When Songbirds Fly

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Laboratory Notebook entry 1: 26-38

Record of observations: Year 10

Subject "M" Condition: Cognitive development increasing exponentially, growth and physical development are also beyond natural for the subject's age. Increase in metabolism and muscle efficiency falls within the expected elevation, with memory and executive functions surpassing predictions.

Insertion of recombinant gene sequences of various animals with desired traits, as well as synthetic, into embryonic genome through use of CRISPR technology achieved successfully. Expression and integration of foreign traits appearing with time. Further changes to be expected with aging. Acute ocular, olfactory and auditory sensitivity progressing past original levels in donor species, although no significant visible difference between subject and wild-type humans suggests stable integration of traits. Subject's immune response is highly adaptive: has not been infected by common pathogens despite exposure.

Carrier "Mary J" deceased during labour; despite use of immunosuppressants to prevent rejection of the modified foetus, acute energy demands of rapid development came at the cost of degradation of the host's body.

Subject "M" appears unaffected physically and mentally despite absence of maternal upbringing. Lack of measures to assure ability of carriers to maintain physical integrity prevents the mass release of the technique, although future improvements in host maintenance could allow for widespread use. This could ensure protection of the at-risk human species from the new environmental pressures and viral strains surfacing yearly due to extreme climate change, maintaining the human lineage through the natural selection of the "Homo Novus". The next generation of offspring will then be fit to adapt to the highly changing environment which the Homo Sapiens has proven to be unable to keep up with and therefore faces threats of extinction in the coming decades.

-Dr. Adonai Jaenisch,

March 17th, 2057

"—Father, are you ready to leave?" echoes from the other room. I drop my journal back onto a pile of scattered papers all stamped "ETHICAL APPROVAL NOT GRANTED" and hurry out of my office. Scrambling to get my jacket on and rushing out of the doorway, I see Mavis standing patiently outside the house. She looks up at me with blank wide eyes.

"Right! My ke"

She holds out my keys before I can finish, having expected the inevitable forgetfulness of her dad.

I let a small grin push through, "You ready to go?"

She glances at me without turning her head and starts walking, gently brushing her maroon hair off of her shoulder. I always found she was a little too straightforward for a girl her age. I lock the door and join her.

"It's been a long time since I've had a day off hasn't it?"

Her eyes dart to the sides, "76 days, to be exact. What location are we headed to?"

"Damn... That much?" I hope this doesn't mean my work is affecting her, although she does seem unbothered by it. "You'll see it's absolutely beautiful. Just head up that way." I direct her attention to a point at the top of the hill.

We walk down the trail passing through the grove, thin rays of morning light cutting through the shade of the trees, lighting our passage. For a moment I stare up at the golden dew, glistening in the sea of flowing branches, the rustling of leaves in the wind reminding me of waves hitting the shore. I snap out of my daze and realize that Mavis is walking ahead so I jog to catch up to her.

"What were you observing?"

"Oh nothing, just taking in the view," I say, absentmindedly looking back up.

"There is not much biodiversity in this forest, is there? Not very adaptive." she declares, examining a leaf with the tips of her fingers.

I pause, "...you should try appreciating the beauty in the things around you sometimes, you know?"

"The reproductive viability of an organism is what gives it beauty, is it not?" she asks rhetorically.

"Sure but—" I sigh,"never mind."

We hike our way up the hill overlooking the gorge. For a moment I look down at the river running below and Mavis kicks a rock down into the abyss; echoing as it hits the bottom, it sets a flock of birds into flight.

"Poor them," I murmur faintly.

She looks at me a furrow in her brow. "Have I done something wrong?"

"No, it's just that they got scared so I felt sorry for them"

"But their brain allows for an attention span of merely a few seconds" She tells me, not understanding what I mean.

"True, but despite having probably forgotten why they had flown off by now, for that one short moment they felt fear. Fear of death, the unknown, fear that they're losing the ones they love, and that's a pretty powerful emotion that we're all too familiar with these days. That's why it's always a little saddening to see birds take flight"