Popinjay: Aubrey’s Story, Part Two
© 2017 by Larry Michael Garmon Swain
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For Aubrey’s Story, Part One, Click HERE
The events of Aubrey’s Story take place 150 years prior to the setting of my novel “Popinjay” and are offered as the backstory of how one person’s good-will intent to help humanity was appropriated by social scientists and government officials in their egotistical efforts to create the perfect society.
Thursday, 09 December 2055
Dr. Aubrey Zeman turned on the cold water, then placed her hands on both sides on the countertop, lowered her head so it was positioned directly over the porcelain sink, and threw up.
She had a weak disposition when it came to certain functions of the human body. She had no such violent psychological and physical reaction when carving on cadavers in med school or examining aborted fetus with severe genetic birth defects.
However, changing shitty baby diapers and seeing and smelling human vomitus—even her own—caused a ferocious reaction within her, and she had to find a sink or a toilet or a bucket fast.
This time, though, the trigger for her hurling was neither fecal nor vomitus in nature. This time, the trigger was the auditorium full of international scientists, political leaders, media, and a menagerie of spectators, all there to witness her required lecture for her winning the 2055 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
The irony of the situation wasn’t lost on her. Having been branded a neo-eugenicist as well as a racist and fascist—even baby killer—for decades, Dr. Zeman was now being hailed as the savior of humanity with her creation of the synthetic Z Chromosome that had virtually stopped not only genetic gender birth defects but a myriad of genetic birth defects as well. In a few moments, in an auditorium a few yards away from the waiting room, she would take the stage, stand behind a podium, and tell the regal gathering they were all full of shit.
She gurgled a laugh, the acidic vomitus burning the back of her throat, and she threw up again.
She didn’t, out of respect for the 300-year-old prize and the occasion, tell the regal spectators they were all full of shit, but she thought it throughout her required Nobel lecture. To keep from spewing out the epithet, she simply read from her prepared notes as monotoned, as dryly, and as stoic as possible. After all, it was just a lecture, an explanation of the Z Chromosome properties: explaining first that the name for her synthetic gender inhibiting chromosome, Z, is unrelated to the sex determining Z Chromosome of chickens, fish, and butteflies–the synthetic nucleic acids and proteins she created was jokingly called AZ at first after her initials, the joke being they were curing all genetic gender disorders from A to Z; that in the initial stage, a lone data entry person not privy to the joke labeled all the research and tests as Z Chromosome, and the the name stuck. She read dry data, first with the mouse experiments, then with the swine tests, and, finally, with adult volunteers who were mosaics, gender ambiguous, difference/disorder of sex development, ovotesticular disorder, cloacal exstrophy, Turner’s Syndrome, Kleinfelter’s Syndrome et cetera ad naseum.
Feigning jet lag and a slight cold, Dr. Zeman apologized profusely and excused herself from the formal reception. After all, she explained, she had to be rested, ready, and vibrant for the banquet and formal presentation of the medals and the prize the following day.
Once back in her hotel room. Dr. Aubrey Zeman undressed and viewed herself in front of the full-length mirror. She had dated in high school and in college, until Kelsey’s suicide and her change from a Literature major to the pre-med track. Given her own research project as an undergraduate didn’t allow her time for boyfriends and dating and all that went along with the hair pulling and the jumping about. She would, someday, she told herself, after med school, after internship, and after she was well into her research for a “cure” for genetic gender dysmorphia, find someone with whom she could then share her discoveries and her life. She even wanted a couple of kids. She didn’t care about the gender. Just kids. She would name one of them Kelsey.
In her second year of med school, while conducting research on gender-based biology, Aubrey and her assistants took blood and karyotype exams. Aubrey was stunned when her karyotype revealed half of her cells were fifty-percent male.
After consulting with her faulty supervisor and delving into research about others with such a genetic gender anomaly, Aubrey came to the conclusion that she was really two people—not one—that she had actually been one of a set of fraternal twins, the other being a male, and that, Aubrey, as the female twin, had absorbed her brother into herself, and he had remained with her as the fifty-percent.
Further testing revealed that although her ovaries were healthy—she had been menstruating since she was twelve—her ovaries did not produce eggs. Instead, what seeped out from the thousands of egg-producing follicles of her ovaries were more like sperm.
Aubrey was a mosaic. Aubrey would never have children.
She threw herself on the hotel’s king size bed. Never have children. But, she could save the children to come. She could save the future. She fell asleep
The Sleeper Awakens
13 June 2071
“Bradycardia within acceptable limits,” said Dr. Jeffny Namara. “Fourty-eight.”
“Thank you,” Dr. Zeman said and smiled at her intern. She looked at the nurse and said, “BP.”
“115 over 70,” the nurse, Jude Tibble, replied.
Dr. Zeman nodded. “EEG.”
The nurse tapped the screen in front of him, and a chart with a dozen zig-zag lines popped up to fill the screen. “Normal: 6.5 Hz.”
Dr. Zeman smiled. She pressed her hands on the cylinder, put her face to the square glass porthole, and stared at the subject within. “You’re almost there,” she said, her voice soft, her breath leaving a bit of fog on the thick glass.
Although she knew he was in a medically induced coma, surrounded by two inches of amalgamate iron, his head incased in a full-face diver’s mask, and completely submerged in a solution of synthetic embryonic fluid, Aubrey thought she saw him smile.
Two years ago, Morgan had been a she/her, born with cloacal exstrophy, just as Kelsey had been. Diagnosed as genetically male as a late teen. Just as Kelsey. Attempted suicide.
Morgan, though, had been unsuccessful at killing the self within and without, and Morgan’s case was referred to Dr. Zeman’s Genetic Gender Research Institute. Morgan volunteered for the new procedure to reverse, reconstruct, and rebirth Morgan as his proper and true gender.
Six months of testing—physical, psychological, emotional, and mental. Morgan was as nearly perfect a candidate as Dr. Zeman could hope for.
First, the chromosomes had to be neutralized. Having both X and Y was only part of the problem. Over twenty different chromosomes contributed to the sexual gender of a human being, and Morgan had too many, all fighting for dominance and attention.
Within Morgan, within the human being, was the secret of the person’s true gender identity. Morgan had known the secret all his life, but society and science’s limited capacity to articulate and accept and finally to correct nature’s abnormality forced an alternative truth on Morgan, that Morgan was female simply because no other definitive gender explanation could articulate exactly what Morgan was.
Dr. Zeman was determined to allow Morgan’s secret within to reveal itself. Deep within Morgan, in a as yet unknown and possibly indefinable and undiscoverable something was the truth within Morgan, the essence of which articulated and defined Morgan as a complete human being.
Within three months of infusing the Z Chromosome inhibitor throughout Morgan’s system, the genomic gender battle was over. Morgan was ready for the iron womb.
A dosing of propofol, and Morgan was in a medically induced coma. The subject was placed in a cylindrical iron chamber. A full-face diver’s mask covered the subject’s head, the breathing tube attached to the respirator just outside of the cylinder. The chamber was sealed. A thick fluid containing vitamins, enzymes, nutrients, hormones, and antibodies slowly filled the iron chamber, enshrouding Morgan in a bath of the synthetic amniotic fluid.
Three times a day, small drones the size of strawberries, each with five extended arms at the end of which were either suction cups or padded hands, massaged Morgan’s arms and legs, flexed and pulled for muscle dexterity and to maintain strength. The drones rolled Morgan over twice a day so blood would not settle in his back.
Nurse Tibble tapped the screen in front of him again. “One-fifty-two.”
Four months of transformation. Constant video recording of the slow change from ambiguous genitals to full male. First, the slow closing of what had been considered the vagina. The formation of the scrotum. The elongation of the misidentified clitoris and the slow conversion into a penis. Three-D x-rays showed the internal morphing of two small indefinite flattened forms into firm, smooth, egg-shaped testicles.
Two months of weaning the body and the brain off the propofol.
“Draining fluid,” said Dr. Namara. She tapped a button on her computer screen, and the cylinder began to ebb from the chamber. Morgan’s body slowly settled onto U-shaped pads attached to the bottom of the cylinder.
“All vitals normal,” the nurse said. “Patient has achieved REM. Estimated time of full consciousness—” he checked his computer screen—”ten minutes.”
After all the fluid had drained from the cylinder, Dr. Zeman, Dr. Namara, and Nurse Tibble unscrewed the latches and lifted the lid.
Morgan Caswell had entered the iron womb as a gender ambiguous human being.
Thirty minutes after the last of the fluid was drained, Morgan was conscious. His vitals were those of a human emerging from deep sleep.
Fifteen minutes after consciousness, Nurse Tibble aided Morgan in first sitting up on the edge of the cylinder.
Ten minutes later, Morgan gingerly place his toes on the soft rubber padding of the floor and stood. Tibble helped to steady him.
During this whole process, Morgan never looked down between legs.
When he was finally fully upright and standing on his own, he looked down. He then looked at the three people standing in front of him, raised his arms, and said, “He is risen.”
Aubrey’s Story concludes on Wednesday, 28 June 2017, with Part Three