A Genetic History

Larissa had been sorry when her best friend and roommate had been away the previous night. Emily was a nurse and she had been on a twenty-four hour shift. In London, even a one bedroom flat was not cheap, but they still had to make ends meet. When Emily was away Larissa had to lie in bed alone and clutch her pillow, wishing she could feel her friend's warm body beside her.

It was near dawn when Larissa awoke. The Venusian lamp had arisen and suffused the bedroom in a warm glow. Then the door swung noiselessly aside and Emily entered the room. Larissa had always thought her friend to be the most beautiful girl she had ever seen. Emily was unusually tall, but that was not the most unusual thing about her. Her skin was an immaculate, bright green all over. Her face was so gorgeous, with perfectly formed features and large dark eyes. She had long, lustrous black hair that seemed to glint with an emerald sheen in the glow of the Venusian lamp.

Emily was no ordinary girl. She wasn't even pure human. She was a hybrid being. Her origins were surrounded in strange and disturbing tales. But Larissa had never cared about that. Emily's friendship was what had brought her the most happiness she had ever known.

Larissa sat up in bed and Emily leaned down so her friend could embrace her. Emily rubbed her smooth cheek against Larissa's and purred, a rumbling noise she made deep in her throat that showed she was contented.

"Good morning Em," said Larissa, hugging her friend tight and kissing her, feeling the silkiness of her hair and smelling the sweetish scent of her skin. "So glad you could stop by. Now we've both got to work again of course." As a hybrid being, Emily did not need to sleep as much as Larissa and could work unnatural hours. But Larissa still had to work as a legal secretary as long as was humanly possible.

"Good morning to you, my dearest," said Emily softly. Her voice was low and unusually husky for a girl's. And yet it had a strangely soothing quality as well.

Larissa kissed her friend's perfectly formed nose and Emily sat on the edge of the bed and allowed herself to be pulled into a bear hug.

"Dearest Larissa, I have something I must say, but… where to begin…" Emily was beginning to sound doubtful.

"You always tell me things," murmured Larissa into her ear. "We made a pinkie-greenie promise five years ago."

"And I will never forget it," said Emily with her rumbling chuckle. They linked their smallest fingers together. Emily stroked her green cheek pensively for a moment. "I have found someone, Larissa," she said solemnly.

"What do you mean?" said Larissa sharply.

"I mean that I have found a geneticist. Someone who can help me sort out who I am, once and for all. His name is Leo and he is a genetic researcher. It's for my own peace of mind. You know how I feel about the stories around us hybrids. Our births. Our conceptions. The story of the GEMs."

"I know," said Larissa, but she wished Emily wouldn't torment herself about such things.

And so Emily began to tell of her meeting.

Meanwhile, Leo was in turn discussing his meeting with Emily with one who could really appreciate his interest in her: another genetic researcher by the name of Elsa.

To find time for their latest project, the two had had to start in the labs really early that morning. They sat at a small table drinking strong coffee. Leo gazed upon Elsa's dark blue eyes, her shining golden hair and her freckled nose and cheeks. Only a couple of days ago, he would have said that she was the most attractive lady he knew. But then he had met Emily.

"So you say this hybrid girl was an ideal specimen?" Elsa's blue eyes twinkled. "But I'm sure you didn't word it to her like that."

"No Elsa, of course I didn't. She is an amazing and wonderful creature, I'll tell you more about how we met. The day started just like any other…"

The day had indeed started just like any other day. There had been trouble early that morning when Thea, Leo's wife discovered the mess he had made in the kitchen. Thea was so particular about tidiness and he knew it. And yet here they were. The remains of the meal Leo had had the previous night were piled high on the gleaming white surfaces in the kitchen around them.

"No don't worry Leo, I'll clean it up," said Thea, arms folded, blue eyes glinting angrily. The early morning sunshine shone through the diamond paned windows, lighting up his wife's face, her milky blue eyes, the little cleft in the tip of her nose. Thea's pale cheeks were flushed pink. Why did she let herself get worked up over so little?

"I've got to have my vaccine this morning, anyway," he said lamely. Hopefully that would distract her.

Thea's expression softened. "Oh my dear, I'm so sorry I can't be there," she said, reaching her small arms around his waist, "but I'll feel better once you're vaccinated. I know you work with GEBs and their nasty microbes too."

She stood on tiptoe as he leaned down to kiss her. Hopefully she would remain cool today.

Leo was a geneticist and a researcher at Imperial College and as such, he worked with experimental GEBs – Genetically Engineered Beasts. The current specimens were man made extremophiles, creatures designed to endure hostile conditions such as those elsewhere in the solar system. The general purpose vaccine was a necessary precaution. Fortunately it was something that could be handled quite simply by a nurse brought in from Imperial hospital for the day.

At the appointed hour, Leo entered the university medical bay. The automatic doors slid silently aside to let him through. The lighting in the bay was an eerily soothing sea green. Leo wondered what the change was for. He sat down in a leather padded patient seat. The white noise of the clinical machinery whirred on and the cleaning bots moved silently, hovering inches above the patterned linoleum.

"Good morning Leo," said a husky female voice. A nurse strode into view. Leo gaped. He knew he shouldn't but he couldn't help it. The nurse was like nothing and no one he had ever seen before. A dazzling vision in green. Vibrantly green from head to toe. Very tall for a woman with a perfectly sculpted figure and exquisite features with long, silky black hair that appeared to fan out behind her as she moved with an almost feline grace across the bay. And she was so green, greener than fresh grass in Spring. She smiled at him, her dark green lips as ripe and full as emerald cherries, her large dark eyes seeming to shine. Such exquisitely formed features. He had thought that Thea had a handsome look when he first married her, but now he could forget her face in an instant when confronted with such loveliness as this nurse. He knew he should not let his gaze flicker to her breasts. So much larger than those of any normal young woman he had ever seen, they were straining against her nurse's uniform.

He knew what manner of creature this nurse was. She was a "breeder" hybrid being, born of illegal genetic research back in the twentieth century. There were thousands of breeders like her at large today. Thea thought that it was their misfortune that they had been born green – that the scandal was branded onto them for all to see. But nearly all the hybrids Leo had seen were either pretty or handsome and this hybrid was so much more than that…

"And how are you Leo?" said the hybrid nurse, smiling at him. "I'm nurse Emily. I must say it's great to visit the university and see such nice people as you. She leaned closer to him as she said this. Her skin was so flawless, like a synthetic material. No pure human woman could achieve such perfect looking skin, no matter how much makeup she put on. A cluster of small comet lamps floated above their heads at this moment, their pale light shining off Emily's green nose and cheeks. Her cheekbones were so perfectly proportioned. He thought he saw her nostrils dilate as she leaned close to him.

"Don't worry, this vaccine doesn't hurt in the slightest. Thank the planets needles are not required anymore," said Emily. Her voice was husky like those of other hybrid girls, but also had a rumble to it that sounded like a purr. He smiled. She might be the one and only hybrid whose voice was a delight to listen to.

He held out his arm and she put the strap round it, ready to deliver the vaccine. When she was done he felt the need to tell more about himself. To impress her. "I hope to get tenure and become a professor next year. My research encompasses GEBs designed for extreme conditions, but I have an interest in genetic modification in people and those whose lives have been impacted by genetic engineering…" he realised who he was speaking to and inwardly cursed himself for a fool.

Emily gave a rumbling chuckle. "I would be happy to help," she said as she removed the vaccine strap. "I'm going to have to go back to the hospital tonight to do a night shift, but I could give an interview this evening."

Glorious! An excuse to see this lovely creature again had just been handed to him.

"At seven in the extremophile lab?" he said, aware of the eagerness in his voice that he could not conceal.

"I look forward to it," she purred, smiling broadly.

At one minute to seven Leo sat at a small table in the extremophile lab in a state of nervous anticipation. Just the thought of seeing Emily again thrilled him. He could feel himself flush. He tried to busy himself with his notes, but could hardly focus. The lab lights had been cooled down and a Jovian lamp rose majestically above him as the hour approached.

One wall of the lab was taken up with a one way crystal screen. On the other side of this screen was the enclosure for a type of genetically engineered extremophile specimen, the Raumschnecken. These creatures were at this moment hopping and slithering all over each other in their tank. Leo glanced at them, wondering what Emily would think. The Raumschnecken were huge mounds of lurid green, glistening flesh that had gaping cavernous mouths with rows of retractable teeth. Massive, bulging eyes seemed to float loosely in position above their mouths. Their swollen forms expanded and contracted all the time as they squirmed and slithered over each other.

The Raumschnecken had been designed to survive in harsh conditions with very little atmosphere. Leo knew that their flesh had a suave, rubbery texture that could endure low atmospheric pressure and that their baseline DNA could repair itself, giving them a natural immunity to harsh cosmic radiation. As he looked towards them they turned and slithered towards the crystal pane. At this time the crystal would not allow them to see out, but they had another sense. A sixth sense of a kind, one that would allow them to find one another over vast distances. It had other effects too. They seemed to know him and crave his attention. He waved at them and some of them pressed their distended forms against the crystal until they were flat, their massive eyes still unable to see out. They weren't exactly a pretty sight, all mashed against the crystal like that.

At that moment a Saturnine lamp flickered on and rose to drift near the ceiling. It was seven. The doors to the lab slid aside and Emily came gliding into the lab, long silky black hair flowing behind her. The light of the Saturnine lamp shone off her green nose and cheeks and glinted emerald off her black hair, making it look as though she had special highlights.

"Top of the evening Leo," she said, and at the sound of her husky voice he felt a thrill of anticipation and rose to meet her. She hugged him, rubbing her smooth green cheek against his. She had a curious kind of sweet, musky scent. Her long hair felt especially smooth and silky as it brushed against his face. He thought he could hear a faint rumbling sound in the back of her throat as though she were actually purring. Her firm breasts were pressed against his chest. At the feel of her closeness he could feel his manhood rise…

"Let's sit down," he said quickly, realising he must stick to the business at hand.

They sat facing one another at the little table. Emily glanced at the Raumschnecken enclosure and smiled again, her luscious dark green lips so ripe for kissing…

"Such cute giant slugs," she said. Leo nodded although he wouldn't have called the things cute himself. Since Emily had entered, they were all squishing themselves against the crystal pane. Not exactly an appetising sight.

"They're extremophiles," he said, "one of the latest developments in new species that can survive in very little atmosphere." The weird creatures did make rather a strange audience, but Leo disregarded them. "Refreshments?"

"Thank you!" said Emily and gazed at him. Her eyes were so dark and beautiful. Leo remembered how a friend had told him that the eyes are windows into the soul. Emily's eyes had an oblique, staring expression that fascinated him. "I would like emerald syrup and bread, please," she said, rubbing her green cheek as though deep in thought.

Now that Leo had his doctorship, he had vending machine clearance. He could type any order into the vending machine and the machine would whirr and light up and quickly dispense whatever packaged food he requested from the storage area below. He had already heard the hybrids loved the taste of sweet things. He should try to be as hospitable as possible.

"Wouldn't you like anything else? It's all free."

"Choose your favourite sweet things then, dear," said Emily, her black eyes sparkling.

Soon Emily had a plate of bread and emerald syrup on which she proceeded to sprinkle marsh mellows and fragments of a chocolate slab. She picked up the lot and shoved it entire into her mouth, her green cheeks bulging for a moment and then she swallowed.

Leo gazed at her for a moment, almost forgetting why they were there. Such a perfect face and firm, ample breasts beneath her nurse uniform. Not to mention a robust appetite. What a specimen of hybrid womanhood she was.

She smiled back at him, traces of chocolate and emerald syrup smeared around her dark green lips. "Shall I introduce myself for the interview?" Her husky voice rumbled with the suggestion of a purr.

"Oh, of course." Leo switched on his tiny recorder. After they had both announced themselves Leo considered quickly what questions to start with. He knew the origins of the hybrids. "So Emily, as we both know, the conception of the hybrid beings took place at the Maximum fertility clinic from 1996 to 1997. May I ask why your mother required donor sperm."

"My mother was single and wanted a child and she felt that she was running out of time," said Emily steadily, "she was already forty and we know how the other fertility clinics would not offer treatment to women that old. Bad for their statistics." She winked at him.

"It was ugly, that statistic driven mentality," said Leo.

"But the Maximum Fertility Clinic had a 100% success rate. They were able to give each and every patient a bouncing green baby." Emily patted her green cheek to emphasise the point. "Whether every patient was satisfied is quite a different story."

Leo decided to save the subject of Maximum Fertility's illegal genetic research until the next interview. He must not get onto the uncomfortable topics too quickly or Emily might not want to see him again. And he really wanted to see her again…

"And so you were raised by your human mother, Emily?" asked Leo.

"My grandparents helped, but I never knew my father," said Emily, gazing at him with a faraway expression in those dark eyes of hers.

"And how did you find school?" said Leo.

"It wasn't easy for my mum to get me into a school, but St Cecilia's in Surrey accepted hybrid girls, so there were a lot of us in our year," Emily replied, "our school nurse was a real brick. That's why I wanted to be a nurse myself. I was glad that the hospital accepted me. I know for a fact that other hybrid girls couldn't get jobs there."

Leo privately thought that people would treat such a beautiful hybrid as Emily differently to other hybrids. It wasn't something that was fair, but there it was.

When they had finished the basic interview, they agreed to do a second one in greater detail the following evening and Leo offered to escort Emily to the airbus nearby. They left the lab and entered the bare stairwell that led up to the ground floor. The lights were dimmer here. Just a few red dwarf lamps giving off a faint ruby glimmer. But then the lights went out. There was the sound of footfalls on the stairwell beneath that led down to the weapons research facility and Kuznetsov, the genetic weapons researcher arrived from the depths below.

Of average height, but stooped so as to appear stunted and wizened, he leered at them as he came hobbling and creeping up the stairs. Bulging black eyes stared through a curtain of long tangled, greasy, greying hair which draped limply over his shoulders, framing a mean, pinched, sallow face. Emily drew closer to Leo who linked his arm protectively in hers.

"Doing genetic research, Doctor Sommer? Bringing that creature in here?" Kuznetsov's awful voice always seemed to roll the words around in his mouth before spitting them out. But it had never sounded so hateful to Leo as at this moment.

Leo felt a surge of anger and was about to start forward, but Emily laid her green hand on his arm.

"Leo…" she murmured very softly. So softly that he could barely hear her and more than likely old Kuznetsov couldn't hear her voice at all. Leo was reminded for a moment of the tone his mother or older sister would have used when cautioning him against getting in trouble.

Emily stepped forward. She curled her dark green lip at Kuznetsov. "This creature comes and goes as she pleases. No one can 'bring' her. She thinks you must have hobbled out of the rejected specimen bin." She wrinkled her shiny green nose and then made a snorting sound a bit like a horse that has smelled bad hay. Then she linked Leo's arm in hers and led him quickly away, leaving Kuznetsov fuming.

Outside it was dusk. Passers-by stopped and stared at Emily as the two of them made their way to the bus stop. Leo could hear murmuring here, a low whistle there and "what a pretty hybrid…" and then "did you ever see anything so perfect…?" murmured from somewhere across the street. Emily beamed in the direction of the second voice. The airbus arrived just as they strolled up to the bus stop. Emily hugged Leo goodbye, rubbing her smooth cheek against his. He could smell her sweet scent. "Until next time," she purred. Leo felt himself react to her touch. Next time couldn't come quickly enough.