Like a doting parent,
I lovingly tended to this egg I had created
and eyed it nervously every day
waiting for signs that it was hatching.
If it ever would.
Isn’t it funny how we conduct experiments,
which by their very nature will either work or not work,
yet our job security is predicated on success?
I mean, you aren’t always going to hit a home run,
but Biosolutions had invested a lot of money in this,
and we had competition.
Then one day I signed in at the lab,
and glanced gloomily at my egg,
which really should have hatched by then.
I noticed the tiniest crack in the shell.
My hands shaking and my heart pounding,
I watched the crack lengthen ever so slightly.
I called to Han Mei, and she ran right over,
accidentally knocking over some toxic solution
onto the floor, but we didn’t care.
“It’s hatching!” she cried. “I can’t believe it’s hatching!”
“I love you,” I told her, suddenly blushing.
We were both married to other people,
so it was awkward,
but she just smiled.
From the makings of a Canada goose,
we had fashioned a pterosaur.
Perhaps not the most practical resurrection
but not as dangerous as other specimens
you can imagine.
And we could envision all kinds of applications
in paleontology and conservation and the treatment of disease.
Not just a pterosaur for the sake of a pterosaur.
This was just the beginning.
We weren’t sure what to expect
from this new, yet ancient, life.
Would it be covered in feathers?
Would it have a long beak with sharp teeth?
Would it imprint on us?
Would it survive for more than a few hours?
It looked like any kind of helpless, naked baby bird,
to be honest,
not like Science’s greatest triumph
or the disastrous consequence of playing God.
Han Mei named it “Phoenix,”
both after the mythical creature
risen out of the ashes of extinction
and the city where it was born.
Her eyes were filled with tenderness,
the love of a new mother.
She sang to it as she fed it by hand.
I was not as emotionally involved and told it once
(although I rarely spoke to it),
“You look more like a Frank to me.”
As the weeks went by,
and our tiny, fragile babe grew into an
enormous, ebony-scaled, hissing winged beast,
I’m not sure where it all went wrong.
Maybe we should have picked something
less aggressive than a goose.
Why on earth, I wondered later,
would I want this creature to share any
traits with a goose,
the most horrible of God’s creatures.
Even so, we weren’t expecting it to breathe flames
and start communicating psychically
with Han Mei.
She changed too,
became something red-eyed and ferocious.
“You’re becoming too attached,” I warned.
She told me that we had a responsibility to Phoenix,
even if things were admittedly getting out of hand.
“This was a mistake,” I told her,
referring both to our creature and our affair.
Biosolutions wanted to shut the whole thing down
after the very unfortunate incineration
of an important stockholder.
This meant, of course, that the beast would be
“shut down” as well.
I knew that Han Mei wouldn’t take this well.
“You need to be reasonable,” I insisted.
“Scientific and objective.”
She told me she was going to free Phoenix,
give him a new life among the rust-colored boulders
of the desert.
“That would be highly irresponsible,” I insisted.
“And I don’t think our relationship is working out.”
She laughed and spat in my face.
She climbed on Phoenix’s broad, scaly back,
and he emitted a horrible piercing screech,
revealing his long, thin pink tongue and razor-sharp teeth.
“This is just the beginning,” Han Mei cried.
Then they smashed through a large plate glass window to freedom.
I watched the silhouette of rider and dinogoose
grow tinier and tinier and disappear beyond the horizon.