Of a Kind

Jez Patterson

"Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives."
Oscar Wilde

Original is not a nice man.

It would mean taking a human life, killing him, but it has the makings of a ‘perfect crime’ because I, his exact double, can take his place. The only way others might notice the switch is if they remarked on the fact Doctor Othello Hallam seemed such a nicer man these days.

If they knew why, they would support my decision, I’m sure.

Then it’s decided: I shall kill the man who created me.

I would ask God to have mercy on my soul, but I’m not sure if Original was able to share that much with me. Or if he possessed such a commodity to begin with.

“Why do I possess a navel?” I asked, the day I awoke, Original clapping his hands as he sat beside me at a computer, delighted I had finally shown signs of life. “I wasn’t born in a womb. So why would I need a navel?”

“Why would you need an appendix, tonsils? You simply have them, despite the fact they’re redundant components. Like men’s nipples.”

“I suppose so,” I said. The umbilical that had connected me to Original had done so via our backs, spine to spine. My thoughts were arriving, but slowly. Original had been asleep two continuous months as his body fed mine, grew mine. Moments ago, he had downloaded his thoughts and memories, the entire mind map of his genius, into my brain.

When I could focus sufficiently, I read the mechanics of his process, confirming how the umbilical worked. I also saw he had changed from his original plan and given me his full genius, not only part of his mind. It wouldn’t change things. He hadn’t created me as a partner or stand-in.

“A better question, Clone, would be why would you need balls and a dick—it’s not as if you’re ever going to get a chance to use them.”

I am a slave.

I balk at using the term simply because I have been conditioned into thinking of certain moments in history where slavery was commonplace, and I--with the advantage of a genius’s education, a house lacking no amenity whatsoever, media devices that keep me informed of the world outside--feel unconscionable in comparing my own predicament to theirs.

But I am not permitted to venture out--Original justifying the decision by what I am.

“I gave you life, Clone. Don’t be so ungrateful. Do you know how many sperm die on the way to fertilising the egg? What if one of them were offered a mere moment of life? Would they spend their time complaining about it, or rejoice and be grateful for that gift?”

“I am grateful,” I insist, bowing, my head now filled with guilty thoughts of dissatisfaction.

“Yes? You have a funny way of showing it, Clone. You have this house to play in.”

To clean, to keep repaired--whilst I cook for Original, wash his clothes, write his papers, keep his work up to date so his funding isn’t cancelled.

“If you’re not happy, Clone, you can always abort yourself. I can create others like you, you know?”

Yes, I know, and it is that fear that keeps me obedient, compliant. That and the fact that Original is right: the world could not have two of us walking about it. It would be unscientific to reveal his work in such a fashion, would destroy all the work Original has done.

I would have sacrificed my freedom in order to protect Original’s great work—I possess his knowledge, after all, and I value his work as if it were my own, because it feels like it is. But I cannot overlook the evil in the man’s heart. The things he does, the damage he causes.

When I used his laptop, I saw the sites he looks at when he is alone.

When I cleaned his clothes, I found the receipts for the places he visits, the remnants of what and whom his appetites have consumed.

When I accessed his bank account, I saw the anonymous credit payments he has made and tied them to those sites I know he looks at.

“What did you use to wash my clothes? They’re as itchy as hell.”

It wasn’t the detergent I used. It’s the drugs making his skin thin, sensitive. “I’ll put them in fabric conditioner and let them soak.”

“See that you do.” He throws the shirts at me, delighting when an arm flicks round and slaps my face. “Or I’ll cut your balls off.”

I sigh, and wonder whether Original might soften too, if he was soaked long enough…

…and so drowning becomes the method I choose to do the deed.

The violence has been getting worse, and so I bide my time and wait for a day when Original has overindulged and so can mount less resistance. I will need him semi-conscious because one of my arms is probably broken, two of my ribs definitely are—but seeking medical help from outside is impossible.

We each have our own quarters in the house. Mine are smaller, and the only reason I have my own bathroom is so I will not have reason to use his. When I retire, I usually fall into an exhausted sleep. Original usually falls unconscious before the computer in his study: not working, but indulging.

I crouch outside the door to his quarters, listening to the bath run. I have already practised opening the door from my side. The lock is more ornamental than security-conscious, and a screwdriver inserted and turned will do the trick.

I open it a crack and listen to him singing: the sound is mournful, punctuated with belches, gassy sighs.

I creep along, readying myself for what has to be done, wincing as my arm brushes a wall and sends electric shocks into my shoulder. I have to pause to keep my chest from tightening—the broken ribs feel like jagged, glass, lightning bolts.

I will have to get rid of the body, of course. But since no-one will be looking for it, there will be no rush and I can dispose of it over a period of time--using the freezer, the fridge, to store the bits in the meantime.

His bathroom door is ajar. I am wearing gloves not in fear of leaving fingerprints—ours are identical—but because I don’t want to feel his skin when I do the deed.

I do not worry that I am killing my father, my brother—even myself.

Original’s treatment of me has worked to lower my moral stance--wherever that has come from in the first place! I have his knowledge, his memories, I don’t understand why I should be different in this respect. For that matter, I don’t understand why Original is behaving this way himself. Success, it seems, has corrupted him. The process he used was designed to copy his mind, not remove it.

Perhaps there is a God, after all. Perhaps He has endowed me with a conscience as the innocent I presumably appeared to Him when I was created.

My breath catches at this final thought, and my eyes squeeze out moisture. I look at my hands, at the trembling that has nothing to do with my injuries and…

I cannot do it. I cannot take another’s life.

I am just considering that my other option might be to expose him when the door opens and Original stands there, exposing himself, a towel wrapped round his hair. His eyes are bloodshot, his lips swollen and puffy from drink. He is swaying.

“Wadthefockyouwant?” he slurs, but I am staring at something else.

I point because I can’t articulate the shock.

Original has no navel. His belly is just smooth, perfect flesh.

I sit at my desk… My desk? No. I am still using the one I designed for my clone to use--but it is the desk I have used these past six months and I have grown accustomed to its feel.

My clone was the first of us to awake, then. He rose and no doubt read what was on my computer concerning his intended role as my servant-cum-assistant, his confinement to the house. He therefore accessed and downloaded that portion of my mind that I had specifically denied him in order to make him my inferior.

He was now my equal.

When I awoke, still groggy from my long sleep, my thoughts still scrambled, he convinced me that he was the original, I the clone. During that time that I’d slept on, he had also had time for his hatred of me to grow.

I cannot blame him entirely. To be born and your first thought being that you were created only to serve--and were specifically denied greater ability for another’s gain? Besides, the mind that chose to turn the tables was specifically part of me. I cannot escape that awful realisation.

Whilst I was ‘the clone’, I had experienced no feelings for him as my father. But Clone had known, more importantly had felt, that his father had betrayed him utterly.

A parent must always be forgiving, and bears responsibility for their offspring’s errors.

“You cannot keep me restrained forever,” Clone says from across the room. “You’re as much restraining yourself whilst you do. You can’t ever leave this house. So, let me go. I’ll go far away. You’ll never hear from me again, I promise.”

I doubt that assurance.

Besides, it is not just the threat to myself he represents but that to others. A threat that can only grow worse as he matures, appreciates the full extent of that mind he possesses, the fact that sentiment is a weakness others possess--just as I let him escape punishment for making his own father his slave.

And, knowing what he does, there is nothing to stop him becoming a father himself.

I imagine his offspring, the cloning process continuing the moral mutation I have already experienced with my first Clone.

“Let me think about it,” I say and I can feel his grin. I wonder how many parents with children such as mine have had the same thought that I have then:

Please let me die before he does the dreadful things he has planned.

At least, in my case, I fear this is guaranteed.

© Jez Patterson 2018 All Rights Reserved

Date and time of last update 11:09 Wed 14 Feb 2018
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