Friday, November 14, 2014

"Children of the Artificial Womb" by Edward Lange (Novelette)

Genre:  Science Fiction, Cyberpunk

Type of Short Story:  Novelette

Summary:  Hector, a member of the Plasmid street gang and product of the artificial womb, is not doing well. His girlfriend is pregnant, his best friend is a murderous, technological genius and his gang boss is a violent bully. But when a once in a lifetime opportunity comes his way, Hector will have to choose between safety and freedom, in the dangerous world of gang warfare.


“I’m pregnant.” Emma blurted out. Hector looked at her, even more confused than he was before.

“So what?” He asked. “You’ve been pregnant before. Just go to the clinic.”

Emma was silent for the first few moments after Hector asked his question. She looked away from him.

“What’s wrong with going to the clinic?” Hector asked.

“It’s your baby.” Emma said.

Hector stopped, and Emma stopped with him. For a few moments, they were both silent. They just stood on the street. Somewhere above them, a hover car flew over, and they could hear its rumbling engine. In a nearby alleyway, they could hear a homeless bum mumbling about giant rats and psychotic children.

“Are you sure?” He asked, breaking the silence.

“Yes.” Emma said.

“Is it at all possible that-”

“Hector, I haven’t been with anyone else but you for two months.”

“Two months?”

Emma shrugged. “Business has been kind of slow for a little while.”

Hector just nodded. His mind struggled to process the information.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“Yeah.” He didn’t quite feel like throwing up, but he did feel a little queasy. He wasn’t sure why though. “Why are you telling me this?”

“I…I thought you’d want to know.” Emma said.

“Well, I don’t need to know.”

“I just thought you might like to.”

“Why, what difference does it make?”

She didn’t say anything.

“Emma, we can’t keep it.”

“I know but…”

“But what?”

“You’ve never wanted to…?”

“No.” Hector said quickly.

Emma’s eyes went wide. She looked away from him. He could hear her begin to sniffle. He gently took her hand.

“I’m sorry.” He said.

“Why do you always have to be so aggressive?” the tears still streamed down her face.

“I’m sorry, it’s just...”

“Just what?”

“How could we take care of it? How would we feed it, where would it sleep? How could we pay for baby food? Where the hell do you even buy baby food?”

“Grocery store.” Emma said, meekly.

“We can’t keep it.”

“But wouldn’t it be nice to be normal?” It sounded almost like Emma was pleading. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a family, and live together?”

“We can’t do that, and having a kid won’t make it happen. If anything, it’ll just make things worse.”

“But maybe….”

“Emma, baby, we can’t.”

She opened her mouth to say something, but stopped. She silently nodded, and began to wipe the tears from her face.

“I mean…” Hector struggled to pick his words. “Maybe…maybe one day we’ll have the money and…and we can do it. But now…we just can’t.”

“Okay.” Emma said.

“I’m sorry.”

“No, you’re right.”

He put his arm around her shoulders, and kissed her on the cheek. They walked the rest of the way to her building in silence. Neither of them said anything until they reached her front door.

"I’ll go to the clinic tomorrow.” She said.

“It’s for the best.” He said. She just nodded. He took her in his arms, and kissed her. She didn’t respond. She unlocked the door, and went inside. Hector stood on the street by himself, and felt his heart sink.

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