Chimera

Down the Rabbit Hole

‘Operator effects and machine drift’ Amanda stares at the screen, her glasses inches away from the computer monitor. ‘It’s always the same, so boring. At least I don’t have to generate the plots anymore, but I still have to look at them.’ She sits in a two-man cubicle, in a room within a room. There are no windows, and biometric locks on the doors. They affectionately call it the Hell Hole. Her cubemate is down the hall talking to someone else.

She feels a tap on her shoulder and lifts her head. ‘Damn, that mirror never works for me. I don’t understand this. I could never sneak up on Walt this way.’ She takes the headphones off her head being careful to not get them tangled in her long, black, curly hair. She turns and smiles.

“We got another one.” Jim returns the smile. “Fresh off the machines. I just sent you an email.”

“Wow. That makes twelve so far.” Amanda adjusts her glasses. “Where is it from?”

“Illumina” Jim states. “Came in from 23&me.”

“Hmm. Another saliva sample” Amanda frowns. “No good. We need blood.”

“It will have to do.” Jim puts his hand on the cubicle wall. “Take a look and let me know what you think.”

Amanda smiles. “I would love to know who these people are.”

“No way.” Jim shakes his head. “You will never know. I’ll talk to you later.” He says as he walks away.

Amanda turns back to her screen. She lifts the porcelain lid off her teacup. ‘The tea is cold.’ She thinks as she gets up to get some hot water. ‘Twelve of them, I wonder how many there really are.’ She thinks as she makes her way to the hot water. ‘And they are all related to U-48. Hmm. That’s a lot of kids.’

DNA

“Busy?” Amanda pokes her head into Jim’s office. She flashes a document she is holding in her hand.

“Not really” Jim looks up from his computer monitor. “What have you got?”

Amanda holds up the document. “The last sample you gave me. It’s real. Female. We got a number of markers with four alleles present. Looks really good.” She says with a smile.

“Have you run the ethnicity yet?” Jim’s interest is peaked.

“Not yet. She is a child of U-48, but based on the number of multi-allele SNPs I would guess she is pretty diverse. You can see they are spread across the genome pretty well.” She shows him a page in the document.

“What about the novel insertion?” Jim asks as he attempts to mask his excitement.

“She has it. She has everything in spades.” Amanda laughs. “This is the best sample we have seen so far. She has everything that U-48 has plus she appears to be more ethnically diverse. Who is running the expression analysis? Can we see the results?”

“It’s another team.” Jim sighs. “We can’t talk to them. Compartmentalization, it frustrates me too.”

“Maybe we can sneak in a few runs.” Amanda laughs.

“Don’t even think about it.” Jim looks serious. “Don’t even joke about that.” Jim waits for Amanda to settle down. “Anything else?”

Amanda flips through the document. “Her telomeres are quite long. She stands to live to a very ripe old age. “ She runs her finger along the plot. “I would suggest they keep an eye on this one.”

“Run the ethnicity, then prepare your findings. You will need to present on Monday.” Jim smiles. “Thanks for bringing this to my attention.”

“Sure. Are we still on for Bridge this weekend?” Amanda asks.

“Yes” Jims turns back to his computer monitor. “Let Diana know, will you?”

Goryeo

“Whoa, I didn’t expect that” Amanda speaks softly to herself as she stares at the computer monitor.

“What have you got?” Christian turns to look at her monitor. “What are you looking at?”

Amanda turns to look at Christian. “Oh, the latest sample, F-451, she is Korean.” She points to the monitor.

“What percent?” Christian seems puzzled. “I thought she was related to U-48?”

“Hmm… She is. “ Amanda continues to stare at the monitor. “But she is has about 20 percent Korean ethnicity, probably from a grandparent. This must be where the extra diversity is coming from.”

“What about the rest of her?” Christian leans in to try to get a better look. “Anything else looks interesting.”

“The rest looks mostly European.” Amanda moves her head back to allow Christian to see the monitor. “About the same as U-48 with a trace of Yakut. That’s where the novel insertion is from.”

“What is that anyway?” Christian leans back into his chair.

“Yakut? They are from Siberia.” Amanda swivels her chair to talk to Christian. “Turkic, the novel insertion probably comes from the lake Baikal region. It appears to be a conserved sequence. It’s coding something. It’s probably very old.”

“Any word from the expression analysis?” Christian looks interested.

“No” Amanda looks unhappy. “Jim says we can’t get a hold of that. Compartmentalization. I hate this!”

“Me too.” Christian shares her frustration. “It’s like only being able to see one piece of an interesting puzzle.”

“What are you working on?” Amanda tries to expand the topic of conversation. “You seem to be really busy lately.”

“Calibration” Christian frowns. “I just can’t seem to get the new algorithm to work right. I should probably try to bounce some ideas off of Jim.”

“Oh, Jim says that Bridge is on this weekend. “Amanda smiles.“ Is your wife going to be able to make it?”

“Yes” Christian smiles. “I have been teaching her. We are going to make a great team.”

Blood

“Do you think I should try to talk to Logan?” Keelin is in her apartment just south of the UC Berkeley campus. “He is computer science. He may be able to help me with my algorithm.”

“Does he even know you exist?” Tina is preparing food for a stir-fry. “You should probably run this by you mom first.”

“Maybe” Keelin weighs her options. “He is my brother though.”

“Half brother” Tina gesticulates with the knife. “And you don’t know what Walt has told anyone yet. I think you should approach this carefully.”

“Walt says he has another son as well.” Keelin breaks off a piece of carrot and eats it. “He went to UC Davis.”

“Talk to your mom before you try to contact anyone.” Tina cautions. “Don’t rush into anything.”

“OK, OK” Keelin sighs. “Maybe I’ll call her tonight. I really could use some help on that algorithm.”

“What are you working on?” Tina puts the food into the wok. “You seem to be fretting a lot over it.”

“It’s a model of the ice melt over Greenland.” Keelin says softly. “It’s insanely complicated.”

“What?” Tina can’t hear over the sizzling in the pan and the stove fan. “We can talk over dinner.” She concerns herself with the stir-fry.

Keelin walks back into the living room and sits in front of her computer. ‘I am never going to finish this by the deadline.’ She laments. ‘I’ll need to talk to my advisor.’ She mindlessly pulls up her email. There is a new message from her health provider. She follows the link to the web page and logs in. There is a new message from her doctor. She wants Keelin to take a blood test. ‘This is odd.’ Keelin thinks. ‘I’m only 24. Why do I need to take a blood test?’

Beth

“Hi, mom” Keelin talks into her cell phone. She is sitting on the old couch they got from the previous tenant.

“Oh, Keelin, hi.” Beth is looking through one of the boxes she never got around to unpacking. “How is everything?”

“Fine” Keelin lies down on the couch. “How are you doing?”

“I’m fine.” Beth puts down the picture frame she was holding. “How are things with your boyfriend?” She asks.

‘Oh my God.’ Keelin thinks. ‘Here it comes.’ “Um, we kinda broke up.” She grimaces and places her hand on her forehead.

“Keelin, you really need to start thinking about settling down.” Beth walks to the balcony door and shuts the curtains. “Your not getting any younger, you know.”

“Mom, I’m only twenty four!” Keelin raises her voice. “I’m too busy for a serious relationship right now. I just can’t deal with it.”

“Keelin, I got married at twenty six.” Beth sits down on her couch.

“Yes, and you were fucking Walt at twenty eight!” Keelin yells.

Tina bursts into laughter and Keelin throws one of the pillow cushions at her.

“Oh my God, Keelin. I’m sorry.” Beth is totally taken by surprise. “We really should be having this conversation face to face.”

“I’m sorry.” Keelin cringes. “I didn’t mean to… That’s not really why I am calling you.”

Beth sighs. There is a long pause on the phone. “What’s up? Do you need any help?” She starts to worry.

“Well… I was wondering if I could ask Logan for help on my project.” Keelin gets up to walk to the bedroom. “What do you think?”

“Um.. I am not sure.” Beth doesn’t really think this is such a hot idea. “Can’t you find some classmates to help you?”

Keelin enters the bedroom and closes the door for privacy. “Mom, the competition is pretty fierce around here.” She sits on the bed. “It would be better if I could talk to someone else.”

“Well, let me talk to Walt about it.” Beth is thinking about how to redirect Keelin. “I will have to get back to you.”

“OK.” Keelin lies down on the bed. “How is Chris?”

Climate Modeling

“It’s too complicated.” Keelin’s advisor puts his hands to his head, then gestures wildly. “Keelin, it is just an exercise. It doesn’t have to be that accurate.”

“But if the jet stream is flowing across the ice it is going to effect the melt rate significantly.” Keelin calmly argues her case. “We must take this into account.”

“That would mean you also have to model the jet stream.” Robert explains. “Which means you will probably have to model the entire Atlantic as well.”

“Exactly!” Keelin is starting to get excited. “We really need to model the entire planet.”

“So you are going to write a climate model for all of planet Earth.” Robert reaches across his desk and picks up a paperweight of the Earth encased in a plastic block, and shows it to Keelin. “For your your class project.”

“Yes” Keelin says with a serious tone.

“Which is due in about a month.” Robert reminds her. He puts the paperweight back on his desk.

“Actually, I don’t think that this is enough.” Keelin states. “You also have to take the sun cycles into account.”

“Keelin, you need to be reasonable.” Robert raises his voice. “You cannot write a model of the solar system in a month!”

“But this is exactly what we need to do!” Keelin gestures with her hands for emphasis. ”And we don’t have that much time left.”

“Don’t go all alarmist on me.” Robert sighs. “We have enough of that going on already. You need to dumb it down. Just make it work and turn it in.”

“Well, it already works.” Keelin smiles. “It’s just not very accurate. Robert, the models we have now are way too conservative.” Keelin becomes serious. “They are missing the mark by a wide margin. We need to fix them.”

“Keelin, the point of this exercise is for you to learn how to write a climate model.” Robert leans back and puts his hands behind his head. “Not for you to save the world.”

“Well somebody has to do it.” Keelin gets up to go. “And I don’t think it’s going to be Trump!”

Hybrids

“Jim, that M-83 sample is really unusual.” Amanda gets some hot water for her tea. “It’s unlike anything else we have seen so far.”

“How so?” Jim gets some coffee.

“It doesn’t appear to be chimeric.” Amanda starts to sip on her tea, but then realizes it is too hot. “It may be triploid.”

“Can we analyze it?” Jim sips on his coffee. Then puts down the cup and starts to cut up an apple.

“Yes, well, we’re still working on it.” Amanda waves to another coworker.

“Is it related to U-48?” Jim opens the peanut butter and starts to put it on the apple slices. “What’s the ethnicity?”

“He is a child of U-48.” Amanda tries again to sip on her tea. “Ethnicity is Chinese, about thirty percent. It almost looks likes a hybrid, as if U-48 crossed with a normal diploid woman.”

“Hmm… I wonder if he is fertile?” Jim takes a bite out of one of the apple slices. “We are going to have to get his gametes. This is interesting.”

“I’ll bet you $100 that he is.” Amanda is getting excited. “I’ll bet that he has inherited chimeric gametes.”

Jim is chewing on another apple slice. “I won’t bet you, but this would be nice. Then a cross between two hybrids would produce a chimera.”

“It must be!” Amanda quickly analyzes the problem in her head. “Otherwise how could we be seeing so many chimera showing up in the data.”

“It’s interesting that there is a Chinese connection.” Jim ponders. “I have heard reports that something unusual is happening in China.”

“What have you heard?” Amanda’s curiosity is peaked, as she herself is Chinese.

“Don’t spread this, but there appears to be a mutation on the Y chromosome. We’re not sure if this is natural or not. The reports are pretty sketchy, but the numbers are significant.” Jim gestures with his hand. “Let’s talk in my office.”

Finance

“That Brexit play was brilliant!” Suniel puts down his samosa. “We made money on both the fall and the rebound.” He smiles. “A lot of money!”

“That’s the power of program trading.” Logan laughs. “It was like taking candy from a baby. I knew it would succeed.” He takes a bite of korma.

“Was it really your idea?” Suniel tears off a piece of naan. “Zhang told me it came from you.”

“Actually, it was my dad’s idea.” Logan puts down his fork. “But I saw it right away. It was so obvious.”

“Did they give you any money?” Suniel takes some potato curry. “Like a bonus or anything? I mean that was really huge.”

“No” Logan wipes his mouth with a napkin. “But I am hoping for a promotion sometime this year.”

“What do you think about the Trump rally?” Suniel takes a sip from his lassi. “Are we making any play on that?”

“Not that I am aware of.” Logan sips his water. “It does seem like someone is manipulating the market though. I have heard rumors that most of the activity is going through Goldman Sachs. I don’t think it is sustainable, but you never know. It’s hard to predict the markets.”

“What are you working on now?” Suniel wonders if the company is making a play now.

“Just processing data feeds. Basically the same thing as before.” Logan wonders if the company is making a play now.

“Ever think of doing anything else?” Suniel eyes the gulab jamun.

“Sometimes.” Logan laughs. “My parents are always pushing me to go to Google and work on self-driving cars or something.”

“Yes, I heard they are using CUDA for that now.” Suniel finishes his lassi. “Sounds interesting.”

“I don’t know.” Logan is thinking of getting back to work. “I was never very into cars. Besides, I am still waiting on my stock options to vest.”

Physics

“I love this stretch between Seascape and Manressa.” Keelin looks out over the breaking waves. “It feels like you can just walk forever.”

“It’s nice.” Chris feels it is difficult to walk on the sand. He is worried about getting sand in his shoes. “Let’s walk a bit closer to the waterline.”

“Sure.” Keelin is watching a sandpiper running across the sand. They both walk towards the waterline.

“Mom seems pretty sad lately.” Chris worries about his mom. “I worry about her.”

“Walt didn’t leave his wife.” Keelin picks up a piece of driftwood. “I think she was hoping he would.”

“I don’t know.” Chris puts his hands in his sweatshirt. “The guy doesn’t have a job. I don’t think he can afford to move out. Anyway, mom should be trying to reconcile with dad.”

“Perhaps” Keelin throws the driftwood into the tide. “It is not going to be easy, for any of them.”

“How are you doing?” Chris feels a bit cold.

“I’m OK.” Keelin states. “I just need to find some help on my project. Maybe you can talk to Logan for me. Mom doesn’t seem to want me to approach him.”

“Hmm.. She mentioned that to me.” Chris steps over some kelp that has washed ashore. “Maybe I can help you? I know my emphasis is particle physics, but still, physics is physics.”

“Maybe” Keelin ponders this opportunity. “How are your software skills?”

“Pretty good.” Chris takes his hands out of his sweatshirt. “I’ve done a lot of simulation work.”

“Yes, this could be good.” Keelin plans ahead in her mind. “I still want to get Logan’s help too though. Can you talk to him? We could all work together.”

Chris starts to feel he has been drawn into one of Keelin’s grand manipulations. “I’ll see what I can do. No promises though.”

“Great.” Keelin starts to feel like it is all coming together. “How’s the drumming going?”

“Good.” Chris smiles. “I have been playing Plini’s latest album.”

“Is that the stuff you gave to Walt?” Keelin looks at Chris.

“Yes” Chris steps quickly to avoid the incoming tide.

“I heard about that.” Keelin bumps into Chris as she tries not to get her shoes wet. “Emily said he really likes it.”

Clones

“I don’t understand this.” Amanda puzzles over some data. “It just doesn’t make sense.”

“What doesn’t make sense?” Christian turns to look at Amanda’s monitor.

“Oh, the U-52 and U-48 samples.” Amanda turns to face Christian. “They appear to be the same individual.”

“Maybe they are the same individual.” Christian’s mind turns to this new problem. “Or maybe they are identical twins.”

“I don’t think so.” Amanda reviews the analysis in her mind. “The telomeres are significantly different. The two samples seem to be at least a generation apart. U-52 is much younger that U-48.”

“And everything else is the same?” Christian is thinking about other possibilities. “Do they both have the inversus on the female side?”

“Yes, so far they are the same.” Amanda suddenly has an epiphany. “Maybe they are clones? U-52 may be a clone of U-48.”

“I thought it‘s illegal to clone a human in the United States?” Christian is sure this must be the case. “This doesn’t seem to be very likely.”

“No. It‘s not illegal.” Amanda gestures for emphasis. “But I don’t think anyone has ever done it before. “

“Maybe it’s natural.” Christian laughs. “U-48 is an intersex chimera. Who knows what it’s capable of.”

“Oh my God!” Amanda exclaims in seriousness. “This would be a total game changer.”

Christian laughs harder. “I was only joking.”

“I don’t know.” Amanda is still serious. “We have to take every possibility into account.”

“It’s more likely that U-52 was cloned in a lab.” Christian starts to settle down a bit. “When was Dolly the sheep cloned? Wasn’t that around the mid 1990’s?”

“Well the timing would be about right.” Amanda is searching her brain. “I wonder if there is any test we could do to prove this?”

“Maybe ask Jim about it?” Christian turns back to his monitor. “He may know of something.”

M-Theory

“Thanks for coming to see me.” Beth chooses a table next to one of the heaters. “I know it’s a long way to go.”

“No problem. It only takes about thirty minutes to get over the hill.” Walt sits down. “I am going to pick up a loaf of bread anyway.” He smiles. “How are things at the new place?”

“OK” Beth holds her coffee cup to warm her hands. “I’m pretty much all unpacked now. Although I still have a couple of boxes I haven’t looked at yet. It’s nice. The kids came down the other day. They went for a walk on the beach.”

“What is Chris doing these days?” Walt is thinking that Beth looks a bit lonely.

“Teaching at Stanford.” Beth smiles. “I don’t think he really likes to teach much, but it allows him to continue his research.”

“What’s he working on?” Walt seems interested. “He is physics, right?”

“Yes. I don’t know. Some sort of M-Theory stuff.” Beth shrugs her shoulders. “He tried to explain it to me once but I don’t get any of it.” She smiles.

“I’ll have to talk to him about it sometime.” Walt always liked this kind of thing.

“So I wanted to ask you.” Beth puts down her coffee. “Keelin is hell bent on trying to get Logan to work on her project.” She looks into Walt’s eyes. “Is this OK with you? Does he know?”

“Oh, yes. I told him.” Walt didn’t expect this. “It’s fine with me, but knowing Logan I think it may be a hard sell.” Walt smiles.

“OK. Well, I will let them work it out then.” Beth sips on her coffee. “I just wanted to make sure you were OK with it.” She pauses for a moment. “Sometimes I think that Keelin got her masters in getting other people to do her work for her.” Beth laughs.

Walt laughs. “Well, she will make a great manager some day.”

Beth smiles, then looks down at her coffee. She looks up at Walt. “Walt, have you ever noticed that Chris looks a lot like you when you were in college?”

Walt laughs nervously. “Well, I didn’t want to say anything.” He pauses for a bit. “Did he get tested?”

“The results haven’t come back yet.” Beth looks uncomfortable. “What do they tell you?”

“Not much.” Walt tries to be reassuring. “They tell you your ethnicity and who you are related to.” He shrugs. “That is about it.”

Black Ops

“The project has gone black.” Dave looks very serious. “You will all be briefed individually later today. Do not release any data on sample U-52. From now on data only comes in. Nothing goes out.”

Jim has his head in his hands.

“They are asking for the results on U-52.” Amanda looks at Jim and then back to Dave. “What are we supposed to tell them?”

“Don’t respond to any inquiries.” Dave gestures to emphasize the point. “They will be contacted by another agency. Do not release any data. Any questions?”

“What about this China thing?” Christian asks. “I have heard rumors about some sort of mutation.”

“Do not discuss this with anyone.” Dave glares at Jim. “Don’t talk to your spouse. Don’t talk to your dog!”

“Are we still running the analysis?” Amanda looks worried.

“Yes” Dave relaxes a bit. “We will still process the incoming data, but from now on nothing goes out. We will report up through secure channels only. Be very careful about how you handle the data and any paperwork. I would suggest you review the protocols. We are now operating under more stringent rules. In this afternoon’s briefing you will go over this in more detail and your clearances will be reviewed as appropriate.”

Amanda looks at Christian. She is wondering if her clearance is high enough. This could be trouble.

Christian doesn’t look too happy. He feels that this is going to really complicate things.

Dimitri worries he has been too sloppy with his data handling lately. He really is going to have to clean up his act.

Jim is thinking he may have to delay his retirement. He wonders about the origin of U-52. For that matter he wonders about the origin of U-48. He starts to think that this may not be all natural after all. He has never seen such a strong reaction from upper management before. Things have always been pretty loose up to this point. He wonders what the RNA guys have found. This is starting to get really interesting.

Espionage

“I didn’t think you would come.” Walt sits on the bench behind the Apple building. It is a warm spring day. The flowers are in bloom.

“I saw the rose.” She is standing under the arbor. She looks anxious.

“Have a seat.” Walt smiles as he gestures with his hand. “Nice day today.”

She sits down, hunches over and rubs her face with her hands. “Did you ever hear from Stephanie?” She turns to look at Walt.

“No” Walt shrugs his shoulders and gently shakes his head. “Nothing” He leans back into the bench. “I have given up trying.”

“Probably a good idea.” She stretches out her legs. She is wearing the light blue Converse All Stars. She puts her hands on her knees. “Are you working?” She admires the flowers growing on the arbor for a moment. The parking lot is empty.

“No” Walt remembers what it is like to touch her. He senses the familiar scent. “I might get something at the library. Don’t know.”

“You mean work there?” She reigns in her legs. “I heard Roche is hiring.”

“I don’t think I am ready for a full time job.” Walt thinks about playing with her hair. He decides not to. “How is Jim?”

“He is in Australia.” She turns to look at Walt again. “I think he is about ready to retire.” The shade has faded the tint in her glasses.

“So what’s up?” Walt looks intently at her eyes. “Why the meeting?” She looks safe.

“Walt, the Chinese want a kid.” She stares back at Walt. “Your kid.” She is serious.

Walt laughs. “You can’t be serious.” He hesitates for a moment. “And how do they propose to do this?” He is incredulous.

“They want you to get me pregnant.” She is serious. “I am going back to China.”

Manufacturing

“Hey, Christian, have you seen Jim?” Dimitri is his usual boisterous self. His hand rattles the cubicle walls.

“No, he’s out.” Christian struggles to pull himself from his work. “I think he’s still in Australia.” He swivels in his chair to face Dimitri.

Dimitri looks disappointed. “Where’s Amanda?” He asks. “I haven’t seen her around much either.”

“I think she is out sick.” Christian states. He hesitates for a moment. “She has been acting kinda odd lately. I think she broke up with her boyfriend or something.”

“Women’s problems.” Dimitri concludes in his thick Russian accent. “She’ll get over it.”

“I don’t know.” Christian’s voice softens. “Debbie said she saw her crying in the girl’s bathroom. I hope she is OK.”

“Hmm…” Dimitri looks towards Jim’s office. “Jim will be back soon.” He scratches his nose. “Maybe he can talk to her.” He turns back to Christian. “What are you working on?”

“Dave gave me a new sample to analyze.” Christian gestures to his monitor. “It is one of the samples from China, FC-31.”

“Anything interesting?” Dimitri’s interest is peaked. He leans in to see the screen.

“You won’t believe it.” Christian shakes his head. “Never seen anything like this.”

“Chimera?” Dimitri points to the monitor. “That’s a lot of markers. Is it real? Is it Chinese, the ethnicity?”

“Eurasian. Female.” Christian smiles. “But that’s not the kicker.” He faces Dimitri. “She has four parents.” Christian starts to laugh.

“No way!” Dimitri laughs. “Same mother?”

“Two mothers, two fathers.” Christian is still laughing. “Four different people.”

“That’s not possible.” Dimitri looks at the monitor again. “You’re pulling my leg.”

“It’s true.” Christian slaps Dimitri on the back. “She was manufactured in a lab. And get this; one of the parents is U-48.” Christian laughs again. “Wait till Jim gets a load of this!”

Genesis

“When you get to China, look up Méihuā.” Walt is trying to be helpful. “She can help you.”

“The government will take care of me.” Amanda is irritated. “I won’t need your friends to look after me.”

“Well, it doesn’t hurt to have friends.” Walt looks beyond the wire fence to the railroad tracks. “She is living in your old home town. Maybe she can find you a job. You guys can help each other.”

“I know Sandra is your kid.” Amanda looks really unhappy.

“Sandi is not my kid!” Walt is exacerbated. “Méihuā and I are just friends.” They circle the building again.

“Then why do you call her Sandi?” Amanda gestures with her hands for emphasis. “No one else calls her that.”

Walt laughs. “I just like her. She’s just like Méihuā.” He notices that the Vietnamese restaurant they went to before is gone. “Anyway I really think you should look them up.”

Amanda groans to herself. They are silent for a bit. “Walt, I don’t want to go.” Her demeanor softens. “I like it here. I have a life here. I want to stay.”

Walt pauses for a moment. “Maybe you can tell them that you can’t get pregnant?” He touches her arm for emphasis. “Maybe they will let you stay?”

“You are so naïve.” Amanda scoffs. “You really have no idea what you are dealing with.” She laughs. “I am going to miss you.”

Walt looks down at the ground. “I will miss you too.” He says softly. “If you work with Méihuā at least we can keep in touch.” He looks up at Amanda.

“We’ll see.” Amanda pets Walt’s back.

Walt turns and embraces Amanda. “I wish you didn’t have to go.” He nuzzles her neck. “I want you to stay.”

Amanda hugs Walt tightly. Her eyes start to water. “Walt, I am pregnant. I have to go.”

To Be Continued…