[Media prompt] In a remarkable – if likely controversial – feat, scientists announced today that they have created the first successful human-animal hybrids.
“You graduated summa cum laude,” said the woman with black hair, whose name Lucy had forgotten. “Did you deliver the valedictory speech?”
Lucy blushed and nodded. “Yes,” she said, “I did.”
“And did you focus on any particular theme?” asked the other woman, a blonde.
“I spoke about the ethics of chimeras,” Lucy said. “As you know, my maternal great-grandfather was the lead researcher on the first successful interspecies chimerism project. I thought it was, well, it was a good opportunity to make a public break with the past. And to help in the fight against the Mexican and Chinese chimera mills.”
“That was a courageous stance,” said Dr. Monkton, the corners of his eyes creasing as he smiled. “I mean, criticising your great-grandfather.”
“His actions were unconscionable,” said Lucy, looking Dr. Monkton in the eyes. “Not just by the standards of our times, but by the standards of his own era. He knew what he did was wrong, but he still went ahead and did it. And his enablers, the supporters of what can only be called a monstrosity, set in motion an avalanche of human misery that is still with us today.”
Lucy took a sip of water from the glass on the table in front of her. Her mouth was dry, partly from nerves, but also because when Dr. Monkton looked at her over the top of his reading glasses she felt unnaturally hot. When she first entered the room, his natural scent had overwhelmed the nose twitching perfumes, soaps, shampoos and deodorants radiating from the two women; he smelled of freshly ironed linen in a bedroom warmed by a proper wood fire.
Dr. Monkton smiled. The smell of him enveloped her, and she had to consciously restrain herself from pressing her knees together.
“Well,” said the woman with black hair, “I can’t speak for my colleagues, but I like what I’m hearing.”
“Oh, yes,” said the blonde woman, “me too, absolutely.”
“We’re revolutionising the way humans interface with each other, nature, the built environment,” said Dr. Monkton. “I’m not in the habit of making rash promises, but nobody is going to remember Professor Wu by the time we’re finished here.”
The woman with black hair pushed her chair back. “The final part of the interview process,” she said, standing and walking to glass cabinet on one of the walls, “is the Haldon-Liu Proof.” She pressed her hand against the door until it started to slide open. “I assume you know what that is.”
“Yes,” said Lucy. “It's one of the tests for detecting non-human cells.”
“Current data show around 11 per cent of the population, even inside the safe zones, possess residual non-human cell formations,” said the black haired woman, taking a small device from the shelf and returning to the table. “Sometimes, in practice, it makes no difference; the ability to see more effectively at night, enhanced taste buds, that sort of thing.” She turned on the device, a small blue light glowed brightly. “But sometimes, there are more worrying manifestations. Increased propensity for violence. Greater strength. A lack of empathy. So to be safe, we require complete non-chimerism.”
“Yes, of course,” said Lucy.
“Have you been tested?” said Dr. Monkton.
Lucy shook her head. “My father was so opposed to his grandfather’s work that we’ve never had to. And my mother was tested before my parents married.”
“It’s just a formality,” said the blonde woman, stepping around the table so that she stood beside Lucy. She pressed the device gently onto Lucy’s cheek. She felt the cold object on her skin, then caught another whiff of Dr. Monkton and felt dizzy. She pressed her hams down on the seat, moving imperceptibly from side to side. She took another sip of water.
“It’ll just take a moment,” said the blonde woman. “It’s just for HR, really.”
Lucy closed her eyes. An image of her coupling with Dr. Monkton rose before her, and she opened her eyes to find the man in her mind staring at her, the beginning of a smile creasing his cheeks.
When the blue light turned red, the blonde woman called security.
Afterwards, stretching his legs out in front of him, Dr. Monkton said, “I thought as much. What was the reading?”
“Canine,” said the blonde woman.
Dr. Monkton laughed, crossing his hands behind his head. “I might have known; a right little bitch.”