The Tenth Boy
Chapter 1: X
"Glen, have you got a minute or two?"
"One second, Dr Heller, I've just finished thawing up the hunters you asked for. I need to seal them off."
"All right, come into the downstairs lab when you're done."
The Doctor turned on her heels and walked out of the room, and Glen returned to staring at his CIE screen. The process he was performing was a simple one, but it required a delicate hand. Slowly the tiny specks on the screen started to move, and Glen hurried to seal the lid of their vial. He was using a pair of joysticks to manipulate mechanical arms inside a large glass cage. Once the vial was sealed, he let the arms shower it with an antibacterial solution, then deposit it in an air dock. Once more it was sprayed, then he could open a hatch and pick it up. A shiver ran down his spine, as nearly always when he handled the hunters. Should he open it, he knew, he would be dead within ten minutes. Wondering what was so urgent, Glen debated whether he should leave the vial behind while he went to see Dr Heller, risking for someone to find it and maybe open it. He didn't feel like carrying it around with him, either. Compromising, he put it back inside the glass cage and turned on the negative pressure pumps. No one who had access to the labs would be dumb or ignorant enough to mess with it now. Removing his lab coat, Glen pressed a button and the door seal hissed open once a green light was lit. Curiosity speeding him up, he almost ran down the hall to the stairs. The Doctor always had a dozen side projects going on, some lethal, some illegal and some to provide her with the money needed to keep it all up. `Medical research,' she would often say, `is good and noble, but it doesn't pay the bills. You have to keep up with what's in demand.' Reaching the downstairs lab, which he knew was little more than a mish-mash of various left-over equipment, Glen stopped to press a button with a hand-written note saying `Let me in!'. Immediately, the door opened and Doctor Ariana Heller smiled at him. He took a step inside, then paused as he heard a sound that couldn't possibly be heard in a place like this, where even the President would need clearance to get in. It was the sound of laughing children.
They were everywhere; sprawling on the floor, lying on tables, climbing equipment or just wrestling with each other. All were boys at about the same age, eleven or twelve, and they were all naked, Glen realised, blushing slightly. Then one of the boys spotted him. A choir of cheers broke out, and they all rushed over to hug him, pushing against him from all angles while they started chattering so noisily he couldn't make out a single word. Someone kissed his cheek, and he could feel several hands groping at his crotch. With an effort, he managed to shoo them away, something that lead to a lot of pouting lips, and a couple of the boys actually started crying on each other's shoulders. Once things had calmed down somewhat, Glen looked at the boys again. There were differences; some had black hair, some blond, one even had a long fluffy tail, whiskers and a cat's ears, but all in all the boys were exactly the same. Size, weight, face shape, everything matched. He looked away as some of them started fondling each other, instead turning his gaze to the Doctor.
"Don't be embarrassed, Glen. It comes natural to them." She smiled, her eyes on what had become a pile of bodies on the floor. "Aren't they beautiful?"
"What the hell is all this?" Glen ran his fingers through his hair, trying not to listen to what was going on behind him. "Have you been playing God again, Doctor?"
"Not really." She laughed. "Just his deputy. This is the miracle your hunters have performed."
"Now, really, Glen! How about an educated guess? You are a scientist, after all."
"Cloning, of course, that's no guess. Are you saying you've used the hunters to re-program their genetic structure?"
"Programmed, scent-marked and patented. They worked like a charm, by the way. Add a little protein here, snap some off there. Like the fine little robots they are."
"The hunters are living things, Doctor. Bacteria, yes, but you should treat them with respect. Their origin are some of the most lethal strains that ever existed."
"Robots. How do you like the neko? With the hunters and the Computerised Image Enhancer, re-writing DNA is almost like composing a symphony. I can do pretty much as I please." She made a beckoning gesture towards the boys. "Seven, come here!"
"Yes, Doctor?" The cat-boy ran over to them, still naked and now wearing signs of their sex-play. "Are you Mr Glen? The one who helped make us?"
"That's me, although I had no idea I was God's handy-man." The boy giggled, and Doctor Heller laughed. "What's your name?"
"I'm number seven. Look!" He pushed his crotch forwards, pointing to a spot on the inside of his right thigh, where the Roman number VII was tattooed. "See? That's me, seven."
"I see." Glen hurriedly looked away from the boy's nether regions, touching his furry ears instead. They felt just like those of a cat. "Marvellous."
The boy giggled, wagging his tail. Then his whiskers started to twitch impatiently, and he looked at Doctor Heller, tilting his head quizzically. She smiled and nodded, and with a whoop of delight he sprinted back to the writhing pile of boys behind Glen. The Doctor beamed with pride as she watched her creations. Obviously, she was expecting praise.
"Who's the template?"
"I don't know, what does it matter? I got a guy I know at the city morgue to get me some marrow from a boy who died in a car accident."
"Matter? Don't you think that boy's parents will react seeing a dozen of him?"
"Not if they got killed, too. Wake up, Glen!" She laughed. "Did your mind travel south? Besides, they wouldn't exactly have been part of the presumptive clientele, would they?"
"Clientele? Doctor, don't tell me you're..."
"Like I just said, wake up! These are products, not boys. They've been ordered, paid for, and now I'm going to deliver. Seven is going to Japan, fulfilling the life-long dream of one of the world's richest bank owners."
"You're selling them as sex toys?"
"What did you think they'd be for? Five million dollar waiters? Why do you think I've made them so cuddly? So... frisky? Trust me, Glen, they are programmed to perform and enjoy it."
"When did you do all this?"
"Oh, I started the cell division just a couple of months ago, then sent in your hunters. I have to say, they surprised even me, with the way they sped up the growth acceleration.. This batch was scheduled for May, but they hatched yesterday. The incubator is already prepared for the next batch."
"This is..." Glen grabbed a chair and sat down, shaking his head. "This is..."
"Business, Glen. That's what it is. Don't you see, we can go independent! Stop leaning on governmental funds and corporate sponsors. We could do the research we always wanted to do!"
"By becoming slave traders!"
"No, by becoming merchants in a trade with great potential! I told you, stop seeing them as human beings! They are pets, designed and manufactured by us. Don't mix things up."
"But they're so young! So innocent! They're just kids!"
"They never were kids, Glen. And if you would turn around you'd see just how innocent they are. I have to let them keep it up, or they'll just sulk. I'm telling you, they'll be ever so happy once they're with their new owners. Two, come here!" Another boy strolled over to them, this one blond and feminine, with long eyelashes and full lips." Two, tell Glen who you are and what you are going to do later today."
"I'm number two," the boy said, rolling his eyes as if stating the most obvious thing in the world. He then proceeded to make sure Glen got a good look on his tattooed number II. "I'm going to live in San Fransisco, in a place called the Bird's Nest."
"Glen has no idea what kind of a place that is, two."
"Why, it's a whore house," two proclaimed happily. "I'm going to be their main attraction."
"What do you think of that?" the Doctor asked. "Glen is concerned for your happiness."
"I think it'll be great!" He giggled. "I'll finally get to have as much sex as I want, and I'll be making money for the Nest too."
"Thanks, two, you can go back to play now."
"Can I play with ten?"
"No, leave ten alone. Now go."
The boy had been playing with himself while they talked, and now he dashed away to join the others again. Glen had a foul taste in his mouth, and he knew he was blushing deeply from the boy's unabashed show. The Doctor watched his reaction, smiling at him.
"Doesn't that make you feel better?"
"No, worse!" Glen's tone was harsh, and he could hear that the sounds coming from the boys abated as he raised his voice. "You've taken away their ability to choose! Taken their most basic human right!"
"As I keep saying, Glen, they aren't humans! I made them! At best, they are advanced playthings. You heard two, it's perfectly happy with everything."
"Because you've forced him to be!"
"All right, suppose I let it out on the street, what do you think would happen?" Glen opened his mouth to speak, but the Doctor interrupted him. "I'll tell you what would happen, it would attach itself to the nearest human being, begging to become their sex toy. Not fucking it would be like trying to make a German Shepherd not guard your house."
"So you're saying they'll enjoy getting raped?"
"Only three and four are designed for that. The other clients want consentual sex. And seven will probably only be an object for praise and admiration."
"Don't say that, Doctor Heller!" the cat boy piped up. "That would be awful!"
"See? I'm disappointed in you, Glen." She sat down next to Glen and took his hand. "After all, they're not very different from your hunter bacteria. They're created for a purpose, serve that purpose and are then discarded."
"What do you mean, discarded?"
"I mean they die, Glen, if you like to use that word. I prefer `expire'. Clones don't last a full life time, you know that. I've made these so they'll expire within ten years. Don't want to flood the market."
"So you mean they'll live until they're just over twenty, then die?" Glen felt his eyes begin to water. "A bit of growth, then good bye. That's one hell of a life!"
"No, you're wrong about one thing. They won't actually grow much. A couple of them will enter puberty just enough so they'll start ejaculating, like their owners wanted, the rest will be boys all their lives. Glen, the kind of clientele we have don't want teenagers, they want them young."
"You mean they're custom designs?" He laughed bitterly. "Like my car?"
"Well put. That's spot on. If somebody had wanted a boy who grew into a man, they would've got it, but nobody did. Stop whining now, the money we'll bring in will pay your salary for the next half-decade."
"Oh, thanks! I didn't need to hear that! Doctor Heller, I can't take that money."
"Then quit, but you try to find work once your CV says you're soft-hearted. This is the new thing, Glen. I've specialised in boys for men, but others will satisfy other demands. Darker demands, Glen. My boys will be better treated than many others."
"God no longer has all rights reserved. You should remember, too, that my company holds the patent for your hunters, Glen. With or without you, they stay."
"Screw you, Doctor."
"I think not. No, save that for little twelve, I'll be keeping it for myself." She snapped her fingers, and a dark-haired boy slipped into her lap. "I always make a full dozen with orders for ten. This time, one of the extras will be put to use, while I'll be keeping this one."
"Sounds like this isn't the first time..."
"Hehe, no Glen, it isn't. I've got a nice collection at home."
"Won't ten come with us?" twelve asked, taking the Doctor slightly aback. "I thought, since eleven is going to London instead of him..."
"No, I've found another suitable home for ten, don't you worry." She set the boy down and patted his rump. "Now take the others with you and get back into your sleeping room. I need to finish my talk with Glen."
"Okay, Doctor." Glen turned to watch as the boys scuffled along, leaving the lab through a back door. Twelve was leading the way, but as he was about to close the door, he turned around to look at the Doctor. "Shall I get ten, too?"
"No, leave him. His new owner will pick him up shortly. If you're still awake by then, I'll let you say good bye." She turned to Glen. "They attach easily to each other, I haven't really been able to rid them of that."
"Sibling love. Too human for you?" Glen grinned as she sneered. "What about ten?"
"A flawed specimen. Did you bring my hunters?"
"No, they're still in the anti-cont lab. You know I don't like carrying them around outside that. So, what about ten?"
"Will be scrapped. That's what I wanted the hunters for."
"Are you mad!?" Glen jumped to his feet, suddenly feeling very nauseous. "That's an awful death! I won't allow it!"
"Ten is flawed, Glen, it won't suffer. The memory implantation failed, as did the genetic alteration. It was supposed to become another neko, which means I'll have to sell that client eleven instead, to a reduced price. Come." She grabbed Glen's hand and led him around the incubator to where it formed a niche against the wall. Another boy sat there, his arms wrapped around his knees. This boy had light brown hair and was not as slenderly built as the others. He was shivering, and seemed to be crying. Glen reached out a hand to touch him, but the Doctor held him back. "Don't, you'll just scare it even more. The only thing that worked on this one was the growth acceleration. Nothing else caught home. Without implants, it's basically just a newborn infant, and without augmentations it's not very attractive. I thought the hunters would do the job quickly."
"What job, Doctor? Are you saying you'll kill him?"
"At a kennels, what do you think they do to the pups that have bad markings, or the wrong temperament? It's no difference."
"Damn you, Doctor, of course there is! This is a boy, a living, breathing human being!"
"No, it's not." She pulled the boy's legs apart, and he started sobbing louder, trying to get away from her. On his right leg was the tattoo: X. "There, see? Another one of my fine little creations, only it's a bad specimen."
"I won't let you kill im, Doctor. Let me take care of him."
"Why not? I've raised one son on my own, I can manage another."
"Even one who's unable to even feed itself?"
"He's no different from any other baby, just a little bigger. Doctor, please! Even if I don't pay you, you still won't lose anything, since you were going to kill him, anyway."
"Oh, all right, but don't try to adopt it, the court would laugh at you. Like I've been saying, it won't count as human by society's standards. What you'll have is a broken trinket, a toy you can't even play with."
"A boy who'll get a second chance." He stroked ten's hair, trying to calm him down. "There, it's gonna be fine, you'll see. Wanna come with me?"
"Good luck, Glen, you'll need it." She laughed. "Just don't be late for work tomorrow, you hear?"
"I hear." He continued to beckon the frightened child, and at last the boy got to his feet and walked carefully towards him. Glen took the boy into an embrace, and he sighed happily, visibly relaxing. "See? He can both walk and recognise friendliness. Maybe he's not as bad off as you thought."
"Maybe." She laughed again. "All right, Glen, take a week off with your little ward. I don't want you here when I ship away the others, anyway. Well, since I really am sending him to a new home, we could let them say good bye."
"You stay here, Doctor, I'll handle this."
He brought ten with him and opened the door that the other boys had gone through. Immediately, they two of them were surrounded by naked boys, all hugging and kissing them. Glen explained that he would take care of ten from now on, and was met by a chorus of `thank you':s, `good bye':s and `we'll miss him':s. Finally it all quieted down, and number seven gave Glen one last hug.
"I was afraid she'd have him killed. I'm so glad you'll take him with you." The cat-boy kissed his `brother', then started to follow the others back to bed. "Make love to him often, Glen. Promise me you will!"
"O-okay," Glen stammered. "I will love him, I swear."
"Good." Seven seemed to have missed the change in meaning of Glen's reply. "I'm sure he'll be happy."
Ignoring the Doctor's smirk, Glen led the boy out of the laboratory. In the staff room, he changed into his everyday clothes, putting his lab coat on the slim boy. It was several sizes too big, and on ten looked more like a trench coat than anything else. We'll have to find you a name, Glen thought as they walked over to his car. You can't be number ten for the rest of your life. The rest of your life... The thought sent a shiver down Glen's spine. Doctor Heller had said that the boys would only live for about ten years, which meant that no matter how well he'd treat ten, no matter how good a life he would give the boy, he would still die during his twentieth year. Or tenth year, depending on how you chose to count. Glen preferred to think of the boy as eleven years old. During the drive towards home, Glen kept thinking of a suitable name, but was unable to think of anything that sounded right. It had begun to darken when he finally pulled up his driveway and parked the car. Ten had fallen asleep during the drive, and Glen didn't have the heart to wake him up. Surprised at how light the boy seemed, he carried him inside and lay him down on the living room couch, then went into the kitchen to open himself a can of soda.
"Barry? Are you home?"
"Yeah, dad, on my way." Glen heard footsteps coming down the stairs, and before long, he received a hug. "Hi dad, how was your day? You're later than you said you'd be."
"Sorry, son, but something happened that I didn't count on." He kissed his son's forehead, then ushered the boy into the living room. "Something concerning this little one."
"Who's he? He's wearing your lab coat."
"He's a clone, Barry, a clone of a boy who died in a car crash." Glen proceeded to tell the entire story of ten's rescue. "So I've got a week off to get things settled down."
"Dad," Barry said, his eyes watering slightly, "you did the right thing. I can't believe that bitch would've just killed him!"
"Me neither. If she has a heart, it's a damn cold one."
"He looks so peaceful." Barry sat down on the edge of the couch and stroked a tuft of hair from ten's face. "Does he have a name?"
"No, only a number." Glen opened the lab coat and showed Barry the tattooed number on his thigh. The older boy blushed much like his father had, earlier. "Ten. Maybe you can think of something, because I couldn't."
"Dad, he's naked."
"Yes. Do you think he could borrow a pair of briefs or something, just until I've had time to go shopping."
"Of course, but they'll be too big." Barry hurried to close the coat, buttoning it. "I've got some tight ones."
"Don't be so embarrassed, son. Think of how it felt to be in a room filled with boys like this one."
"I'm trying not to. Where will he sleep?"
"Either in my bed or yours. I don't want to leave him alone." Glen picked the sleeping boy up. "Can he stay with you? I've got some work to do before I turn in."
"I guess... I haven't shared my bed for a while now. How old is he?"
"Just curious. He looks to be Ted's age."
"In a way he is Ted's age," Glen said, thinking about his brother's son. "But in another way, he was born yesterday. Mentally, he's little more than a baby."
"What a horrible thing to do. So that makes him four or five years younger than me. Kind of like a little brother."
"That's right. I keep thinking of him as eleven, so that makes it four years. You are fifteen, aren't you? I keep forgetting."
"Dad, you know I'm fifteen, stop fooling around." Pouting somewhat, Barry led the way upstairs and into his room. "I'll find him something to wear."
At around midnight, Glen finally finished with his work and shut down his computer. Turning on the light in the upstairs hall, he sneaked Barry's door open and peered in. The two boys were deep asleep, so he walked in quietly and kissed them both. Ten responded to the touch by snuggling closer to Barry, who in turn put his arm around his new brother. The sight warmed Glen's heart. Clone or not, how could someone even think about killing such a beautiful boy? The thought made Glen frown, and he felt anger well up inside him as he made his way to his own bedroom. Working for Doctor Heller had been good, the payment even more so, but now, knowing what she did to keep his the numbers up on his paycheque, he felt dirty. Like he was making his living from other people's misery.
"I can't go back there," he told himself. "No matter what, I won't be a part of that any more."
So to hell with the hunters and the free lab access. To hell with a secure and good income. He could find something before they ran out of their savings. Tomorrow he'd discuss the matter with Barry, and they'd find a solution. Tomorrow, the three of them would begin a new life.
There, that's the first chapter of my latest story. Hope you liked it. This is kind of a side project for me, so please don't fret if updates are a bit slow. I'll keep on working on it, though, so it will get finished, eventually. Thoughts and comments are most welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org.