Excerpt from The 24th Chromosome (by Andrew Clark)

He could sense an enormous change coming on.  After months of floating peacefully in liquid, he knew something was going to bring it all to an end.  It didn’t surprise him, however.  Ever since he could remember, the walls had been closing in on him, or he had been growing, he wasn’t sure which.  He just knew that something had to give before he was crushed within this confining chamber.

There was the pulsing pressure again.  It was as if something was trying to squeeze the life out of him.  Then it occurred to him that this pressure was forcing him upwards, pushing his head into a passage of sorts.  It also occurred to him that this passage wasn’t big enough to accommodate his head, let alone the rest of his body.  Without thinking, he began to fight.  Then the pulsing pressure went away.  He associated this with his resistance and realized he would have to resist again if it came back.

Nothing he did could move him back where he had been.  His head was firmly positioned in the passage and he could not move it out.  Accepting this, he waited.  The wait wasn’t long and he soon found himself fighting again.  This time, however, the pressure changed tactics on him.  It began to push from beneath him as well.  As hard as he fought, it was of little use.  He was moving up the passage.

Just as he gave up his physical fight against the pressure, his mind began to react.  He suddenly felt the stress of the situation, but he couldn’t determine where the stress was coming from.  It seemed to fill his body with anxiety.  This was then followed by something he couldn’t identify, but it seemed to dull his senses as well as numb the pain of the physical pressure.  He felt himself losing control of his body and mind.  Everything was becoming hazy.  He fought this feeling for as long as he could, but it was of little use.  He was being defeated by whatever was happening.

The moment came where the top of his head appeared to find an opening.  A final thrust of the pressure pushed his head free.  His mouth was forced open by something he couldn’t see and filled with a solid object that offended him.  Then he could feel the ever-soothing liquid being sucked from his chest.  The pain was unbearable, but not as unbearable as his inability to fight this thing, whatever it was.  Then an enormous pain in his chest interrupted his thoughts as the solid object was removed from his mouth.  Something expanded within him and was immediately filled with a gas.  He coughed in pain and the sound alarmed him and intrigued him at the same time.

Once again, his thoughts were interrupted by pain as the rest of his body was pushed and pulled from the passage.  He reacted to this pain in a new way.  He screamed.  When he opened his eyes, all he could see was a few hazy outlines of objects that made noise.  He screamed again.  Then the worst thing of all happened.  He felt what was surely his lifeline being severed by a sharp object.  The noisy objects were trying to end his existence!  He screamed again.  It was only when something warm was wrapped around him that he realized he was still alive.  He screamed again anyway.  Then a loud sound stopped his screaming.

He tried to clear his vision and saw large fleshy objects moving all around him.  Then he was placed next to one of the large fleshy objects and felt an immediate comfort.  He was alive and he was still fully aware of what was going on around him.  Then he heard another loud sound and realized it was coming from one of the large fleshy objects.

“It’s a boy,” it noised, “and very beautiful.”  The large fleshy object next to him gave him a soft comforting squeeze.

“Very beautiful,” it noised.  Then he looked into what were surely the fleshy object’s brain receptors.  He felt comfort from them.  “And very alert.”

“Yes, he is,” the other fleshy object noised.  “It’s almost as if he knows what’s going on.”

Ah, he realized.  These fleshy objects had the ability to think together.  Very interesting.

“What’s his name?” the other fleshy object noised.  Then the fleshy object he was looking at did something strange with the large opening beneath the brain receptors.  The large opening went from a straight closed line to an open arc, exposing a bunch of bright shiny objects.

“Michael,” it noised.

Ah!  That’s where the noise was being emitted!  However, he also felt a different kind of noise.  It was a silent noise coming from behind the brain receptors.  It was filled with images and symbols.  Very interesting, he thought.  He set to work trying to figure out what it all meant.


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