Publication date: March 5th 2015
Genres: New Adult, Science Fiction
Her name is Sarina Wocek. Her breath is poison. She was not born out of love.
Twenty-three years ago, government officials traced the budding epidemic of hemorrhagic fever HF186-2A in south Florida to the Wocek family and their adorable six-week-old daughter, Sarina. Her father, Gregory, admitted his role in genetically engineering a biological weapon with pride. She was taken to a lab hidden in a rural area of New Hampshire. She hasn’t left since.
Her government keepers could cure her, but they won’t. Genetically engineering a child to be a weapon of mass destruction, that’s unethical. Refining a weapon of mass destruction that someone else created? That’s just being clever.
After twenty-three years of captivity, she escapes. She crosses an ocean to put her father and the lab behind her, but it’s not enough. When she sees the first bleeding sore, she knows she didn’t leave the virus behind either.
The only way she’ll be free is by destroying every trace of the lab. She only has one advantage; she doesn’t care if she makes it out alive.
“So, yes, we have money. Money we have to earn.” She waves her hand in a broad gesture at the luxuries surrounding us. “Money we have to spend. A large savings account makes us a flight risk.”
“I didn’t know,” I say. I won’t apologize. She could have shown me some kindness over the years. Harold did. Though, she did hold Martin at gunpoint to let me get away.
Maybe I should be nicer to her. Free from the pressure of the moment, a memory falls into place. When Martin brought out the box with the red button, Jennifer knew it wouldn’t hurt me. She knew the bracelet would block the signal. “It was you. You set me free. You burned down the lab.”
She nods. “With pleasure.”
The job she hates would have ended with my death. She went to a lot of trouble to
get me out. “Why not just leave me there?”
Red shadows swirl in the polished surface of the granite as she twists the stem of her wineglass. “You probably don’t remember, but we were good friends once, you and I.
The soft tone of her voice is unexpectedly familiar. I hear an echo of a laugh inside my head. The kind, musical laugh used when playing with a child. It’s hard to pair that memory with the hard woman sitting next to me; her wrinkles show more scowls than mirth. I think I understand how she feels. Caring for someone makes you vulnerable to her pain. I can’t afford to take that risk ever again. To the lab, anyone I’m connected to will become a thumbscrew to be used against me. Behind other curtains, in other windows, on this street, maybe it’s different.
I tell myself it doesn’t matter. In my life, the burdens of caring for someone will always outweigh the blessings. That’s the price I will pay for my father’s sins. “I have some questions.”
Megan Carney is an author, geek and amateur photographer living in the Twin Cities. She has ten years of experience in the field of computer security. Her previous short story publications include: ‘Flighty Youth’ in the Raritan, ‘Modern Mayhem’ in the Wayfarer, ‘Swing By Close’ in the Wayfarer, ‘Directions’ in the Bell Tower. ‘Swing By Close’ and ‘Directions’ both won first prize in the fiction sections of that issue. The Christian Science Monitor dubbed her self-published photography book, ‘Signs of My Cities’ as having “youthful zest.”
Her non-literary creations include: a robot to clean the bathroom tub, Zim and Gir costumes, No-Dig tomato stakes, StickFriend the bear bag hanger, and a burning coal costume so she could be Katniss for a night.
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