Author : Glen Luke Flanagan

“These monstrosities are a threat to national security, to morality as we know it, and to our very sense of self.”

Senator Ethan Calhoun punctuated the last statement by pounding his fist onto the podium. The fiery Texan was the face of the anti-cloning movement in America, and he delivered his message with the deftness of a politician and the fervor of a charismatic minister.

He stepped down from the podium, waved to the cheering crowd, and let his ever-present team of doctors lead him away. It was no secret that despite his vigor, Mr. Calhoun was not a healthy man.

“Sir, you shouldn’t work yourself up like that,” a young, red-haired, white-coated physician cautioned.

The senator coughed into a clenched fist.

“What’s your name, son?”

“Cameron, sir.” The doctor bustled about the senator, hooking him up to various machines and pausing to glance at the readings.

“Cameron.” The senator laid a hand on the doctor’s arm and held him momentarily still, looking into his eyes intently. “I had a son just about your age. Do you know what happened to him?”

The doctor was silent. Everyone in Calhoun’s entourage knew what had happened to the senator’s son.

“The Russians killed him, Cameron, and put a monster in his place. A monster that looked just like him, that lived in my house and broke bread with me each morning. I only found out about it when the damn thing broke down into a puddle of piss and water – unstable DNA, the scientists tell me.”

Calhoun released his hold on the doctor’s sleeve, but still held him with his eyes.

“So I’ll work myself up all I damn please,” he finished.

Later, the young man called Cameron showed his data to another doctor, with piercing gray eyes and silvering hair.

“It’s not good,” he said. “He’s wearing himself out, breaking down more quickly than we anticipated.”

The senior doctor thumbed through the pages, nodding in frustrated agreement.

“We’ll have to whip up a replacement ahead of schedule,” she said.

Thomas Calhoun turned restlessly in bed, trying to nap. The doctors insisted it was good for his health, but he was happiest when active. The silken sheets chafed, and the expansive hotel suite suffocated him. He was about to give up the fight and go in search of a bar when the door opened and a team of nervous lab techs trundled in another of the gadgets he so despised. The silver-haired doctor followed, giving directions.

The senator growled at the lab techs, then sat up and wrapped a sheet around himself.

“Clarice,” he grunted. “You could give a fellow warning. I’m not decent.”

“It’s nothing I haven’t seen before, Thomas.” Her tone was clipped. “We just need to run a few scans.”

She waved at the technicians, who hurried to attach electrodes to Calhoun’s forehead. He gave in with a resigned snort, and lay back down. At some point during the process, he drifted into a deep slumber.

Still later, in an improvised laboratory, Clarice MacKale watched over what appeared to be an oversized fish tank. Inside the tank, an imperfect replica of the Texas senator was being pumped full of nutrients and sculpted into an ever-more-human shape.

MacKale punched a number into her cell phone, and spoke furtively.

“We’ve had to make another replacement, but we’re still on track. The senator’s campaign will continue as planned.”

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