Aphelion Issue 279, Volume 26
December 2022/January 2023
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Short Stories
Flash Fiction
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20% Off Designer Genes!

by Lee Gimenez

"Let's not make the same mistake again," John said.

"Not so loud," I replied. "Tommy might hear you."

John shrugged. "I don't care if he hears us. He already knows we screwed up with him."

"Don't be cruel. You know we tried our best."

"Bullshit, Ann. You wanted a 'sensitive' boy. A smart, poetic type. What we got was a whiner, a mama's boy."

I turned back to the computer screen. "Let's not argue anymore."

John shook his head. "Ok, fine. Let's get on with it." He typed in the company's name and their home page popped open. Underneath their logo was a photo of a family sitting in a luxurious living room, two smiling parents and two beautiful children. John typed in his ID number and credit information.

"Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. Williams," the computer said. It was a woman's voice, sweet and sultry at the same time.

"Ann and I are planning to have a second child..."

"Congratulations!" the computer said. "I see from the records that another company provided you with a designer gene five years ago."

John nodded. "Yes, that's right. That didn't turn out like we expected."

"That company's known for low prices, but their quality, well..."

John shook his head. "We know...we know."

"Our company is the best," the computer continued. "And, the technology's come a long way in the last five years. I'm sure you'll be happy with the results."

"I checked your reliability rankings," John said. "You guys are ranked number one."

"We're proud of our track record." There was smugness in its voice. "Would you like one of our representatives to come to your home? We can get your specifications and work out the payment terms, all in one visit."

"Yeah, that's fine. How about tomorrow night at seven?"


The rep arrived at seven sharp. Derek Taylor was well dressed, ruggedly built with straight black hair and a perfect tan. He pulled a sample cart behind him. I let him in and the three of us sat in the den.

"You have a lovely home, Mrs. Williams," he said with a smile.

I smiled back. "Thank you. You can call me Ann..."

John, in a hurry as usual, interrupted. "Derek, as I told your company yesterday, we're planning for our second child."

"Yes, of course, Mr. and Mrs. Williams. Now, since you've already been through this process once, I won't bore you with the details. Just to summarize, we'll create a superior designer gene that we'll add to the fertilized egg we obtain from you. The result will be artificially inseminated into Mrs. Williams." He pulled out a comp-pad and started typing on it. "Now, what specifications did you have in mind?"

John ticked off a list. "Of course, it'll be a boy. Strong, tall, athletic."

Derek typed it in. "Anything else?"

I smiled. "Yes. He should have blue eyes and blond hair."

"Got it. What about his temperament?"

"What do you mean?" John asked.

Derek looked up from his computer. "What personality traits did you have in mind? Quiet, talkative, reserved, demonstrative with emotions?"

"I want him to be a true man. None of that emotions crap."

Derek typed. "Reserved, then. Doesn't show much emotion."

I pushed my long hair behind my ears. "I want him to be smart."

"Got it."

"But not too smart," John barked.

Derek typed some more, then looked up. "Now, I brought samples for you to look at."

"Samples?" I asked.

Derek pulled open his sample cart and started to take things out. "Yes, we're a first class operation. We don't leave anything to chance. Here are the color swatches for eye color and here's the color palette for skin." Then he pulled out a card with hair samples, then a book with photos of body types and facial features.

"Wow, you guys are good," John said.


An hour later, we were done. John and I were exhausted from the selection process.

"There's just one last thing to go over," Derek said.

"What's that?" John asked wearily.

Derek smiled. "The price." He tapped on his comp-pad and then turned the screen so John and I could both see it.

John gasped. "Oh, my God, that much?"

Derek smiled again. "You'll be getting a superior child, with no imperfections or diseases of any kind. A perfect child. And remember, we guarantee our work 100%."

"Still, that's a lot of money."

"I'll tell you what," Derek said. "You're such a nice couple and I know how much you want this child. I'll give you a 20% discount, but only if we close the deal today. How does that sound?"

John looked at me and I nodded.

"You've got yourself a deal," John said.


© 2009 Lee Gimenez

Bio: Lee Gimenez is a member of SFWA with a long list of publishing credits, including the novels Azul-7 (Whiskey Creek Press) and The Tomorrow Solution (CS Publishing), and stories in (among others) Afterburn SF magazine, Alienskin, Antipodean SF Magazine, Bewildering Stories, ...(it's a long list)..., New Voices in Fiction, Skive Quarterly, Skiveflash, and, of course, Aphelion. His most recent Aphelion appearance was September 12 (June 2009).

E-mail: Lee Gimenez

Website: Lee Gimenez

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