Welcome to Part 14 of “Document 13”, a dystopian graphic novel I’m creating with my daughter.
This is a considerably longer post than the usual so hang in there,
The year is 2074, the world has been plunged into darkness. One girl, Sarah Doe, will learn the secrets of the dark forces that run the ruined world. With the help of a few friends, her family, and her own powers she will fight to return the world to an order not known since well before her birth. Will she succeed? Read to find out!
If you haven’t read the other parts, go back and read them first! (Links are at the bottom).
*Interior of Dr. Bureau’s office. He is leaning over a laptop, squinting at charts and murmuring to himself.*
Dr:… Was I right? So many years ago… I must examine her DNA.
*He exits the office and walks down the wide hallway to the lab.*
*When he enters we see Sarah, asleep on the gurney, with wires attached to various points on her body.*
*He goes to a computer and starts looking through data.*
Dr: She’s 14… 2060… We were still implementing protocols then….how did she slip through?
*He continues clacking away at the computer. Sarah starts to stir.*
Dr: … list of program escapees…. Only six that year, this should be easy to narrow down…. Find DNA records of escaped subjects….
Sarah speaks softly from the gurney: Where am I?
Dr: Oh, you’re awake! You’re in my lab, I’m Dr. Bureau. I worked with your mother at one time. Now I just have to figure out who she was.
Sarah: How do you know my mother? I was orphaned. No one knows my mother…
Dr: It’s a long story. In 2060 I was working with a Progressive Salvation Party team to create super soldiers….
S: Progressive what? Super soldiers?
Dr: Yes. The Party believed the only way to reunite the world was to overpower all the other world alliances. We wanted an entire army of super humans who could destroy the Eastern Empire. Our team hoped to take advantage of genetic mutations noticed in children born in the late 2020’s. I won’t bore you with details.
Well… maybe a few. It’s been awhile since I had anyone to tell about it…
So. The Party only wanted men for soldiers, neglecting the fact that the positive genetic effects were noted most prominently in females. Needless to say we failed. Or at least we thought we did. I always told my colleagues that I believed the necessary traits would only activate between two x chromosomes, but they didn’t listen.
We engineered the conceptions to result in male children, but sometimes a female would slip through. We terminated when we could but some women escaped when they found out that they were carrying girls. It seems your mother was one of the ones who got away. Due to funding, no one tracked the mothers or the girls born to them, but I guess I know where one ended up….
S: What are you telling me? I’m a mutant?
Dr: (chuckling) Well, sort of. We never got to study the genes of positive outcomes. We didn’t have any. All the girls were aborted, save for the escapees, but we didn’t have the resources to chase them down. The program was mothballed in 2066 and the Party settled for having superiority in cloud cities. I wasn’t one of the lucky few to keep a position in the party. Thankfully I kept my life…
S: Why did the Headmistress bring me here?
Dr: She and I go back a long time. She was a Party member too, though she was working on different projects. We were purged about the same time….
Dr: Yeah, there was a shift around the time you were born. The Eastern Empire collapsed and the government shifted focus from military projects to social change. I was moved to the same department as Headmistress Matthews, but after a few months they decided we were expendable. Our minds were no longer needed. Many Party members were killed but we escaped the Clouds and began our own “businesses” down here. As long as we don’t make too many waves they aren’t interested in pursuing us.
S: OK, but why did she bring me here?
Dr: Initially Matthews was frustrated that she couldn’t kill you. She brings me a lot of her problem children to work on. Usually I just pass them back after a little tweaking, usually it just takes a few pills to calm them down, but you were different. I need a bit more time with you, so I told her I can share your powers….
S: You think you can share this? (In a hopeful tone) Will it kill me?
Dr: No, Miss Deathwish, you’ll live for a long time if I get my way. Quite the opposite, you will be the progenitor of a whole race of your kind! I’m going to isolate the cause of the mutation and transfer it via mRNA encoding. If I am successful there will be many like you, and perhaps the Party will rehire me. Everyone wins.
S: What does Headmistress Matthews know?
Dr: Nothing beyond your virtual invincibility. Very few people outside of my department knew about the program. I tried to tell her about it once but she didn’t believe me. She is dumbfounded but she’s always looking for a way to keep her youth. It shouldn’t be too hard to convince her of your value.
S: Do you think my mother is still alive?
Dr: I have to reference your DNA with the subject database and then cross reference that with the census. If she’s in the clouds we’ll find her. Otherwise, who knows. A lot of them fled outside.
S: Outside? (In the safe havens?)
Dr: Yeah, not many people survived outside the cities during the ’36 eruption or the resulting famines. But some people think there’s safety out there. Didn’t they teach you anything at the orphanage?
S: No, just how to run errands and grow plants. And the boys do philanthropy duty, at least until they tried to get me to….
Dr: (laughing) Yes, I was told.
S : (Maybe I shouldn’t try to die. Ruby wanted me to get outside, maybe she knew my mother….)
Dr: I need to run tests, sit still.
*He cuts her arm with a scalpel.*
S: Ow!! What are you doing?
Dr: Just wait. How many times have you been cut in life?
S: Not many, we always had suits outside. And there wasn’t much to get cut on in the orphanage.
Dr: And how quickly did you heal?
S: I was always bandaged. If it healed quicker than average I wouldn’t have noticed.
*They both watch as the wound heals, not instantly, but over several minutes the cut disappears and leaves a slight scar.*
Dr: Curious… tell me, what’s your tolerance for the air outside? Matthews says you survived it.
S: I had my mask rip off once for a minute, I panicked and put it back on. When I was thrown out with Ruby I lasted longer than her but not more than 30 seconds.
Dr: And what happens when you die? How does that feel?
S: Pain. Then nothing. I see flashes of my life. And then darkness.
Dr: And when you wake up?
S: Excruciating pain. Then euphoria. I feel like I am completely new. Hard to describe…. I’ve only died a few times that I know of…
Dr: Fascinating…. And how are you so eloquent?
S: Ruby…. (she tears up)
Dr: I’m sorry. The cook… How long did you have together?
S: Just a month or so, it’s hard to tell in the safe room. But she taught me to read. I loved it. There was an old library at the orphanage and she would sneak me books. She said I was some sort of prodigy. I don’t know about that….
Dr: It’s possible, with your genes. Have you noticed you are better at physical activity than others?
S: I was the best fundraiser for the orphanage. Until the damn dogs… (she remembers Robin and begins to cry)
Dr: You have been through a lot. Let me give you a little something to help you rest….
Love it? Hate it? I welcome any and all feedback!
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