Time: 8 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.
I loaded the file into the printer and made sure all the print cartridges were full—nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, carbon… Carbon and hydrogen always went fast, but the cartridge was no bigger than nitrogen or oxygen. The traces array was full enough too. I didn’t want this print-out to pause mid printing, it wasn’t good for the creatures. I made sure the enzyme and synthesis units were at operating temperature and weren’t gumming up. Once I had printed an entire miniature penguin only to find it dead, with damage to the proteins. That’s an expensive mistake.
This time I was printing a fairy. I had slaved for hours on the design, making sure that the wings were sufficiently large to support a creature of the size while still looking appropriate. I borrowed the digestion from a hummingbird, and the wings from extinct, enormous species of dragonflies. She would be six inches tall, beautiful and the color of caramel. I had hoped to start with the colors of the rainbow, but I was worried that yellow might end up looking jaundiced, and I wanted this first one to work. I could sell her to a fantasy novelist for a pretty penny, but it would go better if she was alive and beautiful.
I did a last check on the equipment and hit the go switch. The enzyme cartridge came to life, and soon the print head started on the internal organs, the template spinning around, allowing different angles. With these things, the sequence was also important.
I sat nervously on my stool, while the print head flew around, filling in muscle here and connective fiber there. Several hours passed, and I could see a tiny heart. I couldn’t be more nervous if my (hypothetical) wife were giving birth.