Short Stories

[Conversation between Miranda and three nocturnals or “nocs”: Varian, Lailie, and Yuudai from the novel Nocs – Nocturnal Illumination.]

When Varian and Miranda made it over to the Serroni residence, Lailie and Yuudai were already relaxing in the library with a bottle of wine.
“Check out what we found,” Lailie said while nodding at a thick book on the coffee table. Miranda picked it up and read out loud,

Eugenics Revisited
The Degenerating Human Genome
by Carina Trevena

She flipped the book over and continued to read the endorsements on the back of the dust jacket. One of them read:
“Excellent in-depth analysis of the ethical misconceptions surrounding eugenics.” Ola Zawisza, Ph.D., Molecular Genetics.[*Dr. Zawisza is a figure known by the four youngsters, as is Carina Trevena.] “Wow!” was Miranda’s initial response.
“It’s an interesting read,” Lailie continued. “I’ve gotten through about a third of the book and she makes some really solid arguments. She claims humans reached their evolutionary ceiling millennia ago, and while we still birth highly bright individuals, the range of our intelligence has widened and the balance tilted as evolution is being reversed. Instead of the survival of the fittest, people with inferior qualities produce more offspring.”
“But that’s not a new concept,” Varian protested.
“No, but she’s expanded on the idea and how we view the issue ethically. According to Carina, it’s unethical to stand by and not take responsible action. You see, we’re not really devolving; we’re degenerating into lows we’ve never experienced before. We’re producing more mental illness and sociopathic behavior, not just physical illness or lack of intelligence,” Lailie continued.
“So she thinks it’s unethical to let nature run its course?” Miranda asked.
“No, that’s one of her stronger arguments actually; while many are against messing with nature, she claims that we are the way we are because we’ve already messed with nature for so long; it’s what we’ve done to become this way in the first place, and now we need to reverse the damage. She writes that human interference is inevitable, so we might as well do a better job than we have so far, and take better responsibility.”
“By taking over women’s reproductive rights?” Miranda exclaimed, appalled. [*Reference to an earlier piece of insight about Trevena.]

Yuudai stepped forward and joined the conversation.
“No, her ambition is to tackle the beast from multiple angles.” Everyone looked at him. Yuudai usually shied from attention.
“What else do you know?” Varian asked.
“What? No, that’s in the book. I’ve read the whole thing, and a couple of other books she’s published.”

“So, is her main concern with intelligence and mental illness?” Miranda asked Yuudai.
“No, that’s not all. Carina is also concerned with race. She doesn’t have anything against any race. Still, she’s concerned that the West is falling behind the Chinese who are already well ahead when it comes to genetic engineering, raising a superior population. Carina has been frustrated with Western politics and the ideological biases standing in her way to implement her own projects.”
“Well that explains why she intended to do things her own way and go behind the back of, well everyone,” Miranda answered with a bitter tone.
“What?” Yuudai responded, puzzled.
“Oh, we’ll tell you later,” Varian tried to save Miranda’s slip-up. “Please continue.”
“Well, she feels strongly about the Western heritage, twofold. I’m paraphrasing, but she believes that Western civilization has been a superior instrument in shaping the modern world, but as I mentioned earlier, that also means it’s been a major instrument in human demise. She not only feels that the West should be preserved as a progressive leader, but that they should be responsible for cleaning up their own mess and not have the Chinese save the world for them.”

“Oh, who gives a shit?” Lailie waved her glass, accidentally splashing some wine on the floor. “Saving the human race – how vain! Does it really matter in the end?”
But Yuudai wasn’t done, and both Varian and Miranda enjoyed his participation – to hear Yuudai’s opinion was rare.

“Here, let me read something,” Yuudai continued and flipped through the book like some people knowingly flip through the Bible or the Quran for verses they know, and then he read out loud:
“Western civilization has brought man through the Hellenistic classical antiquity, the Roman Empire, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution, bringing about the empirical sciences, advancing their world to become a superior template of progress to reshape all civilizations. It is sad to see such a great heritage decline after it’s served as a springboard for all. It has allowed the Chinese to catapult themselves towards superiority while the Western world turns against elitism and celebrates their mediocrity.”

“Ouch!” was all Miranda voiced. Yuudai continued:
“In fact, she didn’t approve of how the science society allowed mixed races to contribute to the nocturnal population. She felt that we should be a clean race – a clean slate.”

“Yuudai, get me another bottle of wine,” Lailie ordered. Varian and Miranda reacted to her disrespectful tone towards him, but Yuudai just followed her order and left the room. Once he was gone, Varian leaned towards Lailie and demanded to know:
“What’s your deal with him?”
“What? We’re friends,” Lailie answered, nonchalantly.
“Friends? And what’s the deal with you lately?” he continued.
Me? What’s the deal with you guys, that’s what I want to know. But I’m just a little girl so who cares?” Her words were so bitter both Varian and Miranda were taken aback. They hadn’t expected something actually to be wrong. Perhaps it had something to do with her infatuation with Daniel? No one had given it much thought with everything else going on. Lailie sipped the last three drops of wine from her glass.

“YUUDAI!” She yelled, and Yuudai just made it back with another open bottle and filled her glass.
“Varian, Miranda?” Yuudai asked, motioning with the bottle. Sure, they would like some wine, but they seemed to be a bit behind Lailie who was past what should have been her last glass already. When Varian received his wine from Yuudai, he continued where Lailie had left off.
“So guys are the problem, huh? Is this where the two of you have girlie time?” He nodded at Lailie and Miranda.
“Yes, it is,” Miranda said firmly and motioned for the boys to leave the room.

After the doors closed to the library, Miranda fed the fire another log and sat down in an armchair facing Lailie. She studied her for a moment. The animated reflection from the warm flames danced on Lailie’s pale skin like expressionism filling a white canvas, but the art also exposed the emotions within. Lailie’s ice-blue eyes were on fire. If they were going to tackle the issue of boys, Miranda saw no reason to dance around the subject.
“Have you heard from Daniel yet?”