Hannah poured from an ornate china teapot and then passed a cup to Anne. She settled back on the sofa as Tucker placed another log on the fire.
"Anne, so little of this makes any sense," Hannah said rubbing at her eyes. "How could Eastman be so certain he'd create someone like me, you know, someone, with an SPR of a hundred? If it was that easy, surely the government would have been doing it by now and producing thousands of supposedly perfect little babies every year."
Anne smiled. "Hannah, make no mistake, you are a fine young woman- intelligent, beautiful, brave; you possess the qualities one might expect of perfection..."
Tucker sniggered and Hannah felt her face flame.
"...but you're not perfect; no one is. You just happen to meet or be at the top of the criteria set in testing. If the criteria were different, who knows where you might be."
Something came to Hannah, a thought so fleeting, she couldn't grasp at it quick enough before it was gone, like remembering a dream only to instantly lose its meaning. It had something to do with Briggs, something she had seen, or heard, or read but Anne interrupted her thoughts before she could try to process them further.
"Many years ago, when the government required a more 'scientific' approach to testing, a secret convention was held. A panel of the most powerful people in our society met to decide what parameters they wanted to set for the SPRs and more importantly, what they meant by the term 'perfection'. Until then it was a very rudimentary system based on level of education, health, wealth and so on. But this system was immediately with issue and under such simple criterion, a top-heavy population developed. More people seemed to fall into the higher SPR boundaries that the government wanted or could afford. So they decided to delve deeper, trying to find a more refined way of dividing up the population. Early on, they realised what they needed was a benchmark; a living, breathing example of perfection; well as close to it as they could find. You probably don't need me to tell you who became that benchmark do you?"
"Briggs," hissed Hannah as she leant back in the chair, shaking her head.
"Why on earth would anyone think of using him as a role model?" Tucker scoffed. "He's a bloody psychopathic, sociopathic, nut job...with bells on!"
Hannah shook her head from side to side as Anne chuckled lightly.
"Tucker, I have heard that man called many, many things over the years, but that one has to be my favourite. But in answer to your question, you are forgetting the context in which that decision was made. Firstly, Briggs was born into a very powerful family whose influence spanned the generations. Indeed his father, John- Michael Briggs was a much celebrated war hero, who sat on the panel. He also happened to be the cousin of our then-President, Anthony- Michael Stannington; our last President in fact. After all, the term President becomes redundant when you abolish democratic elections and the legislature to suit your own ends."
Hannah recognised the names straight away and it dawned on her that she was directly related to this powerful dynasty. A history, she'd once been forced to memorise and regurgitate in a test at school. The corruption, greed and wanton disregard for humanity of this ruling elite didn't just control her life and that of everyone else's, it flowed through her veins, lying in the very building blocks of her being. The thought sickened her and left her feeling more tainted. She looked over at Tucker who held his head in his hands, as if the weight of the constant revelations were too heavy to bear.
Anne continued. "It wasn't just family connections that helped Briggs. After several key battles during the uprisings, Briggs, by then a rising-star in the army, became the 'poster-boy' for the government. Images of Briggs, clamouring over the walls of trenches, leading the fight, slaughtering the opposition covered the front pages of the newspapers. Briggs was clever, successful and above all ruthless; everything Stannington wanted in a male heir, but wasn't fortunate enough to be blessed with himself. So Briggs was chosen as the benchmark and from then on all of us have been judged against him."
YOU ARE READING
The NumberedScience Fiction
Imagine the second you're born, a consultant removes you from your mother's grasp and runs a battery of genetic and physiological tests on you. Thirty minutes later they give you a score out of one hundred which denotes your level of perfection. If...