Genesis

“Come on then, Jones, it’s your turn to give us a tale, mate.”

Jones had planned his tale during the previous traveler’s story and sat up on his robomule, ready to begin.

“Quite so. My lords and ladies, during my travels I have been many places and seen much. The tale I offer today is tragic, and true. It’s about a lady I met in the Lesser Magellanic who had more than forty thousand children.”

“Protraxilone is a frontier colony, and it would be idyllic if it were located elsewhere. Because it’s in the Cloud and its primary is part of an x-ray binary system, the local background radiation is enormous. Genetic damage is inevitable, and the birth defect rate is nothing short of tragic. For years, the Protraxan mothers had relied on IVF using imported ova, because of the risk.

That is, until Rothchild Zaggerty and his family arrived. Doctor Zaggerty set up a carefully shielded genetics laboratory and took on new patients immediately. He offered a new process, artificial oogenesis, the creation of new and healthy ova using the mother’s natural genes present in any tissue sample. Since the DNA came from healthy cells of the mature mother, he claimed, the new ova were free of damage from ionizing radition and could be stored in shielded containment until needed.

Protraxian mothers were thrilled, naturally. For the next fifteen years, ‘Zaggerty Eggs’ were involved in the majority of all childbirth. Not coincidentally, Doctor Zaggerty’s clinic made him a fortune, until genetic testing eventually revealed the disturbing truth. An entire generation, just about forty thousand children, all had the same mother.

Zaggerty’s process wasn’t anything like what he claimed. He’d actually harvested tens of thousands of immature ovum in the dictyate stage from his own pre-pubescent daughter. These oocytes were thereafter artificially maturated and produced as ‘miraculous Zaggerty Eggs’ whenever necessary. He took an enormous shortcut, completely unethical in every way. Thousands of Protraxan ‘natural’ mothers are unrelated to their children.

Doctor Zaggerty’s eventual fate was, well, ugly.

His youngest daughter Eva turned out to be uninvolved in the conspiracy. Eva is now the all-mother, oddly venerated by Protraxan society, yet has never given birth herself. Not her fault her dad was the most hated man of an entire world.

She enjoys fruity cocktails, you know.”

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385 words. Inspired by this week’s Flash! Friday prompt. It’s a Canterbury Tale, of sorts.

(I actually went to sleep last night without an idea, and sat up in bed well after midnight with a dream–so I missed the deadline, but had a story.)

These write-it-before-midnight challenges just don’t seem to work the same way my subconscious does. That’s okay, it’s almost double the desired length anyway.

Nor am I an expert human geneticist. To do this tale right, I’d need to interview one, get the details right, and reproduce this tale at short-story or novella length.

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5 thoughts on “Genesis”

  1. Nice story! But I have a problem with it. The word “dictyate” described as early ovum does not exist. (where did you get it?) The term for an unfertilized egg is oocyte. Otherwise good concept for multiple fertilization. Also, the father harvested his own daughter’s oocytes for use. Female at birth have a finite number of eggs to use during their life time until menopause. After that, no more eggs,periods or pain monthly.

    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dictyate
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oogenesis

      And exactly the sort of response I feared, I’m neither a biochemist nor geneticist, and these are murky waters for laymen 😛

      I’m aware he would have needed to harvest nearly all of his daughter’s lifetime supply of oocytes at once, and doled them out over the course of years. Shameful way to treat a daughter, but then he is/was clearly criminally negligent in a lot of ways.

  2. I hate to follow up the reality police. It’s fiction, nice concept. Use of words should be credit for originality. If you used it on a story, didn’t it just become a word.

    1. Science fiction carries a burden of plausibility, which generally means getting the basics right (or at least as nearly as possible). Just wish I had access to the kind of expertise I’d need for this one, short of attending med school.

      Plausible vs. credible is a hair-thin line. I generally welcome ‘reality police’, since I don’t have access to a research staff.

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