Author : Duncan Shields, Featured Writer
Theyâ€™re in a line. Clones of me. Hairless and floating. Huge white numbers painted in nail polish on the cheap plastic tanks. They all float in blue mouthwash with half open eyes. There are white plastic umbilicals attached to their faces and crotches. There are weeds in this underground storage center, snuffling through the concrete walls and ceiling. Itâ€™s damp. The light stutters. Itâ€™s been abandoned.
A couple of tanks are dark and the liquid has gone a murky black. One near the end is cracked and empty except for a pile of rotting meat and bones at the bottom that colour the whole small bunker with a putrid swampy stink.
Fifteen are left with vital signs that look viable.
My thick boots make loud noises on the metal walkway. The silence down here is only broken by the fridge-like hum of the stasis containers. Itâ€™s quite creepy. The darkness would be total if the lights went out.
I found the technical PhD that was supposed to be guarding this place in a bar in Compton. He was a drunk whoâ€™d figured out a way to trick the systems into an orderly routine that would fool head office into believing that he was clocking in and out. His facility was stateside and small so it wasnâ€™t monitored too closely. He hadnâ€™t been there in months.
I ran into him in his usual hang out and struck up a conversation. We had some drinks together. We went back to his place after the bar closed and while he was rolling a joint, I jumped him and cut off his hands. Fucking idiot. Heâ€™d been guarding those clones for years and didnâ€™t even see the resemblance. He lost consciousness quickly and bled out a few minutes later. I torched his place and left town.
I took his finger out of my jacket pocket and his eye out of the cooled medical locket I had around my neck. I put them in the right places. The computer read his retina and fingerprints. It was an old machine. I held my breath.
I was in. I opened up the links. There was a hissing of steam and a gushing. The humidity increased and fifteen pairs of eyes opened in a panic. The locks cracked and the coffins slid up and open. The blue fluid gushed over the lips of the of the containers and pounded down through the now open grates on the bottom.
Fifteen pairs of hands reached up spastically and yanked at the face huggers that had been feeding them nutrients as they slept. Fifteen weak Kevins fell forward and fifteen pairs of hands dominoed onto the cold floor grating and shivered as their muscles adapted to the sudden gravity. Warm bags of flesh hit the cold metal grating. They slap the walkway. Have you ever let the water drain out of the tub without getting out? You feel like you weigh five hundred pounds. Everyone out of the pool.
One by one, they find me and focus on me with questioning eyes.
This is the third center Iâ€™ve hit.
There are almost sixty of me now.
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