Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Seeds and Stem Cells

0900 hrs. The McFab compound.
I was right in the middle of my favorite erotic dream when the hot phone rang. The only thing I hate more than being woken up is being woken up right when Ann Coulter takes her pants off, but...duty first.
"Lorenzo's Geletaria," I answered. I never use my real name on my mercenary line, just in case.
"I'm sorry, I was looking for Randy McFab. Wrong number I guess."
"Don't hang up! This is McFab...maybe."
"Well, uh, I'm calling about your ad...'Mercenary for hire.'" The accent sounded southern, which was good. Meant he wasn't gay.
"Which ad?" I asked, wary. "The one in the back of Barely Legal or the one on Sean Hannity's show?"
"The one in Glamour, actually. Next to the herbal breast-enhancement ad."
"Yeah, they're both mine. So which do you want-- a merc, or bigger tits?"
"Just the mercenary," he said.
"You get a discount if you buy both," I said. "So keep that in mind. Now, who are you and why do you want larger breasts?"
"My name's Jack Often," he said. "I'm the president of PANS. You know, People Against Nature and Science."
I had heard of them. PANS was a religious organization that fought against all the so-called science that's been ruining our culture for the last 500 years, the secular-humanist crap like climate research, carbon dating, and the ability to reason. I had heard that Ollie North was a member, and that George Bush had their newsletters read to him. My kind of people.
"So far so good," I said. "Tell me more."
"Well," Often continued, "the other PANSies and I are really against this stem-cell research, on account of it kills embryos. As you probably know, we respect all life that isn't actually an adult, living human being. And Randy," he said, tears in his voice, "there's some sweet baby embryos that need saved from this pogrom of death."
"Don't you mean program?" I asked.
"Then you're serious," I said. "Good. I'm interested. But I thought Jesus--I mean Bush--vetoed the bill allowing more stem cell research."
"He did," Often said, "but they've still got them embroyos frozen up, waiting for a liberal to be elected President."
"I see. So where are the EIQ's being held?"
"The what?"
"Embryos In Question. Where are they stored?"
"They're at Nogod Genetics, the new 'research'"--he spat the word--"facility outside of town. We need you to break in, take the little embryo babies out in a cooler, and bring 'em to us PANSies so we can impregnate our teenaged daughters with 'em."
I like a well-thought-out plan. "I'll need a dossier on every security guard at the place," I said. "And a deposit--twenty bucks in unmarked bills, a six-pack of Zima, and three heavily-lubricated condoms."
"Well, uh, sure...But what are the condoms for?"
This guy obviously wasn't used to spec ops. "I'm not gonna carry the dossiers in my arms, mister."
"Oh, I...okay."
We set up a secret meet, and I hung up. I smiled, something I usually only do when a cat licks me. A mercenary is always happy to have work, especially work he believes in. This one would be fun.
I checked the clock. I still had time to get back to my dream. Get naked, Annie, I thought, snuggling my pillow. Limbaugh's about to join us.

0100 hrs, the following night. Outside Nogod Genetics.
I crouched outside the chain-link fence, letting my eyes adjust to the darkness. The genetics facility was a low, concrete structure, lit by floodlights at the corners. A security guard would appear in one of the puddles of light now and then before disappearing into the night as he continued on his circuit around the building.
The guards would be a problem. I had read their dossiers, hoping to find one I could bribe or blackmail, but they were clean as a whistle--former Marines, all of them. How good Leathernecks ended up protecting embryo-killers was beyond me. It made me sick, the thought that a Marine could have such disregard for human life. Oh well. They weren't Marines now-- they were enemy sentries, and my only concern was defeating them.
I knew I couldn't take out the guards by force, so I did what any good mercenary would do and used deception. I took the cellphone out of my assault vest and dialed the guard shack.
"Guard station, Holmes," the man answered. He sounded professional, like a Marine. Good. Even a Marine gone bad has enough Marine left in him to play to type, and that's what I was counting on.
"Hiiii..." I said, trying to sound as effeminate as possible. It was difficult as I'm so macho, so I just pictured Ryan Seacrest. "My name' Seacrest," I said, lisping. "I'm totally gay, and me and my gay friends are down at Exton's Pub, being gay."
"Yeah? So?" Holmes growled.
"We're proud of being gay, sugar," I said. "And haven't been taught a lesson."
"You dirty little..." I heard a walkie-talkie click on. "Guys!" Holmes barked. "Leave your posts! We're goin' down to Exton's for a boot party!" He spoke to me again. "You and your fag friends wait there, we're comin' down to stomp you," he said.
"Sure, we love it rough," I said, and hung up.
The front gate opened less than a minute later, and I slipped through as a pickup truck full of guards roared out, tires screeching on the tarmac. I watched them until their tail-lights disappeared down the road, knowing they wouldn't be back any time soon. Exton's was hosting a reunion of ex-Army Special Forces from Fort Braggart tonight, and I doubted the Green Beanies would appreciate being called queer by a bunch of security guards.
I strolled up to the front door of the facility, no longer worried about detection. The door was smoked glass, secured with a basic electronic keypad system. Easy to defeat, for a trained mercenary. I smashed through the glass with a crowbar and walked in.
It looked like a normal office in the dim emergency lighting, and I followed a carpeted hallway towards what I hoped was the lab. Eventually I found it, a glass-walled clean room packed with exotic-looking equipment. Everything in the lab was white--walls, equipment, floor--except for the huge stainless-steel freezer that undoubtedly contained the embryos, or "people seeds" as I call them. I sat my rucksack on the floor by the freezer and pulled my Igloo cooler out. I'd have to drink the Zimas to make room for the embryos.

0600 hrs. The lab.
I was slumped against the freezer, my sixth Zima spilled on the floor beside me. Oh, drunk. I wiped some drool off my chin, trying to remember why I was there. Maybe I should call my ex-wife. She never really loved me, and someone needs to put her in her place. Shit, some music would be good. I pawed at my rucksack, hoping some music was hiding in there. The door to the lab flew open.
All the lights came on, bright enough to make me cringe. I staggered to my feet, using the freezer for support, and tried to remember where my knife was.
"What are you doing here?" He was an big guy, in a lab coat and glasses.
"I'm drinking embryos," I said. "Rescuing Zimas. You know..." I slid down the freezer, my ass hitting the tile hard.
"What? Do you work here? Where's security?" He reached for a phone on the wall.
"Touch that phone and you're dead," I said, pointing my weapon at him. "My trigger finger gets itchy around baby-killers."
"Oh, God," he sighed, turning to face me. "You're one of those loonies. I should have known, after all the phone calls we've been getting."
"That's exactly what kind of loony I am," I said. "Now put on some music! Maybe some Creedence." I held the weapon on him as I sucked the last drops of Zima from one of my empties.
"Son," the scientist said, "quit pointing that canteen at me. You look ridiculous."
"What? Oh." I tossed the canteen aside and closed my eyes, trying to remember where my gun was. Not good. The floor spun and tilted beneath me, and I opened my eyes quick to keep from puking.
"Look, son," the man said. "You're obviously drunk. I'm a doctor, I can see that."
"A doctor of death!" I snarled. "Just like that guy...that guy who's a doctor of death!"
"I'm American, you asshole!" I managed to stand again. "And I'm gonna save these little baby Americans, and no one's gonna stop me!" I yanked the freezer open and stared in, peering through the fog. It was lined with row after row of petri dishes, all labeled with some weird code.
"What the--where the hell are the babies?" I demanded. "What have you done with them?"
"Those are the embryos. They're in the dishes."
"What?" I grabbed a petri dish and held it up to the light. All I could see was some yellowish, wax-like substance. "This one's sure as hell empty," I said.
"No, no," the doctor chuckled. "They're in there, they're just too tiny to see. They're microscopic."
"Microscopic...Poor things, my aunt had that once." I sat the dish back in the freezer. "I'm not here for microscopics," I said. "Nothing can save them anyway. I want the embryos like in the brochure I got at church, the ones with the smiley faces and angel wings."
"They aren't like that," he said. "These embryos are like cells, or seeds."
"Yes, people seeds! With smiley faces...and angel wings. Now where are they?" I was getting angry.
"Look, mister," the scientist said. "You're stone drunk. I can call the cops, kick your ass, or just let you pass out in here. But I'd prefer to reason with you, because I know you're probably just really, really stupid. So how do you want it?"
I thought about it. He was pretty big. "I want that part about drunk and reasonable," I said.
"Good. Now, I'm gonna guess you're a right-wing nutcase. Am I right?"
"You bet your ass," I said.
"And you support the war in Iraq?"
"Of course. Except for the us losing part."
"And why," the doctor asked, "is it okay for us to tell other countries what to do?"
"Because we're bigger!" I said.
"And why," the doctor asked, "is it okay to kill Iraqi civilians?"
"That's obvious," I said. "If they wanted to live they'd be able to defend themselves."
"And why," he asked, "is it not okay for us to invade, say, China, even though they aren't democratic?"
"Easy, because they're big and can defend themselves."
"So," he said, "do you see now? We can better our lives with these embryos because we're fully developed and they're not. Embryos are like the Third World of life, and we humans are like the U.S."
"My God!" I said. "That kind of makes sense. I guess maybe I was--"
I hadn't noticed the scientist inching closer to me. I saw two hands coming for my throat, KILL KIDS tattooed on the knuckles. Everything went black.

1100 hrs, the next day. The McFab compound.
I guess I was lucky. The scientist had held me until the Marine guards showed up, bloody and bruised, to take some revenge on me. They were too badly beaten themselves to do much damage to me, though, and they dumped me beside the highway when they were done rather than turn me in to the cops.
I had to give the twenty-dollar deposit back to the PANSies, but I was six Zimas up on them and couldn't complain. A mercenary knows he can't win every battle or complete every mission, and that's why a smart warrior lives with his mom, just in case money gets tight. Besides, I had learned something. If God loved embryos, He wouldn't have made them so small and defenceless. I opened a Zima and turned on the t.v. to catch The 700 Club.