The doctor slowly, almost cautiously, approached the last petri dish and stared down at the embryo inside, gesturing towards it as if it were a priceless treasure.
“Now this one,” he began “is quite special. It’s a boy and he’s almost guaranteed to be born with microcephaly; an extremely rare disease more commonly known as the ‘pinhead’ disease. A cruel term to be sure, but most accurate. It will likely cause dwarfism and severe intellectual impairment, so total commitment on your part would be required to ensure him the best quality life.”
The mother came closer and bent down to peer at the embryo. She caressed the air above it like she was comforting it. She cooed over its helplessness.
“He’ll need a lot of love, won’t he Doctor? More than other babies.”
“Indeed, he will. To be frank with you, your life will not be your own. The child will need your complete and utter devotion. But this can be very rewarding for some parents. Fatal disease for emotional fulfillment.”
Her lips trembled, and her eyes welled up as she looked at her husband pleadingly.
“He needs us, honey.”
The husband pursed his lips.
“How long do they usually live?” he asked the doctor.
“It’s hard to say. It depends on a number of factors, but they generally expire by early adulthood.”
The husband looked at his wife and sighed.
“It would be a lot of work, honey. And remember, you want more kids eventually. Will we be able to manage?”
She looked down at the embryo and choked back her sobs. The doctor interjected.
“If I may, — this doesn’t necessarily preclude having more children. Vicecorp is always in need of raw materials for their robotics program and they pay quite handsomely. If, after a few years, you find the child is too much to bear, there’s no shame in — “
Mister Wright interrupted the doctor, bristling at the implication.
“Doctor, my wife and I don’t agree with using human beings as batteries — it’s against our beliefs.”
“That’s certainly understandable.
Well, what I can do is preset all life functions to cease after approximately five years. There would be no pain, the child would just not wake up one morning. That way you can experience the delicate and special love that only such a child can bring and still be able to have more children in the future, without
sacrificing everything. This would only cost an extra twenty thousand.”
The couple smiled at each other.
The husband turned back to the doctor.
“Okay then, doctor, I think we’ll go with the pinhead.”
His wife squealed with glee.
“Happy wife, happy life, right?”
The doctor cleared his throat.
“Then it’s agreed. We’ll bump the odds for microcephaly to one hundred percent and set a kill-switch for five years.”
The man looked at his wife.
“Let’s make it ten, doctor.”
His wife burst into tears. She threw her arms around her husband and buried her face in his chest, sobbing with the ecstatic fever of her impending motherhood.
Blair Frison lives with his family on the beautiful island of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. He is pursuing a degree in management and spends most of his free time writing and watching an unhealthy amount of horror movies. He has a passion for music and animals and hopes to one day get over his fear of flying.
Blair has written for various publications such as Year’s Best Transhuman SF 2017, Fossil Lake IV: SHARKASAURUS!, The Edge: Infinite Darkness, Deadman’s Tome, Boxing 24/7, and Haunt of Horrors.