Author : Clint Wilson
“We’re sorry but there’s no other way Mr. Dunbar. It’s a very rare and inoperable cancer. We absolutely must replicate you if you’re to see your children grow and have children of their own one day.”
“Yes, yes, I know. You can stop saying it. I just hate the thought of this whole duplicating business. Frankly, it scares the daylights out of me.”
“Even more than dying of cancer?”
I pause and think for a moment and then answer earnestly. “…Almost.”
But in the end I have no choice. The nonstop tears from my wife and children are enough, plus I am fortunate enough to have the means to afford such a procedure, so I finally give my reluctant consent.
For more than a week I lie unconscious in the facility while swirling tanks filled with complex organic cocktails provide the necessary building materials for my replication. And as my old body lies unmoving in the input chamber my new disease-free one takes form in the incubator. But even as my nearly completed identical twin lies motionless under glass in the next room I am still myself. The very last thing will be the transference of my consciousness, my essence, my entire being.
Finally I awake in my new body. Aside from being very tired I feel no different. But then quickly a sensation creeps into my gut. My conscience suddenly weighs heavily on me as I think of my old self. I fully understand the consequences. I am in every sense still myself, yet I know that I am a replica, now free of the fatal disease that once grew inside of me. But what of my old diseased body? …You see, that’s the problem with replication, it replaces the sick, but it doesn’t “erase” them. Even though my essence has been transferred away my old body also retains the feeling of self. And thanks to recent legislative changes, it must now wait out its remaining days here at the facility, no longer me but… my imprisoned dying shadow.
I open my eyes and look up through the glass bubble at… myself. There I am but… different. Of course, how silly of me, after forty plus years I am quite familiar with the mirror image of myself. This fellow is backwards. His hair is parted on the wrong side. But I also notice that he is sad. Sad because he knows he has to live out his days here? I can’t say I blame him.
But then another thought creeps in. Wait a minute. His left-hand hair-part isn’t the only thing that’s different. This fellow looks fuller in the face than me, and his color is better than I have seen my own in quite awhile.
Before I can process what I am finally beginning to realize, I start to bang on the chamber’s bubble lid with both fists. The face of Hutchinson my cancer doctor appears solemnly, and quickly ushers my other self away.
Finally they have let me out… cruel heartless bastards. I can’t believe they haven’t kept me from the hospital’s observation level at a time when…
Wracked with painful sobs I look from my wheelchair, to the facility’s main entrance eight stories below, where my loving wife and children are happily and eagerly escorting my new healthy body toward the parking lot.
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