  “Big Julio.  Yes, he got married, had a kid and bought a Subaru, then invested heavily in mutual funds.”

“That’s right,” said Julia.  “Deep down he’s unfulfilled.”

Carson hung his head.  “I came to you to learn from you.  I think I have a lot still to learn from you.”

“And I from you.  So figure this out.  Let’s find out how a dying virgin aborted a fetus yesterday.”

Written by williamdoonan

December 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Fiction, MedicineLand

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