By Ekta R. Garg
Prompt: I Think I’m A Clone Now—Ah, back home and time to relax. Long weeks are brutal. Is that the television you hear? Well you haven’t been home all day so you decide to check it out, thinking you left it on. As you enter the room you see the television is indeed on. And you’re already sitting there watching it. What’s going on here?
Callie pushed her key in the lock and groaned when it got stuck.
All I want is to collapse on the couch, and this stupid thing has to freeze up on me now.
She gave it a good crank, and it gave her a few more moments of resistance the key finally turned. Callie sighed in relief. After the overtime she’d put in for the last three weeks, she couldn’t wait to park in her living room for the long weekend.
As she pushed the door in, she heard noise. Callie slowed down and shut the door behind her. Dropping her keys in the bowl by the door, she tried to figure out the source of the sounds.
She listened and heard a laugh track.
The TV? But I wasn’t even watching TV this morning. What the…?
“Cal? Is that you?”
The voice sounded familiar. Something about it drew Callie to the living room. Why did the voice make her feel so comfortable?
She rounded the corner, went into the living room, and stopped.
“Hi!” the girl on the sofa said with a friendly wave.
The girl wearing her pajamas.
The girl looking just like her.
“I’m…sorry?” Callie said. “What—who—who are you?”
The girl turned back to the television, but Callie felt like she had turned away from her on purpose. “I’m, um…I’m you.”
Callie’s heartbeat increased in rate. “What? What are you talking about? This has got to be some joke.”
The girl shook her head and smiled. “Nope. No joke. I’m your clone.”
Her knees started to feel soft, and she reached behind her for the oversized chair without looking away from the girl. She backed into the chair and sat down.
“You have to tell me what’s going on here.”
The girl shrugged. “Sorry. All I can tell you is that I’m supposed to be living here now.”
Callie’s mouth went dry. She decided to get some water and went to the kitchen.
That girl’s nuts. My clone? What is she, living in some sci-fi TV show?
The fact that the girl looked just like her unsettled Callie enough that she did everything she could to ignore it. As she reached in the cabinet for a glass, she spotted the bottle of red wine her friends had opened the previous week. All of a sudden, Callie got an idea.
She filled two wine glasses and brought them back to the living room.
“Here you go,” she said to the girl. “Just a little something to help you relax.”
The girl looked at the glass and chuckled. “Come on, Callie, you of all people should know I can’t hold my liquor very well.”
“Just a few sips,” Callie urged. “If we’re going to live together, we should toast this occasion.”
The girl took the glass with a dubious smile and held it up. “All right. Cheers.”
“Cheers,” Callie said. She put the glass to her lips and tipped it back, taking a minute sip. She brought the glass down and smiled. “This is a really nice wine.”
“It is, isn’t it?” Callie said. She held up her glass in comradery, and the girl drank some more.
By the time the girl had finished the glass about 20 minutes later, she had begun giggling and making goofy faces.
“Would you believe,” she said, “that your company is testing stuff on its employees?”
Callie’s heartbeat kicked up a few notches again.
“Is that so,” she said, fighting to keep her voice normal. “What kind of testing?”
The girl giggled again. “Oh, come on, Callie, you work there. You know what they do.”
Callie tried a giggle of her own. “I know, but I’m just a personal assistant. My biggest responsibility is making sure everyone’s coffee and lunch orders right.”
“You do more than that, don’t you?” the girl asked, frowning.
Callie shook her head. “Not unless you count making sure all the mail gets into the right slots.”
The girl covered her mouth with her hands for a moment.
“That’s not right,” she said. “They shouldn’t have done this to you then.”
“But did they do?” Callie asked.
“Do you remember when you got sick six months ago and had to go to the hospital?” the girl asked, putting air quotes around the word “sick.”
Callie thought about her hospitalization. The nurses had told her she was dehydrated and overworked. She believed them at the time and didn’t question the injection site on her hip.
“I wasn’t really sick, was I?”
The girl shook her head. She looked around and lowered her voice. “They took some of your DNA. Six months later…well, here I am.”
By this time Callie’s heartbeat had increased to a hammer. She’d always believed the glossy brochures on the coffee tables in the lobby of the research lab. When people asked about her work, she didn’t mind saying she worked as the personal assistant of a scientist. After all, if her small efforts could make the working conditions for researchers easier, then that meant she’d made a small contribution to the science that helped people and kept them healthy, right?
But she’d never wanted to make a contribution of this magnitude, and that too against her will.
“What am I going to do?”
The girl hiccupped. “I don’t know. I’m not even sure what I’m here for.”
Callie looked at her and stared hard for a few seconds. Then she made a decision.
“Well, if they didn’t tell you, then we’re going to find out.”