I’m going to talk about this one more time, and then not again—once more for the ages, as it were. Besides, there’s not going to be any reason to talk about it again, whether this account, this missive, or whatever it is, survives the trip back to Earth, or whatever it is exactly now that is orbiting between Venus and Mars.
You could say I was an ordinary guy who found himself in extraordinary circumstances, but that wouldn’t be right. I was never ordinary.
I’ve got this thing wrong with me, inside my cells. You’ve heard of Down Syndrome? That’s caused by a tripling of chromosome number 21. You’re supposed to have chromosomes in pairs, 23 pairs. I’ve got a triple alright, but it’s not 21. My triple is 11. That one has 135 million base pairs and controls all sorts of stuff in the body.
When a Down child is born, everyone knows it right away. With me, it was different—you can’t tell that anything’s wrong by looking. Maybe ‘wrong’ is the wrong word anyway. Some people who have studied me and other people who have been identified with trisomy 11 maintain that it’s the next step in the evolution of human beings. Maybe so. I am able to do a lot of things that come in very handy in survival situations, but you can’t tell by looking.
My parents realized pretty quickly that I was much stronger physically than a normal child. There’s a protein in the muscles, CFP7, that is different in people like me, and that makes the muscles stronger. There are other things too that I can do that I didn’t discover until I was older. Most of the things I discovered, I kept to myself, at least until the Bleed was invented and the Europa colony was established. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
So good old Mom and Dad saw that their little baby could pick up and throw things he had no business picking up and throwing, like cinder blocks from the garden my Dad built in the yard, and they took me to the doctor, who agreed that I seemed to be very strong, but didn’t much know what to do about it. My mother told me about the conversation they had.
“He’s very strong, Doctor,” my mother said. “If you hold his hands, he can chin himself, but be careful. His grip is strong too.”
“Really?” the doctor responded. Mom said that he obviously didn’t believe her, she could tell that from his face, but she said she didn’t expend any effort trying to convince him. She knew that when he picked the baby—me—up, he’d find out.
She said he picked me up and that when I gripped the front of his shirt and pulled, his eyes went wide for a second, the way someone’s eyes go wide when they’re surprised. He managed to get my hands pried off his clothes, and then he dangled me by the hands. Mom says that I pulled myself up by the arms, like a little gymnast, until my hands were on top of his, my elbows locked, and I was essentially looking into his face.
“How old is this child?” the doctor said.
“He shouldn’t be able to do that.”
“Yes, I know.”
They did a bunch of tests, but in those days, chromosome analysis wasn’t widely available, and there was no reason to think that I had a chromosomal abnormality, so that wasn’t tested. What was tested came back a little wacky. I had almost no cholesterol in my blood at all. My creotine levels were low, my blood sugar was high, and my red blood cell count was off the chart, but nothing that led to a diagnosis.