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Erroneous Conclusions

Evergreen Lee prefers fairy tales to reality. When not reading or writing, she spoils cats, tie-dyes everything, and works as an Analytics Engineer for Disney. This is her first short story publication. She very occasionally blogs at evergreenlee.com.

The villagers each brought in a bucket, or a box, and filled their container with her phosphorescent green eggs.
They avoided looking at DE3DR, or Deirdre, as she preferred to be called. She followed them out of the lab, her human-like brow furrowed to display confusion.
In the town square, a bonfire burned. They threw the eggs into the fire, a handful at a time. Some were small, almost like chicken eggs, while others were as large as watermelons. When they splattered open, their guts displayed a mix of green goo and metal. Fed the right diet of biomass and minerals, each would have grown up to be a unique genetic individual, with a mixture of human and robotic parts. They were her life's work. Better than just a human brain in a metal body, like her, they would have been true cyborgs.
But now, the humans destroyed them and snuffed out their potential.
"Why?" Deirdre's voice cracked as she cried out.
The murderers ignored her, intent on their destruction. Some even smiled, as if they enjoyed it.
Only one human abstained, with arms crossed and a frown on his face. Her boss, Kevyn.
She strode to him and clutched his arm as if it were a life preserver. "Why?"
Kevyn's voice sounded resigned. "They think this will keep Bitter Plague from coming here. They think the cyborg tissue, since it is derived from human cells, can act as a carrier, just as children do.
Human children were dormant carriers: able to infect, but with no symptoms until puberty. Then, BAM: eighty-percent mortality, just like everyone else.
"But, we've studied it. We know that's not true. The virus requires an Endocrine system."
"I tried to tell them, but they don't believe me. They think I've gone soft. They won't even LOOK at the science." He shook his head. "Not only that, but they've decided cyborgs created the plague in the first place."
"Why would we do that?"
He laughed, a bitter sound. "To wipe us humans out."
"But...." Cyborgs, whether first-generation, like her, or a newer model, like the ones being destroyed, couldn't harm humans. It was in their code, and embedded in their DNA. They couldn't even get angry, or jealous. That was why they didn't have an endocrine system. No puberty. No hormonal desires.
He squeezed her hand. "Don't worry. You're safe, since you have an adult brain, and no other human cells. They can't claim you might be a carrier."
Her imitation stomach clenched as she watched the last of her eggs destroyed.
The villagers added larger logs to the fire, and the flames roared upwards.
Screams, shrill and terrified, came from the direction of the cyborg dormitories.
Deirdre gasped. "Not the children too!"
She started to rush forward, to try and stop them, but Kevyn grabbed her, and she couldn't fight him--it was part of her programming.
He pulled her away from the other villagers.
The children couldn't fight either, only scream and cry as they were carried or pulled to the fire. Sorrow, fear, pain--all of those were still included in their physiology.
Artificial tears streamed down her face as her chest heaved. Her mechanical heart throbbed so hard she thought it might burst, even though she knew it couldn't.
"Why?" she screamed. "They are innocent!"
Most of the humans ignored her, though a few glared, faces full of hatred and fear.
She shrank back, into Kevyn, and he wrapped his arms around her protectively.
"I'm sorry I couldn't stop it, but I promise I won't let them hurt you."
Religious leaders were still undecided about whether or not cyborgs had souls, but Deirdre thought she must, because a piece of hers died with each small body tossed into the flames.
"This won't stop the plague," she whispered, "and now there won't be anyone left to take care of the survivors. Not here."
It had been the whole purpose of her "farm," and all the others like it. To grow enough cyborgs to keep human civilization from collapsing in the massive die-off that would occur as the plague spread. She'd crunched the numbers herself, and knew it was their only hope. No one had been successful in preventing the virus from spreading, and there was no cure or vaccine that had worked. Only her new cyborgs could be created quickly and cheaply enough to meet the demand that would be needed if the plague hit their colony.
"Not just here. Cyborgs are being destroyed everywhere."
She shuddered, imagining the same horrific scene being played out across the galaxy.
There would be no one to take care of the sick and increase their chances of living. No one to force them to eat, or keep them clean. No one to keep searching for a cure. The humans had doomed themselves. And Kevyn. He would most likely die as well, even if she took the best care of him.
His arms tightened, as if he could read her thoughts.
"If they wanted to eliminate risk, they should have killed the human children, not mine. Kill them all, and there would be no one to carry the virus undetected. Quarantine the infected survivors, and once the virus is eradicated, children can be born safely again."
"Kill children?" Kevyn sounded shocked by the idea. "Who would do that?"
The End
This story was first published on Monday, March 19th, 2018

Author Comments

Like many of my ideas, this started as a vivid dream: full of pitchfork-wielding villagers, neon-green eggs, and a distraught protagonist. From there, I just had to figure out why the villagers had decided to destroy the eggs, and what exactly the eggs were.

- Evergreen Lee
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