“The Three Little Pigs”
They are all asleep now in their tufted dog bed and for the moment I think, I, they, are safe. It has not easy being on the run this past year, but what else could I do?
Perhaps, someday, you will read about the “The Three Little Pigs” in the newspapers but not today. Only a handful of people know about there existence and they are not going to tell.
“Three Little Pigs?” It is not a long story, but an amazing one in many ways and began when I graduated from college in genetic engineering and was hired by a new startup company in Maryland. The goal of the company was to attempt to genetically engineer versions of various animals from which organs could be harvested for transplant into humans. In my case, since a pig’s heart is similar to that of a human heart, I was given the task, along with 2 others, to see if we could engineer a pig with a heart, which would perfectly match any given specific human.
At first, it was all computer work and although the tools I got to use where way beyond anything I had ever seen in college, I quickly became used to them and settled in working through the problems on various DNA proteins.
To me, being able to work on such a very real, meaningful, project right after college felt like a great honor and opportunity and I poured myself into my work. Once I got to work each day, I would seldom leave until midnight or later and then Saturday’s and Sunday’s only became another day to build models in the computer and have it run through the sequences, coding. After a while, the job felt like more of a mission, something I had to do. Real people with bad hearts were waiting for me to engineer the perfect replacement and it drove me night and day.
Finally, my computer model was perfect. I knew which genes had to be replaced or modified and I shipped the model with all its definitions and coding instructions over to the Embryo and Nursery laboratory of the company, which actually created embryo’s of designed animals. I could relax for a change, and I did.
A week went by and each day I would go to work, clean up my desk and associated computer files and now and again, actually chat with some other engineers on their projects but mostly I would go to the lab to check on my engineered pig.
In the third week after I had provided the engineering details of my perfect heart pig, when I entered the Embryo Lab to check on things, there was a crowd and great excitement around one small incubator and joining the group, found myself starting down at 3, well formed, small pigs. My engineering had worked or at least to the point of producing viable embryos and now living breathing, infant pigs. I was shocked and so happy and as I watched the 3 little pigs wiggle this way and that, with their eyes closed and short little legs, I could not but feel pride in what I had done.
I returned to my work and once again set about looking over my design with hopes of engineering a different blood type pig heart but late one night, quite by accident, I stumbled onto a gene I had ignored in my original design as little was known about the functioning of this gene and it did not seem related to what I had been doing, but somehow, my engineering on other genes had changed the protein makeup of this one gene. I checked and recheck and every time I applied my change to the genetic code of an ordinary pig, gene 1A345M got changed somehow. How and why I could not explain and what would be the effect of that change? The 3 little pigs all seemed healthy enough.
Once more I made my way to the Nursery and looking about, found the, my, three little pigs in a small cage in one corner but something was not right. Oh, the pigs were all right, perfect in fact in everyway except they stood no more than 1 inch tall at the shoulder and where only 2 inches or less long and all seemed fully mature. There eyes where open and they moved about like real pigs. Looking at their lab charts, what I had begun to fear was there in pencil and ink. The pigs had not grown in height or length in weeks now and were beginning to be called “The Three Little Pigs” by all the lab workers.
What a disaster. My first genetic engineering assignment and I had come up with these 3 miniature pigs, which would not be good for anything, much less as the source of a heart transplant.
I went home and proceeded to get drunk. How would the bosses take it once they learned of my failure? My efforts had cost the company plenty of money and I could only assume I would be out on the street soon, looking for another job but who was going to hire me after this disaster? Eventually I drifted off to sleep dreaming of the 3 little pigs until finally a ringing phone woke me up and a woman’s voice, identifying herself as Mr. Samples' secretary, said, Mr. Sample, the Chief Executive Officer of my company wanted to see me right away. Oh, crap, I knew what was coming: the lecture, the outrage and finally the dismissal.
I made it to work in about 15 minutes, skipping the usual shower and shave and knew I looked a mess, but I did not care; how nice does one have to look to be fired anyway?
I had never met Mr. Samples or his secretary or even been on the floor of the building which housed his office but when I got there, I was impressed that it was not gaudy or fancy as I had expected and Mr. Samples’ secretary was not some eye candy in a tight skirt but a middle aged woman who I bet could and did actually work hard every day supporting Mr. Samples.
As I was told Mr. Samples has waited on me, he had moved on to some other business and now I would have to wait on him and so I did. Good. Time to compose myself and perhaps prepare a defense. I had not known that one gene would mutate like it did. No one would have guessed that and the software did not flag it as a potential runtime error.
Finally, the door to Mr. Sample’s office opened and a tall, well-groomed man in a well-tailored business suit invited me in. He was not alone for as I entered, Mr. Samples introduced me to a Mr. Edge and then we all sat down.
Mr. Samples spoke first. “Your little experiment and excuse my pun, you know it is not going to benefit the company but Mr. Edge has proposed a way that perhaps the company can recoup our investment in your efforts and in you but I thought you ought to hear it from him directly as you were so instrumental in the development of the 3 little pigs."
Edge was a rather large man with the ruddy face of a butcher and I could
picture him, in my mind, behind a butcher counter someplace, chopping and
slicing. Anyway, Mr. Edge proceeded to
ask me if I knew whom he was to which I responded, “NO.” “Well not unusual,” he replied, “Most people
do not, but I am the 3rd richest man in the world owning significant
uranium mines on all continents but perhaps of more importance to you is that I
am a gourmet. For years now, I have tasted the best the world has to offer and
have eaten just about every animal, reptile, insect or bird that exists and
some, which no longer exist I am sorry to say. The point being that I have made a deal with your company to buy
your mistake, your 3 little pigs, and have them cooked, one at a time, for a
very special meal for myself.” Going
on, Mr. Edge said, “As I am told by Mr.
Samples that you are the engineer who designed them, I would like to know, if
eating them will harm me in anyway?
Other than their miniature size, are they perfect in every other way? "
I was stunned. All my work so this rich jackass could eat my 3 little pigs!
I looked at Mr. Samples and then back at Mr. Edge. Mr. Samples piped up, “Mr. Edge has proposed to cover the entire cost of the project up to this point, which I might add, would be very good for you, as there would not be any reason for us to not to continue to use your services.” Mr. Edge spoke again, “I assume you have not named them, have you? It can be so much harder sometimes when the boy or girl who has raised an animal has given it a name. I, myself, never name the animals I keep on my ranches. I just enjoy the exotic and can pay for it. Perhaps you would say, it is a form of sex for me.”
I sat, not knowing what to say or if I needed to say anything. Mr. Samples did not need my permission to do anything with the 3 little pigs but then I remember the whole point to the meeting and turning to Mr. Edge said, “Sir, as far as I know and I have researched it extensively after discovering the mutated gene, that other than their size, the 3 pigs are otherwise perfect.” And then I stopped. I just could not bring myself to say the words, “To be eaten by a bastard like you.”
Mr. Edge looked at Mr. Samples and said, “Well, that’s it.” And Mr. Samples looked at me at said, “Thanks for your time and someone will be in touch on what you should start on next”. And with that, I got up, turned around and left Mr. Samples office, closing the door behind me.
I was stunned. Of course the pigs belonged to the company and somehow they eventually being opened up to extract their hearts for human transplant had not ever bothered me, as a human life was going to be saved, but this! Eating, my, 3 little pigs to satisfy some rich guy's desire to have eaten every kind of flesh on the earth? It was just too much but I had no idea what I could do about it.
I returned to my lab and fired up the computers but it became obvious I could not work, I was too upset and so I left work early and headed home for maybe a shower and another shot of some whiskey.
The shower did help but the whisky, not so much, as the more I drank, the more I became angry until finally, I realized I just had to do something. That rich bastard was not going to eat my 3 little pigs. I could just see him in some large mansion dining room, at some huge long table, sitting all alone at one end, all dressed up in a suit, napkin tucked under his chin and knife and fork in his hands and him just cutting away at one of my little pigs and then stuffing his face. And so, I hatched to plan to go back to the lab and rescue my work, my pigs, and bring them home with me. No, that would not work, my company would look for me and the pigs at my home first, so I packed up what little I had in a suitcase, took it to the bus station and bought a ticket for it to San Francisco. Then I made my way to work and past the security guards to the lab where the pigs where being kept. As I entered through the door, a sudden panic attack overcame me. What if Mr. Edge had already taken the pigs? But there, right were they had been for weeks now, were the 3, just waiting for my rescue.
Funny, there never made a sound, any of them, as I picked up each in my hand and slipped them into the side pocket of my jacket. Could they know I was rescuing them?
Then back out the lab and past the security guard with a wave of my hand and out onto the street. A quick cab and I was on a bus to San Francisco with my 3 little pigs all warm and settled into my jacket pocket. As far as I could tell, they slept the whole way.
In the ensuing days, I expected to read about the theft of the pigs in the newspaper or hear about it on the news, but apparently my company had decided that my failure would be bad press for them and so I saw or heard nothing. But it was only a week or so after I moved to San Francisco that while I was out, a man came to my apartment building inquiring about me. “Said, he was an old friend trying to find me after years of not seeing me.” But I knew better. Dear old rich Mr. Edge was not going to give up that easily and so began my constant movement from city to city, always watching behind me, changing names, taking minor jobs so I would not get noticed.
It has not been easy and I am not really sure why I did it but I do have to tell you that I have named my three little pigs. One is called, Straw, another, Sticks and the last and my personal favorite, Bricks.
Maybe someday, you will open the newspaper or watching the evening news learn of some new miniature creature created in a laboratory someplace but until then, you will just have to be satisfied with what I have told you.
“Straw”, “Sticks” and “Bricks”. They are so cute; I wish you could see them.