Holly spent the day in and out of fitful sleep, bound to the chair. Every time she felt herself snap back into alertness, the Creator gave her another injection, keeping her in an almost constant state of dopiness. The Creator never removed her gag so she had not been able to speak. There had been no food, water or washroom break. Her muscles ached and she was chilled. How had she ever found this man attractive? Well, he was handsome for a psychotic genius.
Despite the drugs, she was still keenly aware of the virus inside her. Every time she was conscious enough, she checked the time. The day was ebbing away and soon the monster-man would activate it inside of her. Her only hope was that the Author found them in time and also managed to record. Holly did not know if the virus was the same kind as the Creator had. After all, the Creator stole the baby, so maybe he acquired his virus at the same time? If she was lucky, the virus was the same and if it activated inside of her, it would not hurt her.
She was also aware of the Creator muttering to himself and flitting between monitors and between the baby and Holly. The baby was Holly. Even if her brain had not been groggy, that was difficult to grasp. She was a mother, or did that make her a surrogate? She had heard of clones that had been made for people who, for various reasons, could not have their own child via traditional means. Still, she had not acquiesced; yet, the baby was here, real and despite the Creator’s plans, Holly did want him to save her.
In dreams, she kept replaying old memories that had been suppressed. Dreams of lying curled up on the floor in a dark locked room, whimpering and sucking her thumb. Dreams of a man’s boots kicking her stomach, and breaking her arms. Dreams of needles and scans, dreams of sugared-foods and curried foods, dreams of medicine jars clinking against each other, dreams of other children screaming and crying. No wonder she had suppressed these. And then there were a few earlier snippets with a beautiful woman who looked just like Holly, but taller and perfect, smiling at her and caressing her head. Her mom.
Sporadically, the Creator approached Holly and through glazed eyes, she watched him take blood and cut off a portion of her skin. That had been the most painful procedure so far, that she was awake enough to appreciate. Besides that, he had wiped saliva from her mouth, plucked hair from her head and she knew her brain had been scanned. She wondered how far he would go to save the baby. Would he open her brain up? Despite his efforts through the day, Holly did not think the baby had woken. She had not heard crying, anyhow. Would hybrid baby clone Holly cry?
She dreamed of shouting and banging against walls while beneath her, the earth shook. The Creator became more animated, excited, practically jumping up and down. ‘Holly!’ He was yelling in her dream, ‘Holly, she’s here!’
“Author!” The Creator was yelling excitedly, only this was not a dream. This was real and the grog of Holly’s mind was slowly being displaced by the energy she could feel in the room. The Author was here.
‘When is sundown?’ Holly manged to ask her brainchip. ‘In seven point five minutes.’ It answered. Not enough time.
“What do you think you are doing, Creator?” The Author demanded. “Why have you stolen the recorder?”
“You know why.” The Creator said. “Your time is over.”
The Author and three of her guards started to gag, then scream falling to the floor and wriggling.
“Your nanos are attacking your immune system.” The Creator said, while lifting the needle he had shown Holly earlier.
The Creator’s eyes bugged and his hips jutted forward. The needle dropped on the floor as he stood with his back to the Author, as if frozen.
The Author started to climb to her feet and stepped over her guards who were still flailing along the floor.
“Did you not think that I too had learned such control over your nanos? I watched you create them. I was the first to have them inside me, even before you injected them into yourself. I am the prototype, the original.” She eyed Holly then turned to the baby. “What is this?”
The Creator balled his hand into a fist and spun around. The Author started coughing until blood poured down her chin and made a small puddle on the floor, splashing back up her gown.
“Even the Author does not know everything.” He said in a tone that was undeniably bitter. “This baby is the start of a new race of human. She will be your replacement.”
The Author fell to her knees. Holly watched, feeling helpless. ‘Five minutes until sunset.’ The Creator bent down, picked up the virus and momentarily closed his eyes. Holly realized he was turning off his connection in order to administer it.
Had he forgotten that he needed the interconnection to control his nanos? The guards leapt to their feet, nevertheless worse for wear, and charged. The Creator fell hard with a sickening thud to his skull, and despite appearing to be limp, the three muscled guards kept their weight pressing him down. Walking forward, the Author picked the virus off the floor and looked at it.
The monster-man walked in through the door. The Author glanced at him. “Is this it?” She asked.
“Yes.” He replied. “That’s the virus the Creator took from me.”
The monster-man ran over to the baby and frantically checked her. Sighing, he said, “Thank goodness, she’s still alive. This baby cost a fortune to make, but I stand to lose a lot more if the sale can’t go through.”
Holly felt rage flow through her veins. He is not selling her clone! Her clone is not a commodity. ‘Three point nineteen minutes until sunset,’ her brainchip said.
“Is he alive?” The monster-man walked toward the huddle of guards and tried to peer past them to the limp body underneath. “She needs to be fixed!”
The author pushed him aside and said, “That will not be happening as I will not be replaced by a baby hybrid.” With a flip of her wrist, the guards stood and stepped aside. The Author knelt down to her father, tenderly stroked his head, removed the cap from the needle and injected the virus into his neck near the carotid artery. He flickered his eyes at her, rounded his lips as if to say ‘no’ or maybe ‘ohhh,’ but no sound came. His body aged rapidly turning from a young handsome man to the dried out skin of a mummified body, becoming ever more leathery across his bones, until the bones themselves snapped from frailty. Within a few moments, his body disintegrated to dust.
No one had moved. Holly realized she had stopped breathing and quickly caught her breath. The effects of the drugs had now completely worn off and instead she was full of shock and horror. No one deserved to die like that.
The monster-man was the first to break the shocked silence. “Perhaps Author, in light of your glorious victory, you might want to record for posterity that which you have accomplished here today.”
Holly was wide-eyed. She was still gagged and the monster-man cast a knowing glace in her direction.
“Perhaps I shall, indeed.” The Author replied. “Untie her,” she told her guards, as Holly felt the Author begin to open Holly’s mind.
‘The sun has set.’ Holly’s brainchip said. It was too late. The virus was active inside her. She held her breath, waiting for carnage.
The Author’s familiar voice rang inside her head, then stopped abruptly. “What is that?” She asked aloud. Closing her eyes, the Author appeared to be concentrating. Holly could feel her mind being prodded as clearly as if it was happening physically.
A guard was still fussing with knots to unbind her hands. The Creator had tied her with a synthetic tech of some sort, which could not, as it turned out, simply be cut off. Holly wished they had taken the gag out of her mouth first. Then again, she didn’t have to answer for the virus this way.
Holly felt the Author recede from her mind. “I know what that was.” She said. “So it is time for me to now transcend. I will record my last lesson as this virus takes hold. It shall go out to all my people and those that are worthy, shall transcend with me. Fear not, for today is a day of celebration.”
Holly’s hands were free. Painfully, she stretched her arms and removed the gag from her mouth. She cried; she couldn’t help it. The voice of the Author continued to record in her mind as she watched the beautiful face become wrinkled and weathered. Her cheekbones sunk in and her bones began to creak.
The guard continued to untie Holly’s legs, now kneeling in front of her, despite the fact that tumors began to emerge from various regions of his body and skull. One guard turned to dust and the third guard was moaning clutching his stomach in a fetal position.
Finally, the Author’s body turned to dust, with the echo of her voice in Holly’s brain.
Holly’s feet were free. The monster-man was hovering over the baby, reaching for Holly’s clone.
A tiny happy baby coo broke the deadly silence of the room. At the same time, a jolt of electronic current sparked inside Holly’s brain.
“Don’t touch her!” Holly yelled, jumping to her feet, all pain forgotten.
Monster-man snarled at her.
Holly could see, as if a movie in her mind, the fastest way to the baby, avoiding all obstacles, including the monster-man’s most likely point of attack. Mathematical equations surrounded the room and she was filled with absolute confidence.
Holly ran toward the baby, dived under the monster-man’s arms, jumped up the wall and back flipped back over the cot. She lifted the baby up and ran.
She ran until she was out of the Order. Everywhere people were screaming, wriggling on the ground, or crying over a pile of dust and cloth. Children stared in shocked bewilderment, or were sobbing, or were themselves becoming diseased.
Holly kept running.
***Thank you very much for reading my novella. Stay tuned for the epilogue to read the Author’s Final Lesson