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The Seven Deadly Genes

When not pipetting stuff in the lab, Candice Lim enjoys hanging out in her science fiction wonderland.
I blamed the lack of sleep for my giddiness. My knuckles turned white from clenching fists. Another tube eased to a smooth stop. People bustled off the opening doors and entered the hypermart. My eyes followed the crowd and rested on the banner waving above the geodesic structure, reading "Politics corrupt. Genetics don't." Pfft. Government propaganda.
My watch buzzed again. It was Bryna, for the fifth time.
I swiped to reject the call again. Fixing my hoodie, I went into the hypermart. Sailing through the aisles, shoppers shoved foodstuff into baskets carried by their little robot helpers and scanned their universal cards at the self-checkout booths.
I went to the dairy products aisle. Glancing to my left and right, I grabbed the vacuum-packed milk powder, stuffed it into my waist pouch, and pulled my jacket over myself. That should last for a week. By that time the universal basic income allotment would deposit into Bryna's account.
"You sure you wanna do this, human?" A man's voice coming from behind me made me jump a foot in the air. The besuited man dusted his blazer and closed me. The nametag read "Barth" with fine print "Security Officer." There was an artificial red glow in his eyes--he was no human. "It's not worth it."
"Is anything even worth doing at all? What do you know about being human?" I gritted my teeth and tightened my clutch at the jacket.
"I do not know much. But what I know is when you commit a crime, one of the seven law regulatory genes in you will activate to kill you. It would be Greed," said Barth monotonously. "The choice is yours."
"Screw your Genocracy! My baby's starving at home. This is the only way."
"Sure. I will let you go. Let your genome be the judge."
Barth watched as I spun around and tapped my watch to start the timer. I broke into a run. Slipping past the people at the checkout booths, I breezed into the tube that arrived in time and got myself a corner seat. The doors whistled to close. Sceneries blurred at the windows as the vactrain picked up, shooting northwards.
I glanced at the timer. Three minutes and twenty-two seconds until Programmed Self-Destruction.
The hologram of the signboard lit and read "Next destination: Block 25-60-90. ETA: 2 mins 15 seconds."
I squeezed my hands together. Every jump of a second on the hologram made my heart beat quicker.
Before the vactrain stopped completely, urgency propelled me to my feet. I shot through the opening doors and raced into the elevator.
Forty-five seconds left.
After I pressed the fifty-sixth floor button, the elevator soared. When the door opened again, I catapulted through the corridor towards my unit. Lactic acid scorched my lungs and leg muscles. I slapped my palm on the authentication panel next to the door.
The door clicked open.
I barged into the family room, shouting, "Bryna!"
Kolb was sitting on the floor and threw his arms in the air. "Da-da!"
Tears stung my eyes. I scooped my baby in my arms when Bryna materialized from the kitchen. "Tryst!" Concern filled her eyes. "Please tell me you didn't!"
I pulled her into my arms and hugged her tightly. The beating of our hearts synchronized and echoed in my ears.
"Tryst?"
I checked my watch. Minus twenty seconds.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, October 2nd, 2017

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