The screen was on. Finnegan sat in front of it taking in all the information radiating from the display.
The living room had become his second bedroom. He sat there motionless.
Amber and Rike came down the stairs. Finnegans back was to them.
“Ok Finnegan we’ll be back soon,” said Amber. There was no response from Finnegan. Amber looked at Rike and shrugged.
“Did you hear us, Finnegan?” Rike said, approaching him. Rike navigated a minefield of sweatshirts, crumpled food wrappers and wires.
“Sure,” said Finnegan, not turning around. Rike saw a pair of shoes, the soles peeling off them, covered in mud.
“Finnegan, those shoes are ruined. You’re going to need a new pair” Rike said.
“Huh?” Finnegan said.
“I said” Rike began, Amber cut him off.
“Rike, it doesn’t matter. Our ride is here. Bye Finnegan. We are going to lock this door” Amber said.
“Sure,” said Finnegan.
Rike and Amber got into a car. The car drove off.
The car arrived at the I-Genus facility. Amber and Rike got out of the car and went straight inside to the reception desk. The desk told them where to go, and they went.
Amber and Rike sat on chairs in a hallway.
“Do you think we’re doing the right thing?” Rike asked.
“You have had so long to think about that, and now you decide to bring it up. We can leave if you want.”
“I’m not, it’s just that, you know.”
“Look we’re here, you’re nervous, that’s fine,” said Amber.
“It’s Finnegan,” said Rike looking down. There was a child at one end of the hallway. The child may have looked like Finnegan, but it was not him.
“You’re nervous, you have to relax,” Amber said. A door slid open, and a man in a white coat with dark hair stepped out. Amber rose from her seat and walked over to greet him. “Doctor Teng,” she said taking his hand.
“Doctor Mathers,” the doctor said.
“Sorry,” said Amber. Rike shook hands with the doctor.
“Come right on in,” Doctor Mathers said.
Amber and Rike followed him into the room. There was a table with a split in the middle. The three people sat down around the desk.
“So Amelia and Rance, how can I help?” asked the doctor.
“It’s Amber and Rike,” said Amber. The doctor leaned forward and checked a display.
“Oh, so it is,” Doctor Mathers said. “Hold on”. Doctor Mathers scrolled through the notes in front of him. “You’ll have to excuse me for a minute” The doctor pressed a button. A barrier emerged from the floor sliding up through the split in the table. The doctor now sat on the other side of a sheet of glass.
Amber and Rike sat looking at him. Doctor Mathers pressed a button, and the barrier dropped.
“I’ll have to try again later. What can I do for you?” Doctor Mathers said. Elbows on the table, hands steepled covering his mouth and his head tilted forward into a glare.
“It’s Finnegan,” Rike said. “I mean obviously we love him. He’s the perfect child. In many ways, that’s the problem”.
“Ok,” said Doctor Mathers.
“He doesn’t need us. It’s almost like we’re there to make sure that he isn’t disturbed. Not even by us. He’s very intelligent, but we’re just live in maids”, said Rike.
“That’s what parents are,” said Doctor Mathers.
“And the shoes, he keeps destroying his shoes. I don’t know what happens to them. I never see him out of the house. How is he ruining them? That’s at least four pairs he’s been through.” said Rike.
“Kids being kids,” said Doctor Mathers.
“What we’re saying”, Amber cut in, “Is that while we love him and the service that I-Genus provided, it’s not what we wanted. We wanted a kid who would not need too much maintenance, but this isn’t right. If I wanted a family member who we didn’t talk to living with us, I would have asked Rike’s mother to move in.”
“Right, I see,” said the doctor.
“What we have come here today for is to factor in a post-natal, Finnegan is under six. We were also looking to consider something that was more, dependent.” Amber said.
“You’ll have to excuse me again,” Doctor Mathers said. The doctor pushed a button bringing the shield up again. The doctor looked down. Amber and Rike could see the doctor’s mouth moving, but they couldn’t hear a word he said.
“You know, we’re the ones who are here,” Rike said.
“You know what doctors are like, always trying to make as much money for themselves as possible” Amber said.
The doctor looked up from the other side of the barrier and made eye contact with Amber. Amber smiled, and the doctor returned the gesture.
The barrier dropped.
“Ok, I can show you some of our offers on the catalogues. Before that, for the legal records, I have to have you say that you want a post-natal. Everything has to be above board.”
“Ok we can do that, I Rike Theremin want a postnatal performed on Finnegan Theremin.”
“I wasn’t recording, but I only need one of you to say it for clearance, Amber could you say it for the records?”
“Sure, I Amber Theremin want a post-natal performed on Finnegan Theremin,” she said.
The doctor sat for a moment and made a few notes.
“Ok, that’s all I need in that regard. You have requested a post-natal. Now let’s show you what we have. Before I hand it over to you, just thought that I’d point you to some of our latest packages. We can offer packages that are highly dependent on the guardian. You can have severely disabled. Now, this might be out of your price range, but we have a new addition which we call the sleeper cell package.”
“We haven’t heard of that” Amber said.
“It’s great, you get your package delivered, but it’s randomised, determined by an algorithm. You could have the package for the rest of your life, and it’s fine. Or boom, twelve years in and leukaemia” said Doctor Mathers. “It’s the luck of the draw, how does that sound? It’s proving popular with some higher-income households”.
Amber and Rike sat in their chairs, thinking it over.
The doctor’s phone rang.
“I have to take this,” the doctor said. He pressed the button, and the barrier came up. The doctor leaned back in his chair and spoke.
“This will get sorted,” Rike said.
“It will” Amber added.
The barrier came down, and the doctor sat before them. He licked his lips.
“Let me give you a tour of the facilities. I’ll show you the post-natal area, you won’t feel a thing” the doctor said.
“We?” said Amber.
“Sorry, I misspoke,” said the doctor. He stood up and led them through the door.
Back in the house, Finnegan was sat in front of the screen. The post came through the door. Finnegan turned his head at the noise.
As he turned his head back to the screen, he caught sight of his shoes. They had served their purpose but they beyond use. He would need a new pair.