Troy Samuels entered the lab at the Diamond T five minutes before his appointed start time of 8:00 a.m. He walked to a locker that stood in one corner of the lab and traded his light jacket for a full-length white lab coat. Troy was a graduate from Colorado State University, and his brilliance in understanding the genetic code and gene manipulation earned him accolades and recognition from his professors. When Julian Reichert called the university and asked for their best and brightest, Troy Samuels’s name topped the list, and from the minute Julian met the affable, twenty-six-year-old graduate student, he took a strong liking to him.
The job and the grant from the Diamond T was a godsend to Troy, whose widowed mother helped pay his college expenses until his younger sister, Emma, enrolled in college. From that point, Troy and his wife, Shelly, lived on student loans and the income Shelly received as a secretary in the research department at the university. When their first child was born, Shelly quit work at the university and took a part-time job when they moved to Rifle where Troy could be closer to his work.
At precisely 8:00 a.m., Dr. Jonathon Ryder walked into the lab. On the previous day, Troy and Dr. Ryder flushed ripe eggs from the Domino cows and fertilized them in-vitro with sperm from the Diamond T Dominion III bull. Troy removed one of the petri dishes containing a single developing embryo from its temperature-controlled incubator and placed in under the light microscope. He sat at the table and looked into the microscope. The formation of life was unfolding right before his eyes as he watched the division of cells create the new beginnings of what would be a living, breathing animal. It was amazing to him that this embryo, now in the fourteenth hour of cleavage, could be split into two, four, or even eight individual, identical embryos, and that each of these embryos would become a living calf.
Today, he and Dr. Ryder would place one of these divided embryos into the uterus of the original mother and seven others in the uterus of “common” surrogates. This was a process that Troy and Dr. Ryder repeated monthly at the Diamond T with eggs that were recipients of the myostatin blocker gene, the gene that the two of them had successfully isolated months earlier. In one year’s time, one prize cow, producing eggs that were fertilized with the sperm from Dominion III, could produce dozens of superior offspring, but the calm, relaxing atmosphere that Troy thrived in at the Diamond T was about to change.
It was just after the announcement that Troy and Dr. Ryder had created the synthetic myostatin gene that Troy began noticing unusual events that concerned him. The first came when he noticed a gray sedan following him from the Diamond T to his home in Rifle. He wasn’t sure how long the car had been shadowing him, but he first noticed it on one of his late-evening drives home from Oak Creek Valley.
He hadn’t given it a second thought until he saw it in Rifle driving on the street in front of the apartment, and then it was at the bank and again near the grocery store. Now, every time he walked out of the door of the apartment, he looked for the gray sedan. When he asked Sherry if she knew someone who drove a gray sedan, she told him no, but Troy couldn’t ignore the mysterious way the car kept showing up.