From the Science-Fiction series, The VOX of SU’s SHELL
“Love is born into every human being; it calls back the halves of our original nature together; it tries to make one out of two and heal the wound of human nature.” — Plato, The Symposium
Part of Je’s struggle with being human had a lot to do with her birth.
She struggled to find her individuality in a sea of genetic clones.
Je was a quadruplet. As if she was not enough for the world, she came into the world in multitude.
“According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs, and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into to separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.” — Plato, The Symposium
If Greek mythology described her birth, she would have come from the moon as a hermaphroditic conjoined twin with eight legs, eight arms, and four heads. In fear of their power, Zeus would have split them in four as a creative solution to diminish their strength.
The quadruplets were not all identical to each other, but two sets of identical twins; and, they were not just two sets of identical twins, but pairs of ‘mirror twins.’
There is a difference between types of twins, and the difference splits at the fabric of the womb. Fraternal twins come from the fertilization of two eggs, but identical twins form by the impregnation of one egg that splits to create a clone.
Even further, if the egg splits early on, the identical twins are separated by the placenta and amniotic sacs. And if the eggs divide even later, they share the same placenta, but form in different sacs. In rare occasions, the eggs will split after the sac has developed and the twins share both the placenta and the sac giving rise to twins that are mirror images of one another. If the egg takes any longer to split, the twins are born conjoined.
Je was part of two sets of mirror images. So, the quadruplet’s birth was a rare phenomenon.
The pregnancy of multiples was said to be a spontaneous, random occurrence. At least unbeknownst to Je’s mother, Pilar had not taken any fertility medications that would have contributed to such a rare phenomenon.
While Pilar and her husband Albert Mendel had planned the pregnancy, they had not expected it in multitude.
However, Je would come to find that there was nothing random or spontaneous about the creation of the quads.
After taking years of genetics in her scientific training, she began to question the nature of her birth. The chances of two sets of identical twins were approximately one in 70 million. Being that Pilar was not on fertility medications, the chances were even smaller. Even further, mirror image twins occur in only one percent of twins.
As it turns out, the year Je was born, there was an exceptionally high rate of “spontaneous” multiples born throughout the West. The increase of multiples was in part due to fertility intervention. But even in the absence of medical interference, there was a rise. Blinded eugenic experimentation on families with specific genetic profiles caused the unexplained surge.
Eugenic experimentation was carried out by the covert NASI veil. The NASI conducted eugenic testing throughout the westernized world. Genetic profiles that were of interest include, but were not limited to, subjects negative or null for the Rhesus (Rh; Rh-neg or Rh-null) factor, O type blood (O-type Rh-neg or O-type Rh-null), a genetic mutation of the CCR5 gene (CCR5-Delta32), and evolved p53 and DTNBP1 genes. These genetic variables were of interest because they are of universal blood donors who demonstrate resistance to deadly pathogens and cancers, and associated with high intelligence and psychic abilities.
The Human Eugenics Research (HER) project coincided with the discovery of the DNA double helix in the 1950s. Shortly after, newborn screening for genetic disorders became a federal mandate. The information gathered for HER preceded the Human Intelligence Machine (HIM) project, behavioral profiling from global intelligent data collection. The NASI paired the programs by matching the genetic profiles from HER with the data from HIM.
Alongside the eugenics experiments, was the purification from those considered to be genetically inferior, by inducing infertility and spreading infection. Citizens independent on the government for survival or had a criminal record were blindly neutered with chemicals and inoculated with virulence factors.
The union between Pilar and Albert were of special interest to the NASI because Pilar was null for the Rh factor and had a beneficial anomaly in the p53 gene. Whereas Albert was negative for the Rh factor, and they were both positive for the beneficial mutation for the CCR5 and DTNBP1 genes. Neither Albert nor Pilar had any knowledge of their genetic makeup and mutually beneficial genetic match.
Albert and Pilar became TOIs for the NASI after they were born and their newborn screening records indicated positive results for multiple genetic markers of interest.
When they registered to marry, blood and genetic testing confirmed the beneficial match, which appropriated them into the HER and HIM project without consent.
The NASI controlled all patient and registry data and regulated the medical and pharmaceutical industry.
Unbeknownst to the newly wedded Mendels’, Pilar received fertility meds at the doctors that made her susceptible to pregnancy with multiples.
When the doctors first told Albert and Pilar, they were having twins; they felt doubly blessed. But, at 22 weeks Pilar found herself in the emergency room with a doctor standing over her saying, “Do you want the good news or the bad news first?”
Albert cringed and said, “just give it to us straight doc.”
“Well, you are not just having twins,” said the doctor, “you are pregnant with two sets of twins.”
Albert stumbled, as he tried to sit down in the chair next to Pilar. Pilar’s mouth dropped, and she began to sob. She wanted a family but was not ready to give birth to a liter.
The doctor followed the good news with, “…they have little chance of surviving if we can’t stop you from going into labor.”
The doctors did everything they could to stop the labor, but Pilar was too weak.
Albert was shocked about the instant increase in his family’s size but devastated at the thought of losing any of the babies. But he was mostly concerned about losing his wife.
Pilar was a petite woman. Even though she was only 22 weeks pregnant, the quadruplets became parasitic to her. The longer she remained pregnant, the less chance she would have at surviving.
After 24 hours in the hospital, Pilar took a turn for the worse.
The doctor gave Albert an impossible decision: “It is either the babies or your wife? What do you want us to do?” The doctors pleaded urgently.
Albert didn’t need long to think about the question, he told them, “do anything you can to save my wife.”
As fate would have it, Pilar survived as well as the babies.
The quads were less than a pound when they were born, and isolated to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), for the first few months of their lives. At the time, they were the smallest and youngest quadruplets to survive childbirth in history.
Albert could hold the twins in the palm of his hand, with just their little feet and hands sticking out the sides.
Mary was identical to Chela, and Calev to Michael.
Mary and Chela would come to go by the nicknames Je and Che, while the boys would never be given another name nor go by their given names, at least not by their family.
Calev and Michael disappeared from the hospital right before the hospital released the twins.
It was as the Greek God Zeus cast them away to ensure the twins would go through life with the same deep ache all humans do, endlessly searching for a part of themselves that they feel is missing.
The twin boys disappeared without a trace.
Pilar and Albert never recovered from the loss.
America’s Unsolved Mysteries showcased the disappearance of the twin boys before the twin girls were old enough to understand and too young to remember. Pilar and Albert never told the twin girls that they had twin brothers. However, the girls learned about the episode many years later when they were old enough to watch the reruns.
When the twins came crying to their parents about what they had learned, Albert and Pilar woke up from their state-of-denial. They spent so much time trying to forget about the episode, that they didn’t take into consideration that the girls could learn about their twin brothers by watching a rerun.
It wasn’t that Albert and Pilar were trying to keep the information from the twins as much as they never really discussed an appropriate time to tell them.
Inherently Je knew there were other twins because of a reoccurring dream she had throughout her childhood.
In the dream, she would be drowning in deep crashing waves of the Red Sea. Every time she would try to come up for air, she would grab onto baby feet; when Je no longer had the strength to fight past the crashing waves and gave up treading, the Red Sea would part. Je would find herself standing across from her twin sister in the parted sea.
Both Je and Che had the same reoccurring dream in various forms, which they assumed psychologically stemmed from the traumatic experience of their birth.
The worst part for Pilar and Albert was that they never got closure.
How could someone walk out of an ICU with a set of twins?
How could they survive?
How would they survive?
How come no one in the hospital knew a thing about their disappearance?
As to say, you had two sets of twins, and you were only expecting one, we thought you wouldn’t notice if a couple went missing.
There were cameras and a check-in process to get into ICU, but the perpetrators were said to have taken all footage during the quietest hours of the night.
It was most likely an inside job, but no one would talk.
Je’s family would not survive the loss of the twin boys, nor would they escape the truth about the NASI eugenic experiments. However, it would be a long journey before they would find out the truth of their origin.