SynopsisThere is beauty in death. As we look at the fall foliage and see the dead and dying, we revel in the beauty. Don't we all marvel at the colorful autumn leaves?
Years ago, genetically modified crops created an environment hostile to humans. Now, two hundred years later, as civilization slowly unwinds, a young man encounters two young women, and discovers the truth is far worse for humanity than anyone thought.
ExcerptDoc glanced over his shoulder and frowned. “Did nobody tell you how to wash yourself? Do that area last, not first. Hands, then head, then torso, then legs, then feet, then your pits and crack and crotch.”
Pol felt his face redden, stopped scrubbing himself. Should I, he thought, and wasn’t sure what exactly Doc was suggesting.
“Yes, start over,” Doc said without looking. “Ama is genetically damaged.”
“Ok,” Pol said, and then to distract from the embarrassment, “I thought she passed the test.”
Hal said, “Rimrock’s tests are at least twenty years old and are only able to detect the one type. Ama has a different type.”
“How does Ama being genetically damaged wind up with Doc sticking that huge needle in both my legs?”
Hal explained, “BZZ causes cross-species genome mutation. Some species are not only resilient to BZZ, but thrive in it. They are getting bigger and evolving more frequently as their size increases and changes in the environment better support their increased mass. Higher oxygen content, warmer weather, more food for them. That’s why we have bigger insects and reptiles, while most mammals, especially humans, have suffered. We call the species that thrive meta-species. If the poison, blood, saliva, or, any secretion from a meta-species gets into your system, and you’re also exposed to BZZ, which basically means walking outside for a couple hours, your genetics become damaged, and any children you have will be, the way you’ve heard it described, genetically damaged. What that means, though, is those children are prototypes called proto-species. They are the first step towards a full cross-species hybrid. It will take any number of generations to actually start picking up more physical characteristics of the meta-species, but the first characteristics to change are the drive to breed with either human or the meta-species, and, in the case of certain insects, secret pheromones and other toxins that mimic the behavior of the meta-species.”
“She made me have sex with her?” Pol asked.
“She may not have known why she wanted to, only that she had to,” Hal said.
And Doc added, “Which may explain why she was upset afterwards. She wasn’t conscious of her actions, or of the consequences for you.”
“And the neurotoxin?” Pol asked.
Hal said. “The pheromone we detected is from a meta-species of africanized honey bee. The toxin affects humans into mimicking the behavior of a honey bee colony. If Peri hadn’t given you the datropine treatment, it would have compelled you towards one of the genetically-encoded roles of a bee hive: A worker or a soldier. Of course, as a toxin, you most likely would have died within a few days or weeks.”
“That’s what happened to Del,” Pol said. “Right? Is he going to die?”
“If Del had sex with Ama and was infected, I think we have evidence to support that,” Doc said. “Hal, it would help if there’s a way to test for Ama’s specific type of genetic damage.”
“Not much I can do on short notice,” Hal said. “How promiscuous would you say she’s been?”
“Very” both Pol and Doc said together.