One Hundred Percent
by Denis Winston Brum
“Fifteen seconds left for the Eastern Express to arrive.” The
synthesized voice invades the laziness of Rafaela. Drag from the bench
to the pulsing orange stripe which borders the boarding area. Seven
o'clock in the morning. Only the automatics provide noise, leaving a
soft trail of lavender while shaking up through the empty station doing
the cleaning and maintenance. The pneumatic noise of deceleration
announces the little busy transport. Rafaela chooses a window seat. The
Express starts slowly. Accelerates to its standard speed when it
reaches the surface. The air conditioning keeps the environment
unchanged. Rafaela peeped the sky. The filter for protection against
ultraviolet radiation prevents her from having a clear view of the day
outside. She imagines a beautiful, wild and warm January morning is
rising, as her grandmother used to tell her when she was a girl. The
fast transport crosses over abandoned streets. Only robot vehicles
carry loads on the pavement now. The Express reduces its speed to the
“Commerce Station”. Nobody goes down. A priest stumbles into the
vehicle seconds before the doors close. He holds his Holo Bible against
his chest. Enables a projection command. Instantly the fury of the
apocalypse comes in the hallway of the Express. His fervent anger
floats in an ocean of alcohol: “Repent! Repent! The end is coming!” His
cries are struggling to overcome the breaking of the sixth seal. It is
ignored. The transport leaves. The smooth movement is enough to pull
him off his balance. Crumbles on the Holo Bible. A red blood moon
dissolves into the air. The priest cannot get up. Crawls across the
floor. Nobody helps him.
“Eastern Production Station”. The system announces. All vehicle doors
are opened. Rafaela walks towards the track. With a quick leap, she is
sliding forty miles per hour. In the opposite lane, a woman firmly
squeezes the hand of her son while she censures him by jumping between
lanes. On the walls of the ducts, the billboard displays show a
different message every five seconds, designing its audio and visual
chaos over Rafaela. In less than a minute she jumps in front of the
complex. Performs bio identification. A side service entry opens. Goes
to the thirty boring minutes of bath and decontamination.
She crosses the corridor of the facility dressed up with her immaculate
white suit. The intense activity in all sectors catch her eyes.
Executives accelerate business in administrative, commercial, logistics
units and their subdivisions. Across the aisle, genetic engineers work
permanently in the Research Unit. In Extra Human it is pedagogical
time: the experimental take part in various knowledge games oriented by
holo teachers. And then, the incubator.
At the end of the hall, after the side entrance to the Refectory, there
are double doors of the Reprocessing Unit, the only part of the complex
which is not built in transparent aluminum.
Rafaela accesses the decontamination cabin of the Incubator. She’s
developed this additional safety measure. In the previous semester,
inexplicably, measles’ crossed those doors and decimated a dozen people
before the epidemic was perceived. Rafaela redoubled precautions.
Decontamination, filtering and cooling have become even stricter. She
reviews the report from the night shift while she waits. The smart
cleanser developed according to her project updated continuously
running periodic scans through the environment, searching and alerting
to possible new threats. The green light let her go. Accesses to her
workstation. The sensor reports in vibrant orange numbers: thirty-eight
degrees in the Incubator. The watchful eye of Rafaela makes checking
the screens instrumentation. Drives the zoom to stroll through the
nursery hermetically sealed beyond her station. The rosy face of a baby
fills the monitor. Health stabilized. Appearance enviable. Just like
the other 999. No surprises. Her plan was allowing transactions to
happen smoothly as the babies' breathing. Her ambition now was to
reduce the rejection rate to zero. This would mean to achieve one
hundred percent efficiency. And she would take care of it, to achieve
She works a couple of hours planning the activities for the rest of the
day: balancing feeding individually, adds a low dose of vitamin C in
drug program, program the variety and duration of leisure activities
from teaching holo nannies, adds a component of aloe vera at the
She leans back in her chair. Look up the babies. She dreams, “One
The possibility makes Rafaela feel inflated with pride and euphoria.
She had promised it to herself when Shimamoto, that grumpy old man who
thought he knew everything, got retired from his post in the Incubator.
Impossible, he said. Always answered with callous disregard her ideas.
Now it was her turn. Shimamoto was wrong. Was overcome. And she would
prove it. Despised 91.6%, a record of the old talkative man. Rafaela
wanted every damn one hundred percent, as she had always said to be
The Refectory is almost empty when she comes. Rafaela occupies a seat
which extends from the long table divided by a wide service duct. “Make
your order.” The system asks.
The menu lights up on the table. She studies the options: Vegetables
Soup, Mashed Potatoes, Baked Asparagus, Carrots soufflé, Soy Protein,
reprocessed steak, rice, cucumber salad and three kinds of juice:
Lemon, Orange and Grape. Rafaela slides her finger over the soup
vegetables and lemon juice.
“Please wait, your order is being processed.” The screen turns off.
Moments later, the duct opens and a tray with two unopened packaging,
one square and another one cylindrical, sliding towards her. She opens
the square one and the aroma of vegetables soup whets her appetite.
Grabs a spoon into the cavity of the plate and try the soup. Hot and
tasty. Removes the cylinder cover. Lemon juice cools immediately. She
takes a sip of cold juice when cheerful Hayata approaches, carrying his
“Would you mind if I had lunch with you?” He smiles.
“It would be great. We can talk meanwhile.” Rafaela invites.
“How are the babies, Rafaela?” Hayata cuts his reprocessed steak and he
mixes it to the mashed potato.
“They are perfect, Hayata. How about your unit?”
Hayata swallows a good amount of food: “Well, you know, everything is
always very calm in Reprocessing ...”
Rafaela laughs, more for her mood than the joke itself, which she has
heard dozens of times before.
“So this time, the Incubator will really achieve one hundred percent?”
Hayata takes a sip of grape juice.
Rafaela smiles and, excited, completely forgets her lunch: “I have no
more doubts. The configuration of the genetic maps was followed to the
letter. The health of babies is perfect. And totally stable. There is
no oscillation, or even a weaker individual. And it will remain so. I'm
strictly controlling the climate, balancing individual feeding,
medication, psychophysical stimuli... Believe me, this time I will
prove that one hundred percent is possible.”
“With this enthusiasm, I have no doubts you will achieve it” Hayata
agrees with her, chews the end portion of mashed potatoes and steak,
checks his watch and stands up. “I only have time to get a coffee and a
granola bar before returning to work”.
“It's almost my time too ...” Rafaela illuminates the dessert menu.
“See you there, ok?”
Hayata deposited his packaging in the recycling. “Sure”.
Rafaela chooses a soy mousse.
At dusk, when her shift is nearing the end and babies are cared for,
Rafaela is sure that everything is fine, perfectly fine. Almost doze
resting in her chair. The screen call reports the alert. She wakes up
with the institutional smile of Estela, the receptionist. “How are our
loved ones today?” said Estela.
“Great!” Rafaela enthuses.
“They are so cute.” The smile of Estela shines.
“Beautiful and healthy.” Rafaela emphasizes.
“I called you because the Monteblanco couple insists on seeing their
project.” Estela seems to be concerned.
“Can’t they wait for the child to be a month old?” Rafaela moves very
“They are already in the complex, darling.” Estela sympathetic smiles.
“This is not the best time to do it ...” Rafaela observes the monitor
undecided. “Within a month, he would be much more developed. But I
think the customer is always right, isn’t it?”
“Yes!” Estela tries to cheer her up. “Do not worry, your baby will
“I hope so. You can take them in.” Rafaela authorizes.
“Ana is already leading them.”
Rafaela studies the data of the baby. Perfect health, organic
development following strictly the design of the genetic map. Cheers
up. That was a guaranteed sale.
In bright white robes, there come Ana and the Monteblanco couple.
“Good morning, Rafaela”. Ana displays a bright smile. “These are the
Mr. Aguirre and Mrs. Mercedes Monteblanco. This is Dr. Rafaela, our
organic development engineer.”
“Welcome to our incubator” Rafaela smiles.
The Monteblancos save smiles. Mercedes seems a little uncomfortable in
her costume. Rafaela had already said those visits were dangerous and
unnecessary, they could easily pass a holo interactive from the baby to
the living room. But Inoshiro, the Commercial Manager of the Unit,
argued that to show the infrastructure of the complex impressed the
clients and the actual product were more sold.
“You'll see, Rafaela transformed the Incubator into a real dream
factory” Ana encourages.
“Let me show you your baby”. Rafaela drives the rotation and the cribs
carousel until the number 0027 stands in front of their observation
“Here is the boy.” Pride is evident in Rafaela’s voice.
Mercedes’ almost imperceptible smile disappears. “The nose is not so”,
the rejection is clear in her voice.
“He is still very young” Ana's smile widens. “This will change, won’t
“Yes. You don’t need to worry, Mrs. Mercedes. The baby is less than one
month old, your family traces will be better noticed with time.”
“But this is not the nose of my family. It is very round”. Mercedes
Ana further sweetens the voice: “As Rafaela said, Mrs. Mercedes, when
the baby grows, the hereditary traits appear more clearly.”
Mercedes remains silent. Aguirre's gaze wanders fascinated by the
“I'll show a growth projection”. Rafaela makes a holograph of a boy
appears in the middle of the room. “We are seeing your baby at age
twelve.” Mercedes remains silent. After a moment, Rafaela alter the
image. “Now the boy is twenty-one years old.”
The index finger of Mercedes crosses the face of the image: “The nose
is still round. That's not what I asked.”
Ana takes a desperate look to Rafaela. Holography disappears. “Let's
see” She tries to maintain serenity. “We were given the DNA profiles of
you, your parents and your brothers. It was ordered brown hair like
your sister, with the wick lighter at the ends like your mother, your
father's aquiline nose, lips like yours, to correct a hereditary
hearing impairment from the family of Mr. Aguirre ...”
“I know what was asked.” Mercedes stops.
“The genetic recombination was designed in such specifications”.
“The nose is wrong.” Mercedes insists.
“The nose may appear rounded at this stage of development, but as we
saw in the projection ...”
“Projections can be manipulated.” Mercedes shake her head. “I have
holos of my father when he was a baby, teen, young. The nose is not so.”
The automatic notice that the feeding at five thirty p.m. will be
administered echoes in environment. Rafaela tries to argue: “Mrs.
Mercedes, I can assure you that we would never manipulate an image to
trick you. The projection you saw was made from the DNA profile of
baby 0027, developed exactly according to your specifications.”
“Just do not.” Mercedes replies. “This was not the nose that I asked!”
“You must allow time for the baby to develop. So, you will see that his
features will be defined. Including the nose!” Rafaela start to get
Ana pours her sweetness on the high tone of voice: “Mrs. Mercedes ...
Mr. Aguirre ... Would you like to have some coffee, tea, a champagne?
We can serve you in the living room and there, comfortably, seeking a
way to resolve this issue.”
“No, thank you. I just want the baby I ordered. And I can’t see it.”
Mercedes keeps stucked with her opinion.
Ana’s defeated eyes read Mercedes’ disappointment and Rafaela’s fury.
Trapped, she yields: “So I will take you to our business manager. There
you will certainly find a solution that pleases you ... maybe we can
start developing a new project.”
“Certainly. Because this one does not suit me and we will not pay for
it!” Mercedes gives her back to the baby.
Trying to fix her smile, Ana leads the Monteblanco couple into the
hallway. Abandoned, desolate, Rafaela contemplates 0027. She rubs her
face. Shimamoto‘s short and hoarse laughter echoes in her head. It
seemed impossible to achieve one hundred percent in the Incubator.
Mercedes’ obsession was irrational. There was nothing wrong with the
project, but she saw him distorted by the lens of her own insecurities.
To rationalize was useless. Losing battle. Project rejected.
Rafaela writes a brief description of the reason for rejection in
0027’s file. Rate it: imperfect. The data is processed. Baby 0027 plays
lifting his foot. Automatically, the feeding and medication terminals
connected to the cradle are disconnected. A transparent sheet projects
from the side. The cradle is hermetically sealed. The domestic supply,
a mixture of oxygen and anesthetic, activates. The carousel rotates.
Leads 0027 to the back of the room. The baby is keenly interested in
the sudden change in his routine. However, before he reaches the bottom
of the nursery, the sparkle in his eyes gives place to an increasing
drowsiness. A section of wall slides to reveal a pipe. 0027’s eyes
blink slowly. The carousel leads the cradle to slide down the pipeline.
The baby is sleeping peacefully. Rafaela, then program the coordinates
of the reprocessing unit. “Goodbye, one hundred percent”. The wall is
Rafaela still works for half an hour. Feels the weight of frustration.
Desires to go home, take a relaxing multimassage, cook some spaghetti
and fall into bed. Verifies all readings one last time. Program
activities for the night. In tired steps she heads to the locker room.
Undergoes a further decontamination procedure. Dress up to leave.
Crosses the portch at the entrance of the complex, under the large
brushed steel plate which is spelled laser: "Vargas - Kobayashi
Institute of Human Technology. The life you wish. "
Accelerates the walk. Do not want to lose her Express. The busy Hayata
calls her attention when she is preparing to go on the track:
“Congratulations Rafaela! Very healthy specimen!” Rafaela agrees with a
nod and jump on the track. Escape unwanted dialogue. Below it, a robot
vehicle moves smoothly down the abandoned street towards the
Reprocessing Unit underground entrance. The large silver lettering on
the vehicle side reflects the last light of dusk, "Reprocessing Food
Vargas - Kobayashi. The taste you know."
© 2018 Denis Winston Brum
Bio: Denis Winston Brum developed his writing skills working in
the advertising business. He published the children’s book “As Férias
das Fadas”, the Young-Adult book “As Quatro Linhas” and the adult book
“Redemoinhos”, all in paperback. Denis Winston Brum also released the
adult e-Book “Adiós Pampa Mía”.
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