The fish is perfectly formed for its watery world.
The director looked over the railing at the ponds below. The air hummed as hundreds of machines performed the many tasks required to run a facility this size.
Thirty-six ponds, each stocked with one hundred hatchlings. If things progressed according to the plan, the Board would be very pleased. Very pleased indeed. The director let himself dream of what he’d purchase with his bonus. It was his favorite way to fall asleep these days, thinking of what toy he would reward himself once they were successful. Of course, he’d already purchased many toys with his salary. But the Board had hinted his bonus would be generous for having the product ready ahead of schedule. The director pounded his fists on the railing. The Board was due any minute and he couldn’t wait to see their faces when he showed them the hatchlings’ progress.
Like the rest of the facility, the R&D department of Aldrich Foods boasted the best of everything the latest technology could offer. No expense had been spared because it takes money to make money. And the amount of money to be made was vast. But unlike the rest of the building, the R&D also had the best security that money could buy. Such as the men standing at attention, evenly spaced around the perimeter of the room.
An alarm across the room broke into a high-pitched peal. The walls alternated yellow and white as the lights flashed. The director jerked to attention and started towards the stairs. Only the guards remained immobile. The rest of the white-coated figures hurried.
The director arrived at the machine just after his new lead researcher. He had been promoted when his predecessor had failed to show up for work a few weeks ago. The police had been kind in their conversations with the director and had been clear that the man had left a suicide note at home.
“Well, what’s wrong?” the director barked at the scientist, forgetting his earlier plan to be more gentle with this scientist.
“I’m not sure. It looks like the recycler is overheating. It isn’t by much, but we need to figure out why and in a hurry before it raises the temperature in the ponds,” the scientist said. He hurried down a row between several holding tanks.
“Figure it out. We can’t afford any problems at this point,” the director yelled at the man’s retreating back. Just then the clanging alarm silenced and the scientist emerged from between the machines.
The man shrugged and looked up at the director. “Must have been a power fluctuation. Everything looks okay now.”
The director looked between the scientist and the ponds with their placidly swimming fish. But before he could say anything, the guards all stood at attention. The Board had arrived.
This wasn’t their first tour of the facility, but this was the first time to see the hatchlings at this size. The director could see their excitement as they peered into the ponds. They peppered the director with their questions and murmured their approval to themselves.
“Yes, as you can see the fish is perfectly formed for its watery world at the farm where they can grow as large as possible; not even an autopsy reveals that these fish are fully created here in our facility. They mimic their brethren in the wild perfectly aside from their size and stamina. Each one has been manufactured to grow to a minimum of four feet in length and weigh no less than thirty pounds. And, of course, the most importantly, after we go into production with the salmon and the farmers see how financially sound this investment is, it is only a matter of time before we get farmers to begin raising other breeds. Our scientists are almost ready to produce our first halibut. Of course, our ponds will need to be adjusted for that.”
The director led the Board members away from the ponds and back through the hermetically sealed doors towards the public side of the facility.
As a group, the fish watched him leave. As each fish flexed its gills in time with its clones. The water, connected by the recyclers, circulated from one pond to all the rest, the machines creating a sort of heartbeat lulling them all.
In the second recycler of the second row, the recycler which had malfunctioned for such a short time only a few moments before, showed a small increase in temperature. Inside the holding tank, a valve tried to close itself once again, but the knobby end of a human rib prevented it from sealing. It was indeed only a matter of time until the fish, so perfectly formed by a scientist, left this watery world for the next.