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The Cost of Youth

June 13, 2018

Judge Melvin had almost decided to take a nap. His judgment pod hovered twenty feet above the pod. No one would notice. Anyway, it was 2102! This case deserved to be ignored. Experimenting on Unwanted children under the age of personhood had been legal for at least fifty years. Nevertheless, the evidence was brought forward. Joel Perkins testified that on April twenty-ninth he found Saran Tellin's dead body behind Dr. Amherst's private laboratory.

                                                             One witness never came forward.

    They called him Musca Domestica. He assumed it was scientific lingo for fly because that was what he was. His mother was silly enough to lay him in the lunch room of Dr. Amherst's laboratory. Dr. Stekenowski, his assistant, couldn't resist a free test subject. Musca Domestica didn't complain. Due to the various experiments inflicted on him, his life span and intellect had been dramatically expanded.
   Dr. Stekenowski ambled into the main office, reading out of an open folder. Her pale and watery robotic eyes scanned the tiny print favored by Homes for Unwanted Children. "She's five," Dr. Stekenowski said. "Can we experiment on a five-year-old?"
    "The age of personhood was raised to six yesterday," Dr. Amherst responded, without looking up from the screen he held in his prosthetic hands.  
    Dr. Stekenowski laughed. "She won't live that long."
    Dr. Amherst frowned. He had nothing against experimenting on children. He did not, however, believe that science and humor mixed well. When he looked up, he saw Musca Domestica standing on the faintly glowing screen-walls. "I wish you'd kill that fly. It's illegal to experiment on animals and insects."
    "I've tried. It always manages to fly away." Dr. Stekenowski laughed at her horrendous pun.
    "That wasn't even funny," Musca Domestica muttered--Dr. Stekenowski had enabled him to speak.
    He decided to pay the girl a visit. The glass walls of her cell soon revealed her. Sobbing had flushed her rounded cheeks, and her brown eyes were swollen. Her curly brown hair frizzed about her face. The fly knew nothing, yet everything, about her. She was an Unwanted below the age of personhood. This little girl, crouching on the cold tile, belonged to anyone willing to fill out the necessary paperwork and pay the fee.
    Musca Domestica flew to her shoulder and perched near her tiny ear. "What's your name?" he asked, knowing most people could not hear his whisper-like voice.
    "Who's there?" she asked, surprising him.
    "I'm the fly on your shoulder!" He answered.
    "I can't see you."
    "I'm hiding so you won't squash me!" he yelled in his loudest whisper.
    "Oh. I guess if you talk I won't squash you."
    "Very kind of you. What's your name?"
    "Don't have one. Don't like the ones people have called me."
    "Give me a name you do like, then!"
   "Amy," she answered quickly. "Do flies have names?"
    "Call me Musca Domestica."
    Amy thought for a few seconds. "I'll call you Moose." 
    "Moose" liked the change of name. He flew away, deciding to find out what exactly the doctoral duo were going to do Amy. He discovered them in the midst of a casual conversation.
    "We have enough money to last for a while longer," Dr. Stekenowski said with a yawn.
    "We'll run out in less than six months," Dr. Amherst protested. "We need to get funding now!"
    "Theoretically, no one questions child experimentation, but the public is not ready to know that it actually happens."   
    Dr. Amherst sighed. He couldn't understand the backwardness of the human race. "When women watch their wrinkles disappear, they won't care if we killed one or two Unwanteds."
    "Precisely. Until then, we must be secretive."
    Moose watched the scientist fill Amy's cell with a thick, dark brown gas. He could not see her, but her shrieks made his antennae quiver. Dr. Amherst pushed a green button and the gas whooshed out of the room. The gas turned Amy's pink skin to a pallid gray, and wrinkles slashed her cheeks like knife wounds. The scientists unsealed the door and Moose entered. He rested on her unnaturally aged hand.
    "I hurt, Moose," she whimpered.
    "I'm sorry, Amy."
    She closed her eyes and the tears seeped from under her lids. The scientist ate lunch and returned. Moose hid under her hand while they injected Edenskin into her tiny arm. He jumped in terror as her skin began to tighten over her fingers and lose some grayness.
    "Not far enough," Dr. Amherst muttered. He tapped his fake hands together and left the room to make chemical adjustments. 
    The next day they repeated the process. Her skin loosened, wrinkled, and grayed, then tightened and pinked.
    "Still not far enough," Dr. Amherst sighed. 
    "Moose!" she yelled after they left. "Where are you, Moose?"  
    "She's dying faster than I expected," Dr. Stekenowski commented. 
    Moose crawled back on her shoulder. "Don't shout," he told her. "You don't want them to be angry!" 
    "I'm gonna die, Moose." 
    "How do you know?" he asked. 
    "I just do." Her exhausted eyes looked at him placidly.  
    "You don't mind?" 
    She didn't answer. They dosed her with Edenskin. Moose crawled under the door and saw a forty-five-year-old face lying on the floor. You can only turn ninety so many times. 
    He flew shakily back to Dr. Amherst's office.
"I wonder if anywhere in my modifications, biting capabilities were enhanced," Moose thought. He dived toward Dr. Amherst's hand. Dr. Amherst slapped him away.
    "Where can I go? Where can I escape my dead Amy?" Moose shuddered. He stared longingly up at the light fixture on the ceiling. "I will get to it."
    "That fly is finally dead. It's body is in the light fixture," Dr. Amherst commented. 
    "How can you tell?" Dr. Stekenowski asked. 
    "Look for yourself. There's no doubting who that ugly body belongs to." 

Judge Melvin detested this case. It bored him. He secretly doodled on scrap of e-paper:
    A little bit of bloodshed,
    A low price to pay,
    Low price for a pretty face,
    The simple cost of youth.

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