ByCharmain Hopkins, writer at
Charmain Hopkins

She ran her hands through her hair and stared at the flashing response on the screen. "Test results, positive" the words repeated back in a blinking pattern. The disease was still present.

Dammit! she swore to herself, why wasn't it working?

She pushed herself away from the desk and stood, stretching her neck from side to side. She needed a break. Fresh air. Something to clear her head. They were so close to success, she could feel it. She reached over to lock the computer screen, and grabbing her coffee cup, turned away from the workstation.

The doorway hissed with the release of air compression as one set of hermetically sealed entryways closed and another opened. The change in air pressure made her head thrum with discomfort. There was a reason that she stayed inside all the time. It was just too much effort, and too much pain, to go outside these days. It was so much easier to just stay inside. But something nagged at the back of her mind tonight. Something that told her she needed to walk away from the desk, and the repetition, and the failure. It took her 20 minutes to finally get free of all of the hatches and doorways that sealed the center off from the outside world. It was for everyone's safety she reminded herself.

The heat and humidity were the first things that hit her as she pushed the door open. It felt like she was walking into an incubator. That's because you are, Sarah. heat, damp,vegetation, countless insects to act as carriers. This is a horrible place to put a disease center!

She sighed and reached up to rub the back of her neck, her eyes turning skyward as she did. The pressure in her ears changed. The thrum-thrum-thrum of her heartbeat sounded in her ears. A heartbeat. That's all she wanted to hear. A single beat from a tiny heart. You're playing Frankenstein, you know. Stephens had commented. She denied it. No. That was not the goal. It was not about recreating life. It was not about creating immortality. That was the stuff of science fiction and horror stories. She was a scientist. This was science.

The science of it was solid, why wasn't it working? Borrowing the regenerative qualities of the human liver and combining them with unprogrammed stem cells, should ... in theory... allow for the cells to learn how to regenerate anything. An eye for a blind child. An arm for a solider wounded in battle. A heart for a patient too young to die from congestive heart failure. Her hand rested over her stomach. A uterus for a woman who lost hers to gonorrhea thanks to a rape. A chance to have a child. To save lives. That was the goal.

They were close, she knew it. They could see the regeneration process already; but it stalled at a certain stage of development. They just needed to get past that hurdle. One more series of tests. One more change in the algorithm.

Something buzzed by her ear, she waved it away absently.

Life. That was why she practiced medicine. To save lives. She would be able to save so many lives and end so much suffering if they were successful. How many children's lives could be changed with this process? Deformities and disease could become an inconvenience and not a tragedy.

A klaxon sounded, throwing her from her thoughts. The compound came to life. Lights, sirens, people in uniforms and sealed white containment suits, all filled the small yard that she stood in.

"Dr. Ashcroft, we have a containment breech" the voice in one of the containment suits spoke to her.

"Fuck. Lock it down. Delta protocols" she replied and turned herself over to the men in white containment suits. "Do what you need to do".

"Thank you for understanding" was the reply.

I was so close she thought, as she was led quietly back into the sealed tomb of a laboratory.

Two winged mosquitoes, their stomachs filled from feasting, flitted away in the distance, to share an unfortunate gift.


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