Thursday, June 25, 2009

Friday Fiction for June 26, 2009

Welcome to Friday Fiction, hosted this week by Sherri over at A Candid Thought. Be sure to visit her blog for the link to the terrific submissions from the other participants.

This week’s composition is a sketch story I wrote this week to explore the concepts in my Weekly Challenge entry,
Exiled with a Fool. The idea of a colony world where empty humans are grown for custom order opens up possible scenarios for either a series of short stories, or a novel-length project.

I don’t know that I’ll incorporate this sketch into any longer work. This was mostly just to work through some concepts and ideas for the culture of the world and the company that produces the Empties. I hope you enjoy the story.

The Requisition
By Rick Higginson

Anita swiveled her chair around at the message chime. Her monitor showed a client entering through the lobby, and the woman’s mannerisms and clothing identified her as one of the Cultural Elite. A short distance behind the client, one of the Ruling Elite stood at the information desk, but the Ruling Elite would be handled one floor up in the Diplomatic Suite.

The Cultural Elite were met on her floor, and Anita was first in the queue for the arriving client. She made a one more quick inspection of her office to ascertain everything was as it should be, and then waited behind the door for the client. Always be ready for any Elite Clientele, but never appear to be obviously waiting for them, the training stressed. Never imply that the Elite are anything but precisely on time.

She waited until the woman arrived in the waiting area, and opened her door before the woman was ready to take a seat. “Esteemed Mistress,” Anita said, crossing her wrists below her chin, with her palms facing out.

The client inclined her head slightly, acknowledging the respectful gesture, and – as expected – said nothing.

“I would be honored to serve you, Mistress, if you would grace my humble office with your presence.” She stood to one side while the client entered the office, and then followed her, closing the door. She directed the client towards the most luxurious chair in the room. “I hope you will find this seat to your satisfaction, Mistress.”

The woman settled into the chair, and after a moment gave an approving smile.

Anita took her seat behind the desk. “How may I serve you, Esteemed Mistress?”

The woman removed her lace gloves before answering, placing them in a pocket of her bag. “I am here to requisition an Empty,” she said. “My husband and I are expecting our first baby, and I need a proper domestic to assist in the care of the child. The domestic should be a young woman, fully programmed with the skills needed for child care and household duties, but - ” She held up her hand to accentuate her instructions. “She is to have the sexual consciousness fully inhibited. I do not expect to compete for my husband’s affections with an amorous domestic.”

“Of course, Mistress; we can certainly accommodate that request. Do you have any preference on physical appearance?”

“Just ordinary is all I ask. I do not want my domestic garnering excessive attention from visitors. She should just blend in as an average person; neither beautiful nor ugly.”

“So noted, Mistress. When do you require this domestic? Programming and awakening will take approximately fifteen days, so we can schedule delivery any time after that.”

“I have just entered the second trimester, and we would like the domestic delivered early in the third to assist in preparing our home for the child. That should give you ample time for optimal programming, I assume?”

“Most definitely, Mistress.” She checked her monitor. “If I may offer a suggestion, Mistress? I see here that you are on the Apex Leadership Committee for Teleman Heavy Industries. Such a position is, I am sure, quite demanding of your time and expertise, and pregnancy can often be very inconvenient. As early in your pregnancy as you are, we have a service you might find valuable.”

“Go on; I am listening.”

“Anthro Resources has perfected the surrogate womb system, which we use for creating the Empties our clients requisition. This system has another application, that of offering an alternative to enduring a full pregnancy and delivery. We are able to transfer your child to the surrogate womb, where the child will continue to develop and grow just as if you were still carrying him or her.”

“That seems rather impersonal for the child.”

“Not at all, Mistress. We give you a Biometric Recorder to wear for a few days prior to the transfer. This will allow us to program the surrogate womb to accurately duplicate the sound of your heartbeat, your voice as it would be heard in the womb, and unique characteristics that help your baby identify with you. As far as the child is concerned, they would still be with you. When it’s ready for delivery, you schedule a time at your convenience, and we deliver the baby right from the surrogate womb to your arms, just as if you’d endured the labor yourself. The beauty is, you don’t have to miss work because of pregnancy issues or recovering from delivery.”

Her interest was definitely piqued. “And this is safe for our child?”

“The only failures we have experienced with our surrogate wombs have all been due to a genetic problem with the child. I assume, Mistress, that your physician has already performed a thorough genetic screen of your child?”

“Of course. We certainly wouldn’t want our child born with a problem that could have been corrected if diagnosed early. If we were interested in this, what would we expect to pay?”

Anita transferred the information to the portable tablet, and slid it across the desk. “I believe you will find the cost trivial compared to the potential fiscal impact of your lost time on the Committee.”

“Yes, you’re quite right. This is indeed an attractive technology. How long would it take to set this up?”

She smiled. For those in the Elite classes, the surrogate womb was an easy sell. All the joy of a child, with none of the unpleasantness of pregnancy. “Depending on how detailed a biometric scan you would like the womb programmed with, we could have the surrogate ready for you in as little as four days. Would you like me to attach the Biometric Recorder for you, and schedule the preparation of the surrogate for you?”

“Yes, I think that would be excellent.”

“Very good, Esteemed Mistress, and we will have your Domestic filled and ready for you as early in your third trimester as you desire.” Her commission from this client would be generous, and she indulged herself a slight satisfied smile. I certainly could have been requisitioned for a worse life, she thought.


BethL said...

Don't laugh, but I had to try out the "respectful gesture" (crossing the wrists below the chin - palms facing out) :) Wow, this is loaded with possibilities and creativity -- "requisition an Empty" Wow, wow, wow! Your ending was totally unexpected. I'm ready for Part II.

Patty Wysong said...

Sheesh--can I requisition a couple of those? Please? LoL.

Loved this, Rick. Like Beth said, it's loaded with possibilities! You really captured the personalities and mannerisms--I could feel them. :-)

Sara Harricharan said...

Wow! Awesome story-again! I love being able to slip into your worlds to get away from mine (and the voices in my head-LOL) A great read!

Lynda Schultz said...

Caught me! I can see the movie version already.

Dee Yoder said...

I'm like Beth--I had to "do" the respectful gesture, too-LOL. This story is wonderful! Like I've said a million times before, Rick, you have a way of getting just enough "normal" stuff in your sci-fi to really draw in all readers. I can easily imagine this happening. It's chilling! And that name: "Empties"--*shudder*

Joanne Sher said...

Amazingly creative and realistic-feeling. Your specialty. I hope you DO expand on this. Fascinating.

Unknown said...

Can you imagine something like that actually being developed and peddled to career women? WOW!

Good stuff. I too hope there is more coming.