CHAPTER ONE

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     "To be unlike anyone else; to be unique — different — yet symbolized as a whole, complete, and flawless individual. A perfect human," Mr. Kender, my Personal Development professor, drones on.

     I'm in this course on account of receiving lower than average scores in some remedial college placement tests. Not because I'm not smart, but because I was a lazy teenager. Plus, I made the mistake of verbalizing that I wasn't sure what I wanted my major to be. Which, I'll admit, has me kicking myself now that I'm in this redundant class filled with athletes and struggling students.

     While scanning the room, I can't help but pause on the guy in front of me. We attended high school together, and I had a huge crush on him.

     Senior year, I had the chutzpah to approach him. I'd stuck my hand out in greeting, flashed an adorable smile, and had let him know I was available if he ever wanted to go out. But because most high-schoolers are insecure, instead of my confidence being a turn-on, I had appeared super weird instead.

     Thankfully, college guys come to their senses and appreciate confident women. I was such an old soul in high school. Pure torture.

     College is much more liberating.

     "Thessaly, what are your thoughts?" Mr. Kender prompts.

     Startled, I snap my eyes to the front of the class.

     What is the topic? Crap.

     I fumble for a minute, trying to recall what he'd been lecturing about before I got distracted.

     "It's improbable to define a perfect person," I spout, hoping beyond hope I don't sound like an idiot.

     Mr. Kender waves his hand, insisting I elaborate. The motion verifies I'm on the right track, so I continue, releasing a small sigh of relief as I start. "Say, for example, someone has Super DNA, or something; that wouldn't discredit the slew of character or visible traits that makes them an imperfect human by default. Then comes personal biases of said traits. So... It just isn't plausible."

     Mr. Kender nods. "Fair enough. Thank you, Thessaly. Next? Your thoughts, please."

     The old crush I'd been ogling just moments before gets a chance on the hot seat. But first, he turns around and gives me a charming grin. I lift a brow at him in a silent you had your chance, buddy. He mimics false hurt with a frown and turns again to face the front.

     Now he gets it. Too bad he's a few years too late.

     Not to my surprise, he takes an opposite stance on the debate, convinced that humans will turn into partial robots or some nonsense. Mr. Kender cuts him off, unamused, and continues picking on one unfortunate student after another.

     A genetically "perfect person" is a hot topic of interest right now. Everyone knows the upcoming deadline for the mandated blood draw is nearing. Tensions are high. Conspiracy theorists, with help from the media, have everyone whispering rumors about what these new advancements might mean for our evolution. Even now, in class, students have their heads pressed together, discussing what the future might hold.

     Maybe it's just me, but what's even more disturbing is that the centennial mark of Hitler's reign coincidentally falls on the same day. Huh.

     Me? I'm doing my best to avoid the inevitable DNA submission process. Personally, I'd prefer to keep a little of my individuality intact, thank you. In fact, I've been skirting the push to get tested since day one. A dodge here, a duck there. Can you blame me?

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