The Offspring of Your Dreams
by Franco Amati
Deanna, expectant mother, looked up at her doctor. Her eyes were wide and her mouth slack-jawed.
Dr. Pearle explained: “We use statistical modeling to create the most accurate simulation of your child’s neuronal development from conception to age twenty-three. That’s roughly when synaptic pruning is completed. It allows us to make predictions about your child’s cognitive profile. Do you have any questions before we proceed?”
“So I just listen to what my hypothetical child has to say, and then it’s yea or nay?”
“Exactly,” she said as she waved the Celinax-3 Ultrasound Wand over Deanna’s belly in concentric circles. She paused periodically to hit the RUN button on the small computer that hummed over her shoulder. With each hit, she scanned lines of code pouring down. Her expert pupils moved left to right as she watched for any parametric anomalies.
“How’s it look?” Deanna asked.
“Everything looks good so far,” Dr. Pearle said.
A spiral of Deanna’s brown hair glistened under the glow of the sterile fluorescent globes above her head. She was sweating despite the ambient temperature of the room being rather cold and despite the fact that she was mostly naked under the thin hospital gown.
“I can’t believe I’m going to hear my future baby’s voice.”
“It’s a realistic simulation of what your future child will be like as an early adult. The system produces a probabilistic rendering of the bio-psycho-social trajectory of this specific zygote. I should remind you, this is not even remotely a human being yet. So if you don’t like what she has to say to you, just say the word, and we’ll terminate.”
Terminate. It was so final. But she felt the rush of power that came with the word. It was the power of choice amidst an otherwise overwhelming genetic chaos.
“Okay, here’s the remote. In a moment I’m going to leave the room. Once you hit that blue button, you’ll hear a stream of monologue. The linguistic vocalizer will play a synthesized female voice. Pay close attention to the content of your child’s message. If it sounds like the personal statement of a child you want to raise, then we’ll green-light the pregnancy. If not, we’ll abort. When it stops, press the grey button, and I’ll return.”
“Got it. Thank you.”
Deanna took a deep breath as the doctor left the room. Once the door closed, she counted down from five, a silly routine she did before doing anything that made her nervous.“Five, four, three…” She pressed and listened.
At first she was comforted by the tone of the voice. It was mature and soothing. Then she became impressed by her daughter’s intelligent word choices. High-IQ did run in her family, she thought. But soon the expression on Deanna’s face turned to horror. She sat up, brushed back a matted wet curl from her forehead, and cringed as her daughter’s soliloquy got progressively worse. The monologue devolved into scattered self-conscious ruminations and disturbing philosophical musings.
This can’t be normal, Deanna thought. Her daughter was talking about the subjective nature of reality and how it was probable that she didn’t even exist. She said it was likely that she, herself, was a simulated entity. How does she know? It was the kind of stuff that only a hyper-aware psychologically twisted young monster would come up with. Her speech concluded with a challenge: “So, Mother, prove me wrong. Show me that I really do exist.”
Deanna pressed the grey button. She pressed and pressed until the doctor returned. She had her answer. All that was left was to tell the doctor.
“Well, I hope that the projection was informative. Do you need more time to think?”
“No. I know the answer. Abort. Please abort. I don’t want to have a kid who talks like that.”
“All right. We never ask questions. We’ll never undermine your decision. Now I realize there’s almost always a certain poignancy to these moments. So I’d like to remind you that this is only your first time. You’re still in your prime and have many fertile years ahead of you.”
“I know. Thank you, Doctor. You’re so understanding.”
The doctor reached into a drawer and pulled out a sealed glass tube. She peeled off a transparent polymer wrapping and clicked the device to reveal a small syringe.
“I’ll be injecting three hundred tiny nano-bots into your uterus. They’ll clear everything out by the end of the day. Then they’ll self-destruct and dissolve. Make sure you eat tonight and drink plenty of water.”
With the deft touch of a physician who’s cancelled many hypothetical existences, the doctor plunged a syrup of hungry zygote-consuming nano-bots into Deanna’s reproductive system. Then she pulled out the needle, snapped it back in the tube, and tossed it in the waste bin.
Dr. Pearle rolled across the room in her chair, the wheels making an unbalanced screeching sound. She retrieved a big green binder from the opposite counter and then handed it to Deanna.
“Here’s a copy of our new featured selections, in case you find yourself ready for another try sometime soon. We’ve engineered some promising specimens for you. Some of their psychosocial attributes are off the charts. You’re bound to find something you like. After all, we want you to have the offspring of your dreams. Nothing less.”
Deanna sat up and smiled as she put her socks back on, thinking of all the possibilities. “Doc, I love how optimistic you are. I’ll see you again soon.”
Franco Amati is a writer and cognitive scientist from New York. His fiction has been published or is forthcoming in The Colored Lens, Northern Speculative, Visitant Lit, and other places. You can find more of his work at francoamatiwrites.com