Saturday, May 5, 2012
"Twin-Bred" by Karen Wyle
[Context: The human colony on Tofarn and the indigenous Tofa have great difficulty
communicating with and basically comprehending each other. Scientist Mara Cadell
is running a project where host mothers carry twins, one human and one Tofa, in the
hope that the bond between twins can bridge the gap between species. Alan Kimball, a
member of the governing human Council, is hostile to the Tofa and has inserted agents
into the project.]
Tilda looked at her twins, cuddled close together in the crib. Mat-set had all four
arms wrapped around Suzie. They seemed to cuddle any chance they got. Maybe they
were glad to be free of separate amniotic sacs.
She looked down at Mat-set and remembered the rumors of Tofa with five arms
instead of four. She had even seen pictures, but who knew whether they were authentic.
Certainly none of the Tofa Twin-Bred babies had been born with extra limbs.
Tilda glanced over at the big dormitory clock and then back down at the babies. She
gasped and staggered a step back. Mat-set was still holding Suzie with four arms. So how
was he scratching his head with another one?
Tilda looked around wildly for a chair, found one blessedly nearby, and sank down
on it. She pinched herself. Nothing changed. Well, who said you couldn’t pinch yourself
in a dream and keep on dreaming?
She got up and walked, a bit unsteadily, to the intercom and buzzed for a nurse. Then
she went back to the crib. Of course. Four arms, only four, and what was she going to do
She decided to be brave and sensible. If she had really seen it, the staff had to know.
And if she hadn’t, and she didn’t wake up, then she was ill, and she should get the help
The chief nurse tucked Tilda in and watched her drift off to sleep, sedative patch in
place. Then she went back to her station and called up the monitor footage on Tilda’s
* CONFIDENTIAL *
CLEARANCE CLASS 3 AND ABOVE
LEVI Status Report, 12-15-71
Observation of the Tofa infants has shed some light on the longstanding question of
whether the number of Tofa upper appendages is variable among the Tofa population.
The thickest of the four armlike appendages is apparently capable of dividing when an
additional upper appendage is desired. . . .
Councilman Kimball bookmarked the spot in his agent's report and opened his mail
program. He owed an apology to the young man who had claimed his poor showing
against a Tofa undesirable was due to the sudden appearance of an extra appendage.
Apparently the man had been neither dishonest nor drunk.
After discharging that obligation, Kimball made a note to seek further details as
to the divided arms' placement, reach, and muscular potential. His people needed
adequate information to prepare them for future confrontations. After all, forewarned —
he laughed out loud at the thought — was forearmed.
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