Welcome, Reader Friends and New Subscribers! This is David Telbat. “Redesignated Human Tissue” is a short fictional story about issues our society faces today. In an age of abortion, where babies and genuine lives are labeled “fetal tissue,” human life is being redesignated as inconsequential. When we think so little of life, all that’s left is death. But God has a way of taking the evil efforts of men, and moving circumstances for the good of the faithful. Meet my friend, Austin . . .
Redesignated Human Tissue
by D.I. Telbat
Human duplicate Austin Valens was thirty-two years old when the courts and the laboratory finally released him to society. Until that time, he’d lived with the prospect of becoming replacement parts for humans with compatible genetics. But a whistleblower had intervened, and Sample V-27 had become a subject of argument for years.
Was Sample V-27 an actual person? The debate had gone back and forth, with millions of dollars spent on lawyers to determine his fate—and the fate of potential future clones. For a number of years, while in a guarded facility and “child-tissue neutral” environment, Sample V-27 had been referred to as Austin Valens. The name had been assigned by the court system, based on the fact that they were in the City of Austin for the duration of the legal process. And Isaac Valens was the doctor who’d originally cloned him from an adjacent human embryo, thereafter placed in a bovine womb for gestation.
The world was strange to Austin Valens, simply because he’d not experienced much human interaction in society. But he had, on occasion when he wasn’t considered Sample V-27, watched television. When he’d been deemed a child, at least temporarily, and not as “redesignated human tissue,” a tutor had taught him to read and write. But when liberal courts objected and a ruling swung the other way, he’d been placed back in a sterile laboratory setting to be studied, sampled, and tested.
But now he was free. The courts had finally ruled he was a human individual, and the laboratory that had borne him had paid millions in compensation. Austin was wealthy, but he wasn’t sure what such wealth meant to him. Of course, the courts had ruled in one direction, but having been educated, he understood he had no mother or father. Was he even a person?
Still in Austin, Texas, he stayed in assisted-living housing where mentally handicapped and released parolees lived alongside him. After spending years with his face in the media, Austin was known in the neighborhood, and he was summarily avoided by everyone in the complex. He didn’t see how the laboratory was much different, where scientists had poked needles into his arms without looking him in the eyes, and referred to him as Sample V-27.
Since he would never need to work for income, Austin had time on his hands. He loved to read sci-fi novels about the possible future, because many authors imagined that clones would someday be normal fact and not fiction at all. The Bible had also caught Austin’s eye, primarily because he’d never personally received the love that this Jesus had expressed to everyone, especially to the strange, the abnormal, the lonely—like Austin. However, there was the constant nagging feeling in the back of Austin’s mind: was he even a person that God would or could love?
Austin often walked down the alley to a supermarket behind the housing complex. His frequent purchase—chocolate milk—was the most amazing invention of mankind, he determined after drinking nearly one thousand cartons in one year. In the isolated environment while growing up, he’d never had chocolate milk. As Sample V-27, he’d been fed only intravenously, and as Austin Valens, he’d been prepared a carefully planned diet so as not to interfere with his “organic purpose,” should the courts again rule in favor of the laboratory.
It was on one such journey to the supermarket for chocolate milk that Austin paused after emerging from the alley. A woman in the parking lot was loading groceries into a car. Behind her, her grocery cart with a toddler in the seat, began to roll away. Austin watched the cart roll down the small grade then bump and rock over the ramp onto the street. Nearby traffic, most of it automated, raced down the street to beat the red light.
Except when he was asked to hold still for a lab tech to insert an IV into his neck, Austin had never helped anyone before. And now, though he wasn’t used to exerting himself physically, Austin sprinted across the parking lot and into the street. He heard a scream behind him as the young mother must’ve noticed her error.
Mere feet before vehicles collided with the grocery cart, Austin snatched the infant from the seat, dashed the last few paces across the lane, then steadied himself on the median as cars rushed past. Some drivers slowed, but others didn’t even brake. The grocery cart had been struck by a bumper, and it lay on its side on the sidewalk, a tangle of metal.
Waiting for the traffic to clear, Austin cradled the baby like he’d seen on television. He’d never held a small human before. He wondered if he was ever held as a baby, or merely drugged and attached to a sterile nurturing machine.
When the street was safe to cross, he jogged back to the frantic mother.
“Thank you so much! Oh, my! I looked back and she was just gone!” The young woman gently received her baby from him. “You’re an angel! You saved her life. I’m so embarrassed. Nothing like this has ever happened before. I’m usually a really good mother, honest. Oh, thank the Lord you were there!”
He walked beside her back to her car as she talked.
“I was coming to buy chocolate milk.”
“Who are you?” They reached her car. “I mean, what’s your name?”
“I’m Austin.” He placed his hand over his chest. “I’m Austin Valens.”
“Austin Valens. You’re a godsend, let me tell you! What if you hadn’t been here? Most people nowadays wouldn’t risk their lives like that. My husband isn’t going to believe this. I don’t understand why the brake on that cart didn’t work. Listen to me—I’m rambling. You just saved my little girl’s life and I can’t stop jabbering!”
“It’s okay.” Austin shrugged. “No one ever talks to me, so one person who talks a lot makes up for it.”
“That’s funny, Mr. Valens. You have a sense of humor. Look at me! I’m still shaking. I feel like I should exchange information with you or something.”
“Well, yeah. Because this just happened. Oh, my. When two people meet over such an experience, they shouldn’t keep going on like strangers.”
“You think I’m a person?”
“Don’t be silly.” She set her child in a car seat. “My husband would insist we get to know you, if he were here. Do you have your phone?”
Austin drew it from his pocket and handed it to her.
“This is just like the shows on television.” Austin rubbed his hands together. “No one’s ever called me before.”
“What?” The young mother frowned and studied him closer. Austin had seen that look on scientists’ faces before. “You’re not kidding, are you? I thought you were just being silly. Oh, you’re Austin Valens! Now, I remember . . .”
Austin backed away, waiting for her expression to turn from realization to revulsion.
“I’m sorry.” He held up his hands. “You can keep the phone. I should’ve announced who I was. I’m sorry for touching your baby.”
“What? No! Stop it. Get back over here. It just took me a minute to remember you’re that person who used to be on the news all the time. You’re famous, Mr. Valens. My husband would love to meet you, not just because of your unique childhood, but because you’re a hero. Dinner! We’ll have you over for dinner. You can tell us all about yourself. I’m sure you’re more than just some test-tube-baby, right?”
She laughed and typed her information into his phone. Austin leaned closer to see the screen.
“Actually, I wasn’t in a test tube. I gestated inside a cow for the appropriate nine months.”
“Weird science. Yep, my husband will love you. How about Sunday after church? Wait, have you ever attended church?”
“No, but I’ve read the Bible four times.”
“Four times? You’re way ahead of most people. Here’s our church address. You can even walk there. We’d all welcome you Sunday morning. And then dinner at our place. Can you make it?”
“Can I bring chocolate milk? I’ve heard it’s customary to bring something.”
“Chocolate milk it is. Perfect. Can I call you Austin?”
“You can call me anything except Sample V-27.”
You can find other short stories by D.I. Telbat here.
Subscriber friend and reviewer, Peter Y. wrote a great review of Dark Liaison recently, and then it was picked up Jan 12 by online newspaper, The Spirituality Daily! You can read his review through their link here, listed under the “Stories“ section. Thanks again, Peter!
Jan 14, online newspaper Inspired Daily picked up our tweet with David’s short story, “A Normal Christian in Syria.” You can read the story through their link here under the “World“ section.
Thanks for reading!