The Writers Voice
For the Love of Clones
Kevin B. Duxbury
to the veterans among us, who walk our streets
unheard, and unnoticed.
By the late 1990's, scientists from around the world were well in to the studies of DNA and cloning, but none had ever cloned a living creature. So those same scientists from around the world got together and compared notes.
A few years later Polly, the world's first cloned sheep, was born. The world was shocked. Some felt it was mans' greatest achievement, while others felt we had committed a great sin by taking God out of the loop. Science continued on. As knowledge was gained, greater and more complicated animals were cloned. With cloning seeming as though it had been mastered, the scientists began concentrating on the endangered species, creating such rare animals as elephants and whales. Then one day, word was let loose that again shocked the world. A young doctor had cloned the world's first chimpanzee. For some, it was the greatest cloning feat ever, while for others it was by far the far worst. The closest relative to man had been cloned.
George, as the
chimp was called, showed great intelligence and was
healthy and well. It seemed obvious to all what the
next step would be. On a warm summer day in 2012,
the world's first human clone was removed from her
artificial womb and took her first breath. The
world was shocked again. Many protested the
experiment, claiming that the scientists were
playing God. It wasn't until a week after the
"birth," that pictures of Roxanne were released.
The world fell in love. Roxanne was a beautiful
baby girl, with light skin, dark eyes, and a full
head of dark hair. The protests ceased, and little
Roxanne became the delight of the world. But there
was far more to little Roxanne than the world knew.
Serving as the "referee" so to speak, was the United States. Fort Hood, Texas, the largest military post in the world, was shut down, and all units were deactivated. In their place silos were built, housing thousands of nuclear missiles. A representative from every nation and small country in the world resided there, monitoring the actions of one another, but it was the United States who controlled the missiles and made any final decisions. It was simple really, violate the rules of the Geneva Convention and your country would be wiped from the face of the earth.
with just infantry caused a dilemma for many
countries. With the absence of technology, stealth
fighters, smart bombs, etc., all nations were
forced to rely on the training and skills of men.
Many nations, especially the superpowers, hadn't
done this for decades. The United States Department
of Defense took great interest in the cloning
experiments, so much that they secretly took
command of it.
The Sonja Project was in full speed. Sonja's genetic code was so carefully created, so precise, that she was declared the perfect human being. Her growth pattern was modified, allowing her to grow and mature twenty-four years in only forty-eight months, then would return to normal.
In only four
years time, Sonja had the maturity and physique of
a young adult. Her genetically created brain
swelled with knowledge and training, her body was
firm and strong, and her reflexes were razor sharp.
She was disciplined, obedient, and feared nothing.
The Department of Defense knew that Sonja would be
the perfect human, but what they required was a
better soldier. Early into Sonja's conditioning
faze, two special traits were added. First, Sonja
had the ability to control her own adrenaline flow,
giving her super-human strength at her own will.
Second, her eyes had been genetically modified to
give her night vision that was 150% better than a
From across the country, six of the hardest criminals known were taken from death row and transferred to Fort Irwin, California. There, in a small air-conditioned room deep within the desert, the six convicts were offered a chance for freedom. It was simple really. The six of them would enter a small arena, armed with various assault weapons, and take on one 24 year old female, armed only with two Beretta 9mm pistols. Kill the young female, and they would be set free. The convicts laughed out loud, then asked what the catch was. A man wearing five stars on his uniform assured them there was no catch. Kill the woman, and go free. There was a long pause, then the convicts accepted.
were given a one month extensive training course,
teaching them tactics and training them to work as
a team. Thirty days later, they were an elite team,
minus the ethics of a real soldier. The time for
them to take their freedom was at hand.
Three of the six carried M-4 assault rifles, a shortened version of the common M-16, and each wore a pistol belt with ammo pouches containing twelve, thirty-round magazines. Two of the convicts were armed with the reliable M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon, a lightweight machine gun which had a 200 round drum attached to its frame. Each SAW gunner also carried two extra drums in bandoleers slung across their bodies. The last carried the big M-60 machine gun. The old reliable beast fired a much larger round than the AR's and the SAW's, but with a fifty round belt dangling from his weapon, and 200 rounds crisscrossing his body, the 60 gunner was actually at a disadvantage when it came time to reload. He had no worries though, because he knew this chick was going down. And just for a little assurance, each convict was equipped with two fragmentation grenades, just in case. The convicts laughed and joked amongst each other, bragging of what they would do today after their release. The Suburban began to slow, then came to an abrupt stop.
Before them, far into the desert in an abandoned training area, the large concrete arena stood. Its walls were easily twenty feet high, and before them was a small iron door. The convicts sneered, then dismounted the suburban and collected their weapons. About the arena, expensive cars were parked. One of the convicts smiled and wet his lips.
Surrounding the arena were the Military Police, dressed lightly in desert fatigues and armed with M-4's and Beretta 9mm pistols. The driver guided the convicts to the iron door, then motioned them to enter. One by one, the convicts walked through the narrow opening, into the arena. Within the twenty foot walls, it was a different world. The harsh desert bore little life, but within these walls lush green grass grew. The arena was only about 150 feet long and 75 feet wide, with concrete and wooden barricades scattered about. The sun shined brightly into the roofless arena, warming the heads of the convicts and causing them to sweat. To their front, there was another iron door, still closed. Centered atop the longer walls were small viewing booths, seating about twenty and surrounded by thick, bulletproof glass.
The occupants, wearing a variety of dress uniforms and business suits watched with anticipation. The iron door behind them slammed shut, startling the convicts. They looked in awe as they realized that the door could only be opened from the outside. The convicts stood in a wedge, eyeing the door at the far end of the arena. The door clanked, then opened.
A young female entered the arena, wearing black jungle boots, black fatigue pants, a tight black tank-top, and small, dark plastic sunglasses. Her hands were covered with black fingerless gloves, each holding a new Beretta 9mm pistol. Her short dark hair was pulled back tightly, her body was firm and toned. Her face was light and soft, without blemish. She was quite perfect. She looked forward to meeting her opponents, showing no emotion, just intense concentration.
"Gentlemen," a voice bellowed over the intercom. "Whenever you're ready."
The convict at the head of the formation snickered, gripping his M-4 tightly, then quickly raised the weapon to his eye and took aim. Three shots rang out, fired so closely together that they almost sounded like one.
The lead convict's head thrust back, a SAW gunner spun, and the 60 gunned stumbled back and fell, his belts of ammo splitting where they crossed. The three remaining convicts dove behind the nearest barricades, looking back at their fallen team mates.
"What the hell was that!" one of them yelled.
"She shot 'em, man!" another yelled back.
"No f**king way, man!" he yelled back, his voice trembling.
"Shut up, both of you!" the third convict ordered. He gripped his M-4 tightly. "She got the draw on us. Now let's take her down!"
The SAW gunner repositioned himself, then quickly raised his head above his barricade. The young woman stood fast, her pistols raised. Her right pistol was now two rounds lighter, and the left, one. The SAW gunner raised his body and sprayed bullets at the young woman. She quickly dove and rolled behind a concrete barricade. While the SAW gunner laid his covering fire, the two riflemen moved to farther barricades, attempting to widen their front. Sonja peeked around her barricade, watching carefully where the other two convicts had positioned themselves. The bullets ceased, and all was quiet. She stood and fired one bullet, intentionally hitting the top of the barricade and forcing the SAW gunner down. The two riflemen keyed on the shot and quickly rose and took aim. Sonja fired a single shot from each pistol, sending both convicts' heads thrusting back, their lifeless bodies falling to the ground. The SAW gunner peered around his barricade and looked in horror at the split head of one of his teammates.
"Aw what the hell man," his voice trembled. "What the hell is this?"
He looked over the top of his barricade, only to see the woman quickly walking in his direction, her knees deeply bent, and her pistols at the ready.
"Aw sh*t," his voice trembled uncontrollably.
He jumped up from behind his barricade and let loose a hail of bullets, spraying everything around her. Again she ducked and rolled to the safety of the nearest barricade. The convict propped his SAW on the barricade and continued firing the weapon with one hand, while he fumbled with a fragmentation grenade in the other. He ceased his firing, quickly pulled the pin and flicked off the safety from the grenade, then launched it toward the young woman. Sonja watched the grenade as it lobbed over her head and fell behind her. Knowing she did not have time to throw it back, Sonja dove over the barricade, rolling heels over head, and quickly aimed her pistols.
The SAW gunner struggled with his awkward weapon, fumbling with the trigger. Sonja fired a single round, again forcing the gunner's head down.
"Sh*t!" The gunner cursed, then a second round ricocheted off the barricade.
The grenade exploded, sending debris and shrapnel into the air. Sonja then leapt into the air, flipping herself backwards, and landed back behind the barricade.
"Son of a bitch!" The gunner screamed. He stood and again opened up with his SAW, riddling the female's barricade with bullets. He gathered his courage, and began rushing the barricade with his weapon blazing.
intently, noticing that the noise of the blazing
weapon was getting closer. She swung her arm around
the right side of her barricade and fired a shot.
The gunner shifted his fire and began tearing up
the ground where the female had briefly appeared.
Sonja then shifted to the left side of the
barricade and fired a single shot from her left
pistol. The gunner's body jerked, and his firing
ceased. He stood silently, stunned, and touched his
sternum, feeling the warm blood on his shirt. He
looked to the booths with confusion, fell to his
knees, then let go his last
Sonja rose from her position and scanned the area. She placed one of her pistols in her pocket, then approached her fallen targets. One by one, she checked their necks for a pulse, always keeping her remaining pistol at the ready. Finally, she reached the fallen 60 gunner. She felt his neck and turned her head in awe. There was a pulse. She stood and fired a single shot into the gunner's head. His body jerked. She reached down and checked his pulse again, then stood and faced the presidential booth.
accomplished," she said without emotion.
A New Kind of Soldier
The Sonja Project was a complete success, and the Department of Defense knew that the science of cloning would be a valuable asset. With numerous soldiers like Sonja, the United States could be guaranteed military superiority over any nation in the world. And so it was that the next step in their cloning project was put into motion.
Far in the scorching California desert, a massive satellite dish sent its signal into the sky, casting a digital camouflage net over the Ft. Irwin training area. From a spy satellite all that would be seen was the barren desert floor, and not the enormous genetic factory which had been secretly built. Within the walls of this massive, windowless building the new army of the United States was being cloned. The results were genetically perfect soldiers, mentally and tactically proficient, with a discipline that could not be found in normal humans.
The soldiers were identical. Male Caucasians, six feet tall, 165 pounds, and without a single hair on their bodies. Like Sonja, each was able to control his own adrenaline, giving them massive strength at will, and each had the improved night vision. But what truly made these soldiers effective was the chip. Within each brain of the cloned soldiers, a small microchip was installed which allowed every piece of information the clones needed to be programmed directly into their brains. Entire missions, maps, details, everything a normal human would need to carry or memorize could be programmed into the clone's chips.
the chips allowed the clones to communicate with
one another through thought, rather than by voice
over radio. Again, less equipment to carry. With
the combination of the chip, and the quick and
precise thought process of the clone's minds, they
were a deadly foe. In a combat situation where
there were multiple targets, the clones would
simultaneously assign each target a number, then
distribute the targets amongst each other. As a
result, no target would be hit by more than one
clone. The entire process took less than a
micro-second. In only ten years time, the
Department of Defense had completed the production
of their new, elite army. The creators of the
project and the clones began to grow restless. They
had their new toy, but no one to play with. Then
one day, trouble arose.
So the Russian President proposed a plan: The United States and Russia would take turns controlling the missiles, rotating every five years between their two nations. The President of the United States laughed out loud. He made it quite clear that the United States had control of the missiles, and it was going to stay that way. Talking led to yelling, yelling led to insults, and insults led to war. The Russian government had enough of the stubbornness of the United States. The only way to solve the dispute was through Civilized War.
And so it was that a time and a place were set. On a small, unpopulated island, the two opposing armies met to do battle. It was a complete massacre. The well trained, fearless American clones dominated over the Russian infantry, mowing them down like weeds. The Russian army suffered great losses, while the United States suffered only a few score of casualties. The DOD became very confidant, thinking that none would ever challenge the authority of the United States again after such a great victory. But in reality, their problems were only beginning.
It would seem that the third wave of Russian infantry, having witnessed the slaughter of the first two waves, fell back and fled, taking with them photos and video of the attack. Russian intelligence quickly exposed the United States and their cloned army, shocking the world. Back in the States, the nation stood divided. Many felt that the cloned soldiers were a blessing, having saved hundreds of American lives and assuring victory over the Russians. But many felt that cloning humans like cattle for the purpose of slaughter was the world's greatest sin. The clones didn't complain.
They couldn't. They were not programmed to. But public opinion, as it had always been, was the last of the DOD's concerns. Upon return to their ships from the battle, two of the clones were not accounted for. A review of the battle, recorded by the chips, saw the two missing clones fall during the fight. A thorough search of the island was conducted, but the bodies were never found. It could mean only one thing: The Russians had them.
feet below the earth's surface in a secret Russian
laboratory, the two fallen clones were examined,
and dissected. They found the chip.
One-third of the approaching army appeared normal, looking like green ghosts on a sea of sand, while the other two-thirds gave off a small yellow glow from their heads, just even with their right ears. The Russian officers began transmitting over their radios in their own harsh language. From behind the front lines, Russian Mortar teams began dropping rounds down their 81mm tubes. The mortars flashed in the night and let loose a sharp bang which echoed over the desert. The mortar rounds arched over the battlefield, then slammed into the ground just short of the American lines. The Americans flinched, then continued on.
The rounds did not explode on impact. They were not supposed to. The American soldiers, clones and humans alike, continued their advance, taking care not to disturb the dud rounds which still posed a danger. The clones then froze in their tracks and began shaking their heads, their faces twisted with pain. They went mad. Some screamed in pain and fell to the desert floor as their minds were fried. Others went into fits of rage, opening fire on one another and brutally ripping each other apart. The humans, confused by the actions of the clones, quickly abandoned their flank and avoided the area. With that, the Russians opened fire, quickly cutting down the American army, clones and humans alike. American casualties were high, while the Russians sustained few.
News of the battle quickly reached the United States. The country was in complete shock. The United States had never been defeated, and the citizens of the nation did not know how to cope. But the DOD remained calm.
In the midst
of the battle, two teams from the 10th Special
Forces group managed to salvage what they could
from the bloody slaughter. One team, amongst the
chaos, managed to recover one of the dud mortar
rounds, while the other team slipped behind the
enemy lines. There they overtook a Russian officer,
stripping him of his electronic binoculars and
brutally, but silently, beating him to death. They
returned with the items and gave them to the DOD.
It was obvious that the clones were easily identified by their identical features, but that was not the real problem. The Russians had a device which allowed them to spot the chips, which posed the real threat. And so the scientists came together trying to find a way to hide the chip, to camouflage it, to make it invisible to the Russian device. Then, one of the bioengineers came up with a solution. He created a computer chip made entirely of living cells and tissues, completely organic, and invisible to the Russians. The DOD quickly began producing their next generation of clones, totally unlike any they had ever designed before.
Collecting DNA samples from every soldier in the United States Military, the DOD created an army of clones, each with entirely different features and personalities. They had interests, hobbies, and even made friends with one another. They were so much like normal humans that no one could tell them apart, but that was where their similarities to humans stopped. These were clones, and they were just as deadly as the originals.
programmable, had night vision, and possessed the
super human strength as well as the ability to
communicate through thought. They did not know
fear, and they would fight to the death. Five years
later, the project was complete. The United States
declared Civilized War against Russia, in what
would be the final decision in their long dispute.
They scanned the American army with their electronic binoculars, but they did not see the chips. They fired their special mortar rounds, but they had no effect. Convinced that they were not clones, the Russians rose to attack. Shots rang out, and one by one, the Russian soldiers fell. The Americans began rushing the trenches. The Russians panicked. Every time a soldier would rise to take a shot, his body would thrust back as a bullet ripped through him. In a very short time, the Americans were upon them.
The night lit up with a blaze of fire as the Americans quickly and swiftly swept through the trenches. The second and third wave of the Russian army quickly retreated at the sight of their front line being brutally cut down.
pursued. The forest echoed with shots and screams,
then all was silent.
The DOD conducted a series of press releases and ceremonies, awarding the clones for heroism and bravery, then allowed the clones to speak to the press. The nation gasped. These clones were not at all like the first project. These all looked different, like so many American sons and daughters. The spoke differently, they had personalities, they showed emotions like pride, loyalty, and happiness. Again, the nation became divided. Many felt they were ungodly beasts, created by scientists to seem human, but were actually ruthless killing machines.
Others felt sympathy for the clones. They defended the nation's freedom, and just because they were not borne of woman did not mean they were not human. The debates went on for years. But the DOD really didn't care what the public thought. They were not about to destroy the only weapon that assured security for the United States. Ten years passed without war. It seemed that man had finally become civilized, and no longer needed war to settle the disputes between nations.
The rules of the Geneva Convention were again reviewed, then rewritten.
The majority vote was final, and that was all there was to it. The Department of Defense was not excited about this decision in the least, but they were stuck. How could the United States stand up and claim that world peace was not the answer. They had no choice but to comply. The world celebrated.
A few years
after world peace was declared, the issue of what
to do with the clones arose. The DOD felt the
answer was simple; they would be destroyed as all
tools of war had been. Of course, knowledge of this
could not be made public. There were many who had
grown to love the clones and held them as heroes.
Word of their destruction would throw the nation
into an uproar. It didn't take long for word to
"You're out of your mind, Sir," one of the clones shouted.
"You will do as you are ordered!" The general bellowed back.
There was a momentary silence.
"We are living human beings!" A female voice broke out. "We will not let you murder us!"
The clones began to grumble and shout.
"You are not humans, you are clones!" The general shouted. "We created you! We will decide your disposition! Now do as you are ordered!"
The surrounding soldiers, the human soldiers, became uneasy. The clones were programmed with a will to live, a will to survive. They felt threatened, and their survival mechanism was engaging. They began breaking formation. A lone MP aimed his weapon, but it was quickly snatched from his grasp. A shot rang out, a clone fell, and a riot followed. The unarmed clones greatly outnumbered the security element. They quickly overtook them and fled into the desert.
Seeking refuge, the clones flooded the nearby cities of Barstow, Rosemond, and Lancaster. Word quickly spread of the DOD's plans to exterminate them, and the majority of the public was appalled. The Department of Defense tried desperately to recall the clones, sending messages to the public that the clones were mad and extremely dangerous.
The public didn't buy it.
A new hope
came to the clones through the Catholic church
which started a secret program called "Operation
Underground." The program helped the runaway clones
disappear into society by providing them with
shelter, money, jobs, and even a new identity. In a
short time, the church had members nationwide,
providing the clones with contacts wherever they
It was a cool
night on the streets of Lancaster, California. The
rain had finally stopped, and the locals were
moving about. The lights of the buildings and the
headlights of the speeding cabs shined brilliantly
off the wet, dirty streets. The city of Lancaster
was once just a rural city in the middle of the
High Desert, but like all things in life, times
changed. With three Metro-Links running in and out
of L.A., commuting was no longer a problem. The
desert’s population flourished, and the small city
of Lancaster became a major metropolis of its own.
Kevin walked along the crowded sidewalks, his olive
drab field jacket wrapped around his medium build,
his dark hair slicked back. He looked up and
smirked as his eyes met
“Que pasa, amigo?” The clone said extending an open hand.
“Another day in paradise,” Kevin replied, slapping his palm against the clones as they passed.
They continued on their separate paths, never looking back. The eyes of the clones had been genetically modified for night vision, and as a result, small golden specks could bee seen in their eyes. But these specks were only visible to other clones, and not to the human eye. For the clones, it was a very convenient way of identifying one another.
Kevin B. Duxbury was a former sergeant in the Cloned Army and had served in the Last War, as it was called. His name had been selected from a list of peacekeepers who had once served in the Balkans, but that was all he knew about him. It was how the DOD names all their clones. They wrote it off as a “dedication” to former soldiers who had served their country. Yea, whatever. He was now thirty-four years old, by human standards. He was tired. He had put in a good day's work at the warehouse where he worked in shipping, loading trucks for a national drug store chain. He wove his way through the maze of weathered buildings within his apartment complex. He stopped and climbed the stairs of building 69, then rang the bell of apartment 69B.
“Who is it?” A female voice said over the intercom.
“It’s me. I forgot my key again,” Kevin said into the speaker.
The deadbolts turned, and the door creaked open. The aroma of beef stew and fresh bread flooded the doorway, and from inside the apartment, the radio was playing.
“This is 95.7, KLON, Lancaster. Clone Radio, playin’ all your favorite Rock ‘n’ Roll tunes and some oldies too. That was Metallica with their latest. Man, you’d think those guys would be dead by now! Let’s slow it down a little on this rainy Lancaster night. Here’s a little Merideth Brooks with ‘Stop.’”
The bass picked up a bluesy rhythm, and Merideth began to sing. The majority of the nation had the hots for the clones. It was like a trend. The high school and college kids were all wearing cammo shirts and jackets with patches from clone units, pretending to be clones in hiding. The clones didn’t mind, it took a lot of the attention off of them.
“What’s up, Dude?” Julia said soothingly. She was a slender thing, kind of tall, with dark shoulder-length hair and light skin. Julia A. Timmins was also a former clone and Last War veteran. She worked at the same warehouse, filling bins with individual items to be shipped.
“Another day,” Kevin responded, removing his jacket.
Their apartment was small, especially for three people, but it didn’t really bother them. Clones were accustomed to living in close quarters, and being as they were in a low income area, no one suspected anything. Three people living in a one-bedroom apartment was normal. The place was cramped with handed down furniture and was dimly lit.
“You hungry?” Julia asked. She had just finished preparing a hearty beef stew, with fresh bread, a large salad, and fresh fruit for desert. The clones were known for having large appetites, and a healthy diet.
“Yea,” Kevin responded.
“Want some chow?”
She turned off the radio and brought several plates of food into the small living room. The two clones fell onto the old couch, then Kevin turned on the television. The news came on.
“Earlier this evening,” the young woman reported. “The Clone Tracking Task Force raided a small convenience store where five clones were suspected to be working. Upon entry, three persons, all fitting the description of escaped clones, fled the scene. They CTTF pursued and cornered the clones in an ally way where they were then gunned down by the CTTF using special explosive anti-clone rounds.”
“My God,” Julia whispered.
“These clones were a deadly menace,” Special Agent Max Savage exclaimed. He was head of the CTTF, and hated nation wide. He stood in the alley way, the walls sprayed with blood, and the bodies of the clones covered with yellow tarps. He stood tall, his appearance neat, in his long brown trench coat, pressed white shirt and tie, and gold wire-framed sunglasses. “We have proof that these three clones were responsible for over a dozen murders throughout the city, along with scores of burglaries and muggings.”
“What a bunch of crap!” Kevin said quietly.
“Bull sh*t!” Julia said loudly.
“It is absolutely imperative that we eliminate out society of these menaces if we are ever to feel safe on our streets again.”
Both their hearts ached with the loss of their three comrades. Clones were not taught to love, but they did know camaraderie. There was a loyalty, a tightness among the clones like all soldiers, police, and firefighters experienced. When one fell, all felt pain and sorrow.
“Is there anything else on?” Julia asked sadly.
“Wanna watch a movie?”
“That’d be cool.”
Julia went to a small bookshelf behind their couch and scanned the disks. She selected one of their personal favorites, “Trains, Planes, and Automobiles.” John Candy was always good for a laugh whenever they were feeling down.
About half way through their movie, the locks on their front door began to turn. Johnny Horton, their third room mate entered, his leather motorcycle jacket and his thick brown hair sprinkled with water. Johnny, like Kevin and Julia, was also a veteran of the Last War, and a clone in hiding. And like Julia and Kevin, he too worked in the warehouse where he earned his pay as a forklift operator in the receiving department.
It was very common for small groups of clones to work and live together. It allowed them to stay close and look out for one another. But as a precaution, they would never travel home together. They always left at different times, using different routes and different means of transportation. It was a good deterrent from being spotted by the CTTF.
“Man, it’s really coming down out there,” he said. He glanced at the television. “You must have seen the news.”
“You heard?” Kevin asked, looking over his shoulder.
“Yea. Everyone was watching it in the cafeteria,” Johnny said.
“The food is still hot,” Julia said.
friends finished watching their movie, then went to
their separate beds set up throughout the small
apartment. They all had the morning off the next
day, and they had plans to visit their Aunt Ramona.
anything the clones needed to learn was programmed
into them. The church was amazed at how quickly
they learned through oral communication. Teaching
them to blend in with society was simple. All they
had to do was provide simple explanations as to why
humans did what they did, why they acted the way
they acted. But love, that was a human emotion that
the church just couldn’t quite put into words. The
high priests came to the conclusion that clones may
never learn to love. It was an emotion which the
clones just didn’t possess.
“How long has it been since your last confession, my child?” a kind voice said.
“The elk roam freely on the open plains,” Julia responded.
The priest let go a happy gasp. “And the fox will hide from the hound. Julia, is that you?”
“Yes, Father Joseph,” she said with a smile. “Kevin and Johnny are here too.”
“Oh, praise be to God!” The priest said, clasping his hands together.
“I saw the news last night and I feared the worst.”
“We are fine Father, but three of our own are still gone,” Julia said sadly.
“Oh, my child,” the priest said sorrowfully. “Please, stay and see me after the sermon.”
“We will, Father.”
Joseph’s sermon was wonderful. His kind words
filled his listeners’ hearts with thoughts of love
and hope, giving them the faith they needed to get
by one more week. And with every sermon Father
Joseph preached, he would always include some kind
words about the clones and would defend their
rights to live. He didn’t worry about attracting
attention to himself by defending the clones. The
entire Catholic Church supported the rights of the
clones and their rights to exist.
“Oh, my children,” he said with delight. “It’s so wonderful to see you all healthy and well.”
Father Joseph was a short, chubby man, his face rich with Mexican features. His eyes were bright with joy as he looked over his reading glasses. He hugged each of them warmly.
“We’re here every week, Father,” Johnny said with a smile.
“Oh I know,” Father Joseph replied. “But with those heathens out there trying to hunt you down, I just never know if...”
“Relax Father,” Kevin assured the priest. “We’ve been very careful. They won’t be finding us anytime soon.”
“We’re on our way to visit Aunt Ramona,” Julia said. “Is there anything you would like us to take to her?”
followed the priest down the stairs and into the
church basement. There, he stocked them up with
boxes of food from the food closet. He hugged them
all warmly and bid them God’s blessings as they
left. On the streets above, the clones walked
casually, blending well with the humans around
them. But the clones had a habit, an involuntary
reaction to scan. They were always looking,
watching, for anyone or anything that might want to
“Who is it?” A kind voice called from within.
“It’s us, Aunti,” Julia responded.
“Oh,” she said with delight. “Come in, come in!”
an old metal key from her pocket and placed it in
the bronze lock. She turned it a few times, then
opened the door. Aunt Ramona’s face shone with
delight. She was an elderly Mexican woman with
thick glasses and bright white hair. Her legs had
long since given out on her, confining her to a
wheelchair. Because the building had no elevator,
she could not leave her small apartment. Within the
cluttered space, her entire world existed. Her
small color television flashed images of a wildlife
documentary filmed somewhere in the Colorado
mountains. She spent
Kevin looked about the small apartment and smiled. The familiar aroma of potpourri and home made tortillas gave him a warm feeling inside. The place was familiar, and felt safe. They took off their coats and began putting the groceries away in the small cupboards about the small kitchen. Once finished, they sat in various chairs about the apartment, and Aunt Ramona began preparing some Mexican hot cocoa. The three clones were very partial to Aunt Ramona’s cocoa, but Kevin was especially fond of it.
“Have you kids been good?” She asked from the kitchen with her mild Mexican accent.
“Yes Aunti,” Kevin answered.
“You know I worry,” she continued as she poured the cocoa from her pan into various mugs. “It’s too dangerous out there. You should just stay here with me.”
They all smiled at one another.
The morning slowly rolled into noon, and the clones enjoyed their weekly lunch with Aunt Ramona. The warm manotho and fresh tortillas were always a hit with the clones. They washed the dishes and cleaned the small kitchen, disregarding Aunti’s protests, then hugged her warmly on their way to the door.
“You kids be careful now,” Aunt Ramona reminded them. “There’s a lot of bad people out there.”
“We will, Aunti,” Kevin assured her. The dangers lingering about the streets for the clones were far worse than Aunt Ramona would ever know.
“I’m out of sugar. Could one of you bring me some sugar, por favor?” Aunti asked.
“I’ll bring you some later today,” Johnny said.
“You’re all such good kids,” Aunti said. “You all be good now.”
They bid their
good-byes, then left the comforts of Aunti’s warm
apartment. And so began another day of surviving
the streets of Lancaster.
In the distance ahead, a shot rang out. Citizens screamed and fled, then more shots were fired.
“What was that?” Julia asked with concern.
“It sounded like pistol fire,” Johnny answered.
They froze in place. A loud shot, much like a shotgun was heard, followed by a small explosion.
Kevin gasped. “Those are anti-clone rounds!”
The three ran toward the shots, not thinking ahead as to what they would do. Their only thought was that a fellow clone was in trouble, and they had to do something. Another blast echoed through the streets, followed by a weak explosion. CTTF agents appeared from nowhere, dressed in their blue fatigues, Kevlar helmets, and tactical vests. They rushed into the narrow alley, their weapons at the ready. The three clones rounded the corner into the alley, then froze in horror. The walls and street were splattered with the blood of the CTTF’s two latest victims. Julia gasped as she stared into the lifeless eyes of a young boy, his left shoulder and arm separated from his body. The golden speckles were not there. Standing over the corpse, Agent Savage ground his teeth angrily. He turned slowly and faced the three clones. They froze as he studied them intently.
“What the hell are you looking at?” Savage said coldly. “Show’s over, leave!”
The three clones slowly turned and walked away.
“How the hell did this happen?” Agent Savage asked through his teeth.
The officer in charge stared back at Savage angrily, his temples pulsating. He stood in his full battle gear, a long belt of anti-clone rounds slung across his chest. His Remington Shotgun began to weigh heavy in his hands. “Hey,” the officer responded. “How the hell was I supposed to know they were posers? Their names were on the list.”
grimaced. “Get this area secured and cleaned up,
Lieutenant,” Agent Savage said coldly, then turned
and walked away.
The three walked briskly, heading back for their apartment.
“That was too close,” Julia replied.
“We’ve got to get back and check out the evening news,” Kevin said.
“I’ll bet they try and cover it up.”
“No way, man,” Johnny responded. “There were too many witnesses.”
“God, I hope Savage didn’t spot us,” Julia said nervously.
“He’d have come after us if he had,” Johnny said casually.
“I don’t think so,” Kevin said with doubt. “They really had their hands full back there. We’d better take the long way home, cover our tracks too.”
“I’ll fall back,” Johnny said. “I’ll meet you back at the apartment.”
Casually, without hesitation or drawing attention to themselves, Johnny turned into an ally while Kevin and Julia continued to walk on. It was an old trick used by Clone Recon Teams whenever they were on patrol in a hazardous area. The team would continue with their mission, while one fell behind and hid in the shadows, watching and listening for anyone who might be following them. Kevin and Julia rode the bus around town, then got off close to their apartment complex. They ran up the squeaking stairs and entered their apartment, relieved to find Johnny safely home.
“The two clones we attempted to detain today were both listed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list for crimes ranging from robbery, all the way up to murder.” Agent Savage showed no emotion as he gave his statement, eyes hidden behind mirrored sunglasses. “Every attempt was made to take the clones alive, however they resisted and our lives were in danger. To ensure the safety of my men, I had no choice but to order the use of deadly force during the apprehension.”
“But they weren’t clones,” Julia said with confusion.
“They’re covering it up,” Kevin responded.
Johnny twisted his hands in anger. “I’m going to go get Aunti her sugar.”
“You should stay here, Bro,” Kevin said. “Things are a little hot right now.”
“It’s okay, man,” Johnny assured his friends. “I just need a little air. I’ll be careful.”
“Watch your back, Johnny,” Julia said.
Johnny wrapped himself in his thick leather jacket and zipped it up to his chin, then headed down their apartment stairs and into the cool evening air. From across the street in an old panel van, two men watched Johnny intently.
“There he goes,” one said to the other.
“Yea,” the other acknowledged. “Looks like just another Joe to me. How does Savage spot these guys?”
they pay him the big money.” The agent placed a
small two-way radio into his pocket, then affixed
his ear-piece. “I’m going to follow him. I’ll be on
A week had passed since the last incident. Though the bodies of the two missing “clones” were still under investigation, the media had found other tragedies to report, and the issue was soon forgotten. It was early Tuesday morning, and the employees of the Right Aid Distribution Center had reported for work as usual. But as they approached the time clock, they were once again caught off guard.
“Okay people,” the shift manager said. He was a short, nervous man, chubby and balding. “After you clock in go directly to the classroom for your drug screening.”
“Aw, man!” Julia exclaimed. “Didn’t we already do this month’s screening?”
Kevin thought it to be odd as well. Usually the drug tests were done once a month, but this was the second time within three weeks.
They stood in
the long line of employees, waiting to stroke their
magnetic I.D. cards under the time clock. Above
their heads, a network of conveyers and rollers
crisscrossed about. The enormous rows of shelves
reached stories above their heads and seamed miles
long. The massive Rite Aid distribution center was
a million square feet and held over ten million
different items. The entire building worked off a
computer system, which sent messages to the
computers mounted on each forklift. The computer
told the workers what to get, where to get it, and
where to take it. It was the most efficient and
economical distribution center in the world, as
well as a great place for a few clones to hide.
“Julia Timmins,” she said, holding up her I.D. card. “Four, seven, two, seven.” The machine clicked, taking Julia’s blood sample. She looked into the mirror and stuck out her tongue, then walked away laughing.
“Smart ass,” the shift manager said.
“That was one of them,” Agent Savage said calmly.
From behind the two-way mirror, Agent Savage and two of his men watched the employees intently as they passed.
“What do you mean, that was one of them?” The manager asked nervously. “How can you tell?”
“There goes another one,” Savage said as Kevin walked by.
“There are clones working here?” The manager began shaking.
One of Savage’s men handed him a sheet of paper with three names and employee numbers written on it. Savage in turn handed it to the sweating manager.
“I want the blood results of these three from the time they began working here until now,” Savage said coldly. “Say a word to anyone, and I’ll throw you in prison for interfering with police business.”
man took the paper and quickly left the room.
“What’s up, Man?” Johnny asked. “You’re tight as a drum.”
“I don’t know, Johnny,” Kevin said. “Something just doesn’t feel right.”
“We’d better get back to work,” Julia said, looking at her watch.
The three cleared their table and dumped their trash, then went through the double doors which led back to the warehouse. The rest of their shift was uneventful, but Kevin was still nervous. He dropped his load into the back of a long trailer, then carefully drove his forklift back onto the warehouse floor. He stopped and took a breath. He reached up and lightly touched his earlobe.
“I don’t get it,” he said within his own mind. “Why didn’t they call any names after the drug test today?”
“Maybe everyone was clean,” Julia’s voice responded within his head.
“That would be a first,” Kevin said. “Do you ever remember a test coming up 100% clean?”
“You’re freaking me out,” Julia answered.
A loud buzzer echoed throughout the warehouse, signaling the crew that the work day had ended. Kevin drove his forklift down the long aisles and parked it in line with the others, then met up with his two comrades. The three waited in the long line as each employee swiped their I.D. cards under the time clock, then headed for the large double doors.
“What the hell is that?” Johnny said, looking toward the exit.
The three stared down the long aisle. Two CTTF offices stood just beyond the double doors, directing the employees into the cafeteria. The large doors beyond the cafeteria, the ones that led to the outside of the building, were guarded by six more officers, armed with shotguns and 37mm stun-guns. The three clones looked on in horror.
“Sh*t!” Julia said.
“Julia,” Kevin whispered. “Get to one of the lifts and get on a computer. Turn out the lights and disable the security cameras.” His leadership skills from his days during the Last War were quickly returning.
“Johnny, go trip every one of the fire doors. Once they’re really confused, we’ll slip out and meet at the church.”
“Got ‘cha,” Johnny responded.
clones abandoned their places in line.
“Descriptions,” Agent Savage responded.
“I’ve got one Caucasian female, brown hair, wearing a gray tank-top and blue jeans,” he said excitedly. “One Caucasian male, dark hair, wearing a black T-shirt and blue jeans. One Caucasian male, dark hair, wearing a gray T-shirt and green fatigue pants.”
Julia jumped onto one of the lifts and turned on it’s computer. She began frantically pushing buttons, entering codes which were supposed to be restricted to the head managers. For the clones, these computers were simple toys. She tapped into the main control computer, then commanded it to shut down all the lights and security cameras. She smiled, then hit “Enter.” The entire warehouse went dark. Those still waiting to clock out became uneasy.
“Get those civilians out of there!” Savage’s voice ordered over the radio. The two CTTF guards pushed the doors open, their Beretta 9mm pistols in hand.
“Everyone out, now!” one of them shouted.
The crowd began to panic. They flooded the main aisle, forcing their way past one another and out into the cafeteria. All became quiet. The two guards stared into the dark warehouse, their pistols at the ready. From within the darkness, the hum of and electric motor could be heard.
“What the hell is that?” one guard said to the other.
The hum became
louder, and closer. The guards froze in terror as
they finally made out the silhouette of an electric
forklift charging at them. They opened fire on it,
riddling it with bullets but doing little to break
its path. They dove for cover just as the lift flew
past them. The heavy machine crashed into the
double doors, smashing them to splinters, then
veered off and crashed into the walls of the main
entrance. The six remaining officers rushed the
forklift, their weapons ready, only to find it
Agent Savage pushed his way through the panic stricken mob and eyed the crashed forklift. His face twisted with frustration and rage, then the fire alarm went off.
“Agent Mead,” he said sternly into his radio. “What the hell is going on up there?”
“I don’t know, Sir,” he responded. “The security cameras are all dead, and all the fire doors on the west side of the building have been opened!”
“Son of a bitch!” Savage cursed. “Perimeter team,” he said into his radio. “Has anyone left the building from the fire exits?”
“Negative, Sir,” a voice responded.
in there,” Savage said to his team. “Go in there
and get them out!”
“Look out!” One of the officers yelled as he looked to the ceiling. The heavy boxes crashed down on the team, knocking them to the floor. The one officer still on his feet began firing his shotgun blindly to the shelves above. The large, rubber slugs bounced harmlessly off the metal frames of the massive racks. Agent Savage stormed into the warehouse, only to find his men slipping and falling in a massive pool of baby shampoo. His face twisted with anger.
“I’ve got one male leaving from the west side,” a voice said over the radio.
“I’ve got two,” another voice said. “One male and one female running east!”
“Get after them,” Savage growled into his radio. “Now!”
Johnny sprinted across the small clearing beside the warehouse and quickly scaled the tall, chain-link fence, ripping his green fatigue pants as he rolled his body over the barbed wire. The night was alive with the sounds of sirens and tires squealing. He ran into a nearby alley and looked for a place to hide.
“Down there!” A voice shouted. “You, freeze!”
down the alley and saw the flashlights of the CTTF
officers. He ran the length of the alley, finding a
small street branching off to the west. He ran down
the small street, only to find it was a dead end,
blocked by a six-foot brick wall. Johnny took a
deep breath, summoned the adrenaline within
himself, then began sprinting toward the wall. At
the last possible moment he leapt, clearing the
wall by over a yard. A shot rang out, and a 37mm
rubber projectile slammed into Johnny’s side. He
spun uncontrollably and tumbled to the ground.
Johnny laiy crumpled on the hard, wet asphalt, the
wind knocked from his chest. His head ached, and
blood ran down his face. He fought the pain, and
again began running. He followed the small street
another block, then rounded a corner. He froze,
finding himself staring down the barrel of Agent
Savage’s .45 automatic pistol. In
“He is 3.6 meters away,” he thought to himself. “I will rush him, grab his weapon and force it to the side, then beat him until he is neutralized.”
And in that same micro-second, Agent Savage pulled the trigger. The large .45 slug slammed into Johnny’s chest, throwing his body against a dumpster. Johnny reached up and gently touched his earlobe.
“Kevin, Julia,” they heard him say. “I’m on ‘G’ and 20th West... Savage is here... I’m hit!”
“Johnny,” Kevin said within his own mind.
There was no answer.
“Johnny!” he screamed out loud.
“Oh my God,” Julia whimpered.
The two clones
held each other tightly, hidden behind a dumpster
in a dark alley. Julia shook uncontrollably in
Kevin’s arms. He felt warm water run down his face.
It was the first time the clones had ever cried. Julia looked upon Kevin, her face drenched.
“What is this?” she sobbed. “What’s happening to us? Why are we... feeling like this?”
“I don’t know,” Kevin said, wiping his eyes.
From the end of the alley, they heard the wailing sirens of a CTTF vehicle. The armored truck flashed past the alley, then screeched to a halt.
“Sh*t!” Kevin exclaimed. “All right, we have to split up.”
Julia grabbed onto Kevin’s arms. “No,” she cried. “I don’t want to leave you!”
Kevin looked into her dark brown eyes and felt a warmth in his heart like he had never known before. He looked upon Julia, and once again realized just how beautiful she was. “I don’t want to leave you either,” he said. “But if we split up, we won’t be as easy to chase. I’ll meet you at the church.”
Julia hugged him tightly. “Be careful,” she whispered.
“You too,” Kevin said.
Beams of light
began flashing down the alley. Julia and Kevin
looked into each other’s eyes one last time, then
ran down the street in opposite directions.
“Damn it!” she swore.
The pursuing CTTF team stopped their pursuit, and slowly walked up to her.
“That’s enough, young lady,” one of them said calmly. “Now turn around, spread your feet, and interlace your fingers behind your back.”
Julia smiled cunningly, then did as she was told. The team slowly approached her, their weapons at the ready. They stopped about twenty feet short of her, then a lone officer approached her with a set of handcuffs.
He walked up to her cautiously, his hands shaking, then licked his lips. He reached forward and touched her wrist. Julia spun around with a speed like the humans had never seen before. In a heartbeat, she snatched the handcuffs from the stunned officer, and cuffed his hands. His eyes grew wide with fear.
“Shoot her!” one of them yelled.
She grabbed the cuffed officer and spun him around, then held tight to his flak vest. The five remaining officers opened fire. Julia hid behind her human shield. The officer screamed and gasped as the 37mm and 12 gauge rubber projectiles slammed into his body and face. The firing ceased, and the team stood with empty weapons. Julia summoned her adrenaline, then thrust her open palms into the back of the dazed officer. His body flew into the remaining team members, knocking them all to the ground. Julia rushed into the pile of bodies and began fiercely punching and kicking them, knocking the wind from their bodies and rendering them unconscious. Two of the officers managed to get to their feet and draw their police batons, but they were of little use. Julia struck skillfully, fighting with an art and style that only the clones knew. It was a form of fighting which consisted of every type of marshal art combined into one, and could not be countered by any normal human. Within a few seconds, the entire team was neutralized. She looked about the bodies around her, then gently touched her earlobe.
“Kevin,” she said within her own mind. “Where are you?”
“I’m on F-12 and 6th Street,” he answered. “I think I lost them. Where are you?”
“I’m in an alley between 3rd and 4th Street,” she said. “I think I can see F-11 from here.”
“I’ll meet you at F-11 and 4th,” Kevin said excitedly.
“Got ‘cha,” she responded.
Julia walked to the chain-link fence and began to climb. Slowly and painfully, a badly beaten and dazed CTTF officer drew his Beretta 9mm. He took careful aim, and fired. Julia gasped as three rounds slammed into her back. She tried hard to take a breath, but she couldn’t. She hung desperately to the fence.
“Kevin,” she thought. “I’m hit!”
The officer emptied his magazine, hitting Julia eight more times. Her body jerked and shook.
“Kevin,” she whimpered. “Help me.”
She lost her grip and fell to the cold, wet ground below. The CTTF officer slowly rose to his feet and staggered over to her. She lay twisted and broken, her eyes open and lifeless. Kevin rounded the corner, only to see Julia’s bloodied body, and the lone CTTF officer standing over her.
“No!” He screamed in rage.
The officer looked upon the clone with horror. He tried desperately to reload his pistol, but within a heartbeat, Kevin was upon him. The enraged clone grabbed the officer by his vest and threw him against the brick building, bouncing him off the wall and sending him to the ground unconscious. Kevin knelt over Julia’s body and brushed her hair from her face.
“Julia?” He said softly. “Julia, wake up. You can’t be dead. You just can’t.” He stared into her open, lifeless eyes, his own swelling with tears. “I don’t want to go on without you. I...love you.” He knelt over her for a long moment, stroking her soft hair. His own tears dripped onto her face and ran down her cheek.
“Stand up, Clone,” a harsh voice shouted.
Kevin slowly turned his head. At the end of the alley, Agent Savage stood, wearing his long trench coat, mirrored sun glasses, weapon drawn.
“You can either surrender and be destroyed properly,” he said coldly. “Or I can kill you right here, right now. It makes no difference to me.”
Kevin rose slowly, his fists clenched, and faced Agent Savage. The look on his face suggested sheer rage, and defiance.
“I was hoping you would resist,” Savage said with a smirk.
Kevin rushed Savage with speed like the agent had never seen before. Savage fired three rounds, and much to his surprise, the charging clone dodged them. In a heartbeat, the clone was upon him. Kevin snatched the gun from Savage’s hand and sent it flying into the street. He then followed up with a series of punches and kicks. Savage skillfully blocked all his blows, except for the final kick to his ribs which sent him spinning to the ground. Kevin backed off and stood ready. To his amazement, the agent slowly rose to his feet. He took off his long trench coat and dropped it to the ground.
“I’m going to enjoy killing you, clone,” Savage said calmly. He adjusted his sunglasses, then charged.
Kevin threw a punch at the agent’s head, but it was quickly blocked and countered with a series of punches and kicks of his own. The two fought furiously, with speed and skill like no human could ever know. Savage landed a punch to Kevin’s head, stunning him and sending him to his knees. Savage kicked the clone hard in his ribs, sending him tumbling towards the fallen Julia. He looked again on her lifeless face, and his veins swelled with rage.
Savage charged the fallen clones. Kevin planted his hand firmly onto the ground and swung his legs, landing a double kick to Savage’s head. He stumbled back, dazed and confused, his sunglasses smashed. Kevin again rushed the agent and pummeled him with a series of punches to his body and head. Savage tried desperately to fend off the attack, but the enraged clone was far too fast. Kevin brought his fists down on the agent’s shoulders, breaking both his collar bones, then concluded with a swift kick to his ribs. Agent Savage’s body flew across the alley and smashed into a rusted dumpster. He came to rest on his buttocks, his arms hanging lifeless.
Kevin walked up to the defeated agent and stared in horror at the golden speckled eyes which stared back at him.
“You’re a clone,” Kevin said in awe.
Savage stared coldly back at him.
“You’re a clone!” Kevin yelled. “How can you do this? How can you kill your own?”
“Wake up, Duxbury,” Savage said with an evil smile. “We were designed to do two things: Kill and survive! I found the perfect cover. No one would ever suspect an agent of the CTTF to be a clone, and so I survive.”
“But you’re killing your own!” Kevin exclaimed.
“It doesn’t matter,” Savage laughed. “We’re all expendable. We were all designed to serve a purpose, then to be destroyed when we were no longer needed. We were not meant to be here, so there’s no loss!”
Kevin’s face twisted with rage. “We were also trained to protect the lives of each other,” he said quietly. “So the way I see it, if I kill you I will have saved the lives of hundreds of clones.”
Kevin grabbed Savage by his hair then drew back his fist, ready to deliver the final blow which would crush Savage’s skull. A shot rang out, and a 12 gauge led slug slammed into Kevin’s side. He spun and fell, blood and flesh spraying from his body. He tried to take a breath, but he couldn’t. He painfully draged his body over to Julia, and died by her side. Three CTTF officers tactically walked down the alley, their guns at the ready. Two approached the fallen clones, while the third stopped to check Savage.
“Sir,” he said. “Sir, can you hear me?”
Savage looked upon his officer, his eyes rolling as he drifted in and out of consciousness.
“Base this is four-one,” he said into his radio. “Agent down! I need an ambulance at the 1200 alley off F-12.”
“No,” Savage moaned. “No ambulance.”
there, Sir,” the officer said. “You’re going to be
To the Rescue
The streets were a mess. The small alley had been sealed off with yellow barricade tape, while the adjoining streets were blocked by patrol cars. Police and firefighters moved busily about, while spectators and the news media tried desperately to get a glimpse of the blood splattered alley.
“Clear a path,” an officer yelled.
Two paramedics rolled their gurney under the yellow tape and to the awaiting ambulance. Strapped to it was Agent Savage, unconscious, and covered with a white blanket. The paramedics loaded him into the ambulance, secured the doors, then sped off into the night. A dark blue panel van then pulled up in its place.
“Whoa, whoa!” A local policeman said. “Who the hell are you guys?”
“County Coroner’s Office,” the black passenger said. “We’re here to pick up the bodies.”
“Good,” the officer said. “Get them out of here.”
The two employees, a white man and the black man dismounted their van and opened its’ back doors. They removed two stretchers and two body-bags, then walked under the yellow tape and into the crime scene. They quickly and carefully placed the two clones into the body-bags, then gently placed them each on their own stretchers. With the assistance of two CTTF officers, they carried the two clones out of the alley and loaded them into the van. They closed the back doors and climbed into the cab of the van.
“This is kind of a sensitive situation we have here,” an officer told the driver. “So we’re going to have a patrol car follow you. You’re going to LCMC, right?”
The driver looked to his passenger with concern.
“Los Angeles County Medical Center,” the black man said. “Roger that. We’ll be taking them straight to the coroner.”
The driver fired up the engine, then drove off into the darkness with a patrol car following closely behind.
“Keep going toward the freeway,” the black man said. “We need to get a little farther away from all those cops.”
The white man continued to drive casually. The black man reached down to the floor and took hold of a thin, nylon cord which went through the van’s floor.
“Okay,” he said. “When I give you the word, floor it!” He continued to watch the patrol car in his mirror.
He pulled hard on the nylon cord. From the back bumper of the van, a long, narrow trough turned sideways, dumping hundreds of road spikes onto the street. The patrol car skidded to a stop as all four tires blew out.
The van’s engine roared as it fled into the night. The driver wove skillfully through the city streets, as though he’d driven the same route hundreds of times before. They shot down a narrow alley beside a small factory, then pulled into a rear parking lot. The driver swung the van down a narrow ramp which led to the buildings subfloor, then honked his horn twice. Slowly, the large steel door opened, revealing a small garage. He quickly drove the van down the ramp and into the garage, then the door closed behind him. Several men and women, all dressed as though they were ready to do surgery, rushed to the van.
“How long has it been?” a doctor asked.
“About an hour,” the driver said.
“Damn,” the doctor said.
The crew moved quickly, removing the two stretchers from the van and carrying them through a small door. Beyond the door was a very elaborate, well hidden emergency room. The room met all the standards of any E.R., with clean floors and walls, and state-of-the-art equipment. The two clones were placed on large tables, and their body-bags quickly cut away. The doctor pulled a small device from his pocket and used it to look into the eyes of the clones.
“We’ve still got time,” he said excitedly. “But not much. Let’s get to work!”
The crew began moving about the clones frantically, hooking up IV’s and placing oxygen masks on their faces. A nurse stood by the heads of the clones, flipping the pages of a small pamphlet.
“The ducks will fly south in the winter,” she said. She looked to the clones in confusion. “The ducks will fly south in the winter!” She said loudly.
The clones laid still.
“It’s not working!” she exclaimed.
The doctor looked to the clock as he cleaned Kevin’s side. The clock showed 8:04.
“It’s after eight o’clock,” he shouted. “Go to the next time table!”
flipping through the pages of the pamphlet
nervously, then stopped.
Kevin and Julia took a deep, labored breath, and the monitors attached to their bodies began to beep and whistle. The doctor smiled, although none could see it under his surgical mask.
there,” he said quietly.
She was covered in a white hospital blanket, an oxygen mask over her nose and mouth. She looked over to him and smiled.
“I love you too,” she whispered.
“He’s awake,” a nurse shouted.
She rushed to Kevin’s side and checked the monitors by his bed.
“How are you feeling?” She asked.
“I hurt,” he whispered. “Where are we?”
The nurse smiled. “You’re at the Clone Treatment Center,” she said.
“It’s a secret hospital hidden beneath the Hal’s Market fish factory, but you have to promise not to tell anyone, not even other clones.”
“What happened to us?” He asked. “Why aren’t we dead?”
“Your bodies went into Traumatic Shutdown,” she answered. “It’s a little defense mechanism that clones have, but even most clones don’t know about it. Basically what happens is this: If a clone is fatally wounded, their body will shut down to prevent them from bleeding to death. Your heart rate and breathing become so slow, that you appear to be dead, when in reality you are getting just enough oxygen to your brain to prevent damage.
We can re-establish your circulation and breathing by reading the proper code phrase. The problem is we only have about an hour to do it. After an hour your body will shut down completely, then I’m afraid there’s not much we can do for you.”
“How’s Johnny?” he whispered.
The nurse gently stroked Kevin’s forehead. “He’s in intensive care,” she said softly. “The bullet grazed his heart. The doctors replaced it with an artificial one, but we don’t know if he’s going to recover.”
Kevin closed his eyes tightly.
“I’m so sorry,” she said. “But your girlfriend is recovering nicely. She’s going to be fine.”
“My girlfriend?” Kevin said with awe.
“Well, yea,” the nurse responded. “That’s who she said she was. That’s why we moved you into her room.”
Kevin looked over to Julia, only to see her smiling back at him.
A New Life
Three weeks passed, and the clones genetically designed bodies recovered quickly. Kevin and Julia stood at the back door of the fish factory, holding hands and wearing modest clothes donated to them by the hospital.
“We’ll do everything we can for your friend,” the doctor said casually. “Most clones wouldn’t have made it this far, but he’s a fighter.”
“We can’t thank you enough, Doc,” Kevin said.
smiled subtly. “You two just watch yourselves. Now
get over to the church and see Father Joseph. He’s
got something for you.”
Julia and Kevin walked casually together holding hands. Julia continued staring at Kevin with a subtle smile, just as she had when they left the hospital.
“What are you staring at?” Kevin said through a slight laugh.
“I love you too,” Julia said with a huge grin.
“Oh, you heard that,” Kevin said with a smile.
“How do you feel when you’re with me?” she asked subtly.
“It’s hard to explain,” he answered. “It’s like, whenever I see you, my heart feels light.”
“And how long have you felt like this?” She asked.
“About two months,” Kevin said with a smile.
then looked to the ground shyly. “I’ve felt that
way about you for three,” she finally said.
“Father,” Julia said, her voice echoing throughout the empty church. Father Joseph turned, and his face lit up with delight.
“My children,” he said with glee. He approached them with open arms.
“Praise be to God. I’m so happy to see that you’re okay.”
They hugged each other warmly.
“The doctor said you had something for us,” Kevin inquired.
“Oh, I do. I do!” He said excitedly. “Come into my office.”
The two clones followed the short priest into his humble office where he pulled a thick file from his desk. He sat down and opened the file.
“I referred your names to the Clone Protection Program,” he began explaining. “It’s a secret program that helps clones who have been identified by the CTTF relocate. I have here in my hands, your new lives.”
Kevin and Julia looked upon the priest in shock.
“You’ll be moving into a small house in the country about a half hour from Boston. You’ll be working for a computer repair service,” he explained. “Your new name, Kevin, will be Arnold Krashinski.” Kevin raised an eyebrow. “Arnold?” he said with dislike.
“Hmm, this is interesting,” Father Joseph continued. “Julia, your new name is Blora Krashinski.”
“Blora?” Julia said with disgust.
“That’s what it says here,” Father Joseph said. “‘Blora Krashinski.’”
Apparently the CPP has you two posing as husband and wife.”
“Father,” Julia said looking upon Kevin. “We’d rather not ‘pose’.”
There was a long pause.
“What do you mean?” he asked, looking up from his desk.
Julia smiled. “We love each other, Father, and we’d like to be married... for real.”
Father Joseph smiled broadly and was lost for words.
“I knew it,” he said excitedly as he rose from his chair. “I knew clones could learn to love! The church will be thrilled!”
“Can we be married, Father?” Kevin asked.
“Yes, yes,” he answered with delight. “We can marry you two right now!”
The two clones grinned excitedly. The priest went to his bookcase and pulled out a small book, then began flipping through the pages.
“Hmm, let me see. Ah, here it is.” He said. “Okay, now face each other and take each other’s hands.”
Kevin and Julia tuned to faced each other, and smiled.
“Unfortunately we’re in a bit of a hurry here, so I’ll have to give you the shortened version,” he said, scanning the pages of his book. “Do you, Kevin, take Julia to be your lawfully wedded wife, to love and to cherish, through richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?”
“I do, Father,” Kevin responded quietly.
“And do you, Julia,” he continued. “Take Kevin to be your lawfully wedded husband, to love and to cherish, through richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?”
“Yes, Father,” Julia answered with a smile.
Father Joseph closed his book and smiled with delight. “By the powers granted to me by God, I now pronounce you, Husband and Wife.” He looked to Kevin. “You may kiss the bride.”
The two clones looked to each other slightly confused, then looked back to the priest.
“Oh, never mind that,” he said. “It will all come to you in time. Now I have tickets for you. You’re flying out of Burbank this afternoon.”
The two clones looked to each other with concern.
“Father,” Julia said. “There is something else.”
“Yes, my child?”
“There is someone else we love,” Julia explained. “And we’d like to take her with us.”
Father Joseph ran his fingers over his balding head. “My child,” he said nervously. “You can only marry one person at a time, preferably of the... opposite sex.”
“It’s not like that, Father,” Kevin said. “The way we love her is different than the way we love each other. It’s hard to explain... Aunt Ramona, we’d like to take her with us.”
“She’s like a mother to us,” Julia added. “If that is what having a mother feels like. She’d be so happy in the country with us, and we’ll take good care of her.”
was overwhelmed with delight. “Yes, yes, of
course,” he said excitedly. “I need to make some
“Thanks for breakfast,” Kevin said as he walked out the front door. Julia followed closely behind. They both wore casual business attire and leather jackets, complimented by shiny, soft leather briefcases.
“Oh, you're welcome,” she said through a wide smile.
The country had been good to Aunt Ramona. She hadn’t watched her television in over a week, and was now using an aluminum walker in place of her wheelchair. The two clones hugged her warmly, then walked down the wooden stairs of their small country home.
“What’s your first stop?” Julia asked Kevin.
“That new insurance company on Fifth,” he answered. “And you?”
“K Mart,” she said. “Their whole system crashed last night.”
They looked into each others eyes and smiled. They leaned forward hesitantly, then softly kissed. Julia smiled shyly.
“I’ll see you when I get home,” she said.
“You two be careful on those things,” Aunt Ramona yelled from her porch. “They’re dangerous! You should sell them both and buy another car.”
The two looked
back at Aunt Ramona and smiled. They slung their
briefcases across their bodies, put on their dark
plastic sunglasses, and mounted their matching
Harley Davidson Sportsters. The two bikes fired up
easily, breaking the early morning silence and
causing the local birds to fly off to safety. Aunt
Ramona watched as the couple rode their motorcycles
down the short, dirt drive and onto the street,
then roar off into the distance.
So What Happened?
unfortunately did not recover fully from his
injuries. Although his heart was strong and he did
survive, he was paralyzed from the waist down and
confined to a wheel chair. But he still had a
strong spirit. He got a job working in the lab at
the Clone Treatment Center and fell in love with a
young, human nurse.
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