Student Fiction: Double Trouble
“A cloning project?” Jack repeated skeptically. His question was lost in the rambling of his girlfriend, Camilla, who bounced excitedly like a child in her explanation.
“It’ll be fun! Imagine all of the benefits for modern science, and two of me in the house…”
Two of her.
Jack groaned inwardly.
She had her good sides–she was a smart girl, funny and attractive: button nose, green eyes and dark skin, black hair and heart shaped lips.
Until Jack’s phone would ring, and she would rush to see the caller ID before he could pick up; until he would come home late from work to see her sitting in the dark staring at him, hurriedly walking over and inhaling deeply to detect any trace of another woman; until she hacked into his devices and raided his sock drawer looking for god knows what. One he could barely handle sometimes–two would be a nightmare.
“Look, sweetie, I just think it’s a little weird. I mean, a bunch of things can go wrong. Remember they cloned that sheep, and it had all those illnesses and died young?” Jack responded, massaging his temples.
Camilla scrunched up her nose, “But there actually isn’t any direct evidence that cloning is linked to a higher susceptibility to diseases or a shorter lifespan. And besides,” she smiled, “it’s not as if you’re looking to replace me with her!” It was a joke, he knew, but her eyes bore into him threateningly.
Jack looked at the ceiling fan, whirring directly above him. Please fall on me, he thought vehemently. Please.
“Don’t worry,” she patted his knee, “It’ll be fun.”
Two days. It had been only two days of Camilla and her clone, pacing around the house, chatting and giggling. It wasn’t too unbearable–until now.
Because now they were bickering. It was almost midnight. Jack didn’t know what the argument was about, but the identical, shrill voices were muffled and progressively growing louder in the bedroom. He heard something break and more yelling, increasing in volume and rage. He turned up the television and shut his eyes, willing the noise away unsuccessfully. “Jesus,” he muttered.
“He’s mine!” He heard one Camilla say.
“You’re just a clone! I’m his actual girlfriend!” He heard from the other.
“Yeah, I’m a clone of you and still somehow prettier!”
Something else broke. Jack laid down on the couch and tried to sleep through the consistent yelling, which persisted well into the night.
This was hell, he knew.
Jack awoke at a foggy eight thirty A.M. to the news blaring on the television. He grumbled and rubbed his eyes tiredly. The house was eerily quiet despite the T.V.
“…recent cloning project in Queens, New York had gone terribly wrong last night…”
Slowly rising from the couch, Jack walked to make himself breakfast. Peeping into the bedrooms, he heard nothing, nor did he see either Camilla or her clone. He shook his thoughts away of where they might be–he wasn’t about to question the sudden silence, and the most quiet morning since he started dating Camilla. She always rose at six to loudly clang around the kitchen and make herself breakfast.
“…the participant’s replicas increased dramatically in numbers due to a severe machine malfunction, more than doubling as its original intent…”
He sat at the table, nibbling his toast and staring outside the apartment window. Car horns blared as traffic halted those driving to work. Work!
He jumped out of the chair and ran into the bedroom, hastily dressing himself in clothes he wasn’t sure were clean, brushing his teeth and running out of the house barely composed. How could he have possibly forgotten? His boss was going to kill him–that would be the third time this quarter. Swearing profusely, Jack grabbed his keys, wallet, cell phone and his discarded piece of toast.
“…hundreds of Camilla Sosa’s roaming the city, causing traffic and delay, all fighting amongst themselves. Sosa herself cannot be found, nor identified amongst her clones. More at nine, on ABC news.”
If he thought yesterday was hell, Jack didn’t even have a word for what today was. There were hundreds of them, running amok, screaming profanities at one another, reflections bouncing off each other in a fit of anger and an inhumane need for destruction. Jack stared desperately at the scene, at one Camilla punching her double, yanking her hair, then another pushing her double in front a moving car, and another, and another…
His head throbbed. No aspirin could cure this. Consistent shouts of possessiveness soared through the air, piercing his pounding head like bullets. He was going to run back inside, lock the doors and call Joe, tell him he had the flu—
She saw him.
One Camilla whipped her head around and dug her eyes into him, pointing. The others began to turn their heads and glare evilly just as the first, so enviously, so incredibly exact.
Some began to walk slowly, then broke out into a sprint, until every replica of the girl he once loved was running towards him and he cringed, preparing himself for oncoming blows but instead got…
Each girl fighting her way to him, leaving lipstick marks on his cheeks and forehead, begging him, imploring, “It’s me, baby, I’m the real one, I’m your girl!” until he was suffocated by the scent of the same perfume permeating his senses.
He couldn’t breathe, he wanted to yell for them to stop but they hung on his clothes and his mouth and the last thing he saw before blacking out was hundreds of red lips desperately saying his name.
When Jack awoke, all was quiet. He was in his bed, wearing his pajamas from last night, his head producing a dull, but not excruciating throb. Camilla sat at the edge of the bed, and he jumped back, searching for more of her around the room as memories of before fluttered around his mind.
“It’s just me, Jack,” she said quietly, sensing his fear.
He found his voice. “Where’d they all go then?”
“Gone. The agency pulled the plug on the whole thing. They rounded them all up and destroyed the machine and all the clones kinda just…disappeared.” When she was met with silence, she laid her hand on his knee and prodded on. “I didn’t mean for it to get out of hand like that. And I never realized how crazy I looked until I saw that whole thing happen…”
“You were there? Which one were you?”
“Well, I was…hiding behind a tree,” she laughed. They both began to cackle uncontrollably, though at what they weren’t quite sure. After their breathless laughs subsided, Jack embraced her.
“I’m sorry,” Camilla muttered.
“I love you,” he responded, firm and final.
For once, all seemed at peace.
In the other room, the television sounded.
“…cloning project called off, yet one clone still remains somewhere as the body of the real Camilla Sosa was recovered in a river…”
by Mikaela Charalambous ’17
Illustration by Jeremie Etz-Shalem ’17