|It Isn't Written in Stone
Author: Unknownmusic PM
Vincent is an Invalid. He has the incurable disease of being born with no DNA modification. His younger brother, Anton, is the perfect child. When the prejudice gets too much for Vincent to handle, will he accept the chance to escape it all?Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Adventure/Drama - Words: 5,733 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 2 - Published: 02-18-12 - id: 7849010
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I do not own Gattaca.
Vincent was born into the world with his entire life already planned out for him. From the moment he was taken out of mother's womb, his limits and his abilities were determined. The doctor's only had to take a blood sample and they could see every gene in his DNA. They saw what he was going to look like, what diseases he was most prone to, and everything else one could possibly want to know from DNA. It was all recorded and typed for his parents to read.
Vincent's parents were one of the few who did not wish to rely on the liberal eugenics of the day and age. Doctors and scientists could select the best genes from both parents and use the best in order to create the best child possible. Any child born with genetic selection had a high immunity to any disease and their physical stamina and abilities were far above average. Their intelligence had an infinite amount of possibilities to expand further than a normal child's and they would most likely inherit any talents that the parents had. In other words, a near-perfect child could be born. All it took was money.
Vincent's parents had enough money to pay for the genetic changes but they decided to rely on natural birth. After all, humanity had done perfectly well up to this point without any genetic selection. Both of them wanted to prove that a child born naturally could be just as good as any child born with changes in their DNA.
But they quickly came to realize that they had placed their faith in the wrong place. Vincent could see it in their faces every time they looked at him. He could see the sadness and pity in their eyes. He could hear the low tone in their voices every time they spoke to him. He could see it in the way they treated him as if he were a damaged product. He could see the disappointment; the disappointment that he had been born with a high possibility of mental retardation and heart disease. It was disappointment that he had been born at all. His parents had never told him face to face, but Vincent could always imagine what had happened; he could visualize the nurse handing his smiling mother the bundle of his newborn self, the DNA being scanned, the printed page of his genes, the grim tone as the nurse read aloud the results, and his mother's smile disappearing as quickly as it had come.
Vincent knew it all; he was not stupid no matter what the people around him thought. The printed page had said that he would have a high possibility of mental retardation but that also meant there was a small chance he would not. But he did have a heart problem and that alone made him lower. As if he wasn't low enough for being born naturally. It took Vincent a little longer to realize, but he did learn that he was what society called an "invalid". He was not what society wanted. He was not perfect, not up to their standards. He was just not good enough.
To make everything worse, Vincent's parents eventually gave him a brother three years after he was born. They had said it was for him to have a playmate and somebody he could talk to. But Vincent knew it was just for his parent's satisfaction and closure. Why? Because his brother was none other than one of the "valid" members of society. Anton had been born with the help of the genetic selection his parents had disdained for so long.
So Vincent grew up in his younger brother's shadow. Everything about Vincent, from height to physical stamina, could always be beaten by his brother. By the time Anton reached the age of seven he was already taller than Vincent. While Vincent had struggled to finish a marathon sometime in middle school after months of training, Anton finished it in record time and without any training. Anton always had perfect vision while Vincent needed glasses by the time he was nine. Vincent could only do limited activities because of his heart problem while Anton could do whatever he wanted with his perfect, healthy heart. Vincent was scrawny and his hair was a dirty brown while Anton had stunning black hair with dark eyes to match. Anton was always surrounded by a group of friends in school while Vincent usually sat in the library to read.
The only thing Vincent had that was above Anton was his claim to elder child and his intelligence. Anton was already above average when it came to his studies and he often brought home more "A's" than Vincent could ever bring. But that was just schoolwork. There was a large difference between schoolwork and actual thinking. Vincent could have easily brought home perfect scores but he found schoolwork boring and unnecessary. He knew most of it was just busywork. So he spent most of his childhood applying himself to other exercises and his knowledge grew. He excelled at thinking. He could sit for hours on end just contemplating Aristotle's ideas or Locke's theories. He would ask himself questions and try to answer whenever he sat alone in the library. Vincent read every book on the shelves and more. He would only get on the laptops and computers to find articles to read and arguments to consider. If Vincent were to be placed as a commander of a battle, he could have won against anybody in the school because of his planning and strategic skill. Vincent may not have been strong physically, but he was far cleverer than any boy his age, invalid or valid.
Vincent knew this but he kept to himself. There was no use in trying to beat his brother. Everybody around him already had the mindset that Vincent could do nothing compared to Anton. Even his parents believed it even though they never said it in so many words. Anton himself believed he was superior. Vincent did not blame him for it. Anton had been raised in a society and household that ingrained such an idea into his head. The ones to blame were society and his parents.
Vincent did not hate his parents but he resented them. They would shower all of their affection and pride on his brother and promptly forget about him. They would applaud Anton for any accomplishment he made while they only nodded in reply to Vincent's achievements. Anton, in his arrogance and desire to shoot down his elder brother, had once told Vincent that their father had meant to name Vincent after himself, Anton, but had changed his mind after hearing the report on his DNA. He had named his second son after himself because he had finally been given a child worthy of his name. Vincent had stayed in the library until it closed at eleven at night for a week after Anton told him that. He didn't think his parents even cared. There was never any supper left behind for him and they never asked where he had gone.
All of these difficulties and setbacks in Vincent's life made him hard and strong. He did not grow up with the normal parenting love and he had nobody to talk to. He had learned to only rely on himself and nobody else. How could you rely on people who judged you on your genes? You couldn't determine your own genes. You were just born with them all in place. Vincent learned how to word his questions and sentences in a way that would gain him what he wanted. He taught himself the art of manipulation and modesty in order to please those around him while getting himself whatever he desired. Vincent became a quiet person with a strong will beneath the façade of frailty.
So went Vincent's life until they day he turned fifteen. His brother had blossomed into a perfect teen while Vincent was geek and a nerd to add upon his "invalidness". Anton was attending Dalton Academy. It was an all boy's school for "those above the average"; in other words, valids. Vincent could never get into the academy even if he was a genius because of his genes. He was destined to go to the local public high school where the school was so dilapidated that the invalid students there had to avoid falling sections of the roof.
Vincent shouldered his backpack and adjusted his glasses. He glanced at the cracked mirror in his bedroom and sighed. His glasses seemed oversized on his face. They needed to be large - nerdy large - in order to fit his terrible prescription. He wore trousers that went all the way up to his waist where his shirt was messily tucked in. No matter how hard he tried to straighten it, there would always be some part that was crinkled. Vincent shrugged off his displeasure and pushed open his bedroom door. The wood felt old and worn and the door creaked as it opened. Vincent stepped out and quietly shut the door behind him.
Anton opened the door beside him. Anton's door did not creak, but slid smoothly and perfectly. He wore his expensive uniform with his tie perfectly in place and all. His hair was combed back neatly and his satchel hung casually across his right shoulder. He came out with a smile. Vincent felt like Anton was just trying to rub the modified DNA glory in his face. He looked away with a scowl and walked down the stairs.
Anton brushed past his elder brother and walked down first. Vincent paused at the bottom of the steps and quietly listened as his parents crooned about how handsome and professional Anton looked in his new high school uniform. Vincent turned to join them but changed his mind. His stepping in would just be a bother.
Vincent's parents would be driving Anton to Dalton. There was a school bus for Vincent. He saw the yellow vehicle come to a stop at the end of the block and he made his way towards it. Vincent was in no hurry. The bus was supposed to wait for a full five minutes for passengers and it would only take Vincent three to get there walking. But just as he was halfway there, the bus began to move forward and take off. Vincent stopped in surprise and then began to run after it.
"Hey!" he shouted and he ran. "Wait for me!" Nobody seemed to hear him. The bus just kept moving and he was alone standing next to a bus sign. Vincent bit his lips and turned back towards the house only to see his parents come driving out smiling to Anton who was sitting in back seat. Vincent watched them drive away and didn't bother to wave as they passed him. They wouldn't have noticed him standing there either way.
He walked over to the stoplight and pressed the crosswalk signal. There was no choice now but to walk. Perfect. Just how he wanted to start off his first day. Vincent felt resentment brewing in the back of his mind but it quickly dissipated as he realized that no matter how much he resented it all, nothing would ever change. He was destined to become a janitor or some other menial physical worker. Vincent's eyes began to burn and he furiously bit his lips.
The light switched to a walking signal and Vincent made his way across the street. He walked slowly as if the world was heavy upon his shoulders. Just as he was about to step on the opposite sidewalk, a car went speeding by and sprayed the previous night's rain water all over him. Vincent gasped in shock and he glanced down at his clothes. They were the only new clothes his parents had bought him this entire year. They were soaked to the point that you could see his skin beneath. Vincent groaned. The house was most likely locked and he had no change of clothes. Hopefully his clothes would dry as he walked.
Vincent arrived at the city library an hour later. There was nothing at school for him. The only time he ever had his mind elsewhere was when he was deep in thought at the library. His parents never knew. He just kept the absent reports away from them. All he had to do was get to the mail and take it out before they did in the morning. He could keep them under his bed or burn them. Vincent never worried about the school either. Nobody in the school board cared. It was just an invalid school after all.
Vincent grinned. He always loved it when he was able to stand in front of such a fine institute where the real learning happened. He learned more here than he did his entire life at school. He eagerly skipped up the steps one by one and ignored his lungs that were already constricting from the effort it took to climb them. Vincent was panting by the time he reached the top of the stairs but he could have cared less. He leaned against one of the white, marble buttresses that held up the building and smiled. Then he straightened up and stepped inside.
It was quiet. The air smelled of clean paper and wizened wood shelves. He quietly strolled past the information desk and turned to the left. There was another flight of stairs to his immediate right but he brushed past it and walked out through another door that led to the opposite side of the library. Vincent didn't hesitate at all in his steps. He knew this place like he knew the back of his hand. The opposite side of the library yielded a study area with the library's section of philosophy writings. School was in session so few were studying. Vincent noticed one strange figure he had never seen in the library before. But Vincent could only see the back of the newcomer's head and he could only discern that the person was an albino. His hair was the purest white.
Vincent did not dwell on the newcomer for very long and his attention quickly diverged back to the philosophy section. He passed two rows of shelves before he hit the "Hobbes" section. From there, he walked halfway down one column and paused to search for one specific book. Vincent triumphantly pulled out Leviathan a few moments later. He contemplated on returning to the study area to read but he stopped and settled himself in a corner at the back of the philosophy section. He eagerly flipped open the book to the last page he had bent and began to wolf down the book.
Vincent wasn't sure when, but sometime around part 3, "Of a Christian Common-Wealth", he began to doze off. He had never gotten much sleep at night. His condition often woke him up and he had to sit up and take breaths from his inhaler. This just increased his invalid image; dark rings grew under his eyes because he woke up so often.
He was in the middle of a room. It was dim but Vincent could tell that it was normally brightly lit because of the numerous lamps and lights installed everywhere. There were several beanbags in the left corner and a large flat screen television to the right of the beanbags. A large, round table occupied the front right with several papers and books strewn about it. About fourteen chairs surrounded the messy table and a single lamp hung from the ceiling above it. To the front left was a large area set aside for what seemed to be a kitchen. A stove, two sinks, one refrigerator, and many cabinets and drawers made it up. There seemed to be no sign of anybody there. Between the kitchen and the beanbags was a door slightly ajar.
Vincent glanced around once and tried to absorb it all. He had found out long ago that his dreams were important. He had once read a book on dreams. It had said that dreams were often vague and random. But Vincent's dreams were different. They were alarmingly clear. He would often confuse whether he was really in a dream or in reality. The only way he could tell was by trying to remember how he had gotten to wherever he was. If he couldn't remember, then he was in a dream.
Vincent often wondered why his dreams happened this way. Sometimes he would dream of the state certain people he had seen were in or randomly dream of a scenario involving a certain person. Whatever it was about, he would always find out why or relate it to something the next day. Sometimes he would dream of what was to come, like a premonition. If Vincent ever fell asleep in class, he would dream about whatever the person sitting next to him was thinking about.
Vincent used to think this marked him as someone special. That was before he secretly told Anton only to find his parents testing him the next day to see whether he was mentally ill or not. Vincent never told anyone about it again. He would just keep his dreams to himself and quietly try to ignore them as best as he could.
But this dream was strange. He always dreamt about people and whatever was happening or bothering them. This time he was just in a room. Vincent gingerly took a step forward and tensed. Sometimes he would take a step in a dream only to find the whole situation literally collapse before him. The pain he felt in his dreams were just as real as the scenery was.
But the floor didn't collapse beneath his feet and Vincent relaxed. He quickly glanced around for any other trickery but he saw nothing. Strange. He cautiously looked around again but he could sense that nothing would happen. He quietly stepped further in and deviated towards the table. It was natural to go there first. After all, there were open notes and books to glance at. Vincent wasn't so sure if it would be real just as everything else he dreamt but he still thought it was worth a try to look at them to glance into the identity of the people living here.
Vincent slowly and carefully moved aside one chair before he took a look at the papers. He saw that the notes were all written in one cohesive style; one person had taken them all. The handwriting was rather messy but orderly at the same time. He picked up on sheet and read one line. It read, "Zero dispatched. Must be cautious of..." The writing dwindled off to the next line but Vincent didn't read the rest. He wasn't so sure how long he would be dreaming and it wasn't best to linger on one subject alone. Vincent turned away but just as he moved, his eyes caught one word written at the heading: Gattaca.
Vincent stopped in his tracks and paused. Gattaca? What was that? Vincent quietly thought how funny it was that all the letters of the name were that of the nucleic bases in DNA. He turned to the kitchen...
...and found himself staring at Leviathan. Vincent blinked. He was used to the abrupt awakenings by now but he was slightly annoyed this time. The dream he had seemed oddly clear. It was the most lucid he had ever seen. It had also been one dream where he had been intrigued. Normally he was bored by other people's problems but that time it seemed like a mystery to be solved. And Vincent itched to solve it.
That was when Vincent's mind finally registered the loud scuffling that had awoken him. He curiously listened as he slid closer to the source of the sounds. The only thing he could hear at first was muffled voices and laughter. Then he reached the last bookcase closest to the studying tables and he could faintly distinguish the voices.
"So the great prince of the school actually studies!" laughed one voice. It was coarse and harsh; definitely an invalid's voice.
Another harsh voice added, "You and your stupid school can go to hell! Your damn little snobby clothes, your damn snobby manners..."
"Valids aren't so great," jeered a third. "You're all just a bunch of snot-nosed brats who think you're so great because you were born with different DNA than the rest of us!"
Vincent glanced around the bookcase with concern. It didn't seem like the safest situation. His eyes flitted over the scene for a brief second before he jumped back behind the bookcase but he was able to see the gist of things. There were about six older boys - all about college age. They were crowded around the albino Vincent had seen earlier. He worked his jaw as he thought about what he should do. Should he go help? But from what Vincent could gather, the albino wouldn't need any help. He was a valid after all and valids could do anything.
And yet Vincent felt like he should help. He clenched his fist several times before he worked up the courage to convince himself that it was right. He couldn't just turn his back on a person in need of help whether he was invalid or valid. Vincent was about to intervene when the albino finally spoke up.
"Would you please excuse me? I have an appointment to attend," the valid said. There was such a contrast in voice that Vincent almost balked. The albino's voice was smooth, eloquent, and commanding all at the same time. Vincent couldn't believe it. Was there really such a difference between the valids and invalids?
"Like hell we will!" exclaimed one of the bullies.
Vincent glanced around the case again and saw that the valid had stood up. He was tall and well built. He wore expensive slacks and a vest that belonged to Harpren, the most prestigious college in the entire nation. The albino smoothly picked up his books and adjusted the spectacles on his face. "Gentlemen. Please. I must not be late."
One of the invalids laughed. "So you're too scared to stay and face us?"
The albino's voice took on a harder edge. "So what? Do you expect to start a conflict here? In a library of all places? That would just have an unsightly end."
"Yeah! An unsightly end for you!" yelled one.
The valid sighed and straightened his vest. "So I cannot avoid conflict with you?"
Vincent blinked and literally missed what happened next. At the very second the last invalid had finished speaking, the albino had somehow moved out of the circle of bullies and was calmly walking out of the library entrance. Vincent had only blinked once and the valid had already crossed the span of about twelve feet without breaking a sweat. The bullies let out a strangled noise of indignation before moving after him. Vincent turned away bitterly. That valid would not need help.
Vincent slowly moved back to where he had fallen asleep and angrily shoved his book back in its place. He had always known how much more advanced valids were. His brother had always been a perfect example. But that had always been surreal. To Vincent, Anton had been the only real valid in his life. Now he knew that there were hundreds like Anton and there was nothing a crippled invalid like him could do to match up to them. No matter how smart or clever he could be, he would never reach the power and prestige a valid would reach. Vincent hated it all with a passion. He had never felt such anger at the world, at society, at his parents. At himself.
Vincent leaned against the bookcase and slid down. His feet would not hold him up anymore. The revelation just took all of the energy out of him. How could he be so weak? Vincent buried his head in his hands. It just wasn't fair. Why did he, of all people, have to be born an invalid? He wasn't even a proper invalid. He was worse: a cripple that could never amount to anything. Vincent felt a great lump block his throat and his stomach constricted painfully. Why, why why? What had he ever done to deserve this? He began to sniffle and then he felt a single drop of salty water fall on his hand. Why hadn't he been born a valid? Why was it his brother? Vincent's body was shaking now and the drops just wouldn't stop. It was all stupid. Why couldn't everybody be just as perfect as the valids? Stupid. It was all stupid. But Vincent couldn't help but think that it was really he that was the stupid one. What a magnificent figure he must be right now: a teenage boy crying alone in the back of a library.
Vincent did not go back for two weeks. He obediently attended his classes, finished his homework, do his chores, and watch his brother start out his school year as the president of his class. He quietly watched as his parents fawned over Anton and kept away from any of the other students in his school. Maybe he would have felt a little sadness before but now he felt nothing. If he had been indifferent before, now he was just apathetic. It was as if life had lost all meaning for him. Before books and knowledge had been his drive. Now even the dusty pages of theories no longer held any interest for him. He just listlessly spent his days staring blankly into space.
The strange thing was, Anton was the only one to notice. Anton, the perfect boy of the family, the star of the school, the perfect child, took notice of his invalid brother's deterioration. It wasn't out of worry or pity for his brother. It was more like a chance for Anton to attain a firmer grip on his parents. Anton never really voiced aloud his attention but Vincent knew. He could see it in the way Anton followed him with his eyes and the way Anton walked around with less urgency to the details while at home.
Vincent was just staring at the board while the teacher was talking one day when one of the other students threw a terrific spit wad right at his head. He winced and then painfully peeled the gooey mass of his head. He was more concerned about the pain it had given him rather than the humiliation it brought.
"Vincent?" asked the teacher.
He glanced up at the bored middle aged lady. "Yes?"
The teacher's brow furrowed in annoyance at the lack of respect but she asked, "Would you please explain to me why you have stuck a spit wad on your head? It's disgusting."
Vincent held out the spit wad and dropped it on his desk. "I didn't place it on my head."
"Then are you accusing one of your classmates of the act?"
"I never said that."
The teacher huffed and slammed her hand on the table. "I will not tolerate insolence from you, Vincent."
"Is telling the truth insolence?" Vincent asked.
"I advise you to sit down and be silent. You will have two weeks of detention for this."
Vincent didn't argue and slouched back into his seat. What did it matter? He didn't need good grades to clean floors. That's all he would ever be doing.
"Teacher?" asked the boy who had thrown the wad at Vincent.
"Yes?" the teacher crooned.
"I think you should punish Vincent more thoroughly. He has shown such a wonderful teacher such as you such disrespect that I can't stand seeing such lenient punishment pass."
The teacher blushed at his words and smugly said, "I see your point. Just as I expected of my best student." Vincent didn't even react. He just continued to stare off. The teacher turned to Vincent and said, "I think expulsion would do."
Vincent just slowly moved his eyes to face the teacher and raised an eyebrow. "All for one spit wad?" he asked.
He found himself standing outside of the school gates just fifteen minutes later. Vincent stared at the gate and tightened his grip on his school bag. So that was it. Vincent felt the beginnings of the same overwhelming sadness take over before he shoved it back down. Stupid.
Vincent bit his lips and turned away. There was no point in standing there. He had never really belonged there anyway. Maybe the last few listless weeks had been a meager attempt on his part to try to accept and fulfill his role as an invalid. Maybe it was just time for him to deal with the shock of his overwhelming inferiority. Maybe he had just wanted to fit in for once. But whatever it was, it just didn't sit well with Vincent. There was something about his personality that wouldn't let him yield to the "higher powers".
Vincent almost felt relief at the realization. At least this meant that he still had the will and the determination to continue fighting at least for a little longer; at least until he hit yet another huge realization that might change his world. But Vincent decided that there was no point in worrying about it and hoped that he would be able to cross that bridge when he came to it.
All of this proved as a comfort to him, but Vincent still felt a little slighted. He scuffed his feet as he walked and he slouched to void attention. He couldn't completely shrug off society's disdain and it continued to weigh him down. A little part of him had always told him to just give in and accept it all but that large part of him still reigned.
Vincent concluded that the best way to improve his life was to first start at the home. He had never really given much thought and effort into pleasing his parents. He had spent plenty of time trying to show them what he was capable of through defeating Anton but he knew by now that was a lost cause. Maybe he should try a different approach. Maybe he should try to be the best invalid son an invalid son could be. That way he would please his parents to what they thought was the best of his ability. Vincent crossed the sidewalk and made his way back up town. He walked about twenty blocks and stopped half an hour later in front of his house. It was medium sized but elaborate. The entire building was complete white: the sign of it being a valid's home. Vincent wrinkled his face at the sight of it. He had always hated white.
Vincent reached outwards towards the door handle and laid his finger upon the pad attached to it. A small needle pricked his finger and checked his blood for DNA before verifying it was him. Then the screen above the door handle that displayed the DNA information blinked a green affirmative and the door quietly clicked open. Vincent pushed the door and stepped inside.
Nobody was home. The entire house was hushed and the lights were dimmed to save power. Vincent turned around to close the door and lock it before making his way deeper into the interior. He swiftly and deftly made his way around the furniture and climbed up the large staircase. He jumped up the steps two at a time and took long strides towards his bedroom. Once there, he dropped his backpack to the floor beside the door to keep it open and he quickly grabbed his laptop before collapsing on to his bed.
Vincent logged on and began to scroll through the information stored inside. He had once spent a few months reading books on computers and how they worked. He had spent a few weeks more practicing what he had read. Now no system could block him out and no system could get into his own. Nobody knew this though. Vincent had purposely set up fake data throughout the entire laptop to make it seem like a normal one. Hiding behind it was the true contents of what Vincent spent his time doing in his room.
He bypassed his fake system and brought up his real system. The screen flashed a neon green before a hidden DNA testing pad extended from the server. Vincent grinned. If society could pull that gag on him in everyday life, so could he. The testing pad took a sample of his blood and the screen glowed yellow to signify its authenticity.
Vincent quickly accessed and broke into the school's system. It was not very hard. It was an invalid school and it did not have the security that a valid school had on its information. He would know. That's how Vincent always knew what Anton's grades were before even Anton knew. Vincent pulled up his grades and saw that the system already had him marked as expelled. The notice was probably already sent to his parents. Vincent exited out of the school's system and logged on to his parent's data bases. The expulsion letter would most likely be in their files. He scanned his parent's mail and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw they had not read the letter yet. Vincent deleted the messages with satisfaction and leaned back with a grin. Who said invalids couldn't do anything?
I like input :D And this is completely different from the actual movie. I just like the idea and the names to here I am! Let me know if it got confusing anywhere.