I'm a sperm collector. I know, I know—a lot of you are outraged, sickened or disgusted by the idea. Hey, maybe even all three at once. What can I tell you? The world is changing and that means new ways of doing things. New opportunities.

My name is Jane Kincaid. How I came to be in this line is a story for another time. Right now I've got a contract to fill.

I'd studied the layout. I knew where the bedroom was and the guards and the cameras. There were no dogs—the owner didn't like them. I'd tracked the movement into, out of and about the house. Okay, call it a mansion—or whatever they call those big houses now.

My taser was ready. The image of my sneaking in played through my mind. Confident I was ready for any contingency, I squared my shoulders, took a deep breath and moved forward.

The graphics in my night-vision specs confirmed distances. A sap dangled from my belt. The sequence was clear as I came up on the two—I tasered the larger one first (though there wasn't really that much difference) with my left hand and chopped the other on the back of the neck with my right. They went down. The smaller one had on a nice aftershave I couldn't identify. Too bad I couldn't ask him.

Hand aching, my eyes scrolled and traversed everything before me. I stealthed my way forward, a shadow in the darkness. I checked my six. Nothing. With everything on alert, I crept ahead. The door was still open. That's what I'd wanted. I like to leave alarm systems for the pros. I admit I'm strictly an amateur when it comes to such things.

I entered the house and listened, bit my lip as I continued on. The floor was inlaid marble. I plunged into a drop-down living room. I couldn't see and had no time for the artwork on the walls or the sculptures scattered about at strategic places.

I swallowed and felt the saliva travel down my throat. It sounded so loud, but I knew that was just my nerves. My feet sank into the carpeting. I moved swiftly across to the stairs and ascended them rapidly. His bedroom was there. I tried the knob ever so gently. Locked. How strange to lock your bedroom door in your own house. But I suppose when you're rich and famous and have to have guards in and about your home, that's the way you live. I guess I'm part of the reason.

I dip into my bag of goodies and remove the plastique. I mold it around the lock, put the tiny detonator in place on a three-second delay, press and step off to the side. Three-two-one. The lock jumps out with the bang. I go in less than a second later.

The great man is just sitting up, startled by the abrupt demise of his lock.

I'm almost to him before he can react any further. I hit him with the taser, not a big jolt, just enough to immobilize him for a few seconds—I don't know his heart condition and don't want to take a chance. I move like a cowboy in a rodeo, roll him on his stomach, grab his hands and pull them up behind him, tie them, grab his feet, bend the legs at the knees, pull them up toward the hands as far as I can and tie his feet to his hands. I feel like throwing my arms up like they do in the rodeo. I don't.

I slap a large piece of silver tape over his mouth. I check my watch. Time is running. I roll him on his side, rip open his red silk pajama top (how considerate of him to dress up so colorfully for me), yank down the bottoms and reach in. Of course, with all the excitement and the abrupt interruption of his sleep, he's flaccid as a worm. He's lucky I'm not one of those who would just cut 'em off and go.

I close my hand around him and start. If I do say so myself, I'm good at this. Lots of practice both personally and professionally. I know, I know, a strange thing for someone to say they're good at. But considering the line of work I'm in, it's a nice facility to have. It got me out of a few spots back in school when I was dating. Guys are so horny they hate to go away with nothing. So I'd give them a hand job and they'd go home happy. I don't know where they put hand jobs on their rating charts. Probably somewhere between intercourse and a kiss. Funny, I've never asked. One of these days I will.

Even under the conditions it doesn't take long to bring him to the brink. On the other side looking in, I would say it's one of the amazing things of the male anatomy: it performs like a soldier even under the most disconcerting circumstances.

While one hand is busy, I ready the thermal flask with the other. There's a bucket of dry ice in my car which will keep it viable until I can reach my client.

There he goes. Fourth of July! He's fully awake now, watching me. No doubt enjoying it since he didn't fight me—not that he can. Wow, he had quite a bit. A real geyser.

Finished now, I let go and put the top on the bitterly cold flask and screw it tight. I put it away, zap him again with the taser, take off the tape and plastic rope, store them in the bag. Thank you, Mr. Billionaire. I pull out my miniature low-light camera and snap a couple of shots. I leave him looking like he's asleep, his chest bare, his bottom down around his calves. Elapsed time: two minutes. I am good!

I go back to the door. Clear. I go back the way I came, wary in case the two I knocked out have revived. I could try another way, but I don't want to set off any alarms. While stealing sperm isn't considered a big crime—unless you take the testicles—it will still get you a stretch. And an even longer one when you throw in assault, breaking-and-entering and trespassing and whatever else they've got a special on that day. I have no desire to spend time with the ladies who like to use their fists to give gynecological examinations.

The two are starting to revive. I give them another jolt. They're bodyguards, they should be able to take it. I continue my withdrawal. The night is cool, filled with the scent of grass, and quiet—until I hear something.

"Psst!" someone says almost inaudibly. Now I'm aware of movement in the night. At least two closing in. Not only don't I want to spend time with the ladies with the big cold hands, but some guys take their jobs seriously. Having failed to protect their employer, they could get vicious, use me to send a message to others in my profession. There are only a handful (no pun intended) of us, but we annoy people—especially wives and girlfriends.

I plunge through a thicket, settle down on my haunches and listen. My night glasses pick up nothing. Unusual. Where are they? Behind me! I whirl around. I hadn't checked my six. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

A foot the size of Delaware comes at me. I barely whip my head out of the way. I push up with one leg, push off with the other, take a quick step, moving in and punching hard and fast to the groin, sticking my hip out so that all the power of my pivoting body is behind the punch. He collapses without any hesitation, thank you. But I don't have time to admire my handiwork. Something crashes into me and drives me to the ground with what they call authority. He's way bigger and stronger than me and with all that testosterone going for him. Me, I have the taser.

I shove it up into the idiot's gut and let him have a jolt. He collapses on top of me and I have to push him off as I roll out from under him. When are they going to learn that hand-to-hand stuff is for fools? Give me a taser any day.

I vanish into the night.

* * *

I met my contractor, gave him the flask and film and collected my money. Some would say that since I went to all that trouble to get in, I could have picked up some artwork or jewels or whatever. My answer is, the more you carry, the more it slows you down. Plus I have no idea how to tell what's real and what isn't. I don't know how to fence that stuff and if you're caught, it's real hard evidence against you. Now, a flask of sperm, if you're cornered, chances are there's always some way to destroy the contents or at least make it difficult to be used as evidence. Myself, I carry a flare. All I need is a few seconds to unscrew the flask, light the flare and stick it in. How much of a case do they have against me then? Try that with a painting or some diamonds. As for the camera and the verification pictures, all I have to do is expose the film. Bye bye evidence.

I pocketed my money—all $5,000 of it. A nice piece of change for a few minutes work. My contractor and I part, our cars driving off in different directions. I let out a deep breath as all the adrenalin clears my system.

I think of the purchaser, the nameless, faceless woman who initiated the acquisition contract, probably some successful businesswoman unhappy with the potential donors available to her through the normal channels. I don't know who she is but I identify with her—that's why I take out the little test tube I'd retained and look at the thimbleful of semen in the bottom. This was not some Joe Schmoe picked up in a bar, genetics unknown. Or some sperm acquired from a bank specializing in such which might or might not be the real McCoy. There've been so many sperm bank scandals that one really couldn't trust them.

This I knew for a fact was real gold—the sperm of one of the brightest, most inventive minds of the human race. I put it back in the refrigeration unit and drove on. I couldn't help smiling.

My child would not be a random roll of the genetic dice—relatively speaking. I know, nothing's guaranteed, but if you start with a pile of horse manure the chances of baking bread are pretty slim. At least, if you start with dough, you got a fighting chance. So, yeah, I could identify with the unknown sister out there. We were obeying the biological imperative of our gender and species: find the best possible genetic material and mate with it. Only it's a new age. You got to change with the times.