Intellectual Property

Fun fact, this marks my 200th post! Now, unfortunately that doesn’t mean 200 stories. In fact, it even includes posts where I announced that I wouldn’t be updating properly. But still! 200! That’s a big round number and that’s neat!

Anyway, here’s a new piece of flash-fiction for you all inspired by a conversation I had earlier about GMOs. Enjoy!

 There were two men in suits at the door, and if a lifetime of getting screwed over by forces beyond her control and comprehension had taught Maria anything it was that nothing good ever came when men in suits showed up unannounced on your doorstep. Still, she put on a happy face and greeted the two strangers. “Good morning, gentlemen. Can I help you with something?”

The two men couldn’t have looked more different from each other. One of them was fair-skinned, tall and thin with glasses and a clean-shaven face. The other was dark and squat and thick with a long yet well-kept beard. “Are you Maria Delcosta?” Beard asked.

Maria’s eyes went wide.

“Forgive my companion, Mrs. Delcosta,” Glasses said with a smile. “He can be a little brusque, but he’s quite harmless, I assure you.”

Beard snorted. “Mrs. Delcosta. We’re here to speak with you about your son, James.”

Maria’s face fell. “Jimmy? What’s wrong with Jimmy? Are you with the school? Is he in trouble?”

“No, Mrs. Delcosta. This isn’t about James’s academic performance. In fact, to the best of our knowledge, James is doing fine, isn’t he?”

Glasses nodded. “That’s correct.”

“Not surprising, really.”

“To be expected, honestly.”

“Then, what is this about?”

Beard cleared his throat. “Mrs. Delcosta, we represent Monde-Agra Incorporated.”

Silence hung in the air as Maria tried to place the name of the company. “Wait,” she finally said. “The cookie people?”

Glasses chuckled. “That’s correct, Mrs. Delcosta. ChocoDelight is one of the many brands within the Monde-Agra family.”

“Did James win a scholarship?”

“Not exactly, Mrs. Delcosta.”

“However, we are pleased to inform you of an exciting new opportunity for James’s future. May we come inside?”

Maria looked from one man to the other and back again. “I suppose.” She pushed the door open and the two men stepped through. Maria led them over to the living room where the two of them sat on the couch and Maria sat facing them on a loveseat.

“Mrs. Delcosta, we’ll be frank,” Beard said. “Did you consume ChocoDelight while you were pregnant with your son James?”

“I… guess so? I don’t know that was ten years ago. I mean, probably, but I don’t specifically remember eating it.”

“Well, we have reason to believe that you did, and consequently, we have reason to believe that your son James has the MONAG7 gene.”

Maria blinked. “I wouldn’t know anything about that.”

“It’s extremely likely,” Glasses said. His hands were folded on together on his lap and he leaned forward in his seat. He reminded her of a guidance counselor she’d known in high school. “ChocoDelight has been known to alter the germ cells of men and women aged 24-35 who consume them.”

“Fetuses that develop from these cells may have the MONAG7 which can, in turn, express itself in easily identifiable ways in children at the age of 10.”

“Are you telling me your fucking cookies changed my genes?”

“Not at all, Mrs. Delcosta. But your eggs may have been altered as a result of choices you have made and products you have used.”

“This possibility is made clear on every package of ChocoDelight.”

“It’s hardly our fault if you didn’t read the End User License Agreement on the freshness seal.”

Maria sighed. “Alright, fine. My son has this gene, maybe. What’s your point?”

“Well, if your son carries this gene, then that means either you or the boy’s father passed it along to him.”

“MONAG7 is patented by Monde-Agra, Mrs. Delcosta. The act of procreating and thereby copying the gene violates that patent.”

Maria said nothing. Her body trembled with fear and anger. “And you’re going to sue me. You’re going to sue me for having children.”

“We don’t have to, Mrs. Delcosta.”

“You could simply remand James to our custody. His body does, after all, contain Monde-Agra’s intellectual property.”

“May we see James?”

“Absolutely not,” Maria said. “Get out of my home.”

Beard stood up. “Let me be a bit clearer. You will let us inspect James for signs of MONAG7, or we will alert the authorities, we will have you arrested, we will take everything that you own, and you will die alone and forgotten in a woman’s prison.”

“You can’t take my boy.”

“James Delcosta,” Glasses called out. “Come to the living room, please. My associate and I need to speak with you.”

A boy with light brown hair and a scared look on his face poked his head out of a doorway. Glasses waved him over.

“James, honey, don’t–”

Beard moved around behind the loveseat and set a firm hand on Maria’s shoulder. “Stay seated, Mrs. Delcosta.”

Glasses got down on one knee and looked James square in the eye. “Follow my finger, please,” he said to the boy. “Just with your eyes, not with your head. Look left. Now right. This is going to sting.”

“Ow!”

“How’s it look?” Beard asked.

Glasses shook a test tube and held it up. A single drop of red spread through the liquid inside and turned pink. “MONAG7-A negative. The child’s clean.” He slipped the vial into his pocket and tousled James’s hair. “Get out of here son.”

Beard lifted his hand off Maria’s shoulder. “That’s that, then. Thank you for your time, Mrs. Delcosta. Don’t get up. We’ll show ourselves out.”

“Mommy?” a soft voice called out. “What’s going on?”

A little girl stood in the hallway. She was wearing teddy bear pajamas and clutched a matching teddy bear in her hands.

“Nothing, baby,” Maria said. “These two men wanted to talk to Jimmy, but they were just leaving. Right?”

“Of course, of course.”

“Back to bed, sweetie. Naptime’s not over yet.”

“Mommy, I–”

“Bed, baby. Now.”

The little girl grunted her displeasure and turned around. Glasses smiled. “What a charming little girl. Is that your daughter?”

“Isabella, isn’t it?” Beard asked. “How old is she, Mrs. Delcosta? Four?”

Maria was silent, her lips pressed into an angry, thin line. Glasses and Bread paid her no mind. They both bowed their heads slightly and turned to leave.

“We’ll see you in again in six years, Mrs. Delcosta.”

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