The feeding tube was nearly dry. John hadn’t attended to Fred’s apparatus in some time. The creature had lost weight, but the scientist was so thoroughly enthralled in his work that he hadn’t noticed. At first Fred flailed a little when John was in the room in an attempt to get his creator’s attention. Having no mouth or vocal cords, he could not call and his efforts were in vain. He sat there on the desk with a dry tube and nothing to nourish him, patiently dying.
Many would argue whether his existence could be considered living. Whether it mattered, as he wasn’t a creature of God but instead an abomination technologically constructed by man. Fred had no soul, they’d say. The pittance of grey matter that his genetic code allowed for was just barely enough to afford his growth. He affected life, but he was horrible to behold with freakish multiple limbs like a spider, no features or mobility and indeed no survivability at all without the pipettes. He was dependent, like a fetus. His mother was neglectful however and the womb was outside John’s body, thus greatly endangering Fred’s capacity to continue on without manual maintenance.
He sat patiently dying and affecting life whilst great lofty intelligences debated the morality of his coming into being. Little did he know that he would become a catalyst for nightmares, urban legends, and activism. He was wholly unaware of the many people who would retch and swear off fast food for a week upon first beholding his form just prior to lapsing back into complacency and indifference. Simultaneously ignored and focused on, Fred suffered in that singular fashion reserved for glamorous stars, abominations and children.
Hours passed, the clock on the wall methodically interrupting the silence as motes of dust floated on unseen currents of air, catching the light as they crossed the beams peeking in from the drawn curtains. It was stifling, but Fred didn’t have to worry about sweating out his dwindling water supply as he had no such glands to regulate his temperature. They were inconvenient and thus excluded from his genetic coding. John was away, and so the window A/C unit hadn’t been set for some time and the ventilation in the old house left something to be desired. None of this was apparent to Fred, whose lack of sensory organs and larger regions of the brain kept him from the tedium of his wasting existence.
Sometime in the afternoon as the sun began to shift and elongate the shadows, the air stirred and danced invisibly away from the door as it creaked ominously open. Smallish feet scuffed the floor as Fred’s brother Darren entered the office despite having been forbidden to do so. Carefully he looked around and shut the portal behind himself, wincing as the hinges offered up dull groans of protest. His eyes locked on Fred. He paid no attention to the papers, furniture, books or other objects in the room as they held less fascination for him than the specks of dust gliding past the window on unknowable missions driven by inertia. The strange creation engineered by his father, however, was of immediate and ongoing curiosity.
Darren drew close and stood on the chair, leaning over the desk carefully so as to leave the allegedly organized chaos of John’s workspace undisturbed. He breathed slowly and hotly through his mouth. He didn’t blink. He lingered this way in anticipation of Fred’s eventual motion, not knowing that the thing had grown weak from starvation. After several minutes, he shifted his weight and placed a hand on the worn wood, extending the index finger of his opposite hand in an almost accusatory gesture. He paused several inches from Fred’s skin.
“Hey!” he tested. Fred did nothing, as he could not hear. “Hey, Fred!” Darren tried again. Still no response. “Fred…are you alive?” This continued through a gamut of variations on a theme, until the boy grew impatient as mobile and truly living beings are apt to do. The restlessness caused him to become brave, and he poked the creature. Fred did not react.
“Eww.” Darren breathed, wrinkling his nose and frowning at the alien sensation of his brother’s skin. He pushed harder this time, and the creature fell over. Finally Fred stirred, ineffectively flailing with what reserves of strength he had left. This startled Darren, who simultaneously cried out and jumped back. He immediately fled the room, leaving the debatably living yet definitely perishing creation in its toppled state.
The sun continued to lengthen the shadows.
Fred lay patiently dying on the desk.