Thursday, 25 February 2010

ShortStory: The Clone Next Door

I remember reading about them cloning that world famous sheep back in the 90’s. Scientists cloned the worlds first mammal that day in ‘96 and the world took heed. Science fiction fans were going crazy and conspiracy theorists were jumping off buildings to prevent having to live through the terrible future this would inevitably lead to. It was all a big deal. Only I remember being sat on the opening end of 2010 and wondering why the hell science hadn’t lived up to all our wild fantasies. Why nothing was really that spectacular and how this futuristic life we we're living in wasn’t really even touching our expectations.

Yeah, sure: YouTube in my pocket is great, but is it really Earth shattering? I remember reading about scientists growing pork from stem cells and thinking that was it!
They can cure world hunger!
They can save the world.
Only, this place is over populated enough and until we can start shipping people off to other planets then they can’t really fit us as it is, let alone start saving people.

So the people with the money decide they want more. They decide who is allowed to live and who is  allowed to die. Science runs on the premise of being good for the people, of discovering and understanding our world to better benefit our people. But maybe that’s just a lie, maybe they just want our money to fund experiments to discover things they’ll convince us we need so we spend more money buying it only to be told there’s something better.
That’s just how we roll.

Jump ahead 35 years and not much has changed. It’s still about making as much money as possible and screwing over the little guy as much as you can. But now, they’ve wrangled permission on human cloning with ethical backing. If you have the money, you can have a double. It takes a while to grow and it’s more expensive than you could imagine, but it exists. And with it a new kind of power.

The clone is in effect your slave. Or ‘partner’ if you want to be nice to yourself. You dish out chores for it to complete, you send it to see people you don’t want to see, you have it commit a murder while you sit in a busy bar full of witnesses who can swear that you didn’t move all night.

But then there are the people like me, who don’t want to take advantage of our clone, just make use of him. So we split tasks up. Some days I get the fun things; some days the shit, but it’s balanced. I always thought the balance was important. The clone may well be an identical replica of me in every way; every cell. But as soon as it’s completed, it becomes a he and he is now having his own thoughts. We are now two separate thinking beings – incredibly connected, but equally as aware or sentient or rational or whatever else it is you want to ascribe to humanity.

They would put tags in the clones, so they could be told apart from us real people. So they could be tracked and controlled if they got out of hand. But there was never any trouble, they seemed to accept their role as a human play thing and people enjoyed the company.

It all just started with this one guy.
This seemingly innocent one guy. Really I should be saying boy, ‘cause this child was only 18. His daddy had bought him his very own clone for his 18th birthday to welcome in this shining new adulthood.

He was sat in his bedroom staring at himself. Talking, investigating, simply trying to get his head around the whole thing.

Best. Gift. Ever.
Kind of.

He touches the clone. The boy’s finger rolls over a lump. He checks the same spot on his own body almost instinctively but there isn’t a lump to match. He asks his clone if he knows, but he may as well have been asking himself. So he tells his obedient clone to stay still and he’ll help him find out. The boy pulls a switch blade out the top drawer of the desk in his room and prepares himself. He places the edge of the blade against the skin of his clone, who stares at him, terrified. He doesn’t want to be hurt but he suddenly realises he doesn’t actually have control. The clone realises they’ve done something to him, they’ve made him less than human.

He wants to pull away but he remains motionless on his original’s instruction to ‘stay still’. He cries out in pain as the blood gushes down his forearm and onto the blue carpet beneath him. A few drops land on the original’s shoes and he gets real angry. Starts shouting, telling the clone that he’s a ‘worthless piece of crap!’ and all sorts. Hits him round the face and catches him with the blade, that is still in his hand a little. More blood. His blood.

The boy reaches for some pliers from the floor near a pile of other tools, to pull whatever he’s found out of the clones arm. It’s tough at first and it’s more than just lodged into the clones body. The lump had been woven in, almost as though it were part of him. Part of the creation from the get go. The boy looks at it and discards it into his clones lap, before getting up to walk away. He calls his clone “Number Two” and tells him he can go to work for him tomorrow.

But see, Number Two is now alone in the room and picks up the discarded lump from his lap. He uses his other hand to touch the blood, still dripping from his arm where good old Number One cut into him. Slowly wiping away blood, then wiping the blood off his hands onto his jeans. Repeatedly. Wiping the blood from his cheek to his jeans. Repeatedly. But see, this was how it all began – well, how something began.

The next day Number Two was out and about, doing the tasks he was asked to do. While he was out he noticed something: most people doing things are actually the clones. The originals of the world have become lazy. Dependent on their duplicates to fulfil their daily routines so they can spend their time relaxing.

Our Number Two from earlier had made it his mission to secretly remove the lumps from other clones he came across, on the sly during the work day. He realised something changed when his came out and he wanted to help the other slaves of circumstance as he stood shoulder to shoulder with them in the battle field. The originals never paid them much attention, so it was easy enough to do. Now, no more traceable than an original itself, the clones were able to walk amongst the people. Undetected. As more and more of them had their lumps removed they started to become less and less obedient.

Men who saw themselves as owners would use violence on their clone to try to control it’s wild out bursts. As the days went on clones were being murdered in cold blood, but the murder of a science project wasn’t classed as an offence. Murderers were let off the hook, because they didn’t kill a real person; just one that we invented. It was only a matter of time before real people were being murdered but claims of mistaken identity had the killer back on the streets. After all, if someone is acting strangely, exhibiting clone like behaviour and such, how are we suppose to tell the difference? We can’t be held responsible.

As time went on, I watched as the chipless clones grew in number. They wanted ‘human’ status but were being refused such rights. They’re not humans! Just a bunch of human cells grown in a lab… Or at least that was the general consensus on the matter. Humanist protesters had called for a ban on cloning but were never listened to. And why would anyone have listened? These hippies were trying to get in the way of progress. Of evolution and science. No, instead these hippies were thrown in prisons just to keep them off the streets. They filled the court houses with clone workers who worked on shifts between each other. Stem cell grown pork and beef were on hand to keep the new wave of people fed. World hunger is still an issue, but only in those poor countries we haven’t bothered colonising yet. We on the other hand are sorted for life when it comes to food.

Some of these clones even started mating with each other, or even with real humans. Inter-human relationships were frowned upon though and often clones would be shunned by their own kind. They’d be forced into the shadows with the likes of me, hiding for the rest of our lives because we simply don’t know what else to do.

I was one of those damn scientists. Or at least that would be what you’d call me anyway, now that you can see what’s become of us. Those scientists who fought to be allowed to try and clone an entire human. It was just wide eyed curiosity to begin with, the way all scientists just want to know ‘what if?’ or ‘whether I can?’. That’s just how science works, you test the boundaries the universe seems to have in place. I was young and didn’t think science was enough, didn’t think we were moving fast enough into the future so I jumped on the bandwagon straight out of university.

The clones out number the originals maybe 6:1 these days and they have full control of everything.

But they’re just clones of humans… why is this not the same thing as there just being lots of humans around? It’s not like we can tell on looking at a person now is it?

I can tell you’re after answers. They know if they’re clones, they can tell. They remember realising they weren’t in full control and they remember cutting out that lump we created as part of them. The idea was that they could be controlled, culled into helping mankind into the future. Instead they have taken the future from us.

I’ve seen all this, but the most tragic thing of it all is that nothing looks that different. If you didn’t know already, you wouldn’t be able to tell that we were on the verge of extinction and to always watch your back. ‘Cause the clones are angry and they wont let us forget it. They now work in our labs and behind our desks. They found ways to enhance their own clones, who were grown a little taller or a little stronger. Who’s brains were a little bigger and a little more efficient.

We called it evolution when we had the power but now it’s more like an apocalypse. Both sides living in fear of the other, unable to even tell who the enemy is until it’s too late. These days everyone has a gun in the pocket and a knife in their back. And my pathetic little self hides out in the dark corners, trying to go unnoticed because I simply don’t know what else to do. The new breed of people, these clones, aren’t even given the opportunity to build the city up thanks to the constant battles on the streets. The internal conspiracy fears will have them destroying each other once we’re all gone. The world will be a wasteland and mankind will have been extinguished and I will die knowing that this was my wide eyed curiosity that got us here.


  1. Your short story reminds me of the movie "The Island" which the clones in the movie are fighting for their "human" rights.

    I haven't read many short stories and novels before, but I suppose you need some improvement on your choices of words. It seems to it's more like a non-fiction in some sense though I know it's a short story. It fails to touch people emotionally. You should be more descriptive about the character's own feelings. But not bad as a first attempt though.

    I don't know whether there are certain 'rules' for writing short story. I hope my comment helps. But anyway, my two cents.


  2. Haha ooh! I haven't seen The Island, but I may have to look into it. Was it any good though?

    Thank you for your comments dude =]

    I kinda like that it reads like a true story, 'cause if we're telling a story to someone for real we talk about the events and don't really fill in the other details. It makes it as though the guy is really talking to us.

    But hey, next time I'll throw in a bit more emotion and description and see how it turns out =]

  3. Oh it was good. You might like it 'cause it's kind of philosophical.


  4. By the way, have you ever read "Essays In Love" by Alain de Botton? It's a love novel but I think that's a good example of what I meant. He writes it as though he is talking to us as well!


  5. I have not, I will put it in my list =] Thank you.

  6. Finally, I'm here!

    I really liked this Pen. It's flawed sure, but everything is!

    I liked the tone; if we're going to write in the first person it's important to get a sense of our narrator and I think the detachment works well in him. My only criticism from that perspective would be that, already having a sense of Pennie's 'voice', for the first part I was a little confused that it was an introduction to the story! But that wouldn't happen with a new reader, or indeed if I'd begun reading with the right frame of reference!

    The progression is good, there's a sense that we've heard this story, this warning, before but that's the nature of a good warning story! Science Fiction, or 'Speculative Fiction' as I'm hearing it called nowadays, has always been full of these philosophical messages, warnings or study of human nature; you can choose to take in the story as a romp but in most cases there's a morality tale in there for the taking. I guess that's natural as, dealing with a possible future, or a parallel 'now, or another life-form that isn't human, it's inevitable for it to become a study in what might-be or might-have-been, or to question the elements of 'human nature' that we assume to be universal.

    It was a good read Pennie, and you've pulled on some interesting (though admittedly not revelatory) ideas. It's definitely a muscle you should exercise. Well done! :-)