The office was silent and dark. The only light filtered through the giant windows that lined the wall behind the dark wooden desk. Venus stood in wonder staring out into the world that laid just beyond the glass. Tall green trees stretched out as far as the eye could see. She had seen pictures of trees in her formative years but they paled in comparison to the real thing. A brilliant blue sky gently laid against the top of the trees. She walked up to the glass wish he could fall through and disappear into the woods.
“Beautiful isn’t?” Mr. Danielson asked as he flipped on the office lights.
Venus jumped in surprise as she turned to see who had come into the room.
A sickly grin spread across his face, “My crowning jewel.”
He walked across the room and pulled out a chair in front of his desk, “Please, sit.”
Venus reluctantly walked around and sat in the chair.
“That’s my girl,” he said as he gently laid his hand on her shoulder. “You know Venus, I have to say, out of all the Breeders in this corporation you are my favorite.”
He squeezed her shoulder before taking his place behind his desk, the same sicking grin still plastered on his face, “Do you know why?”
Venus shook her head.
“Because you have brought in more money than any three Breeders here combined. That isn’t the only reason, though, I consider you a daughter. Do you know where you came from?”
“A tube,” she quietly replied.
“Well, yes, of course. All the Breeders here were grown from a tube,” he laughed. “When we first started out I bought a handful of predesigned grown Breeders. They ran cheep but I wanted one that was special. One that was specially designed for the exact purpose I needed them for. I knew that would be extremely expensive so I only made two...one of which is you. m You, my little fortune, cost me quite of bit of money. When I first designed you I wasn’t just wanting a female that could reproduce healthy offspring. I wanted an almost perfect human being,” he chuckled and rested his elbows on his desk, “and I gotta say, I am not disappointed. Venus, you turned out better than I could have ever dreamed to expect.”
“Then why am I in your office?” she asked.
“Excellent question. I feel like you might already know the answer, but what the hell, let’s play this game.”
Venus’s mind raced to the night before and wonder if that was what it could have been.
“Let’s start of this little game by talking about the second human I designed. Truly a disappointment to me, to be honest, but we won’t get into that. I designed a male to be your counterpart. Whatever perfections I couldn’t fit into your DNA strands I put into his thus when you were paired you would create the perfect baby. Imagine the price for that offspring. He has strength, athletic abilities, intelligence, and artistic talent, among several other things. I was trying to make him a modern-day renaissance man.”
He sighed as he sat back in his chair, “I was going to feature all his artistic abilities and I could have too if his poor little testosterone-filled mind wasn’t focused on one thing.”
Danielson pulled up a hologram of the paintings and paraded them in front of her. Painting after painting it was of the same person, Venus.
“I don’t understand what this has to do with me. I can’t help if someone is painting pictures of me.”
“Of course you can’t, my little jewel. It’s not your fault that you and this young boy are so close. I designed you to be. I was a little frustrated that I wasn’t able to show off his abilities, even though the paints are magnificent, potential customers are going to think that is all he can paint.”
He played with a button on his desk and the paintings faded away and warped into a holographic image of Mars and herself sitting in the breeding pod together.
“Have you ever wondered if the termination is really so bad?” The holographic Mars clearly asked.
Venus watched her holographic self’s eyes filled with pity and understanding, ”Tomorrow, tomorrow we will be free." She watched herself say.
“This is a dangerous conversation,” Danielson stated.
Venus’s stomach knotted, “I didn’t mean anything by it.”
“Oh, I believe you. The problem is that you gave your little friend hope breeds a desire for something better and discontent for what they have. Which, in turn, causes one to look for a better existence. Hope is a dangerous poison in your world and it only leads to death. Now I could overlook this little conversation between the two of you if this wouldn’t have happened.
The projection changed again to Venus leaning in close to Mars, the night before, and gently kissing him. She watched as surprise filled her own face. Danielson didn’t turn it off after that. It just kept playing as Mars kissed her back. She saw Mars pulled her closer and his lips wandered off her lips and down her jawline until he reached her neck.
Her stomach turned the thought of the only beautiful thing in her life was turned vile by the corporation she belonged to and the man that owned her.
“Turn it off,” she demanded.
Mars’s hands started traveling up the back of her shirt.
“Turn it off!”
Danielson obliged her and the images faded into nothing.
Venus knew there was the risk of getting into trouble, but at the time she didn’t care. Self-preservation had gone out the window. She didn’t know what she felt the night before. Had she just been caught up in a lustful passion? Had she risked her life for nothing important?
“Oh my little jewel, you’ve broken my heart. Not only have you come dangerously close to conspiring with another Breeder to escape, but you’ve broken the no affections rule. I’m in a real bind, you see, because I’m supposed to terminate you, but I can’t
You alone bring in more money than any three breeders combined. I’d be slitting my own throat if I did that. I thought about terminating your little friend but then I would be losing my investment in him as well.”
The grin spread across his face again, “I’ll tell you what. I’ll let you, and your boyfriend lives but you so much as give him doey eyes and not only will I kill him but that little blonde friend of yours too.”
Venus’s thoughts immediately went to Cas. She hadn’t seen her friend since Shopping Day.
“Am I clear?” Danielson asked like a scolding father would ask a guilty child.
“Yes,” she dryly replied.
“Great,” he gleamed bouncing back into his cheery disposition, “now that we are understood we need to get you back in that breeding tank. You have an order to fill.”
Danielson hit a button on his phone system and leaned in close, “She’s ready to be escorted back.”
Soon after the Curator that had brought her to the office came to fetch her.
He grabbed her arm and left her to the door.
“Oh, one more thing,” Danielson stopped, “no Breeder leaves this facility alive.”