genetic programming of personality Clear Springs Press

The Non-Conformity Chronicles

Chapter 3 - A Grim Choice

"It is rare that a man suddenly realizes that what he sees, thinks and believes is not what it appears to be. This is at once a great blessing an inconvenient curse." - From The Non-Conformist Training Manual

         Finally, he recognized that somehow he had reached his housing complex. He automatically, without thinking, pulled out his card and ran it through the scanner on the security gate. Even before it happened, he realized what he had done. Then the flashing red light and claxon came on to announce the presence of a non-person, an intruder, someone who didn't exist . . . someone whose card was not accepted by the Central Accountant.

         Fortunately, there was no one around at that time of day. He ran into the shadows and waited. He now realized that he would not be able to get into his apartment even if he got inside the complex.

         He looked at his watch. It was now 5:30 a.m. If he could gain entry, he might be able to get his neighbor to let him inside. Carefully, he climbed the fence and got inside the complex. Going over the fence he split his pants and ripped the sleeve on his jacket. Running through the shadows, he tripped and fell on his face giving himself a bloody nose. He knew the infrared motion detectors had certainly found him by now. He ran as fast as he could to his building and leaped up and grabbed the bottom railing of the balcony belonging to his next door neighbor. With his last bit of strength, he pulled himself up onto the balcony and lay there gasping for breath. His watch now said that it was 5:37 a.m.

         His next door neighbor was an attractive young woman named Dora Agnesi who worked in an art gallery. They knew each other but not intimately.

         Desperately, he began banging on her patio door. She came out of her shower wrapped in a towel and looked through the window at him. There he stood with his dirty hands and bloody face against her window pane, with his baggy bloodshot eyes, and torn, dirty, and wet clothes. Any normal woman would have screamed and summoned the authorities.

         She didn't! She stood there wrapped in a bath towel staring at him through squinted eyes. He should have been suspicious, but he didn't care. He tried to call out to tell her who he was, he really tried. Only a pitiful squeak escaped his vocal cords. Her eyes widened as she recognized him.

         She opened the door and pulled him inside.

         She put a hand over his mouth and led him into her kitchen, stood him in the corner and whispered, "Don't make a sound! Don't even breathe! And do not move!" Then she proceeded to dry her hair as if nothing was wrong. She was shortly interrupted by the buzz on her COMM terminal. The sleepy face of a security guard appeared on her screen and asked, "Are you all right Miss Agnesi?"

         "Yes, I'm fine," she replied. "Why wouldn't I be?"

         "We had an unauthorized entry attempt at the front gate and an intruder in the complex. The infrared motion detectors tracked a target running from the fence to your building and we got a reading on the glass break detector on your patio door," he replied. Then he looked at his monitors and said, "I don't scan anyone else in your apartment. Any idea why the glass break detector sounded off?"

         "I tripped and banged against the window," she replied.

         He scratched his chin and said, "I suppose that would do it. You be careful anyway. Call me if you see anything." The monitor went blank and she relaxed. By this time Dr. Baker was so exhausted that his knees were wobbling.

         "This corner of the kitchen is the only place the video-scanners can't see into," she said.

         "That's handy to know," he thought absentmindedly . . . and innocently.

         She led him into the bathroom and sat him down in the hot tub clothes and all.

         Moments later she handed him a cup of hot tea and a couple of Hi-Nutrient cookies.

         "From the looks of you, I think I might like an invite to your next party!" she said with a smirk.

         "No you wouldn't!" he replied. "My card stopped being accepted by the Central Accountant!"

         She looked at him seriously and asked, "Any idea why?"

         "They think I'm a non-conformist!" he replied and passed out.

         When he came to, he was lying on a luxurious down comforter dressed in a ladies bathrobe. He looked around and saw her stuffing a backpack.

         She looked up at him with a shrewd glance. "I called in and scheduled a sabbatical leave so I can help you sort out your difficulties."

         "What's the backpack for?" he asked.

         "You're going to need it!" she replied.

         He paused for a moment letting that implication sink in then shook his head in rejection. "No! No! This is all a big mistake of some kind. They can't cancel my card! I can get this all straightened out. Let me use your COMM terminal!"

         She hesitated and said, "If you use my terminal, the call will be immediately traced to me, and to you. That would not be wise, but I see that it is necessary."

         She opened a sleek anodized alloy travel case and removed a small device from it and inserted the device between the COMM terminal and the network interface cable.

         "What are you doing?" he asked. He had never seen this done before and was starting to get curious.

         She shot him a look that was so deadly serious that it made him shiver. "Hacking!"

she said.

         He cringed! The law requires that anyone caught hacking be executed on sight. This is one fact that the Central Accountant has determined that everyone has a need to know! For ordinary crimes, the Central Accountant issues arrest warrants, but for hacking, . . . the Central Accountant issues death warrants! Hacking is the only crime that is more serious than non-conformity.

         He took another look at his benefactor. She dressed like an artist, acted like an artist, but was clearly not an ordinary artist. He looked closer. For the first time, he noticed her eyes. One was blue and one was green. That sent an instant shiver up his spine. That kind of anomaly was unheard of and would never have been allowed to survive unchanged in anyone's genetic profile . . . unless?

         It suddenly occurred to him that he might be looking at a person who had never been subjected to genetic modification! This was so shocking a thought that he nearly lost bladder control.

         She looked him directly in the eyes, with one blue eye and one green eye and fire behind them. The hair stood up on the back of his neck and he struggled to remain calm.

         "Who is your Psycho?" she asked.

         "Dr. Skinner," he replied.

         She typed an entry into a small hand monitor. "Hmm . . . I see that the address of the COMM terminal in his waiting room is ZX549587, so I will alter my COMM terminal address to ZX549587. Now the operator will think that you are in your Psycho's waiting room. I also entered his Central Account ID number to get onto the system. Remember to play the part now!"

         He shuddered! By hacking into the network like this, he was now public enemy number ONE! He didn't even want to ask how she got his Psycho's personal account number! He went ahead anyway. He was already in too far over his head and there was no turning back, and without a card and account, he had nowhere to go! He sat down at the terminal and requested access to a Central Accountant control operator. A lady with a distant empty stare appeared on the screen.

         "There has been a mistake and it needs correcting!" he stated pointedly.

         "What sort of mistake?" she asked without moving a single facial muscle.

         "The Central Accountant has stopped accepting my card and for no reason and without warning!" he said feeling himself get indignant all over again. "I can't access transportation, entry, food, information, anything!"

         She raised her right eyebrow ever so slightly and scanned her monitors. "You are calling from Dr. Skinner's waiting room COMM terminal. Good! Run your card through the scanner."

         He ran his card through the scanner and watched her eyes widen. "You are Dr. Sam Baker, genetic surgeon! The Central Accountant has cancelled your access!"

         His mouth hung open and he finally muttered, "It can't do that. It has no right to deny me access. I am a productive citizen, I have a right to full enhanced access!"

         She looked back at him with an icy stare and said flatly, "Access is a privilege, not a right! Everything you had access to were privileges which have been withdrawn by the authority of the Central Accountant! If you will recall your history, sir, rights were abolished with the great economic revolution and the creation of the Central Accountant!"

         She looked back at her terminal and said, "There's more. You have been declared a Non-Conformist! It appears that you have an anomaly in your genetic code which makes you a potential rebellious influence. Because this is a genetic flaw, all of your sex partners have been advised to shun you because you are unsuitable for breeding. However, because of the intervention of your Shyster, you have been scheduled for a whole person genetic reprogramming rather than execution. You are ordered to report to your Psycho to schedule the procedure. Since you're already there, I see no reason to issue a warrant for your apprehension. Any questions?"

         "I . . . I . . . protest!" he stammered. "If those non-conformity genes are ripped out of me, my creative abilities may be impaired! I may not be able to perform my duties as a genetic surgeon!"

         She looked back at her terminal and said, "It seems that you may be right. An exception was made in your case before because there was a shortage of genetic surgeons. Now we have a surplus of genetic surgeons so your loss to society will be meaningless. You can be retrained. I am confident that the Central Accountant will restore your privileges as soon as this problem is corrected. This sort of thing happens all of the time."

         Terror gripped his soul and he struggled to not let it show. His entire identity would be wiped out, he would be permanently altered. "What do we have a shortage of now?" he asked as coolly as he could.

         "COMM terminal operators," she said with a blank expressionless face. All individuals who were surplus to the needs of society became COMM terminal operators.

         The thought of being reduced to an unthinking, unfeeling automaton like the person he saw on the screen was too much to bear. "Thank you for your help! I need to go in and see my Psycho now," he said and terminated the connection.

         He slumped down in his chair feeling as if the life had been drained out of him. He began sobbing uncontrollably. His breath came in short gasps and he could not stop trembling for a very long time. Slowly, he looked over at Dora. She watched him motionless for a few minutes then she got up and handed him the backpack. She took another pack from the closet for herself . . . it appeared that she had it sitting ready . . . just in case?

         "Come on!" she said. "We have an arduous journey ahead of us." Then she opened the door and vanished silently into the darkness.

         He didn't have a clue what she meant . . .

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