Something that we started in creative writing– it doesn’t have a name yet, but anyway, enjoy!
I reached out and touched the thick glass of the cryogenic case, which was rimed with cold save for a small patch where it’s occupant’s breath had melted it clear. My double, my twin, my clone— like a daughter and a sister and a stranger all at once. Her eyes were closed— she still slept her artificial sleep.
“When did this happen?” I asked, turning to her handler.
“About six years ago, when you were arrested. You remember? They took blood samples—”
“Of course I remember.” Arrested for hacking a company’s records, to find evidence of stolen DNA— the irony. “Do you think I could ever forget that?” My hands closed against the class, my nails scratching streaks into the frost. “Wake her up.”
Her handler blinked in surprise. “She’s not finished yet, her heart and lungs are still—”
“I said, wake her up.” I stepped back from the case and waited. He was probably right— the clone had likely been frozen as a temporary travelling solution, and her creators had not expected their experiment to go mysteriously missing. Unfreezing her could kill her. But as the handler had explained earlier, she had wanted this. She had wanted to meet me, so let her.
The man didn’t know me, but he had heard of me, and knew better than to argue. Shaking his head, he reached out and tapped a series of keys on the side of the case. A bright orange light pulsed inside, bathing the clone’s ice-blurred face in amber. He pressed his thumb against the lockpad and the door swung open.
She fell forward, barely conscious enough to stop herself with her hands instead of her face. She coughed, her entire body convulsing, as if her lungs were trying to crawl out through her mouth, and for a moment I thought she would choke and die and leave all my questions unanswered. But then she went silent, curling into herself on the hard concrete as the hairs on her body stood on end in the chilly air.
I crouched beside her. “Do you know where you are?”
For a moment she was still; then, slowly, carefully, she pushed herself up on shaking arms and looked around. “I’m not in the lab,” she said, voice hoarse. “I’m not in the case, and you’re here. So I must be in the underground.”
“And how exactly did you know about us?” I stood and walked away. “Did your creators find out? Do you have my memories as well as my genes?”
She shook her head. “No, I found out on my own. Your people on the inside, actually. And Robb helped, too.” She gestured to her handler. “Do you have a blanket or a towel or something? It’s cold in here.”
I grabbed my coat from the chair and tossed it to her. She wrapped it around herself and stood, clutching the fabric close. I stared, fascinated, at her face. “I’d thought you would look more like me,” I said. Her hair was darker, though of course I’d dyed mine, her eyes greener than my hazel. She was thin and wiry like me, but soft— the body of someone kept in stasis for far too long.
But when she smiled, it was my smile on her face. “I haven’t had your broken nose, you haven’t had my genetic mutations. I’m a clone, not a copy.” She reached out to touch my arm and I stepped back, glaring at her. She nodded to Robb, who left the room reluctantly. “Anna, I know this is difficult—”
“No. Don’t pretend you know what I’ve been through, what I’ve done. You share my genes— it’s nothing more than that, and you do not know me.”
“I wasn’t trying to say I do.” Her arms tightened across her chest. “How old do you think I am?”
“You’ve been alive for six years.”
She shook her head. “No, you were cloned six years ago. That one died, and so did the next, but I survived. I am the clone of a clone of a clone, who was made from genetic material harvested from a twenty-five-year-old woman. I am six, twenty-five, a year and a half, all at once. If I can’t answer the simplest of questions, do you think that I can pretend to understand myself— let alone you?” She started to step forward, then stopped short. “You want the gene corporations to stop stealing genetic material. You want to know why they do it, and you want to stop unauthorised clones like myself from being made. Do you think I don’t?”
I raised an eyebrow. “If I’d succeeded six years ago, you wouldn’t exist.”
“That’s in the past. I’m talking about the future.” She seemed to relax a little, a resigned droop curving her shoulders. “I escaped because I wanted answers, just like you. That’s all. And maybe, with my help, you can actually get something done for a change.”
I scratched my cheek, thinking. I still could barely believe that she existed, let alone that she might want the same things as me. Clone or not, she wasn’t me, never could be me— but perhaps there were more similarities than I’d thought. That look in her eyes, for example— earnest, eager and hopeful, it reminded me of myself six years ago. The people who arrested me had taken my blood and my optimism, yet here they were again, waiting for an answer.
I sighed and dropped my arms to my sides. “What’s your name?”
She grinned. “Evie,” she said. “My name’s Evie.”