For the first time in a while, I have written a story that has no warnings, everyone can read it… well, maybe... evil grin
Disclaimer: Bribing Urasawa has not worked yet. Working on it though.
Rating: K+, because I am trying to be good… at least until I get bored with being good, then all bets are off.
The Art of Breeding Monsters
Her twins were abnormally intelligent and extraordinarily lovely creatures. She was as proud of them as any mother would be.
But as soon as they started learning to talk, she began to notice the oddest things about them…
…or to be more specific, about her son...
The little boy, as intelligent as he was, did not understand the concept of 'I'.
She supposed it was partly her fault for dressing him up as the girl and all, but even so, there had to be a limit…
With him, everything was always 'we'. Which meant that he would always drag the girl along anytime he took it to his head to do something mischievous… which was regrettably rather often. Anywhere he went, she had to be there too. He insisted that the two of them share everything… even his food. Nothing seemed to delight the boy more than pushing food meant for him into his sister's mouth… especially when he was being fussy and did not want to eat it himself. The boy seemed to think that as long as his sister ate it, it would somehow end up in his own stomach…
…this probably explained why he was perpetually trying to shove his share of spinach or liver down the poor girl's throat.
Though, to be fair, he did the same thing with cakes and candy and things he liked; a fact that the girl always responded very positively to.
And there was also the crying habit.
The boy rarely cried. But one of the things certain to bring on the waterworks was the sight of his sister crying. The most aggravating thing about it was that half the time, he did not have the slightest clue what had made the girl cry. All he needed to know was that his sister was crying, and he became miserable too.
She knew that a lot of children did this sometimes, but with her son it happened every… single… day.
It was always terrible having to deal with two cranky toddlers at once.
More so because whenever her little boy became miserable, he also tended to become extremely destructive.
"You are not your sister, young man." She said to him, one day when she had had quite enough of it. "You are yourself, and she is herself. You are not each other."
The toddler stared at her with wide, tear filled eyes and milk toothed incomprehension. After some moments, he smiled in a manner even she could recognize as vaguely condescending, proceeded to ignore her, ran off to find his little sister and began to console her.
It did not take a genius to figure out that the boy had concluded that his mother was just being silly.
She sighed. At least he was no longer crying.
She consoled herself with the thought that the boy was likely to grow out of it soon.
She had no idea, then, how wrong she was.
He was only two when his mother realized that he was the one who would do it.
She had just come back from her second job. She worked two jobs, both barely above minimum wage, in order to support herself and the children. It was frustrating because she knew she was a genetic scientist, who had graduated at the top of her class. It was a criminal understatement to say that she was highly qualified for far better jobs, but there was no way she could find that type of work without drawing the attention of those people to herself. Her feet were killing her; she had been standing all day. But she had to make dinner, or her children would go hungry.
So when she saw the roach scuttle out from under the couch, she felt disinclined to do anything about it. She simply did not have the strength to bother chasing it down.
It was an old building, in one of the cheaper parts of town. Roaches went with the territory.
She supposed she'd have to stop by the store on her way back from work tomorrow, and buy another pack of bug bombs.
Now, her two year old son was quietly sitting on the couch, his legs tucked carefully underneath the skirt he had learned to wear himself, his tiny house slippers placed neatly together on the floor beside him. Up until a few minutes ago he had been building colored blocks with his sister, but they had quickly grown bored of this game and the girl decided she wanted to play with the single doll she owned. Her brother, however, had absolutely no interest in such an activity. So he was curled up, looking at the pictures in that book, when the roach darted out from underneath the couch. He looked up, gave the creature a passing glance, and then, completely unperturbed, went quietly back to looking at his picture book.
His sister's reaction was far more dramatic.
She had been busily and quite happily brushing the long, golden hair of the tiny pink-dressed doll, while murmuring gentle baby talk to it, so she did not notice the roach until it had climbed on top of her bare, stocking covered foot.
It was the subtle, itchily ticklish sensation of something creeping on her leg that made her look down. It was then she noticed the huge, nasty, smelly thing crawling all over her nice, clean, pink and white sock.
She screamed, startling both her mother and her twin brother. Then she jumped about and kicked frantically, still screaming, wildly struggling to dislodge it.
Finally, it fell on its back, dazed, but quickly recovered and righted itself. She dashed to her mother, sobbing very loudly, and hid her face behind the older woman's skirt. The roach, apparently, was also very terrified of the big, noisy, hysterically stomping human, and darted about the room in crazed panic for a few moments.
It was then the mother noticed the very odd way her son reacted.
The toddler had started, like his mother, when he heard his sister's sudden scream. When he realized what had scared her, his wide blue eyes narrowed, other than this, the oddly solemn expression on his face remained unchanged. He slowly closed the book he had been looking at, and shifted forward, uncurling his left foot and slipping it quietly into his slipper. His large eyes followed the insect's frantic movements with very close attention.
The creature scuttled around the room in this crazily panicked manner for some moments, then, apparently recovering its roachly senses, it stopped its aimless darting about, stood still for a second, antennae moving around cautiously, then clearly deciding that right now was probably not the best time to go foraging, it turned and made straight back for the nice, quiet safety of the darkness underneath the couch from whence it came.
That, as it turned out, had not been a very wise move.
It was at the edge of the couch, probably already offering prayers of gratitude to whatever insect deity it worshipped, when it was calmly and quite unceremoniously stepped on.
The boy had not stomped on it. He just waited quietly until it was within reach. And then he casually intercepted it with his foot, and noiselessly crushed it.
When it was dead, he kicked the flattened corpse back underneath the couch, and then pulled his foot neatly out of the slipper.
The whole operation had taken less than a minute, and had been conducted in complete silence.
As soon as the dead insect was out of sight, the boy got off the couch and ran up to them. He still had a tendency to topple over when he ran too fast, so he was careful. He looked at his sister, who was still crying and clinging to their mother. The woman was staring at her son, far too stunned to continue her attempts to soothe the little girl that clung to her. He reached out and tugged at his sister's sleeve. When she did not move, he kept tugging insistently at it until she finally looked up, staring at him with wide puffy blue eyes and a red, tear stained face, sniffing pathetically.
Very seriously, he gathered up an edge of his skirt in a tiny, chubby fist, and began, in a typically clumsy toddler-like manner, to wipe her face with it; the very same way he had once seen their mother do with the edge of her apron.
"Don't cry." He said anxiously. "It's gone." She stared at him, eyes red and swollen, mouth pursed doubtfully, and then turned to look.
The wooden floor was gleaming. Her doll lay, face down, where she had dropped it in her wild panic. The comb she had been using lay motionless beside it.
She stopped crying, but her pout was still in evidence. "It was on my foot." She reported sulkily. "It was yucky!" She promptly started crying again.
The boy used his skirt again, to no avail. Before long, his lower lip began to tremble in a very worrying manner, and his eyes became wet. Their mother sighed. She simply did not have the strength to deal with both of them at once. Before the little boy could start howling, she pushed a paper towel in his hand.
He stared at it, blinked, and then looked up at her face.
"Clean up your faces, then go help your sister find new socks." She said. Her voice was quite soft, but there was a hard edge to it that she could not really conceal. "Dinner should be ready by the time you both are done."
The wide eyed toddlers looked at her, then at each other.
She could almost hear the very silent communication between them.
Mommy's upset again
Obediently, the boy took his little sister's hand, and pulled her along with him into their bedroom.
When she was alone, their mother fetched a brush and dustpan, fished the dead cockroach out from underneath the couch, and got rid of it.
But not before she stood, staring in fascinated horror at the mangled thing.
The act may have been silent and brief, but it had been very thorough.
It was at that moment she knew with absolute certainty which one of her two children was destined to accomplish her revenge.
The little girl liked to be hugged. She constantly followed her mother around, adorably stretching out slender little arms for hugs at the slightest opportunity. Whether or not her wordless desire to be hugged was accepted or not largely depended on her mother's mood, or how busy she was at the time.
She did not throw as many tantrums as other children would have any time she was rejected.
The little boy, on the other hand, was usually not as interested in being hugged or cuddled. He would briefly tolerate it, almost as though he were indulging the bothersome, clingy adult that wanted to hug him and carry him around, and then he would slip away as soon as he saw a chance to do so.
She found, quite oddly, that she often wanted to hug her son…. and perhaps her need to do so was sharpened by his constant refusal to let her. Unless he was very tired or sleepy, he would always find ways to wriggle away from her hugs at the last minute. She had tried not to be insulted when she kissed him, once, and he frowned up at her with an expression of subtle reproach, wrinkling the cute nose that was so uncannily like his father's, and then very definitely wiped his mouth clean with the back of a chubby fist. It was nothing personal. She knew her son loved her. He simply wasn't a very affectionate child.
So at times like that, she carried her daughter instead. The girl was always far too willing to be carried, and cuddled and kissed. And she always returned such attention as generously as she could.
What she could not understand was the fact that her son did not like it when she gave his sibling that sort of attention either.
It had taken her some time to notice this. It had surprised her a great deal, the first time she actually did. While the two of them talked, and cuddled and laughed, the little boy had steadily grown more and more irritated. He was practicing his alphabet with a green crayon, and often paused what he was doing to glare over at them. She had actually caught a few of those moody glares, but had dismissed them. After some time, the boy disappeared into their bedroom.
It was the following morning, when she had to get to work; she found the green crayon scribbles all over her white blouse.
"I just do not understand it, Helenka!" She complained to the woman the world knew as Margot Langer that evening. "I know he gets destructive when he is upset, but this worries me. He has never done this sort of thing before. The girl was the one who used to write all over walls, not him!"
"I don't know." The other woman thought about it. "I suppose he might be jealous. Do you give him as much attention as you give her? That is about the only reason I can think of for him to act that way."
What Margot did not understand was that she wanted to give him that attention. It was a little unfair, but most of the time, she wanted to cuddle and kiss her son far more than she wanted to cuddle and kiss her daughter. It was a strange thing, and distinctly abnormal, but she was honest enough to admit that of her two children, she loved the boy more. It was grossly unreasonable; because her little girl was just adorable and with her smiles, and playfulness and laughter, she was often more fun to be with than her uncannily solemn, often moody brother.
But the truth was that, no matter what the girl did or how adorable she was, she could never compete with her brother's place in his mother's heart.
He was all that was left of the man she had loved so dearly.
He looked like her. It still amazed her that anytime she looked at him, dressed as he was in a little girls clothing, it was almost like looking at herself in the mirror had been when she was his age. With her daughter, it was not quite the same. Her skin was not as pale as her mother's had been, her hair was a darker blonde.
But the fact that the boy looked even more like her than her daughter did made no difference. Even if he looked like her, he had his father's nose, and the serious, stoic way he narrowed his eyes, but kept the rest of his face very composed whenever he had something on his mind. He had inherited many of the man's unconscious habits, like his father's knack for swinging his legs back and forth when he sat down, as well as his almost military habit of standing feet apart, with hands behind his back.
Besides, he was a boy.
And that, ultimately, was the most important consideration of all.
Her daughter was just a girl; a miniature fragment of her mother. It did not matter that she had her father's nose or complexion. She was female. It changed everything.
The boy was the last remaining piece of the lover she had lost. The girl was the last remaining piece of her naïve, happily innocent self.
She had loved that man far more than she loved herself, adored him enough to forgive him for years of lies and deceit, and the sort of treachery that made marital infidelity seem like a very small thing… a mosquito bite compared to the bite of a viper. It was not just a betrayal of the body. It had been a betrayal of soul, of ideals, using her as a vessel to carry children that would be used as experiments by a government she detested. He had known she was an anti- government Activist. This fact was what made his betrayal far more painful and unforgivable than ordinary cheating ever could.
But she had forgiven him, because she had loved him, loved him with crazy, intense, desperate and abnormal passion in spite of the fact that he spent the entire relationship deceiving her; filling her with lies as slowly and deliberately as he filled her with his children. He had grown to love her just as much, but that did nothing to change the fact that he had started the whole relationship out with the intention of using her for the glory of the communist government she despised and the further enslavement of the country she yearned to rescue from that government's grasp.
And yet, she loved him.
It was appalling when you contemplated that she had been manipulated into loving him. But the fact that the love was false in its origins did not make it any less powerful. It was actually far more powerful than a regular love could ever be. It had thrived, and grown far bigger and more unwieldy than normal love ever could… like a hothouse orchid that grew better and brighter and healthier and stronger than its counterpart in the jungle: an artificially bred flower that flourished because it existed in conditions that were perfect, no matter how artificial they were. Bonaparte had often boasted that his greatest achievement was the ability to make two people fall in love. He had been right to boast. It was as great as it was terrible, this thing he had achieved.
She had been upset when she learned the truth, but by then, she had loved him far too much to let go.
It was only logical, therefore, that she would love her son far more than she loved her daughter, no matter what the boy did to her.
Sometimes, she had the uncanny feeling that the little boy knew, or at least felt something. He knew she was playing a game that was a lie any time she carried the little girl in her lap and kissed her. He knew she was always searching for traces of the lover she had lost any time she looked at him.
Perhaps that was why he had no desire for her innocent, motherly kisses.
He had no time for or patience with lies. For instance, when she had attempted to teach them about Mikulas *, Jezisek*, and the German Christkindl*, and of the lovely gifts that the white robed saint, the Christ Child, and the blonde Child- Angel brought to all good little children at Christmastime, her efforts had been met with a flat, incredulous stare that even gave pause to his little sister's childlike excitement at the idea.
But she could not help wanting to reach her seemingly unreachable son.
And if he was displaying signs of jealousy anytime she cuddled his little sister, well, so much the better.
She did not quite get it… even then.
But she fully understood after that incident on the day of the picnic.
It had been Margot's idea. She had taken a look at her drained, overworked friend and declared that she needed a break. She had gotten one of her current 'clients' to loan them his truck, then loading food, friend and children alike into the vehicle, she had driven, not to the park, which would have been too dangerous for two women in hiding, but to a quiet, remote hillside on the outskirts of town.
She had enjoyed the peace, and was very grateful for her friend's thoughtfulness. The children had thoroughly enjoyed it too; running around and playing and laughing. Then the little girl had gone off on her own, picking wildflowers, and arranging them in a huge, unwieldy bundle, which she presented to her mother and Margot.
Both women had been enchanted, Margot hugged the girl, planting a swift kiss on her cheek, laughing as she wiped off the red stain left by her lipstick. Her mother had carried the girl unto her lap and hugged her tightly.
"Thank you so much, sweetheart." She said. "I love you."
The girl reciprocated. Fiercely.
"I love you too mommy." She replied.
The girl nodded enthusiastically.
"Better than anyone else in the whole wide world!" She declared.
This declaration had led to one of the most sudden and most epic tantrums the two women had ever witnessed in their entire lives. The boy screamed and kicked and cried, tearing at the grass and punching the ground in his intense fury, and nothing the two women could do would console him.
His behavior was all the more shocking because he was normally very quiet, and well behaved.
The little girl stood staring at her brother, wide eyed and petrified as he lost himself in his raging fit of temper.
"What is wrong with him?" Margot had cried out in alarm.
His mother said nothing, but she knew.
And her knowledge was confirmed when he pulled away from her attempt to hold him, and looked at her with icy blue eyes that almost hated her.
Then he ran off, sat on a small rock on the side of the hill, folded his knees to his chest, and cried.
Margot was very distressed by this turn of events. She turned to look at her friend. The other woman said nothing. Instead, she looked at her daughter.
The girl stood very still, staring at the distant form of her brother, curled up and crying on the rocks.
"Go and get your brother." She said quietly. "We are leaving."
The little girl looked at her.
Margot had also given her friend the strangest look. But if the woman noticed, she gave no sign.
"Go" she said. "Get your brother." She repeated.
The child obeyed. Running though the grass, towards her brother.
The boy made no move when she approached, and pulled away from her when she nudged his shoulder.
He did not reply, did not look up.
"Mommy says it's time to go."
She studied the boy in silence for a while
And then she hugged him.
The boy went rigid in her arms. But he made no attempt to pull away.
Instead, after a while, his arms went around her, his slender fingers gripped the back of her little pink dress, and he cried even more. She stroked his back and his hair, as she had seen her mother do. After a while, he became quiet under her touch. But he did not let her go.
Instead, the child turned his head, and placed the smallest of kisses underneath his sister's ear, right at the indentation where her jaw ended and her neck began.
The woman froze, her eyes widened.
Her cold, antisocial, unaffectionate son had actually kissed someone.
But even that was not the point.
She recognized that kiss, as surely as she could recognize her own face in the mirror.
His father had often kissed her that way, on that very spot, while they were still at the early stages of dating and she had not allowed him to kiss her on the mouth. He had kissed her there, and then on her mouth, the first time he had told her that he loved her. He had stood behind her and kissed her there as he unzipped her dress the first time they made love. He had kissed her there, countless times after that, when they were in bed and he was inside her, filling her womb with the seed from which these very children were formed.
The boy was truly the son of his father.
It made sense, in a sick and twisted kind of way. Her son held his father's soul. Her daughter held the fragments left of hers. And there had been no doubt that they had loved each other beyond all reason. Enough to throw away everything they believed and were, for the sake of each other.
But she was a scientist. While such a whimsical idea made sense to the woman in her, it did not fly with the scientist.
But then, there was probably a purely scientific reason for this as well. She had studied genetics herself, and knew enough to make her understand what those twisted men had been trying to do. Her children were the two most successful products of an experiment that had been designed to create a new and improved breed of the human race. They were the ideal results of careful, selective breeding; genetically perfect creations of eugenics in its purest form. They had been the finest products of years of scientific work, manipulation and forbidden research, breeding, cross breeding and studying family lines.
That was what Eugenics was. It worked in a way that was very similar to what agriculturists did with plants, and what breeders did with animals. They bred and crossbred and interbred until they created new strains of plant and new species of animal that were huge improvements on what Nature had given before.
The men who had created her children had called them things like "our achievement" and "the future of our nation." It was only now that all the possible ramifications of those simple words truly hit her.
They were meant to be an evolutionary step forward. Not just your mere, run of the mill Homo Sapiens, but a slight improvement on it.
They were destined to be the progenitors… if crazed fanatics like Capek were to be believed, of a new master race; or, more accurately, an improved 'species' of the human animal that was as genetically perfect as the children they had bred; a pure, powerful, unquestionably perfect race that was destined to rule over all other humans and races because of that very perfection.
They were like purebred horses in human form, uncannily beautiful, uncannily powerful, uncannily perfect, and meant to breed with others of their own kind to ensure that the purity of their line was maintained.
And even without the interference of nosy geneticists, it was common for animals of the same kind to gravitate towards each other. It was all purely instinctive. That was how natural selection worked. The advanced species reproduced and thrived while the weaker species gradually faded away over time.
Were these children of hers truly human? Had they ever been?
She wondered, with rising hysteria, if those sick, fanatical people had any idea just how well their little experiment had worked.
It was clear it had been more than physically successful… at least to an extent. Even if her daughter seemed fairly normal, her son, clearly, was not. The boy was twisted in ways she herself could never ever begin to fully comprehend, and he was far too attached to his sister.
She had always known this, but seeing the child hold his sister that close when he would not even hold his own mother, and seeing the way he placed that kiss on the girl's soft skin, both made her finally understand that the quality of the little boy's attachment to his twin was not normal.
Horror could not even begin to describe the things she felt.
He was only five, for God's sake!
It seemed that, even though she had managed to run away from those people, the results of their little experiment would haunt her and her children for the rest of their lives, no matter where they went.
"You were right, Helenka." She said softly. "It was jealousy. My little boy was… jealous."
But you were wrong about one thing. She thought. It is not necessarily my affection the boy wants. He loves me, but he is also jealous of me.
He is jealous because his sister loves me more than she loves him.
It was less than a month after this that they were discovered, and Capek and Bonaparte and all those men she had fled from had cornered her and stood watching, their faces calm, their eyes cold.
"This is also an experiment. Choose. Which child will you give to us?"
And she had almost given the boy away, because she knew that he was strong, that of the two of them, he would be the one who could survive whatever those twisted men did to him.
Besides, the boy was already quite warped. They could not possibly damage him any much more than they already had.
But then, she changed her mind.
She had loved his father more than herself. If she had been given a choice back then, she would happily have died and let the man live.
And now, technically, she had been given a choice.
Which would she give away, the fragments of her lost love, or the fragments of her lost self?
Which would it be? The child who loved her more? Or the child she loved more?
The boy was broken. He was physically and intellectually perfect… beyond perfect in fact, if such a thing was possible. But emotionally, he was horribly deformed and monstrously twisted.
Even so, he was all she had left of the man she loved.
She gave the girl away, knowing full well that her son would never forgive her for doing it, or even understand why she had done it. He would never realize that he was the one she wanted to keep. He would never accept that she loved him. She knew full well that, in his mind, there was no difference between him and his sister. He would see what she had done to the girl as something she had done to them both.
But that was a small price to pay.
Because, more than anything, she wanted her son to live.
She wanted him to live to avenge his father, his sister and herself.
She had made a promise to Bonaparte. Even if she could not keep it, her son definitely would.
Mikulas- The Czech version of Saint Nicolas (not Santa. They actually are not too fond of Santa, for purely traditional and political reasons.) Children are brought to see him, and he gives them presents, usually on the 5th of December. He wears a white robe and a bishop's hat, and is stricter than Santa by far.
Jezisek- The Christ child himself. Believed to leave gifts for good children in Prague on the 24th of December. You really are not supposed to know what he looks like.
Christkindl- a German gift giver in the form of a blonde, beautiful child-angel that rewards all good children with gifts at Christmastime.
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