Short Story – The Key

Each year Wirral Writers holds an in-house competition. A theme is selected from ‘the hat’, we have up to 500 words and about two months before presenting to the group. Voting is anonymous. This year the theme was key/keys or quay if you wished. I generally write sci-fi or horror based pieces, this time I decided to write something positive and bearing in mind the wars going on currently –  a resolution…it was also influenced by Irish folk melody ‘She Moved Through The Fair’.

I didn’t win. I came joint third. This is my piece. 

 The Key

Our country is wracked by civil war. Suspicion and hatred spread like infection. We are tired; our people are tired, our land is tired. Love blooms rarely, so when it does, we hold fast. She said to me,

‘It will not be long now till our wedding day.’

The Generals had tasked us with finding a covert way to destroy the enemy en masse; to spread like wind across the land. Instead we discovered the genetic base marker for aggression; more accurately, I made the discovery; the bitter irony. My reputation grew tenfold, yet despite the wonder we have before us, despite the mounting joy everyone feels, I alone am sorrowful. I was given infinite resources; becoming head of my own research facility; surrounded by seasoned specialists. I hadn’t intended to be a scientist, I almost, almost went to war, but when she came close beside me; placing her white hand softly on my cheek, I saw the tears and could not go.

“It will not be long now.”

We found The Key to end the war – perhaps all wars, all conflict; for ever. Less than 90 years ago, in 2007, we knew of this process and for the last two decades our scientists have been using the qPCR-based tests to amplify the results. Manipulation created a violence suppressor and developed empathetic building blocks. The full genotype was found to survive in the rare few who experienced extreme empathy; the carriers.

DNA fragments, that linger in the mouth even after the briefest contact, were artificially increased, the life-span was extended, its function mutated; to create an Anti-weapon. Like invisible secret agents our mutation would attach itself swiftly to the recipients neurons, unlock and create new base pairs.

All the love in the world – that’s how one technician described it. But it doesn’t make it any easier.

“It will not be long.”

Many had been whittled down to a few, the few to a half dozen and the half dozen to a couple. Intense experimentation conditions had caused most potential keys to become…damaged. The pain was unbearable; I know this, I watched. At the last hour, one of the keys broke, and now only mine is left. There are many ways to end a war, we chose love. Once the good virus was administered to a few, it would spread exponentially. Saliva carrying our mutated DNA would rush through the recipient’s bodies controlling rage. A sneeze would carry compassion, spittle in shouted commands would bear humanity.

We gather on the edge. Her hand brushes mine as she steps away from me.

“It will not take long.”

I watch her, on monitors, move here and move there through the camp. She lays a kiss on the lips of an astonished officer, she softly kisses another. I see a distant soldier raise his weapon and take aim.

He fires.

But they are too late; the Key has already opened the lock.

End

shemovedthroughthefair
She Moved Through The War