Celeste and Koen Tazro sat placidly in the quiet darkness, waiting for the lights to return in the movie theatre as the credits slowly descended on the spacious screen.
“What did you think about it?” Koen asked.
“I really liked it,” Celeste answered. “What about you?”
Patrons passed by on both sides of them, murmuring their opinions of what they just saw.
“I liked it too,” said Koen. “The acting was excellent, the action believable, and it was decidedly cerebral.”
Celeste gently nodded, slipped her handbag over her shoulder. “Ready to go?”
“Let’s wait till everyone leaves,” Koen suggested. “I don’t want to take the chance that someone might bump you in the stomach and hurt our little growing boy.”
Celeste fondly smiled. “That’s why I love you so much: you never stop—” She gasped; her mouth suddenly opened.
“What’s the matter?” Keon urgently asked.
“He just kicked,” his wife answered, clutching her swollen belly. Then: “I can’t wait to meet him. It’ll be glorious.”
“Thank God he was conceived before the Controllers imposed their nefarious sanction: that the only children permitted to be born are the ones they approve of,” Koen conveyed. Then, he deeply sighed, and added: “To think that our son could have been destroyed is unconscionable.”
“Our life’s work has made us a tremendous threat to them since we’re exposing how to scientifically eradicate germ warfare from the planet. And they’re not going to take the slightest chance that our progeny will follow in our footsteps.”
“They should be concerned,” Koen soberly said. “The DMO we created will synthesize any pathogen their wicked scientists covertly release into the environment and convert it into a beneficial complexity.” (DMO was an initialism for “diversified microorganism.”)
“The thing is, they keep manufacturing microbes designed to harm people, replicating entities they think are invulnerable, yet we managed to take these malevolent pathogens and convert them into something wondrously helpful via our DMO.”
Koen impishly chuckled. “They sure are furious that their killer-bugs have been rendered impotent.”
“I just hope they never figure out that we’re the ones who are doing it.”
“The gain is worth the risk, my love.”
Celeste troubledly sighed. “The downside is, there isn’t a minute that passes by that I don’t feel like we’re being watched.”
She nodded, held herself as if the temperature had suddenly dropped fifty degrees. “Even though we’ve disguised our true work, I feel like the Controllers know everything we do, know every place we go.”
“What do you think their intentions are?”
“They’re capable of anything.”
Keon took a taut breath. “I can’t believe they would actually harm us.”
“You mean you don’t want to believe it. Right?”
The final patrons were filing out of the theater.
“Because you know they would annihilate us at the first opportunity,” Celeste added.
“I…hope you’re wrong,” Koen solemnly returned.
Celeste glanced over her shoulder. “We’re the only ones left, so why haven’t the lights come back on?”
“No matter. Time to go,” said Koen.
Whereupon metal half circlets shot out of the lower parts of the armrests, and clamped their wrists in place, and they could not stand up.
“Oh no,” Celeste gasped. “Please don’t let this be an S.A.D.”
(S.A.D. was an acronym for Selective Activation Device, which was used by the Controllers to restrain and electrocute their enemies.)
The screen faded to black. Yellow-white light illuminated the cavernous room. A door to the left of the screen opened, and two tall, androgynous-looking individuals in dark blue suits trod up the middle aisle, and stopped and stood over the subversive biochemists. Both wore impassive expressions and possessed flat chests. The one on the left had bright blue eyes, spiked silver hair, a grape-size wart on the right cheek. The one on the right had shoulder-length yellow hair, a prominent hook-nose, massive rosy lips of equal size.
Speaking in a voice that was neither male nor female, Warty minaciously said, “We finally got you.”
Koen swallowed. “What are you talking about?”
“Don’t play dumb,” said Hooky in an indistinctive voice. “We have eyes everywhere and know that you’re the DMO creators.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Celeste rejoined in a sardonic tone that belied her burgeoning fear.
“And just so you know,” Warty said as if not hearing her, “that thing”—it pointed to Celeste’s abdomen—“disgusts and infuriates us.”
Celeste glanced down at her protruding abdomen. “You mean…my baby?”
“And when we destroy you,” Warty went on, “we destroy it.”
This can’t be happening, Koen anxiously thought. This has to be a nightmare. “How can our unborn child possibly pose a threat to you?”
“Suffice to say that it does,” Hooky coldly said.
“We’re schoolteachers—nothing more,” Celeste lied.
“Enough talk,” Warty growled. “Let the punishment begin.”
“Please don’t kill us. Please!” Celeste tearfully beseeched. “We’re innocent!”
“Don’t fret, my pretty one. It’ll be fun.” The androgynous creature smirked. “At least for us.”
Celeste once more implored their adversaries not to hurt them. As did Koen.
“Now for a little sample of our penance,” Hooky quietly said. Then, in a commanding tone: “Activate seats 123 and 124!”
In a few seconds, a five milliampere current coursed through the arms of the altruistic couple; they grunted and winced.
“Feel good?” said Hooky.
“Getting turned on?” said Warty.
They demonically chuckled.
“Please stop it,” Celeste struggled to say with her eyes shut.
“Kill you,” Koen snarled through gritted teeth. (His eyes were slits.)
“You’re hardly in a position to issue threats,” Warty tonelessly said.
“Increase to ten milliamperes!” Hooky enjoined.
I’ve to get them now, Koen vowed. Once it gets to fifteen milliamps, I’ll be unable to do so.
“Mmm. I’m getting turned on,” said Warty.
“Me too, love,” said Hooky.
“Sadistic—bastards,” Koen groaned.
“Indeed we are, darling,” Hooky rejoined.
Celeste was spasmodically crying in between pleas for the two encapsulated evil quiddities to spare her baby.
My poor wife. My poor boy, Koen thought as tears dripped out of his eyes.
Unbeknownst to the Controllers, the Tazros had invented their own S.A.D. for personal defense and protection. It was an impossibly powerful beam of light that summarily dispatched any human being it struck.
“Increase to fifteen milliamperes!” Hooky commanded.
Koen slowly bent his left thumb—it took superhuman concentration and effort to do so—and pressed the small gold button on the bottom of his wedding band; a blinding purple-white beam shot out of his ring and onto the seat in front of him.
“What the hell is that!?” Warty alarmingly asked.
“Your demise,” Koen hoarsely replied.
“Are you deaf back there?! I said increase to fifteen milliamperes!!” Hooky repeated. “He’s armed some kind of weapon!”
When Koen aimed the light at the wicked life forms, it split into two, and the duo exploded.
Inexplicably, incredibly, the electric current ceased passing through Celeste and Koen, and the metal half circlets contracted back into the armrests.
Celeste burst into unbridled weeping. Koen tightly held her and did his best to comfort her.
All that remained of their murderous foes was a diffuse milky substance, and it soon dissipated to nothingness.
“I can’t believe we’re alive,” Celeste quavered in her husband’s ear.
“An unseen Controller had obviously activated the electric current,” Keon said, “and even after they were dead, the current should have continued. But it didn’t.”
Behind them, a sonorous female voice said, “That’s because we stopped it.”
The couple spun about to see an attractive, smiling woman in a pink pantsuit.
“Gordy and I discovered that the Controllers were planning to kill you here, tonight, and we rushed to get here before they did.”
“When and how did you find out?” Koen asked.
“Gordy intercepted one of their communications a mere twelve minutes ago.”
Koen drew a prodigious breath.
“Gordy and I disabled the Controllers in the projection room and cut the current.”
“Just in time,” Koen said. “At 15 mA I would’ve been paralyzed, and at 20 mA we would’ve been dead.”
The comely woman somberly nodded, then contritely said, “I’m so sorry we didn’t get here a bit earlier and prevent them from hurting you like they did.”
“No need to apologize,” Koen assured her.
“Who are you?” Celeste quizzically asked.
“Your DM,” replied the woman. (DM stood for “Domestic Protector.”) “My name is Madge.”
The couple fervidly thanked her for saving all three of their lives.
“All in a day’s work,” Madge philosophically said. Then: “Come on. Let’s go get you debriefed.”