Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

To be a CEO of a company that’s grown as large and as fast as this one has, a person needs a mind that deals quickly with high pressure situations and possesses a natural talent for leadership. One needs to be charming, ruthless, and efficient. There’s a reason I have no wife or children. I am all of these things. People will follow me into corporate battle on the slimmest of reasons. I have resolved conflicts between bitter rivals and competitive holdouts with one personal meeting. People trust me and want to follow me.

It’s standard practice to have oneself cloned when one is the CEO of such an important company. Last year, the old me was kidnapped by Red Tears Terrorists. The kidnapping itself was kept quiet. We didn’t respond to their demands. They threatened to kill the hostage.

We said, “Go ahead.” and woke up one of the clones. That clone is me. Maybe a day of memory missing but other than that, there was no lull in business.

That was a year ago to the day.

He’s sitting in the center of my living room when I get home. My security is disabled. He has a gun. One of his eyes has been replaced and there’s a scar across the cruel smile underneath the tattooed red tear on his cheek. One. That marks him out as one of the terrorists responsible for the kidnapping and it means that he’s been with the organization for a year.

I have no doubt that he must have had a difficult and interesting time talking them out of executing him and taking control during the last twelve months.

It’s the old me.

“Hello, Nathan.” My clone says to me. “How’s life?”

He looks at me with the tube-grown eye that’s a mismatched brilliant green and a little too large. It takes effort to stretch the eyelid over it to blink. It must be tricked out because it flashes red for a second and I find that I have trouble breathing. Some sort of neural disruptor. My knees go weak and I kneel. My vision starts to swim.

He walks over and kneels beside me, cradling my chin in his hands.

When he nudges the tip of the knife up against my eye and looks at me, I realize what’s going to happen. He’s going to take one of my eyes to replace the one he lost and then he’s going to take my place. He’s also going to keep me alive here for as long as he can to show me what real pain is. He’s going to show me what he’s learned over the last year with those soulless men. He’s going to show me what he has become used to.

I realize that in his eyes, I’m the copy. I realize that to him, I’m the betrayer.

I think of what I would become capable of if pushed in that direction and I feel my bladder let go, staining the expensive rug like an untrained puppy.

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