Biology Is Destiny
by David Powell
“You know, I love
dogs,” the dinner guest said. “Why not just let her come in? I don’t mind.”
down in a moment,” said the wife.
really,” said the guest.
continued, muted behind the closed door but steady. Insistent. The husband
exhaled loudly through his nose and the wife gave him a pleading look. No one
spoke for a bit.
“You know,” the
guest began, “Dogs have a keen sense of—”
“He doesn’t like
strangers,” the husband said.
only sounds were the click and slip of
silverware on china—and barking. “Some more wine?” the wife said, smiling
bravely, holding out the bottle.
“I didn’t vote
for the dog,” the husband said, sawing at his steak, popping in a bite, and
talking around it, “but there you are.”
The guest looked
from one to the other.
“But she loves
you so,” the wife said.
husband said. “Loves her meal ticket!”
“She wants so to
please you,” the wife said.
“Oh? She latched
onto me because I’m taller than you. And have a deeper voice. You’d know better
than any.” The husband pointed at the guest with his steak knife. “Surely you
notice how Baskin trembles whenever you walk into the room.” He looked at his
wife. “Our friend here is a good foot taller than the new department head.”
The guest looked
from one to the other. “I hardly think—”
doesn’t realize it, of course. Mental midget, barely
aware of what drives him. Face it,” the host instructed his wife. “Biology is
destiny. Free will is an illusion. Loyalty, equality, independence, love—”
His voice was cruel, cutting. “—all
fictions. Consensual illusions we’ve evolved to protect our fragile species.
For Christ’s sake!”
The dog’s bark
had become earsplitting, hoarse, desperate. The host threw down his knife and
picked up his steak bone, footsteps rattling the china as he marched from the
dining room to the bathroom, jerked the door open. “Here!” he shouted, and
slammed the door shut. The barking stopped.
The host wasn’t
present to see the guest and the wife exchange whispers, press hands across the
table, and quickly withdraw them before he reentered the room and sat.
“What she loves is that bone,” he said, smirking.
“Just a little electro-chemical robot, like all of us.”
“I’d still like
to think,” the wife said, “some of our choices are deliberate. And reasonable.”
She smiled at the guest. “Help me clear the table?”
They rose. The
guest, who was taller and more muscular than his host, pinned the husband’s
arms easily, while the wife injected the syringe of concentrated potassium
chloride into his underarm, flooding his bloodstream with the electrolyte that
regulates muscle contraction, disrupting the electro-chemical gradient so that
his heart cells lost their steady rhythm, vibrated unhelpfully, and surrendered
to biological destiny.
Powell writes full-time in Georgia, though his day jobs
have run the gamut from studio musician to farmhand. Count on him to seek
out the neglected corners where things whimsical, dreadful, or pitch-black
hide. He’s a member of the Horror Writer's Association and has published weird
fiction in Grue, Argonaut, and Near to the