Author : Duncan Shields , Featured Writer

It was the numbers tattooed on the backs of their necks that always got me. Why couldn’t they have them in a more obvious place? Halfway through a conversation with them, I’d still be trying to catch a glimpse of their tattoos in reflective surfaces or craning my head around in what I hoped was a casual gesture to sneak a look.

It was awful when I’d be flirting with a hot girl only to realize that I wasn’t flirting with the same hot girl I was talking to three nights earlier. I’d have to lay foundations all over again. Not that it ever really did any good.

I was a bit of an anomaly on this ship.

There were over 600 crew members on the ship that picked me up but there were only 60 people, if you know what I mean. Clones. 60 types of clones. 10 copies of each. Each had a number tattooed on the back of their necks. 1 thru 10.

My ailing rustbucket of a ship had been out of juice on the fringes. I’d been put in emergency cryosleep to conserve energy and my beacon had been turned on.

I’d been floating for 60 years. I’m not a guy with a lot of friends so it didn’t take me too long to adjust to the fact that a lot of my buddies had shuffled off into the deep black or were old and retired by now.

One of them was doing really well back on Earth-3-Perisolstice and said that he’d set me up. Once I got there.

I had been here on this ship for two months. It would be another three months before we docked where my friend lived. All of the crew had been picked for fitness and intelligence and then bred to a higher level and copied. The copies had been filled with knowledge in clone school and upgraded to super healthy status before being sent out into space to complete missions of research.

They worked well but boy, these people had no concept of down time or humour. I’d joked with a few of them, gotten a few of them into bed, and tried to start fights with a few of them.

The jokes were dissected to find the humour successfully without laughter. The sex was clinical and reported on and filed. The fights ended badly for me every time but the hospital facilities were excellent here. I was fixed up in a jiffy every time with no hard feelings.

David-3, Terry-6 and I think Peter-1 flinch a little if I make any sudden movements near them but it isn’t out of fear, but rather just recognition of possible physical danger. You might not think there’s a difference but trust me, with these guys it’s a world of difference.

They’re just no fun.

They think I’m immature and barbaric and they’re right. I’m going to be as immature and barbaric as possible until we get to port.

I’ll end this trip with a friend if it kills me.

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