The Second Species

This story is the winning entry from the Science-Fiction Story Writing Competition, part of the 65th Annual Science Festival, organised by Scintilla Science Club of Saint Joseph Higher Secondary School, Dhaka. SHOUT was a media partner at this event.

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Raeh grasped those slipping words through Hyraan's eyes as they took their time to blink. It hasn't been that long since people invented yet another way to communicate – the Netrospeech; a fusion of blinking and Morse code.

A hundred years ago humans welcomed a new species of their kind, Homo debilis-sagax. Since then, human civilization has come past the idea of "development", and was moving forth with the hankering for the last offering nature has in store for them.

While balancing Hyraan's "cranial adjuster", Raeh made sure his ending seconds were comfortable enough.  No, she wasn't one of the second species like Hyraan, she belonged to the species that lagged behind the race of evolution.

It was the year 4000. Neurologist Krigia officially declared the existence of a new human species. Needless to say, the response was everything but welcoming. Science had advanced a lot back then, but the ability to incorporate rationality and creativity among the consciousness of the general public was a far cry from the advances that were made.

The second species was an unexpected gift of mother nature; they were her result of countless failed creations which were deemed as untoward mutations. About 2000 years ago, before the species was recognised, humans received the first trace of such a mutation. They called it "progeria"; an extremely rare, progressive genetic disorder that caused children to age rapidly.

No matter how rare and unexpected something is, it's needless to say that wealth and creativity never go in vain. The indignant nature stormed off in an endeavour to "gift" the humans their desired capability to conquer the world.

Beep. Beep. The sounds interrupted Raeh's thoughts. Hyraan will die within 1 hour. It was time for her to send his body to the lab.

Homo debilis-sagax, the intellectually keen yet physically weak humans, took control all over the world within just 50 years of their official recognition. The humongous skull and baseball shaped eyes – their morphology spoke loudly about their acumen. The only thing that made them dependent on the Homo sapiens was, and still is, their comparatively weak physique. 

"Raeh," the robotic voice of Hyraan's father brought Raeh back again from her thoughts. "Hello, sir. I have sent Hyraan's body to the laboratory 30 minutes ago."

"Good. Your payment has been sent to your account. Your presence is expected when needed. You can take your leave."

Raeh is a 70-years-old "debilis caretaker". She has taken care of 3 children of the second species till now. No matter how many times she has witnessed it, the rapid mental growth and intellectual depths of those children always left her awestruck.

She still remembers Hyraan's first words – "Rest your facial muscles. The pity you're trying so hard to hide is slipping out." 

She had goose-bumps all over her body. The keenness of that 5-years-old boy caught her off guard. After that, 15 years have passed in a sessile journey with Hyraan; she was taken to a height which seemed like the end of her universe while feeling dematerialised simultaneously. It appeared to her that the boy could hold the entire world's thoughts and everything that was beyond.

Philosophy has always been her favourite. While taking an involuntary-part in the "race" of her species against the second one, Raeh chose to devote her life in this field of study. But poverty shackled her down and she was left behind under the mercy of her opponents.

Knowledge is power. This became truer than ever when the short-lived Homo debilis-sagax out powered them.

After returning home, Raeh was going through her journals, and came across her records on the day she learned how to control a "cranial adjuster". That device helps the second species to rest their gigantic heads which the body can't carry properly. Their stiff bodies can barely support anything, yet they manage to balance out everything that exists and will come into being in the future.

"Ms. Raeh, we have received Hyraan Sahan's intact body. We thank you for your service.


Sagax-Sapiens Laboratory."

As she allowed the message to seep in, Raeh wondered what they would do with his body. But she did know why they took it. For the last 70 years, the second species has been trying hard to find a way of reproducing healthier and stronger versions of themselves. They are so weak that they can't even perform physical intercourse, and thus they reproduce through surrogacy using Raeh's kinds.

It was time for an evening walk. No matter how fascinated she was by the children she has taken care of, Raeh never built a strong connection with anyone other than Hyraan. Her worn out soul is stronger than many, but this death made her feel older than ever. Fatigue besieged her all around, and the destructive mechanism of the world weighed down her frail courage. The placid indifference of the world became suddenly unbearable and asphyxiated her.

Why are they fighting against their second kinds? More accurately, why is the world made to do so? It was their virulent ambitions which brought them down to this place. The affluent societies all over the world once came together in the call of the scientists who lost their moral compasses. Didn't they conduct experiments to "produce" more intelligent manpower? Didn't they decide to breed the species only among the wealthy ones? This "inbreeding" led to the halt in the second kinds' physical development and the expansion of penury. Why did they ignore the plausibility of turning into Victor Frankenstein?

"Rebels. They are rebels, Raeh. Humans have evolved to rebel against the inevitable – the system of loss and destruction. Even the universe of absurdness can't defeat the waves of the humans' creativities, their rebellions. The thought of eradicating the rebels is a rebellion itself. We all are inherently rebels, Raeh. No matter how much troublesome others' creativity brings me, I can't really hate them. After all, we are all on the same boat. I think, instead of saying that the world is built on the mechanism of 'destruction', it should be called 'rebellion'. That's more poetic, is it not?"

Hyraan's words submerged in his tired laughter empties out Raeh's head. She can think of nothing but Hyraan. 

Suddenly, the rebellion of her cells against her physical entity's downfall becomes clearer to her. But her mind, filled with the words of her kinds' rebellion, is calm. Liberation overtakes the chaos of biological fights and finally, she feels her pleasant departure to the oblivion far from the reach of the species which are to come after her.

The Morse code at the beginning of the story reads "There is a life and there is a death, and there are beauty and melancholy between." It is a quote by the French philosopher Albert Camus.

The writer is a student of class 11 at Viqarunnisa Noon School and College.