by Sonya Clutton Mendias aged 12 years
The air was thick with the sound of something being torn apart: a wrenching, screeching, groaning sound that made the earth tremble. The smell of smoke was so strong it caught in my throat and pooled like acid on my tongue.
It was scary - terrifying - but exhilarating. After all our work, it was finally happening.
We had finally made it, brought science to this point. Humans no longer need to be born - they can be made by machines. No more painful labour, and no more imperfections. The parents of this world will naturally be horrified, but nobody likes change. Everyone hates new ideas in the beginning, they always have. They are attacking our lab right now, in protest. It’s human nature. I pulled away from my thoughts and paused, looking at our creation. She was breathing, the heart monitor beeping. A frail human baby, created by the hands of machines. She was precious to me, our first successful project. She must not end up with the protesters, or she will be killed. I can only hope the intake of this foul smoke doesn’t kill her first...
- Dr. Symanther
Fifty years later...
This was several years ago. Now, fifty years from then, there are barely any people who were born from human parents. Being printed by machinery is the new norm. The parents lend their DNA to the process by a simple blood donation, and fill out a form that specifies the traits of their child. Whether or not they are incredibly smart or super sporty, the parents decide. Every last detail is up to the parents, and several scientists are working on having the child choose their traits before they are born. I don't think that's a good idea since the child wouldn't be smart enough to actually understand what was being said to them, but let the crazy scientists do whatever the hell they want. It’s entertaining listening to them babble about it on the SkyNet. I suppose I should introduce myself or something like that. That’s what the reader wants right? My name is Amelia Jarving, I am 17 years old and I am one of the few real-born. My parents don't believe in modern science. Like, seriously. They still use cough medicine. Instead of ColdMed. The only reason I even have an ArmBand is because it’s mandatory for all pupils at Delton High School to own one. Plus no one makes phones anymore.
My stats are pretty average, 2 in Physical Activity, 3 in Creativity and another 3 in Computing. Since I’m a real-born, my stats aren't crazy in a particular area, like some of the students in my class. Like my best friend Phoebe, with a 4 in Computing and a 4 in Creativity, but a 0 in Physical Activity. The Printed get 8 points to spend on stats, which are the things that make up our skills. Computing is all about skills like Maths, Tech and all sciences. Creativity is Languages, Art and English, and Physical Activity speaks for itself. Most parents choose for their kids to be awesome in a particular area, so they can solve math problems in seconds, or run a marathon without breaking a sweat, or write a set of novels and illustrate each page by hand.
Phoebe comes running up to me, so something must be important. She is an awful runner. She’s puffing like crazy, but somehow she manages to speak. “Maths… ....problem. Help… needed. Come...? ...Amelia?” I laugh and agree. Seeing her out of breath is funny. I tell her that she doesn’t need to run back to the Maths office, it would kill her. She scowls and says “ Funny… and witty… as usual Amelia. Do you want me… to attempt to increase your Computing stats? Your test results say you need some help.” She’s regaining her breath. This is how our friendship goes most of the time, making fun of each others stats. (She’s lying. I got 98% in my last Maths test. Just thought I’d let you know.) I smile and say, “How’s about we just go to dat Math office then, ya?” (Phoebe hates bad grammar so I tease her about it. A lot.) Phoebe sighs and drags me over to the Maths office. I look at my ArmBand, which has started buzzing in an extremely annoying way. It’s another friend of mine, Beatrice, mainly known as Tris. Her stats are 5 in Physical Activity, 2 in Creativity and 1 in Computing. It is her that we are helping in Maths, because she doesn’t get it. She wasn’t made to.
The Printed are called what they are because they are indeed printed. The machines that make the human babies are essentially 3D printers that print flesh instead of plastic. The empty human brain is tweaked to be sufficient in one thing versus another. Remember the points I talked about earlier? They are given to the parents to choose what their children will be able to do. (We don't know why 8 points was chosen, why not 6 or 5?) The best way to explain it is to call them those points you get to spend in video games to make your character stronger. That's why they got the nickname VidPoints. It sounds stupid, but the scientists adopted it into their speeches and stuff like that, so we all assumed that was actually their name.
Tris hands me a WebScreen with the maths problems she needs help with. (I notice that she’s chosen to have them in red, her least favourite colour.) They really aren't that complex, but Tris cannot compute them too well. (Give her a break, her Computing stats aren't too high.) We sit there and struggle through the Maths, and I occasionally compliment Tris. “Well done, that one is particularly hard. Ooh, even Phoebe paused to think about THAT one.” (I’m lying, but it's nice to hear good things about yourself.) I’m not really paying attention. I’m busy thinking about whether or not the Printed are human. They seem to be, but you can’t trust your senses. Not here, where the rich can pay to see their dead ones. No one knows I’m a real-born, and no one can find out.
Here, in this world, being out of the norm is a death sentence. They won’t know.