Harvard, MA–Harvard geneticist Dr. Angstrom H. Troubador is looking for a surrogate mother for the world’s first Neanderthal clone. “She needs a robust frame and a highly elastic birth canal. These Neanderthal babies are serious business!”
In his ill-lit basement lab at Harvard, Dr. Troubador hovers over a microscope, sourrounded by glowing amber jars of half-formed specimens. He speaks ceaselessly of features the surrogate mother must have, thinking not only of physiological concerns but also of the welfare of the child. “I want to test the mother, and find one with a high percentage of trace Neanderthal DNA. She needs a big face, you know, bulky eyebrows and a long nose. It’ll help her bond with the child.”
Dr. Troubador relaxes for a second, withdrawing from the microscope. He caresses a jar, and mumbles something to himself. “What was that?” I say. Inside the jar is a seemingly-humanoid fetus covered in reptilian scales.
“Nothing. A failed experiment.” He mumbles again, but I think I hear “my son.” The man’s loneliness moves me, so I put a hand on his shoulder and squeeze. He begins to sob and splutter on about the features of the Neanderthal baby’s mother.
“She’d have to be so compassionate, like no one I’ve ever met. This Neanderthal baby will be the most alienated being on Earth, and I want him to have the mother he deserves, because it’s not likely he’ll have much else.” He trails off again, and I think I hear a “just like me,” somewhere. Dr. Troubador’s fiery red hair becomes obtrusive, and I cannot look away. Is this man a Neanderthal? My hand recoils from his shoulder in disgust, and he wheels around in his chair, staring me down with his robust face. He sees that I know, and seizes my shirt collar. His powerful Neanderthal hands lift me into the air. “You son of a bitch! It’s you, you fucking homo sapiens who killed my people.” His mad-scientist cackle is colored with the deep gutturals one would expect from a stocky-framed Neanderthal.
Dr. Troubador’s rage passes almost instantly, as if he suddenly remembers something more important. I am back on the ground, and he is sobbing again. “Science maintains that Neanderthals went extinct 30,000 years ago. That is not true. I was raised in a secret cave system in France, the bastard son of a human woman the brutes kept around as a rape toy. Well, they’re not really brutes, in fact they’re quite intelligent. In some ways, they’re much smarter than humans. Their views on sex aren’t very progressive, but you live in a cave with about thirty people for 30,000 years and you’ll get a little rapey too. They liked to abduct human women–it keeps the genetic diversity up. I escaped during one of their rape-raids.”
“So you’re not really trying to clone a Neanderthal. You’re just looking for a wife who can bear your child, right?”
Dr. Troubador picks up the jar with the malformed child and nods. His rage returns as quickly as it left, and he screams as he smashes the jar on the ground, covering both of us with formaldehyde and viscera. Clutching a shard of the jar in one bleeding hand, Dr. Troubador stalks towards me as I back towards the exit.
“Don’t you tell no one! No one! I’ll fucking kill you and rape your family, you fucking swine! Neanderthals will have our revenge! This is our planet!”
No being in the world is more confused than a half-Neanderthal.