They deserved a second chance at life.
Professor James Fallow looked into the nursery where the goblins cavorted. Child's bodies threw pillows, chased each other with action figures, and made plasticene shapes in the glass-screened playroom. But it was old men's faces that screamed with laughter, old women's faces that shouted to their friends, old peoples eyes that squinted with concentration.
It was called Progeria. A condition that prematurely aged children giving them the bodies of octogenarians before they even reached their teenage. Fallow was a fifty year old Englishman, in good trim but with slashes of warning grey in his still thick hair.
And each of the poor souls in the room looked decades older than he.
"You get lost there partner?"
Fallow turned to find the sheepskin covered bear that bore the name Samuel Weston the third standing behind him. The man's face was so leathery, the skin so wrinkled that Fallow couldn't tell if the owner of the facility was smiling or frowning beneath the thick moustache.
"I'm afraid I lost the tour Mr.Weston."
"Heh, I aint the third for no reason there Lone star, my pappy and his pappy made enough mistakes so my momma didn't have to raise no idiot."
Fallow shuffled uncomfortably in his brand new Gore-Tex jacket. Why did this part of the US have to be so damnably cold?
"I've no idea what you're talking about sir."
Weston laughed again.
"A UN deputation is sent down to a clinic in Dorothy, Alberta. The World Health organization has come to a place that was a ghost town for forty years to see little old me. And the renowned biochemist and world renowned author ‘just happens' to get lost."
The cowboy cocked his worn hat with an equally worn finger and cast a knowing eye at his English visitor.
"Down here we say what we mean and we mean what we say. You think I'm making people don't you lone star?"
The children had stopped playing and were looking out at their benefactor as he talked to the stranger. A stranger who felt just like a six year old that had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. How quickly Americanisms came to him in this part of the world, Fallow thought, and the worse thing was that any moment now someone was going to use the ‘C' word.
"You think I'm cloning here eh?"
There it was.
Fallow turned away from the crucifying eyes of the already too wise infants and prepared to recite the press release that had already been circulated to Weston's facility.
"WHO is making visit to any company that is using excessive amounts of any material that may be involved in polymerase chain reactions will-"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, I heard the play but it's only first and ten not fourth and twenty. Sure we extract DNA, we're trying to find a cure here. What do you expect us to use, Red Indian charms and good luck "
"Tomatoes, potatoes. You know what I mean. Fact is you think I'm up to no good here Lone star. Let me show you something."
Weston gently took Fallows arms and guided him away from the nursery and along a sterile lime green corridor toward and exit door.