As Lily makes her way down the sterile hallway to find her parents, she reels from her conversation in the restroom. She’s spooked by the whole baby discussion. She goes to her parent’s office. When she arrives, there is no answer to the door’s buzzer. The female voice comes from the speaker again and tells Lily her parents were called to an unexpected meeting and would return in an hour.
“There’s no way that I’m going to sit on a concrete floor for an hour. I am here as an intern with my parents. I got a Level Two security clearance for this. I did all the paperwork to be in the meetings. Tell me where they are and let me in. If you don’t, I’ll report you.” The voice hesitates and then asks her to hold. Lily is not nearly as brave as she is trying to sound. She’s unnerved by Lucie’s prognosis that today is the day she will get pregnant. One thing she knows for sure—this cannot happen if she stays with her parents.
The voice from the speaker is back. “Lily, your parents are in Lab 2. If you follow the hallway to the right, you will see a blue door. I will open it for you. Once you go through the blue door, follow the signs to Lab 2.”
“Thank you. I apologize if I was rude.”
“No worries. Have a good day here at Humanetics.”
Lily reaches the blue door and gains access from security. There is nothing here but more doors. She walks halfway down the hallway and sees a door that is slightly ajar. She hears voices coming from inside. Not wanting to wait in a hallway again, she places her ear close to the door to listen. She hears her father in what appears to be a heated discussion.
“Dr. Parker, don’t you dare stand there and tell me that we cannot proceed with the implantation today. This is not an option. Do you understand me? Fix this now!”
“Dr. Abbott, I know you are intent on your schedule as every player is here waiting to proceed, but what can I do about a death? I can’t fix this.”
“You will fix it. A surrogate is the smallest detail of this massive project. One billion dollars is on the line today, Parker. If this implantation fails, the entire project fails. You have one hour to find me a surrogate. If you fail, you and your wife will be fired!”
The doctor slams the door to an adjoining room. Lily watches as her mother tries to console her father. Deborah is in tears. Lily has never seen her mother cry. She pushes the door open.
Lily’s father turns around to face her. “Lily, why are you in this area? You were supposed to wait in our office. I was adamant about this with the building manager.”
“She told me to come here. She buzzed me through. What is going on, Mom? Why is Dad so upset? Why is that doctor yelling? Who died?”
Deborah walks to Lily and holds her hands. “The lady who died is a woman who offered her services as a surrogate for Humanetics. It is no secret to you we work in the genetic germline sciences. When we had a baby to develop to full term, this surrogate would be implanted and carry it for the parents. We have known her for four years. We did not know her well, but this is still upsetting. She came here today for the implantation of a very special embryo. She died about thirty minutes ago.”
“Evidently, she lost her footing and fell down a flight of stairs and broke her neck in the stairwell leading to the lab area. We can see her fall on the surveillance camera, but we cannot see the source of her imbalance. Security is investigating, but nothing is clear yet.”
“Wow. That is spooky. But, why is the doctor mad at you?”
“The embryo was being kept in a suspended state until today. It is now what we call “ripe for implantation.” If we do not implant this baby within three hours, she will die. We don’t know everything about this particular embryo, but Dr. Abbott has been very excited about it.”
“Can’t you call someone else to be a surrogate?”
“It’s not that easy. She has to be young and healthy. We need to know her background and habits. She has to commit to being sequestered for nine months in Israel. She must also have a Level Two security clearance. As you have seen firsthand, this can take months.”
Lily sees the door behind her parents beginning to ease open. She is worried that the angry doctor is returning to continue yelling at her parents. Instead, it is Lucie. She mouths a message to Lily: “This is your mission.” She softly closes the door.
Lily feels chills run through her body. She hears herself speaking what she was not even allowing herself to think, “I’ll do it. I’ll be the surrogate.”