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The construction workers
The construction workers

When Alfred Tennenbaum was commissioned the creation of Man, he was both happy and miserable. He was happy because times were hard, and the wages he would receive would help the Tennenbaum family to sail through the long winter. He was miserable because he didn't have a clue about what Man was supposed to look like. He feared that any mistake of his would result in dire consequences. Alfred Tennenbaum was no fool.

The list of specifications he was given didn't make him feel better. The thing was to have four limbs, like a dog, but it should walk on two, like a chicken. It would come in two flavours, male and female. The male would have a penis, more or less shaped like a donkey's, but much smaller, and the female would have two breasts between the forelegs, like an elephant. Alfred was too young to have been part of the design team for dogs, chickens, donkeys and elephants, but at least he knew people who had. He would have to dig up some old blueprints and start from here. But the being was also supposed to have a brain, and a brain autonomous enough to support a (shudder) soul. Worse, it would be able to take conscious decisions. Worse, it would be able to take wrong decisions. Alfred thought of leaving the town on the spot. Who did they think he was? Some kind of god? It was hard enough to build things that worked, but how could one make things that didn't work? And the specifications were endless. Ability to laugh (who was that guy who worked on hyenas?). Prone to gratuitous violence but with a built-in reservoir of kindness. Creative. Dumb. Driven by instinct. Gifted with free will. And so on.

Though this was not the safest thing to do, Alfred called a few people, asking for advice without telling too much of his plight. A few hours later, when his wife Mina called him to bed, he felt like crying. It's a set-up. Someone is after me. I'll never make it. We're as good as dead, he said to Mina. This is the end. Well, she said, you remember my friend Lilith? The brunette with the long curly hair? Yes, I do, said Alfred reluctantly (he remembered Lilith very well but he didn't like discussing that with his wife). What you don't remember, Alfie, is that she was chief designer on the ape project. So if you let me talk to her, she