|Oct/Nov 2010 Fiction|
The Ras-related, estrogen-regulated growth inhibitor (Rerg) is a small GTPase and candidate tumor suppressor. However, the effect of Rerg-loss in tumor development has not been studied in vivo. Here, we describe its inhibitory effect on mammary tumorigenesis. Rerg knockout mice were generated and mammary tumors developed with a medium latency of six months. Adult mice were sacrificed immediately after tumors reached a size of 20 mm. This model will be invaluable in advancing our knowledge of human breast cancer pathology.
I had sex with #16 in her cage, third to the right counting from my stud hermitage, from which, if I peered slant-wise through six plastic interfaces clouded with motes and scratch-marks, rot and dung, I could trace her movements, which usually entailed wide circles until she grew fat with my many children (I never did count), and she mostly lolled in a kind of daze with a pup hanging from each teat like a cocklebur snagged on pelt (although I've never seen a cocklebur except in a recurring dream of a place I misremember).
It wasn't my first (or last) time, and evidently hers, neither.
My latest hottie is a silky number with surprisingly dexterous legs that make sex more interesting. One must look in unexpected places for variety: all of my Missions are albino white with pink-red eyes bulbous as soap bubbles. They reek of the nobility of sacrifice. Yet still the pups palpate with wet tongues the expectant nipples: a pink, writhing congregation of slick embryonic bodies jostling and shoving for the teat of preference—second on the left-hand pectoral side, above her heart, where she will feel the tug. As the sickness grows in their breasts, their eyes flatten.
But #16. Her smell filled me with a sense of rising. Musty and sweet. Starburst whiskers dripping with it. I'd brush by, casual now, come away with a burning streak of her scent in my fur. But I'm not shallow. There was a deeper difference, or so I had thought. A special factor of emotional attachment potential. Sorry. Lack the word. This language is not ideal.
Afterwards, she tells me, cupped under my body and eyes closed, that she has been with #2. He left her with scratches on the belly. Nipple two swollen and fetus-pink. I imagined transcending the hermitage walls and pinning him in his next-door corner, thrashing him, lashing his spine with my frenzied tail, biting frown marks into skin till blood bubbles through. Sure, others would have her after my turn, and God would rate my performance with #16 so highly on her fecundity charts that she would eventually put me with six of #16's sisters (She enjoys perversion on a societal scale). Naturally, they'd produce six bountiful broods (you'd think things would get complicated, but they never do). But that wasn't the point.
She yawns, regarding me with pity.
Her cage has taken on a luminous quality. Everything she has touched—each chip churned by her feet, every inch of wall buffed with her shine, each parcel of air having passed sweetly through her lungs, the shimmering water pipe (dare I lick it?) glazed with a mere invisible patina of saliva, hers, from her mouth!—imbued with a quivering sensuality. Merely walking around sends me. Shivers of ecstasy. The radiance of her body heat. Forget about God. I've found a new nexus of worship.
I take a nipple in my mouth, behind which my nightmare vision already senses (stop it, please! But no luck...) a hardening: strange fibrous networks branching into darkness.
There is cause-and-effect. I learned this from #2, before #16 changed my life. One of his theories, which he often generates while running The Wheel.
"God is not arbitrary. Watch and see. One leaves the cage for what. 50 spins? 60? One returns, ears chocked out. Do you see?"
#2 has little breath. He huffs and wheezes. The Wheel hums. "You [huff] are too dim [wheeze] for her. The forces that [puff] govern our lives. She's [pant] watching me now. God takes one. Or a needle, it slips in. Cause. One returns, or one doesn't. It's simple really. Effect. Your next fuck could be your last. She's [gasp] getting wet just watching. Come on baby—" And with that he vomits. The bile ladders up in the slats and sluices down onto his back, a scatter-plot of pale yellow. He tumbles in the straw but merely manages to rub the stuff deeper into his coat. For the next four sleep-cycles he'll hide in the corner, belly-up.
"Who's wet now," I say when the hand of God descends to deliver me to #16's cage. (At that point I couldn't imagine #2 had already been there—I hadn't noticed the scratch marks.)
"He means nothing to me," she purrs.
When God grabs the scruff of my neck to return me to the stud pad, I writhe and gnash. My teeth can't find their way past the nitrile glove. She drops me not out of pain but mere shock. I hit hard and find it difficult to move. A new horizon drops in, a fading to white and a strange, yellowish light in the refracted distance. My eyes water, stung. And a new smell, fecund and moist. Then I am dangling, a pendulum in God's pinched fingers. She swings me by the tail and lofts me airborne. And while I feel deep in the groin the mystical thrill of flight, passing over her cage and landing in a soft tangle of my own foul refuse—she all the while sleeping (dreams of cockleburs and yellow heat, the seeds already growing in her belly: six, seven, eight little lives, identically, awfully white)—I finally understand her words.
Materials and Methods:
God anointed us on the same day. We were in the same cage, then—perhaps we even grew up side by side (#2 never speaks of this, and I don't remember: searching back that far I can't find him).
She plucked the two of us, first me then him, when we were still nameless and undifferentiated. Two poorly coordinated balls of fur.
My first time in the air, new but strangely familiar, like a return. Only the soft touch of Her skin. To be so close to God, to touch, to be touched by the untouchable. Cold yet not ungentle, a refreshing caress, almost. And the ice pick of a prick at the top of my right ear, a feeling of wind and spreading chill (I sense the hole she made in me even now, so many cycles later, with a shudder of pleasure). Later, my neighbor returned with a hole too, but in the middle of his ear: #2. Then to the bachelor cages.
What was it that made us special, her chosen ones? An early propensity to friskiness in the crib? Anatomical advantages? One never knows why a God chooses him above others, selects him from the throng—one simply knows, and obeys. I thought it a simple privilege. Perhaps, foolishly, a calling.
My first doe squeaked constantly, and I had to feign interest. I was there for the Mission, nothing personal. "This isn't easy for me, either," I lied, rolling off her back. She lay panting in a puddle of fear, inexpressive pink eyes bugging. I played with her whiskers. "What's your number, babe?" Feeling a sudden desire to know her, I rolled down her ears and traced the clips.
"Why do you care?" she asked.
"To remember you by. My first."
"You're full of it."
She was right—I've forgotten her number.
After her the rest were easy. I stopped trying to make conversation, which just leads to complications. Did they enjoy it? Did they resent me? These questions never troubled me until I met #16. While riding their backs, I thought often of God, the cool kiss of her palm, the starburst nip at the tip of my ear. I imagined making love to Her, stuffing God with my body, becoming one with the divine. #2 says these ideas sound somewhat sick, but he is a realist. Anyway, #16 ended all that.
"Understand this if nothing else: you and I, we are all going to the other side," he says. "Where is your father? Huh, you little shit, where is he? Where is big alpha buckaroo #1, hunh?"
#16 has had a bad night. Left her water untouched. Perhaps she will be sac'd soon, but all #2 can do is sneer and twitch—yes, his whiskers say, this is just, she means nothing to me now, never has.
A moth feathers its way up the cage wall.
#2 whines into my ear. "You're losing her all the time. Watch me run The Wheel."
This diversion was God's anomaly. If we studs were her chosen ones, #2 was more chosen than the rest, who have spare furnishings: wood chip floor, water bottle, cardboard dome for shelter and recreational chewing. But God took to #2. I don't credit it to looks or personality. #2 is a scraggly buck with yellow teeth and an unaesthetic tail. No, God values pure virility, and #2 is the champion inseminator. He claims she even measured his penis for procreative potential, but I take this to be only metaphorically true, as God doesn't care about our gross bodily details (and even if She is aware, She will ignore the sex and only reappear when the does are about to litter—and I mean litter, swarm all over the floor).
With The Wheel, #2 can sublimate desire during dry spells when the does come down with the growing sickness and God's attention is only for their breasts. Maybe some exercise too—keep the old libido in tune. The setup may have sacrificed some of God's objectivity (see A.B. Hanker, "The Effects of Cage Enrichment on Variability of Data"), but sacrifice is exactly the point. More on that soon.
But The Wheel, my lecherous neighbor argues, is just another locus of control: God intuited #2's superlative freedom instinct—perhaps it was the way he lustily scaled the walls of his hermetic home, his bachelor 'bode—and violated protocol to insert a distraction.
"I wasn't trying to escape, either. Just stretching for my next conjugal visit."
"So why do you run it?"
"Because I have made it an extension of my will."
Yes, The Wheel. #2 controls the object of control. His feet twirl dumb plastic obsessively to simply assert that he can. Often The Wheel whips in such a kinetic frenzy that it seems to spin backwards as against its own momentum, a wheel within The Wheel, and #2 the hub, a magician with his feet. God taps the interface, reaching down from the sky to interfere in Her Creation, send it off spinning on a new trajectory, and #2 runs faster, a wonderful blur, four feet flung in permanent reach.
We all would watch, even #16 when still a pup, gazing from under her disadvantageous spot on teat number four, squashed pleasantly by her mother's distended belly. She doesn't know I watched her watching even then, but that does not matter. After all, I also watched, and worse, listened.
So he runs it, The Wheel his doe and now her too—grown, in so many ways—in thrall, whiskers quivering in tune to the rhythmic whirl. I pitch and snap my teeth. Impotent things. #2 runs The Wheel. She moves closer to better watch, snout on paws, crushing three pups. "Sorry," she whimpers, rolls to her flank without removing her eyes from the blur of #2's body, and pancakes the rest of the brood.
I manifest her reflection in the pale, unsmiling interface and stare as his sweaty grunts and now her moans ring in tandem, and I can no longer hear the steady hum of The Wheel, simply the silence of machinery and the taunt of their voices. He means nothing to me.
"Where is your father?"
#2 now whirligigs violently fast. His body a white pill. Frozen in time's arc.
I had a father.
I have few memories of him from Home, and mom was no help. God tried her with five or six bucks before her first litter, who knows. From her position she couldn't read the ear-notches. Didn't want to know. There was an eligible buck in the cage back when I still drank milk. He might've been the one or maybe not—what does it matter? The law here is replication. One dies, he reappears simultaneously at my right, or is it the left? One lover is all lovers. #2 says we all come from the same father if you go back far enough, which I take to be another one of his lunatic metaphors, but he insists on an original ancestor. Says God created us so, a race apart, a species that exists nowhere else in the universe. Screw a doe, she's your cousin. Next one could be your sister, your niece. His paranoia feeds the perversity She craves, and I tell him to go run The Wheel in the opposite direction and stuff the philosophizing.
The old buck doted on my mother, hoarding pellets when she was too fat to make it to the food dish. He rolled her over and over till her head rested against the water bottle, fending off the others with a meaningful grin of those long, age-browned teeth. Don't drink the water, says #2, She spikes it. Did you notice the change in taste? Do you notice at all? But to abstain is to die, which is alright by #2, since when he goes he's planning on transmuting into #16's newest pup and taking full advantage of mother-son bonding. But I caught him at night once sucking on his spigot like a blind pup chugging the milk of life, and after that I wondered if the paranoia were merely a front to keep me under his tail.
But my father, whoever he was, whether he was, didn't last long. Mother bore her 2nd litter and as soon as the pathetic little runts were roiling all over her in manic glee God had him by the neck. Father did not resist. His usefulness had passed. An old stud no longer in peak form. As his body ascended and, becoming smaller and smaller, blurred into pure light, he looked down and saw me, perhaps for the first time. "What are you fucking looking at?" he called back down, "you're—." But then he was gone.
With feeding over and the new pups sleeping, a tangled mass of organic helplessness under the apron of mother's radiating belly, she called me over. Mother needed scratching. We never mentioned or thought of him again.
Perhaps #2 is right. She plans each cause. God with the clipboard, Her face spectral. In goes the hand, another one plucked. Each Mission potentially the final mission, then the mystery beyond, penetrated once by my father and one day by us all.
Did She plan my love as well? My talent for fucking a mere reflex conditioned by perverse demand, survival instinct, preprogrammed mouse-lust? Did She bet on my response even as her dewy nose called to me, apertures of density and darkness intimating even deeper mysteries below?
God appears more often now. Before, Her face remained hidden from our view: we created God piecemeal—a finger, a crease. But lately She hovers above the rim of the known universe. I can't read Her face—the eyes are inactive putty. They float, open and blank, and I sense them on me at times, but perhaps this is a trick of the light. Gloves, yellow apron, blue hair net, blue booties, and mask. God materializes armor-clad and thirsty for blood. She taps my cage to show me she's watching me watching. Don't get any ideas.
#16 grows, but not with child. She no longer paces the perimeter. Movement does not interest her now, nor me.
#2 prophesies the gas chambers. "Can you smell it? The stink of sacrifice?" I hiss and bat my tail. I piss in his general direction and only manage to cloud the interface further. "Conceded," he says, "is that your father suffocated. The question is, did he feel? Feel anything? Or does the gas numb? And then it's like a peace. A transitional phase."
#16's eyes recede; her body becomes pure outline. One day she will be gone and another will take her place. And I will fuck her and like it. Will I remember the difference?
The world feels smaller, its walls closing in. The shrinkage brings #16 closer. I can now see her ears, each individual hair in ghosted profile—so white she becomes translucent.
God is always here, inscrutable, unreachable, silent—perhaps has always been here yet formerly in shadow. After we are gone She will create another race. Another and another in endless loop. This is why #2 says that time is a circle, and there really is no death. "What is death?" I ask him. He laughs.
And then God breaks Her rules. Who can say why? #2 surely has a theory, but my fangs are in his back. I replace theory with buzz-points of pain. But this is only a temporary advantage. The sudden shock of landing in my hermitage—two studs sharing one stud-palace, impossible—threw him, and he crouched dazed, his eyes a-swing. God's face through the interface, and a cloying odor of something saccharine.
#2 bucks, and I fall back, circle round for the frontal attack.
"This is what you've waited for," he says, licking his wound and brandishing blood-spotted tongue. "Look: she's watching."
God on one side and #16 on the other, 3 cages to the right yet closer, right over my shoulder. I can feel her breath, her wet nose. That coarse tongue on my body.
#2 and I meet in the air, form an arch over the water tube. One claw rips at my face while another grasps for a clump of fur. I dip and let him throw the weight, head-butt #2 in the stomach and he topples over me in a gasp. His groin smothers me. I can't breathe.
And God does not tap. There will be no interference. No descending hand, no pinched neck, no salvation from on high. And #16 rears on hind legs and presses her flesh against the interface.
"This is what She wants, understand?"
"This is what I want."
I bite down hard, feel the warm blood welling up around my incisors. It feels good, it feels right, so I sink in a bit, relish the moment. #2 kicks. His tail furious. But I won't let go.
"Martyr me," he says, "and you're dead. Murder is a capital crime. She'll gas you. She'll turn your pet doe into a litter factory. A common whore. She'll gas you, yes, just like—"
I have him by the throat now, claws digging in. Murder is so easy.
"Wake up," #2 spits. "I'm your brother, asshole." And then his eyes close and I can look at his face again. It is purple and distended. The whiskers stiffen and so does the body. I put my ear on his heart and drink its final beats.
#16 has turned her face. "No," I shout. "Please. You don't understand. This is instinct, see?"
"Why do you think I slept with you?" she screams back. "Run!"
God has me by the tail this time, taking no chances. I rise above and the universe comes into focus: it is quadranted and infinite. Cages stretch to the visible limit. There are levels stacked on levels. Worlds upon worlds.
How wrong #2 was. There is no plan, no cause and effect. Just cages to the horizon and the worshipping masses. I see #16 as a white ball, bowing to the hand of an angry God.
The gas chamber is warm and smells of Her—that saccharine whine gone spatial. Empty with three blank walls. Embedded in the fourth, high up, is a smaller version of The Wheel. She closes the roof. A humming and a metallic whir. The Wheel spins faster than #2 could ever dream (now, are you truly dead, brother?). The gas is odorless but I know it's here, filling the cage already. It is a pressure, a heat on the skin. Not unpleasant. Like being dipped in milk. It clouds my lungs, and I breathe in deeper, harder. And as my eyelids droop, here is God through the glass, patient and still.
"Sacrifice," she seems to say, strange fire reflected in her eyeless eyes, "is the ultimate act of compassion."
More study is needed.