Gene Genie


Shandon McMurray was worried. He knew something wasn't quite right with the weakness in his left leg and arm, but wrote it off to ordinary tiredness; possibly stiffness from driving 30 minutes to work each day. But just tonight after dinner, he saw the just-breaking televised medical report on ZBC news: the genetic and inherited cause of much of the Asymmetrical Chronic Fatigue that had been cropping up lately. Something to do with parents and an artificial flavoring used in the 70's. Now he knew what was wrong with him.

Shandon left the doctor's office with the unwanted confirmation of his darkest terror: he would eventually be in a wheelchair, and then bedridden until he took his last gasp. "Gasp," he thought almost outloud, "I'll grasp at something first." A plan started spinning and then coming together (a portend, if you will...) in his anxious mind.

Preying on his parents' sympathies, he cut back his hours with the job at the water treatment plant so he could do all the studying he could on this debilitating health problem, and maybe find a cure. He had seen the special on the search for specific genes on the DNA helix that caused various diseases, he was going to work on finding the marker for his particular damaged part of the strand, and then correcting it.  Margulis's endosymbiont hypothesis gave him a great deal of hope. If a hydra could take in algae, and not eat its little symbiotic 'friend', maybe he could tweak the chloroplast organelles to restructure his decaying cells.  His trembling hands typed away literally like there was no tomorrow ordering on credit all the items he had researched since his despair-filled revelation.

"Over there, easy, Ok." He instructed the SDS (Scientific Dispatch Services) delivery men bringing his Cray computer into his parents' basement where he finally relocated. His apartment would not do for the computer and chemistry lab he was setting up. FedEx and UPS brought other ordered items, and they were nagged too. Bookshelves abounded with reading material such as: Nature, Recombinant Techie Journal, PC Lab Entrepreneur and others.  He also had letters to and from lawyers, tort cases to food chemical companies, (all legalese rejections:'statute of limitations', blah, blah, blah...).

After everyone was gone, and his parents were asleep, he wasted no time getting to work. The farmers' large feed tub was perfect to use, size-wise, (like an old western bathtub) and fabricated totally in metal, thus allowing electronics to be easily attached.  Starting with his pail of raw "goo", or more scientifically considered: Primordial Algae-based RNA Assembly Composite, souvenir from the treatment plant, he attached all the wires tubes probes and apparatus to the computer, lab equipment and this soupe de jour.

Finally, the big moment came, Shandon was ready to baptize his withering body within the mix.  In he went, all the way down, even dunking the top of his head in the now glowing, swirling blue-green emulsion.

Next thing he remembered was not being able to move and hearing someone say, "Is there a generator back-up for this sunlamp, so he won't die if his new protist chlorophyll cells aren't replenished?"


(Thanks also to David Bowie!)

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