American Chimera – 16.3

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“You just tell Mama I’m ok, y’hear? Whatever happens to me, ain’t nothing anyone can do about it. Best you just know I’ve got great medical care, adequate food and water, and puzzles that increase in difficulty after I solve ’em.”

The interrogator cleared her throat. “Janie Huffman has already been made aware of the scientists’ plans to breed you.”

“That’s awful.”

“Is it? She’s been sterilized. I’m sure she wants grandkids.”

“No she don’t!” Dani argued. “Have you seen the spider boys?”

“Yes. They seemed perfectly docile.”

“They’re animals. Animals. What kind of husband is that? What kind of son? That’s…I don’t want that, even discounting that I’m not ready!”

“So you’ve met them too?”

Dani growled. Her claw clacked more violently against the tablet. “I tried talkin’ to one when they first brought it in. It didn’t respond, just got in this rapey frenzy like…like an animal. I was drugged, didn’t know what to do – so I fought back. I ripped its cephalo – er, head – clean off.” A couple whimpers. “I didn’t mean to kill it – I didn’t!”

The interrogator put her hands out before her. “No, no – shh…it’s ok. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Evidently I did, though. When I wasn’t drugged, I figgered out how to stare ’em down. They couldn’t do anything long as I did that. So no – I didn’t need to kill that first one.” The tablet was tossed back onto the bed. “Have you ever killed a dog, ma’am?”

The interrogator shook her head no.

“It ain’t fun.”

“You were defending yourself.”

“But it still sucked, you know?” Dani put a claw to the top of the bed and pulled herself up. Many eyes peeked out from underneath a white hood made out of blankets and sheets.

The interrogator gasped.

Dani crouched down. “Oh. You’re afraid of me.”

“No, I-”

“It’s ok. I went through your list – you might as well just take it and get outta here.”

The interrogator huffed, broadened her stance, and marched toward the bed. “Alright. I’m scared. I admit it.” She reached down and took the tablet before scrolling briefly through the list. “I can hear your voice, your reasoning, your emotions, and that’s ok. But your shape was chosen on purpose, you know – fear is an incredible weapon.”

“I ain’t ever wanted to be a weapon,” Dani said. She scooted fruther down, trying to keep out of the line of sight of the interrogator. “Sometimes, when I start thinkin’ bout how I’m this scary ‘thing,’ I wanna cry. I look at this room, its darkness, and think ’bout how I’m s’posed to be the mother of all these mindless soldiers. Weapons. And I cry, ’cause even if they don’t make me kill nothin’ else, I don’t know if my animal sons will be able to stop themselves. The North Korean chimeras couldn’t, and they were just monkey-men.”

The interrogator clutched her tablet as Dani began to sob.

“I’m sixteen. I just wanted to drive, to play hard on the varsity team, apply to college – God knows I just wanted to be Dani, not some Eve for a bunch of monsters!”

“It’ll be ok-”

“Yeah. Says the person who worked for ‘the man’ for thirty years.”

“I…I…” The interrogator looked to her feet. “Ok. Well…”

“Get on with it. You’re no better to talk with than the scientists, so don’t flatter yourself.”

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