At eight and three quarter months the baby was developing normally, and now the light above the machine was changing to green, which meant she could insert the chip of personality traits and abilities she wished her child to enjoy. Gone, thank goodness, were those primitive days, when people had to express emotion by more than touching fingers, and having children meant distorting and possibly damaging your body.
Before she made her final decision, Sandra 526 Bland looked at the sexual orientation meter which revealed the growing baby to be personality base Five. “Brilliant: she could go for a range of talents selected as suitable and available at this time for a child of this blending by the Ministry of Social Harmony and Agriculture. Her child would be a sports enthusiast, but with underlying sensitivity; possibly a talent for painting. That would be enjoyable”. She turned to her husband Opaque 138 Bland, and said” He is going to be a type Five” . “That is good” Opaque 138 nodded, and continued to watch a sparrow reading its newspaper on a tree across the road.
She inserted the character chip into the Womberlater, confident that the child would be as she desired, plus having the ability to speak twenty eight languages from birth, ignoring engineering terms which were considered outside his personality banding. Along with the Womberlater births of all species where now subject to due processing by the Ministry of Normalcy, which meant humans could enjoy the sense of other species, but without being eaten or having the windscreen of their autoflyers blotched by passing animal effluent, to use a sanitized expression. Personality inserted, she returned to doing her virtual jigsaw puzzle, which was a hologram of an antique drawing depicting a retro man looking at what her history group had revealed were called books.
Sure enough, at exactly nine months from ‘initialisation’ the new buzz word for sex; an act which no longer required the tedium of bodily contact, the baby, designated name Opaque 139, was announced to be ready to participate in the household. His mother lifted him out of the device, and slipped his ‘permagrow’ clothing on. An item that would remain on him for his entire life, but change fashion, size,style and cut depending on his age and the mood of the day, as issued by the Ministry of Motivation, with due diligence supplied by the Ministry of Resource Management and Planetary Stabilisation.
Once in his cot, the baby spoke, “I’m sorry to bother you, but could I have some milk.” Some things, it seems, never change and poor old Sandra 526 had to go the Kitchenator to get some. While she was there, she inserted a pod of nutrients, roughage and vitamins into the Cookerater, and pressed ‘Random’: it was nice occasionally to surprise yourself with an unstructured meal and she felt like marking the day. She returned to the baby with the milk, in a container of largely traditional design, and the baby took a few swigs, before Sandra 526 noticed she had injected it with her husbands illicit supply of Jack Daniels, a cult liquid reputed to take imbibers to something resembling paradise within a few sips.
Sure enough, or not sure enough, depending on your viewpoint, the baby began to wave his arms around and sing some fairly fruity songs composed on the terraces of football grounds over a hundred years before: heaven knows how they had survived ‘social values screening’ but it was too late to worry about that now. Within moments, a siren sounded, and a light flashed outside their apartment.
“Unschooled behaviour: Unschooled behaviour” said the tannoy in a reproachful but not condemnatory tone, the result of much tweeking from Government physcologists, and both Sandra 526 and Opaque 138, knew that questions without convenient answers would soon be posed. Emotions were expressed.