Author: Robert Beech
The corpse had a handsome face. He had a strong jaw with a two-day stubble of beard, a straight somewhat aquiline nose, high cheeks, and full eyebrows over steel-blue eyes, now half-lidded in death. There was only one thing wrong with the corpse’s face. It was mine.
The revolver in his outstretched hand was mine, too, and the driver’s license in the stolen wallet in his pants pocket. Even his DNA was mine. He hadn’t stolen that though, it came with the clone.
The question was, how was I going to convince the police that it was the clone that was lying dead on the kitchen floor and not me? The laws against clones trying to harm their originals were clear and unforgiving. A clone that killed his original was terminated immediately; even the attempt was considered a capital offense. So, I hadn’t really committed murder when I got rid of him, I was just getting rid of a piece of malfunctioning hardware.
The problem is that the hardware had the same DNA I did. Blood tests weren’t going to help here, so how could I prove that I was me, and not some rogue piece of hardware that had just killed his original? Asking me something about my childhood, some half-remembered incident that I would know about and the clone wouldn’t, that might help, except that all my memories were backed up to the clone. That was the main point of having a clone after all so that if something irreversible happened to me, they could activate the clone and start over. Like backing your hard drive up to the cloud. I might lose a couple of days, memories of whatever had happened between the time I was killed and the last time the clone had been backed up, but essentially I could go on as though nothing had happened. Except for this time, something had happened. Somehow the clone had been activated prematurely, and it had decided to do away with the original, i.e. me. I don’t know how it had gotten ahold of my revolver. I keep that thing locked up securely in the gun cabinet, with the ammunition locked securely in a separate location. Of course, the locations of both the gun cabinet and the ammunition locker and the keys to both are among the memories that have been backed up to the clone, so he would have known where to find them. But you’d think I would have heard him prowling around through the house and loading the gun. I hadn’t.
The first thing I knew of the clone awakening was when I saw him standing over me with the big .44 magnum pointed in my direction, telling me to put my hands up, and calling me a damn clone!
I don’t know what made him hesitate, but thank God he did. Just the briefest hesitation before he fired, but long enough for me to dive for cover. Long enough for me to roll into the kitchen and then grab the kitchen knife and plunge it into his chest when he came running into the kitchen behind me.
And now, there he is, dead on the kitchen floor, my clone, wearing my clothes and with my driver’s license in the wallet in his pants pocket. I should take it out and put it in my pocket before the police get here. It’ll look more natural that way. Maybe switch shoes, too, his look a little more worn.
That’s a fine mystery piece. Well done.
That last sentence did it all. Very nice.