The Baby

The team gathered for lunch around a long, narrow metal table on the observation deck of Station 49-Beta. Light streamed in through thick tinted, plate glass windows. Through the glass, the corner of Saturn’s belt glinted in the distant sunlight.

I took my plate of food to the table. The reflective surface of the table revealed muscular arms in company overalls and a pointed beard. I brushed back long, greying locks with one hand. Grabbing salt, I liberally covered it. Synthetic food supplements again for lunch.

Tall and graceful, Nomen sat down beside me, shifting her short, cropped hair behind an ear.  “I want to have a baby,” she said to no one in particular.

That got our attention. Futura’s brown eyes widened, fork frozen in mid-air. Hogarth stared. Sirius’ head abruptly surfaced from his hologram. The rest of the team sat in stupefied silence.

I watched her from the corner of my eyes. Nomen eyes sparkled, that impish grin on her face. Her hair bobbed around her face as she looked around the table.  I sincerely doubted the crew knew what she meant.

We both emerged in the late twenty-third century when concepts like birth were not such a distant memory. Now conception was genetically engineered and the resultant fetus grown in a birthing tank until it was time to emerge. Each tank contained a group of twenty.

“What’s a baby?” asked Tranquilus confirming my suspicion.

“You don’t want to know,” I said, stabbing my fork at his meat supplement. “Not while you’re eating at any rate.”

Nomen banged her fist on the table. The plates jumped. “I don’t understand,” she said. “Why is it such a big deal?”

“It’s not that it’s a big deal,” I said. “No one has done it in eons, that’s all. Physically we’re quite different from our ancestors.”

“I think it’s a splendid idea,” said Mazlo. She always secretly admired Nomen, though lacking her spontaneity. Nomen was the rebel. She was not. Together they ganged up on Sirius and anyone else who got in their way.

Sirius’ lip curled up in a grimace, revealing pearly white incisors. “It’s disgusting,” he said, figuring it out. “Why would you even want to, Nomen? I mean it’s so bestial and primal.”

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Hugh McGovern

From childhood, Hugh had a lifelong interest in science fiction, and loved the possibilities of the medium to express different ideas without restrictions of reality. He also writes fiction as a hobby/pastime, and he loves playing with words and creating characters and stories. Check out his work at hughmcgovernwriting.com.

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