from "To Summon Mountains"

I isolated the part of the strand that I thought controlled the loss of telomeres, and created an incident at the company that made it look like we were being hacked by one of our competitors. During the supposed hacking, all our test subjects were injected with samples of the DNA. I thought, “Well, that will certainly make my name when it turns out that none of the brats can ever get cancer.”

But there it is. My name has never been made.

What happened was that the DNA snippet entered the test subjects and decided to reproduce itself. Aggressively. Replacing the host cells as it attacked and destroyed them.

Some of the cells resisted. But the attack was too strong, and the new immune systems of the test subjects fought back too hard—an uncontrollable fever resulted.

About five hundred babies died.


The babies who survived the first phase of my plan—God help me—were being subjected to more torture. The donor parents often requested that their children be played different languages in the “womb.” It was to prepare them to learn different languages from a very young age. That was what most parents requested: not genetic perfection or superhuman gifts of the body and mind. Only to be healthy, and to learn to speak more than one language.

Anita worked in the same lab as I, as a programmer. She had, according to my plan, changed the programs so that now they contained a wealth of knowledge about the world. There were languages, yes, but then there was also the I Ching, all of Shakespeare’s plays and poems, Journey to the West, the Metamorphoses, The Art of War, The Prince, the complete works of Douglas Adams, many histories from around the world, many programming languages, many treatises on science fiction (how better to prognosticate the future?), news reports...

We were trying to engineer wisdom.

The test subjects began to die off, one by one, over the next few days while I was at hospital. The symptoms were those of stress and panic—terrible storms in the electrical activity in their brains, followed by heart attacks.

I begged Anita to stop the unofficial experiment. But she wouldn’t. The babies died and died and died…until only eight were left.

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- from "To Summon Mountains" by DeAnna Knippling

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