It was now or never, Karl decided. The conditions were perfect. He would never get another chance like this. He had spent years preparing for this moment and he wasn’t about to let it go by. He had spent the afternoon making sure the formula had worked and the life it contained lived. He knew he would have to move quickly or the life he had created would be lost. He wasn’t sure he could recreate the matching of the elements in the fluids, and at this point in the experiment, details could mean the difference between success and failure. This was the defining moment of his career and he was so nervous it was a wonder he didn’t drop the vial that held the finished product.
Karl was still not sure where the idea for his theory had originated. The concept was extremely controversial, and he knew he was playing with matters man was never meant to experiment with. Psychologists had a label for scientists who seriously delved into the grey areas of science as he was doing. They called it a God-complex. He knew the stakes, knew what he was doing was dangerous and verged on madness. His theory had become an obsession, and he just had to know if he could make it a reality.
Extra-species genetics accomplished through artificial insemination. It was a theory Karl had worked on diligently. His wife complained bitterly that he only married her to have a helper in the laboratory and someone to cook for him. She was partially right, he did need a helper, even if she had no idea what she was working on. He refused to divulge that information. He knew she would have left to report his activities to the scientific community if she knew. He couldn’t risk for news of his work to spread and he was in enough trouble with his peers for making his theory public in the first place; it was too close to the cutting edge of what people considered decent or acceptable.
Karl’s theory had made front-page news. He hadn’t expected such a negative response, for he had been labeled a mad scientist and they ridiculed him. His humiliation was endless, everyone was laughing at him and he hated it, hated the pitying glances and grins of superiority. He knew they were talking behind his back and none of it was good. He had waited a few years for the scandal to die and now he was at the point of putting his work to the test. Now he would prove his genius to the world, though he had to admit there were times when the idea also struck him as the work of a madman.
Karl made sure that Lydia wouldn’t feel a thing. He drugged her heavily, and nothing he would do, would leave a mark on her that she would question. He was excited, and scared at the same time. The moment he had worked, and waited for, was here. A scientific theory was one thing, but reality was something else altogether. What he was doing was very real. It was also considered illegal, unethical and immoral. Only the end result mattered to him at the moment, nothing else.
Karl wasn’t about to give himself time to reconsider his decision. He had worked too hard to change his mind at this stage of the game. He quickly emptied the formula into Lydia’s womb and said a quick prayer for luck. For the next nine months, there was very little more that he could do. If or when the child he hoped he had created was born, he would find out if his life’s work would become a reality, or remain no more than a work of fiction. Either way, he needed to know.
If Karl’s theory proved successful, he would celebrate privately; there would be no one he could trust to share his victory. No one could know the he had successfully managed to join the genes of a Homo Sapien with a Delphinys Delphis to produce a living being. What that creature would look like, or which of the genes would actually fuse, he had no way of knowing. It didn’t matter, not now, not on the eve of his triumph. Further experiments on the child’s DNA after it was born would answer any questions he had later. For now, the only important consideration was his creation. His child.
Karl double-checked to make sure every step of his procedure had been followed according to plan, then he cleaned the area. He wanted nothing to give his wife the idea that she had been used as a part of this experiment. Her acceptance of the fetus would be crucial to the success of his work. He had had enough problems with her because of his self-imposed exile. She missed her life on the mainland, missed her friends and family. He hoped the pregnancy would settle her and that maybe she would invite some of the people she wanted to see for visits to the island. Now that the embryo was attaching itself to the mother, leaving home was not an option. Nor was it just because of the child. He wanted the world to continue to forget him, forget his theory, so that he could one day return to the scientific community he loved.
Karl logged the final steps of his experiments and left the room. He walked onto the patio and looked out to sea, out to the place where man had possibly first crawled out of the waters of creation. Standing at the balcony railing that surrounded his house, he balled his hands into fists and swore.
“I will make them pay for the disgrace they heaped upon me and my name. Those who branded me a lunatic for my theories, and forced me from the world I loved, will bow low before me. One day, I will prove to everyone that I was right and my theory wasn’t the dream of a madman. I swear by the grace of Neptune, my wife shall bear my sea child.”
A wave from the ocean crashed upon the shores of the tiny island. It was like a message from the Sea God himself in answer to Karl’s oath. Returning to the bedroom, he stripped and crawled into the bed to join his wife as she slumbered. He would make sure she had no reason to question the origin of their child, but he knew that without the miracle of science that he had created in his laboratory, her body would never have been capable of conceiving a child. She had been declared sterile years before, despite that he would have little problem convincing her that the doctors had made an error in their diagnosis. She wanted a child so desperately she would be ready to believe anything was possible, even a miracle.
Seventeen years later:
The intercom on Clifford’s desk beckoned loudly, interrupting his thoughts as he leafed through a file. He glared at the machine in irritation and swore. Diana had been expressly told not to interrupt him and as he reached for the button to reply, he failed at an attempt to reel in his irritation.
“I thought I told you absolutely no interruptions for any reason, Diane. You had better make this good.”
“Sir, there is a man out here who claims to be your brother Karl. I wouldn’t have bothered you, but he looks a lot like you. He also refuses to leave until you speak with him.”
Karl. It seemed like a lifetime had passed since Clifford had seen his brother and he wondered how he had changed, or if he had. He remembered how Karl had forced himself into a state of exile, choosing to live on an island off the coast, about two hundred miles away from home. He had always looked up to his brother, despite not being able to compete with him on the same level, no one could do that. He had been devastated when his brother moved and chose the life of a recluse.
Clifford had never blamed Karl for the decision. The science community had always dealt harshly with his brother. He was what some termed a wizard in his field and geniuses of that caliber were always kept under heavy scrutiny because of their supposedly unstable minds.
Clifford’s hand remained poised over the intercom button for a full moment, before he hit it again. “Give me a couple of minutes, Diane, then send him in.”
“Very well sir. I thought I should warn you, he has someone with him.” Diana informed Clifford.
“One thing at a time, Diane. Just give me a few moments to finish up here, as I told you. Then send him in. Alone.” Clifford ordered.
Clifford severed the connection then leaned back in his chair as he laced his fingers together, and pursed his lips as he stared vacantly at the diamond rings on his hands. The company he ran belonged to Karl, it was his birthright, but he had wanted nothing to do with it. He had been only too happy to take his place. It made him wonder if his brother had changed his mind about stepping aside.
Could Karl take the company away from him after all these years? Would he even want to? Clifford wondered, though he doubted it. There would be no stopping him if he had the votes, which he did. Karl owned the majority of the stock and he had never severed the ties he had with the firm. He always kept track of what was happening, so no one could complain that he neglected his position. That would not have been his way in any case. Karl was meticulous in everything he did. Nothing he was involved with suffered, even in his absence. He was always watching over the decisions being made.
Karl’s notoriety started when he was a child. He had continuously astounded the scientific world with his theories, his discoveries, and his successes. He shocked the scientific world when he made a preposterous announcement, which had caused an abundance of talk about a scientific theory Karl labeled his ‘Theory in Depth’. After his disappearance, many of his colleagues claimed Karl had crossed the imaginary boundary that was reputed to separate the genius from the insane and the theory had been forgotten.
Clifford thought the problem with Karl’s theory was that it was too revolutionary for most of the scientific community to accept at the time, but despite that, there were many who thought his idea merited more consideration than it had been given. They were intrigued by what he said, and were disappointed with his disappearance. They were not happy with his refusal to collaborate with them and, when he left, they were forced to set the matter aside. They retaliated by attributing his announcement to an overactive imagination, but in the back of an obscure few minds, the thought lingered that he might have stumbled onto something. After all, wasn’t the bulk of scientific investigation built on obscure thoughts and musings?
Karl’s theories had often started out as matters considered flights of fancy and most would have stayed that way, if he had not tenaciously followed them through. There were some members of the scientific community who were more than enthusiastic to see what results his announcement would have achieved, and some of his colleagues would have stood by him despite the rumors circulating about him.
Clifford had first hand experience in knowing exactly how well Karl had covered his tracks from those who might have tried to follow. He had traced his brother and there wasn’t much to mark his passing. A rented car, a boat purchased with cash, and the story of an elopement with a girl who Clifford knew had to be a complete stranger to Karl. The trail had ended there and only the land title office showed the purchase of the Island. He had stopped looking when he found that because it was obvious to him that his brother didn’t want to be disturbed.
Clifford had always wondered what kind of romantic spell Karl had woven around the young woman to have spirited her away so quickly. He knew how powerful Karl’s magnetism could be, for the woman he loved could barely keep her eyes and hands off of his older brother. She had wanted Karl and Clifford had been glad his brother had gone. Karl’s leaving had left him a clear field, one he had been quick to act upon.
The outer door of Clifford’s office opened, and he watched as Karl crossed the blue/grey carpet that coved the floor. Karl had dressed himself in what he considered would suit his brother’s memory of the type of man he used to be, and as Karl had used to dress like a super executive, Clifford’s fears of a massive change, or an inappropriate dress style, was relieved.
Karl didn’t know how Clifford would feel about his return after so many years. It didn’t really matter because he had no plans of usurping his brother’s position in the firm. He walked curtly over to Clifford’s desk, as he tried to maintain a business like façade, and held out a hand across the desk. Clifford ignored the cold greeting, as he had a feeling the gesture stemmed from the insecurity he could see hovering in his brother’s eyes. He walked around the desk and, instead of taking Karl’s hand, he gave a cry of happiness, and threw his arms around Karl’s frail body to hold him close.
“God you are thin, Karl, what have you been doing with yourself? I have missed you so much.”
Karl gave a relieved laugh, it seemed nothing had changed. He had been worried that his brother would turn him away after all the time he had been gone. He was more than happy to see that this wasn’t the case and was pleased by his brother’s greeting. He replied, in a more congenial fashion. “Not missing me too much I see,” he patted the slight paunch on his brother’s frame. “How is Elisse? Still as beautiful as ever?”
“Age doesn’t seem to have touched her, except maybe to make her seem more fragile. It took a long time to land her, but I did.” Clifford remarked proudly.
“I never doubted you would for a moment, despite her slight crush on me.” Karl answered.
“You knew about that?” Clifford realized he shouldn’t be so surprised that Karl had been aware of that, but he was. He had never thought Karl that astute about matters of life as the only things Karl seemed to care about were chemical formulas. The rest appeared to pass by without notice.
“I knew. I also recognized it for what it was, a slight infatuation. We would never have lasted and that is why I left her behind. Her mind loved the thought of me, but her heart was yours. How has it been between the two of you?” Karl asked.
“I have no complaints. We have a daughter, Dauphne, and she is as beautiful as Elisse. What have you been doing, Karl? I mean, it is wonderful exchanging small talk, but you didn’t even say goodbye when you left, not to any of us. What kind of brother does that?” Clifford fondly chastised his brother.
“An obsessed brother, Clifford. The best I can do is say that I am sorry. I have covered a lot of ground since then, and I don’t mean miles. I also have a daughter. She is almost seventeen and she waits in the room outside the door. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be here in this room with you.”
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