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Mr. Martinov sat at his desk gazing out at a pile of rooftops. A magnificent view, had he seen it, but he did not see the view and did not care to see it. His being was wholly dedicated to the clock behind him, his pulse adjusting to its ticking, his thoughts focusing on what the ticking meant. It meant horror, it meant pain, it meant nothing less than tea time.
He could see it now, where the rooftops had been. Her waltzing in with that perfect blend of innocence and silence. Her swishing her bobbed black hair and flashing him a baring smile, all following an unseen script. Hundreds of tea cups reflecting in the droplets of guilt and terror that were forming on his forehead. Droplets precipitating on the surface after accumulating on his conscience for 30 years. Tears spilling out on her cold hand.
He had always felt it, the cold damp terror, yet he had never been wise enough to see. Now he saw. Looking out that window he finally saw the difference between humanity, and clone, his wife and a stranger.
It all began the day she was diagnosed. Complete cell malfunction doctors call it, or was it self-cannibalism. Bit by bit, little by little she would decay into nothing more than she ever was, or pretended to be: goo. Unmercifully her brain would come last,making her witness her own moral decay. A disease with a sense of irony, now thats not something that murders ones wife everyday. Such a boring woman destined for such a beautiful death.
There was no cure of course, or to be specific there was no moral cure. There was always the option to clone. It was cursed. It was evil. Parents would tell their toddlers that if they didn't behave the clone would get them. I thought: why not? And when I thought of a hundred reasons why, I went ahead and did it anyway.
Her clone was conceived in a private underground clinic, as far from the eyes of god as a soul from a dead man's corpse. From a single drop of blood this monster was conceived, and without romance it grew in a glass box, kept alive by hundreds of machines working day and night. Or so I was told. I wandered if it ( I refused to call it a she, I was not that far gone) felt lonely, trapped, if it had thoughts or feelings. Something, oddly enough, I never wandered about my wife.
We bought a calender to help us keep track of the days. It was a quiet reminder of the evil journey we had embarked upon, yet unlike usual it seemed we didn't even get the choice to go the other way. Or maybe we did and we just missed it. I say we...
Every evening would take a felt-tip pen and cross of a single box on the calender, wandering if I was counting down to life or to death.
24th October we arrived at the clinic. We went through the routine cleaning and sterilizing, and some cheery nurse even had the nerve to offer me a cup of coffee like I was in here for a colonoscapy rather than to kill and then resurrect my wife.
Out of politeness I told the doctors that I would like to be with my wife as long as possible. They agreed that I could stay with her until it began. I cursed them. I didn't want to be with her. I didn't understand her. Especially not now, when she was acting like she'd found god.
Two identical white beds were rolled in side by side in a similarly ideal white room, accessorised with white doctors masked with white faces. I looked at my wife,and for once she seemed like the only real one there. Put a doll between corpses and you almost begin to appreciate the doll. I took her hand and felt vomit come up in my mouth as I felt her liquid fingers. She was melting.
She lay down in one of the beds and closed her eyes as I stood uncomfortably by her side. I felt the urge to say something, yet like at a funeral something in the air stopped me disturbing the dead. The dead would have understood life better than her.
“ Mr, Mrs Martinov, we are ready to bring the clone in” said one of the attendants. I nodded thoughtfully.
It was brought in and laid down on the bed next to my seemingly sleeping wife. It looked peaceful.
“Doctor” I whispered. There was a pause while I racked my brains for something appropriate to say. “ Is she gonna be....different?”
“No. ” then as if taking off a wire he leaned in and whispered “ You'll be different. ”
I looked for an explanation but all I got was blankness.
The doctors ushered me out of the room and we all gathered on the other side of a thick, and I suspected sound, fire, bullet proof, glass wall. Who were they trying to protect? Us or them?
“Fusion starts in, five” monotoned Dr. Lubanov
She is still smiling. Still lying. But wait....you didn't think this was going to go without a twist?
She brought her beautiful eyes to mine. Truly those would be the most beautiful eyes, if only I was ignorant enough not to understand the emptiness that lay behind those well manufactured sockets. Such heart rendering emptiness. I saw a tear roll down her cheek almost identical to mine. The first spark of reality that had ever passed between us.
Her mouth was moving, her hands were clamping, her eyes were screaming? Was she trying to warn me? Did she know? Did she guess? Had she known all along?
Fog built up on the window, like the perspiration on my brow. I tried to look past it, to see something but like a wall it was guarding me against whatever was in there. Guarding me against it.
I could almost see it; crimson blood soaking through the sheets, coloring it the perfect red in the perfect white room. It washed over the floor, creeping through the walls and into my brain, turning everything brutally, perfectly, red.
She was gone I thought. She was dead. She wasn't coming back. I pounded my fists on the hard glass and pressed my tear stained face to its cold surface. Jazz, Jazz. I was blind and I was deaf. It was just me and the crimson bed.
The fog dispersed. She opened her eyes. She looked around and noted her bloody neighbor,giving her a polite nod,and brought her eyes up to mine. The life, the vitality, the greed for life, no her eyes were no longer empty sockets. The doll had woken up.
“There you see, it worked just fine, enjoy” shouted the doctor in my ear patting my back.
“What happened during the fog?” I asked
“What fog?” he replied. Had there been amusement in his voice?
How could I have ever believed she had been human?
Punctually Mrs. Martinov brought in tea for her husband interrupting the single most important, thought of his life “ Lying there so peacefully, smiling at me so charmingly, she had been as fake as that crimson bed” She noticed that her husband was sweating. Her mouth momentarily turned into a frown.
Suddenly he jumped up. He jumped up like a single thought that he had been pondering on for years had suddenly made him implode.
He looked at her, he tried to accuse her, but he couldn't. The cold face was reaching into him, reaching out into his heart, making him so cold, so very cold. She was not his wife, his wife had not been his wife, but at least she had been nobody then. She was somebody now. Somebody...somebody so alien.
“Who are you” he spat out through clenched teeth that prevented him from screaming.
She wanted to say something, but gave up with a little sigh.“I'll be right back my love, drink up your tea”
She wiped her hands slowly on a towel, and folded it perfectly at the corners making sure that not a single crease could be seen and went calmly into the hallway. When she was out of sight her face twisted into a deforming grimace as she desperately grabbed for the phone, and began dialing feverishly, plucking in the numbers with her manicured nails, 999,333,999. She brought the phone to her ear, brushing the sweat off her cheek.
“Doctor, yes its Mrs. Martinov. He's, he's doing it again. I thought he was getting better, but ever since my accident. Yes I know it was a great stress for him..yes I realize he thought I was dead, but doctor you don't understand, he thinks, he suspects, he thinks I am some sort of clone. I don't think I can stand this anymore. Yes...I think its for the best. I'll inject him now. Thank you, goodbye” She put the phone down, and slowly entered the dining room closing the door quietly behind her, an innocent glint of a murderer in her eye, or so he imagined.