Last Week’s FFF: Gathered
Tyler sat in his kitchen. Dim slivers of light passed through the chipped pieces of the closed shutters. He squinted even at that. It seemed, these days, that even the slightest light had the power to inflict terrible headaches and render him nearly blind.
With a great effort, he rose from his chair and stumbled to the refrigerator. Five years ago, he would have rivaled its size. Now, he walked slightly hunched. His skin clung tight to lean muscles, with no discernible excess of fat. He looked ten years younger, even though he felt thirty years older.
He opened the rusting, off-white appliance. He had turned the bulb off weeks ago. Still, when he opened it, he shuddered in dread, fearing that it may have somehow repaired itself. The inside stayed dark. He removed a small glass container from the door. Clutching it in his palm, he closed the door, slamming it harder then he had intended.
Back in his chair, he stood the glass on the table. He fumbled in a box next to it and removed a syringe. His hands were shaking now. He tired to steady them as he threaded the needle into the soft top of the glass container. It took three tries to puncture it. Once it had successfully penetrated the surface, he turned them upside-down in tandem. He squeezed the air out of the syringe, into the glass, exchanging it for the liquid inside.
He studied the needle. It was full of the serum. He pushed the last bubble of air from it, then steadied the needle against his skin. He took a deep breath as he pressed the point into his arm. He pulsed the plunger, pushing the liquid in a little at a time.
He felt stinging ice in his veins. His stomach rolled a moment, then returned to normal. He pulled the needle out and exhaled in relief.
Last one, he thought to himself.
He flexed his arm. It felt better. He stood from his chair. He could move with fluidity again. He was near giddy when a knock came at his door.
“Come in!” he yelled, not daring to brave the sunlight just yet.
A moment later, his son appeared in the doorway. He looked more like his brother then child.
“Dad, I’ve been calling you,” he said.
“Sorry, I was distracted. What’s wrong?”
“Have you seen the news?” he asked.
“No. I don’t like watching television. My eyes, you know.”
“Fine, then the radio. Where is it?” he asked.
Tyler went to his junk drawer. He rummaged for a moment before finding the handheld radio. His son took it, cranked the lever to power it, and found the news station.
“In a precedent setting ruling today, the Supreme Court made the devastating and controversial decision that anyone who has been treated with non-human DNA is to no longer be considered human. While this sort of treatment has never been legal in the United States due to heavy ethical issues, such treatments have been popular worldwide, and even on the black market right here at home. The Court made no distinction between cosmetic versus life saving therapies, insisting that non-human is non-human, no matter the reason. This comes in light of the rise in criminal activity as a result of the strengthen, healing, and aggressive behavior that can be caused by such treatments. Wide spread testing will commence in the coming days. The sentence for being found to be a non-human is uncertain, as those found with the genes are no longer protected under the Constitution…”
“Dad, you have to stop the DNA treatments. We’ll find another way to treat the cancer.”
“It’s too late.”
“What do you mean?”
“I finished it just before you came. I’m healed son. I can feel it. I think that the cancer is gone. But my genes are forever altered. It won’t wash out of my system. I knew that when I started the treatment.”
“Then we’ll get you out of the country. Take you somewhere this is legal. South America maybe? Thailand?”
“It might be too late for that. Odds are, with this announcement, every way out of the country is going to be crawling with every agent they can muster. They’ll test any traveler,” Tyler said.
“Then we’ll hide you. You can come live at my house. They can’t really test every single person in the country.”
“I can’t let you put yourself, your family, in danger for me.”
“Dad, I just got you back. You were on the verge of death. I can’t lose you again.”
“Look, it’s like you said, it’ll take awhile for them to test everyone. I was living on borrowed time anyway. Now, I’ve got a little more. Maybe the ruling will get over turned. Maybe not. But, until they come knocking, let’s just enjoy the time that we have together.”
Tyler hugged his son tight. Even as a grown man, he could still see the scared child inside of him.
“It’ll be okay,” Tyler said.
“You’re not a monster, dad. You’re still human. I don’t care what they say. I love you.”
“I love you too, son. I love you, too.”