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Vessel - Chapter I

Five years ago I started a written serial that I planned on running for 12 installments. I made it to chapter eight and stopped. I've finally decided to resume the series and complete it. I will release the original eight chapters over the next few weeks and hopefully complete it after that. Please, read and enjoy. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

- Kevin

The tiny being floated in the thick fluid as if buoyed on a pillow of liquid clouds. Immersed in the liquid, it received vital nutrients from a tube fused to its naval. For the past seven months it had grown and evolved in this perfect environment.

Unaware of its surroundings, it fed and grew. Tightly closed slits concealed eyes that had yet to witness a sunrise. Fingers, still forming, clenched tightly in a tiny fist. That fist would be needed some day, for this serene environment would not last forever, and it was a harsh world that the little one would soon join.

Ferguson thought all of this as he watched the fetus float in the large glass cylinder. One of a thousand in this facility, the child was two months away from birth. “Birth”, the term brought a grim smile to his slender face. True births were becoming a rarity. Since the crisis nearly a half century prior, actual child birth had become truly dangerous. In about 2020, mothers started dying during childbirth at an alarming rate.

Within a few years, the global birth rate had dropped drastically. Soon women were falling ill and losing their babies before even carrying them to term. Many women died mere months after becoming pregnant.

Nations across the world unanimously declared a global emergency. Expectant mothers were hospitalized for the duration of their pregnancies. Many still perished, their bodies unable to survive the seemingly common stress of child birth. Scientists and doctors postulated that environmental factors had weakened a woman’s natural ability to carry a child. By 2035, one in 50 babies was born alive. Of those few survivors, half of their mothers would never hold them.

World leaders met to address what seemed to be a global pandemic. Many considered it to be the end of humanity, nature’s way of eliminating a troublesome parasite that had done nothing but pollute and ruin its own habitat.

Enter Eden Corporation: a global conglomerate with its fingers in everything from advanced weapons technology to massive real estate holdings. Eden Corp. had recently acquired a small genetics lab chock full of the brightest young minds in the industry. The original plan was to advance in-vitro fertilization techniques to assist seemingly sterile women otherwise incapable of carrying a child.

Much of the advancements during that time lead to the factory in which Ferguson stood. Eden Corp. took its new acquisition and focused the young scientists on solving the world wide birthing issue. Incapable of correcting the seemingly unidentifiable problem within the mothers’ biology, Eden Corp focused on an alternative to the gestation/birthing dilemma. From this goal, the sci-natal wombs were born. An artificial environment that mimicked a mother's womb. Each infant's nutrition, vitals, genetics, and brain activity were continuously monitored. The labs lost less than .5% of the children.

The first of this new breed of test-tube babies was birthed on June 17, 2048. Now, twelve years later, nearly three quarters of the births on the planet were run in similar facilities. Eden Corp, assisted by billions in international grants, controlled over three quarters of the planet’s pregnancy clinics. Millions had been born thanks to the technology, and millions were yet to come. Ferguson was the director of natal clinics for north eastern America. He had made a small fortune from his dutiful work for Eden Corp.

Many governments were making moves to ban traditional child birth. Deemed unsafe and a threat to civilization, sci-natal births offered all the benefit with none of the risk. It was a no-brainer. Last week Congress had introduced House Resolution 1212, a ban on all natural child birth. More contentious than Roe v. Wade, HR1212 had backing from many key figures, some of whom had lost loved ones during child birth. The effort was picking up steam.

Political talking heads foresaw its passage within the next three to five months. Across the globe women who attempted traditional child birth were ostracized and in some cases attacked. The fear was irrational, but Eden Corp. promised an alternative to the violence and grief.

This posed a unique dilemma for Ferguson, his wife was 3 months pregnant, and by all indicators, both baby and mother were healthy. He wasn’t about to let the government rob him of his own flesh and blood or allow her to succumb to some crazed mob, but he had a plan to ensure that no one ever discovered his secret.


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