Welcome Back, My Dear
Author: Ki hito renji
A Scientist’s Final Testament
Ten years ago. My father killed my fiancée.
My father stabbed her with a knife, and he killed himself by cutting his throat. I had fainted for the whole day because of my respected father’s atrocity and the shock of losing my loved one.
The day after the incident, I found a suicide note in my father’s study. It stated why father caused such a tragedy. This is the full text.
『For the purpose of conveying my true motive, this I bequeath.
As you know, I’m a scientist. I specialized in genetic engineering and was involved in cloning extinct animals. As a result of our group’s research, Japanese wolves and Woolly mammoths can now be seen in zoos.
But on the other hand, I was guilty. An unforgivable sin.
As atonement, I’m going to kill your girlfriend. I am overwhelmed with shameI can’t stand it, but I have to kill your loved one. What I am trying to do is correct the providence of disturbed nature, so to speak, the restoration of order.
For now, allow me to explain. Why is killing that girl an atonement? What does the restoration of order mean?
When you were still a baby. My wife, your mother, died in a tragic accident. I cried in front of your mother’s coffin. Until my heart became empty with tears.
From the perspective of this world as a whole, the death of one person would seem like atrivial event. Even if billions of passenger pigeons become extinct, it wouldn’t weigh on anyone’s mind.
But it’s different for me. I was deprived of a more precious and irreplaceable existence than any extinct animal. A family that was supposed to live together with the three of us. The woman who promised to share my life.
Why did she have to die?
This unanswered proposition is what torments me. No, this mode of speaking is simply to put up a front. I was lonely. I couldn’t stand a future without your mother!
If you have read this far, you can imagine the folly I committed afterwards.
Yes, I cloned your mother.
I have been involved in the regeneration of extinct animals on numerous occasions. I am very familiar with the cloning process. Somatic cells are harvested from a few discarded hair and flesh from the body, and nuclei containing genes are taken out. Then, the nucleus of the extinct animal is transplanted into the fertilized egg of a biologically close-edge species. Then, the fertilized egg with the gene of the extinct animal is completed. The rest can grow to a state called embryos and move them to the uterus of a closely related species to create a clone of an extinct animal. You know this basic principle, too.
Naturally, this principle can be applied to man. Fortunately, your mother’s cell samples were left in my bed. Her hair. And, the laboratory where I worked had state-of-the-art equipment at that time. In particular, AI-controlled precision manipulators, in particular, is a great tool that allows complex and delicate operations with the aid of Artificial Intelligence. Using this, even one person can carry out an experiment to take out your mother’s cell nucleus from the hair and transfer it to a fertilized egg.
I was stimulated. I dreamed of seeing my wife again. Perchance, you might have creeping doubt to this presentation. I wonder if the clone is different from the deceased individual. That’s right. I asked myself many times. But in the end, I ignored that question.
In modern times, there are many families welcoming clones of dead pets with tears. Clones are not the individuals they had. Still, to the family they were genetically and physically identical to the one they had lost, which helps to soothe their hearts.
It was the same for me. You don’t have to know the northern country we visited on your honeymoon. I was so nervous that You don’t have to remember the proposal that made your voice shrill with tension. I wanted to hold the hand that felt the same as my wife’s who was taken to heaven. That was all. I was living with all my heart to get her back from God.
Thus, I started the experiment that I could not reveal to anyone in my laboratory. I still remember it now. It was a closed room completely isolated from the outside, and at best it was a quiet night with only the roar of the air conditioning. I operated the manipulator while looking at the microscope monitor, and took out the nucleus from your mother’s hair which melted into muddy goo with the drug. And, the nucleus was removed from a human fertilized egg which had been kept for research on regenerative medicine, and transplanted your mother’s nuclei instead.
Up to this point, everything went well. The question is whether the fertilized egg will start cell division safely after this. To be clear, the probability of success was 50-50. The hand which grasped the control lever was sweaty.
Indeed, the fertilized egg began to divide. When the cracks run in the circle cells, they slowly divide at the boundary. I was relieved to observe such things through the monitor, and called to your mother who had given life to this world again.
「Welcome back, My dear.」
In this way, I performed my usual duties, but proceeded carefully. I was very busy, but halfway through I was not exposed to anyone.
There was a female researcher, the only one who looked my way. She noticed that one of the human fertilized eggs she had kept was missing. The numbers on record were tampered with, but a woman’s intuition is terrifying. She questioned me intensely and I finally confessed everything.
「I can’t say I’m shocked. The creation of cloned humans is prohibited by law. That’s common sense, isn’t it? I sympathize with the grief of losing family, but stop this at once.」
However, I did not flinch. Rather, I tried to bring her to my side. All scientists have the same hopes. Understand what the other person wants. That’s why I dared to reveal the whole picture of the plan.
「Well, I’ll do as you say. The world’s first achievement of human cloning will be buried in darkness. With precious life.」
「What does that mean?」
「It means that cloned embryos have already been created. The development is progressing, and will reach the stage where it can be transplanted into the uterus soon. I have also collected detailed data up to this point, but let’s discard that as well.」
「…… Show me that data.」
The hook caught a fish. I showed her the observation data of the cloned embryo. Her eyes are dyed with the color of curiosity. The inexorable nature of the scientist emerged.
「Now, you’re satisfied with this, aren’t you? The data and the cloned embryos should be disposed of early—」
「I’m not telling anyone.」
She said, softly.
「The world’s first human clone……It’s not ethical. But the clones are also innocent lives. I can’t kill them. Okay? I’m just unwilling. Don’t let anyone know what you’re about to do, and let the clones live without knowing that they are clones. That’s the absolute requirement of this joint research.」
I nodded. Yes, that’s fine. Scientists are pioneers of unknown territory. If there is an unexplored ground, I cannot help but set foot in it. And even if I don’t, eventually someone will realize a human clone. If technically possible, it is only a matter of time.
Thus, having obtained an accomplice, I steadily advanced to the birth of your mother’s clone. However, the plan was forced to stagnate when it came to the stage of transplantation to the womb.
Obviously, the uterus exists only in women. In other words, we have to find a surrogate mother who will accept the cloned embryos and give birth. In developing countries, some women take on a surrogate mother as a business. I was thinking of relying on them, but it was harder than I expected to go through the procedure in secret. My partner’s belly crossed my mind, but she was married and had no obligation to have a child other than her husband’s. It will probably be rejected if appealed.
I was at a loss before the low-temperature vault containing cloned embryos. Before I knew it, I was at a loss for this project itself.
Despite the help of my colleagues, I was exhausted. While doing my daily work, I live a private, double life.
I was becoming reckless, what would your mother up in heaven think of me like that?
I saw a picture of your mother on the desk of the laboratory. She silently looks back at me. It seemed to comfort me, and to accuse her husband of disobedience to God.
Right at that point. I got a call from my sister, your aunt, who was taking care of you as a baby. You had a high fever and was hospitalized. At that time, I was so overwhelmed by my work and my secret plans that I was totally ignorant of you.
Your mother sleeping in a casket revived in my mind, and I couldn’t stand it. I left work early and headed to the hospital where you were.
Fortunately, thanks to the quick treatment, you’ve gotten better. As I was relieved, lying on a small bed, my sister, who was beside me, sighed.
「Brother. This child was saved. But what would have happened if I hadn’t been there?」
「Yeah, I know. I really appreciate it.」
「I’m asking you not to rely on me forever. You may be busy, but brother is the father of this child, isn’t he? You have to watch over your son’s growth with your own strength. Actually, I don’t think it’s what Sister-in-law would have wished for.」
Your mother’s wish. To speak such unexpected words, I became flustered darn it. The question I had pretended to have not realized, it came to me again.
Your mother, I wonder what she wants. I decided to return her to this world as a clone.
By cloning your mother, am I not, on the contrary, toying with her life?
It was not as a scientist, but the human reasoning that had always appealed to me.
I gently stroked your cheeks as you slept. You slowly opened your eyes and smiled like an angel. I was sucked into those eyes. There was a starry sky. The night sky in the northern country we looked up at with your mother, just as we had a wedding. The sparkle of the clear star dwelled in my son’s eyes.
I know a woman with such eyes. Your mother was full of hope for life. Her eyes were also beautiful. The starry sky that kept watching over me was inherited by my son in this way. She is not gone. Life is connected, and it lives in front of me like this.
I should have realized it earlier. My mission is not to take your mother back from God. It was to protect her son who had a shining star.
I held you up gently. And I hugged you. You cried, but I loved even that.
The next day. I called my colleague to an empty lab, and told her we would destroy the cloned embryos.
「What do you mean? I’m involved in this!」
「I was wrong. I’m really sorry I got you involved. And….
And a cloned human should not be born due to personal ego. No man can be a copy of another.」
「That I’ve known for a long time! That fact was the basis of my consent, wasn’t it? It’s still an embryo now, but if you transplant it into the womb, it’ll be born as a respectable person! But to destroy it… kill it… is the very height of the ego!」
「Is there no clear definition of how far the fertilized egg can be raised to be recognized as human? If you really want to be clear, you can take it to court. You and I can go public with what we did. Will you do that?」
My colleague held her tongue.
「Whatever the reason, I don’t approve of this. That’s an innocent life.」
「I know. I will not continue my work. I will quit here soon. You can pretend you don’t know anything and continue your research.」
The other staff came into the lab and the conversation was called off. My colleague clenched her fist as she went out the door.
That night. Looking out so there were no people, I threw the container with your mother’s cloned embryos into the waste disposal bin. I apologize in my heart, sorry for my selfishness.
Later, I submitted my resignation. At the same time, my colleagues discovered that she was pregnant, and she had left the laboratory to focus on childcare. An ominous premonition blurred my mind. However, the premonition was driven into the depths of my consciousness as I was devoted to raising a child and looking for work.
And for a long time, I lived with sin. The sin of trying to revive the dead. For the crime of killing the life that was about to be born. I also had a vague premonition that if there was a God, I might one day be punished.
In fact, the punishment was inflicted. in too unexpected a manner.
After retiring from the institute, I was working on developing new drugs as a researcher at the pharmaceutical company. You grew up very quickly and studied genetic engineering as an excellent graduate student. You said that you wanted to be a scientist like your father, and while I was proud, I also felt what could only be described as insatiable regret.
And that day came. The day you introduced me to that girl.
I was invited to a local restaurant without knowing why, and I met you in front of the store, restlessly checking the screen of your cell phone.
「What’s the matter, why so restless?」
When I asked, you scratched your head, seeming troubled.
「I’m sorry, Dad, actually, there’s someone else coming. But apparently, the train is late. They’re supposed to arrive soon.」
Even I, who was so dull-witted, could easily read your intentions. My mouth just got loose.
「If you want to introduce your girlfriend, say it clearly. Mostly. if you like her that much, I won’t meddle.」
When I said that, your cheeks suddenly turned red. That honesty is your mother’s policy.
「Stop it. Anyway, I want you to meet her, because she’s such a nice person.」
When I heard that, I was so thrilled. A son who was small enough to hold in my arm has fallen in love and is trying to introduce her. I was deeply impressed with the fact that my child grew into an adult. Where is the father who is not excited at such a moment?
Then, a few minutes later. I heard a voice that I couldn’t have.
「I’m sorry! I’m late!」
You smiled cheerfully and waved to the voice’s owner. I looked back, feeling the chill creeping up the spine.
The moment the woman was in sight, my heart froze.
There, was your mother. A youthful wife when I just met her!
「I’m so sorry! How long have you waited?」
「It’s not much. More than that, in the shop…… Hey Dad, what’s going on?」
While caught in my blank amazement, you’ve been asking at me with a very puzzled expression. Well, it’s not unreasonable. I must have been as pale as if I had seen a ghost.
「Oh, nothing, I’m sorry. Then I’ll ask you to show me around.」
I managed to regain my composure, so I went into the restaurant with you. Then I glanced at the profile of the woman who came late. After all it is similar. It was too similar. With your mother from college like peas in a pod!
You introduced her to me at the table. Her name was enough to reinforce the suspicions in my mind.
「We had a seminar together at university. I felt like we were getting along and before I knew it, we started dating.」
You were staring at each other, laughing shyly. What a pleasant sight it would have been if she had not looked like your mother.
Do you remember when I asked her a few questions? That was an affirmation process. About the truth too horrible.
「It’s your name, but your last name sounds familiar. By any chance, your mother used to research cloning of extinct animals, didn’t she?」
Her expression brightened up quickly.
「Ah! You know it after all! That’s right! When my mom got pregnant, incidentally she quit her job, but when she heard from your son that uncle had worked for the same research institute, she told me that he might have been a colleague. It’s a great coincidence!」
The speculation that should never be possible is getting more and more realistic. I asked the last question. The answer is no longer clear, but the question I wanted to be wrong.
「You seem to be bright and considerate. I’m sure your blood type is Type A.」
She laughed without a care. The location of the dimples was also the same.
「’A’ no way, how did you know? Never thought you would guess right!」
It was a very charming smile. It makes sense that you fell in love. Your mother’s smile is irreplaceable to both you and I.
Unable to bear her smile, I ran into the restroom of the shop and leaked a low sob.
Your mother’s cloned embryos were not destroyed. What I threw away was probably an experimental cloned animal embryo. There can be only one culprit who could have replaced it. That girl’s mother, a former colleague of mine.
Your mother’s cloned embryos were cleverly hidden. In the belly of my former colleague, in the womb!
As mentioned earlier, the laboratory had an AI-controlled automatic precision manipulator. If that machine can do any precision work, it is possible to perform human surgery automatically by controlling AI if it is prepared in advance. It is even possible to transplant embryos into the womb.
My former colleague used the manipulator to transplant cloned embryos into her uterus. And, the clone was born as her daughter after leaving the laboratory on the pretext of the pregnancy and she raised it. In terms of circumstances, from that appearance and blood type above all, I can only surmise so!
I remember my last conversation with my former colleague. ‘Whatever the reason, I don’t approve of this. That’s an innocent life’.
Innocent life. Indeed, she said so. However, never could I imagine she would make off with the clone using her own belly. Why did you do that? Did something like maternal instinct spring up in that woman without my knowledge?
No, my former colleague’s feeling doesn’t matter what. More important is this bad taste and ironic coincidence! More so, my child fell in love with my wife’s clone … his mother!
From the day I thought I had destroyed the embryos, I stopped displaying your mother’s picture in the place where I could see it. The reason is that I was not able to be calm every time I saw her face. However, it backfired. You who grew up without knowing your mother’s face, and you never dreamed that your girlfriend would be a copy of your dead mother.
My vision was distorted. The world was spinning greatly. I couldn’t breathe as if my throat had been crushed. Thence, I wrung out a thin scream.
Oh God! If you are there, please answer me! Why are you doing this? I should be the only one who is punished. Why should a child repay the consequences of his parents actions? Why did you keep a dead person alive?
「Dad! Hey, are you okay? Dad!」
You who came to see how I was, knocking on the door of the restroom. I took a deep breath many times, wiped off the sweat, and left the restroom.
「I’m sorry to worry you. I’m fine.」
「You’re not fine, Dad. You have to go home and rest today.」
I complained that it wasn’t necessary, but you, who knew nothing, cared for me and let her go home first.
「Please take good care. I hope to see you again when you feel well.」
I shook her hand as she held it out. It was the same warmth as it used to be. And she smiled with a mix of nostalgia and fear.
When I got home, you made me lie down on the bed. You’re a kind child, really. I’m so proud of you.
And you said to me timidly…
「Dad, it’s been hard raising me alone, wasn’t it? But I’m going to marry her when I go out into society. I’ve already made a promise. Then you’ll leave this house and live with us. That’s why my dad’s going to be able to unload his burdens, and I feel like I can do well with her. Somehow, or however, right?」
At that time, I gave you a bitter laugh. It was a blessing to you, but also a lament for me.
「Yes. That’s right. You’re a good couple.」
I have a knife with a blade of thirty centimeters in my hand now. It is the one with the high killing power which was secretly circulated on the net. With this, even I can kill that girl.
I wielded a life by my ego. I tried to restore the life that would have been lost forever, and put an end to the life that would not have been born.
Your mother is dead. She has to be dead. Your girlfriend’s presence in this world is unnatural. The providence of nature must be corrected. With my own hands as a sinner. That is the adjustment of order and the Atonement.
Son, I’m so sorry. I’ll take your loved one. But I want you to understand. In any case, you must not be tied. The affection you have for her is not that of men and women. Because you just unconsciously misunderstood your longing for your deceased mother.
This is the end of the lengthy explanation. It’s about time that girl came home from college. I have to go.
This time I’ll do it. Bring the world back to the way it should be.』
After a long time, I tore the suicide note into pieces and threw it in the trash can in the garage.
“Dad. You’re a really terrible person. How can you do the same thing when you know the sadness of being deprived of someone you care about? I don’t understand.”
My father, who would have fallen into hell, will have no way of knowing my suffering afterwards. Suddenly my loved one was killed, and she had no fault. Everything was only to clean up the blunder that father had committed himself. Is it okay, for something so unreasonable?
Dad. You cut not only her but also my heart into tatters. But, Dad, I’ve been moving forward. I became a genetic engineer, the same as you, and…
I pushed the switch of the artificial uterus capsule. It’s the latest device that my father didn’t have when he was a researcher. With this, it is possible to grow embryos without the need for surrogate mothers. Even if it’s not a special research facility, if you have a precision manipulator and an artificial uterus capsule, you can create a clone even in your garage.
The lid of the capsule has opened. A lovely newborn baby is sleeping in it. When I took the umbilical cord tube connected to the navel, I heard a cheerful voice. I gently lifted up the baby.
I’ve lost my loved ones twice. Mom and my fiancé. My father wrote that she should not be tied to me. But the murderer is not entitled to such a thing. Even if she was a clone of my mother, she was the only one to me. So I took her back like this. What’s wrong with trying to get her back? My father seems to regret it at the end, but I have no regrets. Even God wouldn’t complain.
Hugging the crying baby, I called on my partner, who was my mother and promised to love her all my life.
“Welcome back, My dear”
Hi everyone! How you enjoyed this months Short Story. Aimed for a deeper tale with an existential conundrum and a dose of man’s hubris. The kind of story that’s presents a scenario and makes us ask, ‘Should we?’.
I mean, in the end, that child is the man’s Mother, Lover and Daughter (maybe). How else will he explain her away?
It was an interesting moral tale and hopefully very engaging. Do comment your thoughts, impressions and opinions on this one below. Hope it becomes a long discussion.
Till next month’s short.