The Smallest Death

“Hurry up.”

Trey was peering over the shoulder of his companion, doing his best to hold back the agitation.

“There,” Weber said, stepping away from the keypad. The door in front of him gave a faint click. He pulled it open and stepped through.

Trey gave one last glance around the fenced compound and then followed. In the darkness of the long corridor Weber’s black clad form had started to disappear.

“Why couldn’t you have hacked that from home?” Trey asked as he hurried to catch up.

“I’ve explained already, it’s a closed system.” Weber’s voice was a whisper. “These set-ups aren’t connected to the net otherwise every script-kiddie from here to Baltimore would be poking around.”

Now that the night vision system had kicked in Trey could see it as if the lights were on. “These glasses are pretty neat for something from K-Stop.”

Weber gave a quiet chuckle. “Thank China, cheap labour and the advancement of science. This is the type of kit Special Opps were using back in the ‘20s.”

At the next security door Weber took out his tech-glove again and placed it over the keypad. Trey slipped the heavy bag from his shoulder. After a few seconds Weber straightened again and they carried on through to the next section.

The lights were on. Trey’s goggles adjusted, and the green hue vanished.

“Are you sure there won’t be anyone around? Security or something worse?”

“No. Not a single person or bot. Time was these places would be crawling with Tech Docs twenty-four-seven and moral terrorists like us wouldn’t have got anywhere near. Now days these automated baby factories churn out the working class like cars used to roll off production lines. The only people here are the day shift who spend their time working out how to make it faster.” There was no sign of frustration in Weber’s voice, even though he had gone over this many times with Trey during the planning.

“Here we go,” Weber said as he pushed through another door. “Let’s have a look at the offspring these scum are creating and see if we can do something about it.”

The room they walked into reminded Trey of clips he had seen on the net. Tall transparent cylinders, each the height of two people, were spread in five rows stretching off to the distant wall. Trey guessed there were almost a hundred. In each floated the shadowy form of a baby.

Weber walked down one of the aisles, peering at the contents of the tubes.

“Look at these things. Poor kids. They have no idea they are being born just so everyone else can live a life of luxury.” He turned away from the floating bodies and looked at Trey. “In our Grandpa’s days it used to be the Mexicans who did it all, before that it was the blacks. Now none of them want to do the hard work, just like the whites before them.” He pulled the data-glove out of his pocket. “Get the uplink working. If we’re going to get the programming changed on these things I’ll need all the processing power I can pull down.”

Trey dropped the bag onto the floor and slid open the zipper. The dish was awkward to carry around, but the only way they could get a strong data connection out of the building; the use of hard lines out of the complex had an increased chance of detection. As he put together the tripod that would support the dish Trey kept glancing up at the tanks.

“Do you think they’re big enough to know we’re here? Normal babies can tell stuff about the world even when in the womb.”

Weber didn’t turn away from the data port he was stood at. “Nope. They’re drugged; kept out of it until they’re old enough to be birthed. Heck look what they’re like when they’re fully grown; mindless drones that can’t speak. That’s why we’re doing a good thing. By altering their genetic build we’ll make them real people again.” A smile spread across his face. “The trainers are going to get a shock when this batch comes out and they won’t know why it happened. It’ll bring the whole system to a standstill.”

Trey lifted the dish and slotted it in place atop the tripod. A flick of a switch and small clamps activated locking it in place. He turned to the bag again and zipped it back up, all the time keeping one eye on the submerged child above him.

“You ready over there?” Weber’s call caught him by surprise and Trey twisted around to see what his friend wanted. As he shifted one of his feet caught in the handle of the bag. It tripped him and he reached out to stop from falling. His hand grabbed at the nearest object; the tripod.

Trey’s weight caused the structure to topple over. He realised too late to do anything about it other than let go. By then the dish was falling towards the tank.

“Shit,” Trey cried out just as the pickup arm connected with the glass.

The rest seemed to happen in slow motion. Trey watched as large cracks shot out from the point of the impact. Water squirted from the hole, first in a thin jet and then in a torrent as more glass fell away.

As the sides crumbled the top crashed down. Trey jumped back to avoid the liquid.

“What the fuck,” was all Weber managed before his voice was interrupted by a wail.

Trey thought it was an alarm, then he realised it was coming from the floor in front of him. There lay the child who had been in the tank.

Large brown eyes stared up. Arms and legs waved in the air. In the other tanks children started to move, disturbed by the commotion; aroused from sleep.


14 May 2010
Unfortunately the article that inspired this story has been lost in a big black hole that is my memory.

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