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The Dark

In the distant future Em finds she has lost a leg.

The dark

The earth has tilted and the British Isles, as well as half of the rest of the world, has been plunged into an ice age.

For six months there is no sun.When the sun appears it never sets and as its heat is reflected back into space by the white ice; it does not warm the earth. Summers, when ice melts and whole areas are flooded, now begin around mid-July and last until the end of August.

Humans have evolved to hibernate.

Em awakes in her living area, deep underground, one of the thousands of small cells carved out of the rock. It is minus seventy degrees centigrade on the surface of Ireland. She realises she has woken too early. Her bedding of moss and peat, is still fresh. And she realises that she has only lost half of her body fat. Damn I’ll have to eat my emergency store of food she thinks. Em scratches at the coarse hair around her neck and starts to preen her body investigating and cleaning. She moves her right leg to clean it. She has a shock. She discovers that she has one leg missing. Fear floods through her. She has heard that predators like polar bears have been breaking into peoples' cells system and eating them.

She felt no pain. The scar had frozen over.

Fighting back tears, as she can not afford to lose water from her body; she roots around for some of the naturally growing fungus on her cave wall. Important protein to help her think.

Then she checks on her children who are all still deep in their hibernation. When she is sure her family is intact she sits still and considers her options. What will I do? I won’t be able to help with fishing in the summer.

She would have to go to the central cell and see the one person assigned to keep awake during the long freeze.

Em makes her way to a cell connecting lift, that is water powered, and reaches the thirteenth layer. She crawls along the winding passages to the medical centre.

The doctor, Genome, who has spent years putting together a bank of stem cells from different animals which could help his people’s needs, towers over Em. In order to hibernate successfully ninety per cent of humans have become as small as rabbits. The doctor is four foot tall as he does not have to hibernate.

Sobbing she displays her mutilated body.

“Hmm,” Genome says, “a common problem. You're lucky the animal was disturbed before he could eat the rest of you. I’ll have to alert our defence team to check the entrance. Have no fear. I can regrow your leg for you.”

“Regrow it?” Em feels relief flooding through her.

“Yes. I have some amphibian stem cells. Researchers have found that humans have blocked the healing power of the gene p21 and cannot regrow limbs that have been cut off the way, amphibians can. Their loss of p21 causes the cells of the creatures to behave like a regenerating embryonic stem. This means they can create a limb by forming a blastema.”

“What do you mean? I’m not a scientist. I can’t understand medical talk.”

“Sorry I haven’t spoken to anyone for months. A blastema is a mass of cells capable of growth and regeneration into organs or body parts. I haven’t perfected the method yet, but I suppose you have nothing to lose. Oh forgive me for that pun. “

He lifts her onto the operating table, sterilises the wound in her hip and injects amphibian stem cells into her body.

Em looks up to him with trusting eyes.

“There you are. Go home and continue your hibernation and by the end of the winter freeze you will have a new leg. Here, take this crutch to help you walk home.”

Snuffling weakly Em returns to her family cell and glances at her husband Fred. How was he going to cope with a one legged wife? She settles down to hibernate hoping that the treatment will work.

Spring arrives and the dripping stalagmites alerts the humans to wake up.

As Em’s eyes slowly focus she instinctively checks on her waking children and moves forward to bend over her still sleepy husband.

He wake’s to her kiss and once more rejoices in her beauty and strength. As she moves away to clean the children he yells.

“What’s that growing from your hip?”

Em glances down. She has a beautifully formed amphibian leg, with brown and green shiny scales. The thigh at a slight angle from her hip and then bends inwards, ending in five long digits.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © 13 August 2011 The Desert; 14 August 2011 Solitude; 15 August 2011 the Gift; 16 August Do not regard me by my age; 17 august 2011 Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night; Hey Diddle Diddle, 17 Aug. 2011; The Dance 16th Aug. 2011; Mother, 19th Aug. 2011; the Mirror, 20th Aug. 2011; whosshing, 22nd Aug.2011; The Blue and White striped Cup, 24th Aug. 2011; The Broken Fall, 30th aug. 2011; Adolescent Blues, 31 Aug. 2011; Taste,The Swan, 08.01.12 09.09.2011;Take Five Oh , 10.09.2011;Chamelian, 11.08.2011;the Coral 13.09.2o11; If only 29.09.2011, Dodging puddles 29.09.11; Mothers Monologue, 3.10.11; Oh, oh, oh, let me weep, 05.10.11, Water, 06.10.11; the flood, 6 Oct.11; Who am I?, 8 Oct. 11; Destiny, 9 Oct.11; Five a.m. Blues, 10.10.11; Three Wishes, 11.10.11; I'm a stone, 14.10.11; Meditation on an Amethyst, 15.10.11; Inheritance,17.10.11; Shorn Child, 20.10.11, Nightmare, 28.10.11; Gathering of the Clan. 27.10.11; That would cause a stir; 26.10.11, At A Crossroads, 28.10.11; Rowan, 29.10.11; My Pumpkin Pie, 31.10.11; A Set back, 14.11.11; Finding peace, 10.11.11; Liquid Lunch, 9.11.11; Out of Body, 8.11.11; Zen 19.11.11;I know why,24.11.11; the Fox, 27.11.11: the Dark, 06.12.11;Be Brave my Love, 9.12.11, The Poet, 17.01.11, New horizons, 11.01.12; New beginnings, 16.01.12; Subconscious Reality,30.01.12; Ruby Lola 03.02.12; Rock a by baby, 09.02.12; Paris, 10.02.12; Valentine chocolate, 13.02.12; the smell of baking bread, 14.02.12; My Father, 15.02.12

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