Jason Kocemba 1898 words 9 minute read

“Please, take a seat Ms Maysles.”

The men who held her elbows guided her forward and then stepped back. Now that her hands were free, Magda clasped them together and interlaced her fingers to keep them still.

She couldn’t trust them.

The door closed behind her. She did not hear the turn of a key. She looked up at the man who sat behind the desk. He wore a welcoming smile, his eyebrows raised in an expectant pause. There was a brass name plaque that said ‘Dr. K Byres’ sitting on the desk. He gestured at an armchair. “Please, Ms Maysles.”

She looked from the chair to the doctor.

His fingers made tiny gestures in the air. She looked up from his hands to his face to see his eyes were a preternatural blue. His focus was soft, inward. He was seeing the holographic display his corneal implants projected onto his retina. The micro-muscular movements of his twitching fingers manipulated the interface.

“Sit.” Stop wasting my time, his tone said, but his posture and expression remained unchanged: both polite and inquiring. This whole thing was a performance. What did he want?

She edged over, feeling the synthetic fabric of the gifted skirt brush the back of her calves. She did not like skirts. Too restrictive. She sat on the edge of the armchair, back and shoulders straight, feet flat on the floor, knees together with her interlaced hands on her lap.

The doctor’s fingers twitched for a moment longer, his gaze off to the left, unfocused.

Magda did not have the implants. They cost way too much. Just how much debt did this man have, what with his augments and his medical school tuition fees? She always thought that her parents dying when she was young had saved her from the debt trap. Although being free from debt had not freed her from hunger and disease, or from the gangs and the crime, or from having to find somewhere in the Shanties to sleep and shit. At the end of the day, fancy ceramic bowl or hole in the ground, everyone had to shit.

He put his hands down onto the desk and finally focused on her.

“I’m Dr Byres,” he said.

Redundant. He was redundant.

His eyes looked her up and down, pausing on her bruises and contusions and then on her stomach. She felt her hands tighten their grip on each other. Her captors had washed the dirt and filth away and given her new clothes. When was the last time she had she ever been so clean?

“I have some good news and some bad news for you.” He smiled.

The doctor’s augments flashed blue. She remembered the alley, where several pairs of glowing eyes appear out of the darkness. She was stalked, chased and captured. They took her to a room and chained her, practically hanging from the ceiling, her legs forced high to help keep the seed in. There were fifteen more women like her in the room. She couldn’t believe how stupid these men were. Breeder farms were old news, even back when the world was still falling apart.

No-one got pregnant any more.

Dr Byres put his folded hands on his desk and his eyes returned to their natural colour, which was a blue several shades and many lumen darker.

She shrugged her shoulders.

Dr Byres ignored her. “Well, the bad news is very much related to the good news, actually.”

All of this was bad news.

She remembered the blasted stares of the other women. Pupils like black holes. None of their eyes glowed, none had augments, none of them could record what was happening to them. She knew she would not end up like those, where they no longer struggled or fought, no longer shouted ‘no’. She would never stop fighting. She squeezed and squeezed and ejected as much of that foreign unasked for liquid as she could. It did not belong there, she hadn’t agreed to it being there.

“When you were freed and brought here we found you were pregnant,” Dr Byres said. He paused, watching for a reaction.

One pair of those glowing blue augments in the alley belonged to a young man with blond stubble and a sneer a mile wide. Every time it was his turn he chose Magda, and every time she fought and struggled and twisted and screamed. As she did, she stared into his glowing eyes and poured ever last drop of anger and hate she could into them. She would rather they beat her unconsciousness than submit. And they did, many times. It was likely he was the father.

“You’ll be pleased to know that we chemically terminated the process. It was perfectly safe,” Dr Byres said. “You’re very precious.”

Was she pleased to know this? Yes. Yes, she was. Almost as pleased as when the breeder farm got raided and that sneering bastard had his teeth smashed in by the cop’s nightstick. She had been pregnant, and now she wasn’t. What did that mean? They’d been told no-one could get pregnant any more. The eggs didn’t fertilise. According to the media, there hadn’t been a ‘real’ pregnancy for, what, eleven years?

Precious, though? She’d never been called precious in her life.

The doctor sat forward his elbows on his desk.

What came next would be bad. Badder than bad.

“You’re young. What? Early twenties?” She looked at his eyes. He didn’t wait for an answer. “It’s likely you’ll have perhaps a hundred thousand eggs in your ovaries. Even if a small percentage are viable then…” He licked his lips as his gaze moved down to her stomach.

Magda moved her interlaced hands up from her lap to cover her belly to add an extra layer of protection.

“We wish to harvest your eggs, Ms Maysles,” His eyes flickered from her abdomen to her face and back again. “We would like your agreement to allow us to do so.”

Magda stared at his face, at the greed written there. Was it worse than that blond sneer?

Dr Byres then spoke what he considered to be the ace up his sleeve. “We will pay you for the privilege.”

Yes, the look on the doctor’s face was much worse than the sneer.

She slowly unlaced her fingers and pulled her hands apart. Took a breath.

“What about the farm? What about the other women?” she said.

The doctor looked at her face and seemed to see her for the first time. He made a gesture like he was wiping a window away on his holographic interface. “Oh, none of the others were pregnant. No need to worry about that, they’ve all been taken care of.”

He wiped it away like it didn’t matter, like it didn’t exist. All solved now, taken care of, don’t worry your valuable little ovaries about it. Forget what they did to you and those other women, forget what they put you all through.

He took her silence for hesitation.

“People will pay a lot of money for one viable egg. Do you have any idea what one egg goes for on the open market?” His eyes moved off to the left again and become unfocused. Was he looking it up? “Desperate parents, eggs infused with their DNA, augmented for the required traits, grown and delivered all within nine months. Baby to order. It’s that simple. You, me, them, the human race. We all win!”

His voice faded to nothing. She could not, would not, listen to him any longer.

His eyes went dark as he refocused on her.

“Ms Maysles?” he said as he stood. There was a concerned look on his face. “Are you okay? I know it’s a lot to take in…”

She realised that she was standing too, and that her hands were no longer at her stomach but by her hips. They had made fists.

She had viable eggs. She was a commodity. That’s all he saw, that’s all he’d ever see. It seemed like he was giving her a choice but if she declined they would find a way to take the eggs anyway. His eyes said they would, his greed said they would, his wet lips said they would.


Where was her choice when she became an orphan? Where was her choice for surviving within the Shanties? Where was her choice for being raped in the farm or for having her pregnancy terminated or for being brought here to this doctor’s office?

She would not sell her eggs. They belonged to her, and was it her fault that they were viable? Was it her problem that others wanted what she had?


She saw the doctor’s face crumple into anger and she realised that she was shaking her head. He saw his hopes and fantasies of a reasonable negotiation dashed by her refusal. He rounded the desk and stepped towards her, his hands reaching out for what he thought was his due. For what he thought he deserved. For what was already his.

It was now she could trust her hands to do what they had been itching to do since she had been led into this room.

She grabbed his arm, pulled him forward and punched him straight in the nose. She felt it flatten against her knuckles. Blood splashed across his cheeks. Before he could scream she twisted his wrist, side-stepped and used his own weight to put him on the floor. His forehead struck the carpet with a dull thud. She considered breaking his wrist, but his screams might alert the men outside. She could take them, probably, but not in the skirt.

He inhaled sharply as if to shout for help. She kicked him in the ribs with the plimsolls that they had given her. His breath whooshed out and he gasped for more. She wished she had been wearing her boots.

She twisted his wrist, the bones ground together. “Do you want me to break it?” She wondered what he was seeing on his implants now, what his panicked fingers were doing to the display. “Do you?”

“No!” he said. “I just wanted to he-” Magda tightened her grip. He yelped. Any more pressure and his wrist would snap.

“Ssh,” she said and relaxed. A little bit. “Okay, are we good? Nod if we’re good.”

He nodded.

“You are going to get up and we are going to leave together, and then we are going to get into your car and you are going to take me to the Shanties,” Magda said.

“Yes,” Dr Byres whispered through the pain.

“No more talk about eggs, right?”

“No more eggs.”

“How do you think we survive the Shanties?”

Dr Byres looked confused.

“How do you think anyone survives the Shanties?”

Dr Byres shook his head.

“We don’t have money. We don’t need it. We are strong and we fight. We fight for what is ours.”

She had been unlucky in the alley, there had been too many of them. A few less and she might have stood a chance. When she got home she would start asking around. The farmers there had been too stupid to organise even a piss-poor idea like the farm. She would find out who was behind it. They were going to fucking pay. But not with money.

Starting with this prick.