AUTONOMY Hyper-Short Story by Anthony Lawrence #story #scifi #shortstory #autonomy #sciencefiction
Another great story by my Pop, Tony. You’ll only get them here. This one, a cerebral fandango. Check it out and let us know what you think….
“AUTONOMY” by Anthony Lawrence
“You’re playing God, “ I said vehemently.
“It’s synthetic life,” he responded, “We’re creating new life. Is that creating life?”
It was a bacteria with “super powers.” It was a cyanobacteria he had named Chroococcidiopsis. We had collected samples of the bacteria, prepared them for analysis and then loaded them into a genetic sequencer to determine the unique order of four repeating nucleotides, or chemical “letters” in the bacteria’s genome.
But while we had used Bagram’s method of “biological teleportation” to conduct field tests that would transform the search for extraterrestrial life, there was inherent danger in our procedures. We had detected and decoded DNA hiding in other worldly soil and had that information beamed back to Earth. We were reconstructing living copies in a bio-safety facility but I was unconvinced that our work was not without great risk.
If we were contaminated in any way, it was impossible to predict an uncertain or hazardous outcome. This new bacteria could conceivably cause unknown consequences. I was terrified and I had good reason to be. Bagram was unafraid of anything and he was proceeding with little concern for any unforeseen risks.
But at the time we were both unaware of harmful prion proteins in the bacteria that could replicate by converting normal prions into rogue forms. Biological cells, given suitable environments, reproduce by cell division. DNA is replicated and can be transmitted to offspring during reproduction. Biological viruses can reproduce, but only by commandeering the reproductive machinery of cells through a process of infection.
What happened in those next moments were beyond disbelief. I hardly noticed it at first, but Bagram’s arm seemed to be twisting in a strange and unusual way as he used the sequencer. I can hardly describe it, but the arm seemed to be separating from his shoulder and while his hand remained grasping one of the dials, the complete arm from his shoulder slipped out of his smock. Bagram hardly seemed to be affected by it but the arm began to convulse and undulate much like the separated tail of a lizard that frightens off predators. Then, Bagram’s arm stopped its convulsions and began to move in total autonomy.