The Altered Clone Why? Standing amid the disquieting remains of my lab that no longer felt as my own, but as if a mad scientist had sojourned it in my absence, I pondered in worried disgust at the many ethically questionable projects in place. Indeed, it was I who, not too long ago, was of a demented mind. In fact, I was the one responsible for these experiments, but the exact reason behind them now escaped me. I walked to one of the desks and picked up a piece of paper from the disheveled pile. Unfortunately, it offered little help in answering my questions.
"Why? Standing amid the disquieting remains of my lab that no longer felt as my own, but as if a mad scientist had sojourned it in my absence, I pondered with disgust at the many ethically questionable projects in place. ..."
I want to say, that aside from a technical point that I'll mention in a moment, this was a great beginning. You're already making me wonder, "What the heck happened?" - to put it mildly. The whole setup can potentially keep a reader going. "What happened to make this guy think like that?" is the short form of the questions that may be generated in the reader's mind, to keep him or her reading.
The explanation offered in the third paragraph keeps things fantasy and mysterious. I like it.
Wow, this started heavy, and for me I felt the heaviness increase as the decision was made to pull plugs and empty tubes. The scientist knew he was effectively killing these beings. Even though they had no hope to survive, I don't believe the superficial statement that it didn't bother him. Somehow, he really didn't like doing it, and to me, it the fact he didn't like doing it becomes evident as he begins working on the final tank. He pauses, and looks at what he's doing. The excitement he experiences, doesn't seem to me as entirely scientific, if you get my drift.
"of what use ...?" Indeed - practical thinking. The scientist wanted an exact copy. It's not made clear in this brief piece why the scientist wanted the copy, but that isn't important. If the reason were there, it would probably take away from this short piece.
He almost aborts the clone ... then the clone moves. Then he decides to keep the clone. And not only does he want to keep the clone, he wants to give the clone a good quality of life. It's interesting to note that this universe is one which requires laws about treatment of clones, and at that, that the aforementioned laws stink.
The first sentence, great as it is, is a mouthful. Since I may have been accused of extreme verbosity - and admittedly have fun with it from time to time - I know how it can be to think of a long sentence, and then realize, "Oh gee, that might have to be shortened." (see what I did there?) So the very first sentence ... "I stood amid the disquieting remains of my lab. It no longer felt as my own, but as if a mad scientist had sojourned it in my absence. I pondered with disgust ..." Yes, it is short, but I do not believe it is also choppy.
"A puzzling problem I was faced with." I'm really sorry, but that sentence bothers me. "I was faced with a puzzling problem." Seriously, it's just that I have this thing about ending sentences with prepositions. "Proper prepositional positioning prohibits postponed placement."
"The being's DNA did not include a code for building the object that held and regulated the energy. Consequently, at the time that the fetuses begin to create this energy, they destroy themselves." Switching tenses. "... at the time the fetuses began to create this energy, they destroyed themselves." Or even "... they would destroy themselves."
"Suddenly, it's survival made more sense." Should be "Suddenly, its survival ..." Did I mention that I used to hate working with its/it's? The word "its" denotes possession; "it's" is short for "it is."
"Once I found what I believed was it's information ..." Same as above.
The last sentence. "At 41 weeks ..." Personally, I know why you put it there. Personally, I would have strugged about leaving it or taking it out. At this rate, I might say if you leave out that last sentence, it might do better. Let the story end with the character researching infant care; that's a great note.
Overall, this was a great read. It's been too long since you've posted something written. I've been looking forward to reading this since you posted it.
What you did in the piece was start it heavy, and let it get even heavier as the scientist was aborting the experiments, knowing full well that they wouldn't live anyway. Then you showed a glimmer of hope, and ever so slightly raised the shades, so to speak. And then you opened it some more. This isn't an "easy happy ending," either ... at least I don't get the feel that "all is well with the world" when the decision is made to keep the last fetus. I get the feeling that the scientist is going to do all he can, do his best, and try his hardest, to raise this clone like his own son. I get the feeling that it won't always be easy. But there's a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. In other words, this isn't a fairy tale "everyone lives happily ever after" ending. This is a heartwarming ending because we saw the scientist and glimpsed at his thoughts and feelings, and realized there's hope. There's hope for the scientist, and there's hope for the child, because there's hope for the scientist. It's a real world "hey, you know what, these guys are going to have good times and bad, but they've got stuff to look forward to, because someone cares" ending.
Not only that, but there's a nice subtext present about life. It was wonderfully played.
Regardless of what the scientist says, his actions speak volumes. He cares. And this time, it's for a living being.
This tugged at my feelings a bit.
I was looking forward to reading this for a while. I regret that I was not able to look at this sooner, and I feel bad that I feel like I'm leaving not as much input as what you may comparatively leave for me. But I hope that the quality made up for the lack of quantity, if you will. Because, Jestloo, I was not disappointed in your efforts. Great work.
PS. Remember, I still don't add to my favorites lightly.