Author : Desmond Hussey, Staff Writer

I spot one of Osiris’ Illegals amongst the shuffling throng of pedestrians as he exits an antique music store on 49th Ave. The face in my scope’s crosshairs is a dead ringer for the black and white snapshot I was given. His sandy hair is a little longer, perhaps, worn in the greasy, unkempt style common among kids these days, unlike the well coifed, clean cut image of the face looking out at me from the hundred year old photo. He carries a guitar case slung over his shoulder and walks with a confident swagger, oblivious to the invisible laser painting his forehead.

It’s too crowded for a clean kill shot, but I’m able to tag him with a tracer before he turns the corner. If I were more cavalier I may have risked a shot, but don’t like making a scene. I’m already morally conflicted about this job. No need to ruin somebody else’s day by splattering them with the contents of a stranger’s skull.

The Illegal can’t get too far in this district, so I take my time getting down from the roof and push through the crowd until I’m looking through the window of the music store. The odd assortment of instruments cluttering the store’s dingy interior are from an age of music long before my time, when music was made by bands; a synergistic collection of musicians playing in unison, often live. If not working in harmony, every measure, every beat was a chance for the musicians to slip up or stumble into discord. Today’s AI generated, mass produced noise is technically flawless, full of sounds impossible to make by anything but a synthesizer, but it’s all shit, in my opinion.

Millions of doped-up youths would beg to differ, I’m sure.

An hour later the tracer leads me to a long, dark alley, lit sparsely by a few unbroken bio-luminescent lamps, their green tint casting an eerie glow over the old brick walls and piles of trash.

I hear him first. The whole alley reverberates with an acoustic refrain, as if several strings vibrate together, simultaneously creating an upbeat rhythm and evocative, melancholy melody. I dimly recall hearing a similar tune as part of my briefing for this assignment.

I should probably just get it over with, but can’t help pausing to catch the last few measures of the half-remembered song. I’ve already eliminated twenty-two versions of this Illegal, but each time gets harder. Listening to this one play guitar and sing makes me realize how fascinating biology truly is. Its a hundred years after the Original lived and breathed and became a legend, yet this Illegal has the same passion for music, the same inborn skill with harmony despite belonging to an entirely different cultural paradigm. What influence would he and his… brothers?… have if left alone? How would their genius change the world today? Would their fame match that of their predecessors?

Perhaps that was Osiris’ goal; to re-introduce a creative spark into a society long grown artificial and contrived, devoid of originality. By cloning history’s geniuses and letting their own inborn talents be inspired by modern conditions, perhaps he hoped to birth a new Renaissance. Or maybe it was just the mad geneticist’s idea of a joke.

No point in asking moot questions. Osiris is dead – by my hand. The world is too overcrowded with Legitimates to allow scores of cloned Illegals to run amok, no matter how illumined they may have been once.

I take aim at the doppelganger of a man once named John Lennon and fire.

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows