The Littlest Infant

When it first appeared, we all made a joke of it. After all, no one had seen one of these in… well, generations. Several hundred of them, actually. It was just… unfathomable. And yet, there… it — he — was.

Lest you think our panic was unwarranted, remember: life in the late 22nd century was somewhat… different than it is now. The worldwide birthrate had plummeted, for a variety of reasons — ecological disasters in tandem with the overabundance of human-made chemicals — until Nature responded as only Nature seems to know how to do: by creating more and more female babies capable of sustaining the species, which meant less and less male ones, until ultimately a male birth was as rare as one in perhaps one or two million. By the 26th century, humanity was on the brink of collapse, so by law all the remaining potent men were rounded up and placed in camps to serve as a sort of human stud farm, where their spermatozoa was extracted at an almost frantic pace to keep humanity viable. But even that failed: they grew old, they died, and even the now-frozen sperm drawn from them lost its power.

But Nature of course being Nature wasnt finished with us: to ensure humanity as a species continued, we became a monosexual creature, capable of self-gestation. It didnt happen immediately, of course: the first to experience it were thought to be liars who’d somehow sneaked into the camps. But when it happened by the scores, then hundreds, then thousands… everyone knew a major evolutionary shift had occurred. And with it, equally sweeping changes in governance and the arts and every facet of our lives. I dont think anyone alive now can even fathom how just the basic concept of some kind of dual sexuality played out in our laws, how it was used to restrain women from their rightful place in the cosmos — and as a result this change was viewed as mixed, yet positive, blessing. Women were no longer viewed as the dimmer of the then-two genders. If you told anyone now that there was a time when the law said a woman was not allowed to walk in public simply because she was a woman, you would be considered a laughable lunatic. If you said there had been a time when women were considered property to be exchanged in marriage, you would be seen as a dangerous madwoman and should be locked away. Such lunacies of the past are now treated as mythology, as they should be. We see no reason to return to those barbaric times. No, our world — nor any of the others we have since colonized — is not perfect. But we have been spared the relentless horrors brought about by a gender we thought mercifully eradicated.

And then I received the call that the impossible had indeed happened: one of our citizenry had given birth to this misshapen monstrosity. Nature has decided, for whatever reason, that it’s time to have some more fun. For the mother’s own protection, she has been brought here and is held in seclusion, and we have immediately begun to clamp down on any reports of this singular moment. As for the infant… he — it — is kept here, in stasis, until we decide what to do…

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