"It looks so real!" gasped Catherine, as she held the little replicated habitat in her hand.
"It is real, Miss Vine! It's just in miniature." explained George Iverson, the brilliant geneticist who had discovered how to manipulate the size of any species.
He gently let water slide from his hand into the lake, which was located in the middle of the little world. Disturbed by the sudden downpour, many birds took to the air. A macaw no larger than a bee squawked in protest, and flew above the artificial storm. A tiny bald eagle, as magnificent as its full sized cousin, soared higher yet.
A small lion, which had been hiding in his shirt pocket, came out to investigate. It wasn't much bigger than the macaw. "Hey Leo, let's play nice with the birds!" he laughed. Catherine was mesmerized. The tiny king was every bit a lion.
Once the water had drained from his hand, he looked at the trees and soil which he was holding. "These need to be added to the African Plains habitat. I'm slowly but surely expanding it by another ten feet. If you'll excuse me for just a second, I'll put them in their new home. And make sure Leo doesn't wreak havoc in the bird habitat!"
"Take your time, I could watch them all day." breathed the reporter. She prayed that the cameraman had captured the lion trying to go after the birds.
"Sorry for the interruption, Ma'am."
"What is that skyscraper by the lake for? Are you able to shrink people too?"
"That's not a building, it's a power source and video camera. And you see that little sun? It's a projection. It moves just like our sun.
"Incredible... I would love to take a walk through your tiny garden!"
"You asked before if I can shrink people too. Yes, and no. I can't actually shrink any animal. I change the genetic makeup of the organism at conception. Leo over there is a five year old African lion. I artificially inseminated him into a vole, and delivered him cesarian. I bottle fed him for the first months of his life. I needed a mounted magnifying glass to do it."
"Why are you doing this? I mean, it's unbelievable! But what is to be gained by making such small animals?"
"With wild habitat being lost each year, many species will only exist in zoos and sanctuaries within a century or less. With this method, a sanctuary could set up an entire preserve on an acre or less. Preserves could be established in safe places.
For zoos, food costs would be minimal. Animals would have enough space. This would allow them to focus more of their funds on veterinary care and education. Also there would be a better opportunity for visitors to observe natural behavior live and in person.
Species destined for extinction due to climate change can be saved. Think of it as an Ark. If and when the planet is ready, or another planet is found or terraformed, the original life sized organisms can be brought back. Instincts intact. The biggest drawback is that the parents won't be able to rear and train their much larger offspring. But that has been overcome many times."
"I see. Again I have to ask, what about people? It would certainly solve the overcrowding problem."
"I'm a geneticist, Miss Vine. That's not my puzzle. The method would be the same, but I don't know if it's a good solution. If it were voluntary, I feel like it would be ethical. But at least at the moment, the modifications must be made very early in development."
"I wouldn't want to make that decision either." she admitted slowly.
She then looked at the scientist, and smiled. "Thank you for giving us this exclusive glimpse into your research, Mr. Iverson."
"How can we use it to our advantage? We could only do it to unborn babies!" exclaimed the well dressed man. He then pounded his fist onto the highly polished Oak, frustrated.
Walter Barrs had called an impromptu meeting in his luxurious office. His top specialists in every field had been summoned. He wanted that technology. And he wanted a way to use it to get a stranglehold on first Europe, then the rest of the world.
A man with dirty blonde hair, thick glasses, and a T-shirt featuring World Of Dragons spoke up confidently, yet respectfully. "Sir, with all respect. You are the most powerful businessman on the planet. What would you have to gain by making people who are smaller than chipmunks?"
"If we can find a way to make this work on adults? Not only would I be the most powerful man on Earth, but I would be like a god. WE would be like gods."
A heavy bald man in a designer suite stood up. He was sweating profusely. A little fearfully, he spoke up.
"If you can get the technology to work on adults, the rest will be a piece of cake."
"And how do you propose that we force over seven billion people to sacrifice their size, Gaingrill? Nobody is that stupid."
Suddenly finding his courage, Mr. Gaingrill smiled. It was an evil smile, full of malice. "It's simple. First we convince them that it's only temporary, and to save their lives from an immediate danger. Then we divide and conquer. Anyone who refuses is putting all people at risk."
Mr. Barr let the suggestion sink into his brain. Then he too smiled. "And we won't even have to hunt down the resistance. John Q Public will do the work for us."
Describe what you see
I see a miracle of science, a breakthrough which could change the world for the better. Both for our species and those we share the planet with. But potentially it could also be used for great evil, in the wrong hands.
Describe what you feel
I feel hopeful that we will have the knowledge and wisdom to keep this discovery away from people like Mr. Barr.
Cover image made in Canva, using this image