American Chimera – 14.3

American Chimera Cover Small

“’Cause the gov’ments filled with darned idiots,” I answered. I leaned onto the coffee table and looked into our daughter’s eyes. “This pisses me right off. So I’m just gonna tell yeh how the world works and get it over with. So siddown.”

Dani crawled onto the bed, and Janie gave a wary look at me. “What’re you doin,’ Brett?”

“What shoulda been done afore now.” I fell onto the bed, next to Dani, and smoothed out the blanket in front of me. “Now, Dani, you ’member a couple weeks ago when the war ended? How I told you I thought you was a chimera?”

She nodded her cephalothorax. That’s a fancy word, ain’t it? Cephalothorax. Learned that one from Dr. Worthington.

“Well,” I continued, scratchin my chin, “Bein’ a chimera means you’re a whole genetic soup of a whole bunch of things. It’s why you’re a ‘spider girl,’ why you hafta get those head treatments so yer brain will fit into yer exoskeleton. And you know what? Someone made you that way.”

“I knew that.”

“I ain’t talkin’ ’bout God,” I refuted, holding out a hand. “I’m talkin’ ’bout some gov’ment scientist. Some little weasel nerd in Connecticut or summat awful like that thought, ‘Hey, you know what, let’s put a little girl into a spider’s body. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.’ And so that dirty carpetbagger come up with some way to put you in that body.”

Janie held onto the bedpost. “Brett, that’s enough.”

“I ain’t finished, though,” I said. “We fount yeh, Dani, over in the holler near the blackberry bushes. Up above Miss Sarah’s cow pasture.” My lips quivered. “We fount yer egg and took yeh home. And you ’ventully hatched, and Dani, we loved you then like we love you now. And I want the best for yeh. The absolute best.”

Dani wiggled her little pedipalps. I remember seeing the fangs on her jaws. I remember at that moment wanting to just squeeze her and stop the pain she was gonna feel.

I coughed. “You’ve learnt in school how babies are made. They’ve tole yeh the end of year tests determine your phenotypical fitness, and your phenotypic fitness determines how many babies the gov’ment’s gonna let you have when you grow up.” I leaned forward. “Mama and Daddy weren’t ’lowed no babies.”

“What?” She skittered around on the bed. “None? Then…then…am I adopted?”

Janie took hold of Dani’s front leg, right round the flexible part she used as a hand. “You’ve gone too far, Brett.”

Dani’s gaze fixed on Janie. “Is it true? Did you just…just…find me down with all the other trash in the holler?”

“You’re not trash, Dani.” Janie said. “Dani, you got a two child rating. Do you know how rare that is? Don’t you realize how many other kids got ones, or zeros? Because most of them did.”

“Youns are both missin’ the point.” I pounded a fist on the bed. “The point is that the gov’ment made you real special, Dani, and your Mama and me are lucky to have you. Blessed, in fact. But the stupid gov’ment ain’t figgered out how to judge the beauty of a spider girl, ’cause they ain’t e’er gonna love you like Mama and Daddy can. The gov’ment made you, prob’ly spent a whole lotta money to do it, and they put so much time into makin’ you that they ain’t updated their test to ’count for you bein’ a spider girl. They just ’spected plain human girls and plain human boys, and that’s why their test sucks. ’Cause they’re idiots…spend all that money to make you and not give you a fair test…stupid.”

Dani shook.

Janie held her tight. “Your classmates love you. Your friend Stacy loves you.” She rubbed Dani’s head. “And yeah, you’re adopted. That’s how come you got the most rotten parents in the world.”

Dani pushed Janie away. “What? Mommy, I love you. You’re the best!”

“Am I?” Janie asked. She pulled some files out of the computer and brought an old letter, marked by its old file extension. “This paper here says I’s never fit to be a mommy. I took the same test you took, and the state told me I failed. Failed. I got a big ol’ zero, and they cut me open and took out my ovaries. I got low scores in ev’ry subject, ’cludin’ beauty. You beat me on near ’bout ever’thin, Dani. And you know what?” She reached out to take my right hand, then kept her other hand on Dani’s cephalothorax (gotta use my fancy words when I can). Janie squeezed my hand tight. “I found you, and I think my raisin’ you’s showed that test what’s what. I think I’ve been a good mommy, and I hope you agree.” She shed a tear. “I don’t know what I’d do if I had to believe my score was right.”

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6 thoughts on “American Chimera – 14.3

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      That’s kind of what I hoped. I wanted to have Dani seem like a person with a lot of promise but no hope – and contrasts against other characters would hopefully be intriguing…

  1. Jules says:

    ….limiting children didn’t help much in ‘that’ Asian country. Keeping farmers from having enough children to keep the rest of the country fed. Science has benefits but can also be very scary.

    Now all I have to figure out (possibly from the beginning… is why the interrogator is interviewing everyone and why Dani is now captive. It it for her safety or just part of a continuation of the cruel experiment?

    I watched a show about the last tribe of peoples who are living how they did from the beginning – hunting their food daily. No electronics. They are an endangered group but they are no less human because they live differently than more modern people.

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      1) Yeah, China’s one-child-policy was an enormous failure. I think the big difference between that and the one I include in American Chimera is the climate change bits. One child or other reproduction limiting policies don’t work well for many reasons, but there are people out there who believe reduction of the population is the only way to turn around climate change. So that’s the angle I went with.

      2) The interrogator is interviewing everyone because the government basically arrested everyone and brought them to the bunker to be processed after the fact. She’s finding the people who know of Dani the least and won’t tell about her existence later. There was a war – ended seven years before the story began – in which research on creatures such as Dani was banned worldwide. If Dani were to be discovered, there would theoretically be a terrible war because of the research. Leastwise, that’s the theory of what I wrote.

      3) People are people is one of the main, if not THE main, theme of the book. So yeah, the last paragraph of your comment was relevant.

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