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Year of the Monkey

Rating: PG-13

"Then why the hell did you take the job?" The vice president asked, over the phone.

The answer was obvious. She took the job because she was a career politician and she had been offered a position in the cabinet. Of course she took the job.

"You ever tried to tell that man no?" Secretary Rebecca Sandler responded, without thinking about what she was saying, and who she was saying it to; it was a stupid question to ask the vice president, and showed just how flustered she was.

There was a noticeable pause before he responded. "You have to be joking. All I do is try to tell him no. And then when that doesn't work I suck it up and do my job. That's what we do." Rebecca had known the vice president for years, she had even interned for him when he was just a lowly state senator. She did not appreciate the condescending tone he was using now.

"I can't sit here and watch my career die in the Monkey Department." She used the derisive name for The Department of Homo Simian Affairs to get a reaction. Nothing made her blood boil more than when someone used that term; it demeaned the job she was trying to do and she had even fired a staffer for using it when he didn't realize she had been in earshot. Now she wielded it like a rapier, trying to poke holes in the vice president's defenses. She needed to have his full attention if she expected him to take her seriously, and she couldn't have been more serious right now. "I'm ready to step down. I'll just say I need to spend more time with my family. Anything is better than becoming more of a laughing stock than I already am. I can't do it. No one takes me seriously anymore. When they aren't laughing at me, they are pitying me, Jim. Pity. I can't take that. I can't." She could feel her emotions began to rise up and clenched her teeth to fight them back down. She would not let him hear the emotion in her voice, but it took everything she could muster.

"Rebecca. I love you like a daughter. I've known you since before you went to law school. Hell, I wrote the letter that helped get you into Yale. You know I would do anything for you if I could." She tried to cut him off to tell him that she needed that lifeline now, but he just talked right over the top of her attempts. "I just can't deal with this now. I need you there. I know it doesn't seem like it, but you are providing an important service to the president by being someone he can trust in such a key position in the government. Tough it out until at least the midterm elections and I'll see what I can do. I might even be able to secure you a promotion. You know that I'll go to war for you."

She wanted to believe him. She really did, but even he couldn't hide the slight scorn in his voice when he said things like 'key position in the government'. She wanted to scream and flail her arms like a child. "I don't know if I can last that long."

"If you don't, you can go home. Enjoy your time off. But you know it will take a miracle to keep your former seat in The House from going to the republicans. And I don't have to tell you how bleak winning it back after your hiatus looks at the moment. You think you are a laughing stock right now as a member of the cabinet? Try being the former Secretary of Monkey Affairs. At least now you have some pull, and a promise that I will do what I can if you keep your department from causing me any additional headaches."

She knew he was right. She knew that if she went home now, she could kiss everything she had worked her whole life for goodbye. She was humiliated and felt more defeated than she ever could have imagined possible, but he was right and she couldn't turn back now. "Ok. Thank you for your time and consideration." She barely waited for him to say goodbye before hanging up the phone. As much as she still wanted to scream, she suppressed the urge. It wouldn't help the situation to give her subordinates clues as to exactly how close she was to her breaking point. To release the built-up tension she focused on taking even breaths and, when she felt a little more relaxed, let her mind wander. How the hell had it come to this?

Eighteen months ago twelve homo simians got off a boat that they should never have been on. The fact that they existed at all was the real problem though, Secretary Sandler angrily reflected. Richard Patterson had ruined her life. Not directly of course, but the eccentric billionaire spent his fortune opening Pandora's Box; and then, once it was open, he suddenly died, leaving the mess he created for everyone else to clean up. He was supposed to be spending his fortune funding Parkinson's disease research off of the coast of South Korea where there were fewer regulations, and he could blur ethical lines in the name of science. Obviously, that was just a cover for what was actually happening on his island.

Richard Patterson grew up on a huge and wildly successful farm and from there went to school to study genetics. He took his family's money and used his passion for science to turn a successful business into a juggernaut and made his fortune genetically modifying farm animals and crops. Techniques he developed helped produce more food at a fraction of the farm space and resources than was previously possible. But apparently farm animals and crops weren't enough for him.

It is speculated that he became interested in the idea of breeding a human with a primate from studying the breeding of donkeys and horses. They are as genetically close to one another as some primates and humans, so why not? He wasn't the first to come up with this idea, but he was certainly the most resourceful and well-funded. Using a lab and combining chimpanzee sperm with human eggs, he was able to create a new hybrid species. Homo simians.

They should have never been Rebecca Sandler's problem, as they were created in a lab far from the jurisdiction of the US government, but when Richard Patterson died they didn't get off of a boat in South Korea. They ship they snuck onto docked in San Francisco. To say they caused an uproar is comically underselling it. This was one of the biggest stories in the history of media. Hell, it is still one of the biggest stories in the history of media. The stories and pictures in the tabloid magazines have gotten sillier by the day. The truth of the matter is that the homo simians look pretty much like homo sapiens, just a little furrier and with a more pronounced brow, but without knowing any better it would be possible to pass them on the street without realizing it; of course anyone who had glanced at a TV screen or a computer monitor in the past year and a half would instantly recognize them. Also their intelligence level is at least that of an average human, smart enough that they wouldn't be interested in the lowbrow tabloids that they are so incorrectly portrayed in. One thing that the tabloids continually got wrong, time and time again, was that this would never be a Planet of the Apes scenario; like the offspring of horses and donkeys, all homo simians are sterile.

A phone call from her assistant interrupted her train of thought, "Adam is here to see you. He says it's urgent and won't tell me the nature of what it is, but just that it's something you need to know and he can only tell you in person."

Adam. What a joke. Mr. Patterson did have a sense of humor. He was well aware of the outcry the religious groups would make to this scandal and, in accordance to that, gave all of his 'children' biblical names. The first born, Adam, because what else could it be? He was their de facto leader now.

"Fine. Give me a minute to make another phone call, and I'll let you know when I am ready to see him." She didn't have another phone call to make. She just needed a minute to compose herself before facing whatever the hell it was he was going to trouble her with.

Adam did not feel bad for adding more chaos and conflict to Rebecca Sandler's life. He knew how stressed out she was; he knew she worked hard to take her job seriously in the face of scorn and even outright contempt. Adam still didn't care. He didn't ask for this. He didn't ask to be created in a test tube. He didn't ask for the same scorn and the same contempt for just existing. All he wanted was a sense of normalcy and to be left alone. Society couldn't even begin to do that, let alone accept him and his brothers and sisters. They knew they would never be treated the same as everyone else, because they were different. But was it too much to ask for people to not be outright hostile to them for just walking down the street? Was it too much to ask for the death threats to stop? Was it too much to ask to be able to have a job and be a member of society? Adam didn't think so, and that's what kept him going. Some day he hoped he could have a normal life where he didn't have to feel like he was an abomination.

As Adam sat in the waiting room, waiting for Rebecca Sandler to see him, he was also thinking back to Richard Patterson. Richard Patterson had been the only human to show Adam and his siblings love and compassion. They were jokingly and mockingly called 'Patterson's bastards' but that undersold how much of a father Richard had been to them. They were his creation and he cared for them like a father should. He was warm and affectionate and life in the lab while he was still alive wasn't so bad. Adam probably could have gone on forever like that because he hadn't known any better. There was no way for him to have known how big the world outside of his reality at the time was; and he certainly hadn't known what to expect when he plotted the escape plan. After his father died, life changed. Adam knew a storm was coming and it was only a matter of time before something like the wrong person leaked something to the press. Adam knew that it needed to be on their terms. And so he plotted their escape, never suspecting that the world outside his compound would hate him; never suspecting that they would take his mere existence as a threat to their way of life. No, he did not feel sorry for Rebecca Sandler.

Rebecca watched Adam and his companion walk into her office. He normally came to see her by himself, and it was curious that he would bring another homo simian with him. It was somewhat embarrassing that she couldn't place the girl's name, but she hadn't felt it necessary to have a personal relationship with each individual; the fact that she had a working relationship with Adam was more than most people would grant them in her position. She didn't need them to come to her with every slight society threw their way. She gestured to some chairs in front of her desk, "Take a seat," she said, moving towards the back of her desk.

Adam and his companion didn't accept her invitation, "We'll stay standing," he said. "But it will probably be best if you sit down for this."

Rebecca was confused but didn't let it show on her face, "What brings you here today?" she asked.

Adam nodded towards his companion, and she began to take off her overcoat. It was a much heavier coat than Rebecca would have worn given how hot it was today. "This is my sister," he said, pausing as the breath caught in Rebecca's throat. Once her coat was removed, it was obvious what the girl had been hiding. The protruding belly was easily distinguishable and the shock of it took Rebecca's breath away. "Her name is Mary."