-4533, it's time for dinner, Isobel calls out from behind the reinforced concrete door of my cell, sorry "room".
I get up from the study table and as per protocol I lie down in bed and press the yellow button on the bedside table. The all-too-familiar safety straps make their appearance, pressing my small body and pushing me deeper into the mattress.
"Subject has been restrained, initiating door opening." The robotic voice makes itself heard and I count in thought to 13 after which I hear Isobel's footsteps in my room.
-Hello, Isobel, I greet her briefly as she places my tray of food on the study table.
-Hello Dell, it's chicken with rice and vegetables, she says coming over to my bedside to take my parameters and as it turns out another blood sample.
I look closely at the woman with red hair and green eyes who was leaning over me and investigating me carefully.
-Your Retest date is approaching, she says softly, brushing a lock of white hair away from my forehead.
I close my eyes tightly, sinking even deeper (if that's possible) into the mattress, wishing it would swallow me or suffocate me. If the date of the Retreat is approaching, that means it's been three years...
- Bel, why don't they eliminate me like they did the other subjects? I ask, still with my eyes tightly closed and already knowing what Isobel's answer was going to be. It was going to be the same one she had given me for years every time I asked her.
- You have so much more potential than the others, Isobel replies, briefly, then leaves the room.
The straps holding me to the bed have retreated back into their unseen hiding places, and I linger for a few more minutes contemplating my whole pitiful existence.
I am the unfortunate product of a brilliant experiment that helped save the human race. But also in the creation of a new one. In order to understand my story, we need to go back in time a bit, to the year 2025. After a pandemic that lasted two years and claimed billions of lives, scientists discovered a new way to increase the population balance, but as always when science meddles with nature there are a number of errors. This time the result claimed more victims than any pandemic, and the planet's population shrank to 20,197,639. That was when the Sanctuary people stepped in with another groundbreaking piece of research that reduced the gestation period in women from 9 months to 30 minutes, which seems inhumane, but the basic idea was Dr Deluca Amelie's, who was also the last woman to give birth at 42 weeks but also the first to experience the 30-minute pregnancy. Dr Deluca had wanted twins for a very long time, but during the 12th week a phenomenon known as missing twin syndrome happened. From the moment she found out, she searched for a way to have another baby shortly after the baby she already had in her womb.
The experiment had a slim chance of survival for both mother and fetus, but that didn't stop Dr. Deluca, and to everyone's surprise and the planet's good fortune, one grief-stricken, ambitious and brilliant woman made the 30-minute pregnancy possible. After this extraordinary achievement, Dr. Deluca decided, along with the Sanctuary's medical board, that this medical breakthrough was the solution to saving the human race, so preparations began for the center where I was to be born.
It all started with the selection of three girls who fit the normal patterns, a brunette with brown eyes, a blonde with blue eyes and a redhead with green eyes, but Dr Santos introduced a few more physically and genetically special girls. So the process of repopulating Earth began with six girls. Everything went smoothly for the first 6 series of children, that is 36 perfect babies, of which only 7 were boys. What Dr Santos didn't take into account was how the 3 girls he brought and the changes Dr Deluca made to the human genome would react together, so everyone got a shock when Davina was born, an hour and 14 minutes after insemination, with red hair, blue eyes, lots of freckles all over her body and a gorgeous pair of wings.
Due to the combination of special genes and changes to the human genome, coupled with a very short gestation period, errors in the genetic code of the foetuses could not be detected until after their birth.
Along with Davina, Neil, Annemarie, Luisa, Derek and Daneil were born from the other girls, and with them came the 'Maximum Security Programme for Special Subjects'. The program was originally created to study "specials" but over time became a cruel program where "specials" met their end in a mercilessly painful way. From its inception to my birth, the program eliminated 255 subjects who were assessed as not capable of integration into society, in short any subject who resisted was eliminated on the spot. From what Isobel told me, the reason I am still alive is that I am the only "special subject" who was born exactly 30 minutes after insemination. She was present at my birth and recounted in detail the shock and reactions that flooded the room the second Dr. Santos showed me to the team of doctors and nurses.
"You were so small and pale, Santos thought you were stillborn, but when you opened your mouth and giggled, I knew you were nothing like the other subjects. The one who delivered you wearily uttered "4533" that was the number of babies she had delivered, 85 of which were eliminated. You were the first special child to survive more than 12 years.