Elmhurst, New York
Manhattan, New York
Water Front, Toronto
Grove Street, Oneonta
This sales man is really getting on my nerves. He has gone in the back room of the store to get the 'item' I wanted. It seems he has gone for ages. I wanted to yell at him and shout out some obscenities but I could not. This is a part of the town where everyone keeps a shotgun or a baseball bat with him. One or two bodies do not bother the police much. I am already living a bonus life after the awful car accident. I am not the trouble-monger tough guy anymore. Rather I am cursing him and his uncounted forefathers under my breath alone in the shabby counter.
"So…. looking for ecstasy?" A familiar voice beside me interrupted my continuous muttering. I turned my head and instantly felt the shiver going down my spine to see the man. This cannot be true. The person looked exactly like me. In fact, the person was me.
"Its not even evening, Don't you think its too early to look for it?" he continued as the sparkle in his eyes showed that he was enjoying my perplexity. "Anyway, follow me, we need to talk" he said in a commanding voice.
I followed him spellbound. It was me alright. He wore the same brand of jeans I wear and the same kind of T-shirt. 'This is a dream' I said to myself. This just cannot be true. I followed him to a poorly lit alley. He started again "I know it is a bit hard for you to believe it, but I am you. More accurately I am a clone of you. " Clone, impossible. Human cloning and the related research is banned in almost all countries and some little known companies claimed the feat without showing any substantial evidence just to hit the headlines.
"I know what you are thinking, I am the first successful outcome of a secret project, you won't believe who funds and runs it. It's done by our anti-clone government itself." He giggled. Then on a serious note he added, "I am the one, the first to be successful, because I got what it takes". Indeed he is the one, for he has all the arrogance and false self-belief I have.
Then he elaborated the story. After my near fatal road accident the doctors got all that they needed for their research when I was in a coma in the intensive care unit (ICU). It was almost six months ago. They researchers did a Herculean task to make a mature human being and to give my personality, memory etc which they saved in digital format after scanning my brain. Now he shares my entire past which is not something to be proud of. We walked to the sewer drainage system.
"Did you really have to kill Lisa? " he asked me as if he was joking. He knows the answer. He knows everything. Lisa was my girlfriend. I loved her with my life. Hah! With my life. I taught her the art of striping cars. She was a good apprentice. May be too good. Soon she was surpassing me. She was becoming a more 'skilled' car stripper than me. It was my very own world where I was the best and I was not willing to share it with anyone else who even threatened to overshadow me. That's why she had to die. She just had to. I have no remorse or regret. "I don't want to talk about that", I replied.
"But you loved her and still love her, you got her photo in your wallet. Don't you?" he hit back. I did not say anything. I just moved to the rundown railing of the huge sewer drainage and bowed my head to see the dark bottom of it.
I jumped to my left side. It was not quick enough, though. His dagger missed my neck but struck my right shoulder. The six-inch blade of my dagger made no mistake. It went right into his belly and the body rolled over the railing into the drain like a slow motion scene in a movie. Those researchers are successful, no doubt. That doppelganger had the sense of supremacy and also the cunning to catch someone off guard, just like me. I broke into a hysterical laughter despite the pain in the right shoulder. I am swearing at the dead 'me', who did not need any parents to get the passport to this world.
The researchers could have killed me in the ICU of the hospital but they did not. Now I have become a test to pass for their creation to survive. Survival of the fittest (or the fitter?). This time I won. But they will not be sitting idle. They will send a second one. And I cannot say what will happen next time as I will face my match. I have to hone my expertise. Suddenly the world looks more attractive. I get Lisa's photo out of my wallet. Oh boy, isn't she cute, I love her so much! But I have no intention of joining her so soon. Lets see how far I can go with my bonus life.
You’ve got to be kidding!
What do you mean that I have turned into a lazy, antisocial slob? You've got to be kidding. I am the most outgoing and efficient person that I know!' But I was speaking to an empty line. My best friend had already slammed the phone down; a clear indication that she believed our conversation was over for the time being at least.
'Dumb Girl', I muttered to myself. Since when did devoting some time to oneself turn out to be a crime? I had planned this vacation to be simply perfect and I intended to let nothing come between me and my 'perfect' vacation, not even my best friend's squabbling. I decided to go back to sleep again; 'She'll come around' I decided. She always does.
An idle mind is a devil's workshop they say. Don't get me wrong. I am not idle and I am definitely not having devilish thoughts. Just because I have recently become close friends with the TV and junk food and awarded my bed the noble position of my 'best friend', doesn't automatically label me as a 'weird' person. Or did it? Slowly I sat up in my bed and took a look around my room. It was a mess. There were clothes everywhere. Pens, papers and loose stationery littered every available table in sight. I looked under the bed. At least fifty crisps packets and fifteen coke cans smiled back at me. It seemed the entire garbage of my room was enough to fill two large trucks.
Is this really 'me'? This couldn't be me…the flawless 'miss perfect'. That was how I usually was. It had to be organized! It was time I got to work, I decided.
In less than five days, I had my room back to almost normal. I spent an additional two days restoring it to its previous pristine condition. When I was finally satisfied and while I was still on a roll, I decided to put things right on the social level. The next minute I was on the telephone, apologizing to my best friend about what a jerk I was, and inviting her to spend the day. She came over in no time and almost underwent a heart attack after viewing my room. 'What have you done?' she shrieked. 'You've made this place look like a hospital or a hotel or something! This isn't normal!'
'You've got to be kidding,' I countered hotly. 'I am the most normal teenager you can find!' Giving me one of her famous exasperated looks, she stalked out.
That night, having difficulty sleeping, I sat up on my bed and warily looked around. The floor was spotless. All my clothes were either neatly folded or else neatly hanged, lying in my closet. There were absolutely no pens, papers or any loose stationery littering any table surfaces. I looked under my bed. Empty space stared back at me. Two large trucks could dump their garbage in my room and I'd still be able to find a place to sleep!
Is this really 'me'? This couldn't be me…the unruffled 'ideal teen'. That was also how I usually was. It had to be messed up again! It was time I got to work, I decided.
( Dear readers, you get the point. I ended up spending my entire vacation decorating, redecorating and re-redecorating my room. Not bad, but after my vacation was finally over, I decided that I definitely needed another one!)
By Jennifer Ashraf
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