“I told you before that I don’t know what she is, but…you’re right, in a way. I think her mind is human, or at least human enough. Her cranial cavity isn’t growing correctly given her brain size.”
“Can we…is there anything we can do?”
I nodded. “Yeah. There are things we can try.”
I actually didn’t have a clue. It was at this point, when I realized I was trying not to let them know I couldn’t save their daughter, that I stopped being jealous of doctors that worked on humans. Oh, hell, that would be the worst.
Brett nodded. “What we gonna do?”
“I have to do a couple more studies,” I said. “We’re going to need to run some metabolic and hormonal tests, and it’s…it’s going to be a lot of them. We don’t know what she is, so I’m going to have to run the gamut. After we figure out what growth hormones she produces, I should be able to order a cocktail to inject near her brain immediately after she sheds her next exoskeleton. It’ll force the soft, new flesh to grow more than normal. If we do this every time she molts, we should be able to control it.”
Brett held his little spider close. “Any side effects?”
“I don’t know.” I leaned forward, putting a lot more weight on my arms than I can manage now. “Everything we do with Dani is uncharted territory. The only way I could make better decisions is if we knew what she was – but that would require me asking for help from an agency. Is that what you want?”
He shook his head. “No. Keep this quiet. I git the sneakin’ spicion that Uncle Sam won’t take kindly to us raisin’ this little girl. Not that I think the gov’ment’s involved or anythin,’ since we definitely didn’t just steal her. Nothin’ classified or anything, not that we know of.”
I moved some of the images into Dani’s electronic folders. This was the first time I knew for sure that Dani was supposed to be government property. I looked at some of the wrinkles and liver spots on my hands. I didn’t have that long left to live, not the way the environment was falling apart and disposable plastics were disappearing. A lifetime of excess and luxury was catching up to me.
And to Dani.
My wrinkles and spots and failing health made me part of the generation that had made Janie and Brett sterile, that had failed to stop the temperatures from rising. I can blame my parents and grandparents as much as I want, but they’re long dead now and there’s no point. Assuming time goes on, you’ll understand one day. Your generation will do things to irrepably change the lives of those younger than you, and they won’t like your decisions no matter what they are, no matter if they’re all that stands between the planet and total destruction.
“I’ll help you. It’s going to be expensive, but I’ll put you on a payment plan. There’s no point in making you pay for a child’s medical care when no one else on the planet has to.” I typed into the records system a few notes and made another appointment. “Bring her back in a couple weeks and we’ll do the complete workup. I’ll formulate the first therapy, and we’ll try it. If we don’t, well…I fear the alternative is worse than the possible side effects from the treatments.”
Brett nodded. “How can I thank you, Dr. Worthington?”
“Keep your job. Do right by this girl you’ve adopted. No one else with kids is going to slack off.”
“I’m not sure I wanna go to college.”
I let my shoulders down. “That’s up to you. But one of you should try – they have scholarships just for sterilized people.”
He wrinkled his nose. “Yeah.” Dani wrapped a few legs around his neck. “I’ll see you in a couple weeks then, Doc.”
I nodded and saw him off.
He paid his bill in full.