The last thing I remember was trying to buy a bag of chips. I chose a gas station towards the edge of the wrong side of town. Those are safer. They don’t usually have the specialized tech.
That’s the hard part about staying alive these days. It’s not getting a chip card, or even a voucher code. You can get those in almost any alley, provided you have something worth trading for. It’s the retinal scanners that you can’t fool. That’s how they can tell.
That’s what makes this world Hell for the clones.
Governments are really so fragile. It only takes one generation, one revolution, to change everything. A charismatic leader with enough drones to hang on their every word rises to the surface, and they play on the division that’s been boiling, like a pot with the lid sealed on. It has to explode eventually. Then after months of bloodshed, after months of military schisms, and martial law, and successions, your whole world is different.
It’s all over.
And it’s all just beginning.
One of the first three bills they passed was the Clone Eradication Act. Whereas the scientific community has committed such blasphemies in the form of artificial creation; whereas the act of procreation is a sacred deed sanctioned by the joining of man and woman only; whereas the duplication of natural beings is condemned as sacrilege in the eyes of the instituted powers; the process of Human Cloning will be forever abolished, and all living Clones detained in appropriate government facilities for the remainder of their lifetimes.
I am a twin. My parents wanted twins badly. I don’t know why. I never questioned it before. But it was only a matter of money to make it happen. Jared was already there, with his tiny heartbeat, just five weeks old. They went inside, and used Jared to make me. Mom was thrilled, and I was born.
My laboratory record is FILE 2132, but Mom named me Devin.
When the bill was first passed, they tried to hide me. Dad put up a quick wall over the door to the basement, and I guess prayed our neighbors would keep quiet. I lived there for about three months before I heard the ominous knock on the front door. No one we know uses the front door of our house. It had to be someone official.
I didn’t hang around to find out. I grabbed Jared’s wallet and ran.
His ID got me most places. In the early months, all they checked was an ID. Later on, they started wanting finger prints. Luckily, I don’t have that variation. Being cloned from the donor while still in the womb did that for me, at least. Jared and I have a perfectly matching set of prints. The truth is, there are only two ways to tell us apart.
The retina is the easy way. After the new government tore through the files long enough, they realized the retina is the first point of access that will reveal a clone to them. No matter how carbon of a copy is produced, the retina will be unique 99.9% of the time. Of course, they have to allow for a few errors. Nothing is perfect. Not even science.
The final assurance is the medical exam. So far, human clones are sterile. It is an anomaly. Of course it’s been proclaimed an act of providence, further revealing the blasphemy of cloning. I always saw it as dumb luck.
They leaned on the retina scan, of course. It would be awkward to make everyone undergo fertility examinations every time they wanted to buy some Cheetos. That’s what I was after. I walked up to the counter with Jared’s chip card, ready to pay. It hadn’t run out of funds, yet. I figured he was still pumping paychecks into it for me. But to my horror, after the cashier rang up the bag, she reached up over her grungy counter, and pulled down a scanner.
“Look here, please,” she instructed, her voice edging artificial from either exhaustion or apathy. I blinked at the scanner. My heart went from 120 to 200bpms in that split second.
“Uh, I’d rather not,” I replied.
“No purchases without a scan,” she continued, still lacking any trace of human emotion.
I looked at the scanner and then at her. “No purchase, then.”
“Have it your way.”
I turned and walked out the dirty glass doors, my stomach rumbling. I should have known to make tracks. Only a clone would refuse a scan, after all. But I was hungry and stupid and tried another station just a couple of blocks away. This one didn’t have a scanner. But by the time I’d inserted the chip card, it seems the authorities were already surrounding the building.
I guess they hit me with a stun. I don’t remember anything except inserting the card, and then blacking out. Waking up on an examination table has told me the rest. They’ve probably already done the necessary tests. I try to sit up, but there is a strap across my chest. Ridiculous. It’s not like every door in this place isn’t card coded, and cameras aren’t in every corner. But, oh well.
I finally hear the door opening. Strange, though. It’s a knob. A facility like this one should have sliders with bulletproof glass. The sound of heels tap on a linoleum floor, and eventually a young woman is leaning over me.
She’s Asian, and very pretty. Her black hair is cut close to her chin, and her lips are a deep, glossy red. She smiles as she begins to unfasten the strap.
“Sorry about that,” she tells me. “I was afraid you might roll off the table.”
That doesn’t sound right.
I finally sit up and look around. The room is very plain. There are no cameras. No two way mirrors. The door isn’t even closed. The girl places a hand on my arm to steady me, and I realize my vision does fluctuate a moment, like when the doctor used to dilate my eyes for exams.
“You’ll be fine in just a few minutes, I promise,” she assures me. “It wears off fast.”
“What does?” I finally manage.
“The tranqs. I’m Masuyama, by the way.” She takes my hand and gives it a gentle shake. “My friends call me Yama.”
“I… I don’t understand,” I admit. “Is this the facility?”
“Facility?” For the first time, she’s the one who is confused.
“Yeah, you know… Clones? Eradication?” Her eyes widen in horror, and it hits me. “You’re not with the government, are you?”
Now, she laughs. “Oh, Jesus, no! I’m a clone, just like you, newbie.”
My eyes widen. “Yama, where am I?”
Her lips part in a wide smile. “Welcome to the underground, 2132.”
And just like that, I've been reborn.